That old Pye Mike gave me for spares
looks really terrible. He reckons it lived at least half its
life in a coalshed. The damp's seen off the glue holding the
plywood together and it's covered in mildew and dirt. Well let's
start by removing the larger lumps of coal and work on from there.
It's got long, medium and the trawler band as well as five bandspread
short wave bands so it could be a really worthwhile proposition
to get it going again.
Presumably something nasty happened to it to merit it's relegation to the coalshed unless it was owned by some sort of eccentric who liked living in coalsheds.
First I'll remove the rusty old chassis from the remains of the box. Must keep all these bits of wood together, some may be important. Pull off the knobs... at least they're all there. Ease out the chassis, speaker and watch the top of the dial doesn't get caught on the way out. If the dial gets broken, making a new one is something I don't feel like tackling!
Well I'll be blowed, the chassis isn't rusty. I forgot that those Pye people took care of things better than most. They didn't go as far as some and chrome plate (memories of the R.A.P.take over for a moment) but they did take the trouble to paint their chassis in those days- a subdued shade of greyish blue. Did anyone other than radio servicemen ever know I wonder? I suppose one could see through the holes in the rear cover, but then who looks through the holes in the back cover when you get a new wireless? Anyway once the coal dust has been removed the metalwork's as good as the day it left the factory. The aluminium cans are a bit dull and the red paint on the valves is peeling a bit, but the chassis is nice. Perhaps this job's going to be less difficult than I first imagined?
The cabinets going to be the Achilles heel so I suppose that's the first thing I ought to do. First I think I'll finish the job the damp's nearly done, take the panels apart. There's loads of screws. I'll remove all the ones I can see. Screws must have been cheap in those days. Some come awfully close to sticking out the veneer- make a note to be careful later to get them back in the right holes- I wouldn't want to spoil the finish.
Once the screws are out the panels come apart reasonably easily, some with a bit of help from a wide-bladed wood chisel. The first step is either to clean off the old varnish which has cracked and mostly come off by itself anyway- or should I try to fix the de-laminating problem first?
I take the latter approach. I squeeze Evostick glue into the gaps between the different layers of plywood and apply clamps to prevent the laminations from springing open again. While the various bit of glued cabinet are drying I'll turn my attention to the radio. Remove all the valves for a careful spruce-up. Try and preserve as much of the red metallising as possible just in case the set's prone to oscillate without it. Next remove as much grime as possible from the top of the chassis and clean out the speaker.
Oh, I see the dial cord's broken- that probably accounts for why the set ended the first half of its life in the coalshed. I say first half because by now I visualise getting it back together- resplendent!
Fish out the giant packet of dial cord which appeared one day with a few bags of bits from my friend Brian's attic. His wife, one day, insisted all his radio bits and pieces went- so it was that all sorts of goodies came my way. Back to the dial cord. There probably is an easy way of doing this but whatever I do always results in the pointer going the wrong way. When one realises this is the normal situation one can take a philosophical attitude. I know that when I work out the relative movement of the little wheels I always get it wrong- so I never do anything that can't be undone eg. like cutting the string short. A quick twiddle and it all has to come off again- to go on right and to my mind the illogical way- which always turns out to be the correct one.
Now the cord's in position, apply a little oil to the little wheels and anything that moves. Remove any rust from the tuning spindle where it necks down to hold the string, otherwise the string won't wind smoothly. Replace the dial lights; replace the valves; fit a new mains lead; check the ubiquitous audio coupling condenser. Why bother- it's always leaky. Measure all the resistors to see if there's anything outlandish. Apart from 47K and 470K that are always miles out everything's reasonable. A moments thought strikes me. Maybe I'll hang onto the duff resistors and some day paint new values on them. Does that count as keeping things as original as possible? When I need 60K and 600K resistors those will do nicely.
Replace the cathode decoupling electrolytics with some of Brian's brand new 1951 varieties. I suppose when I run out of those I'll have to start disembowelling the old cans and fit little Japanese ones inside- so I'll save the old ones.
While the wood's still setting, the chassis gets switched on. A squirt of switch cleaner doesn't help with the on-off switch. I carefully unsolder it and prise it off the back of the tone control. A bit of its vitals have started to go rusty. Some judicious restoration and it's back on the pot and all is OK.
Plug in the 2008 and I find it's sort of OK. The HT's a bit low. In with a new rectifier and the HT's now OK. The performance is a bit wishy washy and a quick check on 465Kc/s reveals the IF gain's down a bit. One of the brass core screws is turned, the sealing compound shatters and little else. If anything, twiddling has a worse effect and now the set's positively deaf. Turn it upside down and repeat the performance with the lower core adjusters. One tunes nicely. One doesn't- the set briefly brightens up then goes deaf again. Place coffee cup on bench. Suddenly the set perks up. Then just as suddenly perks down again. I've come across this before. With some resignation I unsolder the connections to the IF transformers, unbolt the cans, and remove the offending items. Off with the cans and carefully prise out the slugs. Or should I say just the brass nuts and screws because the slugs just need emptying out.
After gluing some new cores to the old screws and reversing dismantling process the set tunes up nicely. With all the wavebands it takes some time to sort out the padders, trimmers and cores but eventually I can receive line timebase whistles from miles around.
The various bits of case have remained stuck together and now look like pieces of proper plywood. After treating with Nitromors and rubbing down with fine grade emery the veneer comes up as good as new. I decide to finish the panels individually before gluing them together so plenty of stain and linseed oil and lots of rubbing and they all come up beautifully. The top's got a nice curved front and gluing this to the side bits is a bit tricky but after some fiddling you can't see the join. A final rub down and the box looks better than new. After putting back the chassis, pushing back the knobs and putting on the back it looks rather good... I'll have to tell Mike I didn't manage to get any spares out of it.