Lafayette KT-135 EXPLOR-AIR radio kit

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More KT-135 stuff and what-not
 
1965 Lafayette Catalog cover
The KT-135 made the front cover of the 1964 Lafayette Christmas catalog!
 

 
KT-135 catalog picture
From a 1970 Lafayette catalog. The price, adjusted for inflation for the year 2022, is equal to $165.00.
 

 
KT-135
The KT-135 had two different knob styles. This is an older version with the original style. It also matches the picture on the cover of the manual. Apparently there were five or six styles of "Leatherette covered Wooden Cabinets." If you need to replace the covering, you could probably use vinyl wallpaper.
 
KT-135 rear view
This radio sold for $100 on ebay in June of 2015. The seller stated it didn't work. No worries there, on page 18 of the assembly manual it says you can bring it to Lafayette and they'll fix it for you for four dollars!
 
Styles
 
Leatherette covered Wooden Cabinet
Leatherette covered Wooden Cabinet
 
Leatherette covered Wooden Cabinet
Leatherette covered Wooden Cabinet
Four more "Leatherette" designs.
 
KT-135 knob
KT-135 knob
The original style knobs on the left were included with the kit from 1958 to the mid 1960s. The newer style knobs on the right date back to at least 1967. They were not sold in the catalog and a replacement is very hard to find today. Except for perhaps the Lafayette HE-40, these particular knobs are not found on any Lafayette equipment other than the KT-135. The KT-200 and KT-320 used similar knobs, but they aren't the same. In the 1970s Lafayette sold a pack of five matched knobs that were almost duplicates, but the center was concave instead of flat.
 
KT-135 speaker
KT-135 speaker
The very early models had a cylindrical speaker magnet mount.
 
KT-135 speaker grille
KT-135 speaker grille
KT-135 speaker grille

In addition to the two types of knobs and various styles of cabinet covers, there were three types of speaker grills. Oldest to newest shown.
 

There were two chassis types. The older models have the lettering printed on the chassis; the newer ones are stamped.
 
Early and later style capacitors and shaft extensions. The capacitor shaft is slightly longer on the newer style, so the extension is shorter.
 
Explor-Air manual
Explor-Air manual
Copyright 1960 Copyright 1968
 
1969 KT-135 Manual
There were at least four different manuals. Three of them are shown here.
Photo above thanks to Dave Nance WB4SSE. Click for on it for full size.

 
three stripes
one stripe
Here's an interesting variation on the front panel. The KT-135 on the right has a single stripe. The single stripe makes it somewhat unique. It was sold on ebay in May of 2022 for $218.49.
 
A Third Version?
 
Electronics World Ad 1959
This advertisement appeared in the May, 1959 issue of Electronics World.
 
Lafayette KT-135
This picture is from the 1959 Lafayette catalog. The 1961 catalog shows the two-tone front panel.

 
KT-135
This clearer picture is from Electronics Illustrated - January, 1962.  Unfortunately, the picture is the size of a postage stamp, so it doesn't have a lot of detail.

It appears the word "Lafayette" is printed over the speaker, but the name "Explor-Air" is missing. Notice the nice lower knobs. What color was the front panel?

Were any sold that actually looked like this? If not, how did they get this picture?

 
Since we'll probably never see what one of these looked like in real life, if they actually existed at all, I made one. This is printed on 90 weight paper and glued to a piece of poster board, but the knobs, screws and cabinet are real. To see a larger photo click here.

You will OF COURSE want to make your own, so here ya go.
 

Dating your KT-135 (sort of)
 
 
1967
1968
1969
1970
 
To get the approximate year your KT-135 kit was packaged, look for a number on the speaker. If you see a "20-84" and a "24," the date the speaker (probably) was manufactured are the two digits next to "24." Put the number nineteen in front of it. So "67" becomes 1967. Not all of the speakers had this numbering scheme.

 
Dating the knob style change
 
 
1965
1966
1967
1968
 
  1965 1966 1967 1968  

Using Lafayette catalogs to determine when the knob style was changed, we see it happened sometime in 1967. After 1967, Lafayette used the same photo for every advertisement. I guess they ran out of film. Click any picture to see versions of the catalog ads.

In 1967, Davies Molding, maker of the "Daka-Ware" knobs found on the KT-135, had a fire which destroyed their main plant in Chicago, Illinois. This coincides with the year the knob style was changed in the catalog pictures. On the next page you can see that the that the newer style knobs were in use as early as 1965, but after the fire at Davies Molding the old style knobs were never used again.

 
Lafayette Logo
 
 
Lafayette logo
 
Lafayette logo
 
This Lafayette trademark was filed on 10/30/1960. It's "first use" was reported on 05/12/1959. On the left is the trademark, on the right is the KT-135 front panel. Interestingly, Lafayette had been using this logo since at least 1947! By 1963 it had been phased out in favor of a LAFAYETTE logo in block letters, then later with a drawing of Marquis de Lafayette to the left of it. This new logo has a filing date of 10/28/1966. The older logo continued to be used alongside the new one in the catalogs, and of course, it was also found on the KT-135 till 1971.
 
Lafayette logo
1966 Lafayette trademark.
 

 
Dimensions
 
KT-135 dimensions
The dimensions, in inches.
 
KT-135 cabinet
The cabinet is made of 3/8" plywood. The side joints are dovetailed. The approximate outside dimensions are 10 1/2" wide, 7 1/2" high and 5 3/4" deep. 1/4" strips of wood around the inside front hold the front panel of the radio in place.

Because the cabinet was sold separately, not every KT-135 has one. It shouldn't be hard to make one, it's a wooden box that has a 10 x 7 opening in the front. When the radio is inside there is 1/2" of clearance on the sides, so you don't have to dovetail the joints. Just use the same strips of 1/4" wood that are around the inside front to hold the sides together. (See Page 8.)

Grab a cool looking roll of pre-pasted vinyl wallpaper to cover the cabinet. Don't worry about the wallpaper coming off the cabinet when the radio falls into the bathtub while you're in there listening to it. Let the new owner worry about that.
 
finishing washers #4
For a proper appearance, use #4 finishing washers and #4 slotted head wood screws to hold the radio into the cabinet. The finishing washers (called cup washers in the manual) came with the radio but the screws came with the cabinet.
The #4 hardware is hard to find. If you need the finishing washers, email me your address. I happen to have 96 spares.
 
 
 
KT-135 box
Box with part number.
 
 
 
KT-135 front panel
Band "C" is referenced twice on the BANDSPREAD dial.
 
 
 
KT-135
LOOK! I cleaned up the mess I made on the card table! For once.
 
card table
It stayed clean for a whole day. I got Art Auch's radio the next day, and started work on it. A week later I was swapping speakers. Art Auch's speaker was DOA. I ordered a 4" replacement for my modified radio (what did it matter?) and put the "stock" speaker into Art's radio. What you don't see is all the crap on the floor. Hey, I only have so much room on the table. 

 
KT-135 from 1971
restored KT-135
On September 12, 2015 I found my old desk in a bedroom at my mom's house. I hadn't seen it in 41 years. It has a new finish on it thanks to my brother, but my initials can still be seen carved into it at the far right. Today I would never carve something into a piece of furniture.
  
Lafayette Explor-Air KT-135
 
 
 
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