More on manuals plus rescue

William Donzelli wdonzelli at
Thu Aug 20 16:09:21 CDT 2015

On Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 3:54 PM, Marc Verdiell <marc.verdiell at> wrote:
> On 2015-Aug-19, at 3:58 PM, William Donzelli wrote:
>> . . .
>> In fact, due to your time constraints, I would not bother with the HP,
>> Tek, or Heathkit manuals at all
>> . . .
> Gosh, please don't do that! What a terrible piece of advice.

OK, first off - don't be an asshole. You clipped off an important part
of my post. Here is the original:

> In fact, due to your time constraints, I would not bother with the HP,
> Tek, or Heathkit manuals at all. They can wait for the next hoard.  <---important detail!
> They are low value targets eating up your limited resources.   <----another important detail!

As I said before, test equipment manual hoards are not all that rare -
even big ones with thousands of manuals. You would not believe some of
the basements I have been in - hams (active or not) that have shelves
and shelves and shelves of test equipment manuals. The few remaining
old time surplus dealers have gobs of manuals as well. Even some of
the ma-and-pa two way radio or TV repair places have extremely
impressive tech libraries. The stuff is out there.

When someone, Jason in this case, is presented with a huge rescue
effort and a severe time constraint, the first thing to do is sit down
and think things in a practical manner. There is a lot to think about,
but one of the big things is to prioritize the rescue with worst case
scenarios. Often the worse case scenarios seem like they will happen,
but in fact do not. Time constraints often loosen up. In the Manuals
Plus case, Jason needs to move some 25,000 manuals (out of maybe
400,000?) in two days. As far as the whole operation is concerned,
those two days are it, and whatever has not been processed and saved
is doomed. The best thing to do then is to use the odds. Save the
material where there is very rare, from obscure makers that turn up
only very rarely. Skip the material that is mostly extremely common
that can perhaps be picked up in the next job. With test equipment,
that stuff would be HP, Tek, and Heath. Sure, by skipping HP (for
example), a truly rare manual might get skipped (5840A, perhaps), but
there is a reasonable chance it might be saved down the line. However,
if HP is made a priority, saving all the common material (600 series
signal generators, perhaps) might clog up the system, and when time
runs out, that original 1920 manual for the Westinghouse Osiso
oscilloscope ends up in the dumpster. And the chances of the next
hoard having that manual? I will bet a tiny fraction of the chance of
finding a manual for the 5840A. But hey, the 608A manual was saved!
Add it to the pile of other 608A manuals.

And, of course, if the time constraint does get lifted, either by the
owner or the productivity of the crew - the HP, Tek, and Heath stuff
can then be dealt with. It is not like the plan is set in stone and
the manuals are condemned.

I have been in the surplus business for quite a long time, and have
been dealing in manuals for about 20 years (15 for test equipment,
because I gave up on that stuff about 5 years ago). I have had
thousands of manuals pass thru my hands. Last year I cleaned out Radio
Research of their paper - a job about half the size of the Manuals
Plus job. I did it alone over several months (along with a more
general cleanout of the place). Before that was a hoard from a no-name
surplus dealer out of Dayton, OH. Before that was the Compass
technical library. Interspersed have been a lot of smaller rescues for
myself and clients (like the Cyber Resources job for CHM, and the
EMC/Data General tape library save for another client). While I do not
really boast about this stuff (this being a rare exception), I can say
I do know what the hell I am doing.


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