The Accidental Classic:
Pierce Simpson Bearcat 23
by Spitfire, 441
This is my accidental classic radio, the Pearce-Simpson Bearcat 23. The reason I call this radio an "accidental classic" is that by the time I acquired this radio I was not looking to add any more classics to the shelf. It came to me by way of Firestarter, after his grab of a bunch free gear from a local Olí timer who was looking to unload his massive collection before moving.
The radio was in really dirty shape. There was a quantity of dust and dirt on the outside, and there were quite a bit of cobwebs and other crud on the inside. So I wasnít looking at the radio in a very favorable light. I took it home along with some other booty. It then sat in a corner quite forgotten while I was restoring some classic tube radios. But fate has a way of intervening and changing the course of events.........
Well, it turns out I unexpectedly had the month of December off from work. I broke my kneecap while tending to my antennas in a fierce windstorm. I managed the antenna ok, however I missed the ladder while coming off the roof. And it's true what they say, that it isn't the fall that hurts, it's the sudden stop at the bottom. So now I had an abundance of time on my hands and a need for something to do. So since I had an accident, it's time to look at the accidental classic, the Bearcat 23.
The first thing to do is plug it in and see what we have. First off the mechanical digital clock was way too noisy. I figured that wasn't good. Even if the radio turned out to be a work of electrical perfection, it wonít be enjoyable to operate with the clock squealing away. The initial check of the radio seemed to be ok, but Iíll look in greater detail later. First I need to clean this thing up and see what I can do about the squealing clock motor. I opened up the radio and did a thorough cleaning inside and out. I was hoping that cleaning and lubrication of the clock mechanism would quiet things down. That was not to be. It turned out, the clock motor itself was the source of all the squealing. The motor/gearbox is one sealed unit, and I thought, "how am I going to lubricate a sealed unit?" As I pondered that solution, I went on with checking out the rest of the radio.
Initially, I had no intention of keeping this radio. Instead, I had planned to give it a tune-up and cleaning and then offload it on E-Bay. From an aesthetic standpoint, this radio is not very pretty. It has a face only a manufacturer (or their mothers) could love.
The first problem to fix were all of the meter and channel lights which were burned out. I have some in the junk box from dead donors, so that was easy. As I aligned and tuned the radio things were looking pretty good from a sensitivity standpoint. However there was a problem with the squelch circuit (What is it with squelch problems?). The squelch was engaging at minimum setting; wide open squelch was not open. It turned out to be the squelch pot. Maximum resistance on the pot should be open squelch. But it had weakened and changed value such that the original 10k ohm was supposed to be maximum resistance, but it was not getting there. So I added in a couple hundred ohms in series and solved that.
Having lots of time on my hands to tinker, I took out the clock motor to see what could be done there. I figured I would either fix it or destroy it in the process. But something had to be done.
The solution I came up with, after examining the motor removed from the radio, was to drill two small holes in the sealed gearbox. One for putting in some liquid graphite, the other for letting out the displaced air. After I lubed the motor, I sealed things back up with a dab of clear silicone. The motor was then reinstalled and I plugged the radio in. At first, I thought I broke it as it was not making a sound at all. But then I saw the second wheel on the clock turning. Mission accomplished! The clock was now super quiet and it actually keeps time as well.
Now for the post alignment performance specs:
Sensitivity: .1uV for 10db S+N/N.
Adjacent channel selectivity: 45db @ 10Khz.
I.F. Frequencies: 455 Khz AM
AM Power: 3 watts.
AM Modulation: 100+%, 12 watts peak.
2nd Harmonic suppression: -40dbc.
Other spurious emissions: -55dbc.
After a thorough cleaning and alignment, it was time for on-air checks. The receiver on this radio is unbelievably quiet and sensitive for a CB radio. The radio is mostly a large hollow space inside with a good size speaker, so it has good fidelity. I love a good receiver. The good quality characteristics of this radio may be attributed to being based on a Uniden chassis. The transmit audio on this radio is really loud with a D104. I have shocked the locals with the screaming audio that comes out of this unmodified 35 year old 23 channel radio. Some say it is my loudest rig. With a combination of good receive and loud transmit I could not sell this thing on E-Bay. Although it is not pretty to look at, the radio is growing on me. I use it as my daily talker now. I like the big size of the radio and having a working clock thatís easy to read is nice. I do not like the stupid way the manufacturer laid out the metering. First they are too small. There are a total of three meters, each only the size of a mobile meter. The first meter is S/R.F. power out. Second is the forward power calibrate for the SWR function. The third meter is for SWR. What a stupid setup. Evidently the manufacturer agreed, as the next version of this model incorporated 2 larger "base station sized" meters. The radio has two power on switches, a main switch integrated with the clock auto/alarm feature. This needs to be on to supply AC power. The second power switch is for DC power to radio. I just use the main and leave the other on. Why leave the power supply on for no reason? Rounding out the controls are Volume, Squelch and SWR calibrate. Also a Delta Tune switch, and a Noise Blanker that works very well to quiet the receiver. And of course a means of setting the clock and alarm functions.
Not bad for a radio I wasn't even looking to keep.........