July 2, 2019 at 1:20 pm #11630Gary AlbachCVRS Member
I recently completed the restoration of a little 1950/51 Arvin 542T radio and am writing up the project so that I can present it here in several sections. I did the work in three (3) stages: restoring the chassis, painting the cabinet, and molding the knobs, and so will write up and post a brief description of each. To start, the following is a short background on this family of radios and why I found this one interesting.
The finished radio is shown in the attached Figure 1.
In the early 1950s, Arvin produced a line of inexpensive brightly coloured, 4-tube superhets aimed at kids still at home and young people going off to college. They sold for about $15 back then (about $160 today). Two models from 1949/50 are very similar, the 440T and the 441T ‘Hopalong Cassidy’. The 440T came is a variety of colours, all with light brown knobs, while the ‘Hoppy’ only came in red and black, with black knobs, but had a striking silver front overlay of Hoppy and his horse Topper.
Then in 1950/51, Arvin introduced its Model 542T which is described on the website preservingarvin.com as being:
‘a little set with “hybrid” cosmetics. Case looks just like the Model 440T sets. But the knobs are the same as were used on the Hopalong Cassidy (441T) set. Last production run on the Hoppys had some excess knobs and last production run on the 440Ts came up short on their knobs? Maybe! So let’s make a new model!’
The Arvin website doesn’t describe the colours that the hybrid 542T was offered in but shows ivory and cream models. Mine was battered ivory when I got it, adding to my speculation that it is indeed a 542T. Since it needed repainting anyway, my wife likes red, and there is no indication that Arvin didn’t produce a red version, I decided to paint this radio red to look like the ‘Hoppy’ but without the silver front overlay. (I have since discovered that original NOS overlays of Hoppie are available on eBay for about C$200 each! A bit steep.) My radio already had one black knob, but the volume control knob was missing.
Stay tuned and next I’ll present pictures of the chassis restoration.
Attachments:July 3, 2019 at 2:30 pm #11633Les DicksonCVRS Member
Hi Gary, I’m glad you posted this. I have an Avin 440-T that I’ve restored. I’m not happy with the way the knobs are so I’m looking forward to your posting on that part of the restoration because yours look great. My radio had a very textured gray-white finish, almost looked like someone decided to coat it when they were stippling their ceiling. I used a bright yellow paint, not sure if it was ever an original colour option.
This was also the first trf I restored and it had me confused for a while. (Novice!)July 3, 2019 at 2:34 pm #11634Les DicksonCVRS Member
My first attempt to attach a picture failed due to the file size so this one should work.
Attachments:July 3, 2019 at 7:17 pm #11636Gary AlbachCVRS Member
Hi Les – I’m just writing up the restoration of the chassis and the cabinet, and will post the casting of the knobs after that, hopefully by next week.
You will see that this radio also started with a grey-white colour and had terrible blemishes in the finish. I always thought it was just a poor paint job by a previous owner but now I wonder if the factory finishes might have badly deteriorated.
Yes, bright yellow was an original colour for the 440T. They called it ‘Banana Yellow’ as shown in the attached advertisement. The following year for their model 540T they switched to ‘Citron’. Have attached a photo of a display we had in our kitchen until my wife got tired of looking at it and made me change it.
And, yes, the circuit in these radios can be a bit confusing at first. They are not strictly TRFs but are a real superhetrodyne, without an IF amplifier stage. They have the basic All American Five (AA5) circuit without the IF amplifier tube. Hence, they have the selectivity of an AA5 but without the sensitivity. Being housed in a metal case, and not having a built-in loop antenna, they definitely need an external wire antenna!
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