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 Post subject: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: Apr Tue 12, 2022 1:43 pm 
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Hi all, this forum was brilliant when I was restoring my RME69 last year, thanks! I’ve acquired yet another AR88 (my third). It’s in really poor condition, lots of rust and crud from 20 years in a damp shed. It’s one with the embossed controls and a single colour dial, serial number is 001812. Not sure how far gone it is, looks like a total rebuild might be needed but who knows. I plan to use the case on another one when I’ve repainted it. A question on the front panel. I have a replacement front panel that has been stripped back to the copper coated steel, it’s also an embossed one, but nothing seems to stick to it. Even etching primer came off and I had to re strip it. Has anyone repainted one of these recently and what did you use?


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: Apr Tue 12, 2022 2:04 pm 
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Posts: 2558
Location: Portland, TN, USA
Wow, Mike, that one looks like it really was used to anchor a boat!

Sorry I can't help with the refinishing question. I do admire your willingness to tackle such a project and look forward to seeing what you learn in answer to your question.

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73, de Chuck K4CCW

“What has not been reasoned in, cannot be reasoned out.”


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: Apr Tue 12, 2022 5:26 pm 
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Joined: Dec Sat 11, 2021 11:10 am
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Thanks Chuck, I’m sure it’s a form of addiction! The challenge will be immense if I do go for it but I hate seeing them like this. I guess it’s like a vintage car collector seeing an old Ford stuck in a field and can’t resist towing it home, just in case! In all seriousness, it’s complete but has some modifications so at the very least it’ll look good eventually! 73 de Mike, G0JXX


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: Apr Wed 13, 2022 11:21 am 
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Joined: Oct Thu 01, 2020 10:48 am
Posts: 150
Wow, at the very least you have parts there that can go to another 88 if the set proves to be beyond saving.


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: Apr Wed 13, 2022 1:47 pm 
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Joined: Jan Fri 20, 2012 10:25 pm
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Location: Warminster, PA
I came across a CR88A in very similar condition. Sat in my garage for a couple years as I wrestled with what to do with it - restore or part out. A few weeks back I decided it was too far gone and started breaking it down. Got to the bare, rusted chassis and decided to see what it would look like if I ran it through my glass bead cabinet. It came out pretty nice so now I'm thinking about what level of effort is involved to rebuild it. Front panel is in pretty good shape.

Also have two SC88's here that are both in sad shape but could be made into one complete radio - another project..........

Have fun!

Tom
W3TA


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Sun 15, 2022 10:05 pm 
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Joined: Dec Sat 11, 2021 11:10 am
Posts: 30
Thanks Tom. Well, most of the PSU works but I’m going to have to replace the smoothing caps and some of the wiring I think as it’s very dirty and corroded. The mains transformer works and even with slightly leaky caps the HT is reasonable. Still debating how far to go, but having got this far and taken various bits out, including rebuilding the bias tag board it’s looking like I will have to carry on….it’s taken over my shack!


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Mon 16, 2022 12:16 am 
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Location: Dallas,TX
I would try having the front panel bead blasted with glass-beads. In my experience, it leaves an excellent surface for paint. Good luck with the project.

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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Thu 19, 2022 4:09 am 
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Joined: Mar Sat 08, 2008 3:21 am
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Location: hillsborough, nc
Ask yourself if, in a year, you'd look back on the weeks spent on that thing and wish you'd done something else.
I'd see what I could get for it and buy beer with whatever it is. Seems like it should be $100, at least, for parts.
Only a one of a kind would be worth that much time to me, like maybe one of Adm. Byrd's sets from the 1928 (first) trip to Antarctica.
Work some DX, make some friends, go fishing...
WL


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Thu 19, 2022 9:04 am 
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Joined: Dec Sat 11, 2021 11:10 am
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Thanks for all the comments! On the front panel. I have one that has been cleaned right down to the copper coated steel and finding the right paint is difficult as some will not stick, and you have to be careful of the engraved lettering! I’m quite happy with some of the patina of age, we all have that! To WL, well it’s an option but I don’t like giving up on these old girls, my RME69 was in a similar condition but it sings now and is great at listening to the Dutch broadcast pirates on 6.2 megs! I know it’s only a lump of ‘stuff’ and there are better examples (my other two are looking good) but once the addiction takes hold it’s hard to go ‘cold Turkey’ and start to strip it down!


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Thu 19, 2022 9:10 am 
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Joined: Dec Sat 11, 2021 11:10 am
Posts: 30
….anyway, I managed to strip out the smoothing cap tin! What a job! 80 year old wax didn’t want to move. I tried the ‘boiling’ method and that failed so in the end I used a small gas torch and heated the out case up (it’s going to be repainted anyway) until the melted wax poured out and then removed the inner case. I went one stage further and opened the capacitor tin after drawing the oil out, by heating with the torch and melting the solder holding the top on. Very interesting to see these folded paper caps, first time they will have seen the light of day in 80 years! Pics to follow…..


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Thu 19, 2022 9:11 am 
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Joined: Dec Sat 11, 2021 11:10 am
Posts: 30
The capacitors……


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Thu 19, 2022 12:36 pm 
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Posts: 450
Location: Warminster, PA
Interesting pics of the cap. Of all the RCA's that I have, or have gone through my hands, I've never disassembled one of those.

You might contact Howard Mills and pick his brain about the front panel. I know he has a screen for them and usually powder coats and screens them which, of course, won't work for you since yours is etched. Again, Howard may have some ideas or may be able to do yours for a price that is commensurate with the time / materials you would put into doing it yourself.

At the and of the day, as long as you are enjoying what you are doing is all that matters. A year from now you may be able to look at this radio and say, wow it came out great, I'm glad I ressurected it. Doesn't matter what its worth to someone else, it's what its worth to you. Heck, I've restored cars that have been money pits but I like doing it and as long as it does not impact my family I'm all in. I have a side business that I use the income from to pay for my toys.........

Carry on!

Tom
W3TA


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Fri 20, 2022 2:24 pm 
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Posts: 433
Location: Gulfport, MS
thoyer wrote:
Interesting pics of the cap. Of all the RCA's that I have, or have gone through my hands, I've never disassembled one of those.

You might contact Howard Mills and pick his brain about the front panel. I know he has a screen for them and usually powder coats and screens them which, of course, won't work for you since yours is etched. Again, Howard may have some ideas or may be able to do yours for a price that is commensurate with the time / materials you would put into doing it yourself.

At the and of the day, as long as you are enjoying what you are doing is all that matters. A year from now you may be able to look at this radio and say, wow it came out great, I'm glad I ressurected it. Doesn't matter what its worth to someone else, it's what its worth to you. Heck, I've restored cars that have been money pits but I like doing it and as long as it does not impact my family I'm all in. I have a side business that I use the income from to pay for my toys.........

Carry on!

Tom
W3TA


Here is an example of Howard Mills work on a once owned CR-88A .


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Les Locklear
Gulfport, MS.
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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Sat 21, 2022 10:26 am 
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Joined: Dec Sat 11, 2021 11:10 am
Posts: 30
Thanks Tom and Les, wow those CR-88 pics are magnificent! Something to aspire to I think! It’s an interesting project and as I’m getting more committed to it I’m learning more. I hadn’t taken one apart either and it’s a very messy job but interesting. The easiest thing would have been to leave it in place and build a board underneath, there’s plenty of room! Anyway, I fancied giving it a go and I’m nearly there with it. I suspect there are a load more problems to be found but that’s part of the fun.

I’ve a good junk box and a few of us ‘share the love’ as far as components are concerned so it shouldn’t cost much apart from a few new caps and resistors, hopefully. The biggest problem might be if the IF transformers are damaged but I’ve acquired some spares! The RF section is in good condition so I’m ever hopeful the Old Girl will sing again. It’s been named the ‘Tchaikovsky’ or ‘Overture’ as it’s serial is 1812…….


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Sun 22, 2022 12:39 am 
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Location: Warminster, PA
A few of my RCA radios. Missing from this photo is another AR-88 that was my "Elmers". An early uinit with painted non textured front panel. Also a couple CR-88A basket cases that could be made into one good radio - next winter. Also a couple SC-88's in the same condition maybe one good one from the pair.

As you can I like the lightweights.........

Tom
W3TA


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Sun 22, 2022 12:35 pm 
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Utterly amazing Tom! It has always been a dream to have a stack of AR88 or similar, just like that! I can’t quite manage that it mu small shack but I am intending to put them all in a row and have them fed by a distribution amplifier from a single aerial. A friend of mine is ex Marine Navy Radio Ops (G3SXE) and he’s come up with a design using 6J5 triodes so we can keep it ‘authentic’. I plan to build a transmitter at some stage that looks very much like an RCA one. I’ve a Collins TCS set up which works well on 160m AM and it all fits the ‘black crackle’ obsession!

Appreciate all the comments. 73 de Mike, G0JXX


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Wed 25, 2022 8:57 pm 
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https://youtube.com/watch?v=EnDL5HnLQzo&feature=share

Well, it nearly ended up being a ‘donor’ after a PSU failure, schoolboy error on my part and a shorted cable (just rotted after 20 years in a wet shed!). I rebuilt the tag board and smoothing caps, Happy viewing! 73 de Mike, G0JXX


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Wed 25, 2022 9:07 pm 
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Joined: Dec Sat 11, 2021 11:10 am
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https://youtu.be/dDt0LccQIoE

First signals heard……guess I’m happy it’s got this far!

73 de Mike,G0JXX


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Thu 26, 2022 2:32 am 
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Location: Warminster, PA
Awesome. Always amazes me when these old radios come to life - fun stuff!

Tom
W3TA

PS - a couple early 88's already in your collection I see.


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 Post subject: Re: Early RCA AR88 found in the UK
PostPosted: May Thu 26, 2022 4:22 am 
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Location: Dallas,TX
Great job bringing her back to life. :D

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