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PILOT 'LITTLE MAESTRO'  RESTORATION 

WOOD  BAKELITE  CHASSIS  ETHICS  DIODE, TRIODE  TETRODE, PENTODE  STANDARDS PHOTOGUIDE  VIDEOS

PILOT  BUSH  EKCO  COSSOR  PHILCO  BAKELITE HISTORY VALVES DIODE, TRIODE  TETRODE, PENTODE  STANDARDS

 

First marketed in the UK in 1939 housed in a wooden cabinet, the Pilot Little Maestro was designed to fill a perceived gap in the market for a small, transportable second set, perhaps for the bedroom or the kitchen. The compact design was very popular and was followed in 1940 by a Bakelite cabinet version using the same chassis.  

After the war, in 1946, Pilot continued to use the same Bakelite design and offered it not only in 'Walnut' Bakelite but also as Bakelite sprayed in a variety of pastel colours. The chassis of the post war receiver had numerous small changes to that of the pre-war one but the live chassis technology, the octal valve range continued. In some models the dreaded line cord (cable mains dropper) remained.

There was also an AC only version, using 6.3V heater valves powered by a heater transformer and therefore dispensing with the line cord - but the chassis remained 'live', i.e. connected to one side of the mains, creating the possibility that the chassis metalwork was at a potential of 230 volts AC, a possible nasty and even lethal electric shock in waiting for the unwary. Live chassis technology was very common to almost all makers at the time. The set pictured here uses chassis version 2 and dates from 1946. Originally finished in garish green, the cabinet was stripped using paint stripper (a long and laborious task) until the attractive original swirled Bakelite appeared.

The chassis was modified by a change of smoothing and reservoir capacitors. With chassis as compact as this one, great care must be taken to work out in advance whether new additional components can be fitted - and where. The original two were housed in a single tag-ended metal case and mounted above the chassis. The new components fitted neatly below decks and left the space vacated by the original twin capacitor for the large motor-run capacitor that replaced the line cord.

All wax capacitors were replaced and the set realigned. When the chassis was refitted to the cabinet, the countersunk metal screw heads beneath the base of the cabinet were sealed with hot wax to insulate them. The wire throw-out aerial was isolated from the aerial coil winding by means of a 1000pF capacitor. A new length of twin-core mains lead was fitted, ensuring that the set's on-off switch operated in the live lead.

Performance of the little set is very good with the aerial lead extended.

This Bakelite cabinet design must hold the record for longevity: after Pilot had finished with it and moved on to less deco influenced and more 'modern' styles, it continued to be available from a variety of kit suppliers until at least the middle 1950s, offered as kits in both TRF and superhet kit form as well as cabinet and chassis for home constructors to house their own choice of circuitry.

The white capacitive 'dropper' is just visible between the loudspeaker rim and the scale plate

PILOT  BUSH  EKCO  COSSOR  PHILCO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VINTAGE RADIO world: SIXTEEN YEARS OF WEB PRESENCE