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 Post subject: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 5:04 am 
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Joined: Jul Fri 18, 2014 2:03 am
Posts: 285
Location: Springdale, Arkansas
Hello All,

I just acquired a very nice, ALL original Belmont 6D111. Great little radio. And, what's REALLY fascinating is that I have an extensive amount of historical background on the set from the family that it came from. It was put into storage after it's original owner died, more than 40 years ago.

I powered up the radio carefully and got the usual and expected filter hum. Now MOST of the time, we would put a set like this one on our "to do" shelf for a recap. That's all well and good. But then I got to thinking about this radio's history, a history that we are RARELY able to obtain on these old sets. When this radio's owner died, it went into a long hibernation before it was passed on to me. It has not spoken a word or sang a note in 45 years.

Now I could gut this radio, put in the cheap little Chinese made capacitors and get it to play very easily. Then I could turn it on and listen to one of the two AM stations still in existence in my area and turn it off again. Woo-hoo, how exciting. Or, I can preserve its history and put it on my display shelf leaving it just as it is and all original, still sleeping soundly. I've got a hundred other old radios around here that I can plug in and listen to if the mood strikes me. But this little gem is going to stay just as it is, for a while at least.

Call me crazy. I've just always had a strong sense of respect for the history these old radios represent.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 5:17 am 
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Ahh, the "Rabbit", AA5 with an RF Amp. Yup, yours to do with as you please.

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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 5:28 am 
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Location: Detroit, MI USA
They don't all have to work. Nothing wrong with having some that are left alone strictly for display purposes, or to preserve the originality of a set like the one in question. I'd be inclined to type something up documenting the history of that set, put it in a small envelope and tie it to the power cord.

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Experience is what you gain when the results aren't what you were expecting.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 5:31 am 
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Joined: Jul Fri 18, 2014 2:03 am
Posts: 285
Location: Springdale, Arkansas
I'm actually working on that right now, Dennis. The prior owner's niece is even looking through some old photographs for me, hoping to find one with the radio in it!!


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 6:17 am 
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Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
Right, if you can find a photo to go with it, that makes it suitable for a museum display. A museum curator told me that.

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Burl Ives, RIP, oldtimer.
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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 9:42 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 2838
Location: Nr London, England, SS1 3PT
I have two radios that have never had a soldering iron on them from when they were made and are in superb condition. There is no intention by to restore them to play. They weren't meant to be great performers or have top audio anyway. Like you I have much better sets to play that were so rough when I got hem I could do what I liked. But no cheap Chinese components, simply the best quality I could get.

So in short I would say leave the radio as is.

Gary


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 10:29 am 
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Joined: Sep Sat 19, 2015 6:15 pm
Posts: 37
My thoughts on why you really should do a functional restoration to any radio that is not going into a sealed Museum case forever go like this:

First of all, the disclaimer - once you bought it, it's yours - so do as you will. It's a free country, etc.

But not everyone thinks like those of us here - and that may matter, to the radio's ultimate survival.

But I would encourage you to think about the radio's ultimate fate when (not if) it leaves your hands - sickness, hardships and death happen eventually to all of us, and it WILL go into other hands. We are just curators of history while we live - our cars, guns, baseball cards - and radios will eventually go into others hands, who may not feel as we do. How they are perceived and treated by a person of different mindset may be a factor in making their decision. Broken, is, well, broken to most people.

A properly done internal restoration will likely never be seen, but a working radio is of a lot more interest and worth to the next person who touches it than a cute paperweight - which is all a non-working radio is.
So, after you no longer have possession and are not there to stop them, will someone plug it in in ignorance and burn up it's insides, then throw it in the trash as toasted, or, just finding it dead, consign it to a dumpster as "old stuff, no longer repairable technology".

Things that obviously still light up and work have a utility value, or may at least be seen as saleable, even to the unknowing. "Old things" are not much respected by the Millennial types - and dead old things will get pitched by the auction house or whoever has to deal with emptying your house in a hurry to get rid of it.

I am vaguely hopeful that the written history, somehow attached to the radio might save it - but if it powers up and works, if has a much better chance of long term survival, among the unwashed. And so, far, AM radio seems to be surviving pretty well in most markets - for talk and news if nothing else. My area has four to six very active AM stations.

And you may be the set's last chance for it to ever be what it once was - a live, functional piece of "how it was" back then. How much longer will the parts, skills and know how - and people who love this old stuff and grew up with it, and are willing to do the work as a labor of Love and Nostalgia, survive?

I remember as a kid in Kansas City in the early 1960's going to car shows, featuring Model T's and A's, Packards, etc. JC Whitney even had special catalogs you could BUILD a Model T from! People were strongly interested in them - because they had grown up with them as a child or as their first car. You cannot give away a Model A or T today - no one alive ever drove or used one, or took one on a date. Likewise, I grew up with Springfield 1903 rifles and M1s at the local rifle club - young people today buy Black rifles that are "contemporary" for their trips to the range - not old stuff.

I'm 65, very big on preserving History and just learning to work on seventy year old radios (that I saw and remember fondly in Grandma's parlor) as I approach my golden years. But I have yet to talk to anybody under 40 with any interest in doing this. "What do you mean I need to solder in EACH component, spend a bunch of money on old service equipment and then spend the time to learn arcane and obsolete skills that don't make me money?" "Why can't I just go down to Best Buy and get another snap in circuit board?"

I vote for preservation - but for the REAL long term - by making my "temporary treasures" as functional (and safe from burning up on plug in) as possible - and those of us here may be the last group that has the patience and knowledge to do this.

Again, do as you will - but we are all just caretakers, for a little while. CC


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 11:25 am 
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Location: Beaver Falls, PA. USA
I have a new-in-the-box Sonora portable, that I posted about here last year. It is going to stay in the box, unrestored, unless I take it out to display in a contest; I have other restored portables, if I want to play one.

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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 11:26 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 17599
Location: Albuquerque, NM 87123
No.

If you plan on actually using the radio, then Yes. It's not safe to use a radio that is not electrically restored. If it's going to be a shelf Queen then No, don't bother.

I think if you have a rare example that is complete and umolested then it should be left alone and preserved as-is.

If a radio has cabinet damage and can be made close to original, then that should be done, but not on rare items as a restoration will actually detract from its value.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 11:59 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 8506
Location: Baltimore, MD
I have a few all original shelf queens that will never operate while they are in my custody, one being a new-old-stock 1928 Crosley that has never even had tubes in it.

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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 2:43 pm 
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Joined: Oct Thu 02, 2014 5:57 am
Posts: 625
Location: Memphis, TN
My $0.02 to the OP:

I don't think you're going to go wrong either way. One direction: you preserve it intact, as found, factory air in the tires. There's a certain nostalgia to that. The other direction: you don't destroy history, but rather become another chapter that brought the past to life. Destroying history isn't recapping to make it safe to play, but taking an old radio and turning it into a friggin' wine rack....


My $0.02 to CC,

All is not lost... There are plenty of young people out there who are and will be into this stuff. Will the interest shrink a little before it gets stronger? Probably. That ALWAYS happens with multi-generational hobbies. The younger generation is much more concerned with sustainability, e-waste, repairability, and so on than you may think.

You called them workshops, they call them makerspaces. You called them repairmen, they call them fixers. Same same. Granted, I think the term 'maker' is annoying, but language is fluid. I'm sure at one point builder, tinkerer, and so on sounded a little funny too.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 2:58 pm 
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Joined: Nov Fri 20, 2009 4:01 am
Posts: 149
Location: mid-michigan
Wow, I will be going to Kansas City and bringing back a semi load of free Model A and Model T Fords. I remember riding in my Dads Model A and have been looking for a nice one for several years but they are still bringing good prices here in Michigan. I can't believe they are given away but I know many guys here who will pay real money for one.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 3:13 pm 
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Joined: Jan Mon 28, 2013 9:35 pm
Posts: 1055
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Good question. A couple of years ago I bought an RCA ACR-163
and ACR-175 (early 1930's SW) with the intent to restore and use
them. The ACR-163 was in such good, original condition I left it
alone. Even the cloth covered line cord was in perfect conditon and
not a scratch on the cabinet.

I'll be doing this more often.
Steve

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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 3:13 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 3680
Location: Central VA, 23005
jukeman70 wrote:
... I've just always had a strong sense of respect for the history these old radios represent.


Agreed...

A very well known friend of mine in North Carolina, and now a silent key, always said that he was a "radio historian" and not a collector. Almost all of his very early and rare pieces were never restored...only cleaned and checked for authenticity and completeness.

During one phase of my radio searches, I acquired only very early pieces. None of the ones from my home state of Pennsylvania (Wireless Specialty Apparatus, Hamburg Bros., Pennsylvania Wireless, etc.) were ever restored or sold. These were all kept in their original as found condition.

To me, a lot depends on the era and intended use of the subjected radio/receiver as to whether-or-not it should be restored.

BR,

Terry


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 4:21 pm 
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Joined: May Sat 06, 2006 4:03 am
Posts: 3029
Location: ZIP 23831 South of Richmond, VA 25 miles down the pike.
SHELF QUEEN

"Hey, that sure is a cute little radio"

"Yes, it's a Belmont from 1946, made after the War. It is all original."

"Does it work?"

"No"

"Could you fix it so it would play like it did back when a radio was a prized possession?"

"Well I could but I don't want to remove some original parts."

"Hmm, what good is it just sitting there when you can't hear how it 'originally' sounded?

Bill J.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 4:34 pm 
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Joined: Nov Wed 27, 2013 5:59 am
Posts: 522
Location: Metzger Oregon
If it truly is an AA5 like fifties says, then just power it off of DC, no hum, no replacement caps, problem solved :)

Also, I would love to get a few of those free Model Ts and As, I hardly see them around here and the ones I have seen have not been cheap.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 4:58 pm 
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Joined: Jan Mon 22, 2018 5:59 pm
Posts: 225
It boils down to personal choice.
Some possible options:
Maybe use NOS? Parts off the shelf from the same era that were never used?
Alternatively stuff the old components with new ones. This is pretty time-consuming but it would preserve the radio while making it functional.
On a personal note, I've never bothered about preserving the original radio as it is. The reason for this is I view history as pretty much what happens to a radio throughout its life-span. Very possibly you might find a radio built in 1950 that had already had work done on it in the mid sixties. So the work done on the said radio today will eventually form a part of the history of the set. Maybe in another 50 years someone will come along and note some work had been carried out by a restorer in 2018?
Anyway in this case I'd say that stuffing the old capacitors with modern ones would leave the radio functional but pretty much true to authenticity.
Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 7:21 pm 
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Joined: Nov Wed 04, 2015 4:04 am
Posts: 326
Location: Winfield, MO
classicelectronicsguy wrote:
If it truly is an AA5 like fifties says, then just power it off of DC, no hum, no replacement caps, problem solved :)

Also, I would love to get a few of those free Model Ts and As, I hardly see them around here and the ones I have seen have not been cheap.



Count me in on an A as well :D


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 7:36 pm 
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Joined: Dec Sat 24, 2011 9:17 pm
Posts: 2641
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
classicelectronicsguy wrote:
If it truly is an AA5 like fifties says, then just power it off of DC, no hum, no replacement caps, problem solved.
Great idea, never thought of that. I imagine a power bar with a couple of diodes and resistors would do it. Technically, that radio is an AA6, not that it matters, but better performance.
Quote:
Also, I would love to get a few of those free Model Ts and As, I hardly see them around here and the ones I have seen have not been cheap.
Not long ago, I saw a house for sale including a complete Model T phaeton sitting in the rain as a garden ornament. Probably entertained the grandkids for a few years. After the house sold, I saw the T riding out of town on a trailer, gone to someone who appreciates it, I'm sure.

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Burl Ives, RIP, oldtimer.
[:l>)


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 Post subject: Re: Should we "Restore" ALL Radios?
PostPosted: Feb Fri 02, 2018 7:46 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 1505
Location: Long Beach, CA USA
I have several sets in good original condition which I intend to keep that way. I don't need to play them and some are more interesting with all original finish and parts. While I appreciate good restoration, most "restored" radios don't sound spectacular, and there's not much to listen to on AM anyway. A radio can only be original once.


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