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 Post subject: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Thu 07, 2017 5:58 pm 
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Joined: Dec Fri 04, 2015 6:31 pm
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Location: Asheville, NC
This Philco 90 mid-run with one 47 tube is staring at me from the shelf, begging to be brought back to life and beauty. Here are the photos of the current state. Feel free to comment on the photos or album if you like.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/P97wkTNAMKFGyq9v2

The question is, should I check out the electronics, replace just what's needed, clean it up, test it, and put it back together looking close to its original state? Or should I tear it all apart, super-clean everything in the ultrasonic cleaner, paint the chassis, and re-wire it with modern wire and components to make it as rust-resistant and reliable as possible from now on? I have a notion to re-stuff the capacitor boxes, buy a kit of dogbone resistors, superficially clean only as needed, and replace only what's necessary to keep it looking original, but part of me wants to focus on long-term functionality rather than under-chassis appearance and just replace everything without regard to original appearance. <ducks> I would check all the tubes after restoration and only replace any that are weak or dead, no matter which wiring direction I go.

I have not tested the transformer or any of the coils yet. The goal of this process will probably be to enjoy the radio for a while and eventually sell it. Not trying to make money - it's a labor of love for me. I would like for it to be working reliably for as long as possible.

I admit I have not done a lot of research in this area. Is there a general consensus on this topic or am I crazy to even consider the complete rebuild? I have never reconed a speaker or refinished a cabinet before, so this will be a learning experience for me all around.

Thank you for your time and opinions.

Cheers!
Mike

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Thu 07, 2017 6:23 pm 
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mrcowden wrote:
This Philco 90 mid-run with one 47 tube is staring at me from the shelf, begging to be brought back to life and beauty...

The question is, should I...
Actually the real question is, "What do you want to do?" It's your radio.

All I could tell you is what I might do if it was my radio, not what YOU SHOULD DO.

If it was my radio:

I would replace under chassis components with new parts without stuffing new parts into old part bodies. The exception could be the electrolytic capacitors. Sometimes re-stuffing electrolytic cans is just a better answer for component placement. After all, the cans themselves are normally retained for the above-chassis appearance.

I would replace all fixed value capacitors except Mica capacitors. I would replace resistors only if warranted by values being way out of whack.

I would clean the chassis but not paint it unless there are some serious rust concerns. If there are serious rust concerns I would de-rust and then paint if necessary for preservation.

I would not re-wire unless the existing wire is deteriorated and appears unsafe/unreliable. In cases with the disintegrating rubber insulation re-wiring would actually be required (the risk of short circuits otherwise would be unacceptably high).

I probably would paint the power transformer if it looks ugly.

I would install a fuse in the power line.

Just some thoughts.

Curtis Eickerman

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Thu 07, 2017 11:51 pm 
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Location: Linn Creek, Missouri
Mike, I agree with everything Curtis said with the exception of the capacitors. I would certainly restuff the bakelite capacitor blocks. When you see a Philco radio that has had capacitors replaced without restuffing it looks like a hack job.

Steve

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Fri 08, 2017 12:09 am 
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Steve Davis wrote:
Mike, I agree with everything Curtis said with the exception of the capacitors. I would certainly restuff the bakelite capacitor blocks. When you see a Philco radio that has had capacitors replaced without restuffing it looks like a hack job.

Steve


Ditto !! Not only does it look bad it is actually MORE WORK to install some terminal strips to support the wiring that it is to restuff the bakelite block caps. Most of them you don't even have to unwire and remove them. Just tilt them and dig the old stuffings out and install new capacitors. Solder to the lugs the same as the originals and reattach the block to the chassis. Your choice on the resistors. And on the rest of it. Personal opinion yes everyone has one. Since I do restorations for customers I certainly don't want a radio back where I get to pay two way shipping and repair it again from free... warrantied it is. I will replace every part that either is out of spec or that I think it might break or go out of spec. I do the same with my own radios as I just don't like having to go back and redo a chassis a second time.
John k9uwa

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Fri 08, 2017 12:17 am 
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I would agree with restuffing the bakelite caps.

Restuffing them is almost as fast as replacing them, and retains all the terminal connections on the blocks without having to add new terminal strips for associated components and wires.

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Fri 08, 2017 1:17 am 
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Location: Medford OR
Here is how I do it - -

https://www.russoldradios.com/restoration.html

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Fri 08, 2017 3:45 am 
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Joined: Dec Fri 04, 2015 6:31 pm
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Location: Asheville, NC
Thank you all for the feedback. I appreciate all these ideas and opinions. Definitely leaning toward restuffing the bakelite boxes and electrolytics. There is a little rust on the chassis, but it's not too bad. I'm mostly concerned about cleaning the tuner, so maybe I'll just take that off and drop it in the ultrasonic bath for a couple rounds and give the rest a detailed cleaning. The power transformer will probably take a de-rusting and a coat of paint.

Do you guys ever coat the coils with anything like a coil varnish or Q Dope or something similar? Wondering if it's worth the effort to help preserve those.

I usually put three wire cords on these with grounded plugs, ground the chassis, and install safety caps and a fuse on the primary side of the power transformer. Are there any other good practices I should consider, like higher value filter caps? A commercial audio engineer friend of mine says I should twist all the filament leads to reduce hum. Is there a chance that might help?

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Fri 08, 2017 7:13 am 
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Hi Mike,

The Philco 90 is sort of a bas@#$! Probably best to check the coils as soon as possible. Some people lacquer them to hold the wiring in place. Especially the case if you have to re-wind. On my particular 90 I had to re-wind the Rf coil. If you haven't checked the coils on this radio do so soon. The wire is all 34 AWG magnet wire and has a tendency to open.

I would also re-stuff the bakelite blocks.

So back to the original post. The pictures you posted don't look like you need to actually disassemble entirely. The chassis looks in pretty good shape. You might want to re-stuff the electrolytic caps as they looked pretty good.

On the other hand... If you really want to disassemble entirely and re-work completely it is your radio. just like Curtis posted. In this case you should be ready to learn a number of new skills.

Anyhow blathering on once again. Have the exact same unit with a single 47 output, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.

Cheers.

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Fri 08, 2017 10:49 am 
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Joined: Sep Thu 23, 2010 6:37 am
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Location: Powell River BC Canada
I would look at it very carefully.

I would test all the tubes. Why? I want to know if the radio was capable of
working when it last powered.

Next, check the iron. Transformers, chokes, fields. I would know if they electrically
worked, by a variety of means.

Energize the chassis, again without the possibility of damaging anything.

Then key signals, if healthy, make the radio play, and find out if and how it works.

All of the above would be part of a pre-paid estimate.




Here is my "iron and insulation tester"
Attachment:
Induktor   Shorted Turn Dectector and.jpg
Induktor Shorted Turn Dectector and.jpg [ 77.46 KiB | Viewed 189 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Fri 08, 2017 5:51 pm 
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I have a Philco 84B that I had planned a full tear down and spit shine for.. The bottom side had been pretty hacked up.. The bakelite blocks were a broken mess.. I soon started noticing notes from past repairs, and someones address on the inside of the case.. I replaced what I needed to in order to make it function, clean it up a bit, and left the rest alone.. I couldn't make myself erase its past.. It plays, it looks ok, and it has all its original patina intact..

Stan

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Fri 08, 2017 6:02 pm 
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Steve Davis wrote:
Mike, I agree with everything Curtis said with the exception of the capacitors. I would certainly restuff the bakelite capacitor blocks.
Actually I would agree with you on that. I wasn't thinking of bakelite blocks with regard to stuffing capacitors. I consider bakelite blocks as terminal strips that are just upside down and wax filled. It's not the same as trying to reconstruct the appearance of paper/wax capacitors or dogbone resistors. By the way, I would never bother to re-wax-fill a bakelite block.

Having said that I would also see nothing wrong with taking out the bakelite blocks and replacing them with terminal strips. I'm just not that in love with "original" appearance under the chassis. I am more into functionality and serviceability (yeah, bakelite blocks are not exactly the greatest for serviceability).

For those who are aghast, I am impressed by the pictures under the chassis where people go to extremes to make things "look" original. It just seems like kind of a waste unless you are going to mount the radio chassis in a clear glass case or hang pictures of the underside on your walls. Perhaps there is just satisfaction from "knowing" what it looks like under there where you can't see it?

For what it's worth, I have seen radio chassis restorations where I felt like it was a crime to put it back into a case where no one would ever see how nice it looked.

Curtis Eickerman

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Mon 11, 2017 5:05 am 
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Thank you, Bosch, Radiotech, Stan, and Eickerman for the great comments. I have read about some of the problems that seem to plague the Philco sets, so I will carefully test everything before making any major decisions. I will not re-wire the chassis like I did with my Atwater Kent 206. The A-K had crumbling rubber wire insulation. Most of the resistors and caps were out of tolerance, the band switch was a nightmare, multiple prior repairs were very poorly done, and it just could not feasibly be repaired in a way that would ensure lasting reliability. I can probably dig up photos if anyone is interested.

The cloth wire on the Philco probably saves it from the same fate. It does not need a re-wire. I will re-coat the coils with Q-Dope or something similar for long term protection, clean the mechanicals as thoroughly as I can, and use quality components to make it work for a long time with minimum disruption. If I can rebuild the bakelite blocks with reasonable effort and good result, I will, but if that fails, I will remove and replace them. I will not wire in modern replacements around the blocks. No matter what I do, there will be a set of photographs of the original appearance in archival-quality print and digital formats available for any future owners.

Eickerman, I appreciate your comments about taking heroic measures to preserve original appearance. You've found the heart of the debate that has been raging in my brain. Will the people who see it after I'm done with it appreciate the extra effort? There is great satisfaction in making it all original, but, thinking about future owners, might there be more potential enjoyment from adding an audio input from an RCA jack or a Bluetooth receiver, and documenting the method to make such modifications, than from making the wiring appear as it did in 1931? The longevity of the set, and the ability to maximize the number of people who may enjoy and be able to maintain it are also very important to me. It is a piece of history, but most people bought it for its immediate appearance and utility. That said, I personally LOVE seeing the many sets that have been painstakingly and lovingly restored to original appearance. Those beautiful pieces are testaments to the original designer's intent and to the technical skill and careful artistry of the restorer, and their value to me is higher than "modernized" sets. It is not lost on me that these radios were designed and built to appeal to the maximum number of consumers possible by way of their utility and outward appearance, and the chassis wiring was not designed to impress anyone. The base of people who appreciate these sets may expand if they gain meaningful function and reliability. There is a balance to be found between under-chassis appearance and functionality, and that was the intent of starting this thread.

That said, I have a lot to learn about repairing or re-coning a speaker and cabinet refinishing. I hope to have the benefit of so much valuable input on future questions sure to come.

Thank you very much.

Mike

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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Mon 11, 2017 5:59 am 
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Hey Mike,

If you haven't been welcomed before, Welcome to the forum. :)

You have the 90, a Very desirable cathedral of *Any* manufacturer. The Grandma of Philco cathedrals, so it Could deserve a little better attention then most others. Especially down the road when you decide to sell it.

Same amount of work hiding the new capacitors in their housings, electrolytic cans included. You'll reap higher dollars for it when the time comes. Collectors that are willing to pay the "big bucks" are looking for these little extras. It also shows them the kind of *Caliber* work that has been done to one of Philco's top sets.

Although I agree with Curtis, " I would never bother to re-wax-fill a bakelite block." You don't need to go into "overkill" mode about it.

I can't find the webpage on my PC right now that shows ALL bakelite block #s & corresponding capacitor values. PhilcoRepairBench has revamped it's site. Hopefully another ARFer will help us out. :)

Do a Good Job on this particular model & you'll be rewarded in it's listening pleasure & monetary value when the time comes to sell.

Some models Never get dull, :wink:
Lloyd
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 Post subject: Re: Restoration philosophy/technique Philco 90 <shields up>
PostPosted: Dec Mon 11, 2017 7:01 am 
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Location: Minnetonka, MN 55305
About those Bakelite blocks: They are not filled with wax they are filled with TAR. The stuff has hardened over time so I urge you to heat them up before digging out the tar. I use an old toaster oven set at 250. It doesn't take long and the tar softens so you can pop it and the capacitor out cleanly; without breaking the Bakelite block.

Wire in your new caps from below and reconnect the wiring. It is orderly and makes the underside uniquely Philco. I agree with the posts that urge you to use your own standard. I used to approach restoration from a "better than new" standpoint: Perfect finish, polished brass like it just came out of the box; however I now use the "survivor" approach: Keep as much of the external appearance as original as possible. Leave the minor flaws and whenever possible keep the original finish but clean it up a bit.

Never re-stuffed wax caps or resistors but, like you put new components where needed to ensure some level of reliability.

The 90 is a great set. I currently have a console with the 90 chassis and it is an excellent performer. Have fun!

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