TIPS FOR A HEALTHY RADIO
THE BEST WAY TO KEEP THEM RUNNING
- If you find an old, unrestored radio that hasn't been played for years, Do NOT
plug that set in! You could fry the power supply (which is doubtless completely pooped
out after lying dormant for God knows how long), and send the cost of restoring it
'way above what would be necessary if it were done properly first. Your set runs
DC voltages in the power supply that are in the 200-300 Volt range, (and sometimes higher) and you can
really screw a set up by yielding to the all-to-human instinct to "see if it works".
Step 1: Restore the chassis
Step 2: THEN apply power! (And slowly, too...it should be done with a Variac, which can slowly
bring the voltage up from 0 to full 120VAC.) You'll have far fewer problems this way.
Once restored, play your radio often, but please realize that your old set is not up to
day-in and day-out service. Parts will, in time, wear out and need replacing;
some parts are getting hard to find, too. But don't let it sit idle. That can be
worse than over-use for the set! Once a week is a good average. This
prevents shafts from freezing, volume controls from becoming noisy, and
capacitors from breaking down.
- Use a good quality wax when you polish it. Carnuba paste wax is about
the most innocuous consumer polish around. You can find it Butcher's, Trewax and
Johnson's brands. These require a little elbow grease, though, so another good one is Williamsville Wax. Do not use anything with silicones. Nix on Murphy's Oil as well. Avoid alcohol spills! This is very damaging to the finish. Avoid direct sunlight on the finish, and, if you get the urge to clean the dials, forget it! Many dials were very lightly inked. A light dusting is all
that's needed here.
- Allow good ventilation around, and especially in back of the set.
Tubes get very hot and need room to breathe. Avoid playing the set on very hot
days when the temperature gets above 85 degrees. Heat is the number one
enemy of your set's expensive tubes.
- Use a good antenna. This especially applies to very old sets, or those
with shortwave bands on them. An antenna can be no more than 20' of #16
insulated wire run along the baseboard of a wall, or a more elaborate array can
be used. Please see "Antenna Tips" for more details.
- Use a good ground! This cuts down on shock hazard and will improve
your reception as well. Most sets have a terminal labeled "G" or "Ground" on
the back of the set near the antenna connection. Run a #14 or larger insulated
wire from this terminal to the nearest cold water pipe and clamp it there. Do
NOT use the hot water pipe, or a gas pipe!
IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: Before connecting an antenna or
ground, unplug the set and let it sit for a few minutes!
- Keep your hands out of the back of the set unless you really know what you are doing.
Many vintage radios have high voltage DC inside, and can run from 200 to 450 volts DC; this
is more than enough to kill you if you put your finger on the wrong spot. Safety First!
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