Pearce-Simpson Bearcast 23

Pearce-Simpson Bearcat 23

I bought this because it came with an Astatic D-104 lollypop microphone that I wanted for my Hallicrafters transmitter. The D-104 is a well-regarded desktop mic that was made over several decades, so there are many of them around. Despite the numbers, they still sell, well-used, quickly and for surprisingly high prices.

I found one being sold (without actually mentioning it) as an accessory to this CB radio. Because it wasn't mentioned in the description, a lot of people probably missed it. I won the auction, figuring that not only did I get the mic for about 1/3rd to 1/2 off the regular price, but I got the radio thrown in for free. Someone less charitable would say that the radio dragged down the value of the microphone.

I figured I'd keep the mic and maybe put the radio on fleaBay for an ungodly price. As I type this, someone's got one listed for $280. But wait! That's marked down from $350, a 20% discount! And it's local pick-up only, because for $280 you couldn't possibly expect someone to pack it in a box and take it to the post office to mail it somewhere, would you?

There's another one listed with free shipping (that's more like it) at a deeply discounted $149. There's also one for $175, $99, and $46.66 or best offer. Pricing appears to be linked with accessories like microphones and owner's manuals. None have takers.

In fact, an eBay search of recently completed auctions shows one unit sold for $1, another for $18.50 (combined with another rig), and a few others for varying amounts in-between.

click for a larger imageSo much for selling it. I'll keep it awhile to play around with it until it finds a home. I wanted a CB radio once—when I was a kid and CBs were a huge fad back in the mid 1970s. By the time I was old enough to afford one and put it in the car, CBs were considered to be things you found on giant motorhomes owned by Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation, or by yokels in American full-size pick-up trucks, neither of which I've ever owned.

This guy is vintage 1970, based on an advertisement in the August issue of Popular Electronics (it also shows up comparison table of units in the same issue, P. 41).

Pearce-Simpson appears to have been the marine radio division of Gladding, but outside of that there's not much info. By 1975 they seem to be gone. For Pearce-Simpson it was just a model: they seemed enamored of cats, so there are Bearcats, Bobcats, Alley Cats, Cheetahs, Cougars, Jaguars, Leopards, Lions, Pumas and more. even lists a Pussycat, which may explain why they're no longer around.

(This shouldn't be confused with the Bearcat scanners, which were made by a company called Electra Corporation in Cumberland, Indiana, and later by Uniden.)

There are three versions of this rig. This first version (mine) has slider switches. The "B" version replaced the sliders with knobs, and changed the black-plastic face to faux woodgrain; the "C" version had different meters. How much of the internal electroncs changed from one version to the next, I don't know.

A friend of mine gave me an antenna for it. I got lots of white noise so the audio works, but I can't pick up any signals on any channel. I fired up the signal generator and I can hear the tone, but not on the expected frequency. Since I set the signal generator using an HP frequency counter (as opposed to just looking at the vernier dial), I suspect the Bearcat is out of alignment. Mine also did not come with the owner's manual and I haven't found one on the net, so there are a couple of things I haven't figured out yet.

The service docs are available on Sams Photofact CB-32, which you can pick up directly from SAMS for $22, or less if you're willing to hunt for a copy (try The Schematic Man or eBay).

There's a Youtube video showing it off, of course.

I won't stretch this out much longer. The Photofact book was good enough for an alignment. I was able to bring the IF way the hell up, and twiddled with the rest though I don't really know how much that may have helped. After listening to a fair amount of dead air, I finally got to hear something on Channels 6 and 19 to verify that it actually picked up signals other than from the Hickok. Channel 19 had some ass playing music—atrocious music at that—and you make up for that by overmodulating the hell out of it. On 6 one day I was able to get barely tease out one-side of a contact; the next day I got Red Neckerson much louder and his half of a coversation. Like listening to Cooter talkin' to the Dukes from his garage.

Now it's all coming back to me why I never bought a CB radio.

Current status: works acceptably well; needs a microphone and a better antenna.