Buying a Viking Transmitter

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by NQ8J, May 31, 2021.

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  1. NQ8J

    NQ8J Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been interested in owning a Viking transmitter for quite some time, leaning towards a Ranger 1, but they all are appealing to me and who knows what I'll find at an upcoming swap meet.

    Buying something like this at a swap meet is always a gamble, and I can spot obvious problems, but having not ever owned a Viking transmitter before, I am wondering what common problems I should be watching out for as well as what are reasonable prices for these transmitters?
  2. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, to simplify negotiations you might consider an offer 'by the pound"! :)

    -Most radios of this era are large, open and easily accessed for repairs.

    -Look for one in good mechanical condition since replacement parts require scrounging. Caps and resistors generally require testing and replacement.

    Don't expect any secret tips or major gotchas. These are simple radios and what you see is what you get.

    Rangers tend to be more popular and may command higher prices; perhaps $150-$400. You might consider the Viking I and II transmitters as well.

    I recommend making friends with other BA afficionados who tend to have many radios and may be interested in passing on the tradition. If buying on the internet, look for sellers who offer complete photos of all sides and internals. For internet sales never spend more than you can afford to lose if the deal turns sour.

    Jump in!
    NQ8J and WD4ELG like this.
  3. K5MIL

    K5MIL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Viking Rangers were offed in kit form. I purchased one at a swap meet for a really good price because the owner, who purchased it at an estate sale, said that it had a bad power transformer ,when he powered it up it smoked. When I opened it up it was one built from a kit and the person who built it should never had been allowed to own a soldering iron. Many cold solder joints, gobs of solder on connections, burnt insulation from the soldering iron, ect. I started by cleaning up the mess at the rectifier sockets and then brought it up on a Variac. No smoke, power transformer was OK. I then spent hours cleaning up poor soldering, pulling new wiring, adding a few improvement mods and it is now a good working Ranger.

    Bill - K5MIL
    Advanced Class
    KP4SX, NQ8J and WB5THT like this.
  4. WA2CWA

    WA2CWA Ham Member QRZ Page

    When sold, most Johnson transmitters were offered in either Kit or Factory Wired. And, after 50 plus years of being manufactured or built from a kit, how many different hands have been into it. I have several Johnson transmitters including a Ranger, Viking II, and a Valiant. Never found them to be anything special.
    NQ8J likes this.
  5. W2JJV

    W2JJV Ham Member QRZ Page

  6. W1NB

    W1NB XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    Small components, like resistors and most capacitors, can be easily obtained. The parts you want to avoid having to find are the transformers, selector switches, and meters. They’re out there but they may take time to find so if there are damaged or broken ones on a radio you are considering, keep that in mind. I would inspect tuning capacitors for arcing and make sure the plates can be fully meshed and unmeshed without shorting to each other.
    NQ8J likes this.
  7. NQ8J

    NQ8J Ham Member QRZ Page

    My reasons for the Ranger 1 are purely cosmetic, but I think they are all good looking rigs.

    Thanks to everyone for the replies. I didn't want to make a mistake in assuming that because of their simplicity that there are no caveats. Glad to hear that there is nothing out of the normal things to watch out for.

    I just got back into the hobby last year and am curious, why are Rangers more popular than the other models?
  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    They appear simple, but aren't so simple. They're heavy of course (I'm sure you know that) mostly because they're plate modulated; but I've seen hundreds of "problems" with Rangers, and even Ranger IIs which are a bit newer but still very old.

    If it cannot be "demonstrated" to work properly, I'd always assume it does not. The properly working (which means, "maintained" or "restored") units will be sold with a demo and cost more; the swap meet deals I've seen are at least 50% dogs and unless I had a lot of time to restore them, I wouldn't touch one.

    If possible, always go for a "local deal" where you can see it on the air and working.

    The Rangers may be popular because they're lighter and easier to move than Valiants or the original Vikings or Viking Iis. I've had all of these models over the years (mostly back in the sixties) and once tried a Field Day operation with a Valiant on a folding aluminum table, which of course immediately failed and it all collapsed. My group were all young teens and weren't as mechanically inclined as we should have been. Amazingly, when we relocated to a very sturdy "state park" bench made of heavy lumber and cement which could actually support the weight, the darned thing still worked! That was a relief.:p

    If you do pick one up, don't lose those very long machine screws that go from front to rear of the cabinet.:) They're not so common.
    K0UO, N4WLL and NQ8J like this.
  9. KE0ZU

    KE0ZU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Any of the EFJ transmitters would be nice to own, they are all pretty dependable and easy to work on, but the ranger or valiant would be best ones to consider for a first transmitter. Many are pretty good sized and some with separate power supplies.
    The ranger isn't very heavy and its on the small side. Good little transmitter. I picked up somewhat of a basket case and it turned out to be a very nice little transmitter after a fair amount of work. Since mine was about a 4 or 5 in the looks department, I dicided to include several modifications to reduce the standby power consumption, but they ceratinly arent necessary.
    I wouldn't worry about the cabinet screws. I've made replacements for several transmitters using some #10-28 all thread and acorn nuts, both easily available at any hardware or home improvement store. They look fine and are a lot cheaper than trying to find an original.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
    NQ8J likes this.
  10. W1NB

    W1NB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think there are a couple of reasons the Ranger is so popular. As others have pointed out, they are smaller and lighter than other plate modulated transmitters. In my opinion, they have better aesthetics than other transmitters, especially the lighter color scheme on the Ranger II. They also have the built-in VFO and, most pertinent, I think, is that they run a single 6146 so they can be more easily configured to drive a 10dB gain amp to legal limit.
    NQ8J likes this.

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