Tag Archives: Console Radios

Ken’s E. H. Scott Philharmonic Beam of Light console radio

E. H. Scott Philharmonic Beam of Light Open 2

In response to an inquiry in our post about the Crosley WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver, SWLing Post contributor, Ken Carr, writes:

I’m not sure if my radio is a ‘benchmark’ but it sure is close to it.
It is the E. H. Scott Philharmonic Beam of Light console radio.

E. H. Scott Philharmonic Beam of Light Outside Closed

Mine appears to have been built in 1939 or early 1940. It has 30 tubes, most of which are covered by chrome-plated shields. The power supply/amplifier (4 6L6’s in the output stage), receiver, 15″ speaker and cabinet easily weigh over 150 pounds.

E. H. Scott Philharmonic Beam of Light inside

It took me two years of occasional work (I am retired so I don’t rush) to get it going and working reasonably well. I had to replace over 100 capacitors and correct some B+ voltage problems left by a previous repair person. 

None of the knobs are correct (mine came without them … 9 required) and replacements are difficult to come by (and quite expensive when they do appear).

When receiving a strong station the volume is such that it would easily drown out anything within 100 yards (and with no distortion).

E. H. Scott Philharmonic Beam of LightDial

Some day I will post some details and photos on my WordPress site (idlenot.com). I’ll be sure to let you know, Thomas. [Note: Yes, Ken, please do!]

Oh, the first time I powered it up and received a station they were playing Light My Fire (The Doors, I think). Appropriate. I put a video of it on YouTube. The radio is all apart as I was still working on it at the time.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Now that is serendipity, Ken–I mean, the first music you hear after restoring this beauty is Light My Fire? Brilliant!

The E. H. Scott Philharmonic Beam of Light is a benchmark console by any standard. I first learned about this radio through a local classified ad–the owner was selling the internal components (and original knobs) but had no cabinet. I believe he was asking $1200. The chrome plating is such eye candy, I can see why some owner in the past removed it from the cabinet to save space. Still, it was a shame the cabinet had been discarded–as one can see from your photos, the craftsmanship is simply stunning.

Ken, thank you for taking the time to share the Beam of Light console with us!

Post readers: you should check out Ken’s blog, Idlenot.com, where you’ll find more vintage radio and classic cars!

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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:

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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.

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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!

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Moshe restores a Ben-Gal “Duet-Stereo”

Ben-Gal-Duet-Stereo-Full

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Moshe, who writes:

About 2 weeks ago, a very good friend called me and exclaimed, “you just have to see this radio…I’m keeping it for you!”–so, I drove to his aunt’s house and saw this beauty.

After hauling the radio to my place, I started to check it out, to see what would be needed for restoration; it was working, with bad contacts, poor frequency response and low output.

I took hi-res pictures of this radio, some during restoration. Now the radio sounds great. It has been recapped, a couple of bad resistors and bad wires replaced, contacts have been cleaned, and some good cleaning for the chassis as well.

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Ben-Gal-Duet-Stereo-Front-Detached

As I wanted to keep the original appearance of the chassis, I kept the original filter capacitors on board, but disconnected them from the circuit, added terminal strips and new capacitors from underneath.

Ben-Gal-Duet-Stereo-Board2 Ben-Gal-Duet-Stereo-Board1

The radio uses an EF85 tube as the RF stage. With the addition of a grounding connection and random wire antenna, it’s very sensitive on shortwave.

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About the Ben-Gal Duet-Stereo:

It was made in Israel by Ben-Gal, a label inside shows it was made at 12th of December, 1965.

It is a console model with record player. As the model name suggests, the amplifier and record player are stereo (though the tuner is not…).

The radio has longwave (marked in meters), mediumwave (marked in meters) and 3 shortwave bands (with megacycle and meter band marks).

The shortwave bands overlaps with each other, so cover is continuous:

  • SW3 2.3MHz to 6MHz,
  • SW2 5.5MHz to 15.5MHz,
  • and SW1 14.5MHz to 23MHz.

Ben-Gal-Duet-Stereo-Open

Many thanks, Moshe, for sharing photos and this description of this beautiful Ben-Gal Duet-Stereo. I bet the audio fidelity is amazing. My father has a 1960’s console–with a similar configuration–made by Admiral, though it was limited to mediumwave and FM reception. Some day, I will try to restore it to its former glory!

Thanks for the inspiration, Moshe!

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A Photo Tour of the National Capital Radio and Television Museum

On Tuesday afternoon, I made a pilgrimage the to the National Capital Radio and Television Museum in Bowie, Maryland, USA.  The museum is located in a modest and beautiful historic house on the corner of Mt. Oak and Mitchellville Roads in Bowie.

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RadioMuseum-Exterior-FrontDoor

Museum Curator and volunteer, Brian Belanger, kindly gave me a private tour of the museum collections (the museum is closed on Tuesdays). Brian

Many thanks to Brian for taking time out of his day for the tour, and for allowing me to take some photos for the SWLing Post!

The museum has a number of display rooms with radios broadly grouped by style and decade. The first room offers examples of some of the earliest radios produced–including the venerable crystal radio (below).

[Click photos to enlarge.]

Miracle

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Like Brian, numerous volunteers work to keep the collections in working order. This isn’t a place where vintage radios come to die; they actually come to life here.

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1920sRadioEven examples of some of their earliest radios are on the air and can be tuned to local and international stations.  Radio5

RCA-Radiola-60 RCA-Radiola-60Dial

This RCA “portable” (below), housed two batteries on either side of the center faceplate. Note the ad on the wall above–a couple enjoy the RCA as they recline on a beach.

RCA-Portable RCA-Portable-Dial Radiola-X-RCA Radio10 Atwater-Kent-Black Atwater-Kent-Black-Interior

Speakers of the day were pretty amazing, too–check out this hand-painted 1927 Air Chrome Double Cone Speaker, below.

Air-Chrome-Double-Cone-Speaker

The museum also has an extensive collection of studio and off-air recordings that can be played over an AM carrier throughout the building.

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By the late 1920s and early 1930s, radio manufactures built gorgeous console radios, features in the living rooms and parlors of many lucky homes.

Atwater-Kent

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This E.H. Scott All-Wave 23 console (above and below) sported not only twenty-threee vacuum tubes, but a large, robust internal speaker. Radio collectors consider the All-Wave 23 to be one of the finest performing radios of the vacuum-tube era. Scott-Console-Radio-Dial

Zenith-Shuttle

The museum also features the Zenith 12-S-232 tabletop radio with working shuttle dial–a futuristic band-switching mechanical wonder with a stunning dial.

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A number of tabletop and portable radios that span the decades have found their homes in this museum.  No doubt many SWLing Post readers cut their teeth on these classics!

Zenith-Trans-Oceanic-6500 Zenith-Portable American-Radio-AssociatesRealistic-Model-12-173 Garod-Model-582

I love the design of the Garod Model 5A2–wow! And I’m sure many kids of the fifties wished they had an official Hopalong Cassidy AM radio (below).HopAlongCassidy-Radio

The museum, of course, also houses a large number of classic televisions.

Pilot-Model-TVHallicrafters-TV Philco-TV Philco-TV-ControlsRadio stations and benefactors have also donated many items used in the industry, both in broadcast and retail.

NBC-Chimes PhilcoSign Midwest-Magazine SylvaniaSigns 980KC-MicBrian was also kind enough to take me to the building, next door, where they repair radios and store others for eventual rotation into the collection.

Workshop Repair4 Repair2

Museum volunteers also teach radio repair and restoration classes.Repair1 Repair3

GE-RadioThe number of classic ham radios, home brew receivers and transmitters was simply amazing. Indeed, I felt like a kid in a candy shop!

Radio1 National-NC-46 HalliDial Hallicrafters-SX100 Hallicrafters-SX62A Hallicrafters-SuperSkyrider Hallicrafters-Super-Skyrider CollinsTransmitterBy the end of the tour, I had decided to become a member of the National Capital Radio and Television Museum. Even though I live a few states away, I like knowing that my membership funds not only help preserve vintage radios and televisions, but also provide me members-only access to many of their scanned archives. Click to view a full list of benefits for a modest $25 membership.

Again, many thanks to Brian Belanger for the amazing tour of this wonderful museum!  Brian, I’ll be back next year…

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