problem of restoration
Perhaps this section should be
called 'what to restore - and what to leave'. People find it hard to agree on
details. The biggest problem is with wooden cabinets. Do you treat them as
'antique' in the sense that they are old and should show their history in their
patina, in the scratches, in the stains, ring marks, woodworm holes, rotting
loudspeaker fabric? Then there's the electronics to consider. Should the valves
be changed for more modern types, with replacement valve-holders and modified
wiring to suit? Or should all efforts revolve around locating original valves?
Should the electrolytic capacitors be replaced with similar types, perhaps very
expensively, or should they be removed and modern types fitted? Resistors of the
old style carbon stick form can still be obtained, at a premium. Should these be
used, or newer, smaller types?
There is even a firm offering to
fit completely new insides into your existing old cabinet.
Some things must be changed or
modified, however. Mains lead is a prime candidate for replacement in almost
every elderly set. Earthing arrangements must be checked and if necessary
modified for safety.
It's all a matter of degree.
Some things can be left, but woodworm infestation can't. Loudspeaker fabric that
is ripped or rotted surely must be changed. But as far as repolishing a wooden
cabinet goes, do you leave the evidence of years, or do you strip the finish and
repolish? If the chassis is badly rusted, then treatment and painting is needed.
If the valve you need is unobtainable, surely a close replacement must be fitted?
However, this does not resolve the
fundamental dilemma with renovation, namely how far is too far? It is
impossible to say. I can, though, give you my views. Remember, once again, this
is only my personal opinion and should be read as such. You have every right to
your own shade of opinion, which may differ greatly from mine.
The single most important question is - would I
put this radio on display in my own home?
I consider vintage radio
restoration to be akin to vintage car restoration. How often do you see a
vintage car at a rally covered in rust, with a rotten tonneau cover and crazed
If a wooden cabinet is clean and
only lightly marked, bearing signs of being cared for, then it's probably best
to leave alone. Very marked, stained or damaged cabinets need more thorough
restoration. Bakelite sets seem naturally to lend themselves to a good clean-up,
using 'Brasso' metal polish. This applies to bakelite knobs and trim, too.
Radio sets are not typical antiques. To maintain value both now and in
the future, sets need to work well and safely.