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Old 27th September 2013, 02:31 AM   #1
john65b is offline john65b  United States
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Default Audio Tubes used in Industrial equipment?

Hey all, I work in a very old oil refinery and was wandering through an old warehouse at work where they had old electronics equipment from long long ago stacked all over the place...

Anyway, I found a box full of vacuum tubes that seemed very odd - I know that these old Controls and Monitoring equipment years ago had tubes just like TVs and radios back then, but some of the the tubes I found were audio types - like 2A3, 6L6, 6V6, 12AX7, 12AU7, 6SN7, 6SL7, 6J7, 6SJ7, etc... does this seem odd? Were these tubes used ubiquitously back in 40 / 50 / 60's?

Maybe the guy back then ordering all the tubes was ordering a few for himself for a home hobby?
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Old 27th September 2013, 03:41 AM   #2
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i dont know allot about tubes. but i dont think allot of tubes where made for just audio.
they where the transistors of the day. just like some jfets where used in radar just so happens they are great for audio. allot of the tubes i ask and talk to my dad about he knows from his analog microwave days on the railroad.
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Old 27th September 2013, 04:19 AM   #3
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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These tubes and many others were widely applied where their particular characteristics suited an application industrial or otherwise. No tube was specialized in its range of use.

All of these types were commonly found in industrial applications.

Industrial equivalents existed for many of these types and were generally used in less cost sensitive applications.
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Old 27th September 2013, 04:22 AM   #4
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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This really belongs in tubes / valves so I will move it there.

It should get a lot more attention.
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Old 27th September 2013, 04:34 AM   #5
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Quite a few of the superb McIntosh amps were used to operate shaker tables. Never mind just the tubes. Very nice amps were used for industrial purposes.
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Old 27th September 2013, 10:53 AM   #6
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A few years ago I was working at an old scrap yard and there was a long forgotten x-ray machine in the corner. (Don't worry, the source had been removed long ago) I got curious and looked into the side of it and lo and behold I saw a pair of Sylvania black plate 6L6 tubes. I removed these and blew the dust off them and began looking further into the machine. I then found 4 Mullard 6SN7 tubes and of course I pulled those. I figured those had long ago been burned out but what the heck right? Well, they sat in my tube drawer for awhile and then I got bored and started building a little SE amp. I plugged in the 6L6 tubes for power and used the 6SN7s for drivers and powered up. All tubes came to life again! WOW what a sweet sound! I don't know how much life these tubes have left in them as I do not have a tester but at least in their sunset years they will be making some sweet music.
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Old 27th September 2013, 11:08 AM   #7
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6l6 variants were also used, in the servo controls of B52 bombers or so, for instance.
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Old 27th September 2013, 12:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eli Duttman View Post
Quite a few of the superb McIntosh amps were used to operate shaker tables. Never mind just the tubes. Very nice amps were used for industrial purposes.
We had a shaker amp that was all tubes in our environmental qualification lab. It was a dedicated rack about 7ft. tall with lots of ventilation. Must have had 20-30 or so large power tubes in it. Never saw it in use.

It wasn't a Mac though

What I did see a McIntosh power amp do once was amplify a 60Hz tone and drive an industrial vacuum cleaner at it's speaker terminals but it wasn't a tube amp.

The vacuum cleaner sounded amazing however.
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Old 27th September 2013, 05:33 PM   #9
TheGimp is offline TheGimp  United States
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A look at early tube manuals gives a good indication of what tubes were desinged for.

I expect that in the early years tubes were used almost exclusively in radios both entertainment and communications as well as for telephone amplification. Not much else of an application up to the mid 30s. Power tubes were Audio Output Tubes. Small signal tubes were either RF, IF, or audio amplifiers, or a combination of the three.

The period leading up to WWII saw a great change as military applications overshadowed commercial use.

Reading the tube manuals after WWII there are fewer application statements in the tube specs compared to pre-WWII. That is, until you get to compactrons which were specifically designed for TV sets.

So, yes. A lot of tubes were specifically designed for audio purposes. On the other hand, "if it works, use it". Look at all the power supplies using 2A3s, 6L6s etc.

Once an industrial application developed, the tube manufacturers designed specific tubes for those applications (if there was enough demand). Look at the big Triode Pass Regulator tubes that are now being adapted to audio use. The data sheets are pretty specific as to what the intended application was for the tubes.

The 4164 was designed as an RF amplifier, but found application in commercial audio amplifiers.
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Old 28th September 2013, 01:12 AM   #10
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I have got an old industrial ultrasonic cleaner that has a tube in it.
I still use it for cleaning parts of old tube gear that is being restored.
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