antique tube radio?

linnixApril 23, 2009

this is my radio i inherited in my grandfathers will. i would like to know if and what its worth. here is the link to it

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Who made it?
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 7:37PM
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I think I saw "Delatone"? I don't mean to sound harsh but...It's not really a big collectors piece because of it's size and young age Late 50's/early 60's. Relatively speaking, it's not really that old although someone who grew up with one in the house may want one for nostalgic reasons. It does have some "parts" value but parts for them are still readily available. A really serious collector would be looking for one in much better condition. The trend currently is to have a table model old radio that doesn't take up much space and has special characteristics or deco lines and in the price range of 50-100 USD. There are some table tops that go into the thousands, such as Fada. When one such as yours is cleaned and properly tuned with a good antenna, they have fantastic sound and receive very distant stations. It's size does limit it's popularity.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 11:15PM
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Major maintence items on that radio are the tubes. The vacuum tubes will eventually fail with use and need testing and/or replacement. Major vacuum tube makers went out of buisness by 1970. One maker in England continued to make tubes for awhile after 1970. I don't know where to source replacement tubes these day, but these would be collector items and priced accordingly. (I still have my vacuum tube tester from many years ago.) Other items that are subject to failure are the electrolytic capacators, principally found in the power supply.

During the period when solid state electronics took over the market, several audiophiles preferred the sound of the vacuum tube set compared to an all solid state set. They preceived music produced by the tube set as richer in tone.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 1:31AM
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I taught night classes at Uni. of Md. from 75 until 98. When tube sets went to the wayside, businesses and manufacturers donated tons of tubes. They were put into a large shop classroom for storage. Even some of the original Western Electric sound system tubes. Along with them were tons of electrolytic capacitors, resistors, knobs, cases, glass dials, every test apparatus imaginable and so on. Being an avid radio collector, I was in heaven. Anyhow, they were getting rid of all of them and I rented a large box van and made several trips bringing them home and storing them in the upper level of the barn. It has helped me tremendously in reconditioning juke boxes and old radios. I won't make a pitch about selling them here but if you are a hobbyist, I can help.

You probably know this but it might help others getting into the hobby....One way to save electrolytic capacitors from blowing (and other components) is to use the unit. If you don't use it, you'll need to gradually introduce voltage to soften the wax up slowly. I used a dimmer switch and made a box with a plug and use that to slowly add the voltage. It has saved me grief several times.

Something else I do for some folks when we can't find a particular tube or I only have a couple left (means expensive) is take the old tube and bust it open. Then using the socket, we build a solid state circuit onto the socket that serves the same function. It diminishes the "originality" of the old box but does allow one to use and enjoy it.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 3:31PM
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When I entered the University of Illinois @ Champaign, IL in 1957 as a junior, the new computer department was running ILLIAC, a precussor to digital processors. It used thousands of diodes. It was kept running by a person whose sole job was to test the tubes. Eight hours a day, he'd swing a rack of tubes out of service, test these and then move on to the next rack.

Their purchasing agent came upon the opportunity to buy 25,000 diodes of the type they were using - he jumped at the chance - and soon there after, the maintence man was in trouble. The new tubes did not work. An investigation ensued and soon it was learned why these tubes did not work. They had been culled! The center +/- 10% of the population was missing. What was left was the +/- 20% but without the center population, and it was the center population that was needed by the computer! They tried to return the tubes, but to no avail. The vendor claimed he did not deceive or misrepresent, These were sold cheaply as +/- 20% tubes and that is what they are by your own meaasurements.

The University ate the cost, and gave many away to local radio shops.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 9:07PM
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Wow...what a mess!!! I haven't run into that problem yet. I test all the tubes before I give them away or sell them, depending on the situation. Most of these so far are good.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 10:10PM
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I have copied the photo's and enlarged them for closer inspection but it still doesn't reveal much information about the manufacturer other than the word "Delatone" which is on the front of the radio.

The heading above the photo's says it is a "Telefunken Radio". While I am not sure that is correct, it is not out of the question because prior to the mid 1960's foreign manufacturers could not market directly in the USA, instead they had to market through a U.S. subsidiary. A prime example of this is AKAI electronic from Japan. In the U,S.A. AKAI products were sold under the trade name "Roberts Electronics".

Judging from the front panel that radio certainly has the characteristics of the old Telefunken radios.

If you look at the tuner index you will see that it has 4 operating bands. Note that the frequency bands are listed as KCS & MCS. That was common on all radios until 1960 when they changed the designation from "Cycles per Second" to "Hertz" in honor of the German Physicist Heinrich Hertz, who pioneered the study of frequency.

The top band is 550KCS to 1600KCS, which is the AM broadcast band in the USA & Canada.

The next two bands are 160 to 280KCS & 5 to 16MCS which are shortwave bands commonly used for commercial broadcasting in Europe but never used in the USA. This is the strongest indicator that this radio was manufactured in Germany,

The Bottom band is 88 to 108MCS, which is the FM Broadcast band in the USA. This indicates to me that this radio was either manufactured in Germany for the USA market or perhaps manufactured in the USA under license to the European parent company. If it had been manufactured for the European market the FM band would be 75 to 108MCS.

It is the inclusion of the FM broadcast band that gives the first clue to the age of this radio. FM radio was invented in 1933 but there were no commercial FM broadcast licenses issued by the FCC for operation in the USA until Jan. 1, 1941.
While the U.S.A. did not get involved in World War II until December 7, 1941 it must be remembered that WWII began in Europe in 1939. During the war Telefunken GMBH was taken over by the German government and pressed into manufacturing military communications & radar equipment. There was no consumer class communications equipment exported from Germany to the USA until a couple years after the war, which ended in 1945.

The next indicator that helps date this radio is the inclusion of white plastic knobs on the front of the unit. It also appears like the white louvered lower panel on the front is plastic.

Prior to W W II plastic was almost non-existent, with the exception of a hard brittle black plastic material called "Bakelite" that was used for making the knobs. Plastics of all varieties didnt really come into itÂs own until the early to mid 1950Âs and even then the plastics we commonly saw were in the form of artificial flowers or small toys coming out of Japan. In those days plastics were considered junk and sold mostly in the local 5&10 cent stores.

If I could see the actual electronics chassis or a copy of the schematic diagram I could probably pin the production date down a bit closer, but from the evidence at hand I would guess this radio is of a "Telefunken" or possibly a "Grundig" design and manufactured somewhere between 1948 and 1955. It was certainly a high end design in its day, but on the current market it has little to no actual value unless you happened to find a dedicated collector.

Now in regards to the longevity of tube circuits the life of the unit totally depends upon how itÂs used and how and where it is stored. In the overall scheme of things broadcast band radio receivers and home audio systems are generally a very low-tech design. Many of the old point-to-point wired tube circuits used very cheap ceramic, paper, or electrolytic capacitors that will swell and crack when exposed to mid to high levels of humidity for a prolonged time. Another serious problem is the open plates on the variable capacitors in the tuner sections. Quite often dust or corrosion accumulates on the plates and will eventually short out the tuner. On the other hand I have a 1927 Montgomery Wards "Airline" table-top AM broadcast receivers in a wooden cabinet. My Mother originally bought this radio in a pawnshop in Lewiston, Idaho in 1947 for the whopping sum of $2. In 1950 my family moved from Idaho to Salem, Ohio and that radio was shipped via Railway Express Freight packed in a cardboard box wrapped in clothing. When the box arrived it was crushed and the clothes were dangling out one side of the box but the old radio survived unscathed. The old wooden cabinet is now showing some signs of the veneers delaminating in spots but it still works fine. Oh yes, did I mention that it is still functioning on the original factory installed tubes.

One of the downsides of tube electronics is that the tubes are temperature critical. Generally when a tube radio is turned on from a cold start you can expect it to seriously crackly, pop, whistle and drift slightly off frequency for the first ½ hour or so until the tubes get up to full operating temperature and stabilize.

I have a number of old tube type ham radio transmitters, receivers or transceivers which have a "Standby mode" switch, When the unit is not in use we switch it to standby mode which turns off the primary functions of the unit but the filament circuit to the tubes is kept on to keep the tube temperature stable. When these radios have not been used in a long time it is best to turn it on to the standby mode about 24hrs before we intend to go on the air with it.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 12:04AM
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I have a large 1961 Telefunken console hi-fi, that is stereo. Yours has "stereo" written on the faceplate, center/low position. When did stereo radios appear? not long before 1960. There is a "tuning eye" present on yours as on mine. That's a special tube that uses a green-tinted display to indicate signal strength. Yours has knobs for bass/treble, while mine has wheels (only the top edge of a knob exposed) which leads me to think yours is a little later than mine. But certainly not much. The unit seems like a high-quality German radio/Hi-Fi. The only work mine needed was new power capacitors and a new phonograph cartridge. The sound from these old radios is IMHO far better than any solid-state radios. I wish mine was a compact model like yours. Enjoy it, it's probably worth only $100 since it's not a labeled Grundig or Telefunken.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 7:30PM
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ahhhhh, we have a Grundig! There is no better sound, except our 500 watt RCA :^)
We also have a source for a number of old tubes. Email me if I can help.
( This is NOT advertising...I am a LONG time member of GW and try to help out with lots of things whenever I am able)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 10:48AM
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sombreuil_mongrel raised a very interesting question, "When did stereo radio's appear?"

I graduated High School in 1965 and all through High School I subscribed to the RCA record club. I remember vividly that whenever we picked out a record selection we had to mark the order form as to whether we wanted it is Monophonic or Stereophonic sound. In those days most full cabinet type home hi-fi's had stereo sound but most portable record players were still mono. This prompted me to do a bit of online research into the history of audio records.

78 RPM records were first introduced in 1925

33 1/3RPM LP (long play) monophonic records were first released on June 21,1948
45 RPM Monophonic records with the large center hole were first introduced by RCA in 1949.

Stereophonic Records were first released in 1958 by "Audio Fidelity" in the USA and "Pye records" in Britain

8 track stereo cassettes were first released in 1964

The small cassette tapes were first introduced in the Netherlands, by Phillips Electronics in 1962 and were originally intended only for personal mono voice recording to take the place of the old Dictaphone systems used by businesses. Within a couple years after their release the general consumer market started demanding them for recording music and it was only a short time after that they they began making cassettes in stereo, although I couldn't find an exact start date.

There were a number of different methods devised to transmit FM stereo. In 1948 the FCC licensed station KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA to be the official test facility to test the different broadcasting techniques. I found this fact to be very interesting because not only is KDKA Pittsburgh the first station to broadcast FM stereo, it was also the very first licensed Broadcast Radio Station.

KDKA Pittsburgh began as the 75watt experimental station 8XK in 1916 and on November 16, 1920 it was designated as a commercial broadcast radio station under the FCC issued call sign KDKA. The first broadcast was live coverage lf the 1920 presidential election returns.

Today KDKA broadcasts 50,000watts and has been heard as far away and Australia and Antarctica.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 4:53PM
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What I meant to ask was when were multiplex stereo FM broadcasts accepted enough so that radios capable of playing the stereo broadcasts became common? Like I said, My 1961 Telefunken has stereo capability on FM (and the tape deck input and the phono).

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 7:07PM
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Lazypup....remember the 4 tracks ??? I still have some of them.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 10:31PM
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Sure I remember the 4tracks. Do you remember the old radio adventure drama programs that we had for entertainment before TV?

The Shadow, Green Hornet, Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade Detective, Johnny Dollar detective, Phillip Marlow detective, Dragnet, Gunsmoke, Have Gun will Travel, Roy Rodgers, Cisco Kid, CBS Mystery Theater, Tom Corbet Space Cadet, Abbot & Costello, Jack Benny, Our Miss Brooks, The Bickersons (the Bickersons is some of the funniest comedy I ever heard) and not to mention Agatha Christie's Heercule Poirot & Miss Marple series.

I can still fondly remember before we had TV we would all sit at the kitchen table listening to those programs on my old Montgomery Wards radio.

About two years ago I found out i could download those old radio shows from WinMX so I now have a fair collection of them on my computer. (at last count I have 156hrs & 22min of the old radio shows. In fact, I am listening to a Sherlock Holmes mystery as I type this.)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 11:08PM
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You have me by a few years. I grew up in the 50's and watched a lot of those on TV however, I have always been intrigued by the old radio programs. My son, nieces and nephews and their friends really enjoy them too. I have quite a collection myself. You know how it goes, everyone knows you like that stuff and you get lots of them as gifts through the years, not counting what you acquire for yourself!!! I set up a signal generator to pipe those programs through my old radios just to get the full effect of what it must have been like. It's cool to see the young ones sit still and listen intently. You'll probably agree it can be more fun than watching them on TV. Somehow, the imagination is allowed to run more freely and wild. The Sherlock Holmes mysteries are some of the best!!!

I have every sound, video, computer, camera recording and playback device from a Wire Recorder right up to a DVD recorder. I told my son it would be a good business in the future to be able to read the media and transfer it to whatever the going thing is. We already get folks (friends and family mostly) bringing tapes, wax spools, 5-1/4 in. floppies, etc. to see, hear or preserve what is recorded. Hahaha, in some cases they are sorry they did!!!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 8:18PM
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