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

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Post by Resistance is Futile on Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:50 am

OK So here is the list so far, of Specific Models:

Westinghouse H-397T5

Zenith radios with the inverted Bakelite chassis
Zenith 6G601

GE 500 series radios

Philco 41-220
Philco 41-295 or similar
Philco  48-482

Olympic 554 (console).
 
Silvertone model R-1181, chassis 101.611

Graetz/Comedia analogues
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Post by Wildcat445 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 1:02 am

Cliff, you hit the nail on the head about those nasty inverted chassis Zeniths.  I have been cussing at one of those for a couple years.  I dread looking at it.  I still need to replace the e-caps, but I can't see where the wires go.  Nasty radios, certainly.

I would nominate almost any European radio as a poor radio for newbies.  They are difficult to repair, with odd circuitry and lots of information in a foreign language.  They work well, but by the time you get them there, you don't care anymore.  

Regards

WC

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Post by Guest on Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:49 pm

I think the best radio's for beginners are the late Octal AA5's and the early mini tube AA5's (before the printed circuit boards).

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Post by Dr. Radio on Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:37 pm

MEZLAW wrote:I think the best radio's for beginners are the late Octal AA5's and the early mini tube AA5's (before the printed circuit boards).


To expand on that, the best ones for newbies are the tabletop radios that use octal tubes made immediately after World War II, before the miniature IF transformers with their dreaded silver mica design flooded the marketplace!
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Post by Wildcat445 on Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:52 pm

Both of you make good points, and well-taken.

Regards

WC

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Post by Guest on Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:42 pm

Dr. Radio wrote:
MEZLAW wrote:I think the best radio's for beginners are the late Octal AA5's and the early mini tube AA5's (before the printed circuit boards).


To expand on that, the best ones for newbies are the tabletop radios that use octal tubes made immediately after World War II, before the miniature IF transformers with their dreaded silver mica design flooded the marketplace!

Good point, I wasn't thinking about the IF transformers.

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Post by JasonAMFM on Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:30 pm

I'm learning to crawl over here, but I'm drawn to 60's and 70's transistor radios. Can anyone recommend one or more of that variety that would be good for a newbie to take his first steps on?
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Post by willy3486 on Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:28 am

JasonAMFM wrote:I'm learning to crawl over here, but I'm drawn to 60's and 70's transistor radios.  Can anyone recommend one or more of that variety that would be good for a newbie to take his first steps on?

One thing that might be a really good help for you is to keep an eye on ebay and elsewhere for the old Radio Shack experimental labs. Something similar to this below so you can build and get working.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Radio-Shack-Vintage-AM-VHF-Monitor-Radio-Kit-Science-Fair-Model-28-163-/181497460331?pt=Educational_Toys_US&hash=item2a4217766b


Or one of these kits you can put together a am and learn how they work. It can teach you a lot more than someone can tell you about. It really helps to understand the technology behind radios.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Elenco-AM-FM-108CK-AM-FM-IC-and-Transistor-Superhet-Radio-Kit-NEW-/231058096726?pt=Educational_Toys_US&hash=item35cc22c256

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Post by JasonAMFM on Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:30 pm

Ah. What a great idea. Thanks willy3486
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Post by Art Hoch on Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:37 pm

I see this is an old thread but I'll second chrisc's nomination of a Zenith portable.  While I generally like to work on Zeniths, the 4G903 is a real pain.  In fact, some time ago I gave up on restoring the chassis on mine.  Just too many problems and too little space to work.  I do like the styling of the cabinet and the flip top on/off feature but.....
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Post by Wildcat445 on Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:18 pm

I have a Zenith console with an inverted bakelite chassis.  It is THE most miserable chassis to work on I have ever seen.  I have been tinkering with it for years and it still does not work right.  Extremely crowded chassis with wires nearly impossible to follow.  I recommend newbies staying away from Zenith period.  They work well when they work, but I find them harder to service in general than some other brands.  I have heard that may avoid Philco.  I find them easier to service than Zenith.  I don't have any experience with Zenith portables.

It is nice to see you post again, Art! Very Happy

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Post by 75X11 on Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:01 pm

I will advise against the Philco units with the rubber insulated wiring and pushbutton tuning. They are like trying to build a ship in a bottle from spit and cigarette ashes.
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Post by Bill Cahill on Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:28 pm

Admiral made sets easy to work on. I, too, hate Zenith, and, RCA, and, Philco.....

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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:48 pm

I do not have a lot of trouble working on Philco. I avoid Zenith. RCA is in the middle somewhere. GE solder-dipped chassis and some of their PCB chassis can present a challenge. I like working on Magnavox, since they have metal chassis, typically with plenty of room to work.

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Post by LarryC on Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:06 pm

I would add in here the Zenith consoles and table radios from the late 30's and early 40s as they also use a lot of crumbly rubber wiring in their chassis. Also radio's like the hallicrafters SX-42 etc where the paper bypass caps are buried deep in the band switch assembly.
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Post by CaptainClock on Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:29 pm

I have never had issues with working on clock radios and I'm what one might call a "newbie" in the radio restoration world. I recently bought from Goodwill of all places a 1950 Zenith model J733 AM/FM Clock Radio that is referred to affectionately as the "Bugeye" model and the radio on it worked perfectly when I got it without having to do any work to it except replace a couple of tubes, the clock though I had to replace the rotor on the Telechron movement which is actually fairly easy to do, but then now the buzzer function of the alarm clock don't work anymore but I think its just a matter of having to bend the buzzer's tab back into place. I've also worked on old GE Alarm clock radios before without much fuss, and in fact I'm currently restoring an early 1950s vintage GE clock radio that in my opinion looks like one of the easiest chassis to work on as its an all metal chassis that is point-to-point wired (no pc boards or anything) and only has 7 paper caps to replace and has a firecracker style filter caps which are fairly easy to replace because you can get replica Firecracker filter caps in just about any of the common values found in most AA5 radios that utilized firecracker style filter caps over at Antique Electronic Supply for only $6 and some change. I actually restored a Westinghouse Bakelite Chassis radio that was given to me by a friend and I had no problems recapping that radio it, was pretty straight forward actually and its probably one of the most sensitive little AM AA5 radios I own.

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Post by specops56 on Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:59 pm

Dr. Radio wrote: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.

I restored one of those early on for a friend of mine. Never again! The very first radio I did was one of these little Zeniths:

http://radioatticarchives.com/radio.htm?radio=8895

Recapping was easy but then I learned what the "dreaded silver mica disease" is!

Terry
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Post by Doug Burskey on Sun Sep 09, 2018 12:21 am

Car radios are one I would not recommend for the novice. Of course you need a 6 or 12 power supply. I have worked on one from a 1959 Buick Le Sabre [GM-Delco with the transistor in the audio output and tubes that work off the 12 volt] The only thing wrong with that was a bad paper cap, so no big problems there.
The next was a pain in the you know what. It was out of a 1947 Ford F-1 pickup 6 volt POSITIVE ground and you have to make shure the new solid state vibrator was made + ground radio. It was dirty and not a whole lot of room inside to work on or to gain access to the tube socket terminals. It was really packed together. Then I had get a new speaker for it The original was a 6x9 inch oval When we pulled the radio out it had a 4 inch speaker that was shot hanging on a piece of wire in place of the 6x9. However with all that it did work well and the owner of the old F-1 was happy with it.

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Post by tubesrgr8 on Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:25 pm

Ben Delk wrote: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.

Another small narrow and deep chassis, lovely wood cabinet on this one, but although I replaced all caps and checked tubes it still doesn't work. Lots of rubber covered brittle insulation, move it a little to check voltage on a tube socket, and the insulation falls off.
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Post by Bill Cahill on Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:12 am

I have to totally rewire an RCA bakelite set with thin rubber wiring, totally rotted.

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Post by Steve Davis on Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:32 pm

I'm a Philco guy so I have to say for the most part, Philcos are not hard to work on. After you have done a few of the bakelite block condensers you will find they are not that hard to restuff. Most of the time the guts can be punched out without disconnecting any wiring. Philco schematics are very well drawn and easy to read. Yeah, there are some years and models that should be avoided such as the '37 and '38 year models with the unit chassis and the early 40s models with the rubber insulated wire. The early 30s models though, such as the 20, 70 or 90 have large open chassis and are very easy to work on. Most brands made some good and some not so good.

Steve

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Post by Bill Cahill on Sat Sep 15, 2018 3:00 pm

Some of the worst were made by RCA Radio Corporation of Amarica.

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Post by analogdino on Wed May 06, 2020 6:08 pm

Bill Cahill wrote:GE is a good radio to avoid............
Hmm... why might that be? What model? I've restored a couple of GE 5 tube AC transformer sets and did not find anything particularly difficult.  IIRC, they were similar to a few RCA A22, etc, sets I've done.  Am I mixing up model numbers?
Cheers,
Roger.

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Post by Tim Tress on Sat May 09, 2020 11:40 am

The GE/RCA "deep chassis" radios from the early 1930s are a challenge even for us experienced restorers. Parts in layers, things like IF transformers which have to be removed to access tube sockets, and resistor terminal boards mounted against the chassis. Add crumbling rubber wiring, and capacitor packs and transformers mounted with crimp lugs instead of hardware. By comparison, the Philco sets from the same era (70, 90, 96, etc.) are much easier to work on, even with their well-known coil problems.

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