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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 "Rollerdial" 1103

High Roller.

ill_1I know I've said it before but I really love Tasma radios. The industrial design found in bakelite radio cabinets is what first drew me to collect vintage radios and Tasma have some of Australia's most iconic designs ever.

There were a number of "Rollerdial" models made, starting post war and continuing into the mid 50s.

My sources date this set as a 1949 model sporting european style octal valves but the later models were equipped with the newer baseless miniatures.

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I won this one at auction during a recent meeting of the Historical Wireless Society of South East Queensland.

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Rollerdials are highly sought after by collectors and most times go for prices well out of my reach. I suppose I was lucky with this one because it does have a few cosmetic issues which seemed to discourage many of the other bidders

Look closely and you'll see it's missing the badge that goes at the bottom front and a few chips and cracks have been expertly repaired.

And when I say expertly repaired I mean I had to take it out in the sunlight and get up close with a magnifying glass to tell anything had been done to it. I must ask the seller who did the repairs and how as it is something I would really like to learn.

Inside the speaker has a few holes in it but it still sounds very good, even with the sound turned up.

I suppose a re-cone could be put on the list of things to do later.

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Just as a quick note, in the photo above you can see the output valve on the left and the converter on the right, but there are another 2 valves hidden away underneath the dial assembly where you can't see them.

Great idea... until you need to remove one of those hidden ones!

Tuning the radio is accomplished by turning that bar or roller situated below the dial.

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The cleverly styled knobs at the front are partially tucked away presenting a neat appearance. The Power/Volume control is on the traditional left hand side and the right hand knob is a 3 position switch combining Tone and Medium / Shortwave controls.

Turning clockwise gets you (in the words of the original blueprint designer) MW "Mellow Tone", MV "Brilliant Tone" and Shortwave. The designers apparently determined that tone control was not necessary if you were going to listen to Shortwave.

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I'd like to find a replacement badge for the front. I've put a notice up in the Wanted and For Sale section.

Other things on the to do list include a better dial as this one has a few letters falling off.

I'm exploring options with a supplier of railroad model decals as to whether it's possible to design new ones to apply to the glass. I'll let you know how that goes.

Valve Lineup:
EBF35 detector, ECH33 Freq. Converter, EL33 Output & 5Y3GT Rectifier.

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