Introduction: Tube Radio Restoration
This instructable is for a 1948 philco 48-200i case restore.The "i" in 200i stands for Ivory. This is a fairly common radio but it immediately interested me when I first saw it. Only it wasn't in the best condition cosmetically but it reminded me of a old truck in some ways. And I like old trucks. These radios came in two colors orignally, which were mahagony, and ivory. Restoring these old radios is a hobby of mine and I just love seeing them go through the before and after. In this I will briefly show you how I did it. The cost of this restoration as far as the cosmetics go was less than $10 total. In the picture I have posted my finished product as well as what the radio looked like before I redid it.
Step 1: Preparing the Case
The first thing you got to do is remove the chasis before you can proceed with the case. These radios are great for that reason. They are fully serviceable. Just four screws under the case and it slides right out. Something you can't do easily with more new radios. While I had the chassis out, I went ahead and redid the capacitors(although it didn't hum) and cleaned out the tuneing components. All this was a job unto itself. Other than that It needed a new tube installed and a dial light bulb. The rest of it worked as it should. I didn't do anything to the dial face because I wanted it to have some originallity left in it for that nostalgic feel. As you can see from the pictures how they built these radios in the day was great, nothing in it was cheaply made, all the components were metal and made to be replaced if broken. The hardest part is locating them if they are broken in todays world. But the engineering was just well done and in the USA.
Step 2: Power Cord
The power cord was appauling. Years old and grimy it was just nasty. It had to go!! Replacing a power cord was easy in this situation. It doesn't have a transformer to connect to in this model, instead it connects directly to the on/off switch and also to a tube. I found that interesting but hey it works. Just two solders and a knot to stop it from pulling out and thats that! The pictures speak for themselves.
Step 3: Prep Time
With that all done I was ready to paint. I turned on the chasis in the background while I worked to make sure it was ticking properly before putting it back together. Preping the radio wasn't hard. Just a good ol' scuff sanding. I covered the dial lense and holes with painters tape to keep out paint where it shouldn't be. From the picture you can see the ivory color but it had been repainted sometime ago. Once I prepped it, I just had to choose a color for it. I wanted to two tone it to give it some personality. So I chose blue and white. White for the speaker grill and blue for the rest of the case. I used krylon peekabo blue. Both were a gloss finish paint. With the music going in the back ground I went to town on it. For the white I just went over the entire case with it getting it nice and wet with two coats. After it dried enough, I taped off the grill area with painters tape and scuff sanded the rest of the case and followed suit with the blue, and for that I did 3 light coats. The white undercoat gave it a nice brightness under the blue. The knobs I did separately and those were more of a challenge due to years of oil and who knows what.
Step 4: Finshed!
After a good day of drying I put it back together. And behold its glory! So much better than it was. It definetly was one of my more easy restores. A lot of these old radios don't have spare parts and some parts are impossible to find so it does come down to having to get creative and make your own parts sometime. Knobs are a huge issue with radio restorations, they are the most handled part of any radio and easily get broke or lost. So it was amazing to me how complete and well taken care of this one was when it came in my path. A lot of my other radios that are waiting for restoration are missing knobs and other pieces that they just don't make anymore..unless I had a time machine... but I don't so unless I could just print them out like on paper I'll just have to come up with other solutions.
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Please be positive and constructive.
Hi i have quite a few tube radios that simply will not power on. The cord is good but there is no power into the chassis. How can i test the components to find what needs to be replaced? Thanks any info is appreciated
Hello, I would first say does any of the tubes get warm or light up? if they do, you got power coming into the chassis, however if all tubes or cold and none light up, I would see if it has a transformer (some do and some don't) like the one in this instructable does not. If you got a DMM handheld meter I would start by seeing if the wires coming into the chassis from the wall outlet have voltage. If It does, then see if the transformer (assuming it has one) has voltage coming out of the output side. if nothing is then i would say it has a bad transformer. sometimes the on/off switch is part of that circuit and may not be working either and you would know when its switched and has no voltage on either side. Now a radio that does not have a transformer you would do the same test only instead of the wall outlet wires going into a transformer, one goes to the on/off switch and the other goes to a tube. use the DMM at both ends to see if it has power applied when on/off switch is switched to "on". if it does have power the wires are good but the first tube the wires go to after tha are probably bad. Thats the same method i would try with either type of radio. Generally with a old unrestored radio, its the transformer, power switch, bad power tubes (most common and most easy to fix), and least likely would be a broken connection somewhere in the chassis so give it a good look over first then try those steps. Feel free to let me know how it goes. Thanks!