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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The TV Repairman

The TV Repairman

This post was inspired by a post from Stephanie Faris @ If you like it, go tell Stephanie thanks.  If you don’t, tell Stephanie to stop giving me ideas.

Back in the day of roof top antennas, TV’s often broke down.  Today it seems like a TV will last at least ten years before it starts to get tired.  TV’s today are inexpensive compared to TV’s in the olden days.  Today when your TV finally breaks down you curse a bit and then just go buy a new much bigger, much better TV.  In the days before cable TV and remote controls, you called the TV repairman.

Growing up my dad was our TV repair man.  If the TV didn’t work it was one of three problems.  A blown tube (GIYP), a bad tuner, or the picture tube was dead.  If the picture tube was dead it was obvious and you were what we used to call “shit out of luck.” If not, you called the TV repairman, like I said in our house that meant hollering “DAD!!”

Dad pulled every tube from the back of the TV and we drove off to the hardware store.  The hardware store had a tube testing machine.  You plugged the tubes into the machine one by one until you found the bad tube.  You bought a new tube, drove home, replaced it, and once again dad saved the day.

If your dad was incompetent, you called a TV repairman.  When I was the dad we called a TV repairman.

When I bought my first color TV, I ruined the tuner trying to get color on the movie “True Grit.” It was the first day I had the TV and I was thrilled to have color.  It is a long story which is in my second book, but the color on “True Grit” was not working in my new TV.  I twisted and turned every color related control knob trying to view the movie in color until three quarters of the way through the movie there came an announcement.

“We regret to inform you that due to technical difficulties, tonight’s show is not available in color.”

In the mean time, all my fubitsing with the controls ruined them.  I never again received a good color picture.

A year later, after watching TV in very unusual, frustrating hues I saw an ad for a TV repairman, “In home service, if I can’t fix it there is no charge.” Of course I called.

The repair guy came and after about an hour gave up, and  declared my TV color reception was fried.

“Tell you what; do you have any other TV’s that aren’t working right?  If I can fix them I will only charge you ten bucks.”

I did have a very old 11 inch black and white that I didn’t use because it was so frustrating trying to get a clear picture.

The TV repairman looked it over, pulled out the channel knob and sprayed WD40 all over the insides.  He then put back the knob, twisted it about a dozen times, turned on the set and presto, perfect reception!

It turns out that the problem with almost all tuners back in the day is they got dirty and off kilter.  WD40 cleaned them up and in two minutes they were as good as new.  This bit of knowledge only cost me ten dollars.

Over the next five years I was the miracle TV fix it man in the neighborhood.  I could have gone into business myself; me and a can of WD40.

Then electronic digital tuners replaced the old gears and gismo dial tuners.  I was out of business before I hung up a shingle. The old tubes were also replaced by miracle chips and magic.

I have not seen a TV repair shop or an ad for a TV repairman in 40 years.


  1. Gosh that is so true about not seeing TV repair men these days! Worse yet when you put out an "older" TV for free at the curb, no one even takes it!


  2. Dad used to fix our reception by smacking the set on its side. sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn't. We always seemed to have trouble with the horizontal hold.
    These days with digital TVs it's cheaper to buy new than pay for repairs. mine is about 7 years old and seems to be doing well. The dvd player is another story; same age as the TV but badly overworked.

  3. Well darn, from the title, I thought this would be another Lady Chatterly's Lover. But it turns out, it's just a can of WD-40

  4. I know a fellow my age who was a TV repair man. He claims to still be in business, but he basically putters in his shop all day.

  5. i remember my folks having to haul our old tv to the tv repair shop. thanks for the memories!

  6. I remember taking, labeling and testing those tubes ages ago. I was single and it wasn't that hard to do. now televisions are paper thin. We have a smart TV and it's way smarter than hubby and I. It's an awesome picture and the sound is incredible. TVs have come a very long way.

    Have a fabulous day Cranky. ☺

  7. Yep, and all those "old" TV's end up in the landfill ... progress?

  8. I remember grandma's tv sporting little globs of tin foil on the rabbit ears. Guess they thought that helped the reception!

  9. The TV i remember was from a kit built by a friend of the family, and if it needed repair, he came over and repaired it. It was his side business, building, selling, and repairing them.

  10. If you were throwing in a little Yiddish, your comment, "all my fubitsing with the controls" should have been "futzing" around!!

  11. My dad was great at keeping our sets running. Real men fix things. I don't fix things.

  12. Like Eisenhower Republicans they are a dying species....

  13. Thanks for the memories! I remember rabbit ears and rooftop antennas. The digital antenna we just bought has the shape of an iPad and I was amazed by how clear the reception is. None of that "the station is too far away, so the picture doesn't come in well" crap - with digital, it's either there or not.

  14. I remember those days. Our TV was HEAVY too. It buzzed and crackled before it came on, but I loved those old shows. Sky King was one of my favorites.

  15. I remember those days when I was a kid. We had a large antenna atop a two story pole for all of five channels. We'd have to go out and turn the pole when we turned the channel for better reception.

  16. Right before I started high school, our TV went on the fritz. Dad set a black-and-white TV on top of the broken color TV. It was near the end of summer. My mom drove us to my grandma's every day so we could watch "our stories" in color. We were hooked on One Life to Live and General Hospital. We complained every day to Dad, who started working overtime, and brought home a new set just in time for the Munich Olympics. Mark Spitz would not have been the same in black-and-white.

  17. OMG come to think of it, you're right----I never see TV repair men anymore! People just dump them and buy new ones. I remember one of my kids--when they were little---put a magnet against the TV screen. It left an annoying blue dot right in the center of the screen. And this was a NEW television….


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