Thread Number: 32739  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
1942 zenith and other radio projects.
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Post# 358692   9/4/2016 at 12:10 (413 days old) by Brando_husky (Omaha Nebraska)        

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Just picked up this 1942 zenith 10s669 radio. I picked it up for a good price based on how lovely and original the radio is.

I'm not going to touch the cabinet other than cleaning and waxing a bit. The real restoration is to pull the chassis and do a complete rewire, recap and new resistors.

These era of zenith use a poor rubber coating on the wires. After a few decades the rubber cracked and fell apart from vibration. Causing a very high safety issue

The store claimed it "worked" but my roommate and I are much smarter to try and turn it on before we replace at the very least the caps and damaged wires.

will install an AM transmitter so I can play anything from my phone over the radio.

As you can see the cat wanted to inspect the radio for me lol

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Post# 358693 , Reply# 1   9/4/2016 at 12:28 (413 days old) by Brando_husky (Omaha Nebraska)        

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Another two radios of ours.

A 1930 Philco model 20 cathedral radio we cleaned up and restored. It is almost completely original.

Also a 1936 Philco radio we are rewiring and capping at the moment. Got new grill cloth and such.

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Post# 358694 , Reply# 2   9/4/2016 at 13:33 (413 days old) by dartman (Portland OR)        

Zenith made some of the best radios back in the day, and many makers used lousy rubber insulation for years after that radio was made.
We have a much newer National/Panasonic that the insulation for the dial lights is falling off.
I have a few old military and civilian short wave and broadcast radios around here and several are smaller Zenith. I also have a plastic Zenith table radio with the extra rf stage that I used to shoot an skip with. It would pull stuff in lesser radios couldn't hear and was probably made somewhere in the late fifties to mid sixties I think.
For its size it sounded great too.
I think it still works though the case has fallen apart after being baked all those years.
I used to tweak all the IF and RF cans and things to keep it at peak receive performance and dial alignment.

Post# 358726 , Reply# 3   9/4/2016 at 20:13 (412 days old) by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        

Always had the very best FM..The Armstrong system.

Post# 358741 , Reply# 4   9/5/2016 at 00:21 (412 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        

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Well, I bought this one just the other day and the pack rat came for free!

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Post# 358745 , Reply# 5   9/5/2016 at 02:08 (412 days old) by Brando_husky (Omaha Nebraska)        

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Dropped the chassis this evening.

Couple areas of concern. Several wires are still original and badly cracking. Most are a little stiff. Lots of paper capacitors that need replaced. Couple electrolytic capacitors on top that I have to cut and bypass with modern caps since they don't make reproductions.

Tubes are very dirty but probably work just fine. Most are zenith stamped. One delco and one GE.

The transformer will be replaced. Lots of original wires going up into the body. Not going to mess with it. Best to have replaced for safety.

The original belts were dried out and brittle. Have some on order.

Other than that and an unknown chassis stain around a tube, it will polish up beautifully.

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Post# 358751 , Reply# 6   9/5/2016 at 02:57 (412 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

Zenith radio chassis-Had a chassis just like that one shown-it didn't have the case.Someone gave it to me while I was in college-It did work-had to connect it to an external speaker.The lower frequency Armstrong band was abandoned in favor of the present VHF FM band.Beleive it was interference issues.If the radio was built in 1942-surprized Zenith was building consumer product radios at all at that time.During those war years the high quality rubber was being used for the "war efforts" so lower quality stuff was used in consumer products.Later after college gave the chassis to someone else that I knew who collected old radios.He had the case!I didn't need it at that time.If I could have saved all the stuff I gave away or sold-would need a warehouse to hold it.Beautiful radio!!! You may have to put a back panel on it to keep your cat out of it if you want to play the radio when you are finished fixing it up.Just remember doing minor things in mine.Someone before me replaced the cables in the chassis.Have known three people that collect old radios-the hobby is fascinating--but EXPENSIVE!!!I gave my Zenith chassis to one of them.I was nice in those days-now I would SELL it to them!

Post# 358752 , Reply# 7   9/5/2016 at 03:17 (412 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        

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I bet you the dog bones are still 10 to 30% in tolerance which is pretty good. Ceramic disks would be a great replacement for your papers, they're really not that noisy at all and they just about last a life time are two. Be careful with that metal tube if its been replaced for a glass one, on account, pin one should be grounded to glass which it isn't no more -- its been turned to metal! Remember my friend electricity is a wild, caged animal just dying to find its way to ground!

Post# 358758 , Reply# 8   9/5/2016 at 06:32 (412 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

Yes,some metal power tubes like 6v6,6F6,6L6 have the metal "shell" of the tube connected to the screen circuit-and these tubes run HOT!!!!!!More than enough to take off skin-and with the screen connection--HOT in more ways than one-shut off the power and let the set cool down before replacing!!!In one 6L6 amp I used to have the paint was burned off the 6L6 output tubes-came from a Seeburg jukebox.The glass tubes are safer-and believe it or not have a higher plate dissipation.

Post# 358760 , Reply# 9   9/5/2016 at 07:11 (412 days old) by Brando_husky (Omaha Nebraska)        

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Wow guys! Thanks for the great info!

Not taking any chances with the caps. Going ahead and replacing them all. Might as well ignore any slight tolerance drifts and ensure all new proper sized caps with modern safety design be put in place.

I noticed that metal tube and thought it was quite interesting. I've got friends with tube testers and several shops in town with tubes available. Shouldn't be hard to get it checked up on but I am sure it's still fine. Tubes never seem to really go bad very easily

Post# 358795 , Reply# 10   9/5/2016 at 17:48 (411 days old) by Brando_husky (Omaha Nebraska)        

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Cleaned up the chassis a bit. Not too bad

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Post# 358799 , Reply# 11   9/5/2016 at 19:12 (411 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        

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Polypropylene and Mylar caps would also be fine for replacing any kind of paper cap. You can be pretty close to the MFD, but the working voltage you need to be at or above -- Same for your electrolytics.

Post# 358808 , Reply# 12   9/5/2016 at 20:17 (411 days old) by Brando_husky (Omaha Nebraska)        

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Yep! I've found a great source of caps at radiodaze. My roommate is good at reading them and soldering so I leave that to him. I do the touch ups and cabinet work. Some wiring here and there. Not my forte.

Post# 358821 , Reply# 13   9/5/2016 at 22:58 (411 days old) by Brando_husky (Omaha Nebraska)        

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One thing I will need is a new transformer. That one there has some very bad looking wiring entering it. Wouldn't hurt to set it up with a fresh built box for safety

Post# 358823 , Reply# 14   9/5/2016 at 23:08 (411 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        

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Just heat shrink the wire and unplug the rectifier tube and slowly power it up on your variac and see if your transformer gets hot. That will we tell you at least half the story.

Post# 358825 , Reply# 15   9/5/2016 at 23:15 (411 days old) by dartman (Portland OR)        
Tube testers

I have a early 50's I-77b two piece military tube tester, a suitcase Sencore mu-50 mid 60's one, a early thirties wood cased one and a few Beltron CRT rejuvenaters that were handy when I was doing TV repair as a money making hobby. I have boxes of tubes going back to the 20's when they looked like light bulbs, had two numbers and 4 or 5 pins. I collected them from the early 70's on whenever I found any at garage sales and elsewhere cheap. There are tube substitution manuals out there that will help you find close or perfect replacements from different numbers, some are actually better than the original type.

Post# 358840 , Reply# 16   9/6/2016 at 10:36 (411 days old) by Brando_husky (Omaha Nebraska)        

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That's an interesting idea with the heat shrink. Might do that on a few of the tougher wires. Anything with a cap I'll most likely pull and replace.

Would anyone know if this era would have a cloth power cable or rubber? The old tattered unoriginal cord and plug need replacement. Baaaaadly

Post# 358873 , Reply# 17   9/6/2016 at 21:40 (410 days old) by dartman (Portland OR)        

My guess would be cloth but oldest one I have as far as Zenith is probably early to mid fifties and is rubber. Heat shrink would work great if you don't care what it looks like. I use it on my old Dart when the crimp connection jobs were getting dirty and it was heating up. Cut it out, stripped the ends back, soldered them together after sliding some heat shrink close, then slid it over and heated it tight. That wire has been fine since and doesn't heat up. That thing looks so nice and clean I'd put it on your isolation transformer too and see how it does. Some of the tube TVs I worked on the main power transformers ran super hot and looked cooked and always were fine. Many caps that are bad will bulge or leak or look cooked. I have a late 20s regenerative radio that I just don't have enough early tubes to get it running. The filaments light up and nothing caught fire when I powered it up years ago to see if anything tried to work. I spose a isolation transformer would have been a good idea and might still get one if I find a deal on one. I don't check for that kind of stuff like I used to seeing how I don't repair stuff actively anymore except my own stuff.

Post# 358879 , Reply# 18   9/6/2016 at 22:41 (410 days old) by Brando_husky (Omaha Nebraska)        

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I think it will be most easiest to replace the cracked wiring. Trying to slide some heat shrink tubes over the wiring sounds difficult

Post# 358893 , Reply# 19   9/7/2016 at 03:49 (410 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

At work we have a Sencore isoformer and variac in one case.Nice instrument-it also shows voltage you are applying to the device under test and the current draw.Some sets did have CHEAP power supply transformers that ran hot-often undersized.Iused to use a isolation former I salvaged out of a piece of surplus equipment.Long lost though-was tough- nameplate says 1A but I could draw a 10A load off it and it wouldn't even get warm!

Post# 358899 , Reply# 20   9/7/2016 at 04:43 (410 days old) by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

I have an old radio sitting in my garage holding up some other stuff on top. It was said to work when I tucked it way was I gonna test that without a full restore/Variac. I haven't looked at it for yrs.....don't remember if it has FM. Missing a few knobs....assume those are replicated these days.


There's a guy over in Portland that restores these...never answered my emails. He's probably older and doesn't want to bother with newbies. That's OK, as I'm not begging him to take a grand, or whatever he charges for a full restoration. I'd do the restoration myself if I had more interest in that hobby....I do not. I took in the radio as part of a debt collection.



Post# 358900 , Reply# 21   9/7/2016 at 04:46 (410 days old) by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

I think it will be most easiest to replace the cracked wiring. Trying to slide some heat shrink tubes over the wiring sounds difficult


Use quality 'appliance wire' and it will outlast you. Made for heat and tough environs. Beautiful cabinet BTW....don't do a thing to it but clean it. Very few people can replicate the factory finish...most over do it and/or get too much gloss. Most finishes back then were hand rubbed tongue oil, which took a lot of coats and some finesse.



Post# 358935 , Reply# 22   9/7/2016 at 17:50 (409 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        

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Heat shrink is as easy as falling off a log. All you have to do is us it a couple of times and you'll learn to love it, just like anything else. Believe me, after as many times I've used it, it's good. If you ever decide to use it, use a lighter instead of a heat gun, works even better.

Post# 358939 , Reply# 23   9/7/2016 at 19:51 (409 days old) by vacuumlad1650 (Chicago Suburbs)        

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That's a pretty radio! I have this Admiral in my basement shop...I need to do some work on it but it still puts out the good, old AM

Post# 358951 , Reply# 24   9/7/2016 at 22:20 (409 days old) by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

Insultube comes in different grades...that stuff you buy at say, Home Depot is a far cry from commercial shrink tubing where you can pick the application, color, thickness etc. The black stuff in the different sizes is just the tip of the iceberg.



Post# 358956 , Reply# 25   9/7/2016 at 23:16 (409 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        

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You don't buy nothing at Lowe's are at that Home Depot, that garbage is for low voltage, solid state crap only!

Post# 358957 , Reply# 26   9/7/2016 at 23:24 (409 days old) by Brando_husky (Omaha Nebraska)        

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Where's the best place to get the tubing?

Post# 358987 , Reply# 27   9/8/2016 at 12:41 (409 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        

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From your local, if your so blessed to have one in your area, professional electronic store -- Not any of those left over RadioShack's mind you! Why, I wouldn't even buy de-soldering braid from that joke of a RadioShack, much less, any of that garbage from the big box stores. I get all my essentials from my local Spectronics store. If you can't find anything close to you, there's a couple of places on the internet, in which I'm told.

Post# 359029 , Reply# 28   9/9/2016 at 11:09 (408 days old) by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

Here's a link, but shop around online for your best price....just make sure it's the same quality:





Post# 360105 , Reply# 29   9/29/2016 at 17:11 (387 days old) by Vacosaurus (Cleveland ohio)        
Your Zenith radio

is in beautiful condition and when properly restored is an excellent sounding radio. Be careful of the front corners you do not damage or scratch it the finish on it is called photo finish and not easily repaired. I collect Zeniths this model is very common and does not sell for too much money mainly because of the plastic wiring insulation problem and also the styling is too modern looking for most collectors of that era. 1941 and 1942 Zeniths have the wiring problem. Zeniths from 1939 and earlier and most 1940's used a cloth covered wire that to this day remains in good condition.Do not let the wiring bum you out you just have to replace it piece by piece. What I usually do is replace the wire with the same gauge size and color and run the wire the same exact way as original as sometimes varying will make the radio do strange things. one trick I learned with the original solid wire is to just un solder one end and clean off the old insulation chunks and take a piece of new wire the same color and just a little bit bigger gauge and strip the insulation off it intact and slip the new tube of insulation on the old wire and re solder the wire back again. I have done this to wires as long as 7 inches. if it hesitates slipping on shoot a little silicone in the tube. Some wire is easily just replaced if so replace it.Pay attention to where you clip a wire from and make note as it is very easy to instantly forget where it came from. If you were talking about your big power transformer they usually are good on this model the wires coming from it might look black and shiny but that is how they usually look. You have to change the big electrolytic capacitors with new ones just make sure they are the same micro farad size and voltage rated. Also if you want it to play reliable replace all the smaller capacitors with the same exact micro farad size. The voltage rating can be the same or more. replace the power cord if needed and try it out. Sorry to be long winded but it's easy to screw up a radio with this much work involved. A good source for information and parts is ( Antique radio forums )it is a forum dedicated to radio restoration and there are people there that would be happy to help with any questions. Good Luck Bill,

Post# 360179 , Reply# 30   9/30/2016 at 21:12 (386 days old) by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
Re transformers

The transformer in my early 60s Zenith stereo burned out about 20 years ago, I sent it to some guy in Colorado and he rewound it, if I could only find his name and number!!!!It has worked perfectly ever since..It was my cousins then, She passed away and now its mine, about as good as any radio I ever heard, and plays records great too, the 45 adapter is made into the turntable and folds up to use it.

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