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China Grand Tour 2009
Shuguang Vacuum Tube Factory
Report By Steven R. Rochlin

 Welcome to perhaps the largest vacuum tube factory in the world! Shuguang manufactures 40 percent of the world's tubes. They make more than 30 different types of power output tubes alone, plus of course many preamplifier, rectifier and others. They have eight production lines operating today that are only making power tubes. A total of 4800 small signal tubes may be manufactured each day!


Upon walking through the entrance, seeing this display and being met by their staff, i felt like Charlie as he walked into the entrance of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. There was so little to see and so much time. Scratch that, reverse it. In fact during the tour i was waiting for one of the workers to turn and say to me "We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.".


Here is one of those burn in racks with 572B glowing in all their glory! These are high-frequency tubes for medical purposes, yet i wish they could be my new winter holiday display with the family sitting around them all aglow as we sing merry songs and drink our favorite beverage.


Up close and personal with a 572B tube.


Here is a 5AR4 before it is inserted into a glass envelope.



So how do they attach the various bits of a tube together? Well, am glad you asked.


Inspection of the final assembly under a microscope. Adjustments can be made as needed.




Heating the lower glass to then seal the bottom section.


This is a modern, proprietary vacuum machine that Shuguang's employee invented! It is said to produces a vacuum 100x more than the older Russian variety.


Wong Yue Rong (right) and Ian Grant of Grant Fidelity. Wong Yue Rong is the chief technical officer of the factory and designed the very special vacuum machine seen to the right.


By comparison here is 1927 American tube vacuum machine. My guess is that it came from the RCA factory. While it does function, it is here more as a historic piece is my guess.


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