Tag Archives: Vintage Radios

The Minerva Tropic Master: a portable WWII era morale radio

If you’re a regular here on the SWLing Post, you’ve no doubt discovered that I’m a fan of vintage radios.

Lately, I’ve been attempting to let go of some of my vintage gear to give my favorite rigs proper shelf space and dedicated antenna time. To keep temptation at bay when I visit flea markets or hamfests (like Hamvention and the one in Shelby, NC) I now focus on WWII era radios; specifically “morale” radios that were used for troop entertainment. I’ve two morale sets: the Scott Marine Radio Model SLRM (technically, a commercial version of a Navy set) and the Minerva Tropic Master.

I purchased this Minerva set off of eBay a couple years ago. I got it for $50 or $60, if memory serves (the seller originally wanted $180 + shipping!). He claimed it worked, but after I asked him a few questions prior to making an offer and learned that “working” meant the speaker prodeced a noise and the backlight worked. I made a low offer and he accepted.

Last year, I took Minerva over to my buddy, mentor and boat anchor doctor, Charlie (W4MEC). Charlie discovered the radio had many issues and several poorly implemented repairs. Still, in a few short weeks, when parts arrived he brought the girl back to life.

With front cover closed.

The Tropic Master is a portable eight tube receiver that covers both the AM broadcast band and shortwave bands from 5.5-18 MHz. It can be powered by AC or DC. It was “tropicalized” to withstand extreme heat and humidity. The internal speaker produces mellow, full-fidelity audio and the volume can be increased to room-filling.

To give you a taste, this morning I tuned the Tropic Master to my in-house AM transmitter on 1570 kHz which was being fed audio from The UK 1940s Radio Station (my favorite Internet radio station). This particular clip features Jay Lawrence’s excellent show, From Stateside:

Click here to view on YouTube.

The Tropic Master is portable and even has a fold down handle on top of the chassis. Though substantial, it must be the lightest of all of my vintage metal chassis radios.

Tuning isn’t exactly precise, but it does the job and is a pleasure to use. It’s quite sensitive on both shortwave and mediumwave. Last night, she was tuned to the Voice of Greece on 9420 kHz–I probably listened to two hours of Greek music while her eight tubes warmed the shack.

Who could turn down a radio with this speaker grill?

If you ever find a Minerva Tropic Master at a flea market or hamfest, I say adopt one! It’s a beautiful receiver and like all good vintage radios has a story and history of its own.

Post readers: Any other Tropic Master owners out there or do you have a morale radio? Have you ever spotted a Tropic Master in the wild? Please comment!

Spread the radio love

a.bsolument: Converting radios from vintage valve into boutique Bluetooth

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kim Elliott, who shares this link to a French company called a.bsolument who specializes in converting vintage valve radios into hi-fidelity Bluetooth-connected audio devices.

According to a.solument’s introduction video, they take vintage radios in disrepair, gut the insides and replace the components with modern hardware which includes Bluetooth 4.0 and aux-in capabilities:

While I LOVE vintage radios, I have conflicting feelings about this process.

I take pride in keeping my vintage gear in proper working order (through the help of a mentor). Something that simply cannot be replicated with digital hardware is the sound and warm fidelity of AM audio emanating from a valve classic. At home, I have the option of feeding all of my vintage gear Bluetooth and wireless connectivity via an AM transmitter. This allows me to play any digital content while preserving the original audio fidelity (and warming my radio room with those glowing tubes!).

With that said, I’m very much aware that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the average consumer to find a technician who can repair tube gear affordably. Indeed, some feel it’s impossible thus toss their family radio in the trash.

If a.bsolument is giving vintage beauties–that would otherwise be in a landfill–a new lease on life, then I’m all for it!

What do you think?  Please comment!

Spread the radio love

Max’s impressive vintage radio collection

Max_Youle_Radio-Collection-New-Zealand

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Max Youle, who writes:

I thought I would send you a link to my radio collection.

Many of these are unique to New Zealand, and could be of interest to your readers.

I saved many of these radios from being trashed, by searching junk sales and second hand stores, over a period of the last 25 years

Click her to view Max’s collection via DropBox.

Wow! That is an impressive collection of radios, Max. It’s interesting to see so many New Zealand brands–I’m glad you’ve rescued these!

Max’s collection is so large I couldn’t possibly share them all here on the SWLing Post, so I asked Max if he could tell us which models are his favorites. Max replied:

My favorite radios would be:

Barlow Wadley XCR-30

Barlow Wadley XCR-30

1. Barlow Wadley XCR-30 featured here before https://swling.com/blog/2016/02/maxs-barlow-wadley-receiver-is-a-keeper/

Philips D2999

Philips D2999

2. Philips D2999 for its good looks, ease of use , sound from the two speakers 3″ and 7″ and sharp MW DX

Sanyo Transworld 17h-815

Sanyo Transworld 17h-815

3. Sanyo Transworld 17h-815 A beautiful looking classic with lots of chrome and a good performer

National Panasonic R-021

National Panasonic R-021

4. National Panasonic R-021 because it was my first radio, and a fairly rare collectible (article at the bottom of page) http://www.panasonic.com/global/corporate/history/chronicle/1977.html

Its hard to choose a favorite, as every one of my radios has a story ,i.e where I found it, who gave it to me, how much I paid for it, how collectible it is, etc, etc!!

Yes indeed, Max! It is difficult to pick a favorite–especially from such a large collection.

Thanks again for taking the time to share these with us!

Click her to view Max’s collection via DropBox.

Spread the radio love

Video: 1936 Crosley WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver

WLW Model  Super-Power Radio Receiver-2

In response to our recent thread of posts about the Crosley WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver, I’d like to thank both Jonathan Marks and Mike Barraclough for sharing the following video by TNT Amusements on YouTube:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Spread the radio love

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!

Spread the radio love

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:

http://i1085.photobucket.com/albums/j436/retired2000/Vintage%20Bush%20SW45%20radio/Fullyrestored.jpg

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!

Spread the radio love

Travel discovery: the Telefunken Superheterodyn Caprice 5451W

I’ve been traveling along the coast of South Carolina this week, and on Thursday, I found myself in the historic town of Conway, South Carolina. I parked downtown and strolled into the past via Papa’s General Store, a small local store with a lot of merchandise––and a lot of charm.

IMG_20151112_141930198

While browsing a display of antiques, I happened to notice a vintage radio perched on a high shelf. Here’s what caught my eye:

IMG_20151112_140636237_TOP

I asked, was the radio was for sale? And, indeed, it was. One of the sales clerks pulled it from the shelf, dusted off the top, and read the price: $74. I noted that it was a West German Telefunken receiver.  I asked the clerk, Chris,  if it worked, and he confirmed that it did; it belonged to his uncle, who had clearly taken very good care of it.

Chris allowed me to plug it in, turn it on, and tune in a couple of local stations…The Telefunken produced beautiful audio without even the slightest hint of a hum. Chris was pleased that I appreciated the radio, and sincerely wanted me to take it home, so he lowered the price a bit further.  I agreed, and purchased it without hesitation. Just couldn’t help it…

That's Chris behind the counter.

Chris behind the counter with his uncle’s classic Telefunken.

The Telefunken Superheterodyn Caprice 5451W covers the AM/mediumwave band and FM. It’s a tube radio produced in the early 1960s in West Germany, and is now the only tube-based radio I own that covers the FM band.

IMG_20151112_195818546_TOP

Of course, I was very eager to get the Telefunken on the air, so that afternoon I headed to our balcony overlooking the Atlantic, tuned around a bit on the mediumwave band…and was simply amazed at all it could receive.  I picked up my smart phone, and with it made a very short recording of the Cuban station, Radio Reloj, on 820 kHz:

My smart phone’s microphone doesn’t begin to do the Telefunken’s rich audio justice, but you can clearly hear Radio Reloj’s ticks and “RR” in Morse Code at the top of the minute (indeed, if you’re listening with headphones, you may also hear crashing waves in the background). Something nearby generated a lot of RFI right on frequency, too , but the rest of the broadcast band had a surprisingly low noise floor.

I also spent some time with the Telefunken on the FM broadcast band; with a simple wire antenna, this worked wonders.

In my humble op, the audio the Telefunken produces is simply beautiful.  And so, I’ve got to add, is this vintage radio. See for yourself.

IMG_20151113_083744302_HDR

IMG_20151113_083645909IMG_20151113_083653301 IMG_20151113_083619896 IMG_20151113_083615824

Spread the radio love