History of Tasma

Founded in 1929 by Fred W. Thom and John E. Smith, Thom and Smith Pty Ltd of Sydney were a moderate sized manufacturer best known for their Tasma branded receivers.

From their small factory in the Sydney suburb of Wooloomooloo the company grew substantially and by the late 1930s were selling around 9000 sets and employing a staff of approximately 300.

They developed a reputation for reliability and versatility and during WWII they were engaged by the Australian Government to produce receivers and transmitters for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Many of the sets they built were later put to use post-war by organisations such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

According to one historian, Tasma was one of the first manufacturers to mark their dials with states and station call signs rather than a simple frequency range. An idea quickly adopted here and in New Zealand. (See my side note on Radio Dials.)

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ill titleTasma "Baby" 1005

Terrific Tasma.

ill_1The Tasma "Baby" is an icon of Australian Radios.
Manufactured from just before to just after WWII this was a very popular series coming in a variety of models.

This one is a standard AM broadcast version, but there was a multi-wave model as well as some badge-engineered versions from Genalex, Sky Raider and even an Aristone branded one.

The Tasma 1005 is a sporty 5 valve version of the 1001 model which only has 4 and a completely different valve lineup at that.

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When I got it the Tasma was showing it's age. The speaker was torn and patched and torn again. The "plastic" covering on many of the wires was so brittle that if you flexed the wire even in the slightest it would crack and fall away. Other cloth covered wires had also hardened up but were in good enough condition they could be left alone.

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After a quick clean up of the cabinet it was time to work on the insides.

My friend Roland who has a webpage called QLD Valves helped me to test the valves and we discovered that most were fine except the 6A8G (mixer) and the 6G8G (Det & Auto Volume Control) which tested well below par.

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Once some replacements were found we put on a newer, safer power lead. While under there we noticed the soldering on a few components had snapped and we quickly repaired them and I put on a new antenna lead.

Whaddayaknow, It Works!!

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After bench testing it for a little while I noticed that the volume would get progressively softer and softer. I asked around as to the cause and was advised it was likely a faulty resistor somewhere.

It was suggested to run the radio for a while until I notice the volume has dropped then turn it off and look under the chassis for a resistor that had gotten warm.

This I did and quickly spotted a 200 Ohm resistor feeling quite warm to the touch, not a single other resistor felt anything near as warm as this one.


A chap named Dick Smith who owns a chain of electronics shops ;) sold me a 180 and a 22 ohm resistor to put in series as replacements (200 ohms is no longer a standard value).
Grand total... 20 cents.

With the resistors in I tested her for a solid 8 hours with no apparent drop in volume.

Now to the speaker.

The original was an Electrodynamic 5 inch speaker and I was keen to find an authentic replacement.

The old one was completely detached around the edges and although the field coil was intact and the speaker was working, you couldn't apply any real volume before it would start distorting from the edges flapping in the wind.

It had also been taped up, glued and heaven knows what else over the years in vain attempts to keep it working.

Old Speaker

Steve Savell from Australian Vintage Wireless had the right kind and size. The only difference was mine had two threaded holes in the U around the Electromagnet to bolt it onto a frame in the chassis. The new one did not.

I drilled 2 new holes and rather than thread them opted to just run bolts through the drilled holes and secure it with a nut on the other side.

The mounting bracket had previously floated on 3 rubber grommets to lift the speaker higher up into the cabinet. These were well and truly gone, but automotive electrical grommets are still readily available in exactly the right size.

A quartet of these were secured from Supercheap Auto and fitted in the bracket.

At first I was hesitant about connecting up the new speaker, but my confidence has grown over the months and it all seemed to go well.

This is now one of my best performing radios and is played often.

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