Holiday finds, August 2010

The AWA Seven Band Radios of the 1940's

While on holidays in Victoria in August, picked up one of these radios I had bought on on Ebay the week before. It was in quite good condition except for many years of dirt and grime on the top of the cabinet. When I started to look at it I soon found it had only had one repair in its long life, that was a 0.1uF capacitor on the HT rails replaced and someone had also removed the capacitor that connected the Anode of the Audio O/P valve to the External Speaker socket.

Looking further at the chassis it has the Magic Eye tuning indicator and is a Model 617TM S/N C0084344.
I have two other incomplete chassis and they are both earlier models, S/N's C0074882 and C0067412.
The ARTS&P labels in these two are green and the numbers are G56808 and G47052
The oldest one has two dates written inside the chassis in pencil and an initial.
The dates are 19/2/41 and 16/4/43. I have restored this chassis but do not have a cabinet to put it in.

I still regret destroying one of these when I was about eighteen. I tried to "hot it up" putting in modern novel tubes, adding a VR tube and a VFO. I never could get it stable and eventually took it apart, keeping only the coil assembly, the dial and the gang. I still have them somewhere I guess. Seen them about five years ago in the shed.

After deciding restoration of the chassis was going to be easy I then tuned my attention to the cabinet, one of two wide wood mantle designs that was used for many of these radios. After cleaning off the many years of grime with strong detergent I soon realised the wood grain finish was fake. It was done with paints and stains. I am sure this is original by the nice layer of cellulose lacquer that had protected the finish for many years. As there were scratches in this coating and patches of it had flaked off, it had to go. Out with the paint stripper and I soon had the rest of the lacquer off and was starting to lift off the wood grain finish. To my horror, the wood work was very poor and had been puttied up with a filler putty and then an undercoat.

Now this was a very expensive radio and all the other examples I have seen have had magnificent wood cabinets except for one a fellow local HRSA member has. That one is covered with leather. By now I was starting to formulate a scenario. Looking at what was left of the ARTS&P sticker it must have been built just after the war and we know there was a shortage of all materials, wood included, and of tradesmen to do craftsmanship work. Looks like at this time they were making the cabinets out of packing crate timber and when they were too rough to finish with stain they either covered them with leather or a fake wood grain finish. The actual wood work is good and has stood up well over the years, it is just the quality of the timber, it is rough and splintery.

What do I do now, learn how to put the fake finish back on, find someone who can do it for me or have it covered with leather ?

This set is one where the dial assembly is attached to the cabinet and the dial chords, one for the station/frequency pointer and one for the band indicator, have to be disconnected before the chassis can be removed. This is a pain, why did AWA do his in some models ?.

I mentioned above two wide wood mantle cabinet designs. These have the dial scale on the right side and the speaker on the left. This one has a sloping front, friends have another version that is about the same size but the front is vertical. There is also another design that has the dial scale on the top of the cabinet rather than in the front. The model life of this set was about ten years and so many versions were built, even vibrator and battery models, Console and Radio Grams, all using the same basic circuit configuration.

Articles on these radios were published in Radio Waves, January 1995, all six pages of information, and in the October 1996 edition on the 805G radiogram. Rodney Champness wrote about these radios on no less than three occasions in the Vintage Radio column of Silicon Chip magazine. May 2001, March 2002 and April 2002. There is also an article on the restoration/reproduction of a Seven Bander in the July 2010 Radio Waves magazine.

Oh and by the way, my guess is the M in Model 617TM means it has a Magic Eye tuning indicator, the T indicates a table top model and the C in 719C indicates a Console !

How was the External Speaker Socket meant to be used ?. It has a 0.1uF coupling capacitor from the Anode of the 6V6 output valve and so it has to operate into a high impedance load. I suppose the idea was a speaker with an output transformer included would be used. The coupling capacitor would have meant the bass response would have been quite poor.

Green Philips Mantle - Mistrel 138

I found this one in an antique/junk store on the Bellarine Peninsula and much to my surprise Pat though it was cute and suggested I buy it. I had to haggle and bargain a bit to get it for a price that was acceptable to all concerned. Would like to find another knob for it, one is broken.

It had a note on it saying it was in good working order and it even had an Appliance Electrical test tag on the power cord. As I have found all too often with radios in stores like this, it was far from safe and the "Licensed Electrician" should have known better than to Tag this item with the two wire power cord that was inadequately anchored.

LEKMEK Model 406 or 409A

The third radio I picked up in my travels is a LEKMEK mantle in remarkably good condition. With the help of the AORSAM CD I was able to identify it as either a model 406 or a 409A. This was quite easy as the circuit uses only four valves and has an EBL1 output valve that has the detector diode included, rather than using the more usual double diode/triode for the detector and an audio premap.

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Written by and Copyright, Phil. Storr © Last updated 14th February 2011