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 Post subject: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Sun 05, 2020 10:03 pm 
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Hi Everyone,

I've got a radio I'm repairing for a friend, and I'm having a really hard time with the AM reception. I'm a novice, and still have a lot to learn. The amp section is working great, but I'm having a heck of a time getting the AM Broadcast band to work correctly. After aligning this radio following the Rider instructions, I can really only pick up 1-2 stations, and then only if I connect the antenna to the ground lead of my power strip, and even then it's very quiet. I don't think the AVC circuit is working correctly, but not sure if that is a symptom of something not right with the radio AM circuit, or something else.

This radio has a "magic eye" tube, as well, and I'm getting some strange voltages on what I think is the AVC circuit , and at the Magic eye tube compared with what the schematic indicates.

I've attached the schematic with the voltages I've measured, and just curious if anyone has any ideas or pointers for me on what to look at to help diagnose the problem, or if there is any other info that is needed to help identify the issue?

This is a Montgomery Wards Airline 62-704 radio, from I think 1939. I've replaced all the old/out of spec caps and resistors, and double checked my work a couple of times, but this thing is really kicking my butt.

Any help would be greatly appreciated :-)
Thanks, Pete

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Mon 06, 2020 12:19 am 
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Do get better reception if you connect your antenna (or touch with your finger) the grid cap (top cap) of the 6A7? If so, check continuity of all the antenna coils (coils on extreme left of schematic shown in boxes).

Another thing to try is cleaning the contacts on your bandswitch.

From your voltage readings, it looks like the primary windings of your IF transformers are fine, but check the secondary windings for continuity (should be less than 100 ohms each).

Is your oscillator working? Voltage reading of -.25 V (if I can read the small print) on grid of oscillator tube is too low. That might be a false alarm if touching your probe on the grid stops the oscillation. When you tune in the stations you can receive, are they coming in at roughly the correct place on the dial, and do they have nice sharp tuning as they should?

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Mon 06, 2020 12:39 am 
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One thing I see in regard to the eye tube is that some of the voltages on the schematic should be expressed as negatives. Check the point on the speaker field that indicates 100V, I think it should be -100V. The same with the 2.5V on the cathode of the eye tube, should be -2.5V.

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Mon 06, 2020 4:08 am 
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Hey Tim and Tom,

Thanks so much for the suggestions. Here's what I found:

Yes I do get slightly better reception and volume if I touch the top of the 6A7, but still I get much better reception if I ground the antenna to my mains ground. (I shot a youtube video to demonstrate this, I'll post a link and you can see/hear how the radio performs).

I did check the continuity of both the primary and secondary antenna coils, and all match the resistances specified on the schematic, so it seems those are ok.

I cleaned and "deoxited" the contacts on the band switch, and then measured resistance across the contacts, and those measure near 0 ohms resistance, so I think those are ok.

I should have known better than to try to measure the grid of the oscillator with my fluke, I switched to my VTVM and got a reading of -5.75, so looks like that is ok, as is the -100V on the speaker field coil, as well as the -2.7 at the eye tube.

The video I'm linking below shows you how the stations tune in, and the differences when I'm touching the top of the 6A7, when the antenna is grounded, and when the radio chassis is grounded versus not grounded.

https://youtu.be/9zt8tcFBaiM

Thanks again so much for your help with this! I feel like I'm making some progress.

Pete


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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Mon 06, 2020 6:56 am 
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Are you sure you have it set to the broadcast band? The behavior seemed more like shortwave reception (with the unusual audio fidelity, the fading, and the religious station), and would make sense to be clustered in the 49 meter band at the bottom of your dial during the evening. Do you have more stations as you go up the dial? I wonder if your broadcast band is not functioning?

If you are indeed receiving broadcast band stations, it's important to confirm what the station frequencies are and whether they are coming in at the right position on the dial (give or take some small error from the pointer being off a bit). One quick way to check if you're not intimately familiar with the stations in your area is to tune the stations on another working radio to confirm what their frequency should be. If the stations are not close to their proper dial positions, it would make sense that reception is weak. This would suggest checking the IF frequency and the oscillator frequency. I can give some pointers on how to check.

When you have your antenna connected to the outlet strip ground, what happens if you disconnect your other ground (to your VTVM)?

Have your tried aligning the IF when tuned to a weak station? Just peak all four trimmers for maximum signal strength.

One more thing to check so we can better isolate the problem. Is your audio amplifier section working properly? To check, turn the volume up half way, and touch the top grid cap on the 75 tube with your finger. Do you get a loud buzz? If so, your audio amplifier section is fine.

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Mon 06, 2020 7:52 pm 
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Hi Again,

DOH :shock: yes, I had the radio on shortwave in that video from yesterday. I changed to AM and shot a new video to show what stations I receive, and how it affects the reception by 1) grounding the antenna, 2) grounding the chassis, and touching the cap of the 6A7.

Hopefully this video gives some good indication of the symptoms.

https://youtu.be/vKQsDtFEdXA

I was able to test the amplifier section by feeding audio into the phono jack on the back of the radio, and it sounds amazing. Great volume, no interference, and great sound.

Pete


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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Mon 06, 2020 8:10 pm 
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Thanks for the new video. Can you confirm the frequencies of the stations you're receiving? The fact that you're getting fairly strong static with either your finger or an antenna connection suggests that much of the radio is working correctly. But I'm wondering if your oscillator frequency is off, and that is shifting stations far from where they should be on the dial, which in turn makes the radio not very sensitive because of the front end tuned circuits.

Also, I wonder if you can connect something better for an antenna. In reality, both your ground and antenna connections right now are connecting to the ground of your AC supply. That's a reasonable choice for the ground, but not really for the antenna. If you have a bit longer piece of wire (10 feet or more) or can connect to a large metal object that is not grounded (in my shop, I often use a big rolling metal toolbox or a wire shelf as an antenna, which works well), we'll get a better idea how it's working.

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Mon 06, 2020 10:40 pm 
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Ok, I was able to verify the station we heard in that last video was actually 600khz, so my radio is off by about 75khz I think. I used your idea of trying another radio I know is good, and finding the station that way. So does that mean I need to go back through the alignment process? I'm assuming I must not have adjusted the oscillator frequency right? I'll double check that too.

I will try the better antenna, I have a large metal toolbox that I can use - I'll try that.

Pete


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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Mon 06, 2020 11:06 pm 
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I think we need to take another stab at the BC band alignment, as well as trying a better antenna.

Alignment:

1. Get the dial pointer in the right position. The alignment instructions say there is a little dot on the left side of the dial which indicates where the pointer should be at end of travel. I can't see the dot in your video, but can you see it? Move the pointer on the string so that it is right on the dot at end of travel.

2. Tune in a station near the top of the dial (between 1300 and 1700 kHz). Adjust the oscillator trimmer C11 so that the station comes in at the correct position on the dial. Adjusting this trimmer moves the station on the dial.

3. Leaving it set on the same station near the top of the dial, adjust the antenna trimmer C3 for maximum signal strength. Adjusting this one won't move the station on the dial; it just affects signal strength.

4. Tune in a station near the bottom of the dial and adjust the oscillator padder C9 to move the station to the correct position on the dial.

Go back and repeat steps 2 and 3, since 4 slightly upsets these adjustments.

When you do the alignment, are you able to move the station to the correct point? When adjusting C3, do you get a clear peak within the adjustment range of the trimmer that gives strongest signal? If it is strongest with either the trimmer all the way tight or all the way loose, let us know, since that indicates a problem.

Did this procedure result in better sensitivity?

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Wed 08, 2020 2:58 am 
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Hi Tom,

I've had a hard time getting any station tuned in at the upper end of the dial. I shot another video to help explain what I'm seeing. For the one station I could tune in, I attempted the adjustments, but it doesn't really seem to be helping. Also, C3 really doesn't seem to be having any effect on the signal strength, even when I'm using my signal generator to attempt the alignment procedure. I'm wondering if there is something wrong with C3. Anyway, hopefully I've captured the relevant info in the video and it helps. Thanks again for all your help!

https://youtu.be/A6UbaXA2JMs

Pete


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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Wed 08, 2020 7:59 am 
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Thanks for the new video. For much of the video, you are tuned to 1400 on the dial with a weak station. Can you identify that station and determine what its frequency should be? 1400 might not be the right frequency.

When you adjust C11, the effect is to move the station up or down the dial. If you tighten it, you will now tune in that station at, for example 1450 kHz instead of 1400. If you loosen it, it will come in at, for example 1370 kHz. You don't want to just sit in one place on the dial and adjust it for maximum loudness, unless you know the dial is set to the frequency the station should have. Otherwise, adjust C11 until the station comes in at its proper position on the dial, if possible (let me know if it is not possible to get it to the right dial position).

The fact that the antenna trimmer C3 has no effect either means there is a problem with the antenna tuned circuit, or the dial position is so far off that you are not close to the proper frequency and the peak would be far outside the adjustment range of C3.

After you confirm what the proper frequency is for that station and try to move it on the dial, let's check some electrical things to make sure the antenna coil and tuning capacitor are properly connected so they can resonate properly:

1. With the bandswitch on B, if you measure resistance from the tuning cap stator gang right under C3 to terminal C of the antenna coil, do you get the expected 5.5 ohms (roughly)?

2. Is the AVC capacitor (0.05 or 0.047 uF) connected from terminal C of the antenna coil to chassis ground? If this is missing or miswired, the antenna coil won't resonate properly.

3. Is the tuning capacitor frame connected directly to chassis (resistance close to zero ohms)? Sometimes people will disconnect some big flexible wires that ground the tuning capacitor frame to the chassis while working on the tuning cap, and forget to reattach them.

Will wait to hear back from you on these questions before suggesting some more things.

[added Wednesday morning] By the way, listening to your radio and seeing your video, if I had to guess what's wrong with your radio right now, I'd say the antenna coil resonant circuit isn't working, perhaps because the coil isn't properly connected to the tuning cap gang. This causes sensitivity to be pretty terrible everywhere, but especially bad at the top of the dial where the tuning cap on its own basically shorts the signal to ground. You do, however, have some strong sensitivity at work, because you're picking up static like crazy. That might be coming in at the IF frequency. When the front end tuned circuit isn't working, you basically have a receiver at the IF frequency plus some weak sensitivity at normal dial frequencies.

The whole business of checking whether stations are coming in at the right spot on the dial doesn't directly relate to that, but it's useful, because once the oscillator is at the right frequency (meaning stations should come in at the right spot on the dial), failure of C3 to show any reasonable peak (especially at the top of the dial) would indicate the antenna coil is not resonating properly.

Have you done any rewiring of the antenna coil(s)? The schematic is hard to read (what is a connection, and what is a crossover), so if you "trusted" the schematic and made some changes, that could be causing problems.

Anyway, this might all turn out to be wrong, but in case you're wondering why we're doing these tests...

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Wed 08, 2020 9:34 pm 
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Hi Tom,

Ok, thanks for the awesome write up. I started working through the first step, to verify that stations were showing up at the right spot on the dial. thankfully, I was able to pick up a decent strength station to work with today - it turned out it was 980AM out of KC (where I live), and it was showing up at dial location ~825. I tried using C11 to adjust it to show up at 980, but by the time I had tightened C11 all the way down, the station was still only at about 925-935 on the dial, so I tried adjusting C9 as well to get it the rest of the way. Now it's showing up at the right spot, but I'm not sure if adjusting C9 was good or bad? Here's a video to show the detail...

https://youtu.be/etYLFeYX9y8

Ok, I got a little further. I was able to test up and down the dial. I was able to tune in 610 as well, so I can verify that both 610, and 980 are coming in at the right part of the dial. I can get a few other stations at the upper end of the dial, but very, very faintly, so faint in fact that's it's hard to even verify which stations they are.

After this, C3 still has no effect. Here's a another video to illustrate.

https://youtu.be/JMFSjdYagdg

Question 1) I read 5.8 ohms from the top terminal of the tuning gang to terminal C of Antenna Coil 2.

2) yes, I was able to verify that it is, and I have a .047mf cap here (red circle). See pic. I also checked the antenna coils and their connections to try to verify they were attached correctly. I replaced the weird capacitor from terminal E of T3 (green circle) - this was some kind of variable capacitor C28, it read 6.6pf - since it was kinda in the way, I replaced it with a 10pf cap. I did notice a mistake I had made on terminal C, I had attached at .47mfd cap between C and ground (black cirlce) - not sure why, but I double checked terminal C and it should only have one connection to C10 so I removed it - but... no change in behavior of the radio.
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3) Yes





Pete


Last edited by peclark on Apr Wed 08, 2020 11:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Wed 08, 2020 11:00 pm 
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Thanks again for another helpful video. I can see exactly what you're doing and it all makes sense.

Good job on identifying the station and knowing exactly what its frequency should be. It turns out that C9 should be adjusted at the low end of the dial, and C11 at the top end of the dial, so a station at 980 isn't a particularly good one for either adjustment.

The trouble with using your signal generator (I can see the Eico one, and presume you're using that) is that its dial is probably quite poorly calibrated after all these years. If you want to use your signal generator to generate a stronger signal to use to align your radio (which is a good idea when reception is so poor), you can set it very precisely by using your other radio to help determine its frequency. If you put the probe of your signal generator near your other working radio, turn on the generator modulation, turn up the RF output level, you'll hear it "broadcasting" to your radio. You can read off the radio's dial what the actual frequency is, and then see how far off your generator is.

If you want to be really, really precise, do it this way. On your working radio, tune in a station. Then put your generator probe near the radio, turn off the generator modulation, and sweep the generator dial through a range of frequencies around the radio station. You'll hear a whistle that starts high pitch, goes down to zero, and back up to high pitch as you tune through the radio's station's exact frequency. When the pitch is very low or zero (called the "zero beat") your RF generator is at exactly the same frequency as the radio station. So you can use this technique to have your generator output a precisely known frequency, and strong enough so your dead radio can pick it up (turn the modulation back on so you can hear a tone on your Airline).

So you can use this approach to adjust C11 so the Airline dial is correct at the top end of the dial, and again on the low end of the dial to adjust C9. After going back and forth a few times, your whole dial will be reasonably well calibrated.

But... your radio might still not be working very well. The fact that C3 shows no peak right now on your 980 station, even after you've managed to get 980 to the right spot on the dial (the rest of the dial is probably off because of how you adjusted it), means that the antenna coil is not resonating properly. Go back to my previous post and try some of the things mentioned there relating to the antenna coil.

Note that C3 adjustment make a much bigger difference near the top of the dial, so if you're able to tune a station there for the C3 adjustment, that would be helpful. You can also use your signal generator to supply the signal. Connect output of signal generator to antenna terminal of the Airline. Use the lowest RF output level that gives you a signal you can hear reasonably well.

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Wed 08, 2020 11:23 pm 
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I think our posts overlapped :-) I was editing my post with some additional details as you were typing yours.

I do have the EICO signal generator, but I also have an HP 3325B which I believe has been professionally calibrated that I've been using lately. I'll double check both using the technique you described. I'd like to be sure they are both calibrated correctly.


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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Wed 08, 2020 11:54 pm 
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The 3325 should be basically perfect, so if that's the generator you're using, you should verify just once that it's putting out the right frequency, and then it should be rock solid as far as frequency goes.

You mentioned previously that you verified the resistance of all the antenna coil windings, but can you verify that if you measure from the external antenna connection to chassis ground (which goes through the two primary coils in series) you get around 15 ohms?

I see your comment about removing the erroneous .47 uF on terminal C of the oscillator coil. But in your picture I see a .01 uF cap remaining there, while C10 should be a very special .00424 uF (4240 pF) capacitor. The value of this one affects the adjustment of C9, and also plays a role in short wave dial calibration, so maybe you're OK with that for now.

It might be good to put the "funny" cap back in for C28. An error of 4 pF there probably isn't the end of the world, but it directly affects the setting of C11 (oscillator trimmer for adjusting station position at top of band).

Is C2 present on your radio? This should be some wire wrapped around another wire, or a "gimmick" capacitor. Should help reception at top of dial.

What happens if you touch your antenna wire (connected to your toolbox or other large object) to top cap of the 6A7 instead of the antenna terminal? Better reception with it connected there?

By the way, do you have a scope?

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Thu 09, 2020 1:03 am 
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I have so much to learn! I was going to ask you about C2. I couldn't find it on the parts list, and I didn't understand what the schematic symbol meant...

I went back and found a picture of the wiring before I "fixed" it (below)... and I think this is C2 in the bottom right of the picture? If so, I "fixed" it by running a wire from T1 B to terminal 3 of the band switch instead of just wrapping the wire around the wire that goes between T2 D and terminal 3 of the band switch!

Attachment:
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I'll try your other suggestions and report back.

Pete


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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Thu 09, 2020 1:14 am 
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Your C2 "fix" is almost certainly why the antenna coil was not resonating properly. Try the C3 peaking test again after you put C2 back the way it was and get a chance to fire it up again. Yes, C2 is the wire wrapped around another wire in the lower right of your picture.

Glad you've got that "before" picture. Very helpful!

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Thu 09, 2020 2:58 am 
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Things are definitely improving. I put the 6pf cap back in place of the 10pf. I disconnected my "fix" and wrapped it around the correct wire.

I recorded a new video to show what I'm seeing. Reception is better, and the magic eye tube is working somewhat. But I have some questions about adjusting the radio and about how much static and interference I should expect, and how much adjustment I need to do to get this radio "dialed in".

https://youtu.be/30MOedxutJU

Thanks again for all your help. I don't know how I would be getting through this without your help!


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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Thu 09, 2020 3:31 am 
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Cool! Your radio is now basically working properly. Nothing like an antenna coil that resonates properly.

You mentioned that the alignment procedure went more as expected, but you didn't happen to mention whether you get a nice clean peak with C3 for a weak station near the top of the dial. That would indicate a happy antenna coil.

Regarding the IF alignment, you're seeing a not particularly uncommon problem that can happen in these radios. The IF stage goes into oscillation if peaked too well. It shouldn't do that, but sometimes it is unavoidable. The easiest fix is to do what you've done, which is to adjust the trimmers for strong signals, but just short of oscillation. The cause of the oscillation can be the placement of replacement capacitors, or even that the new capacitors don't have quite the same characteristics as the originals.

The static level is probably more or less as it should be. There's a big difference in static susceptibility between early radios that use wire antennas and later ones that use loops and loopsticks. Wire antennas simply pick up far more static, especially at the low end of the dial. The origin of the static is probably something in your house, and could well be the fluorescent lights in your workshop. You might experiment a bit with turning various things off around the house and seeing how they affect the static level. Your modern radio does much better because that one has a ferrite loopstick antenna.

Your Airline is among the very last to be made without a loop antenna. By 1938 lots of better radios were including loop antennas, and by 1946, almost every radio had a built in loop. Even in 1939 I would guess that something like 50% of radios had loops -- sometimes very sophisticated shielded loops that could be manually rotated for best reception. Radios with those kinds of antennas are among the best radios ever made, even by today's standards.

Wire antennas respond to the electric field component of the radio wave as well as the magnetic field component. Loop antennas respond mainly to the magnetic field component. Static, unfortunately, seems to include an especially strong electric field component, so it wreaks havoc on radios with wire antennas. In the 1930s when there were fewer devices in homes generating static, this wasn't a big problem, but today it's sometimes quite a problem. Usually in the top half of the dial, static is not so bad. In the bottom of the dial, a longer wire antenna also works better.

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 Post subject: Re: Need some help with an Airline 62-704
PostPosted: Apr Fri 10, 2020 2:20 am 
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Hi Tom,

What a relief to have this radio working again for my friend. This radio was his wife's parents, and hasn't worked since she was young. She is so excited to get it back and reveal it to them. I've done a bit of a cosmetic restoration as well to spruce it up and I think they will be really pleased.

I did test C3 tonight, and it is definitely working now.

One thing I noticed is that as I was putting some of the radio back together, after I put the metal shrouds back over the two detector and oscillator tubes, some (just a bit) of the static/interference was reduced. This was a nice surprise.

I can't thank you enough for all your help, it was nice to learn a ton about how to fix radios like this. I'd never seen a symbol like C2 on this schematic, and would have never dreamed that meant to wrap the wire around the other wire w/the insulation still on. I'm still laughing at myself for "fixing" that - thinking some previous person had forgotten where that wire went, and just left it there :-)

If you are interested I'll post some pictures and a video when I finish it up. I have a few things left to do but should have it done this weekend.

Thanks again,
Pete


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