May 5, 2018
Last edited November 16, 2018
We are pleased to open this page on our timeline website. The Westinghouse H840CK15 represented the pinnacle of American technology in 1954 and was the second all electronic color television receiver offered for sale to the American public.
An advertisement from Life Magazine, April 26, 1954.
From the Early Television Foundation:
The Early Television Museum located in Hilliard, Ohio, is probably the preeminent authority on early television hardware. An excerpt from their website:
“This set was the *first color set for sale*, in March of 1954. It was priced at $1,295. Westinghouse ran a full page ad in the New York Times introducing the set, for sale at 60 stores in New York. Not one of the stores reported a single sale.
In April the price was cut to $1,110 after only 30 sets had been sold. Only 500 were built, and most were never sold, because there was very little programming in color at the time, and the set was expensive and temperamental. This is one of only a few of these sets still in existence.”
* Added by author. We respectfully point to the fact that it appears the Admiral C1617A was the first all electronic color television offered for sale. See this page. The Westinghouse H840CK15 may have been the first electronic color set sold, but no one knows for sure. We found photographic evidence that an Admiral C1617A was in a dealer showroom as early as January 17, 1954 and evidence the first documented sale (discovered by this author) was sometime prior to May 16, 1954 in a restaurant and “a few sets were in installed in private Chicago area homes” earlier. How much earlier? As to the Westinghouse H840CK15, the earliest evidence of a purchase found by this author so far, was sometime prior to April 27, 1954.
UPDATE, OCTOBER 1, 2018
We have an article, (not posted on this page) indicating initial startup production of the H840CK15 was slow, taking 16 hours to assemble one set. There were 200 employees at the production plant to start, increasing to 375 shortly thereafter with the goal of reducing inspection time. Mostly hand assembled with scarecity of parts were cited for slow production. Production increased to about 24 sets a day.
Based on the below articles, the Westinghouse H840CK15 was in production approximately 187 days and production on a limited basis was serveral dozen sets a day. We will call it about 24 sets a day. If we accept this information, Westinghouse produced about 4488 color sets in 1954 more or less. If we account for slower production at the start and the waning days, perhaps about 3500 units? Further investigation is required to support or deny this information.
Westinghouse Starts Production January 10, 1954
MARCH 1, 1954
Earliest advertisement I’ve found so far of the Westinghouse color set for sale.
April 3, 1954 Westinghouse Cuts Price.
This article, courtesy Early Television Foundation, indicating the Westinghouse was introduced early March, 1954 and only 30 sets have been sold. The date of this article is unknown to author.
First documented sale (I’ve found so far) of the Westinghouse H840CK15. The set was delivered April 27, 1954 and purchased sometime prior.
Admiral Stops Production
As of July, 1954, Westinghouse color sets were on sale in the New York/Jersey area, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Los Angles and San Francisco. Courtesy Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York.
Author: If we are to believe the above article and it comports with both Admiral and RCA both having stopped production of their 15 inch color sets about six months after production; then this article is in conflict. We know that Westinghouse put into limited production, a 19 inch version Model 890CKU19 color set after halting the 15 inch production. Examining the black and white photo and the two color photos below, we can see several differences in the chassis design. For one, there are two support rods at the rear of the chassis, presumably to support the heavier 19 inch CRT. Additionally, the front supports look larger. The black stripe around the front of the CRT looks thinner. The size of the CRT next to the women compared to the first color photo below looks much larger. If the tube is a 19 inch, it would have to the CBS “205”. We can’t verify based on this black and white photo.
By September, 1954, Westinghouse reduced the price of the H840CK15 to $595.
The Westinghouse H840CK15 on the production line. Photos courtesy of Popular Science Magazine, July, 1954. Westinghouse assembled the 15GP22 at the “Horsehead” plant in New Jersey. Our 15GP22 was made between March 22-26, 1954. Our chassis was the 147th produced.
APRIL 24, 1955
Amazing price reduction of the now discontinued Westinghouse H840CK15.
According to this article, it was estimated that about ten thousand color televisions were in use by the end of the first year of color television, 1954.
We were searching the old posts at the VideoKarma forums and found this posting from Roger Dreyfoos.
”Yesterday, we went to a Best Buy store to see a Samsung 3-D LCD model set up for demonstration. It actually brought back a memory from 1954, of our dad taking us downtown to see a COLOR TV (Westinghouse) set up in the window of a department store – probably the only color TV in Wichita – other than a broadcast monitor back at the transmitter. We were part of a small crowd straining to see the washed out picture (summertime, about 7PM) of Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town show from the local CBS affiliate, KTVH. If that was color TV then that demo would never sell any.”
MAY 5, 2018
We just acquired a Westinghouse H840CK15 at the annual Early Television Convention auction held on May 5, 2018. We know absolutely nothing about the history or prior ownership of this set. If anyone that attended the convention knows something I’d appreciate hearing from you. The auction was streamed live on YouTube and the below photo captures the auctioneer (in black jacket and cap) at the precise moment the hammer fell, SOLD! We we’re trilled, as this set escaped us five years earlier.
This photo, courtesy of Wayne Bretl at the convention.
The set was described as having an “excellent” 15GP22 CRT with a complete, but unknown chassis condition. Three photos of the flyback area look clean. As always, tap on image for larger size.
The set will be crated with five layers of protection. I asked Larry at the museum to make sure the chassis’s bolt are tight and secure. When the 21CT55 arrived, we found two bolts on the cabinet floor. No damage occurred because the set was immobilized in such a way that the set could not move within the crate. We are doing the same for the Westinghouse with a “floating” isolation platform on a pallet.
This time I won’t have the pleasure of uncrating the Westinghouse, instead, it’s going directly to Mike’s ranch about 50 miles Northwest of me. That will save him three trips to my home. Mike will be doing the restoration as I do not have the skills to work on a television of this complexity.
A word about Mike Doyle, a Videokarma member.
I met Mike in 2011 on EBay after calling his phone number to talk about a recapped Sony Micro set he worked on and which I purchased. His next project for me was bringing back to life a SONY TV 8-301W, followed by a RCA 21CT55 and a RCA CTC-7.
Mike started out his career as a television repairman. Over the decades he worked on well over a thousand televisions, both color and black and white of all brands. He told me he has repaired over 500 flybacks and never had one fail within their normal lifetimes.
Mike moved on and began work for CalTech. He was an engineer on the team that designed the prototype Hubble space telescope. He worked on the “4 shooter” project. Later, he worked at the Mt. Palomar Obseratory in Southern California. He also taught electrical theory to his students at Palomar Journal College.
Tap on images.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2008
Say goodbye to Palomar
After a combined 47 years of service to the observatory Mike and Barbara Doyle are saying goodbye to Palomar.Mike served mostly as an electronic technician before moving up to assistant superintendent. During my brief term of service here I have known him to be a dedicated and vital part of the Palomar team. He has provided great support and advice to myself and the observatory’s public outreach program.
Barbara has worked in the observatory’s accommodations for the astronomers, known as the Monastery, and also has been the powerhouse behind the observatory’s gift shop. She has professionally greeted and explained the observatory to many thousands of visitors over the years.
I join the entire Palomar staff and our team of docents in wishing them well in their new venture. They will certainly be missed but their hard work, commitment to doing things right and friendship will linger with us for some time to come.
On his last day with the observatory, as he had done many times before, Mike climbed deep within the mighty Hale Telescope. This last time it wasn’t to keep the ol’ gal running, it was for the memories and the photo op. 🙂
Mike is now enjoying his retirement with his wife on their ranch. He also collects vintage television and a few of his sets can be seen on the “ViewersTV page. We have high confidence in Mike’s abilities to restore this set. Still, we will undoubtably reach out to the vast data bank of information possessed by the members of the VideoKarma forums. More to come.
Update, July 11, 2018
After a long delay, the Westinghouse H840CK15 is finally on its way to Mike in Arizona. Here you see the set crated. The only way to go when shipping 2000 miles.
Update, July 20, 2018
The Westinghouse arrived at Mike’s place today. Below, the meeting and unloading operation.
The meeting at Exit 20 Interstate 40.
Pix 1 and 2. A smooth transfer from the FedEx truck to my truck.
Pix 3 loaded and strapped in and ready for the trip on 12 miles of dirt road. SLOW
Pix 5 A 1954 loaded in the back of a 1974
Pix’s 6 and 7 Rigged and ready to unload. This is really a lot safer than it looks.
Update, July 21, 2018
Uncrating completed. Good news, no apparent visual damage. We won’t know more until basic testing. Full recap will be done prior to attempting to light the tube. More photos to come.
Update, August 7, 2018, Day 1
The cabinet is in dire need of restoration as seen below. Mike will bring the cabinet to me for refinishing. The chassis and CRT will stay with Mike for the electrical restoration. Tap any image to open the image carousel. Tap the full resolution icon for full size.
From Mike: “OK, here are the pictures of how I tested the CRT. Picture #1 is before anything is disturbed. Note that the screw on the right side of the centering coils was found below resting on the chassis. The one on the left (shown removed) by me.
Picture #2 centering Coils removed.
Picture #3 CRT neck cleaned of dust and ?
Picture #4 My universal cable that I made for my tester. Wires for Filament 1, Filament 2, Cathode, Grid 1 and Grid 2. These are needed for the test of the individual guns. Filament voltage is 6.3 Volts.
Picture 5 Red gun hookup.
Picture 6 Green gun hookup
Picture 7 Blue gun hookup.
The numbers were RED .825
Green .6 and
Authors note. We can’t understand the manufacturers reasoning for placing the hue control at the rear of the cabinet. What were they thinking? It’s attached to a long cable, so it may be possible to reroute the cable and control to the pencil box. More to come.
UPDATE, AUGUST 10, 2018, Day 10
Tonight I began the chassis removal process. I am collecting photos which will come later. I was very disturbed to discover that there were NO CHASSIS BOLTS at all holding the main chassis to the cabinet.
The chassis serial number is on a tag glued to the high voltage cage and it appears to be ME000147
I take that to be the 147th one produced. The ME is likely a location code of where it was built. Any ideas?
No serial numbers on the crt neck or socket but the code date (which is visible in your picture) is 4-13.
I take that to be the 13th week of 1954 which likely makes this the original crt.
Thanks for the numbers, I agree. More to come.
UPDATE, August 12, 2018, Day 12
From Mike. OK, onward to removing the chassis and crt. This will be sent over a few emails due to the number of pictures.
Pictures 1 and 2 Front panels and knobs being removed.
Picture 3 Broken knob (the white one). Not sure of its function just yet.
Picture 5 and 6 show magnetic shield mis-alignment bottom and then top. I believe when this piece is properly installed it should mate nicely with the other parts.
Picture 7 These pieces fell out from under the chassis as I removed it from the cabinet. One screw that I might likely find the place for later, the second looks like a tuning slug from one of the tuned transformers. (the next picture shows where this possibly came from). And then, what looks like a broken tuning slug core from some tuned transformer.
Picture 9 Chassis top left.
Picture 10 Degassing coil plug.
Picture 13 Blocking the face end of the crt before removing screws. This insures minimum loading on the neck of the tube as the screws are removed.
Picture 14 Removing the necessary 3 screws on each side to unmount the crt from the chassis.
Picture 15 CRT removed.
Picture 17 Serious issues with the quality of the aquadag on the CRT.
Picture 18 These flakes of “DAG” were found on the chassis after the crt was removed. I guess it’s a good thing that I purchased a supply of aquadag liquid from Scott Avitt before he closed up Hawkeye. This issue, I’m sure, will be a very easy part of the restoration process.
Picture 19 The chassis bottom.
Thus far, I have been doing some thinking on how this restoration will go. I will be doing this one a lot differently than ever before. Most of the repairs will be done without a crt at all and using only test equipment to breath life back in to the individual circuits. That way the CRT stays “safe” until I am ready for it. I may use a monochrome crt mounted to the chassis for some of the testing process. The signals from the individual circuits can then be patched in to the monochrome gun one at a time so the quality of the images can be seen as needed. This way, the Luminance and Chrominance signals can be evaluated without the use of the 15EGP22 being in the set.
Good Afternoon Mike,
As always, tap on any image to open the image carousel. Tap icon again for full resolution images
UPDATE, AUGUST 13, 2018, Day 13
From Mike: I have been studying the Westinghouse documents and learned that the degaussing ring on the front of the crt is in fact the opposite. Interesting to me, it is a gaussing coil that actually sets up a magnetic field that is adjustable, at the faceplate of the tube. So, I think we can change the wording on the page. IF I learn differently I will let you know. And again, Let the games begin. This will likely be the biggest accomplishment yet for me in my restoration projects. I remain optimistic. And it looks like I have a lot of parts to order for this one.
A piece of the wiring fell out of the high voltage cage when I set the chassis on the bench. It looks like a wire from one of the filament leads to a high voltage rectifier but I have yet to figure it out for sure. Also, I noticed that the metal cover is missing from the high voltage cage on the right side. This will be easy to make but it will not be of the original material unless I can find copper clad of that size locally. Not a big deal, just an observation that I will have to deal with. I suspect that a tech has left it off to give more cooling to the flyback. Maybe not a bad idea to leave it off but we can discuss that sometime.
I’d like to point out in pix# 2, a user “convergence” control. Pix #8, notice the cable leading to rear mounted hue control. I’d like to rig the cable forward and exiting at the bottom of the cabinet. In this way I can actually see the adjustments on the screen. The mirror idea seems ridiculous on a restored set. For purists, we can easily restore to it’s original position. Pix #13, blocking while releasing tension loading.
We shall see as the restoration progress’s.
UPDATE, AUGUST 26, 2018, Day 26
From Mike: Greetings Marshall. We are packing up the cabinet and brass pieces today. We should leave here by around 8:00 on Monday morning and see you by 11:00 or so. FYI, in case you want to research it, and in case we need it later, the Westinghouse part number for the flyback is:
We never know what might show up out there and it would be a very, very good thing to have a spare, if possible. Before I can do anything on this set I will be building a bigger workbench. So as soon as the cabinet is in your hands I will have the space to press on. I have done some visual examination especially around the high voltage and flyback area and learned that the wiring around all of the rectifier sockets is very poor so that will have to be addressed early on in the restoration stage, after I get the power supply somewhat working. Also, my plan is to eliminate the filament wiring for the H.V. rectifiers and convert them from the original 3A3 tubes to solid state devices such as ECG508 Sylvania/Phillips devices. I am on a mission to find QTY 3 of those now. The focus rectifier tube will also be replaced with a solid state device of some type as well. By doing these modifications it not only eliminates vacuum tube heat, it also eliminates a lot of unnecessary wiring that has the potential to cause arcing which of course is very undesirable.
See you tomorrow.
Author: Okay, see you tomorrow. We will place the cabinet in the garage as I will be taking it to our community wood shop for refinishing. I will post this in VK in hopes of a lead. Sad about Senator McCain.
In the garage today. Soon, I will be taking the cabinet to our community workshop for refinishing.
We found a cabinet number and some sort of serial numbers on the tag glued to the inside of the cabinet.
SEPTEMBER 6, 2018, Day 37
Due to the enormous Westinghouse chassis, Mike rebuilt his work bench to accommodate it. Here you see the main and sub chassis. I’ve seen Mike’s test equipment which are not shown in these photos, and it looks like these photos were taken shortly after completion of the bench. Power supply parts have been ordered and the restoration begins.
“The “beginning”. The bench is complete with power strip and overhead shelf for test equipment. The giant color chassis fits the new bench well. I noticed that the copper plate cover that I retrieved from the cabinet is not the one that I thought it was. It is actually the one for the bottom of the flyback area so we still need to find out if the original is available from ETF. I have allowed room on the new bench for yet another “jig tube” for when I get serious about testing the operation of the chassis after I get the power supply and sweep circuits going. I will be using the oscilloscope for much of the early testing of the power supply and sweep circuits. And I will pay especially close attention to safety of the flyback transformer.
UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 13, 2018, Day 44
From Mike: I hooked up a variac to the chassis a couple of days ago and started it at 25 volts. Then about 5 minutes later I set it to 50 volts and watched the power supply tubes start conducting. They are a set of 5U4’s and there are 3 of them for the different voltages that form the power supply. The purpose of this exercise is to determine the exact running voltages that were originally designed in to the system using the 5U4 vacuum tubes. I got the voltage up to the nominal 120 VAC after many small steps and I got smoke from one of the resistors in the power supply. NOT a surprise at all. The reason for the smoke is an “open” capacitor in the power supply section of the circuitry. As it turns out, Westinghouse made this chassis such that the “power supply” is not limited to the chassis below in the cabinet. That chassis is only the first stages of the supply, which is rectification and “preliminary” filtering of the pulsating DC that is created from the rectifier tubes. There are a number of places in the chassis where they placed “redundancy” filtering to make sure that he DC was always pure everywhere in the system. I will be doing a lot of re-capping as a result of diagnostics in an effort to methodically bring this thing back to life. Once I determine what the “actual” operating voltages are, I will be installing solid state rectifiers in place of the 5U4’s and then applying resistance values in the system to reproduce the proper and “original” DC supply values. This placing of resistance values is necessary due to the fact that the solid state rectifiers are much more efficient than the original 5U4’s that are very inefficient by comparison.
I just placed a very large order for capacitors so I can press on to the next phases.
UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 14, 2018, Day 45
I live in a retirement community which has its own wood and metal shop. Today friends helped move the Westinghouse cabinet and we drove it to the wood shop.
UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 24, 2018, Day 55
Greetings Marshall. I have recapped the main power supply and verified the design voltages as they are at this time. They will likely be lower during later tests since I have the sweep circuits disabled for the preliminary testing. For the foreseeable future, and maybe permanently, I will be leaving the original design in place with the 5U4 tubes. We will see how that goes later. OK, now for the pictures.
Picture #1 shows a couple of caps replaced but except for that, the chassis is as I received it. Mostly “untouched” which is how I like to get them. These caps were actually broken off at the terminals so I went ahead and replaced them. They can be seen as orange and brown components at the lower left.
Picture #2 is the main power supply chassis before re-capping.
Picture #3 is the main power supply chassis after re-capping.
Picture #4 shows my oscilloscope screen showing the waveform of the grid drive to the Horizontal Output Tubes (6BG6’s).
This tells me that the horizontal oscillator is running and the drive signal to those tubes is good even before recapping. This signal on the scope is about 200V P-P and the Photofact refers it to be 150 V P-P. Given the fact that most of the running voltages are a bit high right now because I have the main power to the sweep circuits disabled, it is expected that the signal would be a bit high. This is good at this point.
This step is important because it means now, that I can do some testing of the flyback transformer. It won’t tell me everything about it, but it will tell me a lot.
UPDATE, OCTOBER 2, 2018, Day 63
Hi Marshall. I spent some time this evening working on the distressed wiring in the High Voltage cage. The purpose of the “wiring fix” is to allow me to test the circuit as designed before I make any modifications during the restoration process. The wiring fix involved “putting back” some of the wires that had simply fallen off of places from age and from the “trip”. Anyway, I am now able to confirm that the flyback is “alive” at least to the point of generating High Voltage. I got 20 KV on the final anode lead with the regulation tube disconnected. Obviously this is a critical thing to verify early on in the restoration process. It is now time to test and replace tubes and then look at a bunch of other signals with the oscilloscope as we proceed. It is also time to start replacing a lot more capacitors. At some point, probably very soon in the process, I will return to the High Voltage section and do some more work there. But this test verifies a lot of components like the “doorknob” capacitors and insulators in the High Voltage section.
Mike: Yes, that is what the nominal HV should be at the 2nd anode. The actual HV generated should be, I think, more like 22.5kv or more. This is due to the function of the 6BK4 Shunt Regulator that keeps the regulated voltage at the 2nd anode at roughly 20KV at all brightness levels. The overhead voltage is so the shunt regulator can do that job at different beam currents. I made this test with no shunt regulation at all. I believe that the initial HV will come up quite a bit after some recapping and tube replacements like the 6BG6 Horizontal output tubes. I still have to go through the tubes and test them all. But this tells me that it is now OK to move forward with the whole project
UPDATE, OCTOBER 3, 2018, Day 64
Let’s add clarity
OK. I have studied 3 different schematics.
The Photofact for CT100 RCA calls for a primary transformer DC resistance of 1200 OHMS There are 2 secondaries. Secondary #1 calls for 1800 OHMS and secondary #2 calls for 7200 OHMS.
The Photofact for Westinghouse chassis calls for Primary DC resistance of 1000 OHMS. Secondary #1 is 3200 OHMS and secondary #2 is 3800 OHMS.
Westinghouse factory schematics calls for Primary DC resistance of 1000 OHMS. Secondary #1 is 1350 OHMS and secondary #2 is 375 OHMS.
I realize that these are DC resistance values and the actual IMPEDANCE for the components is not really called out on the schematic. BUT, these numbers should agree to a much greater degree of precision before I believe that the RCA part is the same as the Westinghouse.
I ran out of time tonight but I will be doing DC resistance checks tomorrow night in an effort to sort this out.
UPDATE, OCTOBER 11, 2018, Day 72
Unfortunately, the VDC transformer tested open in both secondaries. We are told that the transformer we need has been rebuilt in numbers. This rebuilt transformer, Westinghouse part number 241T1 has been installed successfully in RCA, Westinghouse and other 15 inch early color sets.
Mike explains: “RCA recognized possible faults in the wire insulation and maybe they anticipated the failures. The physical construction difference is interesting. However, the real difference to me is that the “impedances” are different. John (Folsom) explains that his aftermarket transformer was custom built as an “average” impedance match to satisfy both RCA and Westinghouse models. The impedance match is critical for proper operation of convergence and it is also critical to surrounding components in the sweep circuits. Mostly for proper “resonance”.
Thankfully we found a source, ordered the part and it’s on the way back to us. Recapping continues with bad resistors found along the way.
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 14, 2018, Day 106
After a brief hiatus, recapping continues. Under the RGB Adders and amp circuits was a big resistance array mounted to terminal strips. This bank of parts prohibits access to the bottom of the chassis where the RGB adders and amp circuits are. After some study I determined that I can disconnect 4 wires that were going from the resistance array down to the RGB circuits and then remove the screws on the mounting plate allowing the entire array to “fold away” and “down” from the part of the chassis that I needed access to.
Picture #1 The new VDC transformer mounted but not yet wired.
Picture #2 Shows my “impossible access” to the capacitors that need replacing.
Picture #3 Shows the assembly pulled away and folded down after disconnecting the 4 wires. Full access to the components is now possible.
Picture #4 All new caps and some new resistors installed.
Picture #5 The assembly re-installed and the wires re-connected.
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 16, 2018, DAY 108
The cabinet restoration begins.