Frank Raynor: technical hobbies

There were a lot of things, we just didn’t spend a lot of money on hobbies because we didn’t have the disposable income and people now find that difficult to believe and used to – spare time used to be taken sometimes repairing my cars or doing things. I was always able to do the engines – always able to do my motor engineering. So what – I never spent a lot of money on motorcars and strangely enough two or three of my colleagues, there must be something in that engineering electronics set up, used to buy an – buy an old motorcar, buy a car that needed something repairing and then set to and do it ourselves. The people – it was always interesting, we always said the people that’s had all the new cars in the car parks were the admin people, all the non technical people. Most of the technical people had old motorcars [laughs].

Do you have any technical hobbies apart from working on the motorcar?

Well not as such, I mean I – when my lad was growing up doing things, I think he had a boat, I made a radio control system, I’ve done things like that. When it’s been more with my grandchildren really that starting in the ‘80s I got them into computing, I put computers together for the kids, my grandchildren, yeah, didn’t regard it as a hobby but it’s something I did in my spare time if you like [laughs].

I think you mentioned building was it an electronic organ as well?

Oh yeah, I did that for a while, I was initially interested and that started off really as I’d like a Hammond organ but I can’t justify the expense [laughs]. And my daughter, who was then ten years old, I put her to piano lessons, she wanted to learn to play the piano lessons, play the piano, put her to lessons, she was being taught by an engineer acquaintance of mine at Culham, by his wife, sorry. And she was teaching adults as well so I went along and – and started to take my lessons at the age of, what was I then, forty. I initially spotted this Electronic Organ Constructors Society, looked into it a bit and I thought, well I don’t know, with cheap components going around, if you know where to buy them you could build yourself some of this kit. So I spent a bit of time doing that. Some of it was a bit tedious, for example there was a factory outlet at one stage where you could buy reject chips or reject diodes. Now you needed a hell of a lot of diodes in the switching systems of these things and so you used to buy these things by weight. I remember I bought a boot box full for two pound containing five or 6,000 diodes, so I made a little jig and just sat there hour after hour checking all the diodes, keeping the ones that were acceptable and throwing the others away, but it didn’t cost any money you see, paid about a pound or a couple of pounds for this stuff. And from there were cheap transistors, I was able to do the woodwork and you could buy a keyboard anyway.

Is there much crossover between hobby activities at home and electronics and doing the work?

No, not really, you still – question of knowledge of electronic circuits, acquiring knowledge of it, my wife used to say to me sometimes, ‘Haven’t you done enough electronics for the day instead of scratching about with that stuff in the evening?’ [laughs]

  • Interviewee Frank Raynor
  • Duration 00:03:42
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Thomas Lean
  • Date of interview 8/2/2012
  • Shelfmark C1379/76

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