Fixing my old Grunow radio

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Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by Paulieb880G on Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:45 pm

I started this discussion on the introduction to new members board. I figured that might not be the right place to do that, so I'll start over here.

I have found the radio I am working on is a Grunow model 1191, Chassis 11G. Made by the General Household Utilities Company of Chicago, Illinios. The approximate vintage of this radio is 1936.

I felt I was making a fool of myself, working on something about which I knew virtually nothing. If this radio was a piece of farm machinery, I would buy the manual, do some reading, me and the boys would bounce ideas off each other, then we would dive in. Apparently, there are no manuals in existance (Maybe never?) for this radio. General Household Utilities is long since gone out of business. One place Bekka tried wanted $8.00 for a one-page schematic, one place wanted me to "join" (and probably give them money) and one place did not get back to her yet. So the hunt for a diagram is still on. If I can fix this old radio, great. If not, it will end up in the trash pile back on the back of the place. I don't intend to put a fortune into it.

Bekka is my 12-year-old grand daughter. Sharp as a tack, that one. She and her four month old Border Collie pup, Spike, are my nearly constant companions since I had a heart attack. She rides her bike down here, catches the bus, and gets off the bus here in the evening. She mooches supper then "helps PawPaulie". She has this little contraption she calls "Fire" that will do almost anything. My old computer still runs XP and will not handle some of the graphics on the Internet. Bekka can make that little thing she's got perform miracles. We have been doing some research and "reading" so I won't be such an idiot and won't be so prone to using improper terminology when talking about my radio. This is gonna be a one-time shot for me. I don't think I want a house full of old broke radios. Bekka is as "down" for this old radio as much as I am. She found a "book" on the Antique Radio Forum that has helped. And a couple articles on this site, one by Wildcat445 and one on soldering by 75X11 that has given us some good ideas on how to proceed.

Okay, so now I have identified my radio. I have the CHASSIS out. Four crabby little "minus head" bolts held it in. My die grinder made quick work of them. The speaker is plugged into the back of the chassis. There are four wires in that harness. I believe two wires go to the tubes and two wires go to the power supply. The power supply wires go to the field coil (?). The doodad that I unplugged on the front of the cabinet is a 6G5/6U5 tube, presumably used as a green "eye" tube, that helps tune the set. There are stubborn little set screws in all four knobs that, when loosened (!), let the knobs come off the 1/4" round shafts. The knob for the tuner (that does not do anything!) is different from the other three. I assume all knobs should match. The knobs on this radio are said to be "generic" so Bekka is on the hunt for another replacement knob. Bekka took the speaker out so we could use it to test the radio, if we get that far. Everything there looks good, appearance wise. There is dirt and cobwebs, but I might do more harm than good removing them at this point.

My apologies to CrystalRadioMan for my comment to his kind response about dim bulb testers. I read the reference he provided and now see the use for those things. I do not have a variac. I may try to find one and build it into a single piece with an isolation transformer and a dim bulb arrangement. From what I have read, that sounds like it would be "tight" (cool, groovy, neat to you guys over 20 years old) for diagnosing and repairing old electronic equipment. I also understand that nobody stops with just ONE radio, right?

In the absence of a diagram and going on the advice of Wildcat, I replaced the power cord on the radio chassis first thing. I used a cheap extension cord I got at Walmart and just cut the "business end" off it. I put the cord on, one wire at a time (it is had for even me to cross up ONE wire). I then removed the 5Z3 rectifier tube. The article I referenced said that removing the rectifier would let me check the condition of the transformer without putting high voltage to the rest of the radio. The electrolytic filter power supply capacitors will not get voltage in the event they are bad. The tube filaments and the dial lights should work if the transformer is good. I should not hear any noise, or see any smoke if all is well. I should let the transformer run like this for 15 minutes at a minimum to see if it gets hot or anything appears to be amiss. It passed this test. One of the dial lights does not work, but I assume that replacing the little bulb is part of fixing an old radio. The bulb is a #44. I can get those at NAPA. Since the power transformer has been proven good to this point, my next test is do I have high voltage at the plate of the 5Z3. Why does the power go in to the plate instead of into the grid like other tubes. One thing I have to remember is that, in old radio work, I have learned that electrons emitted by the cathode flow towards the highest potential. In a rectifier, that "looks" backwards on a schematic. Sometimes, I don't have to understand how something works, just what to do if it does not work. This is one of those times.

The round cylinder mounted on a clamp by the transformer that I figure is the filter capacitor is not connected to anything! The article I read says that sometimes when the capacitors in the can go bad, they are cut out and individual capacitors are installed under the chassis to replace them. Apparently, this is the case with my radio. I need to figure out where they are, what they are, and where they go. That is my next step.

I have learned a lot up to this point. Working on a radio is not nearly as tough as the time I souped up my first 335 Cummins.

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by John Bartley on Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:02 pm

Paulie,

Here is the service info for your radio : http://antiqueradios.com/gallery/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=157337

I am sure that other forum members will chime in with other assistance.

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by Paulieb880G on Sat Feb 25, 2017 7:15 pm

Thank you, John! That looks like what I have. I can print that and get on with this project.

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by Paulieb880G on Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:55 am

My able assistant reports that she can't post pictures of my radio on this forum. Can anybody clue us in on what we are doing wrong?

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by John Bartley on Sun Feb 26, 2017 7:50 am

When you are posting there is a series of editing icons above the text entry box. One of the icons shows a square (looks like a monitor) with a diskette at the lower RH corner. On my screen it is the thirteenth icon from the left.



If you click on that icon it will open a dialogue box to allow you to choose an image file either from your computer or from a web URL.


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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by Paulieb880G on Sun Feb 26, 2017 2:15 pm

Thanks, John

I have determined that I have high voltage to the plates of the rectifier. I guess my NEXT step is to find some replacement capacitors. I found an 8uf and a 16uf capacitor hung under the chassis to replace those on top. My understanding is that the paper capacitors under the chassis are all probably bad (leaky?!) and should be replaced before I go any farther. I have read that I should do them one at a time. I have also read I should do them all before I even apply power. I like the latter. That makes the most sense to an old farmer. I do not replace one spark plug at a time when I buy an old tractor. I replace them all then see what I've got when I'm done. There are some components under the chassis that look like miniature hitchin' posts. I believe those are called "dogbone resistors". David Johnson says, in a book I have, that these "drift" in value and so should also be checked and replaced with modern resistors. These two projects will keep me busy for a spell. I'll see what Bekka is doing wrong with pictures and see if we can fix that. I'm not much of a picture poster!

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by John Bartley on Sun Feb 26, 2017 2:28 pm

Paulieb880G wrote: My understanding is that the paper capacitors under the chassis are all probably bad (leaky?!) and should be replaced before I go any farther.  I have read that I should do them one at a time.  I have also read I should do them all before I even apply power.  I like the latter.  

Each person needs to do whatever makes them comfortable. I always test my sets first before doing anything to it, then do any necessary repairs to make it function at some level, then I change one cap at a time and retest, followed by an alignment when all is working properly. I have fourty+ years at this hobby (not professionally) including a couple of high school summers spent in service shops and I have always found that it's easier to know right away when a mistake is made rather than check all my work when I am finished and the the radio is inoperative. Other people may be more confident and will go ahead and do all at once.

You should do it in a fashion that is comfortable for you. There is no "right" way.

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by Paulieb880G on Sun Feb 26, 2017 6:46 pm

I am probably going to the "big city" in the next few days and will buy a smaller soldering iron. I am using an American Beauty that works okay for soldering radiators and heavy stuff, but is pretty clumsy for working on radios. Lowes or HD should have a soldering iron that will work better for radio work. I have needle nose pliers and side cutters that will work okay on this radio. I have rosin core solder in my repair kit I need to use on this project. I guess I used acid core on the power cord without thinking. I'll redo that before I go much farther.

I have been reading up on radio theory. Really not as complicated as I feared. I have lots of questions like automatic volume control, why the rectifier works "backwards" from other tubes and how the detector/mixer/oscillator/ converter section works exactly. It takes a signal out of the air, mixes it with another signal and the radio works on that signal, then gets rid of that signal and keeps the music. I'm not down 100% on that yet.

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by terrydec on Sun Feb 26, 2017 8:25 pm

Maybe I can help explain the conversion in a simple way-
Inside your radio is a tenny tinsy radio transmitter, just like a radio station.  It is the oscillator and it only transmits on one frequency, usually 455khz.  This is because a very smart man named Armstrong realized that it was easier to amplify only one frequency.    Most of the set is just a way to amplify and detect only that signal.  The converter tube combines the frequency from that transmitter with what is coming from the front end, (antenna and tuning capacitor), and the result is a combination of the two.  It doesn't matter how, just that you understand that the output has the 455 khz signal and the audio modulated signal from the outside radio station.  Eventually all of the rest of it is stripped out using a detector and some capacitors leaving  only the audio.  The signal usually travels from the plate of one tube to the first grid of the next stage.  I like to draw a path from the front end, through the IF section, (By the way, IF stands for Intermediate Frequency, that just means the 455 khz signal), through the detector tube and a capacitor, usually .05mfd, to the output tube.

I always recommend A Modern Look at Antique Radio Repair by Alfred Corbin.

Note:  The dim bulb tester is NOT a replacement for an isolation transformer.  It will merely indicate a short circuit.
Note #2- Get a good signal tracer.  

I know this is REALLY simple, but I hope it helps.

BTW- I don't understand AVC eityer
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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by Paulieb880G on Sun Feb 26, 2017 11:34 pm

I understand AVC better than the converter section. AVC voltage is taken from somewhere and it increases or decreases gain in the RF(?) section of the radio so that weak stations have max gain and strong stations have decreased gain so that the volume is approximately the same as you tune across the dial. ( I think!?) Where it comes from is still the mystery to me. The good part is that trouble is limited to a fairly few components in the "AVC buss." Whatever that is.

The converter section, if I read correctly, creates a signal (oscillator) and mixes it (mixer) with the incoming RF signal so that the radio operates on one frequency, say 455khz. The two sections in the tuning capacitor, the antenna section and the oscillator section, are ganged and work together so the oscillator section can create the 455 khz signal. A pentagrid converter tube is actually two tubes in one, an oscillator and a mixer. My understanding (makes it more confusing) is that some radios use seperate tubes to replace the one converter tube. I hope I don't have problems in this section of my radio.

Thanks for the explanation, Terry. Feel free to correct any that I have posted that may be wrong. I have read this stuff until my eyeballs are bleeding.

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by terrydec on Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:43 am

Yeah, I think you get it.  Usually the converter is one tube.  The extra tube might be an RF tube to increase the signal into the converter.  I have a radio I've been chasing for years that has problems in the front end.  I hate it.  It is a three band with pushbutton and has been driving me crazy for months.  It is a GE H-77 console and I even have a thread about it.  It will play great for a few days and then shut down.  Currently it is down.  I just bought a VERY expensive piece of test equipment to work on it.  Oh well, one of these days...

Anyway, welcome to the club.  You'll be sorry. Smile
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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by CrystalRadioMan on Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:28 am

Well Paulie........you're not such a "dim bulb" after all!  LOL

That radio does have a transformer and hopefully does not have a hot chassis.   Terry was right to mention using an isolation transformer.....it's to keep you from getting electrocuted!

I do want to comment on Terry's explanation of the oscillator ckt,  Terry, I hope you don't mind.   The oscillator does not provide the 455Khz signal.  The tuning capacitor has 2 sections ganged together as Paulie described above.  The main section is part of the tank circuit resonating with the desired/tuned radio station.  The other section of the tuning capacitor varies the frequency of the oscillator circuit to maintain a changing frequency which is varing at the same rate as the tank circuit.   This will make the difference between the station you are listening to and oscillator to be at 455Khz.   The "intelligence" will now be on the new frequency of 455Khz.  This is done in the "mixer"  portion.   Your IF stages can now amplify this 455Khz and everything else is filtered out.   The oscillator does not "transmit" 455Khz.   Terrydec, I hope you don't mind my input!  Very Happy Very Happy
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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by terrydec on Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:17 pm

Not a problem.  Mine was just a very simplistic overview.  The oscillator does function like a little radio station.  In fact there once was an adapter socket that you could use to actually turn your radio into a transmitter.  My point was that you don't need all that electrical explanation if you understand the basic concept. Even I still get confused with the full explanation.  I was just not so specific.  If Paulie got it that is what counts.
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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by Paulieb880G on Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:11 pm

I'm not sure that I've "got it", but I have been doing lots of reading.  I repeated what I read.  That does not mean that I have "got it" enough to actually FIX this radio.  It is fair to say that I know more than I did and I appreciate everybody's help with this.  

I haven't told her yet, but I believe that if I ever get this radio to work, I may fiddle with the cabinet a bit and give the radio to Bekka.  It might mean more to her than it does me.  She is working on finding stuff I need and is really taken an interest in this for some reason.  This is our first "project" done together.  Her mom and I redid a go-cart back in the day when she was about Bekka's age.  She still has it and Bekka has run the wheels off it for the second time.

About isolation transformers.  I actually have one.  We use an isolation transformer on our electric fence charger.  There was a farmhand back a few years that got electrocuted by a fence charger that had gotten wet and had put 110 on the electric fence.  A fence charger is basically a large capacitor that gets charged, then discharged when an animal (or a person!) comes in contact with the electric fence wire.  The idea is to give the critter a jolt and scare it enough to get away from the fence.  So we put an isolation transformer on our charger so the risk of electrocution is minimized.  It isolates the electric fence from the power line.  I could use it when I check out my radio on a dry day.

Since this radio has a power transformer, isn't the chassis already somewhat isolated from the AC lines?  I know they made "transformerless" radio chassis with the tube heaters in series and that those chassis are more in danger of being "hot" to the AC lines.  Am I somewhat in the ballpark with this?

I just found the "edit" button and just can't resist using it. I have read the safety precautions suggested in the thread on this forum that I referenced earlier. Not touch the chassis with both hands. Do not make your body a ground. Don't work on a radio naked, standing in the shower on a wet concrete floor barefooted. That is basic common sense theory that people ignore and get themselves into trouble. I appreciate those tips and am working with those in mind to stay safe. I am using a $15 analog meter I got at HD. That might need to be upgraded if I do this more than this once. It is plenty good enough for working on automotive equipment, but is not the best for radio work.

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by terrydec on Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:10 pm

You might want to get a $!5 digital meter. The fence transformer is not the same as an isolation transformer, which is actually two transformers isolated from each other in one case. It is true that a transformer set does not have the same danger as an AA5 AC/ Dc set, which sometimes has one side of the line cord connected to the chassis, (Note: Later sets got around this by using the B- as ground and isolating it with a capacitor). However, you are dealing with MUCH higher voltages, as much as 600 VDC.

When in doubt about safety do what electricians do, keep one hand in your pocket
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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by Paulieb880G on Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:48 pm

I'm sorry if my terminology is "whack".  (Hanging around a tween-ager!)  I have our fence charger connected to a seperate isolation transformer to isolate the fence charger and the fence wire from the line.  An isolation transformer is a 1:1 ratio transformer, is it not?

"AA5" was the terminology I was trying to recall in my last post when I was suffering from a senior moment.

We have capacitors on order. Antique Electronic Supply came up first in a Google search by my "litty" able assistant. They got the business. I made a list of every capacitor and resistor in the radio and ordered appropriate amounts of each. I don't know or care whether they were the cheapest and best or not. They were first. Done deal. I am now the proud owner of a 30 watt el-cheapo soldering iron, courtesy of Lowes. We shall forge ahead when parts arrive. I read an article on this forum showing how to cut a capacitor can in half and put new guts inside. That sounds like an interesting project. Mr Wildcat again. There are lots of good articles on this forum. Have you guys taken the time to read all the good stuff that is on here?

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by terrydec on Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:57 pm

I always use AES. Good guys, cheap shipping.
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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by mr_ed01 on Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:42 am

If the set has the original power transformer, suggest moving the primary connection from the green 115 Volt lead to the brown 125 volt lead to match today's higher AC line voltage.  See Service Data, 'Repairs' - power transformer on page 3

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by terrydec on Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:34 pm

I read an article on this forum showing how to cut a capacitor can in half and put new guts inside.  That sounds like an interesting project.  Mr Wildcat again.  There are lots of good articles on this forum.  Have you guys taken the time to read all the good stuff that is on here?[/quote]

I don't believe that you cut it in half.   Wax filled capacitors can be heated until the wax melts, then a smaller cap can be inserted.  Tall cans can be done the same way.  It would be very messy.
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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by John Bartley on Thu Mar 09, 2017 2:01 pm

terrydec wrote:Wax filled capacitors can be heated until the wax melts, then a smaller cap can be inserted.  Tall cans can be done the same way.  It would be very messy.

Yes, Terry has it correctly. Here is how I do them :

http://www.oldradio.ca/radio/Tech/Restuff/restuff.html

cheers

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by lhlyda on Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:30 am

John's method of melting sounds better than mine. I didnt have a heat gun so I melted mine on a tray made of aluminum foil in a toater oven at 200 degrees.

Pulled the old guts out and wiped the bees wax off.

I bought some yellow bees wax off ebay

Wrapped the new cap in electrical tape so the wax wouldnt run all the way through

Melted the beeswax in a tin can in a pot of boiling water like a double boiler. Took my pliers and made a spout on the can for pouring

Poured each end in end with was and allowed to cool. Then dipped the whole cap in wax and gave it a good spin to eliminate excess. It will appear cloudy at first. I put them in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Then they were ready to instal.



Wrapped with tape


After installation
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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by John Bartley on Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:53 am

Nice work !!

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by terrydec on Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:35 am

Amazing.
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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by Paulieb880G on Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:46 pm

I have my old Grunow radio playing well enough to suit me.  I'm sure it's not perfect, but that makes no difference to me.  I replaced all the capacitors.  I did not do like the post above, since my goal was to hear it play, not to make it a museum piece.  I have decided to give it to my grand daughter Bekka.  She and her mom got some material to cover the speaker and Bekka thinks the old radio is "cute."  

I am still reading about fixing old electronics.  I'm not sure this is something I want to do longterm yet.  I'd like to lurk on here and put my two cents worth in occasionally if that would be okay.  I just might learn something.  Thanks for you help.

I have been known to restore a tractor or two in my day. Mostly Oliver and Massey-Harris. We just finished a 1941 Massey Super 101 a couple months ago. We used a 265 Chrysler Industrial flathead six for power. The original Chrysler 6 was 218 cubic inches and was getting tired. The 265 came out of a combine and is still pretty stout. The boys took the old Massey all apart, down to the last nut and bolt and rebuilt everything. We put on new Firestone 14.6-38's and blasted and repainted the whole thing. We used automotive paint on the wheels and sheet metal and single stage urethane on the chassis. I like to pull tractors in the Farm Stock class, so that old Massey should do pretty well. This particular model is popular in tractor pulling even with the original engine. We are running electronic ignition, did some porting, and also run an Oliver 1850 carburetor. It dynos about 80 horsepower at 3500 rpm, so that should be good. Up next is a couple old Co-op tractors that were built in Indiana and are also powered by flathead Chryslers. I have a restored 1961 Oliver 880 that I show. That is where the "880G" comes from in my username. Doing this heavy work is tougher for me than it was 30 years ago. We have taken on more farm ground and the boys still run the farm shop along with a brother-in-law and that takes more time. The boys and I had a big time fiddling with old tractors when they were younger, but now they have kids and grandkids and time for tinkering with old tractors is getting precious.

My middle boy likes to pull semi trucks. We have a 1975 Autocar tractor we use to haul grain with. The boy runs in in semi pulling events. It has a souped up NTC-335 Cummins diesel and a RTO-12513 transmission followed by 4.44 bogies. This old thing is one of the stoutest old trucks I've ever seen. It drives and rides like a cement mixer, but ours is deluxe as it has power steering. It does pretty good in truck pulling, too. We've had it almost 30 years and has never left me sitting even once. The 335 Cummins is one of the best running diesels ever installed in a road tractor. This one has the intake and intercooler with the turbocharger setup off a Cummins 400. We used 400 injectors. We have it turning 2400 rpm and run a #9 button. It will throw a solid six-inch plume of black smoke up about 30 feet before it starts curling back. The limit to the pull of this engine is the pyrometer. If you had a hired driver running this engine, you risk him coming home with the melted pistons laying in the oil pan! I have never dyno'd this engine, but it is a good bet it's stouter than 335 horsepower. I have to be careful pulling this engine really hard while pulling the grain trailer, due to the smoke. The 335 and the 400 were both built on the 855 cid block, but there were difference in the valves, camshaft, etc. I'd like to find a B-model Mack and repower it with a 300+ Maxidyne diesel and Maxitorque 10-speed for the boy to pull. The boys put me to hauling grain while they are in the fields. It keeps me busy and "out of the way."

The oldest boy will turn 55 in June. His brothers are teasing him that they are going to put him "out to pasture" with "the old man" after he turns into a "senior citizen." The boys let me hang around and still make me think I'm in charge. They are encouraging my "new hobby" since they think I should slow down. I can slow down after I'd dead.

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Re: Fixing my old Grunow radio

Post by terrydec on Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:00 pm

Impressive. I wish my son could do that.

This new hobby has a tendency to become addictive. It's one of those where you see immediate results of your efforts and you get to solve complex puzzles too. What's not to like?
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