Restoration of a 1954 Philco clock radio 
 


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Taking the radio apart and examining the clock. This clock lost five minutes every fifteen. It's odd for something that's alarmed to move so slowly. Then I suddenly realized this must be the very clock the Catholic Church uses to time their masses on Sunday morning. I knew it was old but I didn't figure on it being a relic.
Every tube in the set was from a different manufacturer.
12AV6 - Magnavox
12BA6 - RCA
12BE6 - TUNG-SOL
35C5   - Raytheon
35W4  - Philco

All the tubes have something like, "WHEN REPLACING INSIST ON A GENUINE <brand name> TUBE" written on them. Imagine going to Lafayette Radio, pounding your fist on the counter and INSISTING they sell you a Philco tube.


 
Here is the radio broken down to its major components.
 
The underside. The chassis is only one inch deep. Every part was made in the Philco factory in Philadelphia and all assembled by hand (except for the big yellow filter capacitor, which is what the repairman replaced). I think it would have been cool to work at Philco though I'm sure some of the jobs were absolute drudgery.

 
The very first thing done was to replace the filter capacitor. Since you can't buy one, I made one.

It needed a funny label.
And it looks pretty scary inside the radio!

Next, the first capacitor to be replaced was the big ugly one, because the crack in the wax said, "Put me out of my misery."
 
Lets see what's inside it! The wax coating is so tough you need a heat gun to melt it. Inside are two strips of aluminum foil insulated from each other with a strip of paper, tightly rolled up. The aluminum is extremely thin, almost like gold leaf. The outer case is very hard and seems to be made of rolled paper and glue.

 
Before and After. Notice a resistor appears near the center. Explanation below.
 
In the "After" picture a resistor mysteriously appears near the center of the photo. Here's where it came from:

In the above photo, the large cylinder is a "tube saver" resistor that is in series with the tube filaments. It was designed to start out at 880 ohms and go down to 100 ohms as it heats up. It gets very hot.

In this picture the chassis is upside down. When it's right-side up the tube saver slowly cooks the small resistor. The small resistor is rated at 4700 ohms but tested at 5300 ohms.  It was replaced and moved out of the "oven" and that is what is appearing in the "After" picture.
 

Eventually, THIS would happen to it. Many Philco radios have this issue.
 
The "tube saver" gets so hot it burned up its own solder connections.  It's completely out of spec, having cooked itself half to death. It starts out at 1260 ohms and only drops to 180 ohms. That's fine with me.

 
Next, it was time to fix the clock. No pun intended. All I did was apply sewing machine oil to all the pivot points and it fixed itself. As a matter of fact, I oiled the dead clock from the other radio with the same stuff and it came back to life. Sewing machine oil is great for this purpose, as it doesn't gum up and turn to varnish with age.

If I were the Tin Man from the Wizard Of Oz I would use sewing machine oil on myself. I would drink it and take a bath in it, because the Tin Man wasn't made of tin, otherwise he would never have rusted.
 
Testing the clock. You can't power the clock without the radio, and you can't power the radio without the clock.

 
Now it was time to work on the cabinet. Everything was dirty and scratched. It's 62 years old.
 
After cleaning and polishing. Fortunately, the graphics are printed under the clear plastic (left photo).

 

The cabinet was polished for hours and hours, then the numbers were repainted on the case. I almost became obsessed with polishing this thing. Whenever I had some spare time I'd sit down and polish it.

It was a great excuse to get out of housework. When asked to lend a hand I would scream, "CAN'T YOU SEE I'M BUSY??"

They say you can't polish Bakelite, but I did.

 
A few minor fixes were made with some Elmer's Glue-All.

 
The set was tested and then everything reassembled into the sparkling clean cabinet.
When I say "tested," I mean I turned it on and it worked. It didn't actually work all that well.

...but it's safe to touch the controls now.  

The set picked up some local stations but was completely silent between stations. I tried to convince myself that this was a "feature" but I knew something was wrong. I wrote to the guys at the Radio Board.

Ham-er and Bob Weaver asked what kind of voltage I was getting on the Automatic Volume Control (AVC).

I turned the set on to measure the AVC voltage and it was stone dead, except for a sizzling noise at full volume.

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