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  • #11667
    Gary Albach
    Forum Participant

    The set I received had a black tuning knob with a damaged silver centre and was missing the volume control knob. Luckily, I had a similar volume knob on one of my other Arvins, so I was able to use it to make a mold and cast a new knob.

    I used Smooth-On OOMOO 30 Tin Cure Silicone Mold Rubber to make the mold. As shown in the first attachment, I placed the donor knob from the other radio upright in the bottom of a cut-off plastic pill bottle and covered it with the silicone mold rubber. The second attachment shows the mold and donor knob removed from the pill bottle and turned over. I removed the donor knob from the mold by making a slit in the side of the silicone as shown in the third attachment.

    I cast the new knob using Alumilite White (‘Amazing Casting Resin’), coloured black with a couple drops of Testors black lacquer as shown in attachment #4. Craig Marston of the SPARC museum near Vancouver suggested that I cast the hole in the shaft of the knob using a drill bit covered with Teflon tape to keep it from sticking. This technique is shown in attachment #5. The drill bit makes a nice insert, but I discovered that simply spraying it with the same mold release that I use in the silicone mold (Alumilite UMR) is a bit easier than applying the Teflon tape.

    After the casting resin partially hardened, I removed the knob from the mold and pushed it onto the splined shaft of an old potentiometer to cut the internal splines in the knob. (attachment #6)

    I repainted the silver numbers and name on the tuning knob and gave it a light spray of gloss lacquer. The volume knob didn’t need the lacquer as the casing resin was already shiny with the black colouring.

    The knobs on a Model 542T have domed silver centre sections (‘knob brights’). To make these I first machined round disks of the appropriate diameter from flat, shiny steel hole plugs as shown in attachment #7. To form these flat disks into domes, I machined a domed contour onto the end of a short length of one-inch diameter brass bar stock and used this in a vise to press the steel disks into a piece of soft wood. It worked beautifully, and a final bright is shown in attachment #8.

    The brights were attached to the centre of the knobs with ‘household cement’, the inexpensive stuff from a dollar store that still has acetone and MEK in it. Attachment #9 shows the finished knobs.

    So that’s it. Attachment #10 shows the final working radio with the original grill cloth and new/reconditioned knobs installed. A very satisfying project!


    Gary Albach
    Forum Participant

    Forgot that the site can only take 9 pictures at once. Here’s the last one of the finished radio.

    Dan Walker
    CVRS Member

    That must have take a while to get it all done .
    You did a very good job , and I like the finished knob.
    Dan in Calgary

    Gary Albach

    Thanks, Dan. Yes, these little table radios are a lot of work that isn’t always apparent. Like remodeling a bathroom – just as much or more work as in every other room, but in a smaller space where everything shows!

    Another little Arvin followed me home from a garage sale last weekend, so I’m glad I have the mold to make a missing knob for it as well.

    Wish I had your skill in restoring those beautiful wooden cabinets.


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