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Discussion in 'The Display Case' started by RetroToday, Jul 19, 2007.
I just read several interesting webpages on the subject of the 2A3 tube. Who knew there could be such intrigue involving vacuum tubes! Seems people mislabel other tubes just beacuse the best old original American made ones are such treasures. I guess any area of antiques has its shadey characters.
I want to collect hi end models, because I use my AM3000 transmitter to play music thru them. I figure the circuits that pull in the signal are less important than the sound amplification section. Right, more or less?
I'm realizing that the number of tubes is important, but not the only consideration is the selection of a radio. Also, since I want to play them this way, multiple band models are less important.
My new one, which I should get tomorrow, is a Spartan 528-2. It has the same chassis and speaker as the snazzy 558 with the blue mirrored front, that sells for $3,000 nowadays. I paid less than a tenth of that for my wood model.
I guess I'm going to have to find a book and master the technical fundamentals of radio to really get the most out of the hobby.
Interesting to think that Stromberg Carlson also made the dual carburetors for the 1941 Buick, which I swear by all that's holy I will own one of some day.
To the best of my knowledge, Stromberg Carlson had nothing to do with Stromberg Carburetors. By the 1930s, Stromberg Carburetor was owned by Bendix.
Regarding good vintage radio technical texts, I learned about radio when I was in high school from two excellent texts:
Ghirardi's Radio Physics Course by Alfred Ghirardi - 1932
Principles of Radio by Keith Henney - 1942
Both of these books are common and should be available for under $10 each from www.abebooks.com
To get high fidelity sound reproduction, both the tuner section and audio section of the radio receiver must be designed for high fidelity.
The tuner section must have a wideband detector and a wideband IF section to prevent the high frequencies from being truncated. Hi fi radios from the 1930s usually feature a variable bandwitdh control for the IF. This allows the user to receive local stations in hi fi, or to narrow the bandwidth to increase selectivity to get distant stations.
The audio section must also be designed for high fidelity. The best receivers use all-triode Class A audio sections for ultra low distortion coupled to large loudspeakers for good bass response. Often, those large loudspeakers had stiff inner sections, whizzer cones or even separate tweeters to reproduce the high frequencies.
The 2A3 tube has acquired legendary status, but truth be told, other power triodes are just as good. The audiophiles attribute audible differences to different brands of 2A3s, but it's unlikely that anyone can really hear any difference.
Early high fidelity receivers are a fascinating part of the development of radio. You'll have a great deal of fun unlocking the magic they have to offer.
My new Spartan 528-2
I just received my "new" Spartan 528-2 antique radio and I'm totally ecstatic! I set it up in the bedroom on my little display case (which only exists because of the Lounge, thanks for the inspiration, gang). It has one slightly loose connection inside, I think it's a tube, but it may be a cap. I don't know what the square aluminum doohickey is. I'll get that fixed somehow. Makes it a little scratchy when the connection wobbles. The tuning band is also a little loose, but since I keep it at the same spot, it's OK.
Your "new" radio looks great! I have a similar situation with my cosole model Silertone radio, in that there's just one little thing keeping it from playing. I think it's a tube that although it lights, may not be the right one, or it's just weak. I'll get it figured out sooner or later.
Hi there and welcome, RetroToday! I have to agree with you on the "antiques that 'do' things"! Old radios, jukeboxes, kitchen appliances, you name it- if it works, it's for me!
What a great design! I particularly like the artistic way that Sparton used different wood veneers for an interesting visual effect.
May it give you many years of enjoyable listening.
Hi dhermann1, what a nice Sparton you have there!
Most of them are good performers when given a proper tune-up.
I also have a Sparton radio, a console model from 1941 named "The Savoy". Well, It's a combination radio/phono.
An interesting note about this one is that the phono stylus looks like a more modern design on top, but it takes the standard "old school" gramophone needles. Guess it's one of those "transitional" pieces, between formats.
It is a 1946 GE / Telechron alarm clock. It was a $1.00 yard sale buy and worked when I first bought it. Unfortunatly after a power failure It would not restart. After working on the motor for weeks, I gave up and replaced the works with a quartz battery motor.
ive got my sights locked on a nice little 30's era Monarch radio...price might get a little steep but we'll see tomorrow
update: i decided nay on the radio...o well
Treasure in the basement
God bless my GF's dad! He's getting rid of stuff in the country house, and told me to take anything I want. I posted a pic of the WW II vintage French phone that was sitting around on another thread. Now this: On a shelf in the garage I spotted this baby. I pulled it down, took it outside, and this is what I found:
And here's how it looked inside:
I got it home and Googled the name on the front: Grebe Synchrophase. (Rhymes with Greedy.) Well, it turns out it's quite a find. It was considered one of the best available radios in the period from 1924 to 1927. It ran on batteries, a common thing in those days, and had an external speaker. It sold for $125, quite bundle in those days. Luckily, the 5 tubes it came with were in a cigar box nearby. One escutcheon, on the right, is missing. Apparently radios in those days had 3 dials that all had to be turned at the same time to tune them in. This model had chain that connect all 3 dials together, so they turned in unison, making tuning easier. And the escutcheons on the front were gold plated. No kidding. So this will be a major restoration project. I'll definitely have it professionally done.
This is how it will look when it's done. (This is available at RadioAttic.com, if anyone's interested)
Some time soon I'll post some pix of his 1946 Lincoln that's rusting away in the garage. It's in amazingly good shape for a car that's sat for nearly 40 years, but I don't think that's a restoration job I plan to tackle any time soon.
Great find! That restored example is gorgeous! I hope yours turns out as nice as that one. Do you have a source for that missing escutcheon?
No, but I found a guy in I think California (cybersace, at any rate) who sent me a schemtic and offered all sorts of technical advice. It seems these radios have a particularly enthusiastic group of devotees. I don't know if I'll attempt to restore it, but it looks like it might actually be doable and fun. My free time for the next 3 months will be entirely devoted to my role in "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial" (plug, plug), here in Brooklyn.
That is such a find dhermann1! I've never seen a radio with that look before--it's wonderful. Please be sure to post pics if you end up cleaning it up (after your run in Caine, of course!).
Posted this one months ago, but doesn't hurt to show it to the new folks here:
This is my 1950's vintage Zenith CobraMatic that has been on my mother's side of the family since purchased. I had it restored a little over a year ago with new old-stock tubes, a rebuilt idler, and a good cleaning. Works great now.
One of these days, I'd like to get a good vintage, preferably wooden chassis, desktop radio to use on my desk. Then I'll just need one of those AMT AM transmitters, and I'll be set.
I have a AMT3000 transmitter and do not use as much as I expected. What I do as all my big band and etc.music is on my computers hard drive anyway, I have an old desk top radio and hook-it to the speaker output and it works great! I also have my transmitter for when I want all my old radios to play vintage shows or music.
Very cool, a great find! :eusa_clap
Too bad the old style balloon vacuum tubes weren't still inside (they aren't cheap), and that a couple of the escutcheon plates and the knobs are missing, but still, a great find nonetheless.
When you're looking to restore it, one site you could get lucky on for parts (and I also go there frequently) is the antiqueradios.com forum. Maybe post a classified want ad there, or just ask about the radio in general in the forums. Lots of good people there that are willing to help.
Almost looks like your set became a "donor" set for a similar radio that somebody was restoring.
Also: Did you find a speaker or an antenna unit for the radio as well? If not, have a look around the country house for them while you have the chance to.
There could also be a separate power supply adapter unit (a big metal plain looking box with tubes) if the radio was ever used in a house that had electricity installed.
Wow, I missed your CobraMatic so thanks for reposting it--what a great design!
The Grebe Syncrophase is one of my all time favorite radios.
I got mine in 1970 and believe it to be one of the best performing radios of the mid-1920s. When you get it working, you will find it to be very sensitive and selective. Syncrophases also have amazing fidelity, particularly when used with one of the better loudspeakers of the day like a Western Electric 540-AW cone...almost high fidelity!
Since the Syncrophase was such a great value in its day, many were sold and many have survived. To find parts to complete your set, I would suggest placing an ad in Antique Radio Classified, or on the Antique Radio Forum on the internet.
Well, luckily I DO have the tubes, tho they're untested. I hope I can find the Gold Escutcheon (that sounds like the name of an Indiana Jones movie, don't you think?), and the smaller buttons. But, as I said, it may be a while before this gets done.