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Gary Breaux's Vintage Philco Radios

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READ ME FIRST!
 

From Tom and Ray Magliozzi – The Tappet Brothers

 NPR’s Car Talk.

 

(relates to car repair but sound advise for this hobby as well!)

 

  1. Your first and most important goal is to walk away from your (project) at the end of the day with all digits, appendages, and eyebrows intact.

 

  1. Your second goal is not to blow anything or anyone else up.

 

  1. Your third goal is not to break something that’s not already broken.

 

  1. Your fourth goal is to fix what’s broken.

Gary Breaux's Vintage Philco Radios

Original Philco Certification Emblem

If you have accessed this page you may be looking for guidance. I have been in the hobby for only a few years. The people I seek advice from are, in many cases, original radio repair guys. They are the experts! I will share some of the mistakes "newbies" make while they are fresh on my mind. Please click my RELATED LINKS tab for real help.

These tips and techniques are geared toward those entering the hobby. They contain equal parts opinion, experience, and facts. I have confirmed all technical aspects with the professionals.

Basic Tools

  • Soldering iron
  • Long-nose pliers 
  • Diagonal wire cutters 
  • Wire strippers 
  • Nut driver set 
  • Screwdriver set 
  • Hemostats 
  • 1/2 inch paintbrush 
  • Compressed air

Basic Supplies

  • Electrical solder 
  • TV tuner cleaner 
  • Electrical tape 
  • WD-40 
  • Garbage bag ties (wire markers etc...) 
  • Assorted high voltage capacitors 
  • Assorted resistors

Beginning Equipment

Auto-Ranging Multimeter
Multi-Meter Tester

Variable Voltage Regulator
Variable Voltage Regulator

Tube Tester
Philco Tube Tester

  • Ground Fault Interrupt (GFI) Outlet

Tips!

D A N G E R (click SAFETY IS CRITICAL below)

(1.)
SAFETY FIRST. These old sets are high voltage appliances and the grounding should be considered questionable. With voltage in excess of 300 volts in certain parts of the radio, SAFETY IS CRITICAL!

(2.)
If you are new to the hobby start with working radios! It is easier, at first, and more satisfying to improve a working set than attempting to bring to life a set that will probably have multiple issues. Mature into dealing with non-receiving sets.

(3.)
Ok, Great Aunt Russie's set does not work so you ignored tip #2. Fight the urge to "fire-up" your new set. You may literally do just that! (Been there, got that t-shirt!)

(4.)
A good visual inspection is in order, which requires disassembly and some good common sense. Clean the dust, look for disconnected wires, look for burned or charred components, and look for broken, blackened, or loosely seated tubes.

(5.)
Clean the switches, contacts (especially tube pins), and moving components (tuning capacitor) with a TV tuner cleaner (Radio Shack).

(6.)
Gradually bring the power up using a variable voltage regulator (pictured to the right) or a homemade dim bulb series choke (see Phil's Antique Radios).

(7.)
Working or not, you will want to take some voltage reading on the tube pins. Access Radio Forums, and we will guide you along. (Please be aware that some readings are in DC and some are in AC.)
 
(8.)
OK! It works pretty well but needs improving or it makes some noise but no reception. You will now probably need an electrical schematic. The links on this site are excellent sources. If you cannot find your radio please e-mail me. I have a complete set of Rider's Perpetual Trouble Shooter's Manuals.

(9.)
The percentages say your old set hums; perhaps loudly. TURN THAT BABY OFF. My very good guess is deteriorated electrolytic capacitors. You now need a schematic and a source for the caps (see RELATED LINKS). Remember, electrolytic capacitors must be connected with the correct polarity (positive-to-positive and negative-to-negative). If you get this wrong you will certainly see a drama and possibly ruin other components (ask me how I know).

(10.)
My stance: ALWAYS replace ALL capacitors and ALL resistors. That way you start from a known! There are those, with a great deal more experience than me, who disagree. Their preference is to replace only what tests bad leaving the set as original as possible. I can respect that preference though, unquestionably, 
modern components are far superior to those of the 1930s.

(11.)
More to come.