Radio Mystery - USAF Plant 3 1969 Stoner-Chevrolet

Nicholas Studer

PCS Elected Director 2022-2025
The radio setup from my 1969 Stoner-Chevrolet "Crash Wagon" (http://www.professionalcarsociety.org/forums/showthread.php?t=21907) was apparently removed in 1993 when the plant shut down. The only remaining component of unknown installation is the black plastic GE fuse block holder mounted in the engine bay. It is for this reason, I suspect a GE product was installed at least at some point. The car is from late 1969, and was apparently transferred from Huntington Beach to Tulsa sometime in the 1970s. The radio could and probably has been changed out several times - making this harder. I don't want to install any 1980s+ equipment. I am aiming to get what fits (I am not going to drill any new holes) and is most likely correct to its early service in Tulsa.

I consider myself rather fascile with the radio options common to our vehicles from 1950-1980, but I'm rather stumped. I've consulted Kevin O'Connell as well, and we're both still a bit confused. Perhaps someone will see something we didn't. There are no records from AF Plant 3 apparently left, and while I reached out to the M-D Retiree's Association, Tulsa FD Museum, and various places on Facebook this has yet to bear too much fruit. Steve Lichtman tells me EMSA and TFD used separate GE and Motorola systems, and neither could talk to M-D Fire Dept. I sure wish Steve Loftin had photographed the interior when he photographed this car in service.

1. There are two antennas on the roof, both fairly standard Antenna Specialists VHF antennas with one at approx. 25", the other 18". Three antenna cables correspond and run down the headliner down the passenger B-pillar. A third antenna cable runs from "nowhere" down to the floor, I suspect this is a remnant of laziness during a likely re-install from Huntington beach to Tulsa. All cables have the length to run along the console to enter it.

2. There is no evidence of a radio being mounted behind the passenger seat on the divider or floor. I even got underneath with a flashlight to be sure.

3. The only spot where holes are present is in the console compartment. This makes best sense. There are multiple sets of holes. I've attached an overhead photo from the passenger seat showing the rear-ward compartment to left and forward portion (with switches, etc.) to the right. I believe the small set of holes on the driver's side wall are for a now-missing mic holder. They seem to have vacillated about this at various points during its service life, and there are five separate spots a mic holder appears to have been placed. Two remain present - one on the dash and this one on the side which currently holes the PA-15 mic. A Motorola "hang-up box" fits some empty holes drilled into the "POSITIVELY NO SMOKING" decal on the console (last photo) - but I've left it off for now pending radio ID.

4. The large compartment to the left is where I suspect the radio drawer would have gone. There are three holes approx. 13" fron the absolute rear of the compartment. They are four inches apart for a total of 8 inches across GE MASTR II as well as Motorola MOTRAC, MICOR, and MOCOM 70 radio drawers do not fit, let alone align with the holes. I do not have any other radio drawers in my possession to test. However, MASTR Professional/Royal Professional is 19" long and appears to be too long to install.

5. There are three clear sets of holes that I would suspect go to speaker, and/or control head (if they did not install a front/dash-mount model). Two sets are shown in the right side of the overhead photo that are two central holes of approx. 2.5" center-to-center with four indentations in the wood surrounding that represent tight, downward pressure over time. The set to the left is also 2.5", but does not have the surrounding indentation.
a. This does appear to match up with GE MASTR II/MASTR Executive II and Motorola MICOR speaker brackets, but these do not have anything that would create the indentations present. I do not have any Motorola MOTRAC/MOCOM 70 speaker brackets spare to test, but they are a flat metal base that wouldn't do that either even if they did fit.
b. GE MASTR II and Executive II control head brackets do not seem to match up to any of the three sets of holes. A MOTRAC/MOCOM 70 control head bracket does appears to match, however - this also wouldn't account for the four indentations seen on the front two sets.

6. There's three holes that appear to be on a diagonal on the passenger side. Perhaps this was used to hold down the cables? Even the laziest install probably wouldn't put things at an angle, but you never know.

It gets to be a lot of permutations of radio options when you look at all the "economy" products that were possibly used as well. M-D was a big company, and it's interesting two antennas were on the roof. There could even have been two radios at the same time. My best guess at this point is MASTR Executive, shown at http://www.repeater-builder.com/ge/lbi-library/lbi-4325b.pdf and http://www.wb6nvh.com/GE/GEhist2.htm as this unit is 12.25 to 12.50 inches long (depending on trunk/front mount) and dates 1965-1973. I have been unable to turn one up to at least test. Thoughts appreciated.
 

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Jacob M. Fournier

PCS Member
The GE fuse block is identical to the one in my '67, which had a MASTR Pro, however, I don't know if the same fuse block was used with the later MASTR II. I can measure the mounting bracket for my MASTR over the weekend and see what the measurements are.
 

Tim Prieur

PCS Member
Nic, you have really done your homework!! What a great jig saw question. I look forward to more intelligent input than I can provide...so I won't.
 

Nicholas Studer

PCS Elected Director 2022-2025
The GE fuse block is identical to the one in my '67, which had a MASTR Pro, however, I don't know if the same fuse block was used with the later MASTR II. I can measure the mounting bracket for my MASTR over the weekend and see what the measurements are.

Appreciate it Sir, but MASTR Professional and Royal Professional were top-of-the-line radios for GE, contemporary to the MOTRAC with Motorola. They're too long for the space I have to work with.

Kevin O'Connell tells me he believes the GE products of the day were sold on the basis of quality, and Motorola on the basis of price. It makes sense an S&S-Cadillac would have one. The MASTR Executive was the more "economy" model. But, apparently still a very high-quality radio apparently. Both used the black box. MASTR II and MASTR Executive II is a little new for my vehicle, but an Executive II seems like it would fit.

Nic, you have really done your homework!! What a great jig saw question. I look forward to more intelligent input than I can provide...so I won't.

Thank you Tim, the homework and mysteries are what make this fun and cost little until you figure out some piece of unobtainium is what you're looking for! The sad part for me is the rapidly vanishing knowledge base. Not that I expect a hoarde of radio men here - but even the paper records to consult on a lot of topics are often not scanned. Thankfully, a lot of GE and Motorola documents have been thanks to the HAM folks that tear this equipment apart to make repeaters and the like.

Here's some more homework paying off. I dug through the MASTR Professional's Installation Manual, which I purchased years ago on eBay for potential reference. Turns out they specified metal cable ties to hold down the control cable - looks like I've solved what the "diagonal" row of single holes was...
 

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Just wondering based on the mention of a long (24") antenna and aircraft plant, there is the possibility an AM aircraft radio could have been in the car for com with tower if the car entered a flight area.

If you measure the long whip you can get an idea of the frequency it operated at. 17 5/8" matches pretty close to 152mhz.

The GE fuseblock and mic hanger were common for years to GE where Progress was more important than communication. Those fuse blocks were one of the best ways to convert a 60 watt transmitter to 10 watts known to mankind in an area where roadsalt was used. Both were common to Execline and Masterexecline drawers.

There was also the beloved plug together TPL from GE, that came with a lecture TPL stood for Transistorized Prog Line, NOT Toilet Paper line.
 

Jacob M. Fournier

PCS Member
I think the two screw holes surrounded by the four dimples are from the bracket to hold a Big Beam flashlight.
 

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Peter Grave

PCS Member
My thoughts on radios. Having had two businesses that used two way radio and buying used government equipment since 1963 I can speak to two way radios. Fist it is common place to move radio equipment from unit to unit as the vehicles are upgraded. Radio equipment is upgraded on an as needed basis so many radios are in service through several vehicles. That said the company that had your rig could very easily have moved the equipment from the unit it replaced to your rig. As this was a company owned vehicle not government owned it would be a natural thing to move the radio equipment from old to new cheaper and better management as the equipment had little use. Thus almost any of GEs prolific line of two ways of the era would be correct and the measurements and specs you list could cover many GE products. I have a 43 foot moving van trailer filled with two way radio equipment form our county, the City of Philadelphia, and other users. Much of it GE and Motorola some Dumont. I even have our countys base two way system from the 50s. I would be happy to ship you as much of a GE mobile you want free just pay the shipping.
 

Nicholas Studer

PCS Elected Director 2022-2025
Just wondering based on the mention of a long (24") antenna and aircraft plant, there is the possibility an AM aircraft radio could have been in the car for com with tower if the car entered a flight area.

If you measure the long whip you can get an idea of the frequency it operated at. 17 5/8" matches pretty close to 152mhz.

The GE fuseblock and mic hanger were common for years to GE where Progress was more important than communication. Those fuse blocks were one of the best ways to convert a 60 watt transmitter to 10 watts known to mankind in an area where roadsalt was used. Both were common to Execline and Masterexecline drawers.

There was also the beloved plug together TPL from GE, that came with a lecture TPL stood for Transistorized Prog Line, NOT Toilet Paper line.

Height of the tallest antenna is 25 1/4", the shorter one 18 1/4". It's certainly possible an ATC radio was present.

I think the two screw holes surrounded by the four dimples are from the bracket to hold a Big Beam flashlight.

That bracket would definitely hold my 211 Big Beam, roughly 5 5/8 long and 2 7/8 wide.

That is an awesome thought! "Big Beam" had their own, proprietary bracket, shown in attached ad picture. I eventually found out two of these filled the holes on the shelf of my 1963 Pinner-Chrysler. However, I just checked and the holes are too close together for the spare I have. There are also no dimples on the bottom of these, just a flat base. I also checked with a spare Koehler Wheat Lamp I had - also doesn't match.

It looks from your photo that you may have found an unexpected winner for those two sets of holes there. What you pictured is the bracket for what could be several options of "clamp-on" lights, which just attached to the top of a lantern battery. Ray-O-Vac Sportsman was one example. There wasn't as much worry about scraping up the battery sides with such a friction assembly, since the battery is disposable. A few years ago, there were a few on eBay for sale - but sadly the cupboard appears bare at the moment. Hopefully one will turn up for me to test. It would make a lot of sense.

My thoughts on radios. Having had two businesses that used two way radio and buying used government equipment since 1963 I can speak to two way radios. Fist it is common place to move radio equipment from unit to unit as the vehicles are upgraded. Radio equipment is upgraded on an as needed basis so many radios are in service through several vehicles. That said the company that had your rig could very easily have moved the equipment from the unit it replaced to your rig. As this was a company owned vehicle not government owned it would be a natural thing to move the radio equipment from old to new cheaper and better management as the equipment had little use. Thus almost any of GEs prolific line of two ways of the era would be correct and the measurements and specs you list could cover many GE products. I have a 43 foot moving van trailer filled with two way radio equipment form our county, the City of Philadelphia, and other users. Much of it GE and Motorola some Dumont. I even have our countys base two way system from the 50s. I would be happy to ship you as much of a GE mobile you want free just pay the shipping.

I'll message you Peter, that's very kind of you! While earlier radios (Accent, Pacer, TPL shown at http://www.wb6nvh.com/GE/GEhist2.htm) might fit - I don't have dimensions and the photos seemed to show fairly large drawers. I figured also that M-D being a large corporation, and MASTR Executive coming out in 1965 might have gone that route by 1970s when the car arrived.
 

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All right, fess up right now, how did you get the picture of my 211.
That spring setup must have launched a few handlights.

You tell the truth and I'll look around for the clamp on I have stashed someplace. From memory clamp ons fit the fat battery that was almost a cube. Clamp on being different from the post mount Ray-O-Vac produced millions of in a similar size to Big Beam 211.

Re the long antenna, measurement needs to be of just the whip. I did some chart reading and 21" of whip puts the radio around 120mhz which is oddly the low end of AM aircraft frequencies.
 

John ED Renstrom

PCS Member
Super Site Supporter
my only take is that the aftermarket builder did not put in a radio unless requested.then is would be what ever was requested and farmed out to a licensed installer. they would normally be installed after delivery to cover what ever needs the new owners had. normally removed when passed on. to put in the new rig. mounts were with elongated holes for universal application. but marks might be useful as all were a little different. the base loading coil would be the range of the radio with the whip trimmed to the exact frequency of the radio. at a 1/4 wave length. vary few commercial radios had mutable Chanel. most used only the one licensed. hence the number of them installed and the number of holes in the roof. most low bands used whips at around 100 inches. the stoner would most likely have only one ground plain cast in the roof. so a lot of cab mounts on mutable radios in the higher bands.
 

Nicholas Studer

PCS Elected Director 2022-2025
All right, fess up right now, how did you get the picture of my 211.
That spring setup must have launched a few handlights.

You tell the truth and I'll look around for the clamp on I have stashed someplace. From memory clamp ons fit the fat battery that was almost a cube. Clamp on being different from the post mount Ray-O-Vac produced millions of in a similar size to Big Beam 211.

Re the long antenna, measurement needs to be of just the whip. I did some chart reading and 21" of whip puts the radio around 120mhz which is oddly the low end of AM aircraft frequencies.

That photo of that ad was on eBay maybe a year or so ago.

Looks like the longer whip was cut to 123.200 and 123.275 which MD used at Edwards.
http://cascanning.tripod.com/california/kerncounty/edwards.html

Great info! Very likely what it was.
 

Nicholas Studer

PCS Elected Director 2022-2025
I think we're getting somewhere...

Holes matched for the radio base itself. However, holes don't perfectly line up for the control head/speaker brackets. :( The brackets are holding with just a single screw and not drilling new holes though. I'm unsure what the deal is - it was not MASTR Professional or the earlier Transistorized Progress Line as I tried to get those items to fit and couldn't due to size. It was not a Motorola product originally, best as I can tell. One clue to this mystery is that the hang-up clip on the side there (pictured) is a GE product. It's possible some holes in there went to something else entirely unrelated to the radio - like hand-lights as mentioned. It's possible also that M-D had a special radio setup of some kind from GE or otherwise - after all, there are two antennas with evidence of a previous third. Presuming that the two antennas were in service simultaneously, multiple antennas isn't something the standard products could deal with back then. Astute observers will also note it's a single-channel MASTR Royal Executive control head. But, how it is right now makes most sense to me after lots of research and most of the MASTR Professional/Executive stuff seemingly vaporware.

Next step is enlisting the help of the local Harris radio shop to see if I have it hooked up right before connecting power...
 

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Couple things come to mind, first being that transmitter ain't legal to light up any more since narrow banding. Somebody dimes you out it's $750 unless you're licensed on that frequency.

Going on the presumption the radio is for display only, why not just connect the control head and leave the drawer completely depowered? That would definitely cut power consumption, and should you get lucky enough to meet a Field Engineer from the Federal Cookie Company, it will be very easy to prove you're legal.

Second option, if you insist on powering the drawer, you can unplug the transmitter strip inside the drawer to prove innocence.

I don't have any GE books left, but there are a bunch of old guys from RG Harris who live and breathe these radios. Naturally they have a web site.
http://www.radioinfoboard.com/viewforum.php?f=39&sid=80e4609be56dd411edd9cb917b923fe1

When I glanced it looks like there are a couple who still remember the GEs many in this area are still trying to forget.

Hood luck.
 

Nicholas Studer

PCS Elected Director 2022-2025
Thanks. Like I did for my 1963 Pinner-Chrysler, it's nice to be able to turn the radio switch and the power light glows. Regardless, I want to have someone with some current install experience double-check my work before applying current to it.
 

Nicholas Studer

PCS Elected Director 2022-2025
Very kindly, a senior radio tech for one of the nearby municipalities was willing to help me out with powering up the set! On a side note - a clearly MASTR Executive control head and speaker turned up on eBay. Turns out the microphone is the main difference - with it being black compared to the grayish color otherwise more commonly found. That fits better with the mic pictured in the manual. I guess the gray ones were only for GE MASTR Professional products?

This radio powers up and squeeze the PTT - the GE logo lights up red. Pretty neat!
 

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