Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

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Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Dr. Radio on Fri Oct 19, 2012 9:35 pm

To save a little (or a lot) of grief, maybe there should be a list of nasty-to-restore radios to avoid...Just a thought...

Let me start; this is NOT a first-timer radio to start with. It will even frustrate the "pros"....

http://radioattic.com/item_sold.htm?radio=1090239

The Westinghouse H-397T5 was one of those radios that seemed like a good idea, but what a repair nightmare. It's in a small plastic tombstone type cabinet. Caught between the era of stamped steel and copper chassis and printed circuit boards, this uses a bakelite block chassis that opens up in two. Reminds me of an overgrown telephone network. Has un-insulated tinned buss wire running everywhere in this little cramped box. Uses solder 'posts' to make connections. Mine had/has the wonderful silver mica disease in the IF cans. Making a bad mess worse...

Looks cool yes, easy to work on...no.
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by TimC on Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:48 pm

I would avoid any radio with a clock.
One of the first radios I fixed had a clock. Got the radio working but not the clock. Got the feeling of defeat too early.

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by willy3486 on Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:00 am

If a person has a isolation transformer I would say avoid most radios except for the AA5 radios as they are called. The ones with no transfomers and 5 tubes. They are the easiest to fix in my expirence. You get the expirence of fixing them and move on to more complicated ones.

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by chrisc on Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:54 am

I would like to nominate the Zenith 6G601 as a bad choice for a first radio. These are the little portables that went alongside the Transoceanics. They have it all really - rubber wire and loctal tubes just for starters but everything is packed into the chassis extremely tightly; since the construction is cheap nothing was designed to be replaceable . The variable cap is riveted in place for example and is very hard to remove. I like these little sets but they are a real challenge.

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:34 am

I would nominate any GE radio with that stupid dipped-solder chassis. Bad connections potentially everywhere there IS a connection. Horrible tube sockets. Dodgy tuner. Part PC board. Part metal chassis. Neither likes the other. Usually has one bad IF transformer. Silver mica disease likely. Just pure junk. But they are cute and I have three. Two of them work. The third has a bad tuner. Mine are model 515 with suffixes. IIRC all the 500 series GE radios used this chassis. AND....they are clock radios to boot!

WC

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by N7ZAL on Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:48 am

Sounds like a great idea and we could also mention those that are easy for a beginner?
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Ben Delk on Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:59 am

Philco 41-220 tops my list. Small and narrow chassis packed with rotten rubber wiring and it all needed replacing. I think a bowl of dried out spaghetti noodles would be easier to sort out.
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Dr. Radio on Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:09 pm

Geeze, not a lot of love for the clock radios... Embarassed

But, yes, I can see this isn't a real good start for noobies, so the plain-jane AM only table models is the place to start from.

I've got an AC/DC Airline at home, I'll have to find the model number, there is a TON of room in the chassis and more modern plastic insulated wire. It would be a good starter set, but it does have it's drawbacks...
1)It is AC/DC so someone would need an isolation transformer
2)It has the small footprint IF transformers that are so commonly found with the dreaded silver mica disease.

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Wildcat445 on Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:18 pm

For the record, I like clock radios. They can sometimes be more of a challenge to repair. The GE sets I have are horrible to service, but the clock is usually dependable. As a first radio, the point has been made, and well taken, that there are better sets than clock radios.

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Bill Cahill on Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:30 pm

I reccommend against any Philco for a newbie. These are a real pain between the capacitor blocks, the locktal tubes, bad rubber wiring, and, shorted mini I F transformers.
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Resistance is Futile on Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:55 pm

I usually look for Cosmetic condition first off. And hope it hasn't been hacked up inside. I was watching one radio that started out at $170 and went down to $25 and I didn't have room or would have gotten it. One issue with missing veneer section. Philco Console. Had the tube incorporated into the power transformer, needed new rubber tuning gasket. Sigh!!!!
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Wildcat445 on Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:05 pm

I used to avoid Philco radios like the plague. I felt that they were too "common." I got one in a trade deal, and tore into it. I have since decided that I favor Philco radios. They are built like a tank. You can actually fix one. Zenith has their quirky little coils and widgets that are unobtanium. And miles more rubber wiring than Philco. Philco bakelite capacitor blocks are no big deal to service once you have done a hundred or so. They are less expensive , generally, than Zenith. I guess that is because there is no "Walton Philco" and that Bing Crosby is not hot yet. I have found the big multi-tube Philco consoles to be at least a good performance-wise as any Zenith. I would not recommend a 11-tube Philco 41-295 or similiar as a first project, but they are not bad at all once you kinda know your way around. I don't get my shorts in a bunch over rubber wiring or junky cabinets. That is part of the restoration job. All the really nice radios are gone in my area, and junk is all that is available. So I take junk in stride and move on. I also buy as cheap as possible, so that makes junk more likely. $50 is about my limit. The collectors can have the expensive stuff.

Regards

WC

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by chrisc on Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:53 pm

I think that something like a 5 tube transformer radio might be a good choice for a starter project . Granted there may be higher voltages inside but unlike an AA 5 there are no problems with a hot chassis and you can check it tube by tube rather than have everything dead because of an open filament somewhere in the chain. My first set was a Coronado / Belmont 587 and looking back that is a very simple and quite a common layout. Nice little set really. It worked first time, (kind of !) I was able to tweak it multiple times as I learned more and now it is a good little performer.

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Dr. Radio on Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:41 pm

chrisc wrote:I think that something like a 5 tube transformer radio might be a good choice for a starter project . Granted there may be higher voltages inside but unlike an AA 5 there are no problems with a hot chassis and you can check it tube by tube rather than have everything dead because of an open filament somewhere in the chain. My first set was a Coronado / Belmont 587 and looking back that is a very simple and quite a common layout. Nice little set really. It worked first time, (kind of !) I was able to tweak it multiple times as I learned more and now it is a good little performer.

Chris,

Just a heads-up...it's a dangerous notion that transformer sets are safe since they don't have a hot chassis. Many do. Many models have a line by-pass capacitor off of the AC line before the transformer. There are even Philco sets that have two coupling capacitors so the chassis is always coupled to the AC line no matter which way the plug is in the socket. Just wanted to let you know, FYI.
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Wildcat445 on Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:39 pm

Zenith radios with the inverted bakelite chassis is another radio for newbies to avoid. Lots of rubber wiring and with components, like capacitors, stacked on top of each other in an extremely crowded chassis. I have a console with a bakelite chassis and I am sure that I will use all my "good words" before it is done. It has a ballast tube to boot. And a weird, expensive rectifier tube. A 70Z7 , IIRC. I got mine cheap, and wanted one for awhile. Why, I will never know. The cabinet on mine is okay, but the electronics are in horrible condition. Lots of the insulation is falling off the wiring. It even uses a 2.5 volt dial lamp.

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WC

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Doug Burskey on Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:36 pm

I do not care for clock radios myself. The Zenith 6-G-601 and the year older 6-G-501 portables were some of the first radios I worked on. I have a 601 that can be a bit of a problem child,works when it feels like it. The first Trans-Oceanic I would not recomend for a newbe,the rotted rubber insulated wire issue.Of corse none of the tube Trans-O's are a simple radio.The later ones from the 1950's that 1L6 converter tube can cause problems,and it's hard to find.

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by tuberadiogeek on Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:59 am

Olympic 554 (console).. I bought one that i thought would be easy to just recap and be done.. WRONG.. Only got the AM section working, the FM section was deader then a doorknob, had wacky and missing voltages.. of course it didnt help i about toasted the PT bc i didnt change the filter caps right away and burnt my fingers on a super hot rectifier tube, only bc the plates started glowing super bright.. yeah.. i learned my lesson.. fast.. Need to find an el cheapo AA5 sometime to practice my re capping skills on sometime..
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Brig on Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:09 pm

A unit I would recommend beginners (maybe anyone!) avoid is Silvertone model R-1181, chassis 101.611. It is of "unit construction," with deep divided chassis compartments, which makes it difficult to replace and solder components. The dial stringing arrangement is virtually inaccessible and, strangely, I could find no service data available. Further, the knobs are somehow locked in to their shafts from the inside of the cabinet; I found they could be removed only with undesirable blunt force.

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by jtauser on Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:03 am

One of my first sets years ago was an RCA five tube tabletop bakelite form the late forties. These are easy to restore and readily available.

Joe T.
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by NashvilleRad on Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:49 pm

Although very cool looking, but all of the Graetz/Comedia analogues. Lots of difficult wiring and placement.

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by ea327 on Sat May 11, 2013 5:23 pm

Bill Cahill wrote:I reccommend against any Philco for a newbie. These are a real pain between the capacitor blocks, the locktal tubes, bad rubber wiring, and, shorted mini I F transformers.
Bill Cahill

While you're talking about Philcos, a newbie needs to stay clear of a 48-482. It is AM/FM/SW. There are caps that are VERY hard to get at and there are a lot of them. There is a band switch that is a real nightmare.
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Bill Cahill on Sat May 11, 2013 8:20 pm

I know. I'm working on one. And, the tone caps are even worse.
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by 276merc on Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:35 am

Before making a purchase Id suggest reading whats available on Nostalgia Air for that model. Some use hard to find tubes and there are a few very Rube Goldberg circuits and schematics that the beginner doesnt need.
http://www.nostalgiaair.org/Resources/

For communications sets BAMA is a very comprehensive source and several of the entry level sets are very easy to work on and give decent performance for very basic circuits.
http://bama.edebris.com/manuals/

Carl

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by tubesrgr8 on Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:32 pm

Clock radios--some look great, others not so much. But usually easy to repair AA5's. Agreed that the clock itself is often the most problematic. My very first repair was this Sylvania, which I thought stood out from most clock radios. And the clock worked! That is, until shortly after the radio was repaired, LOL. And thanks to all for their many great suggestions!
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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

Post by Bill Cahill on Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:27 am

GE is a good radio to avoid............

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Re: Maybe we should start a list of radios to AVOID for newbies...

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