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 Post subject: What's the best way to safely clean a Catalin radio cabinet?
PostPosted: Feb Mon 20, 2012 5:25 pm 
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Location: Upstate New York
I just had given to me.. for free... a Dewald A501 butterscotch catalin radio. the cabinet is in very good shape, it was just very dirty. I took out the chassis and washed the cabinet in warm soapy water but it still has some black spots on the top that seem to be imbedded in the finish. what's the best and safest way to clean these cabinets? I know nothing about catalins since I'm really not toooo crazy about them and they're usually too expensive for me to collect anyway, but I couldn't argue with the price for this radio! :P

I wanted to attach pictures but it said the files are invalid...

Oh also, I'm confused on the date of this radio, when I do a google search I get dates of 1938 and 1946, so I was wondering which is it? I would guess 1946 just by looking at the components of the radio, it looks a little newer than 1938.

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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to safely clean a Catalin radio cabi
PostPosted: Feb Mon 20, 2012 5:30 pm 
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Joined: Aug Mon 29, 2011 4:08 am
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Location: The High Plains, but not drifting.
I think that whatever is causing the problems with private messaging is also affecting picture uploads.

I too would be interested in replies to this question. My only Catalin has duct tape residue on the top and, as yet, I haven't dared try to remove it.


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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to safely clean a Catalin radio cabi
PostPosted: Feb Mon 20, 2012 8:06 pm 
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Location: Tennessee,USA
Yes, today the attachment gremlins are at work. I coulnd't attach anything directly either.

As for the spots in the finish, I would leave them alone. They could be deeply embedded within the material. They could be right above where a tube is too, so the darkening is into the Catalin itself.
Some people have sanded the complete cabinet to get the original color back. But when you sand you remove material, and could lose small details. Plus, with aging , the yellow color will come back. (Supposedly, the 'butterscotch' color was originally a whitish or alabaster color.)

As long as the cabinet is clean, you can use an automotive 'cleaner wax' that does have a very fine grit polish. You should end up with a glossy finish even though the color isn't uniform.
Be careful not to put the chassis screws in too tight, leave them on the loose side. Shrinking of the cabinet will cause cracks.

Clueless: You can try using WD40 on the glue residue. Rub it wround, it might soften right away. You aren't going to harm the Catalin. When the stuff is softened (it might take hours or days.) wipe all you can off, then use the cleaner wax to help remove anything remaining. If you are careful, you could probably use a little mineral spirits on a cloth and try dissolving it.

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Last edited by gary rabbitt on Mar Thu 01, 2012 8:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to safely clean a Catalin radio cabi
PostPosted: Feb Mon 20, 2012 10:29 pm 
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Joined: Apr Fri 27, 2007 4:15 pm
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Location: Upstate New York
Thank you Gary, I had a disaster happen years ago when I tried to clean a bakelite radio with Simple Green cleaner, it etched the bakelite somehow, so I didn't want to take any chances! :P

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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to safely clean a Catalin radio cabi
PostPosted: Feb Mon 20, 2012 11:40 pm 
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I think a good heavy duty power sander and 40 grit
sandpaper would do the trick for me.

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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to safely clean a Catalin radio cabi
PostPosted: Feb Tue 21, 2012 12:06 am 
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Location: Massachusetts
Just use one of these Makita Brush Sanders to make it look new again.

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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to safely clean a Catalin radio cabi
PostPosted: Feb Tue 21, 2012 3:18 pm 
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Joined: Dec Thu 15, 2011 4:16 pm
Posts: 1090
Location: East Coast
Novus #2 or Dupont white rubbing/polish compound. Catalin is very hard material and most anything can be used to clean them. They don't self destruct, can be drilled, filed, tapped, sanded. A myth has gone around on the fragility of catalin. A very strong material.. If the spots are a tube burn it will show through on the inside.


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 Post subject: Re: What's the best way to safely clean a Catalin radio cabi
PostPosted: Feb Tue 21, 2012 3:42 pm 
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Joined: Aug Mon 29, 2011 4:08 am
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Location: The High Plains, but not drifting.
Thanks, chaps. I'll give the WD40 a try - might hold off on the belt sander, though. ;)


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