Welcome to Valve Radio Repairs Web Site
Welcome to Old Radios
Written by Bryce Ringwood   
Thursday, 07 October 2010 20:57

This site is dedicated to the preservation and restoration/repair of radio receivers from the crystal set era to the present day. This is a South African site, so, understandably my efforts are concentrated on sets within South Africa. If you are located somewhere else in the world, I will try to find someone closer who can help you. Usually, typing in "oldradios.co.yourcountry works well ;)

The "casebook" is a commentary on some of the radios I have had in for service and repair. Some of these are just interesting radios. Others just have interesting faults. Unless stated otherwise, don't assume they belong to me and don't expect them to be for sale. There is a classified section on the web-site.

For people who wish to repair their own sets, there are plenty of technical articles and tips.

Zenith 935

Zenith 935 from the 1930s 

Most people who visit this site will want a repair rather than restore their radios, since restoration usually involves a great deal of detailed work and research into what the set was originally intended to look like internally and externally. In most cases such restoration would be undertaken by collectors themselves, since it would be far too expensive for someone like me to do it. I will be providing some ideas on what to do to restore sets to their original condition and I welcome comments from people who have carried out their own restorations.

The customers I have had to date have been interested in getting their sets to be clean, presentable and work reliably. So far, touch bakelite, they have all been very happy.

This web-site contains articles on many topics of interest to owners of old radios and maybe there will even be some articles to suit the dedicated collector.

   National NC100 Communications Receiver

National NC 100

   Post War C13 Larkspur Series Military HF Transciever

Larkspur C13 Military Transceiver

Note

Vacuum tubes are called "Tubes" in the US and in instruction manuals for US made radio equipment. In the UK and South Africa they are called "Valves"

 

This site is always being modified and your articles, suggestions and corrections are welcome. You will have to contact me to submit an article.
 

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 May 2013 17:56
 
Valuing old radios PDF Print
Written by Bryce Ringwood   
Thursday, 14 October 2010 22:30

I am often (well, sometimes) asked to put a value on a particular item of equipment. Usually, the truth hurts more than somewhat, since the “average” wooden or bakelite radio will fall somewhere between R200 and R500 in price.

As with most things these days, the internet and e-bay in particular has a guide to what collectors and enthusiasts overseas are paying for items. There have been times, however, when I would willingly have paid whatever the dealer asked, if I'd had the money. Clearly there are other collectors in this category, since my antique dealer colleagues are managing to sell some very unattractive radios at very high prices.

Most domestic radios less than 60 years old will have little value. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Champion Electric's 'Venus Globes' and some of the collectable EH Scott radios, which are housed in attractive cabinets. Even some of the Bush and Pye radios, which were very stylish, do not command very high prices. In the UK, some of these are manufactured as 'retro' sets, and have the latest DAB broadcast reception. Nevertheless, sets like the 'Roberts' (and 'Dynatron') handbag radios are very collectable (if not very valuable).

Condition plays a big part. Sets with original speaker cloth in pristine condition, woodwork in excellent original condition, or bakelite cabinets with no cracks or blisters and fully working will command a respectable price. The original manuals and shipping containers will also add to the value.

Another factor is the design. A radio designed by a well-known designer in the art-deco style (for example) can be expected to command a higher price, especially if working and in good condition.

The Age of a radio plays a part, but perhaps scarcity plays a more decisive role.

For some people, the internal electronic design is an important feature. Expect to pay more for sets having 20 or more valves than for a conventional 4 valve superhet. As always, there were some fraudulent manufacturers who put lots of valves in their sets, even though they did nothing. At the other extreme, some EH Scott radios had more than 40 valves – and each one was there for a purpose. (By the way, the little FM radio chip inside your cellphone probably contains thousands of transistors, with each transistor doing essentially the same job as a triode valve. ) If you do purchase a set with lots of valves, remember that it will cost you a fortune to keep it going.

Here are some recent prices :

Venus Globes (Green), Good Condition, possibly not working

R3 560-00

Wooden 'Sentinel' 5 Band

R 300-00

Bush MB60 David Ogle Design

EUR 38 (2009)

SABA Oye-Oye (An art radio) Phillipe Starck

EUR 32

R1155- Bomber Command Radio

GBP 255

Pye Art Deco Radio from the 1930s

GBP 31

Eddystone 940 (Mint Condition)

GBP 191

Please note that these are eBay prices (not the first two, though). The R1155 was used during World War 2 by bomber command in Lancaster Bombers, and so is of interest to military collectors. Eddystone radios have their own user group. They were well constructed, which made them expensive, but didn't always perform as well as their more cheaply made overseas counterparts. The Eddystone professional receivers can be very expensive nowadays.

In South Africa, use the overseas prices intelligently, and remember that if you have set your sights on a large, heavy radio, you will have to find a way to import the goods, allowing for freight charges and so on.

As a final word of advice – don't look on an old radio as an investment, the same way as you would a piece of Royal Doulton or a painting by Pierneef. Prices are very volatile and uncertain. If you buy a set at a dealer and find it elsewhere at a small fraction of what you paid, be philosophical and remember you paid what you thought it was worth to you.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 October 2010 09:14
 
The Repair Process PDF Print
Written by Bryce Ringwood   
Thursday, 14 October 2010 09:19

Every repair starts with a thorough visual inspection as to the age and condition of the set. The make and model number are noted and a search for documentation is carried out. This is so that the correct parts are used and the set can be correctly disassembled and reassembled later. Then I proceed along the following lines, avoiding the temptation to “plug in and switch on” :-

  • The set is removed from its cabinet and the chassis is cleaned. If you are planning on doing this yourself, you should use a dust mask. While on the subject of safety, take care when handling heavy radios and equipment.

  • The wiring is inspected and any obviously burned-out parts are noted.

  • Any tampering or user-modifications are noted.

  • Any perished wiring is replaced with modern wiring as close as possible in appearance and type to the original.

  • Burned-out parts (usually resistors) are replaced with the same type and power rating. The capacitors or other components they are connected to are checked and replaced.

  • Panel lamps are checked and replaced.

  • Wafer switches are cleaned

  • The mains cord is replaced with a modern 3-core cord and the chassis is earthed, unless there are considerations preventing this.

  • The dial-cord is replaced, if necessary.

  • Now the set is slowly “brought to life” by applying a small initial AC voltage and bringing it up to full AC 230 volts (or 110 volts) using a variable AC power supply very slowly indeed. If at any time a component fails or overheats, the process is halted and the problem is resolved. All work is done on the set whilst it is isolated from the mains – after all, some sets were deliberately designed with a “live chassis”!

  • Most sets have very minor faults and will now be fully or partially operative at the end of this process.

    Now the troubleshooting can begin.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 October 2010 09:14
 
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