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 Post subject: Another Zenith H500 Restoration
PostPosted: Jan Tue 14, 2020 12:56 am 
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Joined: Jan Sat 14, 2017 12:25 am
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So, I admit that I'm not much of an electronics guy... I did build a Heathkit when I was a kid in the late '50's but I am not at all grounded in electronics. That being said, I restore EVERYTHING. Airplanes, clocks, furniture, lamps, objet d' art. I'm pretty good at the cosmetics. I've done quite a few radios. I depend on others for the electronic restoration and have had dismal results in almost all cases. More on that later.

I love Zenith H500's. Kind of think they are the bomb. I did a half assed restoration years ago before I knew what I was doing. So, I collected up a few to combine the best of each. The one I was most interested in making my patient was subject to an accident. I loaned space in a storage unit to a friend who toppled over a stack of stuff and badly damaged the wood case on that one. I stripped the leatherette and began to repair it. I quickly realized it was a mistake. The chassis was excellent and undamaged. So I had another donor with a sound case. I stripped it and have just finished the wood repair and am ready to put new Tolex on it. I'd like to share a few observations about H500 cases.

There seems to be a common weakness in these guys... after stripping off the old leatherette with the aid of a heat gun it is apparent that the fit of the moveable parts leaves something to be desired. Also, all of the hinge points are suspect. No matter how good the case looks, when the leatherette is removed the flaws become obvious. The rear door, hinged at the bottom with the hinges held by clinch nails seems always to be susceptible to wood dry rot around the attachment points. Prying those clinch nails out is a chore. 'Yer left with a weak mess. I've included 3 photos. One shows that area with my "graft" of plywood inserts to give a new, strong attachment point. The hinge assembly for the front door is a definite weak point. In my opinion not a very good solution but they seemed to work for decades so who am I to criticize. I removed the little nails holding them into the case (previously hidden behind leatherette) and filled the holes with a mixture of sawdust and a very slight amount of JB weld (just enough to still allow the nails to be driven back in but hold well). i coated the nails with JB Weld just prior to re-inserting them. The result was a very strong, like new attachment.

Next is the condition of the fit of the parts. There were parts that fit too tight for new Tolex requiring trimming and parts on which the gaps were pretty big requiring addition of wood and sanding back to a new, proper profile. Also the case itself needed quite a bit of Bondo bodywork to get it smooth as the proverbial baby's butt prior to Tolex application. Tolex will "telegraph" defects if they are not attended.

The natives will become quite unsettled when they see the '50's aqua-marine color I picked to recover the case. Jury is out but I like it and I think it will be quite stunning. You be the judge in a few weeks!

So now the 4 major wood parts to the cabinet have been disassembled, re-worked, filled and sanded and put back together again a number of times for fine tuning the fit as a unit. I'm satisfied that the reveals on the moving parts are sufficient to allow for the Tolex without binding or leaving large, unsightly gaps.

I've restored radios on 3 occasions that have shortwave bands. The results are always the same. Some success only on the AM band and total failure on the shortwave bands. I just put an immense amount of time and money in a Hallicrafters S20R and the guy that did the electronic work left me feeling cheated. So, on this one if anyone can advise, please see my post on that forum.

Next post will be photos of the Tolex applied. Here are the pics so far:

Steve in Montana

File comment: Rear Door
Case #1.jpg
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File comment: Front Door
Case #2.jpg
Case #2.jpg [ 228.77 KiB | Viewed 371 times ]
File comment: Hinges on bottom
Case #3.jpg
Case #3.jpg [ 206.17 KiB | Viewed 371 times ]
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