Re: Eli Heffron's electronic junkyard

Frank DuVal

Yes, Albert,

I went to many hamfests in the DC area (Vienna, Gaithersburg, Manassas, and Berryville) from early 70s to now, and remember the Star Trek Enterprise van real well!

In the late 70s I bought a 544 (50 mHz, who would need higher?) at one hamfest, Vienna I think, as it was demonstrated working.

I never went (did not live there), but friends told about trips to SASCO and EEB.

Ana Instruments in King George looked like a surplus place of years gone by when I stopped in about two years ago. Military surplus with emphasis on test equipment piled high.

Two museums in the area, National Capital Radio and TV in Bowie, MD and National Electronics Museum n Linthicum, MD. This one has lots of exhibits of the government three and four (NASA) letter agency's electronics gadgets.

Frank DuVal


On 4/25/2018 6:41 PM, Albert LaFrance wrote:
Just wanted to contribute to this compilation of long-gone electronics
surplus dealers.

From the late 1960s through the early '80s, I knew of three such stores in
the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. For a "paper" town, DC
generated quite a bit of electronic surplus, due to government R&D
facilities like NBS and NASA Goddard, military installations, and numerous
contractors and manufacturers serving the national-security market.

Sasco Electronics was an old storefront on King Street in Alexandria, across
the Potomac from DC. Thanks to the construction of a Metro station, the
area is now very upscale, with lots of trendy restaurants, boutiques and
antique shops, but back then it was mostly utilitarian businesses like auto
parts and office supplies. Sasco's display windows and deep, narrow sales
floor were crammed with all kinds of equipment and parts, all at very low
prices. There was also a dungeon-like basement, with bare light bulbs on
the ceiling and rows of crude wooden shelves piled high with every
imaginable type of part, especially big transformers, inductors and
capacitors, most of it top-quality stuff salvaged from military and
commercial gear. The owner was usually seated behind the counter puffing on
a pipe, while a kid at a bench in the back disassembled some piece of
equipment for parts.

Ritco Electronics was a similar operation, housed (as best I can recall) in
one or more large sheds or garage-like buildings in Annandale. Perhaps due
to their larger space, they seemed to have more big/heavy, complete pieces
of equipment than Sasco did.

Electronic Equipment Bank in Vienna was the biggest of the three, and the
one I'm most familiar with since I worked there, for owner Dick Robinson,
occasionally and part-time for a couple of years. Dick was an EE who had
previously been in test equipment sales (for HP, I think). Unlike the other
stores, whose customers were pretty much all hams and other hobbyists, EEB
also did a substantial commercial business. This was in an era when a lot
of vacuum-tube "boatanchor" test gear like Tek 500-series scopes and those
big HP signal generators (606/608?) were still considered viable lab
instruments and could bring real money.

EEB was housed in a large space in a warehouse building with a loading dock,
with neighbors like an HVAC contractor and building supply distributors.
There was an office for Dick and a bookkeeper/admin lady, a showroom, a lab
with two benches, a library/lunchroom with at least six four-drawer file
cabinets stuffed with manuals, a calibration standards lab equipped with
various salvaged items, and a vast storage area on two levels, divided into
several rooms, with heavy steel shelving and equipment piled high

A lot of our stock came from the federal government (GSA) surplus auctions
at the Washington Navy Yard, held in the cavernous former Naval Gun Factory.
The equipment was usually sold in lots which seemed to be randomly assembled
by someone unfamiliar with the merchandise; rumor had it that the security
guard at the exit was there not to prevent theft, but to make sure that no
winning bidder got away without taking *everything* he'd ended up buying!

To get his often huge hauls back to the store, Dick would sometimes hire a
young man of the hippie persuasion, who drove a Step-Van (former Postal
Service truck. I believe) painted in a Star Trek motif, complete with the
Enterprise's "NCC-1701" number, and with a bed for his German Shepherd on
the passenger side.

At some point Dick had acquired two enormous balun transformers, probably
from some high-powered military HF station. They were two long brass
cylinders, maybe 10-12 inches in diameter and 8-10 feet long. They'd been
sitting in our warehouse forever, with no interested customers. But when
our trucker saw them, he immediately knew what to do with them - they became
the "engines" on the roof of his four-wheeled "starship"!

Anyway, one of EEB's specialties was 500-series Tek scopes. They were piled
everywhere in the showroom and warehouse, along with every kind of plug-in.
I worked on a lot of them, and was able to fix quite a few despite my
minimal knowledge of electronics, thanks to the excellent manuals and
assistance from some of Dick's friends who had worked in field service for
Tek or for the various instrument rental and calibration companies in the DC


From: TekScopes@... <mailto:TekScopes@...>
Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2016 9:40 PM
To: TekScopes@... <mailto:TekScopes@...>
Subject: [TekScopes] Re: Eli Heffron's electronic junkyard

I believe that the place in Amesbury was Delta Electronics, I think I still
have one of their old catalogs. Used to run up there a lot in the late 70s.
He would let you wander the place and I do remember the pigeons on the 3rd
floor. Not much good stuff up there on the 3rd floor anyway. Meshna was also
a popular spot, got the 68705P3 for my first Morse Code keyboard from
Meshna. Came out of a gas pump control.

Coming from the Hartford area, we would hit Active Electronics in
Framingham, then up 495 to Verrada in Lowell continuing on to Delta which
was near where 495 and 95 merged. From there, down 95 to the Lynn/Lynnfield
area for Poly Paks and Meshna and then on to Boston to Solid State Sales and
a few computer stores in that area. Made for a long day...


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