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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hints for care of your vintage radio

Hints for the Care and Maintenance of your Vintage Bakelite Tube Radio

By David Simons

Machine Age Airline Radio c. 1938

Old radios sold through Big River Mercantile will always have been thoroughly checked, repaired (as necessary) and cosmetically restored in our shop. It will be a reliable and enjoyable addition to your collection for years to come. However, because of their age and older electronics, certain guidelines should be followed so you can continue to enjoy a tube radio's unique beauty and sound for years:

  1. The radio can be played for several hours at a time and it is normal for the case to feel warm to the touch. Vacuum tubes typically run hotter than solid state components and therefore, make sure there is plenty of space around the case to allow the heat to dissipate.
  2. In the interests of retaining originality, we do not replace old components that are in good condition…only those that are failing or likely to give trouble in the future. Because the radio is usually 60 or more years old, it should not be played constantly, day and night. The old electric components will wear out and fail faster. Alternatively, it is not a good idea to let the radio sit without playing for extended periods of time either. If it is not going to be played for a week or more, it should be unplugged from the wall.
  3. The vacuum tubes should last a very long time so long as the other components are in good shape.  It is something of a myth that a 'burned out tube' is the reason an old radio does not work. If a new tube is needed, they are readily available through collector organizations, antique electronic outlets and we always carry a large inventory of tubes.
  4. The bakelite case should only be cleaned with a damp rag and mild detergent. Once every couple of years, you can wax it with carnuba car wax (we always wax the case just before shipping so this is not a necessary maintenance item when you first receive a radio you have purchased from us). DO NOT USE PLEDGE OR ANY SPRAY WAX PRODUCTS AS THEY TEND TO BE DAMAGING TO THE OLD FINISH.
5. Always keep the radio out of direct sunlight.

The restoration of this unusual 1950 Truetone
radio was recently completed and it is available now in
our Etsy shop.

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