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History of Pro Line radios

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History of Pro Line radios

Old 02-25-2014, 02:42 PM
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SGibson
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Default History of Pro Line radios

I've read some of the history of various USA radio companies on this forum but don't believe I've read much about Pro Line radios. I began flying in the late 60's with Citizen-Ship radios because I grew up near Indianapolis where Citizen-Ship was made. I bought my first Kraft in 1970 and Kraft seemed to dominate until Pro Line came along. I am a collector of old radios and see tons of Kraft on Ebay but very few Pro Line radios. Once Pro Line came along it seemed many of the competition flies moved to Pro Line because their supposed superior open sticks. My guess is Pro Line hurt the sales of Kraft radios but I may be mistaken since you don't see that many Pro Lines for sale.
Does anybody out there have any direct knowledge of how successful Pro Line was in their prime, when did they go out of business, etc.?
Thanks,
Steve Gibson
Old 02-25-2014, 02:55 PM
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coriolan
 
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There is some pictures of Pro Line radios here but no history info!
http://www.rchalloffame.org/index.html
Old 02-25-2014, 02:55 PM
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SGibson
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I did a google search on Pro Line and came up with a bunch of Pro Line history posted in this forum a couple or three years ago.
Steve Gibson
Old 02-28-2014, 08:10 AM
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Steve,
Since I owned one of the companies that competed with Proline I have some knowledge of the size. I knew Jim Fosgate personally and I understood Jim was a tech with E.K. Products and split off and opened his own company, Proline, not sure what year. I am confident Kraft produced more radios total over the years than any other U.S. company.

Based on the size of the companies, I think Kraft, E.K. Products and Orbit in that order produced the most radios. There was probably a large gap from these to Micro Avionics, Bonner, World Engines, Proline, Royal Electronics, Citizen-Ship, Ace, R.S. Systems, S& O, Cannon, Litco.

My company, Royal Electronics had 35 employees at our peak in 1982. Most of the U.S. R/C radio companies closed in 1983. The original Proline company was sold at auction, probably in late 70's to a local Phoenix person. Next I saw the inventory for sale by Joe Bridi in CA. and then I think it went to Ace R/C in Higginsville, MO.

Maybe some others can add to or correct my recollections.


Sid Gates
Old 02-28-2014, 10:24 AM
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Sid, I am interested in the backside of the story. Who were the suppliers of the RC specific items. For instance, Bonner made stick assemblies early on, then later Orbit and Kraft made sticks and servo mechanics. Who made these things as well as connectors, antennas, molded parts. I guess I am asking about the supply chain in the 60's and 70's.
Old 02-28-2014, 03:18 PM
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Royal first used sticks made by Bonner, then Micro Avionics. Next we bought stick parts from Kraft, dual and single stick. Dick Rehling worked at Orbit early on then opened his own mold shop selling the Bantam servo mechanics and his own plastic stick design. Mike Pesak also worked at Orbit and then joined D & R (Dick Rehling). Mike later split from D&R and opened his own shop, Custom Injection Molding. When Orbit was sold, Bob Dunham opened his own molding shop and made sticks, battery case, and servos.

Joe Martin designed the Multicon connector and the KSP-12 servo on his own and then Kraft hired him. Kraft produced the Muticon connector until they closed and I bought the mold tooling for the Multicon and Custom Injection Molding made the plastic parts for me. We had the pins and sockets made at the same screw machine house that Kraft used. Early on most of the radios used the Brunner connectors made in Mexico. D&R, MRC and R.S. Systems made a connector at one time and the pins and sockets where the same parts or nearly. I don't know who did the molding for MRC and R.S. Systems.

Chuck Hayes made the Kraft sticks at Kraft. The last I heard Chuck is still running CH Products, Joe Martin is running Sherline and Mike Pesak runs Custom Injection Molding. When Kraft closed, Mike bought the tooling and produced the Kraft Motor Mounts and Fuel Tanks and probably still does.

Royal Electronics also bought servo mechanics from World Engines, Jerobee and from a French company. D&R and Bob Dunham molded most of the other plastic parts we used such as battery case, receiver cases, antenna mounts. Bob Dunham also made a metal gimbal for a few years and when he stopped I took the design and had it made in a machine shop in Omaha.


Probably more than you wanted to know.
Sid
Old 02-28-2014, 03:56 PM
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I had both Proline and Kraft radios. The Proline used the same servos as Kraft only white in color. The KPS-15 was an awesome servo with lots of power.
Old 03-01-2014, 11:53 AM
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FYI this is from the Sherline website

Joseph H. Martin—December 3, 1934–February 12, 2014

Sherline regrets to announce that the company's president Joe Martin passed away February 12, 2014. Joe was 79. Joe left a legal trust that specifies that his current management staff and experienced employees will continue to operate the Sherline factory and support its customers. Between them, Foreman Karl Rohlin, General Manager Charla Papp and Marketing Director Craig Libuse have a combined 112 years of experience working with Joe at Sherline Products. Joe's far-sighted management of the company leaves it in very sound financial condition and with a clear direction for future product support and development. You can count on us to continue his tradition of making a high quality product here in the USA and offering the best possible customer support. The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship, a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation supporting craftsmanship will also continue to be funded by profits from Sherline tools sales as he intended.
More about Joe can be found on the Sherline People page on this web site. An obituary will be placed in the Sunday, March 16th edition of the San Diego Union Tribune atwww.obituaries.utsandiego.com. There is a guest book on the site should you wish to leave a note or share a story about Joe. Their will be a private ceremony for Joe aboard his boat. In lieu of flowers, tax deductible contributions may be made to Joe's foundation to support Metalworking craftsmanship.
—Karl, Charla, Craig and the Sherline office staff and production craftsmen
Old 03-01-2014, 05:23 PM
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All good stuff to know from back then.
In the late fifties I flew single channel till I bought my first hand held transmitter. A Orbit.
I went to a farm sale here and found a like new Morton M-5 engine stuffed in a five gallon bucket. My bid bought it for twenty bucks.
I sold it to a guy in the north west and bought a Kraft Singular series which I use for years till I went back to Orbit radios and then to JR.
My model friends used Micro avionics and Proline radios here also.
I even had a friend that bought one of the first Space Control bricks. He put it in a Smog Hog and we both flew it around one Sunday and he was flying it and lost all control
and it flew away never to be seen again.
Lots of fun in those days?? Not!
Old 03-01-2014, 07:41 PM
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Still flying 3 Pro Lines, Two Competition 3 channels and a Competition 6 Single stick. I had them all converted to 2.4 ghz mainly due to the lack of new AM RX's available. That and two of them fly ignition old timers which raise havoc with AM systems.All except the one I bought new back in 1970-something. Pics before conversion was done.
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Old 03-01-2014, 08:20 PM
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The Proline I had was a Sport series. Not really sure of the real name. It had a few quirks. The servos had built in adjusters that had a tendency to loosen at the most inappropriate times. I had bought mine during the winter and went flying one very cold day and when I went to fly, I had nothing. No radio. It was on according to the indicator on the front of the TX but nothing worked. When I went home and after the set had been in the heat for a while it worked perfectly. To completely check it, I put the TX back in the car outside and after a while tried it again. Nothing, so the problem was with the TX. It was cold sensitive. I sent it back and they took care of it and never had that problem again. Eventually, I had the adjusters replaced in the servos. Now you had to use the trims to center the servos.
Old 03-22-2014, 06:51 PM
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ggeezer
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There are 4 Pro-line systems listed on ebay at this time.
Orv.
Old 03-24-2014, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by sidgates View Post
Steve,
Since I owned one of the companies that competed with Proline I have some knowledge of the size. I knew Jim Fosgate personally and I understood Jim was a tech with E.K. Products and split off and opened his own company, Proline, not sure what year. I am confident Kraft produced more radios total over the years than any other U.S. company.

Based on the size of the companies, I think Kraft, E.K. Products and Orbit in that order produced the most radios. There was probably a large gap from these to Micro Avionics, Bonner, World Engines, Proline, Royal Electronics, Citizen-Ship, Ace, R.S. Systems, S& O, Cannon, Litco.

My company, Royal Electronics had 35 employees at our peak in 1982. Most of the U.S. R/C radio companies closed in 1983. The original Proline company was sold at auction, probably in late 70's to a local Phoenix person. Next I saw the inventory for sale by Joe Bridi in CA. and then I think it went to Ace R/C in Higginsville, MO.

Maybe some others can add to or correct my recollections.


Sid Gates
If I may just add my own two cents...

World Engines may an awful lot of radios sold as "house brands". Kraft did the same thing, so did E.K. These "house brands" certainly must have increased sales.

Prior to Pro-Line being captured(?) by ACE R/C, it was also- at least temporarily- under the ownership of a hobby shop dealer in Spokane. I don't know for how long this Spokane Hobby dealer was in charge though. My recollection is that nothing much happened during that time.

Doug
Old 03-25-2014, 07:16 AM
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Regarding the residue of Pro-Line.....in the early 80's a guy named Lou Stanley gave me some parts, assemblies and a scope that had come from Pro-Line.
There was a bunch of receivers, decoders, transmitter modules and a test kludge used to align the transmitter encoders.
The test box had a single stick installed that turned a rotary switch so that you could quickly monitor each channel while adjusting the encoder.
There also was a new Competition 6 transmitter complete with the stick assys and Spectrol pots that everyone liked so well.
I still have all the stuff and perhaps I might convert the transmitter to 2.4g......but after an intense period in the 70's of designing and building my own stuff I have sort of lost interest in doing this any more.
I also have a good stock of EK, D&R servo parts, motors, pots etc and a lot of receiver coil forms, IF cans, Kraft chrome sticks with Cermet pots, transmitter cases punched for the Kraft sticks....jeeeze....I haven't thought about this in a long time.

Last edited by Dave Harmon; 03-25-2014 at 08:50 AM.
Old 03-25-2014, 09:47 PM
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Dave,
you have a private message from me,

Jay


Sid,
The guy who bough Proline was Joe Bridi. A couple Proline competition flyers were Bob Violet and Terry Prather, they were in some of the Proline ads.
Ace ultimately bought Proline and merged it with their Silver Seven line of radios. The newer Ace produced Prolines used a Silver Seven receiver and positive pulse servos.
Prolines, as some may recall, used negative pulse servos, and Ace sold pulse inverters that plugged inline so you could use other brands of servos. When Ace took over Proline, they quit making the original Proline receivers and servo electronics and used their own stuff instead.

Last edited by jaymen; 03-27-2014 at 01:49 PM.
Old 11-20-2014, 03:54 PM
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Well folks, I just joined so that I could post my comments. I was hired by Jim Fosgate in the summer of 1970, and my first job was building the servos. I reported to Jay Gorento, and we worked out of a converted house on Glendale Ave. and 12th street. I also reported to Steve Helms and Bill Berry while I was there. I had already been involved in model planes since I was 5 years old and flew control-line planes in Calif. When I turned 13 my father purchased my first radio unit, a galloping ghost unit, and I built a Falcon 56 to fly. My next radio was a HeathKit which I built and flew for a few years. My next radio was a PCS on 27.145 "Yellow" and I still have it saved. To get hired at ProLine I brought my HeathKit with me to show them I could do the work. Jim instructed the man to offer me the job and I worked there for over 9 years. I moved through the ranks as manager of the stock room, then quality manager, then production manager up until I left in 1979. When ProLine went through some tough times, Jim mortgaged his house to keep the doors opened. The company was sold to Pace Industries, and I actually worked for both companies. I was the test pilot for when the radios came in to be repaired, and used to fly at 7th Ave and Beardsley Rd in the desert, which is now all homes. I flew Class 3 pattern, Formula one, Quickie 500, 1/4 midget during my time. I raced against Terry Prather and he reworked my Super Tiger engines that screamed 24K RPM on the ground. I also reworked servos for those at contests which had problems, and carried spare parts with me. I have vintage engines from the 40's and my father's first reed radio with tubes. I fly all modes, single stick as well as both mode 1 and mode 2. My mode is throttle right.
Dale Timberlake
Old 12-11-2014, 12:29 AM
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I too have just joined, lured here by a link on RCGroups, where I usually "Lurk" on the Australian forums..., to the Goldern Age thread. I have been R/C modelling since the mid 1950s', have worked in the industry since the early '70s', and so have lived thru the whole thing from push button escapements to push button programming, quite an interesting journey.

I have always built my own R/C gear, in the beginning because it was the only way I could afford to do it, and then it became my "calling", and I have spent many happy years working in a job I liked. Not always easy, but very satisfying. In the late '60s I was building Royal Classic kits from Tech R/C for my mates, and was considering a commercial venture, but Kraft Systems Aust. offered me a position, and as they say, the rest is history.

And so we come to the main reason I joined, so I can post and say hi to Sig Gates, who I corresponded with and purchased components from in the "Golden Age". Hi Sid, good to see you are still kicking along, like me, but I am not kicking as high as I once did.

Cheers, EGB. (Eric from OZ).
Old 12-13-2014, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by KraftyOne View Post
I too have just joined, lured here by a link on RCGroups, where I usually "Lurk" on the Australian forums..., to the Goldern Age thread. I have been R/C modelling since the mid 1950s', have worked in the industry since the early '70s', and so have lived thru the whole thing from push button escapements to push button programming, quite an interesting journey.

I have always built my own R/C gear, in the beginning because it was the only way I could afford to do it, and then it became my "calling", and I have spent many happy years working in a job I liked. Not always easy, but very satisfying. In the late '60s I was building Royal Classic kits from Tech R/C for my mates, and was considering a commercial venture, but Kraft Systems Aust. offered me a position, and as they say, the rest is history.

And so we come to the main reason I joined, so I can post and say hi to Sig Gates, who I corresponded with and purchased components from in the "Golden Age". Hi Sid, good to see you are still kicking along, like me, but I am not kicking as high as I once did.

Cheers, EGB. (Eric from OZ).
==================================
Hello Eric,
Good to hear you are still going too. I retired when I was 75 and now have time to build and fly most of the time. I fly anything from electric war birds to my turbine jet trainer. I scratch built a F-94C and hope to fly it soon. I am truly amazed at the current radio technology. When we closed Royal in 1983 we had a bread board of a computerized radio but too expensive to produce at that time. Jim Odino was touting spread spectrum back then but also too expensive to produce.
Old 12-14-2014, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by sidgates View Post
==================================
Hello Eric,
Good to hear you are still going too. I retired when I was 75 and now have time to build and fly most of the time. I fly anything from electric war birds to my turbine jet trainer. I scratch built a F-94C and hope to fly it soon. I am truly amazed at the current radio technology. When we closed Royal in 1983 we had a bread board of a computerized radio but too expensive to produce at that time. Jim Odino was touting spread spectrum back then but also too expensive to produce.
Hi Sid,
Just to update,
After leaving Kraft Aust. in the early '80s', I got involved in R/C cars, and imported KO-Propo radios from Japan, Delta Cars and other stuff from the US. A few years later I was offered the position of service manager by the Hitec Radio importer, and my wife took over the running of the R/C car business. In the early '90s' my wife became seriously ill, so we dropped out and went back farming. By the time I got going again, (mid 2000s'), it was all computer radios and 2.4Ghz was coming in.

I remember Jim Odino talking about this SS technology that the US military were using, and that in 10 or 12 years we would all have our own frequency/channel/spot... Hard to believe at the time, but he was proven to be right, just a few years out on the time line. He did say it needed a computer at each end to make it work.

I'm pretty computer literate, but I still have a hard time getting my head around this CDR stuff, (Compter Defined Radios). Where the heck are the LC and RC circuits?? (I know, I know, buried in the software code). Fractal antennas, etc... Well at least they don't drift with age or temp, or go OC.

Cheers, EGB.
Old 12-14-2014, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by KraftyOne View Post
Hi Sid,
Just to update,
After leaving Kraft Aust. in the early '80s', I got involved in R/C cars, and imported KO-Propo radios from Japan, Delta Cars and other stuff from the US. A few years later I was offered the position of service manager by the Hitec Radio importer, and my wife took over the running of the R/C car business. In the early '90s' my wife became seriously ill, so we dropped out and went back farming. By the time I got going again, (mid 2000s'), it was all computer radios and 2.4Ghz was coming in.

I remember Jim Odino talking about this SS technology that the US military were using, and that in 10 or 12 years we would all have our own frequency/channel/spot... Hard to believe at the time, but he was proven to be right, just a few years out on the time line. He did say it needed a computer at each end to make it work.

I'm pretty computer literate, but I still have a hard time getting my head around this CDR stuff, (Compter Defined Radios). Where the heck are the LC and RC circuits?? (I know, I know, buried in the software code). Fractal antennas, etc... Well at least they don't drift with age or temp, or go OC.

Cheers, EGB.
==============================
After I closed Royal Electronics in 1983 I opened a hobby distributing business selling model cars, car radios, and parts to the local hobby shops. Then the model car market faded locally and I bought a PC business and we built PC computers with Wang emulation. Later I partnered with a fellow who worked for me at Royal while he was in high school and we added on site service for medium to small businesses. At 75yrs I retired and still did some service work from home but found it was too difficult to keep up with changes doing it part time.

At Royal we built some products for Delta, a special car radio, and a few other items.

Currently I am flying with Weatronic, Taranis and an old Futaba.
Sid
Old 01-25-2015, 11:22 PM
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Guys, I have a question for you all.

Does anyone have any infomation on the connection between Kraft and Proline in the early 1970'?

When you look at their Txs' of this era, they are eerily similar, just different colour and logo. Same gimbals, same layout, same retractable antenna on the later systems, etc. The open gimbal Proline Competition 7 seems to be just a "pale face" imitation of the Kraft KP-7Z, the forerunner of the Signature Series.

So, what was going on? Did Proline just build a "similar" radio using Kraft components, or did Kraft manufacture the Prolines of this era???

Anyone???
Old 01-26-2015, 06:52 AM
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sidgates
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Krafty,
Proline was owned by Jim Fosgate who prior to opening Proline worked at E.K. Products. Proline like Royal, Heath Kit and a few others purchased the Kraft stick parts, servos, battery cases from Kraft Systems. Most of the smaller radio companies also purchased parts from Orbit and D&R Products. Proline was located in Phoenix, AZ. until purchased by Joe Bridi.

Proline circuits were much closer to the E.K. designs. Kraft circuit designs were much different and a lot fewer components used. In the '60s and 70's most of the U.S. companies made their transmitter cases the same way. Vinyl clad .050 thick aluminum punched in the flat for holes and notches then bent on a box break. I still have the special size punches used by Royal Electronics for our cases. We did our punching and forming the last few years, prior to that a local sheet metal forming company did the forming.
Old 01-26-2015, 11:19 AM
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Hi Sid, thanks for your reply.

My question was prompted by a discussion on another forum regarding Tower Hobbies radios of this era, who advertized "Tower radios are made for us by Kraft Sytems in California," This particular radio appears to have been supplied with a Proline Rx in a black case, judging by the connector system, (Deans 3 pin). I do not know what make the servos are, they are not Kraft.

Most of the Proline Txs' look as though they were punched out on the same machine dies as Kraft, I know the Proline circuitry was different, but did they have a complete manufacturing setup?? Did they use Kraft as an OEM?? (as did Tower and others).

Proline radios were a rare species in OZ, only a few made it to here. The only one I worked on belonged to Ivan Khristensen from Canada.
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Old 01-26-2015, 12:20 PM
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Kraft metal work......transmitter cases etc was done by San Fernando Metal Tech.
They had the dies for the Kraft big cup stick assy and likely did all the metal work for ProLine as well.
I mfgd a 'local' radio back then with Kraft sticks so SFMT punched and bent my cases too.
Beautiful workmanship.
Old 01-27-2015, 07:52 AM
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sidgates
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Originally Posted by Dave Harmon View Post
Kraft metal work......transmitter cases etc was done by San Fernando Metal Tech.
They had the dies for the Kraft big cup stick assy and likely did all the metal work for ProLine as well.
I mfgd a 'local' radio back then with Kraft sticks so SFMT punched and bent my cases too.
Beautiful workmanship.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I visited the Kraft plant once a year in the '70s and thru 1983. I never once saw any connection between Kraft and Proline other than Proline bought some parts from Kraft the same as I did.


Dave- The only radio I remember being made in OK. was Ted White. Were you working with Ted?

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