Ebay - Here we go again.
REPAIR REPORT of my L3-3 Tester #4.

In addition to my Ebay Experiences I have this one here, which was the most shocking of all. Below is the screen shot, from Ebay. Wow, look at that! An unused, calibrated tube tester, just waiting for me:) Look at the switches and screws, they are shiny as new. Isn't that what we all want! This tester I bough from Ebay Seller "HICKOKS" from Hungary.

NOTICE1: This seller HICKOKS closed his account.

I see accounts in Ebay, called TUBESANDRARITIES and RFANDTUBES also from Budapest, with EXACTLY the same Ebay presentation. Everybody can think about this what he wants.

W A R N I N G. : A continuous EBAY Name change makes it hard to identify fraudulent sellers. When they change the name by creating a NEW name, it is not a name change by the Ebay rules. So when you look into his account. for "previous names" you see nothing. I see somebody setting up identical shops, under different names. So all articles are in both shops. Call it "shop A" and "shop B". Lots of Radio and RF parts, tubes, Antenna things, and instruments. So both shops collect feedback. Then, when there is a problem with "shop A", he just closes it, and continues with "shop B" and creates a new "shop-C". Like this he can simply close an Ebay shop any time he likes, and have no problem with his business.

FIND EBAY NAMES: I don't want to be the Ebay police here, but some sellers deserve that you check his history a little bit. On the start page of Ebay, is the search button on the right. On the right, of this button is a link: Extended Search. Go there, and then select the link: Find Ebay members.

The next picture is a screen shot from a messed up, fraudulent fixed tester, heavily used, sold to me as NOS. And you see... it happens to me also.


The Cards that were NOT with tester, though advertised nicely like this. Instead of that I was send used, dirty cards, knocked together from different card sets, on different paper, a few with ink smear, some with water damage, and several cards missing. I mean you can not complain about such cards, with a used tester, but this man from Budapest sold it to me as never used, and that was not true.

What is complete disgusting, these cards you see above, are still for sale on Ebay while I write this in 2016. Still nicely on the same green cloth. Above picture is from what I bought in 2012.

This is how the tubes of the " unused" tester looked like

Fungus layer inside L3-3 tube tester. I removed it with a tooth brush.



A strange repair in an "unused" tester



Meter not mounted correct. Later it appeared the meter was removed from the tester, to "fix" the banged needle. When you carefully look on the original EBAY picture (see all above on this page) you can indeed see the meter was mounted like this. For the seller that didn't matter. Main thing the needle is moving. The inside job was done disgustingly, the technician who did that was a fraud. I don't want to go to into another broken meter story here, but this was done really bad.

The meter, after full repair, and a new scale made for it.


The cable burn is much worse as you see here. This little spot came out, after I noticed the blue tape was loose. So I pulled it away to understand WHY it was loose, and then I saw this. He just put some tape around it, and then 1...2...3.... Ebay, and it was mine.

At first, this was the only visible place. Later I found, inside the complete cable tree, over a length of 30 cm, one wire was melted, and damaged 8 other wires. A total of four wires needed to be fully replaced, the rest only partially. It appeared relatively easy to repair, just a lot of work. This was a short circuit of the AC heater. Actually one of the most occurring defects with tube testers in general. The cables are relatively good quality, and damage was limited.

Burned cable of L3-3 Tube tester

Burned cable of L3-3 Tube tester

Burned cable of L3-3 Tube tester

Burned cable of L3-3 Tube tester


Burned cable of L3-3 Tube tester



Here is the same cable tree after repair.

It looks so easy what you see here, but it was 8 hours work in total. Taking the complete cable tree apart, which gives a big mess. Also you don't know what to find, and the more you take it apart, the less nice it gets afterwards. I took yellow wires, so I can see which are the ones I replaced.

These two yellow wires that are repaired, perhaps show the original short circuit.

These are the plugs to select the AC heater voltage. When two cables are burned, perhaps two plugs were put in at the same time. This short circuits the transformer. Since these windings can do a lot of current at low voltage, it burns the cable tree before it burns the transformer. With the high voltage wiring, that's opposite. When you short circuit those, the cable tree will not damage, but the transformer will be gone quickly. I tried to touch the wiring as little as possible. So here, I I replaced the wires only partially, so to leave in the original solder work underneath the plug board. This is very hard to get inside, it is like surgery. (Somebody will know what I mean).


The inside is totally deformed, and it was quickly bend back, as much as needed to close the lid again. So no, this was not shipment damage on the way to me. This was previous damage. The flying lead socket fell apart, after opening it. I could not get it together again. It was glued badly.

1) The panel meter

It was obviously removed before, and it was not put back into the front right, due to the panel deformation. So that made me VERY suspicious. After opening the meter, it turned out to have a banged needle. The magnet had brown, crumbling rust inside, chipping all off, and I ended up taking the complete meter apart, until the last screw, and make a new scale for it. A miracle the meter wasn't stuck. It took me many hours to repair it.

2) Cable burn. Just not short circuited, but black coal places here and there. If I open the cable tree at places where i see no burn at the outside, yet a brown smoky smear covers the wires from the inside. This must have produced a LOT of smoke when it happened. It's fully impossible not to know this. Mind you, this was sold to me as an "unused" tester.

3) The shiny switches, where in fact heavily oxidized, and the visible part cleaned with chrome polish, which was smeared all inside. Since that's pretty aggressive stuff, which solves oxide. i need to open up or replace those two calibration switches, since these must be extremely low leakage. They are very special types, and the seller smeared them with chrome polish, leaking inside.

4) The flying lead connector was broken, and glued with some household glue, it fell apart first thing when I opened it, and was clipped together is some way that I can't get it back in.

5) The case is quite damaged at the inside.

6) The cards were a terrible collection from all kind of printing dates, with stains and dirt, and several missing.

7) R69 was broken, and repaired. Now this shows me, a professional person has been doing this. You can be searching like crazy before you find the resistor to be defective. However there were no signs of searching, not the usual "trial and error" soldering of the unknowing amateur, and or the cable tree pulled apart, etc. The So somebody knew EXACTLY what he was doing. However not exactly enough, since the values of the resistor were 15% off. I had to remove this, and use correct values. The hand-wound spool of R69 was broken. Later I will put those resistors at the inside, nicely

8) The "unused" tubes. Well that speaks for itself.

9) A fat layer of fungus is covering many non metal parts, and a white oxide powder is virtually covering all metal plate work, and many of the electronics. The large green enameled power resistors are now grey-white, with some unclear layer over it, very hard to remove.

10) Many foils capacitors were leaky, due to humid storage. I will check the eletrolytics later. These do not suffer from humidity. They may be all good.

11) I found another repair resistor hidden under some cables, and a position where it is not supposed to be. The repair person must have exact knowledge of the cable tree. Now THAT was a very, very stinky way to hide the repair! I need to find out later, what resistor is the broken one, because it's probably still in the tester, but I don't know where or which one that is! So, this was done by a professional repair guy. Somebody who knows this tester inside out.

12) The calibration potmeters are rusty from the outside, they look terrible. I do not trust those any more.

Conclusion: It is amazing, the tester was working trouble free in the beginning, but as you understand I can not seriously use it with a burned cable tree, that can cause a fire in my house.

(ADDED NOTE FROM 2015. Later, I found what caused that cable burn. It was a partial short from the Grid2 Cap connector to the deck plate. I call it "partial" as it was similar to a "spark gap" connection, it sparked at very high voltage. That didn't seem to create a problem most of the time , as G2 is usually not very high, and switched off even with Triodes. Until.... I did a 5U4G rectifier test, which uses the G2 internal wire to put 550V AC on the tube anode. So just as a side effect there is 550V on the G2 cap, but that isn't used for rectifiers like 5U4G anyway. Yet the 550V made the G2 cap connector short again. This time I heard and smelled it, so I switched off immediately, and the tester survived. I noticed of course this happened while testing a 5U4G so I thought the tube was bad, or even the card was bad perhaps. With all other tubes the tester worked again, just with 5U4G it shorted. So now we finally know the reason for the cable burn that I fixed some time ago. At first I did not know where the short was, but I heard it spark inside, and a faint burn smell was there for a few seconds, which i could not locate. I recognised this as a high voltage smell, but inside was visible nothing burned. Then, I used a thin flexible hose, to smell inside the tester at all kind of places. So you can smell at every part precisely. Like this, I found the G2 cap connector. So I repaired the cable burn already years ago, but today I found out how and why this happened. You can learn from this how difficult and curious tube tester defects can sometimes be. And also you can learn how typical it is to sell such a tester on Ebay. Furthermore, I added this G2 cap replacement as a general advice for all testers with this type of cap.)

After contacting the seller about his "unused" tester, which is in reality a quick and dirty fixed broken one, I got an immediate reaction, he was absolutely not surprised. His answer was. "No problem Jac, simply send it back, we pay everything".

Why I give sometimes a negative feedback, without any communication. Now this is a very bad habit in Ebay, trying to sell things which are not as advertised, and then just very friendly give the money back when the buyer finds out. It is crazy but some even complain at Ebay customer service, when they do not receive a positive feedback for this. So it's money back, but a "negative" still, that is for shipping sour lemons and advertising sweet fruits. Some others as a first thing try to cancel such a sales. So they even get their Ebay charges back, and no risk for a negative. I learned from Ebay customer service, you don't need to accept this. The seller must give the money back, after the item is send back - period. No need for the buyer to "agree" with cancelled sales, by having to click on Ebay links, and any negative feedback such as "not send as advertised" is the truth. Myself I give negative feedback for the attempt already. Because the seller wasted my time. Given that I had done already some maintenance, before I found more and more bad things, I proposed the seller that I pay a "broken tester" price. To which he agreed, and payed me back the difference. So it's a bit of an exception that he got a positive feedback.

GENERAL WARNING. As you can see here, such a tester as this one, with half burned wires, I had on my desk running for several days. Many hours unattended, it was somewhere else in the building. It could have caught fire easily. I realized once more, it is never a good idea to leave such old equipment switched on unattended. I will take my own lesson.

PRECAUTIONS. The transformer to my experience is in danger always with any tube tester. For the High Voltage, there is a nice example tester by Anton van den Oever, of how to fuse it. He will send me pictures later. For the heater windings, thermistors probably can be used, I need to check that better. These are parts that have very low resistance, and they get hand warm only, at full current. Power loss is very small. Then, when current is above a certain value, suddenly their resistance goes up very much, and they get warmer from that. This becomes an avalanche, and they open the circuit almost, like at 1% idle current or so. They are used to protect electric motors. I once experimented with those, they work perfectly, and are self resetting. So a 2.5 Amps type will safely protect a 2Amps winding. Then find one for each transformer winding output, and nothing can go wrong any more. They can only be used to protect high current, low voltage windings, but it's just this what can burn the cable tree and/or deck switches easily, since the transformer is so powerful. Optically it looks like 500Watt to me.