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Identifying The Drake TR-7 Differences and Versions
by: Ronald Baker / WB4HFN
The Front Panel
The next area we'll look into the the transceiver front panel. The TR-7 early and late version front panels were identical. Even with the TR-7A the front panel was left unchanged except for the model number designation in the top right corner of the radio. See the pictures showing that difference.
The TR-7 front panel was divided into two sections. The lower front panel section was identical across all both models and variations. The upper front panel section was also identical with both the TR-7 early and late version, and the only change to the TR-7A was the model number designation on the panel.
In this area you need to be careful when making a purchase. There has been a quantity of the upper front panels with the TR-7A designation available over the Internet and other sources. It is a simple task to remove the TR-7 panel and install the TR-7A panel. Doing so from the front it would now be hard to tell the difference between the TR-7 and the later TR-7A model. Since the value between the TR-7 and the TR-7A is a few hundred dollars, not thoroughly checking out the radio could be a costly mistake. Don't let the front panel model designation be the only factor in determining which model it is exactly. Use this along with the rear panel configuration and the serial number.
Regarding the serial number, the transition from the TR-7 to the TR-7A occurred somewhere between the high 10,000's and low 11,000's range. In my research the highest TR-7 serial number I seen is 10882, and the lowest TR-7A serial number is 10886, so the model transition is somewhere in the range. The TR-7 to TR-7A model change-over occurred between May and November of 1981. I also understand for a short while Drake made both models. So during that time there could have been sequential serial numbers assigned to both models as they came off the assembly line.
The serial number is stamped on the rear panel just below the antenna connector. If you suspect this has been tampered with, Drake also stamped the serial number on the front aluminum sub-panel. The serial number is on the front side of the sub-panel just behind the lower front panel, left of center towards the microphone connector. By removing the lower front panel section the serial is visible from the front. With that said, be aware removing the front panel is no easy task and does require a lot of disassembly. You will need to remove the case top, the black side panels, all the knobs, remove the VFO dial assembly and disconnect and remove the microphone connector.