Buying Lunar Orbiter Tape Drive Parts on eBay

Dennis Wingo: Last night on the Ampex mailing list the following message was posted:
Over on the oldvtrs list, someone pointed out this eBay item: 110459620505
Several of us immediately identified them, not as quad modules, but as VPR-7900 modules. Then another member pointed out that they were the wrong size which caused me to take a closer look. I have just checked the actual machines to be certain, and also checked the manuals and the Ampex part number guide. Now, this has turned into a major mystery. Here’s what I can tell you with absolute certainty:
1) The style of the front panels is like the 7900 series (ground jacks and board function listed at the bottom of each module…they are upside down in the pic), but the module functions, layout and part numbers do not match the 7900 (or 7800) series. They are also the wrong size.
2) The part numbers listed are all in the range of the part numbers used for the quad machines! The part numbers for the 7900 series was entirely different.
The seller seems quite sure that these were from a 2″ quad. The part numbers seem to indicate that could be the case. Anyone have any ideas????? Perhaps something from special products division???? This is extremely curious!!!

I thought this was interesting and since I am always looking for spares for our LOIRP FR-900’s I checked it out on eBay. Here is the page I found.

Larger view
When I looked I was pretty certain that these were boards from our FR-900 machines. It had the right part numbers, so I called Ken Zin at home the night before Thanksgiving and asked him to verify, which he did and noted that these are newer version boards of the ones that we have!! So I bid on them and won them today.
I got this message from Don Norwood later:
Oh my, from the limited info I have, I can see that now! And in fact, they’re not upside down in the pic as that orientation is correct for the FR-900. Wow! I hope you can use them!

So, after winning the boards on Ebay, we are pursuing the boards to get them shipped to us and to see if this fellow has some more. We will try to get the story from him of his dad and how he might have come by these extremely rare boards. In the year and a half of our project, this is the FIRST time that we have found anything related to the FR-900 hardware that did not come from Nancy Evans.

A Day in the Life of LOIRP

Louisa Smith visiting the lab today.

Engineer Ken Kledzik designing and building a new VCO for the FR-900

Ken still working today on the VCO design and build

Our pirate flag, with the sun behind it.

Lunar Orbiter II_092 image tape being run.

Video: Two FR-900 Drives Operational

The LOIRP Project has reached a major milestone of having two Ampex FR-900 Instrumentation Tape Drives operational at once. This will allow us to accelerate the production of images. This is probably the first time in 30 years that two FR-900s have been operational in the same room at the same time.

LOIRP Works To Bring Second FR-900 Tape Drive Online

Keith’s note: we are working to get our second FR-900 tape drive restored and operational. Once that is accomplished the LOIRP will embark upon a new program with a dramatically enhanced capability to retrieve – and release images.

Image: This is one of our original FR-900 Ampex heads with two new preamps. Part of our upgrade program – a Silicon Transistor Preamp and Germanium Preamp

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