Tag Archives: Hallicrafters SX-110

Listener Post: Mike Stutzer’s love of radio began with a Hallicrafters S-120

Photo: Universal Radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Stutzer, who recently shared the following listener post:

I started SWLing as a teenager. My favorite uncle gave me a Hallicrafters S-120.

My dad hung a longwire under an eave and through a casement window frame into my bedroom. I marveled at all the AM international stations broadcasting in English, listening to everything from BBC cricket coverage on Saturday morning to hysterically unbelievable Albanian political news coverage.

After college I could afford something better, so I upgraded to a “boat anchor” Hallicrafters SX 110. It had a useful crystal filter to improve selectivity, but it was still nigh on impossible to decipher a Ham on SSB.

Photo: Universal Radio

Many decades later I bought a house on a steep foothill. Realizing that it was a perfect QTH for a Ham station, I got licensed and now am President of the local ARC. Here is a loving look at the original SWL receiver that got me hooked.

Prof. Mike

Boulder, CO

Thank you for sharing this, Mike!

Mike’s radio story is the latest in our multi-year series called Listener Posts, where I place all of your personal radio histories. Feel free to submit your own by contacting me.

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Jeffrey re-caps his Hallicrafters SX-110

The restored SX-110 sitting on the bookshelf in the shack. No one would mistake this for a new receiver, but it works just fine.

The restored SX-110 sitting on the bookshelf in the shack.

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Jeffrey Fritz, writes:

During the summer of 2012 you were nice enough to run an article in your blog about my reviving a 1961 Hallicrafters SX-110 General Coverage receiver. The radio has continued to perform reasonably well during the last few years. However, recently I acquired several pieces of professional test equipment. That encouraged me to delve even deeper into the restoration of my old receiver from my novice ham radio days.

Over the past week, I completely recapped the SX-110 (except, of course, for the mica and ceramic caps as they still good, and the electrolytic caps as they were replaced in 2012.)

The SX-110 isn’t a complex receiver, but there are quite a few caps, so I worked methodically and carefully. I started working from the audio amp stage and continued working back through the IF stages and the BFO to the RF stage. I recapped each stage replacing the old caps with new Orange Drop caps. Each stage was tested before I moved on to the next stage. Here’s a photo of the recapped chassis:


Here are the capacitors that were removed from the receiver. Most are the old Bumble Bee caps–called that because of the color stripes that mark their value:


Virtually every Bumble Bee cap tested leaky and out of tolerance.

Next, I tested every tube replacing the weak or bad ones with NOS (New Old Stock) tubes. Every pot and switch was cleaned with DeOxit and moving parts were lubricated where appropriate. Finally, I did a complete re-alignment following the instructions in the Service Manual.

As with all vintage tube gear, restorations require patience, care and a decent knowledge of electronics. It’s easy to make a fair radio–even a good radio–into a disaster if you are not careful. Also there is enough voltage and current inside of the chassis of a tube radio to toss you across the room. So care is always the order of the day as is a VARIAC to bring the radio up to AC line voltage slowly.

The receiver now sounds as good as ever–perhaps even better than ever. It has marvelous AM audio and can pick up ham and broadcast stations on all bands with nothing more than a wire in my basement. It even does a decent job on SSB–something that I don’t recall it ever bring adept at in the past.

That say that you can’t keep a good man down. Similarly an old radio, with some new parts and some TLC, can run virtually forever.

I agree with you: you can’t keep a good radio down! Repair work is certainly the commitment we make when we fall in love with these old rigs. It’s a good thing that almost all of the parts are still available and relatively affordable.

Thanks again, Jeffrey!

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Jeffrey revives an old friend, his Hallicrafters SX-110

SWLing Post reader, Jeffrey Fritz, sent me the following message and has kindly allowed me to share it with other readers. I’mthoroughly inspired!

Bottoms up! Considering how old this receiver is, the chassis bottom (still with the original power cord) really is clean. This is how the bottom of the chassis looked when I removed the receiver from its metal cabinet.

As a teenager in the 1960s I spent a considerable amount of time SWLing on a Hallicrafters SX-110 communications receiver. I collected QSL cards from all over the world and loved being an SWL.

The SX-110 was purchased on 9 September 1961 from Gem Electronics in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York. My parents bought it for me, probably after a great deal of whining and cajoling on my part. Although much of my gear has long since been sent to some landfill by my parents, like my precious Lionel trains, I would not allow them to trash the SX-110.

The top of the chassis, however, is not as clean. Some elbow grease will clearly be required.

The radio has been sitting in one basement or another, unused for the better part of 30 years.

Yesterday I decided to try bringing the radio back to life. Restoring this kind old receiver was a labor of love. The receiver was carefully looked over and tested with a VOM for bad components and the top of the chassis cleaned as best I could. The bottom was pristine. I just needed to clean out a few cobwebs and replace the power cord.

All eight tubes. Note the three original Hallicrafters tubes with the orange labeling.

After being cleaned up and several components tested, the SX-110 was slowly brought back to life on a Variac. I started at 10 volts AC and slowly increased the voltage every ten minutes by another ten volts. When I got to about 90 VAC, I could hear static and distorted audio coming out of the speaker. It was a good sign that the radio would come back to full operation once I reached the normal 110 VAC input–and that is exactly what occurred.

I am happy to report that, with a little patience and love (and a good cleaning) –and with three of the original Hallicrafters tubes still in place, my trusty old Hallicrafters SX-110 shortwave receiver is happily working today. I have it connected to its original Hallicrafters R-47 3.3 ohm speaker.

The top chassis is cleaned as much as possible. Not perfect, but a little cleaner than before. We now have about 110 volts applied through the Variac. No smoke but we do have lights!

Yesterday evening I listened to Radio Taiwan, Radio China International, Radio Havana Cuba, The Voice of Turkey and The Voice of Russia. The audio quality was rather decent without a hint of AC hum. The radio is probably due for a good alignment. I am running the radio on the Variac set at 110 volts AC and will probably keep it on the Variac because the AC voltages today in the U.S. are significantly higher than they were in 1961.

Even the XYL thinks that the radio sounds terrific! What better recommendation can there be for this old, vintage receiver?

73, Jeffrey Fritz, WB1AAL

The restored SX-110 sitting on the bookshelf in the shack. No one would mistake this for a new receiver, but it works just fine.

PS–Jeffrey also mentioned to me: “If you look closely at the chassis stamp photo of the SX-110, you can see a stamp that reads ‘199117 C.’ This is the manufacture date of the receiver. The fourth digit is the year, and the fifth and sixth digits are the week of the year. So, 199117 is the 17th week of 1961 or the week of 23 April 1961.”

Very interesting. Now I need to examine a few of my own Hallicrafters receivers…

Close up of the inspection stamps. Do modern rig manufacturers take time to do this now?

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