- December 20, 2018 at 12:11 am #107974
Around age 12 I wanted a “good” radio to listen to Rock ‘n Roll and I read where one could get a car radio and remove the vibrator and replace the miserable 0Z4 rectifier tube with a heated filament tube, short some terminals, and apply AC from a transformer to power the radio. It was claimed that car radios had superior audio power and sensitivity so my interest focused on this.
I would hang out at a local garage and filling station and befriended the owner and some of the workers there and they tolerated me just hanging out in their shop observing. They would let me watch and instructed me on basic auto mechanics. I well recall the Packard straight eights and even a V12 which required so much power to crank the engine that there were stop cocks installed on the heads over the cylinders, most of which had to be opened to start the engine. The distributor tester with its spinning neon bulb was magic.
Behind the garage was a “junk yard” , a treasure trove of parts which were used to facilitate low cost repairs for customers. Among the treasures was a car with the 6 volt tube (loctals no less) AM radio I sought for my project. I worked a deal where I would sweep floors and help change oil in exchange for the privilege of crawling into the wrecked car with my wire cutters and a wrench and remove the radio which would now be mine.
In my corner of the basement, designated by my parents as my lab, I studied the treasure and got it working on AC. The receive aerial was a salvaged car radio antenna conspicuously mounted on a wood base next to the radio. The speaker was still mounted in a stripped 1952 vintage TV cabinet…a great 12 inch speaker in perfect condition and it sounded just great with this radio.
I figured how to mount a DM70 magic eye tube in the dial indicator space which responded to the AGC as an aid in tuning. This was more for show than anything else since it was obvious by the sound that the radio was tuned properly. Countless hours over the next few years were spent enjoying Rock ‘n Roll with this setup.
I still have the radio, transformer, and speaker and am thinking about what would be needed to get it working again. A few years ago I checked the radio and determined that the audio section works but the RF section does not. Considering the age of the radio it is obvious that at total recap and most likely an alignment are needed. I know I can get it working and relive fond memories but the quandary is is it worth the effort?
There is nothing on AM broadcast radio I care to listen to so why bother? The best answer is to relive fond memories and try to create some of the experiences of my past by using my AM station to play programming without commercials or other things which annoy me with modern broadcasting. Without the ability to use my Part15 station as a source the decision is easy…junk it. But, I do have AM transmitters and a music library. I don’t need this radio to listen but I feel the urge to get it running.
My recent post about my 82 year old Crosley radio which I reconditioned expressed my pleasure in doing such. Could this be another rewarding project?
Should I do so or just trash it as a waste of time and try to convince myself that a transistor radio with a 1 1/2 inch speaker sounds good?
I probably just answered my own question.
NeilDecember 20, 2018 at 7:17 am #107975From BillyBurgParticipant
Total posts : 96
If the audio side of things still works, AND it uses tubes, I would de-energize the radio portion and hack the rest of the thing into a low-power guitar amplifier. But that’s only because I’ve done that once before.
Ages ago, I inherited my parents’ old “Brush Soundmirror” tape recorder, which really could not function as a tape machine anymore. But the ancient all-tube electronics gave that sumbitch soul, and I ended up using it as one of my “secret weapons” when recording music.
Just a thought.December 20, 2018 at 10:16 am #107980MarkModerator
Total posts : 615
You can’t convince yourself that little portable with a 1 1/2″ speaker sounds good because it doesn’t.
You still have your own station on AM to have it play what it did back then but my opinion you have your Crosley and you can get other radios, old ones on Ebay in fine shape and working with good sound from the same era. Some are also fine pieces of furnature with great styling.
And they look a lot better playing the music from back then, then the car radio you have.
My opinion, to much trouble to be bothered with this.December 20, 2018 at 12:07 pm #107982Carl BlareParticipant
Total posts : 1540
Flashback from the Past
Oh this question trips my “Wistful Wayback Trigger”.
It was the mid-50s when I went scrounging at a Goodwill Store directly across from a 19-story building that was to become a significant symbol and locale of future radio experience. This is a huge cluster of reminiscencenses. (don’t make me fix the spelling).
There it was. A Zenith new condition AM/FM Table Model Radio with a yellow sticker on the back “The Armstrong Method”. At the time I did not know who or what “Armstrong” was.
Meanwhile, totally unknown to me, it was about the same time that Major Edwin Armstrong, Inventor of Frequency Modulation, jumped to his death from a high-rise building in New York City following a meeting with his lawyer.
Up until this point I had never heard of FM.
On a fine December night I turned it on and there was ONE (1) FM station on the entire dial. It sounded real. It sounded like the musicians and the announcers were in the room with you. It was the Signal from Heaven that pointed toward a life-long career in FM.
Fast forward to the future, when I spotted one of these exact radios on Ebay.
I so much wanted to re-live or extend that original Day of Discovery, but hesitation is something we learn perhaps more from dating than any other first-hand experience, and right now I think perhaps that early Hallmark deserves its place in the long ago.
After all, since dating came up, can we replicate our first kiss?December 20, 2018 at 8:11 pm #108005
It was great to read the comments about this old car radio project. After I posted the OP I looked up the schematic and discovered that the output stage is a push pull circuit using two 6V6’s which explains the rather high power quality audio it used to produce.
Mark pretty much nailed it though…the radio is ugly and it will require a lot of work to get it going again. Carl’s remembering the first encounter with FM also raises the question of whether hearing it play again will have the magic I anticipate…likely it will not.
I am going to junk it and enjoy my other old radios which look and sound good.
NeilDecember 21, 2018 at 12:18 pm #108011BrooceParticipant
Total posts : 49
Neil – what a great thing to write about!
I’m doing the same thing.
I want to recap a radio – and then there are
some others – and I’m not sure what to do with
I love transmitting old radio shows, etc. etc. through
these old radios. I usually have several going at once
around the house.
Brooce Part 15 Hartford CTDecember 21, 2018 at 4:10 pm #108013RichPowersParticipant
Total posts : 421
For starters, I enjoyed reading your story. I keep trying to picture on my head just exactly what this radio receiver contraption must have looked like and even googled some 1952 TV’s to get an idea of the cabinet and looked up some 6 volt car radios which I didn’t even realize existed, and stopped by this guys page who has been retorting those old 6v tube radios for 30 years: http://www.jfradiorepair.com/Carradio.html
But mostly I was kind of entranced over some kid long ago hanging around the local garages gaining enough trust from the grease monkeys to be granted access to a junkyard which normally they would have been angrily running kids out of the yard.. But this one kid (you) frequently digging through it picking up parts and pieces here and there and eventually building a Frankenstein TV/radio monster of sorts that actually came to life… and that thing from long ago still exist today.. your teenage creation.. just sitting there totally unresponsive -and you know how to revive it..
I don’t know, but I say do it. Ugly as it is, you wouldn’t still have it today if it wasn’t of great sentimental value to you. I say bring the thing back to life. You’ll probably always regret it if you just scrap it out.December 21, 2018 at 11:03 pm #108015
Your comments are very interesting and I will try to respond to convey further understanding. The year in question was about 1956 and the community was a rural town of about 900 souls. There was no concern from the local business owners regarding the kids in the community since property crime was virtually non existent. This makes it sound as if we kids could wander at will unsupervised and do what we wanted but almost all of us were taught to respect the property and rights of others so stealing a candy bar or breaking a window was not even in our vocabulary. Indeed, we could wander as we wished and do what we wanted because we respected others in the community. We didn’t enter private property without prior permission.
I did not hang around the garage because I wanted to raid their junkyard, I did so because I was fascinated by all things mechanical and it was a learning opportunity and did so with the knowledge and permission of the owner, Leonard Medford. The “grease monkeys” was not even an expression I knew then and had I called them that I wouldn’t have the radio today. They were proud folks who worked hard and I presume were proud of their skills and most likely were flattered that a young kid enjoyed learning from them.
When I read the article on how to convert a car radio to AC line power for home use it connected with me that maybe there was a car in the yard which had one. Back then, radios in cars were rare and I asked Mr. Medford if he had one and he gave me permission to search the yard. I found it and asked him what I could do to earn it since I had no pocket money. He had me sweep the floors and help change the oil in cars for a while and then told me to take it. Contrast this with today where even adults are not allowed in most junkyards.
I was going to trash it today but I didn’t because I might change my mind, but as Mark said it is an ugly radio and Carl’s comments made me think that you can remember your first kiss but you can’t relive it, yet despite this there is, as you said, sentimental value.
The amount of work required to get the 1951 radio working is not trivial and the reward may be minimal so the project is on probably permanent hold, but I didn’t burn the bridge yet.
I’ll try to get a picture of the radio to post and you will see a good definition of so ugly that only a young kid wanting a louder radio to listen to rock and roll could want it.
NeilDecember 21, 2018 at 11:31 pm #108017
Here it is!
It was mounted so that the front of the radio where the speaker mounts fires frontward out of the radio toward the front seat from just under the dashboard. It has no speaker and I don’t recall but it was probably trash and I removed it and used the external speaker.December 22, 2018 at 2:02 am #108019RichPowersParticipant
Total posts : 421
First off I didn’t mean “grease monkeys” as a derogatory term at all! Even on Mayberry they referred to Gomer as a grease monkey sometimes. I never thought it insulting, it was just a term that I recall as a meaning some one who was always working on cars.
Anyway, when I was around the same age we lived near a junkyard just beyond a cornfield which a few of us neighborhood kids would cut thru making trails along the way.. there were a few times we got chased out of the fields by a screaming lady – and I swear I’m not just being cliché, but she actually would chase us with a rolling pin waving above her head!
At the junkyard we never actually ever saw anyone there, but a couple times a year another car would show up. We usually just played in the cars pretending we were driving to imaginary locations.
I lived in Illinois back then, a place called Mascuta (that’s probably spelt wrong). When I was reading your story it kind of reminded me of that time. I don’t have anything at all from my childhood or teen years, except for memories. Sometimes wish I did.December 22, 2018 at 5:15 am #108022BrooceParticipant
Total posts : 49
DXing AM on that car radio must have been glorious
(for lack of a better word.}
BrooceDecember 22, 2018 at 3:39 pm #108047Radio JoeParticipant
Total posts : 65
All is interesting! I had an uncle who gave me a old radio I think it was from a DeSoto, I connected it up to a storage battery in my parents basement at the time, I was about 14 years old. I remember the songs I heard on it, that was in 1960.
Like the rest of you, I learned a lot from that radio. I don’t have it anymore, not sure what I ever did with it. But today I have pulled a few radios from a junk yard near there, they let you go through the yard for a 2 dollar fee. then you show them what you have in your bucket. Most radios go for $10, Today I have more than 5 “RAZ” type radios, these are AM/FM/Cassete and CD.
I take the radios apart and clean and do what I can to make them look like new- So far no duds in the bunch. I have three Chrysler auto radios in my home, one in my work shop, one in my computer room and one in my bedroom. Al of these run off a central power supply in my workshop, and are connected to a 5/8 wave vertical ground plane FM antenna out side, which I use from time to time for “testing’ my projects.
Each car radio is connected by RG 8 coax from the antenna to the work shop, then by RG 58 through a Radio Shack Coax switch, to the Computer room, and then by way of a second coax switch to the bedroom. I only connect one radio at a time this way by using the switch, and it works really good!
I have one Chrysler AM stereo radio, lucky for me there is a AM stereo oldies station in Hudson Wi about 70 miles from my home, AM stereo really sounds good, I wish it would come back.
I do like some of you other guys do , broadcast my FAVES to my radios and I get a lot of enjoyment out of that, going full circle with my hobby interests.
DX AM reception is crystal clear on all the carradios thanks to the outside antenna.
The antenna also works great on the FM band for receiving.
I would give a shot at fixing up that old radio, Neil, you might be suprised at the memories that bring back. I still have my Cub Scout crystal radio, ill never forget the day I got that working.. I let my dad listen in then and he was so proud of me that l made a working RADIO! Ill never froget that day.
Ill try to post some pictures of the car radio installationsDecember 22, 2018 at 3:40 pm #108053Radio JoeParticipant
Total posts : 65
Radio JoeDecember 22, 2018 at 4:23 pm #108058
Now that’s some serious car radio collecting. You are doing it right.
The antenna for my radio was just a whip in the basement and since my favorite station was strong I stagger tuned the IF to widen the bandwidth. There is a trade off between bandwidth and sensitivity so I sacrificed sensitivity hence the radio was not good for DX. I used my GE all american five clock radio for DX. Even with just the internal loopstick antenna it would easily receive distant stations at night. There were no light dimmers, switch mode PS, or other things which, today, jam so much of the AM band.
The visual image conjured by your rolling pin story is funny. One of the reasons I was taught not to trespass without permission is that doing so could damage the farmers’ crops and some defended their land by having a salt load at hand to deal with trespassers. There was no law enforcement to call except the county sheriff and response time was hours for non emergency calls so property owners assumed responsibility for their personal and property security.
Moving forward to recent modern times, our family owned a farm and rented land to crop farmers. My nephew decided it would be fun to take an ATV ride with his girlfriend into a field belt buckle high in corn. When he returned I reamed him for destroying some of the corn. His girlfriend gleefully commented “It’s OK, I like corn.” I estimated that his ride cost the farmer $350 in lost crop, an example of why farmers don’t want what appears to city folks to be just a walk in a field. Even fields not in crop are harmed by soil compaction.
NeilDecember 23, 2018 at 6:46 am #108065Carl BlareParticipant
Total posts : 1540
Not to neglect the other hand.
Given our power to revive romantic radios the question “Would it have a place this long into the future, given our lasting musical interest?”
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