Letter Re: Discontinued BayGen Clock Drive Radios

Mr. Rawles,
Some of your readers may have the BayGen Freeplay [hand crank clock drive] AM/FM/SW radio that they are saving for that “rainy day”, or may be new to the emergency preparedness mindset and looking for a similar wind up radio. I purchased my Bay Gen about six years ago for around $100 and used it about that many (100) hours. A few weeks ago the mechanism that regulates the internal generator speed started to deteriorate, then went completely out. I contacted the manufacturer/distributor and they referred me to Dixie Sales Co., the US distributor. I was informed by them that that radio is no longer made and no parts are available. A repair or replacement was not possible. The lesson learned is to (1) avoid this brand (2) purchase a radio that has multiple power supply abilities. One radio I saw advertised recently had wind up, solar, and battery power options, and cost about $70 before shipping. I’m saving my pennies. Thank you for all the information on your web site. – C.G. in NC

JWR Replies: I think you simply had bad luck with your BayGen. I bought mine is 1998 and it is still going strong after at least 400 hours of hand crank use (mainly outdoors, while the Memsahib and I have been doing gardening and other chores), and well over 1,000 hours of use with an AC adapter. Perhaps some other readers would like to chime in–either to agree or disagree, based on their own experience. Maybe I was just lucky…

You might want to look for a another BayGen on eBay, and save your old one to cannibalize for spare parts. (Such as the whip antenna–which BTW is the only part on mine that I’ve ever damaged.) OBTW, the last that I heard, Yellowstone River Trading still had some left in inventory, even though they are no longer manufactured.

I should also mention one important proviso: Most of the less expensive hand crank radios that are currently on the market are made in China and are not sturdy enough for daily use. The much larger/heavier BayGen can generally handle heavy use.

One Comment

  1. I have a BayGen Freeplay radio classic–the first one. During power outage from Hurricane Irma, it was working fine for some time, then I wound it up one more time and it made a loud noise and the crank un-wound very very fast. Now it doesn’t work. There is resistance when I wound it but when I let it go it does not unwind. I don’t want to throw it away, but from what I’ve read it’s dangerous to open and repair. Have any ideas of what I can do to repair this radio? I’ve been searching the web for about an hour and a half now with no real help on fixing it. I have a background in electronics so I kind of know what I’m doing, but I’ve never dealt with a windup mechanism for power. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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