I want a tube am/fm radio

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by peteb, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. peteb

    peteb Friend of Leo's

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    Just to listen to

    I probably wont, but I still want to hear fm radio thru an old 50s or 60s radio.


    I would like to get one of those GE type white plastic, compact radios.

    I see working radios on ebay for $50.


    It seems like a neat thing to have.


    Anyone into listening to tube radio?


    I am also fascinated by old car tube radios and how small they are and i wonder how hard it would be to replace a tube.
     
  2. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    In general avoid the plastic ones. Go for wood. You want an old five tube circuit with a real power transformer. The plastic ones have the same problem cheap transformerless guitar amps have. They hummmmmmmmm. At least they won't electrocute you when you setp up to the mic.

    Tube car radios have an archaic goody in them called a "vibrator". You can't step up DC with a transformer. It defies the laws of physics. You can't run most tubes on 6 volts. That will warm the filaments but it's a couple hundred volts too low for the plates. The vibrator has mechanical breaker points that buzz the DC making it into AC. Transformers like it.

    The hassle is a lot of tube car radios are 6v while modern automobiles are 12v. The additional hassle is that the vibrator in particular isn't very reliable. Yeah, you can still find them. Finding one of the few guys who restore old car radios can be as difficult as finding a replacement vibrator. Check Hemmings Motor News.

    The few guys who restore antique car radios aren't shy about gettin' paid.
     
  3. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

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    I have a nice little wooden Zenith.
    I took out all the tubes and cleaned the pins.
    It works good and really illustrates the difference in tone easily.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Fred Mertz

    Fred Mertz Tele-Afflicted

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  5. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

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    I ran into my first tube car radio about a year ago. The owner had just had it restored to go in his (also just restored) '55 Pontiac. It was fascinating to see how compact it was, and how much tube circuitry the manufacturers had packed into this compact space, not to mention the vibrator itself.

    I did some Googling and found somebody selling a modern electronic switching power supply disguised in a traditional vibrator can. No more contacts to arc and wear out. Just silent, reliable MOSFET's switching invisibly on and off. Can't find the link on my PC, but Google could probably turn it up.

    -Gnobuddy
     
  6. vibrolux 1956

    vibrolux 1956 TDPRI Member

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    I think Dan Healey, former Grateful Dead sound man works on tube car radios among other things. Lots of tube radio hobbyists around. AES was originally a supplier for that industry before they added the guitar amp market. Lots of the ham radio guys work on tube radios of all types.
    Hook up with your local ham club and you'll have hundreds of radios to choose from. I used to hit the Ham fest swap and shops for tubes and microphones, there were always AM/FM radios for sale.
     
  7. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Doubt a radio from a 69 is tube, heck my old 67 Belair was transistor. In a previous work environment one of the managers was restoring an old car and was having trouble getting a vibrator to work. Not the best sound from what I heard, but back then, dmn it, you had radio in a car!


    More old radios out there with just AM, easier to get a console with AM and FM. Gutted a few for the parts, mainly late 60's stuff. If this one was AM/FM it might not end up being a guitar amp.

    [​IMG]

    Converted this one already, changed the front panel though.

    [​IMG]

    Most of the time you find the stuff not working as the caps are gone.
     
  8. Riffraff12571

    Riffraff12571 Tele-Holic

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  9. peteb

    peteb Friend of Leo's

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    Doesnt five tube circuit mean that it is one of those transformerless amps? i replaced the filter caps on one of those.

    Does plastic really mean no pt and wood means it has a pt?

    I was thinking plastic because i would like it to be smaller, and the wood ones look bigger, is the lack of a pt why the plastic ones are smaller?

    some of those wood cabs look pretty nice.


    The white plastic ones stood out to me because when i looked at the lot of them i all of a sudden remembered the radio of my next door neighbors as a kid in the early 70s, and realized that it was a tube radio.

    interesting about The vibrator. I get what it does but not how it does it.

    I can live without a tube car radio.
     
  10. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

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    Here's mine. 1940 Marconi. Works as new. Sounds like an old tube AM radio should. Takes about 1 min to warm up and produce volume. Actually it is my wife's, I bought it as a gift for her. It's a cool conversation piece. Marconi was the man who sent the very first wireless signal atop a hill in St John's Newfoundland, across the Atlantic Ocean to England. That hill today in St John's is called Signal Hill and is a Canadian National Park now. I bought this Marconi brand vintage 1940 radio in St John's NFLD when I was there in Sept 2013.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Bugeyed Earl

    Bugeyed Earl Tele-Meister

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    Super cool, I love that! What kind of circuit lives in it now?
     
  12. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Not tubes in that one.

    Car radios were mostly solid state by 1960 or so.

    Plastic is transformerless / wood has a transformer isn't a hard and fast rule. There are "wooden" radios that are transformerless, too. The wooden ones tend to be higher quality with 50L6 outputs and such.

    I like radios such as old Philco or Crosley with 5Y3 rectifiers and 6V6 tubes. That's all familiar "guitar amp" stuff.


    How 'bout a console? Magnavox or Zenith made some killer consoles. Go for a Fischer if you want the high priced spread.

    By '59- '60 Magnavox was building a kick ass stereo console. You get a phonograph and an AM / FM tuner, all tube. The amp was stereo making about 10 clean watts per channel with a pair of 6V6s on each channel. Yup, 4x 6V6s in there.

    The hi-fi guys are robbing the amps and pretty much trashing the rest.

    Bypass the internal speakers and run a pair of vintage Advents or something.
     
  13. Jim Dep

    Jim Dep Friend of Leo's

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    I sold a 1949 Zenith "Mayfair" AM/FM phonograph console. Beautiful Mahogany cabinet and snake head arm that holds the needle. It had a very warm sound. I loved listening to older jazz on it. We've had to start downsizing our furniture, so it was sacrificed.....

    I still have a late 50's Grundig "Majestic" AM/FM shortwave table top stereo radio. It has the "cat's eye" tube to show when you've got the signal locked in. It's a very cool radio that I'll try to hang on to ALAP.

    This is a very 3D sounding radio; it has the oval speaker in the middle and two little high frequency speakers on each side. Great tone.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. DaveKS

    DaveKS Friend of Leo's

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    That's totally badass looking. Would be perfect of it had a line in.


     
  15. DaveKS

    DaveKS Friend of Leo's

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    Orgasmic retro vibe.

     
  16. DaveKS

    DaveKS Friend of Leo's

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    Hell yea, dinner at grandmas house with some swing jazz playing. I'm in.

     
  17. Lunchie

    Lunchie Poster Extraordinaire

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    Does playing my ipod through my GRETA count? :D

    I too find them fascinating. I know if I bought 1 or erm 10 of them that I would get bored of them and start turning them into guitar amps.
     
  18. Little Jay

    Little Jay Tele-Meister

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    I am the proud owner of a 1956 Philips F6X62A, a radio and record player combination.
    It look exactly like this (the pic is not mine, I took it from the web). It's a heritage of my late grand parents:

    [​IMG]

    Never had any work done to it, still all the original tubes and caps, even has an old 2-prong chable. And it still plays like a dream. Even the record player works perfectly again (after years of not being used it wasn't rotating at a constant speed anymore, but just using it a couple of times solved that).

    EDIT: found a pic of mine on my pc, with my little girl when she was 2 ;-)
     

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  19. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    My girlfriend got me a Grundig 5097 for Cristmas. She doesn't care if I part it as long as she can have it in the living room. I'm not going to part it! I'm going to learn German so I can use it.:lol:

    The one on the right I am going to use parts from. It's AM (with a broken record player) a 5Y3 and pair of 6K6s. The cab will be in the living room with a Flat screen on top and all the other crap we have to have plugged into out TVs these days stuffed inside.
    From the looks of my 10 year olds legs it must have been warmer when I put that in the garage.
     

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  20. Robster

    Robster Tele-Afflicted

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    Here is my 1934? Philco AM/Shorwave.

    1934 Philco AM/Shortwave. Still barely working, I should fix it up.
    I will not convert it into a guitar amp, its too valuable.
    I have more vintage grillcloth for it. Cool art deco look to it.
    Got it in trade for repairing an amp.
     

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