I looked into a hobby idea I thought of a while back to give em a break during down time between boat projects. I've been picking this up gradually as a hooby, but I have started renovating old (1940-1950s) bakelite tube radios. Mostly they arrive broken, and the inside has usually caught fire at one point so the electronics are worthless. I would never change the inner workings of them if they were to work. That would be too cool. So the electronics always get scrapped. So far I have 2 completely finished and one in progress that I am turning into a micro pc. I just need the funds for all the pc parts and some form of interior rack system to mount everything.
The first one I started with was a 1952 Airline radio taht you could have normally picked up at Montgomery Wards.
Total price on Ebay: $25.00
That was the picture the seller took. A lot of the white was messed up when it arrived that the pictures didn't quite capture. So I cleaned it off with some 400 grit sandpaper (wearing a mask of course, you must note that formaldahyde is a primary ingredient to bakelite). A lot of the junk came off and the white was still dull and chalky looking so a repaint was necessary. I settled on Krylon Classic Red.
I first removed the original cardboard fascia and stretched a piece of black fabric over the template, and placed the dial back in, removed the tube assembly, and used gold car trim to redress the front.
IT seemed a little more hot-rod to me at that point.
I trimemd the excess gold off and then pulled the fascia back out. I then sprayed the body with grey primer, and finished with 3 coats of the classic red, then a nice buffing and waxing afterwards.
Contained inside is a small computer subwoofer for use with pandora on my phone. (will make more sense with the next post)
Next is my 1948 Arkay. These were sold at radio hobby shops as a kit. You assembled it yourself and then soldered everything together, bought tubes, and you were ready to go.
Total cost on Ebay: $32.00
This is how she arrived. The bakelite was unpainted, and sort of milky looking. I tried some polish to try and bring the color back, but It seemed as if it was more sun damaged than oxidized. I took the tube assembly, knobs, and dial face off to prep; sanded with 400 again and a dremel to get the complex curves and lines.
Dust coated lightly for about 6 passes, and resprayed every 20 minutes till it had a nice thick white gloss coat.
I then wet sanded to finish and polished it off. Finished with carnuba wax this time. Turned out awesome.
NExt to stuff it. I took apart a set of the cheapest speakers I could find with a subwoofer, the woofer was packed into the Airline (from earlier) and the speakers I placed behind the speaker vents on thsi radio, ensuring they were blocked off so it would sound vintage. Still working on taht step but I ran blue leds to each face plate on the radios to give them a modern look. The volume and power controls I am integrating into the knobs already present to not change the look of the radio itself. I will update soon with the electronics progress.