October 1959 Electronics World
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
Electronics World, published May 1959
- December 1971. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
TEL-A-TURN mentioned in the article
Many of John T. Frye's episodes of "Mac's Service Shop" have referenced
for-real products, but I do not recall any other than this one being a dedicated,
undisguised promotion for a single item. Now, I am not accusing Mr. Frye of
benefitting from a good old-fashioned payola-type scheme, but I can understand someone else concluding
so. The vaunted TEL-A-TURN pitched in "A Good Turn" is actually a game-changer in the
business of television and radio servicing, and therefore deserving of special
consideration. A Google search of the term "tel-a-turn" did not, surprisingly,
turn up a single photo or even a vintage magazine advertisement. A quick
check of my extensive collection of magazines of the same era resulted in finding a
couple different versions of ads run by the fixture's maker (click to thumbnail to
the left), Rogers Manufacturing, of Lindsey, Ohio.
Mac's Service Shop: A Good Turn
By John T. Frye
Barney always moaned and groaned a good bit about having to "slave away" in Mac's
Service Shop; but after having been on vacation two weeks, he found himself strangely
eager to get back into his shop-coat. Naturally, he would never admit this. Instead,
he came bounding into the service department this Monday morning literally bursting with
wild tales of how reluctantly he tore himself away from the arms of the gorgeous, amorous
females surrounding his uncle's Colorado ranch.
"Howdy, pardner-," he started to greet his employer and then broke off short as he
spied an affair of gleaming aluminum standing in the middle of the floor. "Oh, oh!,"
he said accusingly; "you went and got something new while I was gone. You do it every
time. What on earth is it?"
"What does it look like?" Mac asked quizzically.
"Well," Barney reflected, "at the bottom it looks like an office chair; in the middle,
like a metal lathe; and at the top, like a praying mantis - king-size, that is."
"Very good!" Mac said with a chuckle. "Actually it's a 'Tel-a-Turn,' manufactured
by the Rogers Manufacturing Company of Lindsey, Ohio. You might describe it as a rolling
service-bench-and-chassis-cradle for holding and turning through 360 degrees on a horizontal
axis any radio, TV, hi-fi, transmitter, turntable, or other chassis ranging from 9"to
25" in width and weighing up to 200 pounds. That four-legged castered floor stand does
look like the bottom part of an office chair; the flat bench with the two upright stands
at the ends and the chassis-rotating wheel on the gear stand reminds a person of a lathe;
and a 'Luxo' lamp, such as the one mounted on top of the speaker stand, always reminds
me of a praying mantis."
"Why do you call this one a 'speaker stand'?"
"Because a little PM speaker is mounted here in the base behind this slotted cover.
These two leads from it are clipped to the speaker terminals of a radio or TV chassis
held in the cradle. Here above the speaker are a couple of outlets for plugging in a
solder gun, v.t.v.m., etc. This switch above the sockets breaks both sides of this cheater
cord that connects to a TV set in the cradle. That is good for working on 'hot-chassis'
sets. When the cheater cord is energized, this red pilot lamp at the top of the speaker
stand lights up and warns you."
"I guess the chassis is clamped in these two arms sticking out from the tops of the
"You guess right. A versatile and clever clamp arrangement permits you to fasten any
type of chassis, flanged or unflanged, between those two arms. Then turning this wheel
on the gear stand revolves its arm, and the chassis with it, through 360 degrees. The
arm sticking out from the speaker stand is simply a 'follower' that supports that side
of the chassis. The revolving chassis can be stopped and held firmly at any point for
most convenient service. The gear stand can be set to any one of three positions on the
aluminum bench to accommodate chassis of different width, and the ability of the follower
shaft to slide back and forth through its bearing provides an additional 'fine' width
While Mac had been talking, Barney, who learned most easily by doing, had been busy
clamping a TV set in the "Tel-a-Turn." An appreciative grin spread over his freckled
face as he turned the little wheel on the gear stand and the chassis turned over on its
back and presented its rat's nest of sub-chassis wiring to the sharp light of the "Luxo"
lamp. Barney clipped the "Tel-a-Turn's" speaker leads to the chassis and inserted the
cheater cord in the chassis receptacle. An antenna was clipped to the set and the switch
on the speaker stand flipped on. As the set began to play, Barney turned the wheel so
that the picture tube turned back to its normal position.
"Hey, a TV for wheeling out on your patio!" Barney exclaimed as he pushed the "Tel-a-Turn"
easily about the floor with one finger. "No house should be without one!"
"Well, now, I wouldn't go that far," Mac demurred; "but I think we're going to find
a lot of use for it here in the shop. You know how hard it is lots of times to prop up
a TV chassis so that you can see and work where you've got to. You usually end up working
in an awkward, strained position, holding your breath all the while for fear the thing
will topple over and smash tubes or damage other parts. Putting such a set in this cradle
should end all that. You can work comfortably and safely and see exactly what you're
doing. Tools and small test instruments can be placed on the aluminum bench, or the whole
set can be pushed over to the scope, sweep generator, and other bench instruments."
"Yeah, and after the work is done but we want the set to 'cook' a while to make sure
nothing else is going to show up, we can just push it to one side and let it run while
we go ahead with work on the bench," Barney suggested. "If anything does show up, we
can pounce on it at once. Every part, top or bottom, is immediately accessible. The thing
is a 'natural' for working on intermittents."
"You're reading my mind," Mac accused; "and don't forget how handy it will be for
working on record players."
"Where did you run across the thing?" Barney asked curiously.
"You remember Red Baker, the service technician at Hinesdale," Mac answered. "You
know he has a left arm badly crippled by polio. He does all right with small radio sets,
but man-handling heavy TV chassis was practically impossible for him. Well, I dropped
in there a couple of weeks ago, and he had one of these. Thanks to it, he's in the radio
and TV business. After his son helps him mount a TV chassis in the cradle, he can handle
it as well as anyone. He leaves the chassis right in the cradle until it is ready to
go back in the truck. The 'Tel-a-Turn' is more than just a handy gadget to handicapped
people, people who can't do heavy lifting, or those with very limited bench area. Being
made almost entirely of aluminum, it weighs only 37 pounds and can easily be taken right
into the customer's home for performing a fairly extensive home-repair job. Using it
will certainly be a lot more convenient than working on your knees on the floor; but
far more important, I'm sure, is the impression it will make on our customer. Since this
impressive affair of gleaming cast aluminum is something he can understand, seeing it
in action will do far more to convince him that we are 'really equipped' to do service
work than would our using a seven- or eight-hundred dollar oscilloscope. People are funny."
"Here in the shop we won't put every chassis in the thing, will we?"
"Of course not. That would be foolish and time-wasting. It will be reserved for heavy
sets, sets that cannot be safely turned on side or back for service, intermittent sets,
"Hold it!" Barney interrupted. "If you keep going, you're not going to leave us anything
for bench work."
"OK," Mac obeyed, "but I have a hunch this chassis-flipper won't be empty much of
"What else is new?" Barney asked as he shrugged his shoulders into his shop-coat.
"Well, for one thing, we're going to Center City tonight to a service meeting on new
color TV circuits. What's more, we're going to make everyone of these educational service
meeting shindigs we can from here on in."
"That's OK with me, but isn't it somewhat a new policy? I thought you took the stand
a technician could learn more about new circuitry, etc., by reading books, studying service
literature, and keeping up with the magazines than he could by listening to lectures."
"Yeah, I know," Mac said with a sigh; "and that's just another fine example of how
stupid I can be when I work at it. It's true some fellows can learn more by reading than
they can by listening; but many other fellows are just the opposite. What they hear sticks
with them lots better than what they read. Anyway, few of these service meetings consist
of straight lectures. The guy giving the talk almost always accompanies it with slides,
motion pictures, or actual demonstration of equipment.
"However, the technical information you pick up at one of these meetings is only part
of the benefit. More important, it seems to me, is the contact it affords the technician
with other technicians, with distributors, and with manufacturers."
"I'll buy that," Barney agreed. "I get a big boot out of talking to other technicians.
It's amazing how often I pick up a tip that actually helps me in my work; but even when
I don't manage to pick the other guy's brain, I still enjoy it. Letting our hair down
and lambasting our cranky customers is fun. Just knowing the other technician is suffering
from the same frustrating exasperations I am makes these a lot more bearable."
"Know what you mean," Mac nodded with an understanding grin. "I also like chatting
with my distributor in a relaxed and social atmosphere. Really I think we owe it to him
to try to attend a meeting he sets up. He goes to a lot of trouble and expense arranging
the meeting, publicizing it, etc. Then, if only a few of his customers show up, that
makes him look bad. It's a poor return for all the favors he does us.
"Finally, these meetings provide service technicians with an excellent opportunity
to impress the manufacturer through his representative. Believe me, he relays what he
picks up at these meetings. If there is something wrong with the product he is selling
or if the technicians have any ideas for improving it or making it easier to service,
he provides a pipeline right to the manufacturer. And let's not forget this: Those of
us who are deeply opposed to factory service have an excellent opportunity in these service
meetings to show the manufacturer we are intelligent, progressive, eager to learn, and
completely capable of servicing his product. We can demonstrate there is no need for
"You might say," Mac concluded, "that these service meetings tend to pull all segments
of the radio and TV industry together and promote better understanding among them. Anything
that does that helps all of us. It would be interesting to know how many service organizations
have really been started in a coffee-and-doughnuts session following one of these meetings."
"I'll bet a lot of them," Barney said.
"But, hey! I haven't told you about my vacation yet. I darned near didn't get back.
Those Colorado lovelies weren't going to let me come. Man, do I go big west of the Mississippi!
There was this one cute little filly -"
And so on, far into the morning.
Posted August 28, 2018
Mac's Radio Service Shop Episodes on RF Cafe
This series of instructive stories was the brainchild of no other than John T.
Frye, creator of the Carl and Jerry series that ran in
Electronics for many years. Mac's Radio Service Shop began life in
Radio & Television News magazine
(which itself started as simply Radio News), and then changed its name to Mac's
Service Shop after the magazine became
World. 'Mac' is electronics repair shop owner Mac McGregor, and Barney is his
eager, if not somewhat naive, technician assistant. 'Lessons' are taught in story format
with dialogs between Mac and Barney.