Possible career?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by magnet18, May 22, 2011.

  1. magnet18

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2010
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    Hey, I was wondering if anyone knows if there would be any market anywhere for a business repairing/restoring antique/vintage/old electronics stuff?
    Because I just realized while watching american restorations and looking at tubes that I absolutely love doing that.
     
  2. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
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  3. Markd77

    Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    A possibility is buying faulty vintage equipment, fixing it then selling it. That way you don't have to search for and wait for work to come in. Also you can work on your own timescale.
    Unfortunately I think a lot of people are already doing it so the price difference on Ebay for faulty and working items isn't as large as you might expect.
     
  4. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
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    There is a market, and if you do it as a hobby, you can cover your hobby costs on average. It would be difficult to make a career out of it. Think about how much money you need to live and consider medical insurance premiums.

    Years ago I went to Bonaire with my wife. While there, I felt this urge to stay there and open an electronic repair store. I didn't see one there and several people complained about the cost of importing electronics devices and inability to fix broken ones. Had I not been married, who knows, I might have tried it. The difference there is that you can eat wild goats and sleep comfortably on the beach, if business gets slow. :p
     
  5. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
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    I am afraid you may have rather missed the boat by being born too late. Vintage radio etc. has had quite a lot of interest in the last few decades, but now the coming end of analog(ue) broadcasting threatens to make a lot of the old electronic equipment useless. This is definitely happening to TV in my country very soon, and probably radio will follow within a few years. Recent economic difficulties are likely to delay the analogue radio switch-off somewhat, but I do not think this can be more than a few years' reprieve.

    Determined collectors can of course obtain signals to operate their equipment by the use of various modulators, and even standards converters to generate old-fashioned TV formats from today's digital signals. All well and good, but I do not think that this will have the same wide appeal as being able to use the old sets as originally intended.

    One area that I think may have a more long-term future is vintage audio, particularly valve (tube) amplifiers. These are still being manufactured for use in Hi-Fi, and for electric guitars. Some performers are quite enthusiastic about the sound quality of certain well-known old amplifiers, and I believe that there is quite a market for good working examples. The ongoing use of these devices makes it more likely that the parts necessary for maintaining them will continue to be available, although some older valve types will continue to be a dwindling resource.
     
  6. magnet18

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2010
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    Yea, I was thinking like the guys that people bring an old vending machine and then they restore it for a few thousand bucks or something like that, but theres probably not much of a market for that for electronics :(
    If there is it's probably like old arcade machines and jukeboxes.
     
  7. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Restoring old electronics like radios is more of a hobby. You might get a buck or hundred now and again, but I doubt you could make a full time living off of it.
     
  8. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
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    You would prolly be better off designing a "whole house" digital radio to analog radio converter, then sell them to the folks that already own old radios.

    That way they would not need a converter for each unit.

    Sell them for a few hundred dollars a piece and you could do fine.

    You would also have a customer database of vintage radio owners, so you could also offer the repair services directly to them without the expense of advertising.

    The main thing is, you must LOVE it, because it will be a difficult road to travel.
     
  9. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
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    Did I once see something about you having a jukebox that gives electric shocks? Seriously though, even without any actual faults the electrical safety of some of the older equipment leaves much to be desired by modern standards. A lot of it would require modification before it could be sold as working equipment, as opposed to purely decorative items.

    I know that people do this here in the UK, but in the more litigious situation of the USA I'm not sure if this would be acceptable. Wouldn't there be a very high risk of being sued?
     
  10. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Perhaps, but true restoration is just that, no modifications. In a site like this, where you have thousands of visitors, being sued is a real possibility. In my home life I don't sweat it. The old stuff, while not up to current standards, wasn't that bad. It is where the current standards came from, it is a part of history.
     
  11. magnet18

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2010
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    I think repairing old stuff like that is similar to repairing old cars.
    They didn't come standard with seatbelts back in 1950, so you're not required to install one when repairs are made.
     
  12. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
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    There is very often a choice between some degree of modification and leaving equipment in non-functional condition. Some parts are genuinely not obtainable any more, and the characteristics of the nearest modern equivalents may be sufficiently different to require some circuit changes. For instance, what to do with an old amplifier when its selenium HT rectifier has failed, and you can't get a new one? Personally, I would leave the old device in situ but disconnected, and fit a modern device together with some resistance to bring its efficiency down to that of its smelly old ancestor.

    When it comes to mains safety, some of the old gear sold in my country was definitely unsafe by modern standards. We have higher mains voltages (230V, 50Hz) than in some parts of the world, and probably need to take more care on that account.

    Among the worst offenders were small tube radios manufactured abroad and designed for lower mains voltages "converted" to UK mains voltage by fitting resistive line cords. These used resistance wire, typically insulated with asbestos to cope with the heat generated. I understand that the technicians of those days referred to them as "curtain burners", because of the accidents which they caused. I would be unwilling to use one.
     
  13. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    Magnet,

    Start by opening a part-time business repairing stuff. Some one will recognize your talents as ask you to restore something. You can restore stuff you buy and resell it, which would enhance your reputation.

    If you were going to "start a business" you should research the not so fun side of bookkeeping, taxes, licenses, and such. On the IRS website you can find publicatiions like 535 pertaining to small business recordkeeping. Attend a local score seminar on small businesses. Remember, expenses incurred while pursuing profit, all go on your company's profit and loss sheet.

    I've known people who, by the mere fact they opened a business fixing electronics, get requests to "restore" some old time pieces, but that was in a small town. With the internet, you might not need a brick and mortar store, although, you can make arrangements with a brick and mortar store to take things on consignment or take it to an auction.

    Good luck in persuing your dream. Become known as someone who can repair or solve problems. Word of mouth will get around. Operate your business part time till you build up a client base and word of mouth.
     
  14. magnet18

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2010
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    I've got at least another year of highschool and 4 years in college before I'd even be willing to do anything like this, so I think I've got awhile. ;)
     
  15. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    You can start whenever you feel capable. There is nothing preventing you from researching the ancillary topics (recordkeeping and taxes).

    I've known high school students who started a business in their junior year ... ok, it was selling snow cones, but, imagine what their applications to colleges said about their summer jobs ... running a profitable business.

    Granted your choosen field of endeavor requires a little more than a trailer and snow cone machine and flavors.

    Good luck, no matter what you choose to do.
     
  16. magnet18

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2010
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    Yea, I'm definitely not comfortable opening a business, and I still have aspirations of being a particle physicist and finding a quantum level explanation of gravity ;)

    I'll get some experience in college and see what fits me.
     
  17. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
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    That "experience" in college just might be a young lady that pulls your fixation for particle physics right out from under you ;)

    Cooties have that effect on a man. :D
     
  18. magnet18

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2010
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    ... That would be why Eisenstein, Tesla, etc. never married, wouldn't it...
    No problem, just unify gravity quickly, mark it off the check list, and then worry about the womens ;)
     
  19. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Reread your history, Einstein was married, and divorced, married again, and became a widower.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstien

    Don't know about Dr. Tesla. Einstein's first wife was close to his intellectual equal. Bet it made for interesting dinner conversation. Some conspiracists (mostly feminists) try to claim he stole his wife's work, but that is BS.
     
  20. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

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    Now your learning ;)
     
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