Jon’s Sony CRF-160: Should it stay or should it go?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jon Helberg, who writes:

Greetings!

During our COVID-19 shutdown I located my old Sony CRF-160 which has been closet bound for some years now, however it has always worked as new.

[…]Other than the broken toggle switch for the light, all knobs and dials work, are present and accounted for. Upon powering up after many years in storage it lights up just fine and appears to be operational, however once powered up the volume control and every knob I turned brought loads of static to the speakers indicating corrosion of contacts, etc., so I just shut it down without testing any further.

The power cord has become a bit sticky as some plastics and rubber do over time, but of course that easily can be cleaned up. The entire radio case and front cover is intact (nothing broken, warped or bent), with the standard wear marks on the outside but otherwise fine. I do not have the box, manual, or any other accessories. The telescoping antenna looks as if it may have been slightly bent at one time (not kinked), and it extends and retracts just fine.

I have owned this radio since new but raised a family who used it as well (kids broke the light switch), so I do know it worked the last time I used it before storage, but I haven’t used it since other than just turning it on as I have mentioned above.

Photos

I don’t do much with radio any longer other than listening to AM, therefore this radio had no value to me other than sentimental (purchased it after an Army tour with ASA as a radio intercept operator), therefore looking for your thoughts on whether it’s worth getting repaired, or just focus on selling on eBay, or somewhere else?

I would have no idea as to its value, who could repair it, or the cost involved.

Tough decision, Jon, so thanks in advance for allowing me to share your inquiry here with the SWLing Post community.

I’m hoping readers can comment with thoughts on the actual value of the radio, the availability of spare parts (toggle switch), and their thoughts on whether you should keep or sell it.

I’m a nostalgic guy, so my inclination would be to keep it unless you really wanted to liquidate it for funds, or you simply have no attachment to it at all.  As custodians of vintage radios, I also feel we should try to keep them in working order.

In terms of repairs, I know my good friend Vlado (at HamRadio.repair) could re-cap it and make it like new. If you could locate a parts radio or simply a similar toggle switch, Vlado could sort that out too I’m sure.

Post readers: What are your thoughts? Should Jon keep the Sony or sell it? Are parts easy to find. Please comment and include any relevant links!

Spread the radio love

26 thoughts on “Jon’s Sony CRF-160: Should it stay or should it go?

  1. william stevens

    hello Jon
    i vote you keep it i have had mine since 1972 it was bought in europe and i have used mine for 20 years to listen to the BBC world service. After about 10 years it developed a strange problem the FM band would die well actually it would drop in volume and lost some gain. in the late 80’s i thought i found the issue and some soldering iron heat appeared to fix it.
    I packed it away and just recently dug it out it still has the FM band problem everything else works great.
    does anyone out there own one of these and had this problem.??
    william

    Reply
  2. James Patterson

    Keep it because once it’s gone you will never find another one.No matter the condition.That radio has alot of memories for you and still basicaly works.Fix it all up and keep it working because the longer it sits without working the caps will corrode.So get it working and use it.Its part of your family.

    Reply
  3. Nick

    I had a Panasonic large SW, MW, AM/FM radio that I bought 20 years ago, was still in excellent condition
    Sold it on eBay for $450.00. I was into SW listening back years ago, now I’m in Amateur radio because I always loved radio and now making contacts all over the world. Years and years ago I was into building Heath Kits, and built SW radio like the old Zenith portable, color TV, and a lot of other kits.

    Reply
    1. Jon Helberg

      Hey Nick, thanks for checking in.

      Congrats on divesting your Panny for a great price. I just checked Ebay yesterday and found three Sony CRF-160’s ranging in price from $140 to $299, the latter in much better shape than mine. While I wouldn’t be adverse to accepting a good price for this radio, selling it for a profit was not my initial intention for posting. BTW, Panasonic ranks tops as my favorite consumer electronics company.

      Thinking it though I have pretty much decided that even if I were to repair my Sony to new condition I still wouldn’t be spending much time with it because I’ve simply been away from it too long and now have other interests/obligations which occupy my time.

      Partly because I never advanced beyond casual SW listening I never took that interest further into Amateur radio, therefore my interests died on the vine along with any connection to the craft. Had I any talent in electronics I might have gotten into building Heath Kits, but other events and interests in life dominated so I never developed that talent either which left me with casual surfing, a rather solitary endeavor with the arrival of family, thus into the closet it went.

      Glad to hear that you stuck with it and found a rewarding hobby.

      Reply
    1. Jon Helberg

      Hey David,

      Thanks for chiming in. Yes, of course that will remain an option/GRIN. How young are you going to be?
      I simply love radios, that’s how all this came about. I have ample am/fm/weather radios, perhaps a bit like gun lovers I believe that you can never have too many. During this self-quarantine business I was actually looking at portable and table radios on the internet to see what’s new when a spark went off somewhere in my gray matter reminding me that I had this Sony stashed in a closet. I dragged it out thinking that I would simply power it up and listen to Radio Kafiristan, shag some code, or something equally entertaining after about 20 years in storage, but such was not to be.

      Without knowing any better I’d guess that a good cleaning might bring it back to life, but I could be wrong & people with a lot more experience than me could better tell. I am an operator, not a technician, so what goes on inside a radio is for others to determine.

      Be safe.
      Jon

      Reply
    1. Jon Helberg

      Hey Omar, thanks for checking in.

      Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, but out of curiosity I tried to Google your Aiwa DX-700 and all I could come up with was a CD player. Would be interested to see a pic of that radio.

      At this point I think I’ve pretty much decided on letting go of my Sony.

      Reply
  4. Jorge

    I think you should try to repair it. It is a Iconic and beautiful rig. It is worth to have in any radio collector collection. If it were me, I would keep it.

    Reply
    1. Jon Helberg

      Hey Jorge,

      Thanks for checking in and for stating your opinion. Perhaps like many folks I hate to part with things which have sentimental attachment, but realistically even if repaired to new I doubt I would be spending any more time with it than I have for the past 20 years or so. I’ve simply been away from it too long. At this point I am most inclined to send it off to wherever it would be welcome, such as a museum for example.

      Reply
    1. Jon Helberg

      Thanks for your reply . Will give that a look. While I’m not looking to make money off this, it would be nice to know just the same.

      Reply
    2. Jon Helberg

      Mario,

      Thanks for the tip. I did that yesterday and found three Sony CRF-160’s ranging in price from $140 to $299. The $299 unit sounds and appears to be in much better condition than mine.

      Reply
  5. jack dully

    A Classic is a classic of engineering from the past,no longer available ,from a time when craftsmen spent time producing a quality product,I’d keep it,myself.The sentimental value is a definite plus.As mentioned before try a little contact cleaner with a straw (plastic safe) and play with it. I also have a Zenith Trans Oceanic and the contact cleaner did the trick.Good Luck,Enjoy !

    Reply
    1. Kris Partridge

      Agree a classic. If it were me, it would remain with me..!

      Noisey controls, a careful application of contact cleaner should most likely solve the problem.

      Reply
      1. Jon Helberg

        Kris, thank you for your reply.

        While I’m conflicted on what to do with it, I’m leaning towards divesting myself of it, mainly because I haven’t used it in years and I have no intention of using it in the future, plus I have other radios including a smaller radio (Radio Shack DX-398/Sangean-ATS909) if I ever want to fiddle with short wave again. I’m an “advanced” citizen (my term for senior) still employed and raising a 13 year old, so have plenty on my plate without DX’ing. Mr Witherspoon advised that I post first to see what happens & I’ve already received 7 replies so we’ll see.

        Reply
    2. Jon Helberg

      Thanks for your reply . Will give that a look. While I’m not looking to make money off this, it would be nice to know just the same.

      Reply
    3. Jon Helberg

      Thanks for your reply, Jack. While I’m conflicted on what to do with it, I’m leaning towards divesting myself of it, mainly because I haven’t used it in years and I have no intention of using it in the future, plus I have other radios including a smaller radio (Radio Shack DX-398/Sangean-ATS909) if I ever want to fiddle with short wave again. I’m an “advanced” citizen (my term for senior) still employed and raising a 13 year old, so have plenty on my plate without DX’ing. Mr. WItherspoon advised that I post to see what happens, and I’ve already received 7 replies, so we’ll see.

      Reply
  6. Patrick Lozito

    From your description of the problem, It would seem all the service needed is to simply clean the pots and switches with a carefully applied squirt of Deoxit D5.

    Reply
    1. Jon Helberg

      Patrick, thank you for your reply.

      Well, I’ve never taken the back off although I don’t see that as a problem except I don’t think I could identify a pot. I’m still mulling this thing over.

      While I remain conflicted on what to do with it, I’m leaning towards divesting myself of it, primarily because I haven’t used it in years and I have no intention of using it in the future, plus I have other radios including a smaller radio (Radio Shack DX-398/Sangean-ATS909) if I ever want to fiddle with short wave again. I’m an “advanced” citizen (my term for senior) still employed and raising a 13 year old, so have plenty on my plate without DX’ing.

      Mr. Witherspoon suggested posting to see what happens & I have already received 7 replies, but still haven’t decided which way to go on this.

      Reply
  7. Tim a DeLong

    I would be very happy to have the radio at my radio museum in Indianapolis, Indiana. I currently have 30 shortwave radios in my current museum collection. I may be contacted at my e mail address. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Jon Helberg

      Thank you for your reply, Tim.

      I still haven’t decided what I’ll do but you will be first on the list if I decide to get rid of it, and if I do go that way it will have to wait until this virus stuff is over with so I can get out to shop shipping supplies.

      I’m totally new to this board & didn’t see how to acquire your email address from your post, but will figure it out when I get a little more time to spend on it.

      Would you happen to have a website for your radio museum that I might view?

      Reply
  8. Dan Robinson

    Allow me to add a few thoughts — the CRF-160 was the top of SONY’s mid-size mega portables way back in the 60’s/70’s and it is one hell of a performer IF it is in good electrical condition and has no scratchiness in the controls. I actually did a video showing what was then my CRF-160 and an Eton E1 receiving Zanzibar back when we still had that station broadcasting on 11,735. The link is below. The CRF-160 is prized by SONY collectors, but then again only if it is in decent condition with no broken toggles. Unfortunately yours appears to have that issue. CRF-150 and 160’s (the difference was that the 160 has SSB capability) almost never appear on Ebay with the original boxes, which add significantly to value. But these days, especially amid the new financial crisis we’re all in, don’t expect to get more than $75 to 100 for yours, and it may not sell at all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMC2HIAq1QQ

    Reply
    1. Jon Helberg

      Dan, thank you for your prompt reply.

      Mega-portable is an apt description alright. Wile it sports a carry handle, it’s one hefty piece of kit!

      I haven’t looked at your link yet but will maybe later on today.

      While I would not be adverse to selling the radio for a good price, that’s not my primary reason for posting. I began with Mr. Witherspoon at the point where I would be happy to ship it for postage alone, but even that would have to wait until this virus stuff is over so I could shop the shipping supplies. My thinking was that even if I could restore it to new, would I use it any more than I have in the past 20 years, and the answer was, “probably not.” So it’s basically a boat anchor to me at this time of my life and I would feel better if it were put to good use rather than taking space in a land fill.

      We’ll see what happens here before I post on Ebay.

      Reply
    1. Jon Helberg

      Hey Andrew, thanks for your prompt reply.

      Yep, that’s about where I am in the process right now. While I would not be adverse to selling it at a wonderful price, that’s not why I posted here. My thinking was and remains that even if I could repair to new condition, would I use it any more than I have in the past 20 years, and the answer is, “Probably no.” So it would remain a boat anchor to me, thus a donation to the radio museum would be preferable to it taking up space in a landfill.

      Will see what happens. It isn’t going anywhere until this virus stuff is over so I can shop shipping supplies.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.