Rescuing 500s from tube snatchers/scavengers - how much is it worth

Nenad Filipovic

Hi Everybody,

Inspired by recent talk of the admirable 500 series, I'd like to share my story and some questions that keep bugging me. I'm in Eastern Europe.

A month ago a local trader in scavenged EE components (whom I know for some time) boasted of his new catch - a complete 545A. He had already sold half of its 6DJ8s, and was getting ready to take it apart for sockets and other stuff. To cut the story short I held him off, went to see it in person (excellent condition, no corrosion, just dusty), and redeemed it with as much of the original tube set as I could (read: no 12AX7s/12AT7s and just a few spent 6DJ8s). Total cost (part cash part some of my stuff traded): approx $300. Fortunately I had a graveyard of 6DJ8 (randomly accumulated pile with ~50% life in them) to stuff the 545A and it came to life. So it wasn't even broken, I was able to calibrate it with half dead tubes. CRT is sharp and like Vegas at night. Two years ago I did the same with a 555 (somewhat poorer condition and missing power supply) for approx. $350. I cannot even fire it up, it's sitting in my storage hoping for that power supply to show up one day. For comparison I paid $400 for my 7104 with 1x7A29, 7B10 and 7B15.

What I cannot grasp are the market facts (value in $) behind this. In France (far richer and more developed economy than Eastern Europe) complete 500s do come up on eBay for $100-$250. Yet somewhere else where a teacher's salary is like $450, there seem to be people willing to dish out $40 for 1 used Buggle Boy (Amperex Holland) 6DJ8, $60 for Siemens or $80 for a Telefunken. Or are they? With this math someone may profit hundreds of $ for a 585 dug up out of some old man's basement. I understand the fact that there are less and less NOS tubes and it pushes the price up, but still the buyer's motivation will put the final cap on it. So I'm wondering who exactly are the people ultimately driving the scavenging of 500s? Are the snatchers in poorer countries just selling on eBay to the richer? There are hundreds of "buy it now" overpriced ads on eBay sitting there for years, does that mean there is a huge stock of 500s guts hopelessly stuck in some collective pipe dream? All I know is I better not share the cost of my two acquisitions with my better half.

Best regards and Happy holidays,
Nenad Filipovic

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