“They don’t make em’ like they used to!”
That is a phrase I’ve often heard. In some cases, it can be true, such as in cooling fans (I know, who doesn’t have air conditioning these days, right?), but I’ve learned that although going vintage often means a more reliable and safe motor, that the vintage item should often be cleaned, motor checked, and sometimes, re-wired. Here are a list of resources I’ve collected to assist with such tasks. Plus, repairing and re-using is so much cooler than buying new!!!
I’ve learned that leaving the following items plugged in after they’ve done their work, and especially while leaving the home can cause fires. Unplug and save energy!
- drill battery chargers
- computer chargers
- phone chargers
Vintage Cooling Fans, such as Patton, Emerson, GE, and Lakewood. On the Antique Fan Collector Association’s website you will find a list of individuals who offer or machine parts, as well as those who offer ‘complete restoration services.’ They can clean and restore, as well as repaint and restore metal grills that have corroded. The benefit of using old fans is that they often have well-built American-made motors that will not overheat/not cause a fire. They often have less plastic, or none at all, which can also be a benefit in case a fire were to start.
Modern Electronics (Computer, Tablets, Phones, Cars, Trucks, Cameras and more) Kyle Wiens created the iFix website, creating and publishing manuals for Apple electronic products and more, whose manufacturers do not offer product manuals. Learn how to fix stuff on his site!
Treadle Sewing Machines (the old school type) – www.TreadleOn.net. this is more of a resource for how to fix it yourself.
Luxo Lamps: EAE Sales
Variety of Vintage Electronics (stereos, keyboards, synthesizers, turntables/record players, speakers, reel-to-reel, DVD, VCR, TV): Oak Tree Vintage directory.
“It’s preferable to find a repairman within driving distance, to avoid the cost and risk of shipping your item long distances. Start by contacting a radio/TV collector club in your area for a recommendation. Even if the nearest club isn’t next door, they might know someone closer to you. The Antique Radio Classified website has a list of clubs throughout the world (http://antiqueradio.com/clublist.html).
If you search for a phrase such as “vintage radio repair” on a service such as Google or Bing, you can find repair shops that advertise on the Internet, although those may be located far from where you live.” – www.antiqueradio.org. One can also try these directories: Oak Tree Vintage directory, www.AntiqueRadio.org, or www.EverythingRadio.com. This website might be useful for really complicated or challenging repairs: www.spodickclockshop.com. Also, if you have a quartz clock radio in which the clock is broken, you might try http://www.timetips.org/page286.html.
For additional information like where to find parts or how to repair radio safely, see this page: https://antiqueradio.org/howfix.htm.
- Antique Radio Restoration Guide
David Johnson; Wallace-Homestead Book Company, Radnor PA 19089
An excellent how-to-fix book, written for folks who are not already experts. This book is invaluable if you’re just getting into the hobby, or if you’ve collected a few treasures but never tried fixing them. In addition to the excellent how-to chapters, it has sections on choosing antique sets, radio theory, safety rules, useful equipment, and other information sources.
- Elements of Radio Servicing
by Marcus & Levy; McGraw-Hill, Inc.; 425 pages, many black and white illustrations
My favorite radio repair guide. If you can afford only one repair book, make it this one! Written in straightforward, easy to read English, the book presents a systematic yet wholly practical method for diagnosing and fixing tube radios. Marcus & Levy were well-known authors of the 1940s-1960s and this book went through several editions. Mine is dated 1967 and covers FM radio and transistors, in addition to conventional AM tube radios and phonographs (monaural and stereo).
- Elements of Television Servicing
by Marcus & Gendler; Prentice-Hall, Inc., 70 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY; 587 pages, many black and white photos and illustrations
A classic service guide for tube televisions. My copy is dated 1955; I don’t know if it went through later editions. Written when TV was still fairly new, the book has several introductory chapters on TV theory, with other chapters devoted to the budding TV repairman, which explain how to equip a workshop, how to install antennas, etc. These are followed by many chapters on the theory, diagnosis, and repair of the various sections of a tube TV. An advantage of a vintage repair book like this is that it covers early features (such as electrostatic deflection picture tube circuits) which will never be mentioned in newer books. I own several other 1950s TV repair books, but this is my favorite.
- Eric Wrobbel Transistor Books
Eric Wrobbel has written several books about transistor radios, toy crystal radios, and toy walkie talkies. A couple of videotapes are available, as well. Click the above link for more information.
- Fixing Up Nice Old Radios!
by Ed Romney; Box 487, Drayton SC 29333; (864) 597-1882; 1990; 186 pages, softcover, profusely illustrated in black and white; ISBN 1-886996-56-3
If you can’t fix old radios after reading this, you’re just not trying! Reflecting the author’s lifetime of experience in radio, this book is encyclopedic in scope, yet it’s aimed at a reader who starts with little or no electronics knowledge. After covering basic electronics theory, the book takes you on a romp through radio history, from the earliest crystal sets, to tuned regenerative frequency receivers, superheterodynes, classic radios of the 1930s and 1940s, multi-band sets, all the way to complex high-end radios such as E.H. Scott and McMurdo Silver, and even communications equipment. Ed Romney is a former radio instructor, and his book uses a “case history” approach. The book describes actual restorations done by the author, rather than theoretical situations. Each case history includes schematics, many illustrations, and photographs of the work in progress. Also interspersed throughout are many tips and tricks from the author and even his father, who was also a radio builder and repairmen. The result is a highly readable, as well as practical, book. If you’re interested in transistors, you’ll have to go elsewhere, however. This book deals exclusively with “hollow state” (tube-powered) radios.
- How to Repair Old-Time Radios
by Clayton Hallmark; Tab Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA
This book may be out of print, but my local library has a copy, and yours might, too. Written in the late 1970s, it’s an excellent practical guide to repairing old radios, written in a folksy tone.
- Old Time Radios! Restoration and Repair
by Joseph J. Carr; Tab Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA, ISBN 0-8306-7342-3, 256 pages with black-and-white photos and diagrams
A comprehensive radio restoration guide, written by a professional repairman. This book strikes a nice balance between electronic theory and practical troubleshooting techniques. If you master everything covered here, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting your old radios back into tiptop working order.
- Radio Era Archives
2043 Empire Central, Dallas, Texas 75235; Orders Only: (800) 684-3912; Inquiries: (214) 358-5195; Fax (214) 357-4693
This unique company offers radio books, service data, and magazines on CD-ROM, as well as schematics and restoration services. Among other offerings, they sell the entire Rider Perpetual Troubleshooter’s Manual online, all 23 volumes and 35,000 pages.
- Tube Substitution Handbook
by William Smith and Barry Buchanan; Prompt Publications, Howard Sams & Company, Indianapolis, IN
This inexpensive little reference book can be invaluable at times. It’s basically 150 pages of chart data showing which tube types can be substituted for other types. Why would I want this, you say? Picture yourself at 10 PM on a Saturday night, working on your favorite radio. You discover that its problem is a dead tube. You have a few dozen (or a few hundred) spare tubes in the workshop, and you wonder, “Hmm, would any of these work?” Case closed.