Home at our Second Home . . .

The AM Clouds / PM Sun that was forecast for today must have been for somewhere else, because we had moderate to heavy rain for all but the last 50 miles of our trip down to Elkhart, IN.

After we were ready to travel this morning, all except for disconnecting shore power, we called the shuttle for a ride to the casino for the breakfast buffet. And of course afterwards, Jan had to check out the gift shop, and lo and behold, she found a shirt she just had to have. Who would have thunk it?

Getting back to the rig, we cranked up, brought the levelers up, unhooked shore power, pulled in the slide, and pulled out about 10am. And just as we got back on US-31, the light misting we had been getting turned into a heavy rain.

Traveling on US-31 the last couple of days means a lot to me, since further south it runs right through my family’s farm in North Alabama, and then all the way down to Mobile. Before I-65 was built, we traveled US-31 back and forth many times to visit relatives. So now, along with US-1, we can say we’ve been to both ends, the start just south of the Mackinac Bridge, and the end, of course, just outside Mobile, AL.

As far as US-1, we visited both ends in 2009 while traveling up the East Coast. The southern end is located in Key West, FL,

us1 mile marker 0

and the northern end, 2369 miles away in Fort Kent, MA. Fort Kent is where we crossed back into Canada as we traveled west across the southern border through Quebec, Montreal, and Ottawa, before coming back into US and visiting Buffalo NY and Niagara Falls.

end001n_sign

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Toward the end of our trip today, we passed through Benton Harbor. 30 or 40 years I would have tried to spend a week here. Benton Harbor was, at that time, the home of Heathkit.

Heathkit actually started in 1912 selling kit AIRPLANES. After several iterations, the new owner started selling electronic kits using WWII surplus radio parts. The company grew rapidly, selling amateur radio equipment, test gear, audio amps, and even color TV kits. During the 1970’s I actually built two of their 25” color TV’s, and they worked great.

Heathkit Color TV 1

Back in those days, when electronics equipment was being mostly assembled by hand, you could save a lot of money by building it yourself. But as the 80’s and 90’s progressed, and more and more electronics was built by automated equipment, the price savings disappeared and Heathkit gradually ground to a halt.

From the 60’s to the 80’s I probably built close to a hundred of their kits, from simple test meters and ham radio gear, to audio amps and the above-mentioned color TV’s. Steve Jobs cut his teeth on Heathkits, and is quoted as saying "It gave a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one’s environment”.

They will be missed.

We got into what Jan considers our second home, Elkhart Campground, about 3pm and was warmly greeted by Gita. We were surprised to see how full they were, busier than we’ve ever seen them before. We got parked and set up in a nice, long pull-thru site. Later we headed over to one of our favorite places here in Elkhart, El Maguey Mexican Restaurant.

Tomorrow, pretty much nothing, I hope.

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“There are many armchair quarterbacks, but few who play football.”

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4 Responses

  1. Greg,

    Heathkit is trying to resurrect itself again. There is a very lengthy online survey being taken, trying to determine what kits people would be interested in at this time.

    They are looking into ham gear and consumer electronics.

    I have an old SB200, linear amp here (W9MCI) that I want to put in service.

    Butch Williams

  2. Benton Harbor also used to be the home of The House of David. I remember their great pies, pastries and jams.

  3. Although I never did anything with Heathkits I remember my younger brother doing some things. Also around 1968 a female friend purchased a Heathkit to build a color TV to surprise her husband when he returned from Vietnam.

    I am a ham radio operator (KG6TRT) and have heard some of the hams mention the possibility of Heathkit resurrecting some things.

    Unrelated perhaps interesting note is that when I needed to locate a fuse for the slide-out on my 2007 Tioga in South Lake Tahoe, I got it a Radio Shack after checking with hardware stores and auto parts stores .Fuse was a 20 amp ceramic.

  4. I too cut my teeth on Heathkit.. We used to buy the kits and I would assemble them for my dad to sell in our electronics store.. Eico, RCA and some other lesser known kits as well.. I am KI0BW.. It really is a small world.. LOL

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