Step Away from the Bench!
It’s time for a sermonette: Any time you open a collectible radio you run the risk of irreparably damaging it. Some collectors believe that replacing vintage components with contemporary ones lowers a set’s value.
“When you get a new hammer,” the saying goes, “everything looks like a nail.” If you enjoy repairing radios it is tempting to heat up the soldering iron, warm up the test equipment, rip out the innards of every radio you own, and wrestle those circuit boards into submission on your bench. Many times it will be unnecessary to do anything that drastic. Perhaps it is ill-advised even when you know you own faulty electronics.
This is a personal prejudice, I suppose, but I think that really important, rare, museum-worthy collectibles should never be modified.
Is it Worth it?
Before spending a lot of time, and perhaps money on a repair, examine the patient. Will the finished working radio be worth the effort? Does it have potential resale or nostalgic value? Or is it just a parts donor radio?
Will you be happy if all you gain from the work is some new experience and the pleasant passing of some free time? Is it an actual radio from your childhood that has sentimental value? Is it so rare that you will probably never find another one? Do you like challenges?
Remember. It’s a hobby. This should be fun, right?
Don't be "Half-Fast"
It's easy to start a bunch of restoration and repair projects, moving from one to the next without finishing any of them. They end up in boxes, or worse yet piles everywhere. If you do this, parts will go missing, you are likely to forget the details and need to virtually re-start tasks you might have spent hours completing before. If you must pause while you wait for parts or whatever, make written notes. Take photos and save them where you can find them. Box everything up carefully in a secure, separate container.
We find them everywhere. Flea markets. Craigslist. Mom’s attic. Consider this Admiral 7M11 American-made coat pocket set. It was built around 1958. It plays, but very weakly. It makes a noticeable scratchy sound when the volume control is moved.
The combination handle/kickstand works, but has some rust and corrosion. The metal trim needs cleaning as well.
Unrestored, these sell for around $10 on eBay. last time I checked. Shiny, near-perfect ones go for $60 or more. Using the techniques on this website we can get there from here. And have fun. The plastic case has no cracks or chips, but is deeply scratched, and would benefit from cleaning and polishing.
We won’t know much more until we get inside, (which requires two different screwdrivers), but it looks very promising.