February 10, 2008 at 8:53 am #873Gerry O’HaraKeymaster
About 18 months ago I spotted a Philco 16B ‘tombstone’ in one of the many fleamarket and antique mall type stores in Snohomish, Washington. This set is a 5 band, 11 tube monster of a tabletop radio, reported in Ron Ramirez’s book thus: ‘Excellent shortwave performance, pleasing tone, and good looks made the [Philco] Model 16 an outstanding set…one of the best [domestic] shortwave radios ever made." – I just had to have it! On getting this set home and taking a closer look, I don’t think anyone has ever had the chassis out of the case – no evidence of any replaced components, indeed, once the layers of grime and fluff were removed the chassis looked in excellent condition. Unfortunately not so the cabinet… it looked as if a (large) dog had used it regularly for clawing at. I removed the chassis and speaker form the cabinet and took this mighty wooden structure along to the SPARC museum here in Coquitlam to see what could be done. After stripping the remnants of the old varnish off it was clear that the cabinet was in a rough state. Some careful gluing was first undertaken, followed by sanding and filling. The sides, top and main front panels are just plain poplar wood (hardly any grain to speak of), but with nice burl walnut ‘cheeks’ either side of the wonderful art deco speaker cut-out. The original finish (see page 45 and 54 in Ron’s book ) on the poplar panels is a very dark brown lacquer – almost opaque. The walnut ‘cheeks’ were masked off and the cabinet given many coats of dark brown lacquer in the spray booth at SPARC (see photos), with the masking tape/paper then being removed and final coats of only slightly tinted lacquer applied to the ‘cheeks’ and the rest of the cabinet. Finally, the gilt highlights were added along the three speaker grill ‘uprights’ and above/below the ‘Philco’ logo. The cabinet looking like new, I thought I would tackle the chassis… 18 months later, it is still on my desk. Since then I have restored at least 10 other sets and played around with many more electronic gizmos on the bench. So why is that? One reason is that I keep taking a peek at all those bakelite capacitor cases and I get cold feet! – not that I have not tackled these gadgets before (I even bought a Philco 20 during that 18 months and re-capped it as a practice run), then I could not identify a couple of the Philco part numbers on the 16B bakelite capacitor cases, so I sent off for the exellent book on this subject entitled ‘Philco Condensers and More’ by Ray Bintiff (available from Antique Electronic Supplies’ at https://www.tubesandmore.com) – problem solved. Then I thought I would send off for a batch of ‘orange drops’ rather than use the local cheapo capacitors for such a prestigeous set. They arrived, so I felt I was probably ready to start… First, I always make sure the power supply components are working ok and are safe – so I replaced the frayed power cable, tested the on/off switch and then tested the power transformer – that worked ok (phew!) – it was getting late and I thought I would leave the first of the capacitor replacments (they take about 30 minutes each I found on the Philco 20) to the morning. Bad mistake – I lost momentum… Then I got pressured by my ‘better half’ to finish off one of my other long-term projects (a Silvertone lowboy) destined for our entrance hall, then a Zenith, a couple of Eddystones, then I bought a new sweep generator and played around with that – this ‘toy’ is still on my bench, as is the Philco 16B chassis! Do other folks suffer from this type of procrastination? or is it just me?
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Download HPIM0077 (Small).JPG. (Caution: This file may not be virus scanned.)January 31, 2009 at 6:00 am #1264Gerry O’HaraKeymaster
No longer! – I finally pulled the chassis out from under the bench (yes, it finally got relegated due to shortage of bench-space and concern I would damage something if I left it on there). There is a new post being prepared on finishing-up the restoration…. take a look!
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