Rescuing the Eton E1 from a sticky situation

I’m back from a week of travels and the 2020 Winter SWL Fest. In short, is was another amazing Fest and so much fun. I hope to write more about it in the coming days, when I have a few moments to catch up and after I shake a nasty bug (chest cold) I picked up.

Although I had no intention of making purchases at the Fest beyond a few raffle tickets, I couldn’t resist snagging an Eton E1 (XM version) at a silent auction from the estate of our recently-departed friend, Tony Pazzola (WB2BEJ). Tim Moody kindly organized the silent auction.

Tony was an amazing friend to all and an avid radio collector, so there were some excellent radios offered up in the silent auction–I could have easily easy bid on each and every one of them! In the end, though, only one really caught my eye: the Eton E1 XM.

A small sampling of the radios from Tony’s estate.

Tony took amazing care of his radios, but his Eton E1 XM suffered from what all of those models eventually do: a sticky chassis.

Back in the day (roughly 2009 to 2013) Eton/Grundig covered a number of their radios models with a rubberized coating that unfortunately breaks down over time and becomes tacky or sticky to the touch.

I think this E1’s sticky coating put off potential bidders.

It was particularly nasty–if you picked up the radio, you had to immediately wash your hands.

The E1’s starting bid on Friday was $200–quite fair considering this unit is fully-functional and comes with all software, cables, manuals and a SiriusXM radio antenna. By Saturday, the starting bid had been decreased to $150. I resisted putting in an offer, but after seeing that it didn’t sell after all bidding had ended, I couldn’t resist. That E1 needed a good home, right? Plus the proceeds go to Tony’s family.

The sticky coating didn’t scare me. If you’ve been an SWLing Post reader for long, you’ve no doubt read our numerous posts about cleaning off this mess. There are a number of solutions, but I’ve heard the most positive long-term results by employing a de-greasing product called Purple Power (click here to read archived posts). Indeed, it’s the solution Eton Corporation recommends.

On the way home Monday, I stopped by a big box store and grabbed a bottle of Purple Power.

Tony still had the original plastic film on the large backlit display.

Sporting a pair of nitrile gloves, I grabbed a bunch of paper towels and a few cotton swabs, then started the cleaning process. I spent the better part of an hour carefully going over the entire body of the E1and trying to remove residue in every crevice without allowing the Purple Power solution to creep under buttons.

In short?  I’m very pleased with the results and am now a solid believer in Purple Power.

As others have reported, Purple Power breaks down the sticky residue and allows it to be removed with a cloth or towels with very little scrubbing. Indeed, the process was much easier than I anticipate.

Now I have a super-clean Eton E1 XM to put on the air!

Now I have no excuse to finally remove the sticky residue from both my Grundig G6 and G3!

So far, I’m loving the Eton E1. It is, no doubt, a benchmark portable. Of course, another motivation behind snagging this E1 is so that I can compare it with the Eton Elite Satellit once it eventually hits the market.

Do you have an Eton E1?  What are your thoughts about this receiver? Please comment!

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16 thoughts on “Rescuing the Eton E1 from a sticky situation

  1. David Pentecost

    I love the idea of me owning a receiver like this someday. I am hoping Eton actually produces this version of a classic radio and that it is at least as capable (minus XM) as the original.

  2. rob

    Thanks to this post one of my life’s mysteries are now solved. Had my radio for years and only use it once and awhile for power outages or camping. One day getting ready to pack it for another camping trip, discovered the entire radio was very sticky and tacky and couldn’t for the life of me remember spilling anything on it but finally figured something must have. Also have tried to wash the stuff off, not easy. I actually replaced the radio with another of the same i got off ebay. I will not attempt to store it somewhere where the coating doesn’t break down…

  3. Rob K

    I bought an Eton E1 off Ebay a few years ago and when I got it , the gunk had already been professionally cleaned off of it, not mentioned by the seller no idea how they did it without removing the graphics – must have taken it apart.

    I had a lot of fun with it super sensitive , SYNC was excellent and the passband tuning was amazing , even in narrow bandwidth SSB sounded quite clear and AM DX by splitting the signal USB/LSB SYNC , dual band SYNC there was always tools to get a signal clear.

    I sold it for $100. more than I paid ..never had any problems except DC Power which Universal sold me one of their last few.

    I miss it a little so just ordered the mini Etòn Elite Executive which comes tomorrow , I do have a good version of G3 ( a few on Youtube were great) so will see how it stacks up.

    I may buy the super 900 Satellit if in a more durable case – since SW is devolving AM is more important ..K may like the sensitivity and low noise floor of the Eton Elite …

  4. Nathan W

    Nice catch; they are really great radios. I bought mine back in 2009, and got the E1 without XM. The only thing I don’t like about it is the antenna connector. I was able to get the adaptors needed to make it connectable to a standard RCA phono plug from my local (now sadly gone) Radio Shack. The sticky case problem developed in less than a year; when it was new, it just had a very sure grip surface, but was not tacky. I was able to clean the surface completely with 91% isopropyl and carefully applied elbow grease. At the time I did the same with an Eton E10 with the same problem. The E1 turned out with a smooth matte finish gray case and the E10 a glossy gray. The E1 sits next to me at my desk, right next to a Sangean 803A I got in 1991. Both still pull in the stations, but the E1 is better. Good luck with yours!

  5. Jack Dully

    Well,sticky or not, good luck with your E-1 XM,it is a true performer. Standing upright with the antenna fully extended is a no-no.Universal may still have a 30 degree angle large blue radio stand that is made for large radios like the E-1,it’s worth it.I was lucky and had the chance to compare my various SW radios at home a few years ago.I had fairly good reception at night where I live,just about 15-20 miles N. of N.Y. City.The rooftop dipole in the Winter months was outstanding and relatively quiet,as compared to daytime.I had the E-1 XM,the Icom IC-R75,Grudig G-3 and the Sony ICF 7600GR to compare on the same station,same antenna and same relative time,just by swapping inputs and a quick tweak.I really thought and believed that the E-1,with all its bells and whistles was the best sounding ,sensitive and versatile of all of them.No technical tests, it was clearer,quick to respond and a pleasure to tweak the knobs.I did a lot of XM listening and recording in the daytime off satellite’s and it even has a shortcut to XM antenna pointing for best reception.To top it off the large speaker with treble and bass sounds terrific.Sticky or not you have a tried and true performer in your midst,Good Luck,Enjoy! Ps.The Manual is written like a manual for a Hi-Tec piece of gear,should be but I’m afraid no longer

  6. Joe Patti KD2QBK

    On another note, Tony must’ve had good taste. I noted a Sony ICF-6500W on the table. My first real SW receiver. I remember listening to WRNO’s rock format and Jeff White’s Radio Earth on Radio Clarin amongst many others on that radio. Fun times…

    1. jack dully

      I have the exact model,purchased from Universal when they first sold.I could never understand why a quality,versatile and rather expensive radio did not have a sturdy carry handle,that could fold down,when not in use. The radio has heft to it with the 4- D cells,so perhaps Eton thought that they could save money by a applying a rubberized non-slip coating rather than producing an integrated carry handle.Who knows. I did make my own handle and it was simple with 1/4″ nylon 3 stranded rope,doubled up,hook and loop (Velcro) and 3M contact cement.The hook and eye was attached to each end of the rope handle,L & R ,Then hook and eye on a long ,thin strip attached to each side of the radio.This was my removable rope carry handle and it never failed. I cut down on the stickiness a bit by covering it with a plastic typewriter cover,when not in use

  7. Mike S

    Was wondering, too, the coating formula changed over the years.

    My earliest Eton was the E-100/G-100 (a Tecsun PL-210 clone). There were various recommendations for removing the goo, most often being Purple Power and pure isopropyl alcohol. The Purple Power did nothing but smear it. Alcohol plus some elbow grease eventually got it sparking clean.

    Further along I tried to clean a used G5 bought off eBay; based on previous experience I went straight for the alcohol. The coating did come off (mostly) but so did much of the screen-printed button labels on the front of the cabinet. Yeck. I ended up reselling it because it was simply too painful to look at.

  8. Guy Atkins

    Congrats on the nice E1XM purchase, Thomas!

    In my opinion Purple Power is the #1 choice in *renewing* the original sprayed-on texture finish. It removes the sticky feeling for a good long time and imparts a nice satin finish. I have not seen any evidence this product completely removes the gunk, however.

    I used to use the 91% isopropyl alcohol method but it is very easy to rub too vigorously with it and begin to remove the gray cabinet paint (which is on top of the bare, off-white colored plastic. Some owners’ radios that end up a sort of blotchy gray after removing the sticky finish are seeing thin spots in the paint where they rubbed too hard.

    My choice now is Maxx Pro adhesive remover which is fully citrus-based and “safer” to use on the E1XM and other sticky textured radios. You’ll really know it when the sticky mess is truly coming off- you end up with wads of pale yellowish / clear gunk that resembles old, balled up rubber cement pieces. To do the job right I recommend removing all knobs, buttons, and internal PCBs first. At least take off the knobs; it helps in the end.

    Sorry to revisit this old, tired topic on the SWLing Post, but every E1XM owner encounters this sticky situation eventually. They should be aware of the various methods before they tackle it on their prized Etons.



    1. rtc

      Unfortunately the Sticky-Icky goes all the way back to the Eton E-5/Grundig G-5.
      They seem to have changed it a bit,the super sticky G-8 cleans up easily with
      just rubbing alcohol and a roll of paper towels.


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