Vintage Tunes offers antique radios, repairs and full restoration of vintage radios


Radio Restorations                          


     In the following few pictures you will see some of the restorations that I have done over the past few years. I will also have some educational passages about my restoration processes including what I do and what I don't do in the restoration process. This is not 'all inclusive' by any stretch of the imagination. All restorations are different and every customer needs or wants something different. The following is merely a guideline as to the what's, how's and why's of most of my restoration processes including what is cleaned, what is replaced and what is restored from original. If original finishes are good enough they are always retained. If not, they are restored. I always replace filter (electrolytic) capacitors. Most of the time I do a total recap of the radio but sometimes, if the original parts are exceptional in their present state, they are retained. I always check all resistors and original wiring as well as switches, potentiometers and all dial strings and dial lights (if the set has them). I always inspect the AC cord and replace it if needed. The tubes are always checked for filament continuity and emissions as well as any defects. I clean, inspect and replace anything that will limit the overall intent of your radio, which is the listening pleasure that you expect. Although most of these jewels are very old they all still play well and will give years of listening and visual enjoyment. Really, there is nothing like a vintage collectable tube radio for your audio enjoyment or as a conversation piece in you home, office, business or collection.


First, some before and after pictures:


                1934 Philco Model 84-B                            Before and after restoration                  





                      1946 Silvertone                                             Before and after restoration





                 1940 Philco  Model 40-120                                    Before and after restoration




  1942 Western Royal Model W4B16, Series A               Before and after restoration




The radio above was a battery set that I restored and one of my battery eliminators was installed. Now you just plug it in and play the radio without having to worry about rare and hard to find 90 volt DC battery packs.



                   Zenith Model 6D-029                                          Before and after restoration





   As you can see, most vintage collectable radios can be "saved" with a little knowledge and some hard work.

    So.....don't throw away a family heirloom or keepsake. Don't throw away that yard sale find just because it doesn't work or you decided that you just can't refinish it like you would have wanted to.

     Let me give it a try.

     Feel free to email me if you have some questions about this process or want prices on something you would like restored.

    Here is a list of some of the things that I do and the levels of restoration that I offer for tube    radios and antique electronics:                                                                                                              

      Level 1:   no real cosmetic restoration, per se. I can do a tertiary clean up the chassis and case and get it working for you. Minimal cost plus shipping. It really depends on what I have to do to get it up and running.

      Level 2:   chassis restoration only. I can clean up the chassis, do a diagnostic on all parts. Clean and lubricate all moving parts. Check all wiring and replace dangerous shorts or potential  shorts. Replace the capacitors and filter capacitors.  R&R the speaker but not re-cone (that costs more) Replace the power cord if needed (or wanted by the owner) and check out the antenna or add a new one. Finally I re-align the chassis to factory specs.

      Level 3:    involves all of level 2 plus a cosmetic restoration of the chassis and all internal parts.

      Level 4:    involves all of level 2 and 3 plus a restoration of the cabinet including  to but not limited to cleaning and buffing of all bakelite, restoration of existing wooden cabinet and all other parts of the radio. In other words, an electronic and cosmetic restoration, limited to existing (non-destructed) items

      Level 5:    this level of restoration involves a lot of work with very minute attention to detail. All existing filter caps are re-stuffed with new components, not  just replaced. That give the chassis a very original look to those purists out there that want that. Re-coning of the speaker if necessary. The restoration of the cabinet (case) involves intricate restoration processes including but not limited to re-veneering, re-building broken, missing or damaged pieces of wood or bakelite, and if needed or wanted, a complete re-paint to factory original colors or a custom color combination desired by the client. These can be added to any level of  restoration at any time, just ask.                                                                                                                        

Most of the restorations that I do are of the Level 4 process, a complete chassis and cosmetic restoration. All of the radios that I sell are of this level unless otherwise listed in the sale description. I use UL listed cords for the replacements and I use era specific cords as well. So, if your bakelite came with a rubber cord, you will get a new UL listed cord of the same design, not rubber but of a like design and appearance. If your wooden tombstone came with a cloth covered cord and bakelite plug, then that is what will be used to replace your original. Yes, you could say ANAL but I like them to sound and look like the originals. No inch thick poly coatings here. No 15 layer lacquer coatings here. No sprays, coatings or WD40 on your bakelite radios either. Don't even ask, 'cuz I won't do it. Sorry but my policy is that I restore these beauties not ruin them.

     Update:  I have recently began installing an external jack on some of my radio restorations. I have found that these are very handy when you want to play your iPod, Mp3, FM tuner, record player, CD player, satellite radio or just about anything else. I have placed some pictures on a here....for you to see the installation of the jack. This jack is a 3.5 mm or 1/8 in "mini" jack receiver that will accept any input from virtually any player of any kind.  Local electronics shops or Radio Shack will have converters to change your various output jacks to this mini jack system if you do not have the correct one, ( i.e. RCA jacks or 1/4 inch stereo jacks)  They are very affordable but if you have one of the above mentioned audio sources, it will probably have one of these 1/4 inch jacks already. I have more info on the link page that has the pictures. The picture shown is of my newest restoration, a General Television and Radio model 5B5 with a plaskon case, which I am adding to my Radio Collection Page under Plastic Radios

    If you are customer who is receiving a chassis or full radio restoration I can probably put one of these in for you. If you are purchasing a radio from me...I can put one in prior to shipping if it does not already come with one.  I have had a lot of interest in these and have recently begun offering it to my customers and future customers.

    I have found that there are a few radios out there with configurations that will not allow this particular item to be added. They have fairly non-typical tube strings, amplification or mixer/detector configuration that will not allow this sort of jack to be tied into the system. I would say that over 90 percent of the radios produced will be able to have this conversion and as such, I will do the research on your particular radio to see if it is compatible.

   I will also accept your radio and put the jack into it  ( if it is compatible ) even if I am not restoring or refurbishing it. You pay shipping and the cost of installing the jack.  Email me for pricing.

      All that being said, here is a short blurb on the restoration of a great little metal midget for my personal collection.


Restoration of a 1949 Arvin, Model 442, metal cased, 4 tube radio made by Noblitt-Sparks Industries, Inc.


     Here is where I outline the restoration of a radio chassis on a little radio that I am currently restoring for my collection. For this particular instance I am going to chronicle the restoration of a small metal cased Arvin, 4 tube radio. Most of the restoration is straight forward and is not much different than some of the larger, more advanced radios. There are subtle differences in those larger radios including more capacitors; more filter capacitors and more resistors as well as much more intricate circuitry and wiring. There is usually more to look at, more to test, (including more tubes) and more to replace. However this “for instance” is merely a tool for learning the process of what I do and not the end product.

     First and foremost it is very wise to get a schematic on the radio in question. Riders Schematics are great tools in the restoration of radios, Amps and other electronic devices. I got this one from Nostalgia Air.  They are a great source for schematics and other items including restoration tips, techniques and a great talk forum for others who have the same 'addiction' as I do.  Some guys will tell you not to plug it in, always bring up the radio on a variac (a variable voltage rheostat that starts at 0 volts and can be dialed up to 125 volts, or in the case of the one that I have, 250 volts) some say never plug it in until the cord is replaced or all of the capacitors have been replaced and so on and so on. I say BUNK !!  plug the little sucker in. If it blows a fuse, there is something wrong. If it fails to come on, something is wrong. If it comes on then goes off, something is wrong. If it comes on and plays but you can’t tune it, there is something wrong. If it comes on and plays and tunes in but hums, or “motorboats” or squeals, or does something that it is not suppose to do, there is something wrong. In most instances there is generally something wrong with the radio and it needs the attention of someone that works on and restores tube radios. Like Me.  If you are sending it to me and you know what it did, does not do, or did after you plugged it in, please send that information along with the radio. It’s much easier for me and much cheaper for you in the long run. I have never seen a radio that did not need ‘a little something’ to make it work better. There are always things wrong with that collectable antique unless it was just restored by some (qualified) tech. No matter what grandma said: “that radio has always had that hum, that is what old radios do” is not always correct. These are great sounding, quasi sophisticated electronic sets that if tuned, maintained and operated properly have great clear and radiant sound.   Note this: THE HUM IS NOT NORMAL TO OLD TUBE RADIOS!

  So here goes:     The radio, as I received it. Totally original except for some tubes that had been replaced over the years. click on any of the pictures for larger pictures of the restoration


 The dirty little chassis                                      The underside of the chassis


     The chassis above has four tubes, a tuning capacitor (the right side of picture one) you can see the speaker in front, and on top of the speaker is the antenna coil, to the right rear is the frequency coil.

     In the picture on the right you can see the long, cylindrical tubes (the smaller ones, yellow and green) they are the capacitors. The large, long cylindrical tube with the writing on it (upper left side) is the multi-part electrolytic (filter) capacitor. These will all be replaced with modern equivalents.

     Below you will see that in the first picture, the original electrolytic capacitor has been removed and the other capacitors are being replaced. In the next picture all of the capacitors have been replaced and the three electrolytic capacitors have now been replaced and the chassis is ready


Here are the old, original capacitors that were taken out, and the finished chassis. Detailed, cleaned, all tubes checked and cleaned. Tuning capacitor cleaned and inspected. Speaker cleaned and inspected. All wiring checked and replaced if necessary. All resistors checked for damage and to be within factory tolerances. A new cord installed as well as a new long wire antenna.  It plays Great!


The top of the little metal Arvin, before restoration


And now for the cosmetic restoration of the metal cabinet:


Outside shot shows off the great black Lacquer paint


Inside shot of top and front after placing the foil dial markings back on


The finished back and front of my little Arvin Model 442, completely cleaned and restored. Full electronic and cosmetic restoration. I have a difficult time showing in my pictures the absolutely beautiful black lacquer paint. The case was painted with automotive lacquer and has 6 total coats of paint. Each was hand sanded and hand buffed between coats. I am very proud of this little set because of the exceptional paint job. It is absolutely flawless. Black lacquer if very hard to put on and  is so hard to photograph as well, especially when you are such and amateur when it comes to photography, as I am. However it's a real beauty. Sometimes you just luck out, don't you.


Restoration of a 1939 Sonora WAU-243

I received this great little Sonora in the "as pictured" condition (totally original and unrestored) from Jeff Goldstein of Radiotiques in Wilmington, Delaware.

I have purchased several sets from him in the past couple of years. Check out his site. Great restorations and great prices on restored, semi-restored and unrestored radios and other stuff.

It was a real buy considering the rarity of the set. They are really hard to find and I feel lucky to get my hands on one. He was going to keep it for his own collection but (as with most of us) too much client work and a nagging space issue forced him to sell it.........My luck, his loss (again, Thanks very much Jeff.  You don't know how long I have waited for one of these)

I totally restored the chassis but I am only showing the cosmetic restoration in these next few photos. Click on any of the photos to take you to a page with larger (more resolution) pictures.


The 1939 Sonora WAU-243

Bakelite Case (totally original and undamaged in any way, except for wear on the original cream white paint), 5 Tube chassis, push button station setting as well as a large (almost 4 inches across) station dial on the top. Standard on/off/volume knob in the center front.

Way Deco, Way Kool, Way desirable, and (normally) Way out of my price range......until now!


The Sonora as pictured for sale on Radiotiques website and in "as delivered" condition



The radio stripped of the chassis and knobs



The radio in "stripped" condition. Just as a side note:  Removing the original paint from a radio that is nearly 70 years a real bear. Don't think that you will do it in an afternoon. Especially these deco design sets with a lot of bars, grill slots and nooks and crannies. It's just not a fun or fast job. 



The final product. I painted it an automotive yellow because I liked the color in combination with the burgundy colored knobs. I use auto lacquer because it is durable and there is a myriad of colors available. I got a little tired of brown bakelite, black bakelite and cream bakelite. I don't usually add much color to my restorations because antique radios simply did not come in many varied or vibrant colors....This radio is an exception as it is going to stay in my collection, So Yellow it is !!!






       (oops, I actually have to go to WORK!!!, check back for updates to this page in the near future)



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