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 Post subject: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2017 3:04 am 
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
Hello All,

Have been looking for one of these seriously for awhile and noticed how high they were beginning to sell for on Ebay---even when in not the greatest condition... The flame of desire was really fueled by that March 1957 Service magazine article that Greg (egg) posted the link to !

I saw one that had been listed for awhile on the Sacramento Radio Expo site and made an offer. Doug replied and said that it had been sold, but he hadn't removed the listing. I asked him to contact me if another came along and he did last week---a completely original set that had been wrapped in a blanket in the seller's great-aunt's attic for many years ! He said he'd give me first chance to buy once his shop restored it, but I asked if he'd sell it "as-is" and he did. Most expensive radio I'd ever bought, but justified the expenditure to myself by considering it a Christmas gift from my Dad who has sent me money every year which I've put directly into savings and not spent---and after receiving this radio today, just couldn't think of a better present !

It is in excellent original condition with some normal wear to paint which most of these have. Very clean as received both inside & out and it still has the cardboard battery tubes. The factory electrolytics are of manufacture I've never seen---look like paper types on outside... When I removed cover to apply power, noticed the very low serial number -0008. It looks MUCH better in person than in pics and is a solid, well made set !

Using test leads to apply power from a 9V battery, it seemed to perform very well at barely audible volume due to electrolytics. Tuned in WSM 650 clearly as well as several others.

I think I may try to put the new electrolytics under the PCB on this one---just too much of an original beauty to disturb ! Need to see if the originals show any leakage first, though...

Stay tuned for "project"---am almost afraid to disassemble this little gem !

Couple pics below as received---just needs a very careful detail cleaning...

Know that Matt, Mark, and possibly others have these---always glad to have their input !

John


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ARF T-BIRD OPEN.jpg
ARF T-BIRD OPEN.jpg [ 226.82 KiB | Viewed 1243 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2017 3:18 am 
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Location: Tennessee, USA
xrhonda91 wrote:
--a completely original set that had been wrapped in a blanket in the seller's great-aunt's attic for many years !
Truly incredible! What a fortunate find, even if it did cost you an arm and leg. Well worth it considering the pics and description. And it fell into the right person's hands. :)

BTW, since you mentioned hiding the new caps, have you ever used the old caps as a shell over the new ones? I've read some posts about doing this - seemed extreme but in this case I could see where it would be worthwhile.


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2017 3:30 am 
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
Thanks KnobDial !

I really don't want to even disturb the originals if possible. I have heard of re-stuffing old caps, but even if I wanted to, don't think the paper-like shell of these would withstand the stress of it...

Sure can't wait to hear it once new caps are installed !

Being an old car "nut", too, generates even more affection for this radio... Really like just looking at it !

John


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2017 3:55 am 
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:shock:

[Disbelief]

!


Guess that kinda score certainly makes up for broken GE osc. coils!

:D


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2017 4:19 am 
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What a great find!

Colin


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2017 5:02 am 
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Location: Palos Verdes, CA
John - Congratulations on getting the Sylvania Thunderbird, which is in fantastic condition! I was able to get one Thunderbird I bought to work well by soldering a 3 uf electrolytic capacitor which is located to the right of the volume control and hide it under the PC board, leaving the original capacitor in place. On another Thunderbird, I had to again "hide" a replacement 3 uf capacitor under the board and also similarly solder a 5 uf electrolytic capacitor under the board that is below the volume control. It is interesting to note that the Thunderbird that I bought so I could put the face plate on another Sylvania works perfectly! - Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2017 5:30 am 
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Wow John, that's an amazing find, I don't think I have ever seen a better one! Does it still have the original battery tubes? (They are almost always missing.)
Here's a video of my Thunderbird, and you can see how I hid the new caps, although I could have done it a little better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvqMUNUUFKQ


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2017 7:44 am 
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That's a beauty, John! You musta spent more on it than your usual $5.99 for a radio, eh eh! :wink:

I always try to mount replacement Electrolytics underneath a PCB on the older style sets, where preserving originality is important.

If there isn't enough vertical clearance between the PCB and the bottom of the set, you might try locating low profile surface mount Tantalum Electrolytics.

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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2017 4:36 pm 
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Beautiful radio John! Congratulations! Sometimes, we have to pay up to get the really nice ones but, as you have found out, it an be well worth it. Personally, I would not re-cap that one. They are too rare, especially in that condition. Just looking at that radio would give me all the satisfaction I need. You must have a great source for radios to come up with 2 of those in nice condition!

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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 2:31 am 
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
Thanks very much Guys !

This was/is the only radio in existence that I would have paid what I did being the super-frugal character I am---had always liked them, but thought they were more of a novelty item until I read that Service magazine article mentioned earlier and found out what engineering went into it and that they were designed to perform well & sound good which started a serious search for one... But it did take awhile to mentally up the spending limit to acquire this---even though it was gift money !

Joe---This radio is in a completely different class than that poor 'ol GE, though I still want to get it into best shape possible like the others in collection...

Colin---Was really excited just to see one of these in person after all I seen & read about them.

Mark---I've carefully read all your posts on yours as well as others and that helped fuel the interest. Don't know if I ever told you, but I was the next highest bidder on that rough $60 set you won a couple years ago...

Matt---Your You-tube video and posts also helped keep these in mind. I did see what you did with your caps, but don't want to disturb my originals at all if possible. Will put new parts under PCB like Mark. Yes, the original cardboard battery tubes are still in place and just have a tiny bit of staining. Didn't think they even belonged until I looked closely !

Fifties---You're so right about the cost ! As mentioned above, it is absolutely the only radio that I would pay what I did---and truly can say it is a gift from Dad since the Christmas money I saved from him over the years bought it. Sounds like there will be enough clearance for caps below according to Mark. Am sure nervous about even taking it apart as nice as it is !

Cliff---I'm sure that Doug has people contacting him all the time with classic radios to sell since he's in that business. He typically professionally restores them and sells for top-dollar. Take a look at his site---Sacramento Radio Expo. Seems to be a good guy with almost more business that he can handle... Think he said he'd sold three others not long ago ! I realize how hard it is to do anything to this set as nice as it is, but will be very careful---just have to listen to it working as it should like others in collection... This is my only one---the other I mentioned had sold...

Like a kid with a favorite new toy, have been setting this on end-table next to me in family room just to look at---will be great to hear those oldies when working !

John


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 3:00 am 
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Location: Mountains of Mourne. Ireland.
Here is Sylvania's brief announcement of The Thunderbird in The Billboard magazine December 1956

https://books.google.co.uk/books/conten ... b7Q&w=1280

I reckon this one might sneak in under your pillow... :)
Greg.


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 3:27 am 
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I like the idea of placing the new caps under the chassis, especially the way this radio is made. I would guess that one end of the cap on top would need top be disconnected on one end in case it is shorted. Im not sure about that as I have not done this before.

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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 5:15 am 
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hearsedriver - I left the original electrolytic capacitors in place and didn't have to cut one of the leads in order to get the Sylvania Thunderbird working with the replacement capacitors. If I wanted to return the radio back to original condition, it would be easy to remove the new capacitors. Although you can see the 3 uf capacitor through the clear cover of the Thunderbird, the 5 uf capacitor is hidden by the black paper cover on the front of the radio.

John - When I saw the "well-used" Thunderbird on eBay, I figured that it wouldn't sell for a lot as the grill with the Sylvania name plate seemed to be the only part that was in good condition. I was certainly surprised when I found out that the Thunderbird still worked! Although I saw photos of the Thunderbird in a couple of transistor radio collector books, I didn't realize how special they were until I watched Matt's youtube video and knew I had to buy one for my collection. - Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 6:02 am 
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hearsedriver wrote:
I like the idea of placing the new caps under the chassis, especially the way this radio is made. I would guess that one end of the cap on top would need top be disconnected on one end in case it is shorted.

I've restored over a dozen Regency Tr-1's and 1G's, by putting replacement Electrolytics under the PCB, and D/C one lead of the original. Then it dawned on me...Just use a meter to determine if the original is shorted or not...

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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 7:52 pm 
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fifties wrote:
I've restored over a dozen Regency Tr-1's and 1G's, by putting replacement Electrolytics under the PCB, and D/C one lead of the original. Then it dawned on me...Just use a meter to determine if the original is shorted or not...


The only issue with that is...what guarantee do you have that the original will "stay open"?

On important sets, I go about restoring them so the last another 30+ years with the new parts. I wouldn't feel comfortable bypassing a capacitor hoping the old one in circuit behaves in the long run.

Just my 2 cents.


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 10:37 pm 
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John - Here are a couple of photos of the Sylvania Thunderbird that I soldered a 3 uf and 5 uf electrolytic capacitor without removing the original capacitors. The radio has excellent volume and has been working without a problem for 2 years. - Mark


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Sylvania Thunderbird Fix 2.JPG
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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2017 1:59 am 
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Thanks Guys !

Greg---pretty sure I found and saved that article awhile ago, but snipped it again after opening your link. Thanks ! Yes, I was in "Z-land"...

Am thinking that I will de-solder one lead of original electrolytics and put a tiny piece of teflon sleeving into through-hole for insulation just in case they have or develop any leakage whatsoever before tacking new ones on PCB bottom. Just want radio to perform & sound the best possible as it will be used on occasion as well as maintain original appearance.

Thanks for pics, Mark ! One of the big factors in being interested in this set was that they used a 4" speaker (learned about this in that Service magazine article)---sure looking forward to hearing how it sounds in this design ! Looks like yours and Matt's use the ceramic Illinois electrolytics where this one has what appears to be rolled paper coverings with military-style printing which appear identical to ones in pics of chassis in that Service magazine article.

Do you, Matt, and any others have their serial numbers in a pic or written down ? Would sure like to know what they are since this one is so low...
Also wonder what the other numbers represent ?

John


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2017 2:27 am 
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John - The serial numbers of my Sylvania Thunderbird transistor radios are:

616100-064-0021 - has the rolled-paper type electrolytic capacitors and only one ceramic type, probably the oldest radio.

616101-092-0004 - the one we bid against each other on eBay

616102-115-0027 - Thunderbird featured in the photos. - Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2017 2:59 am 
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Joined: Oct Mon 26, 2009 10:02 pm
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
Thanks very much, Mark---that makes the numbering system a bit more clear ! Will take photos when mine disassembled, but realize now that all hyphenated numbers are part of their serialization scheme---sure would like to know what they indicate !

Do you have a higher resolution file of that Thunderbird assembly drawing you sent me which looks like it's some type of hang-tag ? This one can't be enlarged enough to read the finer print...

John


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 Post subject: Re: Announcing-------The Sylvania Thunderbird !!!
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2017 11:09 am 
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Dr. Radio wrote:
fifties wrote:
I've restored over a dozen Regency Tr-1's and 1G's, by putting replacement Electrolytics under the PCB, and D/C one lead of the original. Then it dawned on me...Just use a meter to determine if the original is shorted or not...


The only issue with that is...what guarantee do you have that the original will "stay open"?

On important sets, I go about restoring them so the last another 30+ years with the new parts. I wouldn't feel comfortable bypassing a capacitor hoping the old one in circuit behaves in the long run.

Just my 2 cents.

I suppose that anything is possible, but considering that the component may have opened over the last half century, I just don't see how it could then end up short-circuiting anytime after.
Of course do what you feel most comfortable with.

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