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 Post subject: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecting
PostPosted: Apr Fri 10, 2020 6:20 pm 
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Joined: Oct Mon 26, 2009 10:02 pm
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
Hello All,

This year (2020) marks the 50th anniversary of my radio collecting. Had played with electrical items, electronics, radios, TV's in some fashion (mostly destructive) since I could walk. Then things finally took a "good" turn when I finally got a neat old radio and became interested in repairing & taking care of them...

The radio that started it all...
In the early fall of 1970, some neighborhood kids stopped by and suggested we ride to an old Kokomo, IN shop, George's Electronics, and ask if he had any old radios he'd give us. Had been there a few times before with Dad and this sounded great, so headed off on the fairly long ride with them on my purple Schwinn Stingray. Went into the shop where Mr. George greeted us and we went inside to a wall of shelves containing old radios that evidently were brought in for service and never repaired or claimed by owners. He gave each of us an old tube set and mine was a really nice GE model 221. Carried it home carefully balanced on my handlebars. Took it to my basement workbench (had one in bedroom, too), plugged it in, and got a loud hum. Called an older friend of mine who told me about electrolytic filter caps. Sloppily installed some salvaged parts in parallel with the existing multi-section unit caps and the radio worked great receiving favorite WLS 890 in Chicago nearly as well as a local (has tuned RF-amp stage). Think the first song heard on radio was "After Midnight" by Eric Clapton---and that song along with "See Me, Feel Me" by The Who was played a lot ! This was also the first radio with shortwave that I had and remember being fascinated by hearing WWV at 10 mHz. Detail cleaned and used Pledge furniture polish on wood (still has that aroma !). This radio has always had a prominent place where I've lived---on bedroom workbench, desk, and for many years on bedroom dresser. Just recently took it into radio room, cleaned & gave wood another polish with old can of Pledge. Still works great with that nearly 50 year-old repair---and also smells just like it did ! Many good memories flooded back...

A couple years later, the radio collecting interest faded. Think I had around 50 sets---both tube & transistor that I'd accumulated and repaired... Then moved on to telephones for a couple years---another long story... At 16, became seriously into old cars, then trucks & a few motorcycles. Later while seriously searching for a good woman (that I never found) to be my wife, bought and refurbished a larger home and got rid of most of my collected items.

Then, in 2009 was laid off of work and decided to sell a few of the nicer radios I had kept. Found ARF, listed & sold a couple radios, and the interest was rekindled. Read about the GE P-780, was fascinated by it, and rolled coins to fund purchase of a "less expensive" set which needed a lot of attention on Ebay. Intrigued by the high-performance of this radio with a tuned RF-amp stage, decided to research and find other transistor sets with this feature. After all these years, believe I've finally acquired at least one example of every U.S. and Japanese AM-only chassis which offered this feature along with many other interesting sets...

Below are pics of these "1st" radios. Kinda funny that both were made by General Electric and have tuned RF-amp stages---and that my blood grandfather (I was adopted) that I discovered in the late 1980's (years after his death) was a "Radio-Electrician" at GE in Ft. Wayne, IN area around 1929-30 !

John


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ARF 221 780.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Fri 10, 2020 6:34 pm 
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Location: Littleton, MA
Very nice story, John. Thanks for sharing. That GE 221 looks nice.

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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Fri 10, 2020 6:38 pm 
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Location: Annapolis, MD
Congratulations!!

I am approaching the 70th anniversary of my first electrical creation: a toaster. My mother was wise enough to not allow me to test it.....;)

In those early days, there were many situations where life was easier if we didn't know what we were doing....

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"Even if you don't understand Ohm's Law, you are still required to obey it."


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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Fri 10, 2020 6:42 pm 
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Thank you, it was a pleasure to read your story.

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many of my radios http://s269.photobucket.com/user/FSteph ... t=3&page=1


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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Fri 10, 2020 6:50 pm 
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Location: Mountains of Mourne. Ireland.
Very good John... :)

I can almost smell the Pledge from here.


Greg.
oh... the love of a good woman may just be around the next corner.


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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Fri 10, 2020 7:11 pm 
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I'll second what Steve says. I loved the story and the GE radios. I've never seen one exactly like that 221 before but it reminds me of a GE record player I have from the late 1940s with the early GE magnetic cartridge in it. Has the same knobs. It also worked fine, radio and phonograph, when I got it home. A very well made product and whoever owned it had affixed a brass handle to the lid for easier opening. I had a small 78 record collection and it played them better than anything else I've ever had.

I too am celebrating my 50th year of collecting old radios and it's possible we've both written about this in previous posts. I was 12 years old in 1970 and my dad had told me often of how he listened to the radio when he was young and I had a couple older family table radios that had various problems, but I wanted a console radio because they had better sound. We visited an antique shop run by the man who married dad's first cousin and he gave us a great deal on a Silvertone console he had in the back. It was $5 and we brought it home in the family station wagon (a 1966 Ford Country Sedan).

It worked when we plugged it in. It would pull in WOR, WSB and KYW at night. This was long before I had ever heard "don't plug it in." That radio worked for many, many years and I replaced a few tubes that made it work better, but I didn't do any major work on it. I even took it to college at UNC-Chapel Hill for a year. My landlady thought it was going to burn her house down, but I showed her how well made it was and she let me keep it for a while in my room.

I remember when I first had the radio in my bedroom at home, Lynn Anderson's song "I Beg Your Pardon, I Didn't Promise You a Rose Garden" was popular and the bass line from that song really showed off the nice tone and "Bass Boost" of the old Silvertone. It now occupies a prominent place in my bedroom in my house. I have three other consoles throughout the upstairs and they all work.

About GE products, my parents and grandparents were always very brand loyal to GE. My mom still uses her 1953 GE electric stove. Just about every appliance in our house was GE at one time or the other when I was growing up.

I too am an electronic (and computer) technician, retired. Amazing how many parallels there are in our lives. I also collect telephones and most of them were made where John lives, in Indianapolis on Shadeland Ave. I also love old cars and subscribe to two car magazines. I don't own any classic cars unless you count my 1996 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon.

When I look back on the last 50 years, it seems like some things were just meant to be. It's also gone by like a shot.


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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Fri 10, 2020 10:06 pm 
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Joined: Aug Sat 16, 2014 2:19 am
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Location: Palos Verdes, CA
I've enjoyed my relatively new hobby of collecting vintage transistor radios ever since I received Norm Smith's book as a birthday present. As I've never been able to find any radios at local thrift stores or garage sales, I'm always searching eBay for something of interest. Repairing some of the transistor radios I've accumulated is the perfect way to pass the time these days, although I certainly don't have the skills of you, John! - Mark


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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Fri 10, 2020 11:14 pm 
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It's tough to reconcile 1970 as now being 50 years ago. I had an old radio then, but didn't consider it anything collectible. it was a Westinghouse "little jewel" portable with a slight filter hum.

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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Sat 11, 2020 2:04 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: Beaver Falls, PA. USA
My start was in 1968, 52 years ago this summer. My Dad and I had been going to a weekly auction barn, with some real gems mixed in with produce, eggs, and junk. Someone had put up an old cathedral radio, and Dad bought it for me as a birthday present; it was only $1.25, probably the cheapest one that he ever bought! The radio was an Airline 62-103, just like the one on this site's home page. I got it going; some beginner's luck found a broken wire to a filter capacitor, which had been hung in under the chassis as a replacement. I still have the radio, and plan to give it a full restoration when I retire.

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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Sat 11, 2020 3:22 am 
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Great story that any serious radio collector can relate to. My story has similarities. It was 40 years ago for me, when I was 13, when I got my first true antique radio. Ironically it was a similar 1946 GE model 203 with the grooved front and brass weave grill. It cost me $20 at a local antiques show and I spent $12 to have it recapped at little local radio/TV shop. I loved that nearly mint set and had it on my dresser for many years. I was more nostalgic and loved to listen to "Your Hit Parade" with André Baruch and Bea Wain on Sunday mornings playing period classic big-band songs. I thought it was great too when I'd find a classic radio show broadcast like Amos and Andy, occasionally late at night. The radio seemed like a time-machine to me. 1980's AM was still great with the dial loaded with good stations. I actually parted with that set when we moved to Florida in '86. I figured that was it for the hobby. Not to be! I have over 110 now. :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Sat 11, 2020 7:38 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: Elbridge NY, USA
I remember my first "collector" radio and the exact day July 20, 1969.
My parents and I went to a friend of theirs to watch the moon landing.
We got to talking about technology and where it was going, and discussing my talking apart record players and fixing them.
My dad's friend said he had an old radio in the basement I could have. It was a Crosley 50. When I flipped open the top I couldn't believe it worked with only one tube and had a "Book Capacitor" for tuning. Learning how it worked got me started. Hundreds of radios since then have come and gone but I still have this first one sitting on display in my office.
Image

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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Sun 12, 2020 12:11 am 
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Location: San Jose, CA USA
Some of the radios that got me started at a young age:

1. Philco PT-2. A gift from an old woman who was a babysitter for my brothers and me. I believe this was working, or possibly needed a filter cap (something I was able to do at that age, although I couldn't fix anything challenging). I was 7 or 8 when I got this. Dad let me mess around with his tools, and I basically took over his workbench from a young age.
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2. Sentinel 314W. One of my friends knew that the garbage man kept old radios he found in the trash, and we got several from him. I believe this is the only survivor that I thought was nice enough to keep after all those years. Probably also fixed with a new filter and/or a new tube. Same time frame as above.
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3. Philco 40-185. This was in my uncle's basement in a very old house. Got my dad to ask if I could have it, and home it went with us. This was in my bedroom for many years, and like the original post in this thread, it played a fair amount of music on WLS ("double you ELLLL ess, Chi - CAHHH - go!) in those days. I would hang the microphone from a cassette recorder in the grill to record favorite songs off the radio. I operated this with all original parts, having just replaced a tube and the power cord, for probably 10+ years regularly, and another 10+ years when I would be home visiting from college, etc. Eventually restored it right.

The same babysitter that gave me the Philco above had a furniture restoring business with her husband (who had passed away). I asked her to show me how to refinish this radio, and she told me. Zip Strip and Deft Clear Wood Finish from the local hardware store. The refinishing job is pretty atrocious (see how I sanded through the veneer in the upper left), but I've left it that way for about 50 years now, for the sake of the memories.
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I thought these radios were old when I got them in the early 1970s, but now I realized they've been in my ownership for well over half their lives.

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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Sun 12, 2020 7:37 pm 
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Location: Radio Heaven, North Carolina, near Charlotte, 28106-3015
My 50th anniversary is coming up in a few weeks on May 1st,
Here's a web page I made about my start in this great hobby;
http://radioheaven.homestead.com/May_1st_1970.html
Here's another with more details;
http://radioheaven.homestead.com/story2.html

cheers

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http://radioheaven.homestead.com/menu.html


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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Mon 13, 2020 5:50 pm 
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Location: Beaver Falls, PA. USA
After I got the Airline working, I found a local station that ran a big-band show on Sunday afternoon, hosted by a collector. It was neat to hear that old music coming out of a 1933-34 radio!

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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Wed 15, 2020 5:42 pm 
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Interesting story John.

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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Thu 16, 2020 2:49 am 
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Happy to hear. 1970 was a good year. :)


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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Thu 16, 2020 4:05 am 
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John, congratulations on your 50th year in the hobby. And thank you for the many well written and illustrated threads you've posted over the years. You have shown that there is no "bad radio," just bad parts :roll: but what I really would like to know is, did you ever find that good woman? That's the next best thing to a good radio!

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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Mon 20, 2020 4:32 am 
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
Thanks much for all the comments and stories---always read every response ! Have read other's threads and always amazed on how many of us here have similar interests. And that time did pass quickly---remember many kind people from childhood who helped and encouraged the "hobby" and regret not thinking of them while they were still living so I could have thanked them. But do try to keep in touch with the few older friends that are still around...

And Ed, no never did & am a bitter old bachelor---pouring attention into the radios (and other projects) helps maintain sanity in this crazy culture !

John


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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Mon 20, 2020 9:44 am 
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John, congrats on 50 years of the hobby! :D

I'm 10 years behind you. I got my first antique radio in 1979, but didn't really start collecting until 1981.
No, I never did marry either... :(

-Steve

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 Post subject: Re: 50th anniversary of my childhood start in radio collecti
PostPosted: Apr Mon 20, 2020 1:57 pm 
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Joined: Jun Sun 15, 2014 5:37 pm
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Location: Montreal, Quebec
I didn't start collecting electronic and radio junk until 1971 (I'm not really a collector),just accumulator) but come this summer it will be fifty years since I read all the books about elwctronics in the children's library. Actually, most were about electricity (and old) including one with projects like how to make an electric hot dog cooker, an ac line and two nails.

I did get a telegraph set that summer to kearn morse code but that was a bad route since nobody I knew coukd send morse. I can't remember why I went to a hobby shop to buy a set rather than make my own, those books must have shown how.

I already knew about ham radio, learning morse code was because I knew I needed it for the test.

It wasn't until January 1971 that I found the hobby electronic.magazines at the newsstand, not noticing them before that. I can't remember if I read something that caused me to look, or what. It was April when I got my first issue of QST so it was a pretty fast process. Come to think of it, maybe I was looking for QST that January.

It wasn't until June 1972 that I passed the ham license test.

Fifty years doesn't seem so long looking back, but at the time fifty years before did seem awfully long.


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