I cannot say this is a presentation of a collection. These have all collected me. Each has given me an opportunity to tinker, to learn, and to restore. With the lone exception of the Grigsby Grunow speaker they all work very well today. I'll get to that speaker some day. There were millions and millions of radios sold during the 20s, 30s, and 40s. Most of mine are relatively common place even now, making the collection worth more as a source of enjoyment than as an investment, but that's what a hobby should be about, right? I get a kick out of preserving my little corner of the past and I hope you enjoy a tour.
I've recently begun to document a few interesting cases, and will continue to do so. I wish I had from the beginning.
Case studies (geek heaven)
Atwater Kent 35A
A rusty old Atwater Kent Model 35 was hauled out of storage. There were thrills and spills, demons and dirt, coils and crud. It was a more challenging repair than expected for such a simple radio. My first repair article.
In the summer of 2008 this Atwater Kent Model 55C found its way into the back of our car. It was mostly complete but a dirty mess from top to bottom. Radios were built as fine furniture in those days and several different furniture makers designed cabinets for this popular model. The old finish could not be saved so it has been completely stripped, stained, and lacquered.
This has been a long term project for me. Chassis and speaker were finished in 2009, article here, but the cabinet lingered. Finally last steps were completed this summer of 2011. After a rubout with talc powder, to take away the super-glossy shine of new lacquer, the radio looks stunning. I left as many dings and bumps as possible, those add beauty and appeal to me. I'll update my article with details of refinish work when time permits.
A good friend gave me an EMUD Rekord 196 Junior, a wonderful sounding German-made table radio from 1959, but it had a problem. It's smooth sound was marred by an intermittently operating, more like rarely operating, high frequency tweeter. The tweeter is an electrostatic design and age had taken its toll. Here is how it was brought back to life.
Complete cabinet reworking was required for a few cases where the original finish was largely destroyed. Some suffered extensive damage from previous owners (Westinghouse WR169, American Bosch Model 28), some were superbly cared for (Amplion speaker, Radiola Model 26). Some pieces have serious flaws, (GE GD60, Emerson portable), some are rare (GM "Pocket Portable", GE K105), some are beautiful (I like them all!), some are decidedly none of the above.
On the backburner, Atwater Kent model 82. This project has been stagnant for years now, waiting for the right piece of veneer to cross my path. The chassis is done. The cabinet, though, is going to take some effort. Part of the wood veneer on the arch is gone, a support piece is missing inside at the back of the arch, and the finish is weathered and damaged. It will require a complete refinish. I included a couple of shots of the chassis on my bench, taken before I started work. Notice the filth, rust, and broken potentiometer mount. They don't wire them like THAT anymore, thank goodness. It is hard to see from the photo, but much of the colored wire insulation is extremely brittle. A slight bend will shatter it.
Not pictured: Weston Model 40 art deco wood table radio (once the cabinet is fixed it will be a NICE piece!), Silvertone 7054 radio, Silvertone 7056 radio/phono, a large round metal speaker from the late 20s, Zenith upright with wavemagnet speaker (bought for 10 bucks from a guy in a pickup truck trying to clear out his garage, a couple of unremarkable wood table radios. Honestly, I've been too busy with work these days to take on anything more. There is also another Bosch Model 28, completely unrestored and unfinished. Larry Williams (member of California Historical Radio Society) and I have assemble transformer values and other useful circuit information not otherwise documented about this model of Bosch. He owns THREE of them, that wild and crazy guy. I hope to make the information available on this site, but for now please contact me if you have need of it. Also applies to Bosch Model 29.