Sunday, August 28, 2005

"Radio Shack vs. Lafayette Radio Pt2"
And there is the physical comparisons: 1). The stores - Radio Shacks were found in my area in the new shopping "Malls", while LRE stores were usually in their own building, typically in a slightly older part of town, usually a main street for downtown business. Unlike the sterile RS cookie-cutter look, many Lafayette Radio stores took on their personalities, and if they resembled anything it was perhaps a very large ham radio store. There was nothing like walking down the aisle of dusty old Ham gear, or even the junk aisle, and discovering some gem you were looking for. Several years before LRE went out of business I moved to Houston Texas and found one of their stores in a strip shopping center off Westheimer. While I was happy to find a Lafayette store in Texas I was dismayed at how much they were trying to adopt the Radio Shack "footprint".
2). The radios themselves. My TRC-23b was also known as the "Tin Can", because that's what my transmit audio sounded like - high pitched, hollow, as if I were talking through a tin can. I tried a variety of microphones and nothing seemed to work. The Navaho Pro I mentioned did not have this problem and I knew several people in town that sounded great...but at the time, I made a $70 decision to save some $$$. (The tin can audio seemed to be fixed in the TRC-30's, which on the outside looked just like the 23b's).
RS (or as we called it back then "Rat Shack") radios and their owners took a lot of guff from their buddies but if you look at the rigs they put out after 1976-77 (the 40ch units) and popped the top, you'd find a Uniden chassis in many of them. Strange as it seems, when the regulations changed allowing for 40ch. rigs, Lafayette lost their way (for the most part) in cosmetic style, producing a variety of bland, dull gray plastic radios, while Radio Shack put out probably what I'd consider to be their best looking and working rigs ever - TRC-429,449, 450, 451, 458, 457, etc.

Realistic TRC-457

So as far as CB's went, Lafayette began to get really clobbered by the Radio Shack line.....needless to say, I never could get used to their DIN microphone plug, and always seemed to need a third hand for soldering that connector in place!


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