Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

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Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by bobwilson1977 on Sun Feb 15, 2009 1:27 pm

So I was in town yesterday ( Alameda, CA) and at random walked into the Alameda Museum gift shop. Sitting in the floor was this massive table top radio. Its rather generic looking, but extremely well-built. Its a Kemper radio with no markings except for the Kemper stamped dial surround and the dial itself. They wanted $40 for it which sounded reasonable.I'm guessing early 30's?

Its incredibly heavy and once I got it home and opened the back, saw that there are numerous large transformers and a speaker-also with a huge transformer built into its chassis.

The radio came on but no sound came out. The problem wound up being the with mechanics of the tuner mechanism, which uses a worm driven gear to turn the tuning plates. After a quick bit of oiling and tightening of the set screws of the gears, everything came loose.

The best part is that it actually works great! The radio has a very homemade look to it. When I bought it I thought that maybe it was a homebrew. But doing some research, it was made by a small outfit in Los Angeles- Kemper radio Corp. The company started out in a garage and sold factory-direct. So This was probably not a huge production set. The cabinet definitely looks hand-built. The chassis and other components are all very high quality.

The speaker surround was shot. I'm making a new surround as we speak using a little trick I learned using cloth and wood glue( will show pics later)

So here's my questions. The chassis is slightly rusted. I was thinking of re-painting it the original brown color from the factory. On the other hand, its nice to see an old patina. Secondly, the cabinet is in decent shape, but I was kind of thinking of refinishing it anyway. Just looking for opinions. Thanks!












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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by panchro-press on Sun Feb 15, 2009 1:45 pm

Nice looking radio.
I would neither re-paint the chassis; nor refinish the cabinet.

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by geno on Sun Feb 15, 2009 1:50 pm

Me either.

Gene

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by bobwilson1977 on Sun Feb 15, 2009 1:59 pm

Ya, I'm kind of thinking the same thing. I believe the finish would clean up with some Howard's and paste wax. I was kind of thinking of maybe using a satin clear finish for the chassis to keep it from rusting further.

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by Uffda on Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:28 pm

Radiomuseum lists a bunch of 5,6 and 7 tube Kemper models.
The SG7 is the only wooden table 7 tuber. You may be able to narrow the possibles if a 5 tuber.

I vote with the just clean it faction. It looks sweet for an 80 year-old original.


-Phil

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by bobwilson1977 on Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:07 pm

Thanks for the info Phil. It is indeed a 7 tuber. So it might be the SG7. I'll giver er' a good cleaning and see how it looks afterwards.

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by Eliot Ness on Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:47 pm

That's a pretty darn neat example of an early west coast set! It might be the first one of that "baby casket" style I've seen with a built in speaker, they usually use a separate speaker.

I agree with the others in not painting the chassis or refinishing the cabinet, they're only original once, and that one is too rare to not leave cosmetically original. That was a great find at a great price.

Edit: You got very lucky applying power to a set that old. I agree with Bill that you should re-cap that set before you fry something.


Last edited by Eliot Ness on Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by Bill Cahill on Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:06 pm

On two things I don't agree. One, that speaker needs major help on outside edge of cone. You need cone centered right, or, it will badly rub.
The other? If you plan on using this set, you must replace the capacitors, and, power supply capacitors.
It will never be trustworthy.
If you keep using it this way, you are inviting a cataotrophic capacitor short, frying other parts, possibly the power transformer.
Bill Cahill

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by bobwilson1977 on Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:23 pm

Thanks for the additional advice. Interesting enough, there aren't a huge number of capacitors in the set. Of the few, most are extremely high voltage, as in 1,500 volts.

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by Terrible Terry on Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:25 am

The chassis construction and parts bear a pretty strong resemblance to Majestic sets of the era. I wonder if Majestic or Grigsby-Grunow made these sets for Kemper?

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by Guest on Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:48 pm

Restore-a-Finish would make that set look like new with one application.

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by bobwilson1977 on Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:03 pm

I spent the better part of the weekend cleaning and repairing the set. As far as I can see, there seems to only be two capacitors. One at .15 and 1500 volts and another that's un-marked. The electronics supply is closed, so that will have to wait.

I spent hours with a tooth brush and cleaner on the chassis. It actually came pretty clean. The biggest issue was the speaker. I cut out a pattern in cloth and glued it in as a new surround. It doesn't look fantastic, but I've done this in the past and it works well. Nobody will see the front of the speaker anyway.

One of the tubes in the set is a blue color. Never seen that before. The brand is "Arctucus".

After cleaning the cabinet with Howard's then putting two applications of floor wax over that, it cleaned up pretty well. Nice patina.

Anyhow, it works great as-is. But I will replace the capacitors whenever I get around to getting to the shop.


















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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by Don Cavey on Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:23 pm

Very nice. That blue tube looks like an Arcturus 27. Kinda cool...

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by Ken g on Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:55 pm

I think you did that one up real nice and correct . Its sure wierd looking cyclops

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by bobwilson1977 on Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:49 am

Ya, I thought that too. When I first saw it, I half didn't know if it was actually a radio because it almost looked like a PA system amp

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by Tim Tress on Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:40 pm

That's a beautiful set! West Coast radios are seldom seen out here in the East. I was lucky last year and found a True-Dial midget, which was made by Mission Bell, also of L.A.

Tim KA3JRT

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by beebs on Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:10 am

I really like that stylized "Flying K" grillework. Very cool set!

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Re: Got this yesterday: Kemper Radio. Need opinions.

Post by RadioRich on Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:10 am

Hello bobwilson1977,
Right on thats neat set never seen one of those it also looks to be in fairly good shape to
Sincerely Rich

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