Friday 6 June 2014

Restoration Project: Country Belle 1958 Radio

Having built a couple of one Tube receivers, a local amateur decided it was time for me to move on to a restoration project. As a challenge he presented me a while ago with his spare Country Belle Radio #556  made by Guild in 1958 (the metal chassis is stamped 6 jun 1958). This radio was made to look like the old style wall Telephone, but had a 5 tube medium wave receiver Inside. Taking the earpiece of its rest turns the radio on. The Winding crank is the tuning knob, very neat. It had some hardware missing (a bell, the tuning crank and the earpiece rest) but was electrically complete.
The Tubes lineup is the classic "all American Five".  Converter: 12BE6, IF amplifier: 12BA6, Detector: first audio amplifier: 12AV6, Audio power output: 50C5, Rectifier: 35W4. The subtlety of this lineup is that the filament Voltage/Current all add up so you just connect them all in series across the 110V AC (or DC) supply. The 35W4 even has a tap on the filament to drive a dial light (#47)
As the radio is transformerless,  for safety I borrowed an Isolation transformer from WA5VJB. When power was applied, all the heaters lit up, there was some noise but no stations could be tuned in. Tracing the circuitry I found that the grid Transformer of the 12BA6 was open circuit. The Inductor was taken apart and the wire mended. Now when powered up stations were loud and clear. I peaked up the 455kHz IF Transformers, noting that each transformer had an upper AND a lower tuning core. Note that the radio has an internal ferrite rod antenna, making the receiver directive. The short piece of wire(by medium wave standards) doesnt do much to increase sensitivity
Next task was the Hardware. Luckily a friend of a friend had a #556 carcass in their barn which I was given. The wood work was bad but it had all the missing hardware.
The next decision was what do about the woodwork. Sand it down and repaint or leave it in its current patina state. In the end I decided to sand down all the wood parts (after stripping the fittings) but this also removed the Decals. I then sprayed it with Pecan wood stain/Varnish (3 coats). The Brass fittings were cleaned with Brasso (which I discovered is sold in the USA) then varnished. It was recommended to spray the other black metal fittings with Black Lacquer, but using it can be challenging. I went to the local O'Reilly's autoparts store to get some but after explaining what I wanted it for to the Old Guy, he said not to use it but to use Black "Dupli-color Vinyl and Fabric Coating" as It would flake less. This has really worked well
I found a source of replacement decals at These were water based transfers (like I used many years ago for Airfix model aeroplanes) which were a little tricky to apply, but I managed it. When dry the cabinet was sprayed with Varnish
When completely reassembled,  the radio worked fine and looked very nice, even though I say it myself!

The restored external view

The restored internal Electronics

No comments:

Post a Comment