The Crosley Radio Corporation’s 1936 “WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver”

Crosley

(Image: AntiqueRadios.com)

(Source: Nuts and Volts)

In 1935, the Zenith Radio Corporation produced a stunning radio receiver called the Stratosphere model 1000Z. The set used 25 tubes and three loudspeakers — more than any other radio to date. An amazing (for the time) 50 watts drove its three speakers — one 6 inch dynamic high-frequency and two 12 inch dynamic low-frequency speakers.

Standing 50-1/2 inches tall, the Stratosphere sold for $750.00 — more than many automobiles; in comparison, a new Ford cost $652.00. At that price, it’s no wonder that only about 350 sets were produced during the four years that the Stratosphere was offered.

This achievement impressed Powel Crosley, Jr. — the President of the Crosley Radio Corporation — who praised it as a fine example of quality in radio construction, but it used “only” 25 tubes and three speakers! Crosley — who also owned the 500,000 watt powerhouse radio station, WLW — was inspired to surpass Zenith by bringing the world the largest and most powerful radio receiver yet known.

[…]Out of the numerous [engineering conferences were held throughout the winter months] and Crosley’s imagination came the basic specifications: the radio would be a superheterodyne receiver with no fewer than 30 tubes, six loudspeakers, four chassis; a suitably impressive cabinet would house it. More intricate than any set ever built, it would naturally have the highest possible quality and richness of tone.

[…]In its completed form, the WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver indeed surpassed the Zenith Stratosphere model. It had 37 tubes, six speakers, and 75 watts of power. The cabinet stood 58 inches tall, 42 inches wide, and 22 inches deep. Everything inside the cabinet that could be was chromium-plated. The transformer coils, tubes, and speaker frames were finished in black and each chassis had its own serial number plate.

Continue reading the full article at Nuts and Volts…

Regular SWLing Post readers know that I’m a bit of a vintage radio nut, so I thought I’d do a little digging to see if any WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receivers had been sold or auctioned recently.  I was curious what sort of price they’d fetch.

Let’s just say, some owners demand a high price…Crosley-WLW-Receiver-eBay

This unit was put up for sale on eBay for $160,000 US last year! While I know the Crosley WLW receiver is rare, that price was obviously over the top as is wasn’t sold. Still, the seller included some great photos of this near-mint model:

Crosley-WLW-RX

WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver-1 WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver-2 WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver-3 WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver-4

Around the time of the Zenith Stratosphere and the Crosley WLW–the mid to late 30s–radio manufacturers must have either believed there was a market for these high-end, high-fidelity receivers, or they simply enjoyed designing and manufacturing them as a company benchmark or showpiece.

While not as feature-packed as the Crosley WLW receiver, at the National Capital Radio and Television museum last year, I was completely enamored with this gorgeous powerhouse console: the E.H. Scott All-Wave 23 console.

Scott-ConsoleRadio

The docent told me that the E.H. Scott All-Wave 23 console could easily fill a banquet hall with hi-fi audio. It sported 23 tubes and a very large speaker. If memory serves, it originally sold for $750–easily three or four times the price of most console radios.Scott-Console-Radio-Dial

Post readers: Do you know of any other benchmark console radios?  Do you own one of these amazing receivers?  Please comment!

WWII: Sussex home provided Bletchley Park with intercepts

SWLingPost-Numbers1(Source: Eastbourne Herald)

Much has been written about Bletchley Park and the decoding of German Enigma signals. However, the code breakers first needed the raw material – transcripts of enemy messages.

The British Y Service was the ‘ears’ of Bletchley Park and without this, code breaking was impossible. There were several departments under the control of MI-8. The RAF, Army, Navy, Metropolitan Police, Post Office and Foreign Office had interceptors and American units also contributed. Haystoun House in Church Street, Willingdon – today flats and previously an old people’s home – was the base of the American 129th Signal Radio Intelligence Company. In the 1940s it stood alone with space for the so-called ‘aerial farm’ – 40 aerials in the form of inverted L’s, 20 on each side of the house.

These were fed to a ‘set room’ that could cater for 42 receivers. Tables around walls had partitions to separate operating positions. Operators kept four-hour watches, known as ‘tricks’ and searchers tuned over a segment of the short wave spectrum listening for any new stations that might pop up. Experienced operators were able to recognise the Morse styles – the so-called ‘fists’ – of individual German signallers. Message pads were ferried by dispatch rider to London. Operators were trained at Camp Crowder in Missouri where they learnt to copy high-speed Morse onto a typewriter. However, a pencil and message pad proved easier because receivers drifted off frequency and one hand was needed to re-tune. The daily schedule was 15 sets at night and 25 during the day.[…]

Continue reading: http://www.eastbourneherald.co.uk/news/nostalgia/nostalgia-willingdon-home-was-the-sussex-bletchley-park-1-7269441#ixzz43fTvD8hO

KIRO saves radio history by accident

Crosley-Dial-BlackAndWhiteMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, William Lee, who shared the following story from Mynorthwest.com about how radio station KIRO saved a bit of radio history through “accidental preservation.” Here’a an excerpt:

One of the most important events of the 20th century was World War II. The Cold War that followed and many of the national borders that exist to this day were largely created during that deadly, years-long conflict from the late 1930s to 1945.

An expert speaking at the Library of Congress at the first-ever Radio Preservation Task Force Conference described how one of the most important tools for understanding World War II is available to researchers only because of an “accident” at KIRO Radio more than 70 years ago.

During his keynote address last week in Washington, DC, longtime archivist and librarian Sam Brylawski spoke of KIRO Radio’s role in saving a priceless audio record of American history.

It was a case of “accidental preservation,” Brylawski told the audience of more than 200 radio history scholars from around the US and Canada, that resulted in the creation of a nearly complete archive of CBS news broadcasts during World War II.

“KIRO is the station in Seattle that cut lacquer discs to timeshift,” Byrlawski said, explaining how the scheduling of live broadcasts of CBS Radio’s news coverage was aimed at the Eastern time zone, which was not convenient for West Coast audiences. KIRO, as Brylawski described, violated network radio policies to make recordings of news programs on giant, 16-inch diameter discs, and then play them back a few hours later at times that were more convenient to Seattle-area listeners.

Continue reading the full article and listen to the audio report at Mynorthwest.com…

Vintage advert: The 1938 Bush S.W.45

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Christopher Brennen, who shares this retro advert (above) from Retropia.

I’m very curious what it must have been like to tune the Bush S.W.45. Seems the big selling feature was its ability to reliably tune closely-spaced stations. The ad claims:

“[T]he Teleflic comes to your assistance by giving you the equivalent of a dial 12 feet long, every station with its own number!”

I’m sure this was a brilliant innovation at the time.

I found this image of a fully-restored S.W.45 in an album by Photobucket user Retired2000:

Fully restored and working.

Indeed, he did an amazing job restoring this radio–check out the full album here.

I love the S.W.45’s dial. From a distance, the graphics almost look like sci-fi–like a panel on the star ship Enterprise.

Thanks again, Christopher!

Stuart Sizer: Heathkit designer, dad, and “bon vivant”

Heathkit-Drawings-2Two weeks ago, through a radio preservation group, I met the son of Heathkit product designer of the 1950s-70s, Stu Sizer––”stylist, artist, maker of models, bon vivant.” His son described the discovery of a few vintage Heathkit brochures, photos, and illustrations his father kept in his family’s basement shop, many of which had been scanned at some point.

Stu Sizer––”stylist, artist, maker of models, bon vivant”––was tasked with crafting Heathkit’s user-friendly and attractive exterior designs. For many years Sizer was Heathkit’s only product designer, and was therefore often busy. “He was a great dad,” his son told me, “but he spent a lot of time in the basement proof-building kits.”  He adds wryly, “Let that be a lesson to the hams of this world.”

Sizer’s son kindly shared with us the following scans and photos of his dad’s work, many of which are original drawings; the series concludes with some clippings featuring Sizer.

PC241116 PC241108 PC241107 PC241106 PC241099 Heathkit-Drawings-16 Heathkit-Drawings-15 Heathkit-Drawings-13 Heathkit-Drawings-12 Heathkit-Drawings-11 Heathkit-Drawings-10 Heathkit-Drawings-9 Heathkit-Drawings-8 Heathkit-Drawings-7 Heathkit-Drawings-6 Heathkit-Drawings-5 Heathkit-Drawings-4 Heathkit-Drawings-3 Heathkit-Drawings Heathkit-Advertisement

On Stuart Sizer

Heathkit-Stu Walter SizerHeathkit-Stu Walter Sizer-3Heathkit-Stu Walter Sizer-2

Radio Time Travel: Brian’s 1974 shortwave radio recording

Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Brian D. Smith (W9IND), for the following guest post and recording.

Note that Brian could use your help to ID a few unidentified broadcasters in this recording. If you can help, please comment:


HalliDial

Shortwave Radio 1974: Canada, Argentina, Spain, West Germany, Albania, utility stations

Want to know what shortwave radio sounded like in 1974?

This 55-minute recording, recovered from a cassette, was never intended to be anything but “audio notes”: I was an 18-year-old shortwave listener who collected QSL cards from international stations, and I was tired of using a pen and a notepad to copy down details of the broadcasts. I wanted an easier way to record what I heard, and my cassette tape recorder seemed like the perfect means to accomplish that goal.

But it wasn’t. I soon discovered that it was simpler to just edit my notes as I was jotting them down — not spend time on endless searches for specific information located all over the tape. To make a long story shorter, I abandoned my “audio notes” plan after a single shortwave recording: This one.

Hallicrafters S-108 (Image: DXing.com)

Hallicrafters S-108 (Image: DXing.com)

Still, for those who want to experience the feel of sitting at a shortwave radio in the mid-1970s and slowly spinning the dial, this tape delivers. Nothing great in terms of sound quality; I was using a Hallicrafters S-108 that was outdated even at the time. And my recording “technique” involved placing the cassette microphone next to the radio speaker.
Thus, what you’ll hear is a grab bag of randomness: Major shortwave broadcasting stations from Canada, Argentina, Spain, Germany and Albania; maritime CW and other utility stations; and even a one-sided conversation involving a mobile phone, apparently located at sea. There are lengthy (even boring) programs, theme songs and interval signals, and brief IDs, one in Morse code from an Italian Navy station and another from a Department of Energy station used to track shipments of nuclear materials. And I can’t even identify the station behind every recording, including several Spanish broadcasts (I don’t speak the language) and an interview in English with a UFO book author.

The following is a guide, with approximate Windows Media Player starting times, of the signals on this recording. (Incidentally, the CBC recording was from July 11, 1974 — a date I deduced by researching the Major League Baseball scores of the previous day.)

Guide to the Recording

0:00 — CBC (Radio Canada) Northern and Armed Forces Service: News and sports.
7:51 — RAE (Radio Argentina): Sign-off with closing theme
9:14 — Department of Energy station in Belton, Missouri: “This is KRF-265 clear.”
9:17 — Interval signal: Radio Spain.
9:40 — New York Radio, WSY-70 (aviation weather broadcast)
10:22 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Music.
10:51— Unidentified station (English): Historic drama with mention of Vice President John Adams, plus bell-heavy closing theme.
14:12 — RAI (Italy), male announcer, poor signal strength.
14:20 — Unidentified station (Spanish): Theme music and apparent ID, good signal strength.
15:16 — Unidentified station (foreign-speaking, possibly Spanish): Song, “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.”
17:00 — Deutsche Welle (The Voice of West Germany): Announcement of frequencies, theme song.
17:39 — Unidentified station (English): Interview with the Rev. Barry Downing, author of “The Bible and Flying Saucers.”
24:36 — One side of mobile telephone conversation in SSB, possibly from maritime location.
30:37 — Radio Tirana (Albania): Lengthy economic and geopolitical talk (female announcer); bad audio. Theme and ID at 36:23, sign-off at 55:03.
55:11 — Italian Navy, Rome: “VVV IDR3 (and long tone)” in Morse code.

Click here to download an MP3 of the full recording, or simply listen via the embedded player below:


Wow–what an amazing trip back in time, Brian! Thank you for taking the time to digitize and share your recording with us.

Post Readers: If you can help Brian ID the few unidentified stations in his recording, please comment!

Note that Brian is a frequent contributor to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. Click here to listen to his contributions. 

Tuning the Scott Marine SLR-M at sea

Scott-Marine-SLR-M-Dial

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Vendel Boeree (K2DSI), who writes:

Hi Tom, I just wanted to compliment you on your fine website. As a kid I would listen to Radio Netherlands which made me quite the hit with mom because she was homesick for our native Holland for quite some time. I was heart broken to find out that Radio Netherlands went dark not that long ago.

Scott-Marine-SLR-MBack in 1967 my family moved to Australia and went there by freighter. Things didn’t work out as planned and we returned on an old American freighter, the “African Moon”.

I became friendly with the radio operator on that ship and he let me shortwave listen when he was off watch. The receiver was a “Scott” and appeared to be the same as yours. They also had a “Scott” receiver in the lounge that had a slide rule dial that was used for entertainment purposes. I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio operator.

Needless to say I didn’t follow through on that dream and I suppose that’s just as well seeing as how ROs are a thing of the past.

Take care and keep up the good work.

Vendel Boeree/ K2DSI

Thanks so much for sharing those memories, Vendel! I bet reception was nothing short of amazing while you were at sea. I’m guessing the slide rule model Scott you listened to in the lounge was the model SLR-F (click here for a photo).

Just the other day, my wife looked around my radio shack and asked what radio I would grab if the house were on fire. My answer was the Scott Marine SLR-M. It represents everything I love in WWII era receivers: built like a tank, great sensitivity, beautiful back-lit dial, built-in speaker, phono in, a magic eye and–since it was intended as a troop morale radio–beautiful room-filling audio.

Yep. Scottie’s a keeper!