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Thread: Basic Radio Question

  1. #11
    "A List" Customer poetman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Vintage State of Mind

    Thanks for all the feedback. It's seems that the cords were just hidden in the photos I saw. Are there websites you recommend to check out some basic facts? Should I look for something 30's era or 40's era? I'm sure I'll find aesthetic pleasures in both decades, but I definitely want this piece to be functional. I read somewhere
    that radios made after WWII were much better than their predecessors because the 6 year span of war allow a lot of technological innovations to improve a 145/46 radio from a 1938/9 radio. Any thoughts on what year to start the search? Again, I'm looking for a smaller desk/table model.


  2. #12
    One of the Regulars
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    My experience -- I have an Atwater Kent model 84 cathedral, circa 1931, and an Atwater Kent model 725 tombstone, circa 1936. The 1936 model is completely functional as a modern radio, AM and shortwave, whereas the 1931 radio is really dated, lacking, for example, automatic gain control (when you have the volume up sufficiently to find weaker stations, coming across a strong local station will blast you out of the room). Across the board, the performance of the 1936 is way better than the performance of the 1931.

    I also have a Blaupunkt Stockholm, from the late 1950s. Although the performance of the Stockholm is clearly better than the performance of the 1936 AK, the difference in performance between the 1931 AK and the 1936 AK is greater than the difference in performance between the 1936 AK and the Stockholm.

    Only the Stockholm receives the modern FM band, which is very nice to have. The audio quality of the Stockholm is much richer than the audio quality of either of the older radios. All three of these desktop radios have a very nice appearance, although the Stockholm is from a later design school, of course.
    Last edited by Angus Forbes; 04-20-2012 at 01:02 PM.

  3. #13
    Call Me a Cab Stanley Doble's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    It is possible to make a battery eliminator that plugs into the wall. Do a search online for the plans. Cost of parts, $10 to $15.

    9V batteries can be plugged into each other + to - in series, to make a 90 volt or 63 volt battery.

    There were some cheap radios made in the late 20s and early 30s called "hot tail" radios. The tubes only drew 80 volts or so, the extra power was dissipated through resistance in the power cord. The cord would get hot and could cause a fire if it was trapped behind furniture or covered by drapes.

    If you are interested there are some vintage radio sites on the net with some very smart people.

    German radios from the fifties are my favorite tube radios. They are great performers but VERY complicated. Hard to find one these days that still works, even harder to find someone who can fix one.

  4. #14
    Bartender LizzieMaine's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
    As far as American radios go, the peak of quality was achieved in 1935-38. Before, as has been noted, features that would be taken for granted a few years later were still in development. After 1938, you started to see corners being cut in manufacture -- cheap rubber-covered wire instead of fabric-covered wire, poor-quality components, unimaginative cabinet design. I've never thought much of postwar American radios at all -- by then the attention of manufacturers had moved to television, and the average radio became a cheap, generic AC/DC five-tube model that didn't perform especially well. With the exception of a few models, like the Zenith Transoceanic portables and the hi-fi sets of the fifties, if you've seen one postwar American radio you've seen them all. As has been said, the German sets of the postwar period are a whole different deal, but the design is a bit futuristic for some people.

    If I were shopping for a radio, I'd look very carefully at the 1936-38 Philco and RCA Victor models. There are a lot of good sets from this period, but these two makes have the advantage of having survived in vast numbers, and parts and supplies are still very easy to find. If you're going to be repairing it yourself, go with RCA Victor -- they're laid out much more simply than a Philco.

    I've had a 1937 Philco in my living room for nearly thirty years, and it's an outstanding performer.
    Last edited by LizzieMaine; 04-23-2012 at 05:50 AM.
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