August 23, 2020 at 3:54 pm #15163Gary AlbachCVRS Member
This is a question I’ve struggled with over the years in an attempt to provide some sort of guidelines for the work that goes into an old radio. With the help of Gerry O’Hara, and his notion of a ‘sympathetic’ restoration, I finally decided to formalize my thoughts into a one-page list and offer it below for your comments. These are the categories that I think of when starting a project – you may have a different way of looking at it.
Please let us know how you evaluate the amount of time and expense that you will put into a radio project. Are these too many categories? Should there be more? Do we need a budget at all before diving in?
Categories for Fixing Antique Radios
Level 0. Do Nothing, except careful superficial cleaning. The intent is to preserve the integrity of an extremely rare, iconic radio.
Level 1. Repair
All failed electronic components are replaced, mechanical damage needed for operation is repaired, and damage to the cabinet is repaired to preserve integrity, not cosmetic appearance. The intent is to return the radio to a working condition with minimum work and expense.
Level 2. Refurbish
All failed, weak or out-of-tolerance electronic components are replaced, and mechanical assemblies may be rebuilt or replaced with modern equivalents with minimal regard to the original factory appearance. Cabinet repairs comprise both structural and cosmetic upgrades. The intent is to return the radio to a long-term working condition with a cabinet that can be displayed.
Level 3. Restore with Sympathetic Intent
All failed, weak or out-of-tolerance electronic components are replaced while generally maintaining the original factory appearance and/or contemporary look. Mechanical assemblies may be disassembled, cleaned, rebuilt, or replaced with modern equivalents. Modern safety standards are a consideration, and this may include installing a fuse(s). Cabinet repairs/finishes must resemble the original factory colours and textures but do not need to be exact duplicates. The intent is to return the radio to the style and performance of radios of the period.
Level 4. Restore to Factory Look and Performance
All failed, weak or out-of-tolerance electronic components are replaced while maintaining the original factory appearance. Mechanical assemblies may be disassembled, cleaned, rebuilt, or replaced with modern equivalents while maintaining the original factory appearance. All construction techniques and external cabinet work conform to factory norms. Modern components and cabinet finishes may be used provided the final presentation is not visibly different from the original upon close inspection. Modern safety standards are a consideration, however, if changes are required to do this that would detract from the original appearance, a risk-based decision must be made whether this should be undertaken or not. The intent is to return the radio to a close approximation of its original look and performance.
Level 5. Return to Factory Construction
All failing or weak electronic components and mechanical assemblies are replaced while maintaining original factory appearance. Replaced components are exact duplicates to factory specifications using original materials and construction techniques. In 2020 this is a hypothetical category meant to hold a place for future advances in restoration techniques.August 25, 2020 at 9:03 am #15164Les DicksonCVRS Member
Thanks for the topic. I find it easier to think of two categories (electronics & cabinet) with varying levels in each category since they can be quite different. However, I don’t have a set of criteria of each category.
Attachments:September 1, 2020 at 5:29 pm #15281Gary AlbachCVRS Member
Hi Les – yes, the recognition that chassis and cabinet restorations require different tools and skills is an important distinction. Perhaps my levels of repair could fit into each of your two columns? When I’m fixing both the cabinet and the chassis of a radio, I tend to restore them both to the same level of perfection e.g. if I’m doing a Level 4 restoration, then both the cabinet and the chassis get the ‘full meal deal’ treatment.
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