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 Post subject: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 2:02 am 
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hello once again guys, just came across something interesting. I was at a antique store and found this Atwater Kent Model 55. It is in excelent condition, the inside was and still is very clean I cleaned the tubes, on one of the small metal cases second one from the left has a initial on it and a date 8/27/46 I guess this radio was serviced in 1946. I am in the process of getting a speaker off ebay or who ever will sell me one. If I read it right the speaker connection has a four prong insert. I am only a novice with this hobby of mine, but want to learn more, I bought this model 55 for $75 I hope I did not get taken. The case has some ware but is in great shape.

Could you guys enlighten me on this model 55 radio, I found some basic information on the web already, i know the company only existed from the twentys to the thirthies, and Atwater closed shop because he did not want to lower the quality of his radios, neat.

Also can anybody tell me which knob does what I can guess, but want to be sure. And is it ok to just plug it in the wall or do I need a voltage reducer I know this model is a 1929 vintage, and I know some of these radios were made for the farm which was a lower voltage than in the city.

Thanks guys
Jon


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 2:49 am 
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Location: Minnesota
Hi Jon,
Nice set. I don't know a heck of a lot about these but I believe this was one of, if not the, last metal AK sets. The 55 chassis was also used in a console. There was also a 55C or 55 compact that was used in the Kiel table which is a very interesting set.

I too have heard the story for years that Arthur Atwater Kent closed his factory because he was unwilling to compromise his standards. But, I've also read that his work force was seriously considering joining a union at the same time. I'm thinking that the battle between RCA and Philco, the costs to stay in the game at the level he had been in at, and the possibility of having to deal with a union may have combined to make his decision. No matter what happened, Atwater Kent made great sets right to the end.

My favorite was a 1933 510 that I had for many years. It had a very deco case for an AK. I sold it about 9 years ago when I thought I was out of the hobby for good for a ridiculously cheap price. Wish I had it back now.


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 3:02 am 
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Location: Knoxville TN
Hello, You will need the speaker and a good going over the set before plugging it in. The four prongs you mentioned is for a field coil speaker. They had no magnets but used the B+ voltage to create a magnetic field to drive the voice coil. The coil also has resistance which will not be present in the set if you plug it in without the right speaker. I have a 55c and used it with the original capacitor bank for a while but it started to hum and get to hot. I think I want to dig out the old paper and wax capacitors and replace them with electrolytics. Although there is room to bypass under the chassis I think re-stuffing the bank would look better.

Atwater Kents are good sets and yours looks clean.


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 3:06 am 
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Location: Lexington, KY
Yes ggreg I find that intresting, thank you. Do you know what kind of speaker that I would use for this set, I was looking up info on the speaker from what I can tell, the F-4 speaker is the proper model speaker for the set, I know the adapter is a four prong set that plugs into the tube set. I have found other speakers, older than 1929 for Atwater tube sets, would any speaker work?, thanks for some more insight on this set, I think the Atwater and two philco tube sets are desirable sets for collecting, please let me know if these are worth collecting. I like them. Thanks once again

Jon


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 3:12 am 
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jim thank you for your input, I appreciate your help, but I am a novice at this hobby still, were would I start. Are the capacitors inside the metal boxes. Thanks. I dont have any equipment to check nor do I know what to get. Thank you for your help

Jon


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 3:22 am 
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Location: Knoxville TN
Here is a link to the schematic. It looks like the resistance of the field coil is 1100 ohms. The transformer and the capacitor banks are submersed in tar. The bigger one next to the rectifier is the transformer. If yours is like my 55c the capacitor bank has hook up terminals in a circle under the chassis. I will take some photos of mine and the speaker that you might be wanting to look out for. Since yours has an external speaker it will look different then mine which is in a table console.


http://www.nostalgiaair.org/PagesByMode ... 001403.pdf


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 3:28 am 
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Thanks Jim, I am looking forward to your response, This might sound stupid but how can I Identify the Rectifier, And does the Rectifier convert AC current to DC current.

Also Is it ok to plug into the wall, I dont need a voltage reducer? And is our model 55's rare at all, I know the company only existed from 1920-1930.

Thanks
Jon


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 3:36 am 
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Location: Pro Tech, Philadelphia Pa.
I've restored 55's and 60's.

Left knob is sensitivity, center tuning, right is volume.

It'll need those dog-bone resistors replaced..... prob all are bad.
It'll need the "quality condenser" buried in the output transformer box removed and a replacement installed under chassis.
It'll need those tin box capacitors replaced - I use 5 lug terminal strips in place of them with new caps.
It'll need sleeving over the crumbling transformer wires.
It'll need improved grounding thoughout the chassis., those rivits arn't worth a crap.
It'll need a fuse in the line - hot side polarized cord - them metal boxes can be dangerous.
Plus ground the chassis though a cap.

But after that, it should play. :wink:

Oh, and don't plug it in without a proper speaker connected.

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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 3:41 am 
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Thankyou repair tech, I will wait untill I get a proper speaker, then try it out. Down the road I will replace what is needed, honestly I dont know much about what you were talking about, This is a new hobby for me and I am still learning, from what I can tell the set is very clean, very clean.

Thanks
Jon


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 3:53 am 
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Location: Minnesota
Keep asking questions and have fun!!


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 4:16 am 
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Location: Lexington, KY
Got another question guys, I am in need of buying radio equipment I will end up buying a tube tester, any suggestions, and I also have a Triplet Model 630, its old but it still works, what does this do, and how, as stupid as that sounds, can you test capacitor voltage with it? Thanks pictures are below

Also sould I get a capacitor tester. Here are some pictures of what I am looking at to buy if needed.
Thank you
Jon


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File comment: What I am looking to get.
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File comment: My Triplet 630
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File comment: My Triplet 630
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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 4:19 am 
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Consider learning some electronics theory first.
People won't swim well with bricks tied to their ankles.

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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 4:30 am 
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Agreed, I have 7 old books on elements on radio and all other information, I also have four most often needed radio servicing information for 1947, 1950, 1951, 1954. I will start reading, but I would still like to know if I have to buy that capacitor tester, and what the Triplet model 630 used for, I know it measures Direct and AC voltage.
Thanks
Jon


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 4:30 am 
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Joined: Aug Sun 01, 2010 1:12 am
Posts: 6724
Location: Minnesota
Check out Phil Nelsons discussion on getting into servicing old radios at Phil's Old Radios. Good place to start. Vintage test equipment is nice to have but the stuff I actually use is much newer, at least my VOM and cap checker. Tube testers can be a little spendy for a good one but it's money well spent. Hickok is one of the best. There are others. BTW the 80 tube is your rectifier and yes between it and the filter capacitors, it converts AC to DC. I would recommend also finding a variac which can allow you to adjust your voltage. It can also help you identify trouble before the set gets full power sometimes saving valuable parts like transformers. Most of these sets were designed to run on 115 and not todays 122-125.


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 11:04 pm 
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The Atwater Kent 55 is one of the most commonly found 1920's radios out there. A few nice things to consider, it's an AC set that requires no batteries, and being as common as it is you shouldn't have too much trouble finding parts if needed.

As for the capacitors, most are housed in metal cans -- great idea, as it keeps the moisture out. But after 80 years they should go. The hardest thing about this is getting to the nuts. I managed to put tape over them so they'd stay in place when the cans are removed. Get a pan, like a cookie tray, and put it under a vise. Put the can in the vise so you can heat it with a torch. Heat it till the solder melts, stand back as it'll go poof, scrape out all the innards and let it cool. Install modern caps inside, and put it back in the radio.

As for those resistors, I've installed modern, but keep the old ones in case I ever get the gumption to try and stuff them or make repros. Yes, in my case they were ALL bad. BTW, I have a 60; same radio but with an extra tuning stage.

That quailty condenser, some people say remove it. I've kept it. Some say the radio sounds better without it but I'm keeping it "real." This cap rolls off the highs a little.

Speaker should be an F4. An F4A is smaller and will also work.

Something you'll learn about this set, it has a little distortion that is in the design of the set. Back in the olden days, modulation was typically around 30%. Now we have highly-compressed AM audio with close to 100%, and even more on the positive side in some cases. It's too much. To properly listen to this radio, use an SSTRAN or similar transmitter and reduce the modulation -- it'll sound great.

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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Wed 13, 2011 6:00 pm 
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Location: Gainesville, Florida
you might want to consider practicing on something else besides the ancient technologies found in these radios. potted transformers and filters are not a novice item. I know I wrecked one the first time. pitch is a bitch sometimes refered to as tar doesnt come easy although easy to break the old timey transformers inside which consist of stranded iron core with bell wire wrapped around it. interstage transformers could be bad as well. the resistors are hollow glass tubes filled with carbon powder for crimies sake. maybe find a bakelite 50s or so radio to use for a learning tool before tackling this one. I am usually in favor of gang busters but my suggestion is shelve it for now until you get your kit together :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Wed 13, 2011 6:52 pm 
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Actually, the AK 55 was once considered a good radio to learn on, and many have learned on just that. However it definitely has its pitfalls; for starters you need a resistor cheat sheet to determine the values. Also, this is a very unconventional radio, having the volume control adjusting the voltage on the screen grids for example. It is a far cry from the AA5 table set you probably grew up with. Worth keeping, yes, but maybe not the best one nowadays for the beginner.

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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Wed 13, 2011 8:02 pm 
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Location: Lexington, KY
tubeAMP wrote:
you might want to consider practicing on something else besides the ancient technologies found in these radios. potted transformers and filters are not a novice item. I know I wrecked one the first time. pitch is a bitch sometimes refered to as tar doesnt come easy although easy to break the old timey transformers inside which consist of stranded iron core with bell wire wrapped around it. interstage transformers could be bad as well. the resistors are hollow glass tubes filled with carbon powder for crimies sake. maybe find a bakelite 50s or so radio to use for a learning tool before tackling this one. I am usually in favor of gang busters but my suggestion is shelve it for now until you get your kit together :shock:


Yes I do have a 1946 I.T.I radio that will be my first project, the atwater is very neat and it will be shelved until I become a little more advanced. The I.T.I does have a short in it, and two of the paper capacitors are shot. I am still learning theory and gather equipment, I have just bought a capacitor tester, tube tester, multimeter, and a Variac to adjust voltage when testing, still need a soder gun. ether way I most definety agree with you on what you are saying, I also have a philco 38-93 tube set that works but buzzing all the time, that is down the road as well. My 1935 Philco model 144H plays great and does not need any servicing, my favorite, I will hold off this one for a while as well, we will see where I get with the I.T.I which is in need of maintience the most as it does not work, thank you for your help.

Jon


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Wed 13, 2011 8:08 pm 
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Gary Tayman wrote:
Actually, the AK 55 was once considered a good radio to learn on, and many have learned on just that. However it definitely has its pitfalls; for starters you need a resistor cheat sheet to determine the values. Also, this is a very unconventional radio, having the volume control adjusting the voltage on the screen grids for example. It is a far cry from the AA5 table set you probably grew up with. Worth keeping, yes, but maybe not the best one nowadays for the beginner.



Gary thank you for your input, i actually have an all american 5 that I will use as my first project. And I am only 22, I wish I grew up with these sets. I love every minute of it.


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 Post subject: Re: 1929 Atwater Kent Model 55
PostPosted: Jul Wed 13, 2011 8:46 pm 
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Quote:
Gary thank you for your input, i actually have an all american 5 that I will use as my first project. And I am only 22, I wish I grew up with these sets. I love every minute of it.



I'm not so sure I would want to have lived back then. Today we can lookback at these "primitive" radios; for me it's quite a switch because I formerly was a Product Specialist for Canon color copiers. AM radio? So simple it's funny! BUT -- at the time it wasn't so easy. There was no standardized resistor color code; very crude test equipment to troubleshoot with, and no database of other sets to help you figure out what's wrong. By the time you started picking up good test equipment, such as that Triplett meter, along came television to test your skills further.

BTW, that Triplett is an excellent product, and VERY handy to have around, but one you should be careful with. This meter is rated at 20k ohms per volt. In other words, on a 15 volt scale the resistance of the meter itself is 300k. This might sound high, but in tube circuits it can actually load the circuit and give you an erroneous reading. A VTVM, or vacuum tube voltmeter, has an input impedance of 11 megs, much better. Also, many newer digital meters have a high input rating. Keep that meter, but consider picking up another with a higher impedance.

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