A photo tour of the 2015 Shelby Hamfest

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For the first time in over a decade, my Labor Day weekend was free of travel, so I was able to make a short pilgrimage to the Shelby (North Carolina) hamfest with my good buddies, Vlado (N3CZ), Dave (K4SV) and Phil (W9IXX).

The Shelby Hamfest–referred to, locally, as “The Grand-Daddy of them All”–has long been regarded as one of the largest hamfests in the southeast US. The last time I attended–most likely in 2004–I was amazed at the number of vendors and, especially, the size of the flea market section (my favorite part of any hamfest).

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We arrived just after the gates opened at 8:00, yesterday morning. While there were quite a number of vendors sprawling the Cleavland County Fairgrounds, attendance must have been down as it seemed there were more vendors than attendees.

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Still, it was nice to hunt for treasures without so much competition at each table!

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This BC-348-R (above) was one of the first radios that grabbed my attention. Though I already have a BC-348-Q, I certainly wouldn’t mind having another one of these classic WWII era receivers.

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This BC-348-R was very clean inside and in pretty good original cosmetic shape on the outside. To power this BC-348, I would need to add a transformer or a 28 volt Dynamotor. The seller had it priced at “$100 OBO” (or best offer). I was willing to make him an offer, but even though I kept checking back, I never found the seller at his table. Too bad.

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This BC-348-Q–priced at $125–needed a new transformer and a “tune-up,” per the seller.

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It’s rare to find a GPR-90 this clean and with a matching speaker.

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The seller only wanted $40 for this Hammarlund speaker.

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There were a number of Hammarlund SP-600s scattered across the flea market. I have one and can confidently say that it’s a joy to operate–especially on the medium wave band. IMG_20150905_084228534 IMG_20150905_084913833 IMG_20150905_084716573

The seller wanted $200 for this Harris–it needed substantial repairs internally.

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This gorgeous WWII era ART-13 was the most tempting thing I found in Shelby.

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It would look so good sitting next to or above my BC-348-Q.

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This one had been professionally restored and was in perfect working order. I’ve seen ART-13s at other hamfests, but never as clean as this one.

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The seller wanted over $500. While I know an ART-13 in this condition could command that price, I simply didn’t have the budget for it on this trip.  Fortunately, the seller is a friend-of-a-friend and if he still has this ART-13 post-fest, I might just contact him!

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The Ten-Tec Argonaut 509 is a classic little QRP transceiver! Someday, I’ll pick one up.

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If memory severs, the seller wanted $275 for this used Satellit 750 and $325 (or more) for the 800.  I noticed he had sold the 750 by my second pass.  IMG_20150905_090725657

This Sharper Image shortwave receiver (above) has BFO and tone controls on the back(!) of the unit. Very strange–imagine tuning in an SSB station by reaching behind the radio and tweaking the BFO knob!IMG_20150905_090544603 IMG_20150905_090516038 IMG_20150905_092653649 IMG_20150905_092054649 IMG_20150905_092025822_HDR

The seller wanted $100 for this Hallicrafters portable receiver. Knowing my weakness for anything Halligan, I forced myself to slowly back away. It wasn’t easy leaving it on the table.

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There were very few console radios at this hamfest; all of them were in poor condition which made it much easier for me to pass them by. IMG_20150905_092958884 IMG_20150905_103504866_HDR IMG_20150905_103155217_HDR

This 1960’s era Signal Corps TG-34-A Morse code reader was also tempting and one of the last items I viewed in the flea market. The seller wasn’t at the table, so I never bothered asking about the price. If it had been a WWII era reader, it would have come home with me.IMG_20150905_103229288

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Elecraft had a nice indoor display and a steady number of attendees inquiring about their new K3s transceiver and, of course, the KX3.
IMG_20150905_105237940In the end, I came home from Shelby with very little: only two patch cables and a male SMA connector.

I did, however, get to spend time with my friends, re-connect with a buddy I hadn’t seen since high school, and meet a few SWLing Post readers. I certainly call that a successful hamfest!

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18 thoughts on “A photo tour of the 2015 Shelby Hamfest

  1. Pingback: A photo tour of the 2016 Shelby Hamfest | The SWLing Post

  2. Dan Robinson

    Wow — this really put anything I attended up here in the DC area to shame…a lot of nice equipment…thanks very much for putting all of that up….

    Reply
  3. John Weiss, W9JW

    Tom,

    Thank you for the great tour of the Shelby fest. Looks like a great one. I normally only make it to Dayton each year, but I’ll have to put Shelby on the radar. I’d like to see it one of these years.

    You brought back many nice memories – thanks again!

    73 de John, W9JW
    Knapp, Wisconsin

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      You’re most welcome, John! If you’re in Dayton next year, look me up. I believe our table number is usually BA411 in the Ball Arena.

      Best,
      Thomas

      Reply
  4. Cliff Fox, KU4GW - WA4253SWL

    Thanks Tom for posting all these great photos! I usually go to Shelby with W4WWF Dale if I don’t attend another hamfest all year, but I didn’t get to attend this year. I had a bunch of ham gear given to me 2 weeks ago so didn’t really need anything, but I still missed the fellowship with friends. Your photos help feed my addiction so thanks for the much needed fix!

    Very 73,
    Cliff – KU4GW – WA4253SWL
    Taylorsville, NC (Alexander County) Grid EM95iv

    Reply
  5. Mark Cobbeldick

    Interesting to see the ART-13 radio, manufactured by Comco.

    I used to walk past the Comco factory in Coral Gables (Fla) every day on my way to high school. (For anyone in the Miami area, Comco was next to Deel Ford, on Le Jeune Road, just north of US-1 in the 1960’s and 1970’s.)

    Reply
  6. Mario Filippi

    Oh, forgot one thing, the Argonaut 509 had a companion linear amplifier which boosted the signal to 50 watts, I’ll bet those are as rare as hen’s teeth! Somewhere I have a photo of that old Argonaut station, and it was printed in CQ magazine back in the late 70’s in the QRP column, think the columnist was Adrian Weiss.

    Reply
  7. Mario Filippi

    What wonderful hamfest photos Tom, thank you for sharing. Lots of memories. Some comments:

    The Ten Tec Argonaut 509 – bought one new back in the 70’s from Grand Central Radio in New York City. Had loads of fun with it using a Hustler vertical on the roof of the apartment house. Luckily the landlord’s brother was a ham so he was okay with that. And running QRP kept me out of the neighbor’s TV sets hihi. I worked Japan on 1 watt CW with that rig. Tom get ahold of one if you can!

    The Radio Shack DX-200 – bought one of these on Ebay several years ago, lots of fun with the drum tuning and bandspread. It worked pretty well on the longwave band for beacons.

    The NewMar NAV101- this is a typical RDF (Radio Direction Finder) set that was popular on boats way before GPS. These radios came in many different models, but most had at least the broadcast band (MW), the old Marine band ( which was used a lot back in the day, mostly AM traffic from ships at sea,ship to shore and for phone patches with the NY Marine telephone operators) and definitely the longwave (LW) band for radiolocation using marine beacons which were plentiful back in those days. By using the rotatable, large ferrite antenna on the top, a mariner could hone in on a marine radiobeacon and navigate to a destination. Sadly most of these marine beacons are decommissioned, but there are still many to be heard, mostly from airports. Some of those old marine beacons have been outfitted for DGPS (Differential Global Positioning System) and can be heard from 285 – 325 KHz. These radios are great for those interested in AM broadcast DX’ing since you can use the rotatable antenna to null out unwanted signals. And, for LW fans these still work well for hearing aeronautical beacons. Most run on batteries so they’re portable. Many appear on Ebay so take a look. I was able to get one several years ago, new old stock, it has AM, FM,LW, Lo VHF (the newer sets included the new marine VHF band) and CB band. As I said, these radios came with different bands, mostly a reflection of the era they were built in.

    Anyway, thanks for the great photos, brought back lots of memories, great work Tom!

    Reply
  8. Guy Atkins

    I live in the Washington town where the largest annual hamfest/flea market in our state is held, and have attended for many years. I have never seen the quality and quantity of radios as pictured at your Shelby hamfest, Thomas!

    Ours is held indoors at the state fairgrounds, on both levels of a large two-story building. I’d guess the vendors amount to a few hundred, and attendees in the couple thousand range (just guessing). Yet, I’ve never seen the amount of true radio gear that apparently shows up at your event. Usually, it’s random, tired looking old components and LOTs of computer gear of various vintages. In fact, they bill the event as an “electronics show and flea market” now.

    The best years for radio gear at the large event were before the meteoric rise of Ebay as the #1 venue for buying and selling. I hope to attend a hamfest as interesting as Shelby’s sometime!

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, Guy. I believe the best thing about Shelby is that it is still a good radio market.

      My favorite local hamfest, though, was the late and great Ten-Tec Hamfest in Sevierville, TN. It was amazing and grew to be a fairly large ‘Fest. It was unique in that there were no admission fees and even tailgating in the flea market was free. They had a policy that flea market tables had to be truly radio related. Sure…you had tables with PC parts, etc., but everyone also had proper radio gear for sale.

      What was especially nice about the TT hamfest was the density of older Ten-Tec gear, Hallicrafters, Hammarlunds, Collins, National, Kenwood, Elecraft, Icom–all the greats. I snagged so many good deals there.

      You wouldn’t find other new transceiver vendors at the T-T hamfest (Icom, Yaesu, Elecraft and Kenwood), but you would find some ham radio retailers with antennas, accessories, etc. Ten-Tec even had a tent with all of their equipment available to operate and hooked up to good antennas. T-T also gave hourly tours of their factory and had deep discounts on their used and new gear.

      I’m speaking in the past tense because, sadly, their hamfest is no more. Ten-Tec sold their manufacturing building (which has since been demolished and I believe a Wal-Mart is being built there) and have moved to a much smaller building. They’ve had two different sets of owners in the past two years and have merged with Alpha.

      I wish they would find a location for another hamfest, but I have a hunch it takes a lot of planning to make that event a success.

      I have some photos from the WCARS hamfest which I attended in July. I need to dig them up and post them as well. I post these because I also enjoy seeing photos of hamfests from around the world. I like to see what’s on the tables and what prices are like.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

      Reply
  9. Dave AA7EE

    Great pictures Thomas – thanks so much for sharing these. I’m always struck by how such great deals on good gear can be had at hamfests, as compared to the prices on eBay. I rarely go to hamfests and if I did, I too would have a tough time walking away from some of these lovely receivers, just as you did!

    73,

    Dave
    AA7EE

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Ha! Dave, sometimes it takes all of my will power to walk away from gear at hamfests.

      In truth, modern TX and RX gear regularly come into and go out of my shack. The older stuff, though…I have a hard time letting it go. If I buy anything WWII (or 1930s-40s vintage), I’m keeping it–since shack space is limited, I’m forced to be very selective. 🙂

      I’m rarely tempted by the 1980s-1990s transceivers that often dominate hamfest flea markets. Their pricing is often too high and should they fail in the future, your fingers are crossed that it’s not a board or IC that’s no longer available. Many of those parts were built in limited quantities. The tube stuff, though? As you know, electrical parts and replacements are actually easier to find. 🙂 Gotta love stuff that glows.

      73! Thomas

      Reply
  10. Broadwing

    Oh my! That’s like offering crack to a crack addict. No way I could go there and not end up buying something. I could see it now, the divorce papers would be coming ten minutes after I got home with the car full of equipment I bought. At least she wouldn’t get the credit cards as they would be maxed out. I wouldn’t get bored playing with my new toys. Thank you for the great pictures. I’m rally jonesing out for a fix right mow, guess I’ll hit eBay.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      One of my buddies always points out that many of his wife’s friends are “golf widows.” Their husbands are always gone for the day, playing golf with buddies. At least we radio geeks are typically at home! Physically at home, at least! 🙂
      -Thomas

      Reply

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