Re: {Collins} Serial # Range - 75S-3B SB1?

Had coffee with some engineers from the S-line era on Saturday; included was the project engineer for the 75S-1. None of them were aware of any scrambling with regard to serial numbers.

Assigning blocks of serial numbers to specific contracts and the many dash numbers could certainly have the appearance of "scrambling", but everyone involved that I have talked to, thinks everything was done sequentially.

The Saturday crew thought that it would be unlikely Mr Collins would have made that sort of decision anyway; his son was closely involved with details related to the S-line and is credited with filling the holes vacated in the front panel with screws during the changeover from winged to round emblem.

My concern is that this story paints Mr Collins and the company as a poorly managed operation. I'm sure someone will point out the C-System "fiasco" as additional evidence that he was misguided. The C-System proved to be very key to getting the company back on its feet after the Rockwell takeover, both from customer sales and internal manufacturing controls as well as providing the basis for lots of avionics innovation.

The WSJ reference is typical of what the east coast establishment had to say about Collins; they just could not believe that a startup out here in the corn fields of Iowa could compete with the old established companies like RCA. (Where are they now?) I refer to area this as Silly Corn Valley.

The old timers were also amused at the "new corporate headquarters" in Dallas. None of there were aware that headquarters had ever moved from Cedar Rapids to Dallas. It was well known that Mr. Collins liked the longer antenna building season in Dallas and there were rumors that he was considering making the move, but as far as we can tell, it never happened. Some of the systems groups were headquartered in Dallas, but Corporate remained here in Cedar Rapids. There has always been competition between Dallas and Cedar for projects and funding, and it was not always friendly.

Rockwell Collins thrives today because of Arthur Collins not in spite of him; many of the values and systems he introduced decades ago survive in some form.

Jim, w0nkn

From: "Glen Zook" <gzook@xxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 4:08 PM
To: <collins@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>; "jim" <jonesjames@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: {Collins} Serial # Range - 75S-3B SB1?

Well, I never heard Art Collins say that himself. But, I also never asked him! The late Joe Johnson, W5QBM, was pretty "high up" in the Collins sales organization and he swore that the numbers were scrambled on Art's orders. If I remember correctly, the late Dave Medley, also "high up" in the sales organizations, also said that the serial numbers were scrambled.

The first time I met Art Collins was within the first week that I was employed by Collins Radio (right out of Georgia Tech) at the "new" corporate headquarters here in Richardson, Texas, in April of 1967. Eric Tedley's industrial design group was part of Process Division (where I worked) and he was presenting the suggested cabinet designs for the KWM-3 (basically a 718T with coverage expanded down to 1800 kHz). One of the assistant division directors invited me to go to the unveiling. I got to know Art better after I left the company and he sold out to Rockwell International. Of course, the KWM-3 project was dropped.

Art had some "strange" ideas on the S-Line. For example, he forbid any 75S-1 or 75S-2 being shipped with the 500 Hz mechanical CW filter installed. The person who purchased the receiver had to either buy the field add-on kit (filter and matching BFO crystal) and install it him/herself or send it back to the factory or factory authorized service center to have the filter installed. I have a 75S-1 that cost an employee his job. He got the receiver through the employee purchase program and since he "knew" someone at the Iowa factory, he got the filter installed when the receiver was built. A couple of weeks after the receiver was received Art "found out" about the filter and called the employee "on the carpet". Basically, instead of facing Art the employee immediately quit his job and sold the receiver to another amateur radio operator.

The operator who bought the receiver had another 75S-1 receiver and put this receiver in his garage where it sat for over 40 years. The new owner then traded it to another operator who immediately traded it to me. When I checked out the receiver I discovered that it did have the CW filter. The person that traded it to me did not know that it had the filter and inquired of the person from whom he got the receiver. That is when the full story was known.

Basically, the receiver had been used for about 2-weeks before it was stored in a Dallas, Texas, area garage. Then, over 40 years later, I obtained the almost brand new 75S-1!

Then, with the 75S-3 and 75S-3A, Art dictated that all the receivers be shipped with a 200 Hz CW filter! This changed with the 75S-3B and 75S-3C when the filter was an expensive option! Who knows what Art was thinking!

Art was continuously dictating modifications be made on equipment that were in production and, often before the modified unit made it "out the door", he would order even more modifications. As such, equipment just was not being shipped and therefore payment was not received. The result was that every division had an "Art project" which was not really intended to ship anything but was intended to keep Art's attention so that real projects could get units shipped and therefore income to the company.

In either 1967 or early 1968, the Wall Street Journal had an article on Collins Radio in which they bluntly stated that "Collins Radio survives in spite of Art Collins and not because of Art Collins". Needless to say, the Wall Street Journal was not popular around Collins Radio for some time.

Glen, K9STH


--- On Thu, 6/2/11, jim <jonesjames@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Would sure be interested in the "instructions" issued by Mr. Collins with regard to S-Line SN scrambling. I talked to one of the configuration management guys from the S-Line era and he denies there was any scrambling. I have also talked to several engineers and techs involved with the S-Line and they were not aware of intentional scrambling.

Everyone agrees that the serial number discontinuity is likely a result of the fact that blocks of serial numbers were issued on individual contracts. Rod Blocksome and I looked at some of the old micro film records several years ago and had hoped to establish a good data base for S/Ns vs delivery dates, but before we able to complete the project, the records got moved to "secure storage" at an off site location. We could still access the records, but we needed to provide a "business case" and provide charge center numbers for the fairly significant costs associated with getting the records. Both of us were extremely busy with our "day" jobs at RC, so we had to abandon the project.

An interesting aspect of the project revealed that there were many SN 1s ( as well as 101s and1001s). When I talked to the nameplate issuers, they said if the customer was military/govt, the nameplate would have included the contract information and the SN was issued against the contract. I don't think any of the commercial contracts had the contract number on the nameplate, therefore the requirement for the serial number blocks.

Another thing to consider is that there were a fairly large number of "dash" numbers. The KWM-2 had 7 or 8 dash numbers, so each dash would require a new SN sequence. (Most of the dash number differences were related to nameplate requirements).

The other thing to consider is the MCN system (Manufacturing Control Number). I think it was introduced sometime during S-line Production, but I have never been able to absolutely determine when. This number is a better indication of build sequence for a particular assembly. This allows building common assemblies and conducting unique contract required testing before the final serial number nameplate is installed.

The other thing that may have impacted SN sequencing is that some units had to be reworked or repaired after serial numbers were applied. I don't think the delays were generally enough to a be a factor, but I understand there were a few units that got shelved for up to a year before they made it back through testing.

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