RME-69 with Speaker
RME-69 front panel ....dial glass is green
Bringing a RME-69 Receiver back to life
I didn't know much about RME receivers before now and my only experience was when someone brought a brand new RME 4350A with the large dial to a Radio Club meeting in 1959. This one came from a local WCARC Swapmeet and started out at $50 ....no takers, then $40 ....no takers, then $30 .....and it jumped into the trunk of my car. Based on a faded sticker inside with "RME", I knew it was a good old receiver. One of the reasons it didn't sell was that it was dirty and the green dial glass made it impossible to read anything. Also it has no knob function labels.
After I got it home and cleaned it up a little, some Internet searching was in order. Turns out it's a RME-69 manufactured between 1935 and 1940 by Radio Manufacturing Engineers (RME) of Peoria Illinois. They were the fourth well-known communications receiver builders in the 1930's after National, Hammarlund, and Hallicrafters. The RME-69 meant it had 6 Bands and 9 Tubes. RME was started in 1933 by two hams, Eric Schaukhauser W9CI and Russ Plank W9RGH. RME, in the early days, was not much for labeling anything and they figured it was your radio and you should know what the various controls do. The chassis is not marked anywhere either ....tube locations, etc.
"An RME Story" by Al Klase, who wrote an article on the HRO-500 for QST which showded a RME-69 in the background, proved to be very interesting. As aresult of the HRO-500 article, he received correspondence from Clint Bowman, W9GLW, who had started as a 19-year-old technician for RME in 1934. Clint reflected on his employment at RME and said one of the aluminum shield cans should be initialed "cb" for Clint Bowman. This was something they did with a measure of pride. Clint also said another technician, Vern Rogers, wired up the remainder of the set and also initialed the chassis "VR". Needless to say, I quickly went out to the garage to pull the chassis out and take a look .....well, I'll be, there they are.
Initials of Clint Bowman, W9GLW, RME technician
Initials of Vern Rogers, RME technician. Apparently Vern wanted his signature to last and coated it with a dab of shellac
OK, this is fun and further searching of the Internet indicated that a RME ad in 1946 February QST showed a letter from the "Algemeene Nederlandsche Radio Unie" where the use of a RME-69 from 1941 to 1945 by the Dutch Underground was documented and it states they were very impressed by the reliability in all environments. Well that's the icing on the cake because I was born in Delft during WWII and my parents were both in the Dutch Underground .....and didn't report to the train stations to work in the German factories as many many did ....never to return.
Looking around, I can find several poor quality copies of that letter to RME, so I put the word out for a February 1946 QST Ad by RME. Al McKenna, AE6CM, responded with a super nice copy of that ad.
Letter to RME in 1946
Top of Chassis, missing part is electrolytic cap
Underside of Chassis, note that it's cast aluminum
Back of RME-69
Speaker Back, the Rola is apparently original
I don't think I'll plug it in right away