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tube radios


steppenwolf's Avatar
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30-Jul-2012, 07:00 AM #1
tube radios
what do you think of them?

are the tubes hard to find?
QCTech's Avatar
QCTech QCTech is offline
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30-Jul-2012, 08:56 AM #2
Tube radios have been around since the turn of the 20th Century (1900). They make fine collector items, from very large wooden cabinet floor models, table models, and portables, which were not available until special designs, low-power tubes, and battery packs became available. Some floor models and a few table models contained record players, for vinyl records, and later models in the 1940's even had crude means of recording into 78 RPM vinyl disks with steel needles. Table models were made with stylish plastic, bakelite, and other synthetic materials. At first AM - Amplitude Modulated receivers was all there was, but about the late 1940's FM - Frequency Modulated began production. FM became favored for it's relatively static-free reception, particularly during electrical storms. Shortwave bands became popular even in the early AM models, so that people could listen to overseas, amateur and police radio broadcasts. FM Stereo came along in the 1950's for more realistic two-channel sound. Stereo record players came along with the recordings in the 50's. The 45 and 33 RPM recordings and players arrived late 40's into the 50's, all part of the development of radio sets.

Tubes were available only at dealers and service shops at first, but it became such a massive market, that even drugstores and grocery stores had tube testers and stocks of tubes for sale. NOT SO NOW, since the mass-production of transistor radios started around the 50's, one manufacturer after another, RCA, GE, Raytheon, Tung-Sol, Westinghouse and many others either sold out or went to foreign producers. Tubes are still available, just a check on the internet for "electron tubes" will help you. Forewarning- a tube that cost $2.00 at one time could cost $20- $30 or more depending on type and rarity. Used tubes have a popular market, and many are still in like-new condition. Very few tube testers are available.

Most other parts, capacitors, resistors are stilll available, most in more modern forms. Cabinets and parts like knobs are very rare. Some wooden parts may be able to be custom made. Dial-cord stringing became an art. (Most tuning dials had rayon or nylon cords between the tuning knob, tuning capacitor, and the frequency reading dial). Speaker rebuilding is probably a lost art, but replacements and substitutes are available.

Good luck if you start collecting. I restored a few oldies, but lost almost everything to a failed marriage. It's amazing, what used to take a large space on the floor or table top now can fit into a earbud or earphone. IC's - LSIC's Large scale integrated circuits have taken over and they are even getting smaller. "Nano" is the current prefix for size, meaning .000000001 one BILLIONTHS of an inch in size.

There are collector sites on the web also, some trade or sell if the price is right...

Last edited by QCTech; 30-Jul-2012 at 09:24 AM..
steppenwolf's Avatar
Member with 2,677 posts.
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: usa
Experience: Intermediate
30-Jul-2012, 10:45 PM #3

im 57 -yes i remember taking tubes to the tube tester at maybe grocery store in seattle or pay n save

had a little fender amp but no more -too stupid to hold onto stuff

i think in 1980 had an tube amp too i think
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