Thursday, December 31, 2009




AVATAR



11:40 p.m. showing at I-MAX 3D. Ended 2:45 a.m.






We liked it but would say that it was more because of the outstanding 3D graphics as opposed to the storyline....


TWO (sleepy) TUBES "UP"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


HOLIDAY PHOTOS


PART TWO


More words will follow the photo's and video below, but this continues to be the best Christmas holiday I've had in over 20 years!





















video









Tuesday, December 29, 2009


HOLIDAY PIX -


PART ONE

Robin made a couple GREAT gifts for me, one of which is pictured below; a "CB GAZETTE" Christmas Ornament!



Christmas afternoon at my Dad's QTH was a lot of fun, although the salt-cured "Country Ham" left my tongue and mouth pretty raw (not to mention I felt like I'd been gargling with warm salt water). Fortunately the raw mouth went away in about 36 hours....



The picture above is from Sunday night, after the TSO concert, with the waiter taking our picture.






Glenn took us to see the "TSO" (Trans Siberian Orchestra) Sunday night, which I'd only heard about by Glenn, but obviously everyone knows about them because the venue was as crowded and hectic as I'd ever seen it, with lines of people running down the sidewalk and around the corner of the building waiting to get in. If you haven't heard their music, I guess I can best describe the Christmas show as "Traditional classic Christmas songs with a modern touch". We liked it quite a bit, and if you haven't seen them before it's worth going at least once to experience it. Afterwards we stopped at a great place to eat in the Galleria area. After the food, Robin shot a quick picture of Glenn and I - Yep, I'm wearing a funny gift Robin gave me, wrapped around my neck!









END PART ONE.....

Thursday, December 24, 2009



ARE YOUR EYES SEEING "SPOTS"?








NEW SUNSPOTS POPPING UP FREQUENTYLY [LINK]


READ THE LATEST SOLAR REPORT [LINK]

FROM "TAD COOK" (on the ARRL site).


GOOD NEWS IS HARD TO KEEP SECRET!!




"THE SECRET"


I just heard about this one - had to look it up in the Dictionary. Appears that it's "AMWAY for the mind". Look out for those pyscho-ponzi-schemes.


OTHER NEWS


The winter solstice occurred on Monday, December 21. Many non-christians (along with some wacko's West of town) celebrated this event with the usual sacrifice rituals you'd find in an old "Tarzan" movie....


THE CHRISTMAS REPORT


Be sure and write in about any RF-related gifts you may have received and/or bought for yourself. In my case, I bought myself two ARRL publications, "LOW POWER COMMUNICATION -The Art and Science of QRP", and, "The ARRL General Class License Manual".

73, Woody
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009







MY TOP 10 LIST

OF THE PAST DECADE

Every one's doing it - coming out with their top ten (or more) lists of the decade so I thought I'd take a stab at it. Interestingly enough, I found that I wasted the first seven years of the decade and only had 3 GOOD years to list. Could I do it? Yep.

NUMBER 10: The "Arts". In this decade I got to see my first play, opera, and Ballet (s). I never thought I'd make it previously, but starting in 2007, things took off!

NUMBER 9: Concerts! Steely Dan, Alice Cooper, Green Day, etc.

NUMBER 8: Comedy. It was great to see "Cheech'n Chong" in action again

NUMBER 7: Meeting the stars! I really enjoyed meeting George Romero, Bruce Campbell, Linda Blair, and many others.

NUMBER 6: Horror Conventions. At least 1 a year since 2007.

NUMBER 5: Getting the Hell outta a one horse town. What a relief! After trying to move closer in towards the city, I finally did it - No more 100 mile round-trips.

NUMBER 4: Vacation. Finally I got the rest I needed to fight "Burn-Out"

NUMBER 3: Trips. I (we) went to Las Vegas, San Antonio, Dallas, and Boulder Colorado. I'd been trying to go back to Boulder for about 15 years, but to no avail.

NUMBER 2: Divorce. All of the above were possible due to the simple elimination of someone who couldn't see the forest for the tree's. An escape from a hoarder to be sure!

And finally, the NUMBER ONE pick of great things that happened to me during this past decade:
Robin. Clear headed, intelligent, always dressed-to-kill, funny, and beautiful (there's more but you get the drift).

So how was your decade?

73, Woody
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MAY YOUR TREE

BE

RADIATED!!
















MERRY CHRISTMAS - WOODY


d

Friday, December 18, 2009



1 WEEK TO GO




With only one week to go before Christmas I'll remind all of the radiated readership about not throwing away your radio box!
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Have you ever forgotten about "THE BOX"? Not your plain, every day cardboard box, but the one that is stamped with Kenwood, Yaesu, or Stoner? Typically most people wouldn't be concerned about such boxes - unless (of course), they're radio people, yet most radio people when buying a toaster, router, waffle iron, etc. will not think twice about tossing these boxes, only because no one has placed a value on them - yet.
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We, as radio connoisseurs know that the radio box has a value because we are - "connoisseurs". for the unenlightened let's say you are walking down the street and happen upon two Hobo ham's. Each Hobo has the identical radio, in the identical condition with them for sale. Hobo No.1 keeps his radio and it's accessories in a large shoe box, while Hobo No.2 has his rig packed in that factory cardboard box with all the trimmings (Styrofoam, manual, unused warranty card). This would pose as quite the dilemma in two ways:
  • Who knew that there were Hobo Ham operators roaming about the land? and,


  • If you were looking for that same transceiver and Hobo No.1 is selling his for $300, while Hobo No.2 has his priced at $380 (with the box), which one would you pick?
It's a tough call (especially when dealing with RF Radiated Hobo's). Now take this to Ebay, and 8 out of 10 times you'll see the guy who kept his original box (no matter how many decades old) get up to $100 more for the same exact thing. Pity the fellow who only has the manual on CD as well, because the rig is more valuable with it's original paper manual. It's gotten to the point where you'll see someone selling a (example) Kenwood TS-830 Box. Just the box and foamy innards. And they may get $50 for it.

So my friends, when your storage runneth tight, and your XYL is saying "Why do you keep this old Kenwood box around?", stay strong and keep your smile hidden in the darkness of the night, because YOU know what you're doing........
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'NUFF SAID - Woody


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Monday, December 14, 2009



MY NUMBER ONE GIFT PICK


(and it's not a radio!!)






NUMBER ONE: The "ROKU"

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My number one pick is not related to radio at all, but it deserves the No.1 slot just because it's.....GREAT! Robin and I were thinking about upgrading to a Blu-Ray player recently but we wanted one with the ability to view NetFlix movies via a wireless connection to the Internet. Our problem: after looking at a ton of reviews, we couldn't find a Blu-Ray player that was excellent in playing Blu-Ray discs AND Netflix.

-

Then we started to ask ourselves some questions and the answers were illuminating. We didn't really want to expand on our Disc collection, but we wanted to be able to view a library of movies and TV shows that were seconds away from thinking about it - to watching it. Comcast has a very limited video-on-demand listing each month, and we never seem to get unblemished picture and sound when we choose it. Enter the "ROKU".

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All you need for this little box to work is a Netflix account ($8.99). This allows you to get one movie at a time per mail, software to view movies on you PC, and the ability to watch movies on your ROKU list thru the big screen. It sounded too good to be true but for about $100 and change we decided to take the ROKU challenge....

-

The box itself (pictured, above-right) is about the side of a wireless router - only with video outputs. I kinda let it sit in the shipping box for a few days, dreading the complications of trying to get this to work on a secured wireless network, but last night I took the plunge. Approx. 15 minutes later we were available to pick a movie from our NetFlix view now list and we watched two movies, getting to bed around 4 a.m.! The picture and sound were flawless. Not all of the 30,000+ movies are able to be watched in this manner, but with over 10,000 movies that can be viewed, this will only get better and better with time - not to mention, saving money on buying or renting DVD's. The ROKU does not only let you see media from Netflix but from a variety of other sources as well. If you haven't heard about it - now ya have, and.....'Nuff HO-HO-HO Said!

73

Woody

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NOTE: There are several different models available. We chose the downward compatible "N" wireless which brought the price into the $120 range or so because we've had spotty coverage with our wireless PC from our "G" router. It was worth the extra money so if we ran into problems watching movies, all we would have to do is buy an "N" wireless router. I'm happy to say that this works fine with the "G" router and that, unless you have some distance to cover, you could probably use the wireless "G" model (which I believe is around $100).

Saturday, December 12, 2009




?



So many things to cover in this post and so little time. But first, sit back and enjoy this vintage video about HAM RADIO!








MAKE magazine's website recently posted their "Hobby Radio Holiday Gift Guide" (click on the icon above). The writer, Diana Eng, is the magazines onboard "HAM" and usually comes up with some interesting articles. I thought several items on her wish list (i.e.- FT-817NR) was a great pick. I'd swap the VX-3R for the rugged (and heavier) FT-60, and would have added an MFJ-259 antenna diagnosic meter and perhaps some sort of antenna tuner or fast charger for either the FT-60 or 817 as a stocking stuffer. While she prefers Universal Radio, I tend to get my HAM gear from HRO (everyone has their favorite dealer). Check out her list and maybe you'll gets some ideas!



Visit the ARRL site for the scoop on the sale of Vibroplex company (click on picture).





ANTENNA TUNERS-PT.1



Antenna Tuners (ATU's) are considered by many as a necessary evil. Ideally you want your transceiver and antenna to be the perfect match, and in many cases they are if you purchase antennas for every band you want to use. In today's world of antenna restrictions and small parcels of land it can be almost impossible. This is where the ATU comes in. This mystery box (in a variety of sizes) can usually let you operate wherever you want to. But there's really no mystery or magic, and there are some trade-offs (i.e. - "Necessary evil") because to get a good match between the two and have relatively decent SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) you lose some of your transceivers efficiency in order to get a match that lets you transmit without blowing a final. There are a variety of ATU's you can choose from: O.E.M. (mfg, ldg, etc.) also the matching tuner from your tranceivers manufacturer. Many rig's today offer built-in tuners which work in most situations, but have some limitations (covered later), and then there are older rigs which had matching external tuners and unless you buy a complete set from someone, you may have to play the waiting game until one shows up forsale or trade. You can still buy an MFJ or LDG tuner and it will work just as good or better, but most of us like to have a matching set (ed. - because it looks "c-o-o-l", 'Nuff Said). More later....


Well, you've read enough and it's time for a break! If you like QRP (as I do) you'll enjoy this video which was done on "Black" Friday, last month, and btw, I'll be adding a link to their site on this page shortly...








MAILBAG: LETTERS LOST IN THE MAIL!


Or, mailbox. My main email unit crashed and the reader emails I planned to use are gone until I get the box repaired. Since then, I've setup a relay to another mail address so I can continue receiving and replying on my cbgazette.com email address. If you haven't received an answer to a question - now ya know why.


NEWSFLASH -


Many of you are readers from my old CB GAZETTE magazine which I started in 1994. I've run across a variety of issues and will be selling them either per issue or several issues in one lot. It wasn't the biggest, thickest magazine, however, it was the only CB magazine during that period.


I'm fairly close enough to where I feel comfortable to announce that I'm nearing the finish of my book on the history of CB (Vol.1). It will be in e-book form first, possibly printed next. More details as they occur.


That's it for now, Merry Christmas, Woody


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Tuesday, December 08, 2009






SAN ANTONIO









A SHORT REST UNDER THE BIG TREE INSIDE ALAMO COMPLEX

Sunday, December 06, 2009

SNOW.....
-



It Snowed in Houston and most Southern areas on Friday - A very nice time to sit out on the balcony and enjoy it (which is exactly what Robin and I did). Usually the snow hits the northern counties first, but on Friday it was just the opposite....

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On the local repeater, reports of snow first started well South of our location, and I'd go to the window to look out and see only rain, but soon afterward rain turned into flurries and then into the huge kinda flakes you would see while visiting Boulder Colorado!! Of course it was much more scenic in Colorado, but it was something to see "Boulder" sized flakes falling down in the Sugar Land area!

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ROBIN AND I AT THE PEARL ST. MALL, BOULDER CO. (2009)

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Remember when the old E.F. Johnsons were selling at Hamfest or swapmeets for about $5 and then jumped way up in price? There really was a good reason for the jump because so many were still around, and in good or very good condition. Regardless, people bought them at the higher price. I see this every day whether it's the Johnson, Astatic, or Turner product that was sold in such a quantity that there really isn't a shortage. My latest example is the the lowly Realistic TRC-23/30A AM Base Station from the early 70's. A boatload of these transceivers were sold back then, and even in the beginning of this Century, they were only fetching $5 and shipping (if that much). Today they seem to command a much higher (and crazy) price. As many as there are that get sold, you could multiply that by 20 and still not reach an end zone. It's really puzzling to figure out what is driving the price upwards? (Maybe someone intends to buy each one that come available, and corner the market).
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"THE SHACK"

Now that Radio Shack has adopted the name "The Shack", and pummeled us with some of the worst holiday commercials ever made, some brain-dead ebay folk are actually selling older rigs with descriptions like "TRC-457 CB Radio from THE SHACK". (ed. -even zombies have more intelligence than these folks, 'Nuff Said)
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NEXT POSTING:


  • UPDATES

  • MAILBAG

  • TUNERS

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73, WOODY


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Tuesday, December 01, 2009


IT'S DECEMBER,
-
AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!!




"IT'S FESTIVUS TIME"


Yes, it's that time of year when we prepare for the "FESTIVUS" (DEC.23rd). Get out that SEINFELD dvd and watch the episode that started it all....

SPREAD THE WORD
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TELL YOUR CO-WORKERS!!
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IT'S UP TO YOU!!!


73, WOODY
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Monday, November 30, 2009



LAST NOVEMBER POST





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There aren't that many rigs on the market (past or present) that you would/could consider for a mobile rig - at least not in today's modern Vehicles. If you you go back further than the rigs I've mentioned the only one I'd consider small enough to be mobile would be the Yaesu FT-757, which is still kicking butt on the airwaves after all of these years!

-

First on the list (in no particular order) is Kenwood's TS-50S, which covers the entire HF spectrum, along with 11meters if so modified. These rigs are tough, have user friendly features on the faceplate or programmed into the microphone without having to dive into a plethora of menus. The fact that these rigs sell almost as soon as they are listed for sale is an indication of how well they were built. The TS-50 came with a SSB filter with a socket for an optional CW filter. It mates to the AT-50 tuner which is much harder, and expensive to find. DOWNSIDES:



  • AGE. Parts are hard to find, sometimes impossible.
    -


KENWOOD TS-50 HF RIG

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ICOM IC-706


The ICOM IC-706 (in it's various revisions) is still a popular mobile HF/VHF/UHF (Depending on the version) rig. It's more menu intensive than the TS-50, yet it is still VERY popular with the mobile crowd. DOWNSIDES:



  • The noise-blanker, while not as bad as some, is not the greatest in the world.


  • If it has to go into the shop you've lost everything - HF, VHF, UHF



  • A common problem with small "I-do-almost-everything-rigs-squashed-into-a-small-unit" are high SWR issues, grounding problems, and loss of sensitivity/output on one of the major units (HF or VHF/UHF).
    -

    The Alinco DX-70 is the closest thing to a TS-50 that is still being sold. It has the advantage of having HF + 6 meters, whereas the TS-50 does not. I've probably owned 4 of these throughout the years. It has great tx audio, an easily readable display (night or day), and the controls you need are on the faceplate - not buried in some menu. DOWNSIDES:



  • NB. This rig has the worst noise blanker I have ever run across - in fact, when you activate it to eliminate noise it actually makes it worse. If you check around, there is a modification/component change that makes it a little better, but it's still not up to par with other brand rigs.



  • PRICE. This is a very expensive rig considering it only has HF and 6 meters. While it is still in production, you'd be better off buying a used TS-50.

    The Yaesu FT-100/D is an HF/VHF/UHF small footprint rig that has been around for awhile. It has a deep seated menu system which makes those "Cheat Sheets" you see for sale something to consider. The buttons (like most small all-in-one rigs) are tiny and it's very easy to press the wrong one. If you can find one, the FT-100 has a matching antenna tuner (AT-100) that works really nice, and it's power source comes from the transceiver! Like the TS-50, the microphone has programmable buttons which makes things easier, especially when used mobile. The FT-100 is no longer in production (for many years now), but demand is high and prices for used ones average about $500. The noise-blanker works as it should and that makes me happy! DOWNSIDES:
  • FALSE SWR. The rig has issues with false "High SWR" readings and there were workarounds that sometimes worked, and sometimes didn't. I ran mine in a minivan for a couple years without any problems, but when I got a new vehicle the high SWR problem was there immediately, always on HF, never on the higher frequencies. I never could get the problem solved to my satisfaction, and being in the FT-100 Yahoo Group, I could see by the postings that I wasn't alone. This was only while used as a mobile, so I eventually took it out of the car and it became my home station.

  • HEAT. Another well know problem was with the fans. While on the HF bands the fans would run at a slow speed and kept the rig cool to the touch. However, when using the VHF/UHF frequencies, the fans only came on during transmit. If you had the rig "ON", monitoring your favorite repeater, the transceiver would get so hot it was uncomfortable touch the case (not good for the components). This too was fixed via a workaround so that the fans would run while receiving on VHF/UHF frequencies. Unfortunately the noise from the fans can be disconcerting if you're trying to do something else in the room.

    And then there is the Yaesu FT-857 mobile. It has a removable head (like the 100/D) but, at least for my eyesight, a very small display. Once again, if you lurk around various newsgroups/clubs devoted to this rig you find similar issues - Problems with rf getting into rig, false SWR problems, etc. Not everyone who owns one has a problem, but those that do can't get rid of it (ed. - sell the car? or sell the rig? 'Nuff Said).

So what rig is best for you? I can't tell ya.... I can say that I've seen those weird false SWR and rf-in-the-box problems go away (or appear) just by changing vehicles. I know that today's vehicles are space limited and funnels you into an all-in-one situation. I tend to pick my vehicles by what rigs I want installed in them (whenever possible), and prefer to have separate HF and VHF/UHF rigs, along with a 3rd transceiver (yep, a dedicated 11m am/ssb mobile).

I've been working on this post off and on for about 5 days now (trying to get one last post in for November 2009), so I think I'll end this one now and finish working on my first post of December 2009. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and if possible, some DX too!!

73, Woody
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Friday, November 13, 2009




FRIDAY THE 13th....

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It's been awhile since my last post and I've had a variety of subjects to write about, but I thought I'd wait until today (Friday 13th) to do it!

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GREED


Greed is everywhere and ham radio is not immune. I'm not talking about the few times that I've been lied to face-to-face by someone at a swapmeet about the condition of whatever I was looking into (although that would make a good subject as well), just something that happened locally (and, not to me). A local HAM bought a used FT-60 from someone that (I think) he knows, and I guess he didn't shop around or check prices - he just trusted the person who offered to sell it to him that it was a good deal.

-

Long story short: He paid about $230 for this used HT, only to find out that it's selling NEW for $185-$190 via outlets like HRO. I don't know if he went back to talk to this fellow about it but this is not the kind of story you want to read about Amateur Radio. There is balance in the world though. Another local HAM had an older (but working) 2 meter rig that had been sitting on a shelf for years. He gave to a young HAM who was just getting into the hobby. That's the way it outta be - 'Nuff Said.

-

DECEMBER

-

The month of December is right around the corner, and it's hard to believe how fast the days are going by. Look for a major announcement on this Blog sometime next month.....

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ZOMBIES, AND.....CB
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Robin found this article on the web and I got a kick out of it as well! Click HERE to see the story!


MOVIES

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It's been awhile since we've done any movie reviews, so I'm going to just list what was seen since the last review (in no particular order) along with a few short comments!
  • "A SEROUS MAN" , was a movie that I would have preferred to see on cable, when nothing else viewable was of interest to me. Robin thought it was okay.
  • "MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS", this wasn't a knee-slapping comedy but funny nonetheless! Clooney was great and so were the references to the "FORCE". We both liked this one a lot.
  • "COCO BEFORE CHANEL", was a movie Robin had been wanting to see for quite awhile. When it finally reached Houston it only showed at one theater which wasn't as close as some others. We finally gave in when they said it wasn't going to be playing there much longer and went there on a Sunday night. Both Robin and I found this to be a well done, interesting movie. The following day (Monday) it began showing at a theatre only a few miles from here, but better safe that sorry.
  • "THE BOX", is a movie from the fellow who brought us "Donnie Darko". We gave it two tubes up!
  • "SAW VI". After SAW V we said "No more", but there we were in the movie theatre watching it. We found it better than SAW V, IV, and III. Next year: "SAW VII - 3D".
  • "LAW ABIDING CITIZEN" - I liked it a lot (I like revenge movies where things go "BOOM"). Robin thought it was pretty good, but we both suggest you leave your logic at the door.
  • "9" - Very well done, and enjoyable
  • "ZOMBIELAND" - Funny movie featured Woody Harrelson luring Zombies out by playing his banjo, and a great cameo performance by a well know comedian. It was a blast!!
  • "Inglourious Basterds", This one was funny, with a great cast! 2 Tubes UP.

I may have missed a few, but for the most part that catches you up to where we are now.

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That's it for now! 73, Woody

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

CAR MFG'S AND THE CB CRAZE
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Back in the 70's everyone was going CB "CRAZY" - Sears, J.C. Penney's, Kmart and other retailers had their own brand, and not surprisingly, so did automobile manufacturers. For the most part, they would pick a brand and just slap their logo on it, add a hefty profit, then offer it when someone was buying a car: One stop shopping...
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GM was very simple, and it was easy to see who really was the "Rig Behind the Mask", as the photo below shows. Just by glancing at it you can tell it's and E.F. Johnson 123 in GM name only. Johnson wasn't the only manufacturer they used though as I recall seeing a Pearce-Simpson base with a GM sticker on it as well. If anyone knows of another mfg. that GM used, let me know...



And then there were other companies like Toyota who had their own style but it didn't look like something we'd already seen under another brand. For instance the picture below doesn't ring a bell with me. How about you?


I FORGOT UPDATE
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I saw a few rigs being sold by the ex and it seems odd, but she's still trading off my original name/rep "CBGAZETTE", and has changed her seller_ID (again) from "collectmenots" to "Shiny_Lover" (guess she bought a Steely Dan), so technically the auctions should read "Formally CBGAZETTE, Formally COLLECTMENOTS (Oh, I forgot, that was a name I picked too), and now I am "FILL IN THE BLANK". We all know that a leopard can't change its spots, so who knows what it will be in another six months eh?
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73, Woody
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