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Western Electric Beach Master PAB-1

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Okay first the bad news, I have this up at the "national auction site" because I can't afford to keep it.

Here's the good news, a few weeks ago perusing the local CL, I spot an ad with the Paul Rabut picture of the Beach Master system. After waiting a week or so the ad was still up, so I get my GF rounded up and we drove to take a look at it. It was close to Cripple Creek and we hadn't been there so at worst it wouldn't be a wasted trip. So we get to the place (about an hour drive over twisty dirt roads) and as we drive up I see the horns of the unit. I noticed it had been painted red and wasn't sure if this was it. Because there was extra cases too. The lady who owned it rode up on horse back and pointed us there and told us to take a look. She had told me to bring a large flat head screwdriver too.

Okay first thing I noticed was the horns were dirty. They had been sitting out. But no way to know the state until I played with them. So I turned my attention to the crates at hand, there were 3 of them. Armed with the screwdriver (which turned out that large wasn't big enough) and some serious sweat the first crate opens up to be the amplifier. I gotta say the crate took some leverage to open and it opened with a whoomp as the vacuum was released. It was a real time capsule. There was a very fine layer of dust, but everything looked brand new. I was amazed.

So on to the other cases. It took a lot of elbow grease to open them, but when they were opened there was 2 crates full of spares. They looked like they had been packed last week. Everything was marked Western Electric and 95% of the spares were sealed. Only later were we to find some deterioration had occurred with the small cellophane packs that held the resistors. Still though out of about 100 or so 75+++ were still sealed like new. Anyway not knowing anything really about it, and the price was a bit high, I did a little talking and it was all mine. Did I mention I wrenched my back getting into the car?

Now let me say my GF is a saint. I love me old hi fi gear and big speakers. She lets me have them too. I know, what a lucky guy. But this system was bought with the idea of playing with it and sending it on it's way. Still she was as curious as me as to the condition. First off was seeing if the drivers worked. Well the back came off and several days of cleaning out the horn ensued. It was slow and tedious and CAREFUL to not damage the voice coils. Finally though it was done and we pulled out my multi meter and tested nominal impedance. All were between 4.9 and 5.1 ohms, so good to go. Next up the oldest trick in the book, a 9 volt battery testing for sound. All 9 were good. Finally we got out an iPod and ran an 1/8" plug to the connection and were startled when it was playing at a medium table radio volume.

So now it was time to start research on it. So I was calling museum after museum, the D-Day, Smithsonian, Naval museums and all knew what it was, but none had ever seen one before. There were a couple of speaker units extant, but that was it. The amps seemed to have disappeared. From my hobby in hi fi I knew why, the components are very rare and collectible to Western Electric fans. They were scavenged for parts until the 1980's. The last one I found was in Japan, and it had been sold to a collector and was now in several high end tube amps.

As of now, it seems this may be the only complete (less the generator which was not always included) unit in the world. I have read a lot about the Beach Master and it opened up a lot of studying for me. This was something I knew nothing about. I knew the job position, but not much else. In studying I didn't realize the importance of the Beach master or his job, now I do. I am still wondering if this unit would have seen service at Normandy. The speaker array is really low serial number, but I don't know. I wish I could find out more, but now there doesn't seem to be much more I can find. If anyone here has info please pass it on.


I use to be disgusted, now I try and be amused...

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I can only imagine the power requirements of that big old tube amp: they must have had a heck of a generator.

Actually not that big. It was 110 and about 2 kw. But it was dedicated to this or it was run off a large multi use generator. That was usually later though.

I use to be disgusted, now I try and be amused...

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Yes, that is pretty cool, great for the next "beach party"!

Can you tell the date of manufacture?


The speaker array serial number indicates very early, since it's XXX-470. The others are mostly contract, but my guess from research would be late 1943 to mid 1944. Prolly saw service either in Normandy or the Pacific. From a couple of bits found inside I am leaning to Europe though.

I use to be disgusted, now I try and be amused...

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