Sunday, November 1, 2020

Rebuilding the A3S/A743

I've had the A3S/A743 down for several weeks now. I've gotten it mostly rebuilt, but I'm waiting on parts. More about that in a moment. 

I wrote previously about my inspection of the traps. The 20m TK traps are completely toast. But the TA (10m), TB and TC (15m) traps appeared to be fine. All the plastic end caps, however, were toast.

This particular A3S/A743 has been up for a while. I originally purchases the A3S in 1991. It spent three years in the air at the old Stone Mountain QTH, then several years in my basement in Gwinnett. Then it spend a couple of years on W1YM's tower while he was waiting for his Skyhawk to be delivered. And nineteen years at the Gwinnett QTH. All told, that's twenty-four years exposed to the elements. The A743 40m option has only been up fifteen years. 

A few years ago, I bought another A3S at a hamfest for $100. Such a deal! This unit was manufactured in 2007 and does not appear to have been outside for any length of time. The plastic end caps on the traps look practically new.

During the rebuild, I decided to use the TA, TB, and TC traps from Cushcraft #2 on the Cushcraft #1 tubing and vice versa. Cushcraft #2 isn't going up any time soon (perhaps when I move to another QTH and can build a 70 foot / 35 foot stack). I figured I would use the least weathered traps on the antenna that I'll be using. 

I used No-Al-Ox liberally when I assembled the A3S nearly twenty years ago. After nineteen years in the weather, much of the original application had evaporated, but the sections came apart easily after unclamping. The traps from Cushcraft #2 had never seen a drop of No-Al-Ox, unfortunately. So, as I intermixed the parts, I made sure I applied some to every joint. 

I ordered all new trap end caps, boom and element end caps from MFJ, along with new TK traps. Laird communications sold off Cushcraft several years ago to MFJ. I was happy that parts were still available. However, the ordering system left much to be desired. MFJ is in the middle of a web site re-design, and there's no way at present to order individual parts. Their older web site would list parts on the same page as the product, and you could click through to the parts link to order each one. Why they would switch to a new web site that doesn't have this capability is beyond me. 

A call MFJ with all the proper part numbers, I ordered everything pretty easily. Then it got weird. The gentleman on the phone didn't tell me the total of my order, he just guessed it would be $130-140, which is about what I expected. He estimated my order would ship in two weeks, and that I should see an order confirmation email and another email when the order shipped. All good, I thought.

Then I noticed my credit card was charged $169.90 almost immediately after I got off the phone. I waited a few days, but I received neither a order confirmation or shipping confirmation email.

This is not right. Indeed, this may be illegal. You're not supposed to charge someone for an order unless their goods have shipped. That's how it is supposed to work. I called and asked about it, and they said they corrected my email address and I should get a confirmation. My order hadn't shipped yet, because the TK traps needed to be manufactured, and that would take at least two weeks. Fine. But, then I didn't receive any order confirmation emails. A week after my original order, I called again, had my email address corrected again, and asked that a confirmation email be sent. This time, I received it. At that time, I was told my order would ship in ten days. 

And, sure enough, ten days later, they shipped something. I was surprised when I received a very small box -- clearly not large enough to contain the two TK traps. Opening it, I found my entire order of plastic end caps. But no traps. 

It's now been four weeks since I placed my order, and no indication they are shipping the traps that take them two weeks to manufacture. There have been at least two good weekends for putting the tribander back on the tower, but without traps, I can't finish the assembly.

Keep your fingers crossed I actually see these traps sometime soon.


  1. I wish you'll get them soon, shame to big company 73

  2. MFJ finally got the TK traps to me the day after Thanksgiving!