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Old 10th May 2010, 10:25 AM   #1
mobyd is offline mobyd  New Zealand
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Default What has happened to WE Huntsville lately?

They started with a flourish making 300Bs with promise of KT88s and other goodies to come. These days their website looks like a dead letter box.
Are they still alive and kicking ?.
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Old 10th May 2010, 12:03 PM   #2
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TubeDepot says that they are moving yet again. Next batch of 300Bs will be late this year, with delivery in 2011.
Western Electric 300B

Their Genelex Gold Lion KT88 is available now, but are made under contract in Russia.

Got to be a tough business.
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Old 10th May 2010, 02:54 PM   #3
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Hunstville, Ala is my 'home town' . Westrex is shutting down operations there or they already have. I had my brother (still a local) verify that. They've been in the process of building a 12 million so-called R&D site in Chattanooga Tn (80mi NE) but have been rather hush-hush about who/where will be involved with 300B's future ... seems assumption its Chattanooga smells of convenient corporate 'misinformation' for wall st ..... R & D site is looking more like lease space for partners/vendors....
Don't hold your breath for impressive recent quality 300Bs to appear in those hills. may have sold it off to pay off say....12million .....\
Of course.......I'm a skeptic if its a corporation in 2010 and each mountain around Chatt. has its own family history! That's just the talk in Hunts.

Chattanooga Times Free Press | Search: westrex
New Company at Combustion Site | WDEF News 12 | News, Weather and Sports for Chattanooga and the Tennessee Valley
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Old 10th May 2010, 04:31 PM   #4
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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The tube business is their primary business along with the manufacture of some sort of test set for the Navy.

I am not really sure about this but I believe Westrex is privately held, and certainly seems subject solely to the operating decisions of its president Charles Whitener. There is very little public disclosure wrt to the way this business is run, consistent only with a privately held company.

I used the WE300B in my most expensive commercial offering and found it to be one of the best sounding, if not most reliable 300B available at the time. They were expensive then, and substantially more so now.

I was an authorized WE dealer for a time, (10+ yrs ago) but the only ones I ever sold were installed in the amps I built for customers. I just couldn't compete with the guys in NYC who heavily discounted them to the point that it would have actually been cheaper for me purchase them through a middleman than directly from the factory.

I would wait until production has restarted before committing any funds to ordering.. This is probably the third time since the end of the 1990s that Westrex has relocated and temporarily ceased production. I expect they will probably be back in production next year..

FWIW this move has been in progress for at least 4 yrs..
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Old 10th May 2010, 05:25 PM   #5
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I heard a "top secret rumor" about starting up new production of certain vacuum tubes here in the US. It has been shown that current production vacuum tubes are of somewhat unstable quality and supply, which is dependent on world politics. What would you do if you ran a multi million dollar company that was dependent on world politics in todays economy?
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Old 10th May 2010, 08:04 PM   #6
wfmali is offline wfmali  Europe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboy99 View Post
Hunstville, Ala is my 'home town'...
Hey, I lived there for some years, and will go back to see some ol' friends next week... do you know, is W&W Electronics still around?
Marcus
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Old 10th May 2010, 08:55 PM   #7
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The 2006 land purchase in Chattanooga may always been the planned tube facility with temp. setup in Huntsville as a strategic business attempt to gain a foothold into all the high-tech government work there. Huntsville has a very unique economy with the massive Redstone Arsenal missile facilities including Marshal Spaceflight Center....all the major private contractors have primary design centers are there..... Reagan's Star Wars R&D is based there.......Just a big ole Federal money pit with plenty of your tax dollar pie to split up..............draws a highly educated influx of worldwide talent
Tough place to compete for a workforce and keep labor costs down....Not the ideal permanent location for a Tube facility with a happy workforce that's for sure. You'd need to get more than$900/pair.
Chattanooga would be the better locale !
Back when Marshal was doing the Saturn V, Chattanooga was known for its leather tanneries.
Does Westrex have some of the other or even the entire Western Electric tube rights............or just the 300b's for now...............Regardless of their recent quality, famous logo & sales pitch they are not Western Electric.
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Old 10th May 2010, 09:33 PM   #8
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Marcus, You had to bring that sore point up
I've got boxes full all the goodies I bought at W&W........but my brother told me awhile back that they had folded up.

Man,
I bought a crystal radio (no batteries) there when I was about 9.
Powered by a good earth ground.....Late one night through the earplug I picked up a Nashville bougee wougee station.......It changed my life - Baby Go ahead and Knock Yourself Right Out !
Jimmy Reed--- Bright Lights, Big City -- done gone to my baby's head !


Thanks Marcus......That's the best flashback I've had in awhile------

Sadly a google confirms: Feb 28th 2008
It's very sad, since it is one of the last mom-n-pop electronics stores in the area, but W&W Electronics in Huntsville, AL is going out of business after over 40 years.
http://forums.makezine.com/comments.php?DiscussionID=2806
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Old 10th May 2010, 11:18 PM   #9
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboy99 View Post
Does Westrex have some of the other or even the entire Western Electric tube rights............or just the 300b's for now...............Regardless of their recent quality, famous logo & sales pitch they are not Western Electric.
Westrex pretty much has the rights to any WE tube for which there is interest. One of the types they planned to reintroduce was the 417A which imho was a good choice out of many. They were also producing the 274A and/or B at one point. Unfortunately the economics of production pretty much make all prospective WE products the province of the wealthy. Even late in its heyday the WE 300B was an extremely expensive tube compared to a run of the mill 6550 for example.

The tooling is all WE and to the best of my knowledge has been extensively refurbished. Many of the engineering advisors and line personnel were also former WE employees. The materials used came directly from a WE stockpile at that time. (Not sure they still do) In a sense they are and aren't WE. They are the legally licensed successor to the original Western Electric in this manufacturing business and can trace their lineage back to its roots more directly than any other extant tube manufacturer. No one of course has the deep pockets of the old AT&T or its manufacturing operations...
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Old 10th May 2010, 11:30 PM   #10
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tubelab.com View Post
I heard a "top secret rumor" about starting up new production of certain vacuum tubes here in the US. It has been shown that current production vacuum tubes are of somewhat unstable quality and supply, which is dependent on world politics. What would you do if you ran a multi million dollar company that was dependent on world politics in todays economy?
Hi George,
I've heard similar rumors over the years of a company resurrecting the Sylvania 6L6STR amongst other things - so far it hasn't materialized. My take on the whole situation is that the cost of production of generic tube types here would be so prohibitive that they could not be sold at competitive prices at all. Some boutique DHTs are probably the only types that are economically attractive enough to justify. Hmm, probably what Whitener figured out 20+ yrs ago.

Richardson has been collecting tooling for years, but hardly ever makes anything and what they make (Cetron, etc) is not any better than what comes from the better overseas vendors.

It would be incredibly difficult to find the venture capital to fund a start up, and most of the supply infra-structure required no longer exists in the West so getting raw materials and processing them into components needed for tube manufacture implies a huge amount of vertical integration. You would have to make literally everything except for the various types of wire used.

Mike Matthews (New Sensor) could probably pull this off, but OTOH would he have deep enough pockets to be able to do so, or sufficient credibility with the bankers to secure the funding to do so? Some of the tooling probably exists somewhere, but probably not a whole lot of it since most production ended more than 20yrs ago.

Sadly I suspect it is not too likely. Look at the recent example of Tech Tubes, a company that basically drowned in its overhead..
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Last edited by kevinkr; 10th May 2010 at 11:35 PM.
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