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History of the manufacturer  

Western Auto Supply of California Co. (Western Air Patrol, Wizard); Los Angeles, CA

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Name: Western Auto Supply of California Co. (Western Air Patrol, Wizard); Los Angeles, CA    (USA)  
Abbreviation: western-ai
Products: Model types

Western Auto Supply of California; Los Angeles, CA: Trade names: "Western Air Patrol" radios, "Wizard" batteries and vacuum tubes.

Western Auto Supply Company of California was founded by George Pepperdine in 1915 in Los Angeles, CA.  Beginning in approx. 1925, they sold radios under the brand name "Western Air Patrol".  Pepperdine sold the company to Gamble-Skogmo Co. of Minneapolis, MN, in 1939.  Pepperdine used his earnings from the sale to found Pepperdine University.

Founded: 1915
Closed: 1939

The Western Auto Supply Company was founded by George Pepperdine in 1909 in Kansas City, MO, as a mail order supply house for automobile parts.  By 1912, Pepperdine accumulated the resources to open his first retail store in Kansas City.  In 1914, a 2nd retail outlet was opened in Denver, CO, which was managed and run by a trusted employee from the Kansas City store.

In 1915, Pepperdine was advised by his doctor to move west due to his health.  He decided to split his business in half, and sold half of his interest in Western Auto Supply Co. to a business associate, Don Davis, who kept the existing mail order business and the Kansas City store.  Pepperdine kept control of the Denver store, took the money from the sale, and moved to Los Angeles, where he started a new company, Western Auto Supply Company of California, Los Angeles, CA.  Some brand names, such as Wear-well Tires and Wizard Batteries, continued to be sold by both companies after the split.

Western Auto Supply Co. of California sold radios under the brand Western Air Patrol beginning in approximately 1925.  The radios appear to have been built under contract with Gilfillan, as the models from the late-'20s are very similar in appearance to early Gilfillan radios.  This relationship was further cemented in the late-'20s, when Gilfillan became the only manufacturer west of the Rocky Mountains to obtain an RCA license to build radios using RCA patents.  Western Auto Supply Co. of California would go on to contract radios from several Los Angeles radio design houses beside Gilfillan, notably including Patterson, yet all Western Air Patrol radios were manufactured in the Gilfillan factory regardless of the designer due to the RCA licensing situation.

By the late 1930s, Western Auto Supply Co. of California owned 150 stores west of the Rockies, and George Pepperdine was ready to retire to pursue other interests, notably his vision to create Pepperdine University.  He made several offers to Don Davis to recombine his business with Western Auto Supply in Kansas City, but the negotiations never produced a sale.  Finally, in 1939, Pepperdine sold Western Auto Supply Co. of California to Gamble-Skogmo of MN.  According to Jim Marchman (The Last Western Flyer, the Western Auto Century, 2004), "Pepperdine's stores became 'Gambles Western Auto', changing all their private brand names to those of Gambles."

No Western Air Patrol radios are known to have been sold after the 1939 model year.  In 1940, Gambles Western Auto catalogs advertised Coronado radios sourced through Gamble-Skogmo's wholesale suppliers.

Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
USA  38 W831 1D7G   
USA  32 28    
USA  35 TR14 Ch= W417 58   
USA  35 TR40 Ch= W417 58   
USA  41 18 Ch= 488 58   
USA  26 100 [old T]    
USA  26 100 [old C]    
USA  28 100 [new HB]    
USA  38 157 Ch= W827 6A8   
USA  37 16 Ch= W497 78   
USA  41 17 Ch= W405 58   
USA  41 18 CH= W418 58