My tried and trusted Antex CTC-40 Precision Soldering Iron ( seen here on the left ) gave up the ghost last Saturday. I shouldn’t have been surprised as I bought it over 40 years ago when I was a teenager. The old blue metallic stand is a bit of a give away – they don’t make them like that anymore.

Different components require specific tips and may be temperature or static sensitive. I prefer to use dedicated irons for specific tasks so its loss will be felt sooner or later. Besides the mains powered irons I also have 3 temperature controlled irons but my oldest and favourite Elecktor homemade station was designed to run the trusty CTC-40. It may run on the new models but I will have to re-calibrate the rotary dial.

I contacted Antex directly but unfortunately they no longer manufacture the element for the CTC-40 and the current models do not fit my pencil style Precision model.

Check out this excellent video on Radio Caroline. I did not realise it was still on the go on the internet but not from an offshore location. It is even available on free to air radio on satellite.

This video features the last ship in the timeline – the Ross Revenge on the 40th anniversary of the station’s launch.  Hang on in there and the videos will queue for your entertainment and edification. Enjoy.

Radio Caroline Sticker

Here is my rescued and battered Radio Caroline window sticker from 1973. It is faded, rusted, and suffered from snail damage!

Radio Caroline Window Sticker 2

I didn’t realise the stickers were different until now. That’s probably why I got two in my membership pack at the time. I kept this one in the sleeve of  my Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album complete with all the album stickers etc. I laminated both of them and the melted adhesive has darkened the original colour.

I used to receive invitations to events in the UK and Holland on a regular basis but needless to say I couldn’t afford to go as I went back to  college in  1974 for a year.

Radio Caroline Window Sticker 2

Its amazing what turns up when you are dumping nearly 50 years of junk. I unearthed my first all steel blue metallic toolbox and low and behold it still had my Radio Caroline window sticker on its battered lid. I bought it back  it in 1967 with money I earned maintaining the garden next door and used until one of its cantilevers struts broke off in 1974. It was too good to throw out so kept it  in my workshop as a storage box for my old 50s and 60s electronic bits and pieces.

Radio Caroline ruled the air waves and the beaches on the east coast of Ireland from the mid 60s until 1968. Families used to wrap their transistor radios in polythene bags and bring them to the seaside.  Everybody was tuned to Caroline and early in the morning the signal used to fade in and out like waves washing up against the beach. Radio Caroline North transmitted from the M V Caroline, formerly the M V Frederica, anchored off Ramsey Bay on the Isle of Man.  Atmospherics affected the daytime signal but it was crystal clear in the winter evenings. I vividly remember listening to the station as it defied the new British Marine Offences Act by playing its first illegally transmitted record at midnight on August 14th 1967 – I think!. It was a Monday as far as I can remember. My family was on holiday in Skerries in north County Dublin and reception was excellent on my little Panasonic transistor radio. I am sure they played “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles. Every teenager was talking about it after Mass the next morning.  (August 15th was and still is a holyday of obligation in the Catholic Church – the Feast of the Assumption, so everyone had to attend Mass.)

Caroline had no competition in the afternoon as Raidio Éireann (Radio Ireland) used to close down after the sponsored programmes at dinner hour.  Pop music was a rarity on the air waves in those days and was mainly confined to the English language service of Radio Luxembourg in the night time. Unfortunately Radio Caroline used to close down at teatime just as we were waiting for the Number 3 bus to head back into the city centre from Sandymount Strand. It was a great excuse for my mother to order us to turn off the radio and save the battery – an EveryReady PP9 if I remember correctly.

Years later  I received a present of membership of  the Radio Caroline Club as a birthday present in the early 70s. The package consisted of a welcoming letter, large wall poster of the Mi Amigo, two paper window stickers for my non-existent car, a numbered membership club card and a fan magazine. Later that year I also received a surprise self-adhesive round sticker and a QSL card  following  a reception report I sent in during the winter months. The window stickers arrived with new fangled double sided tape so the fan could decide whether to put it in the car window facing outwards or place the tape on the reverse side to decorate his/her private shrine to Radio Caroline. It is worth noting that it was illegal in Northern Ireland to display the stickers in public.

I stuck one of mine with Bostik glue to the lid of the toolbox  as I didn’t own a car at the time. Needless to say the same sorry specimen I rescued today is full of holes and rusted through in spots. It is also peeling at the edges so I will try to remove it in a day or two.

Hopefully it will come off in one piece and I will laminate or frame it.