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 Post subject: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here---project *COMPLETED* !
PostPosted: Aug Thu 23, 2012 1:52 am 
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Joined: Oct Mon 26, 2009 10:02 pm
Posts: 4975
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Hello All,

Pretty excited when the GE P-865 arrived today ! It's a radio that I've really liked not only for its vintage ( introduced in 1961 ), styling, & reputed performance, but also as GE's 1st transistor AM/FM portable. But never thought I'd own one due to scarcity & value... But thanks once again to Mitch ( PBPP ) who clued me in on this set he found listed in a PA Craigslist ad for $30, can now add one to collection ( after some TLC )... And not break my frugal "budget"...

The lady who sold it packaged it very well---radio inside a well fitted box, then "pillow" wrap around it, and finally crushed newspaper to fill in gaps ( effective in this case ) inside larger box...

Radio in decent shape---knobs, antenna, & most of cosmetics appear very good but dirty & "sticky"... Unfortunately, areas of the chrome plated screen behind grille have been "splashed" with something corrosive---chrome is gone & metal "mesh" rusty... Will try and find stainless steel screen fabric of same "mesh" style to replace...

The bandswitch is very dirty & intermittent, but did get very good performance on AM and some "muddy" FM reception... The audio is much cleaner than the P-780 & tone control has greater range from adequate bass to very sharp treble. When switching bands, you get a really noticeable "ker-chunk" as that several inch long bandswitch is actuated ! The volume control is somewhat "erratic" & needs a "dose" of Faderlube, also...

This radio looks like it'll be a "long-term" project---but will post progress when able...

Here are a couple "before" pics right out of the box ( just noticed it has on/off vol. knob for tuning also ! ):


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Last edited by xrhonda91 on Nov Sat 18, 2017 10:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Thu 23, 2012 2:16 am 
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Location: Virginia
Pretty Sweet - Looks Complete - Even has those elusive original knobs. - Niiiiiiice!
Long term project my foot.... you'll be tearing it down and restoring it before this weekend. :P

~ Mitch ~


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Thu 23, 2012 2:42 am 
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Joined: Oct Mon 26, 2009 10:02 pm
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
Thanks Mitch, but don't think so...

Actually a little fearful/nervous about this one---it is "packed" & much more complex inside than P-780...

And will have to "strip" it to replace grille screen & properly clean/polish chrome & plastic dial plate...

Forgot to mention that battery compartment really clean with just a bit of battery leakage residue... And tuning fairly smooth & easy, so won't have to fool with that 5-gang variable cap !

John


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Thu 23, 2012 6:01 am 
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You know, I was gonna reply to that ad and I just assumed no one on CL would ship... so I passed. Glad someone here got it!

There's one on ETSY too but the chrome is shot.

Rich


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Thu 23, 2012 9:46 am 
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PBPP wrote:
Long term project my foot.... you'll be tearing it down and restoring it before this weekend. :P

+1...He ain't foolin' us :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Fri 24, 2012 1:20 am 
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
No foolin'---definitely not a one weekend project !

Did wipe it down with damp cloth this evening so it could be handled without getting fingers dirty... And pulled back cover for 1st time---appears untouched with a layer of dust & "fuzz" on bottom... Also doesn't look as hard to work on as I thought from viewing interior pics of other's sets---and thankful for that !

Looked for stainless steel screen on-line & there are many sources---also found informational site which told how to determine the "mesh size"... Took measurements of mine & need to revisit it to determine what I need for grille screen replacement...

Also, tried cleaning small areas of chrome around dial which had very small pinpoint "speckles", but they appear to be in the surface. Will have to try a stronger polish...

"Played" with bandswitch a bit more and finally got great FM reception---and sound was INCREDIBLE for this old radio---the original GE ad wasn't lying ! But tuning not quite right---each station tuned over a fairly broad area of dial... Do understand principles/theory of FM broadcast & reception, but have next to no experience troubleshooting FM circuits---may still be poor bandswitch connection, so will wait until that's eliminated before asking for suggestions...

Here is pic of an old ad for this radio---have seen another which stated retail price of $125 when new !


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Fri 24, 2012 2:52 am 
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Location: Dallas, TX - in the city but with bobcats and coyotes
Best to go easy on the chrome plating. That's probably the surface of metal underneath beginning to fail.

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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Fri 24, 2012 3:59 am 
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Location: Utica, NY 13502 (USA)
"[FM] tuning not quite right---each station tuned over a fairly broad area of dial..."

Mine is the same with the AFC switched on. It tends to "hang on" to the station over a much wider range than most FM sets do. With the AFC off, FM tuning isn't nearly as broad.

I saw the $125 price printed in an ad for this radio as well. It's hard to believe someone would pay that much back then but FM models were rare in the early years of transistor radios. The US companies never made any practical tube FM portables so the GE P-865 and the Zenith Royal 2000 (also expensive) were among the few models breaking into an un-tapped market for portable radios with an FM band.

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Sat 25, 2012 1:43 am 
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$125 was a decent week's wage back then. And, I have to point out that the tuning knob does not have a pointer. However, it's the voulme knob that is usually missing on these GE radios, so you might be able to trade knobs with someone. The AFC action is typical of the way that feature worked back then.

They are amazing performers when they are working properly. I'd love to find a new handle for mine... and for that matter my P-780.

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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Sat 25, 2012 3:18 am 
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Joined: Oct Mon 26, 2009 10:02 pm
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
Thanks Guys !

Jeremy---will be careful...

Dave---tried tuning with AFC "off" & you're exactly right ! Good to know that's normal...

Phil---was making around that much weekly starting at 1st "real" electronics job in 1979 !
Noticed the "pointer" on tuning knob just as posting pics on this thread---the tuning shaft appears to be smaller than P-780 & same size as volume shaft in both which is probably why they used it ( P-780's more plentiful )... Black vinyl is easy to find, so handle shouldn't be too much trouble to recover if old good enough for pattern---may try this if rest of radio turns out okay cosmetically... But finding the "Ginger" color of P-780 in any material would probably be next to impossible... Did you ever find the factory service info for this radio ?

John


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Sun 26, 2012 3:18 am 
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After a bit of research online, found how to "size" the grille screen---it is "16 mesh" woven-wire, chrome-plated steel---think it is .018 wire from supplier pic appearance, but need to take calipers to it when removed to verify... Plan to replace with 316 stainless steel stock which is not cheap, but will outlast the radio and survive some of the "junk" that might come from the speaker...

Hope to begin disassembly next weekend...

John


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Sun 26, 2012 1:24 pm 
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The term 'mesh' is an archaic term which is sometimes confusing.
Still used today in mining and gold panning. It refers to the number of the holes in one inch.

Today we refer to a screen as 1/4, 1/8th or 1/16th inch.
That would correspond to 4, 8 and 16 mesh. - Weird, eh?

~ Mitch ~


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Sun 26, 2012 5:21 pm 
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Yes, got "daily dose" of knowledge researching it...

And since they also have rectangular mesh, the 1/16" square is actually "16 X 16" mesh.

John


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Sun 26, 2012 9:51 pm 
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xrhonda91 wrote:
Plan to replace with 316 stainless steel stock which is not cheap, but will outlast the radio and survive some of the "junk" that might come from the speaker...


John


Yoko Ono music ain't even that corrosive. :wink:

Congrats on snagging the P-865, John. The original price floored me too...probably closer to 2 weeks wages for the average Joe back then. Any tuning mechanism issues with this one?

Bruce Webster

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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Mon 27, 2012 4:50 am 
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Location: Dallas, TX - in the city but with bobcats and coyotes
Here's one perspective: In 1976/7 I made $4.64/hr and got lead/cobalt/arsenic (teeth turned black from lead fumes condensing on them) blowing glass. It was 150• F back by the tanks, year round. Snow would blow in the open windows and never make a damp spot on the floor. A guy got hit in the rib cage with a ball of hot glass. It sort of melted the flesh out of the way and stuck to the bone. They poured 50 gallons of the simmering "slack" water on him to cool him down. He was begging them to pour more. That was considered good money for the risk. Most coal miners made just a little bit more. Steel mill workers were in a similar situation. So, yeah, even then that was big money to most of us blue collar folk. I got my tail back in school to get a GED and a two year degree.

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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here !!!
PostPosted: Aug Tue 28, 2012 2:51 am 
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Well Bruce---you know the "newer junk" that's on FM these days ! At least here in Indy...
And the tuning mechanism does need some attention when I strip it down---will "redress" that tuning hub & look at some slight "binding" issues at certain areas of dial...

Wow Jeremy---sounds like a miserable way to earn a living ! And during the late 70's in America... One of my Grandfathers was an underground coal miner as a young man, then worked at the blast furnaces for International Harvestor until retirement---very hard worker his entire life, even at home... He always had projects going ( jack of all trades ) & learned alot working with him on them---and he helped Grandma in the house too ! Many good memories...

John


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here & project begins...
PostPosted: Aug Wed 29, 2012 1:55 am 
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
The project "offically" began this evening...

Started disassembly, but didn't get too far... Removed knobs & battery compartment, but not much else until I can take some detailed pics for reference ( and to post )... Much grounding/strapping as well as lead position/dress issues at tuning cap... The interior of the battery chamber was surprisingly clean with only a few small spots of leakage residue/corrosion.

There was a heavy, oily film on case bottom which felt & smelled like automotive motor oil as well as what appears to be sawdust---probably was a garage/shop radio ! My guess is that the speaker grille screen may have been splashed by battery acid as corroded as it is in places...

Since it's going to require a lot to access & remove all speaker hardware, decided to clip out small pieces of the mesh screen wire to measure at work tomorrow with calipers so I can order the proper stainless material... Got a little "queasy" feeling when I went after it with small dikes & needlenose, but got adequate samples of both vertical & horizontal mesh "wires" ( got both just for "curiousity" comparison )...

When inside, noticed the date codes on several parts---nothing newer than the fall of 1961... This model was introduced that year, so perhaps this is an early example...

Stay tuned...


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here & project begins...
PostPosted: Aug Wed 29, 2012 3:30 am 
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Joined: Feb Thu 24, 2011 1:29 am
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Location: Dallas, TX - in the city but with bobcats and coyotes
I think it must have had some Yoko Ono spilled on it. I find her to be extremely corrosive. :shock: And I personally saw Root Boy Slim and The Sex Change Band performing "Boogie 'til You Puke." :mrgreen: ..and shared party refreshments on stage with Patty Smith. 8)
Be sure to take pictures of lead dressing too. Especially antenna wires. Been there..

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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here & project begins...
PostPosted: Aug Thu 30, 2012 1:44 am 
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The grille screen wire samples all measured out to .0175", so ordered the .018" stainless wire woven mesh...

Wonder what lies behind the present "screen" & if it will clean up okay...

Will post when it arrives...


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 Post subject: Re: The GE P-865 AM/FM is here & project begins...
PostPosted: Aug Fri 31, 2012 1:12 am 
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
The "16 x 16" mesh, .018" dia. wire, 316 stainless-steel screen arrived today---minimum order size was 12" X 12" for $13.61...

Came from McMaster-Carr which is one of our company's primary vendors & offers very quick service and shipping...

Noticed under bright light fine "lines" on some of the wires, probably from manufacturing process---hope they're not noticeable when screen installed behind grille... But otherwise, it looks like an excellent "match"...

Weather forecast rainy this long weekend, so hope to get majority of this project complete...

John


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