Kolster Brandes FB10

 Those two steam irons were easy, how could the mains leads develop that many breaks before the owner dumped them. I bet the earth leads went first!- shocking I say and so much for safety. Next I think I'll tackle that old toaster. It got nice and hot when I plugged it in but for some reason I couldn't get the slices of bread into the slots.

Lets start by cleaning off all the grime. It seems to have markings for different settings on the top. Let's see... now I'll rub off a bit more grime- "light" that must be the lowest setting- but why in the middle? "Medium" on the right- fair enough but what about over on the left- is it "well done"? No it says "long"- well I suppose it amounts to the same thing. There's some foreign words here as well, it must be a Danish toaster- it says "Kalundberg"; over on the right it also says "Allouis"- that sounds like a French radio station. Well blow me its a radio.

Joking apart though, I understand this model, the Kolster Brandes FB10, vies for being the ugliest ever made. However "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"- I don't know though- this really is ugly. That said though, it certainly comes apart nicely and for 1950 it has a nice set of valves. The designer, a Mr.Lawrence Griffin, I understand, basically did do a good job and he probably thought it looked superb- maybe it'll grow on me. Thinking about that it'll probably have time to- no-one will ever want to buy it!

It's got a big fat horizontal mains dropper- oh no it's the world's first ferrite rod aerial! The service instructions tell me to adjust it but as it's completely covered in wax and its multitude of connections look rather fragile, I deem it to be already perfectly in tune.

The case is very dirty so I'll remove the speaker cloth and this bit of cardboard so I can give the plastic a scrub. They come out really easily. The back of the cloth is a pretty sort of green, the front where it's faded has gold and green stripes. When I glue it back in I'll turn it round and give it a fresh lease of life. Back to the case, the wife's toothbrush is handy and a hard rub with some soap and hot water reveals a rather pleasant cream and white marbled finish. Maybe it won't look too bad when I've finished after all. The dial, with care not to obliterate the heat settings, sorry the station names, cleans up in-situ.

So far so good, now the chassis. Dust it off- there isn't much (dust or chassis!). Clean its valves, straighten a few pins and measure its resistors. Nothing out of the ordinary. Remove the wax vaporiser condenser, decoupling the rectifier anode, that's lost all it's external and most of it's internal wax onto the plastic bottom cover- its a few K hence the reason for the smoke. Change the ubiquitous leaky audio coupling condenser, to give the 6BW6 a cooler life and that's about it.
I'm not sure about the mechanical stability- when the tuning knob is turned the whole assembly rocks drunkenly from side to side. Some attention with Aeroklene and judicious oiling calms things down slightly, but it would've been better with an extra bit of metal fitted to make it "statically determinate", as years ago, my civil engineering lecturer would have advised- they could have paid for this as a trade for the usual little dial cord pulleys most other set designers have thought, over the years, were desirable for overcoming friction- still maybe it was OK when it was new?

Put in a new roving dial lamp (its fastened to the dial pointer and perambulates up and down), a squirt of switch cleaner, switch on and I'm rewarded with a cacophony of burbles. Switch off the Beeb and eject my young daughter and stations appear through the now fading mush. Well mostly they do, Radio Solent sounds like its broadcasting from under the Solent. Switch off and rummage around for a new anti-hum-modulation decoupling condenser, squeeze it into fairly limited space once occupied by the cooked one and solder between the rectifier anode and chassis. Switch on again and now only faint squeals from the distant TV set, two floors below, downstairs -oh and of course with a twiddle of the right foot-not mine the set's- plenty of stations loud and clear. That was easy, wish they were all like this one. It doesn't look too bad now it's clean and gleaming with it's nice "new" speaker cloth. Definitely worth a second look and I understand the Victoria and Albert's got one- at least I've seen a photograph they took of one. They must have thought it was a Victorian toaster too!

Did I say where it came from?

I was standing at the back of the local auction room waiting to bid for a second radio. I'd noticed someone else bidding against me earlier raising my £1 bid to a unheard of £5. I then became aware of the same chap making a bid for the item immediately before the second radio in which I was interested, and thinking I'd misread the number, put in a counter bid. I was a little surprised to have to go as high as £7 but managed to secure the item. When the next item came up he again made a starting bid and as the auctioneer definitely described that also as a radio went along and manged that as well, making a total of three radios. Even when I was making my way over to the KB, in the gloomy auction room, I thought I'd made an error but was pleasantly surprised to find it was indeed a radio.

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