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Antique Radio Restomod

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Project by Pags posted 10-28-2016 04:10 PM 872 views 5 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve always been fascinated with antique vacuum tube radios… especially those beautiful console radios from the 1930’s and 40’s. It goes back to the days of my childhood when I was fixated on my great-grandfather’s antique radio console while visiting him. While browsing them on eBay, I came across an old Philco console cabinet for sale that looked in tough shape but usable… and it was located not too far away from me. It was particularly appealing to me because of its art-deco design, and hidden control panel. I got an idea that I could outfit it with modern stereo equipment so I bid $40 on it and won the bid. Here’s what I started with.





For the audio equipment to do the restomod, I planned to primarily stream music to it, so all I really needed was a good amplifier. But I wanted to maintain its original look and feel, so, for the focal point, I elected to use a high quality vintage style table radio with stereo output (to the amp) and an auxiliary input (for streaming from an Apple Airport Express via Airplay) where the original AM/SW radio had been mounted. I choose the Tangent Audio Uno radio. (Tangent Audio no longer sells this radio, but you can get a cheaper version of it from Crosley Radio called the Solo). The other table style radio I had considered was the Model One from Tivoli Audio. This is a better quality radio than the Tangent Audio radio, but I was taken with the art-deco styled glass tuning dial of the Uno.

I installed a small 8” Polk Audio powered subwoofer where the original speaker was located and will also use two bookshelf speakers, mounted on shelves on the wall, for sound.

The most significant audio component is the vacuum tube stereo amp I built and installed from a kit. It is called the Dynakit ST35. It is a clone of the the Dynaco ST35 designed by Dave Hafler in the 1960’s nicknamed the “Baby Dynaco” in the early days of high fidelity. Also checkout this review for more information about this awsome little amp. I mounted this amp where the original phonograph was mounted. Tilting out the front access panel reveals it. This is a safer way to display this amp because there is exposure to high voltage.

The cabinet was salvageable but needed a lot of work to repair many cracks, and delaminating veneer. I wrote a 10-part blog on the entire process.

I’m really pleased with how this came out, and the quality of the sound of that vacuum tube stereo amp is just outstanding. I think I can say that this one of the coolest projects I’ve ever worked on for myself.





20 comments so far

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

6471 posts in 2060 days


#1 posted 10-28-2016 04:24 PM

Yeah, that is very cool. Well done, for sure.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

827 posts in 683 days


#2 posted 10-28-2016 04:48 PM

Beautiful job!

View SamuelP's profile

SamuelP

793 posts in 2107 days


#3 posted 10-28-2016 05:03 PM

Fantastic Job!

-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

770 posts in 2892 days


#4 posted 10-28-2016 05:38 PM

blown away …. as in How Cool is That! Really nice job on the finish.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View sras's profile

sras

4391 posts in 2590 days


#5 posted 10-28-2016 06:02 PM

Nice upgrade!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

5042 posts in 2608 days


#6 posted 10-28-2016 10:13 PM

It came out absolutely beautifully! If she sounds as good as she looks, it’s gonna be amazing!

-- Dean

View ralbuck's profile

ralbuck

1972 posts in 1727 days


#7 posted 10-29-2016 12:29 AM

As I am old enough to have lived with a “Silvertone” with a separate 6 volt-car battery as the power in a house with no electricity or any of the conveniences related to power, I really like your project!

FANTASTIC JOB!

The “Lone Ranger” music used to shake the table beside the radio.Under kerosene lamp-light or candles, that was a creepy feeling. It shook me as well. The single speaker old wooden cabinet radios still sound good.

-- just rjR

View rtbrmb's profile

rtbrmb

468 posts in 1850 days


#8 posted 10-29-2016 03:11 AM

Beautiful job on the restomod,

Thanks for sharing.

Bill in MI

View majuvla's profile

majuvla

9120 posts in 2329 days


#9 posted 10-29-2016 05:01 AM

Nice work. Is there more woodworking or electronic job to do? Either way, I bet a lot of fun.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View DonB's profile

DonB

489 posts in 2154 days


#10 posted 10-29-2016 11:03 AM

As a young teen, I was lucky enough to have the bottom portion of one of these fitted with a 78/45 record player on top. rjR is right, for a single speaker, it had great sound. Nice job on the cabinet, looks wonderful.

-- DonB

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

292 posts in 1809 days


#11 posted 10-29-2016 11:36 AM

After watching all of the DIY shows on TV I though you were supposed to chop it up, paint it some bizarre color and basically ruin the look in order to “refurbish” it. I think your approach looks much better. That is really nicely restored.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View UncannyValleyWoods's profile

UncannyValleyWoods

441 posts in 1325 days


#12 posted 10-29-2016 11:47 AM

I have been wanting to do THIS for so long. Very cool!

-- https://www.etsy.com/shop/UncannyValleyWoods?ref=hdr_shop_menu

View bj383ss's profile

bj383ss

149 posts in 1823 days


#13 posted 10-29-2016 02:21 PM

That is fantastic. Love the styling. You did it justice! Your grandfather would be proud.

Bret

-- https://www.flickr.com/photos/27291602@N03/

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

23142 posts in 2328 days


#14 posted 10-29-2016 03:51 PM

You did a great job of bringing back the life in this piece.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Pags's profile

Pags

34 posts in 681 days


#15 posted 10-31-2016 03:18 PM



As I am old enough to have lived with a “Silvertone” with a separate 6 volt-car battery as the power in a house with no electricity or any of the conveniences related to power, I really like your project!

FANTASTIC JOB!

The “Lone Ranger” music used to shake the table beside the radio.Under kerosene lamp-light or candles, that was a creepy feeling. It shook me as well. The single speaker old wooden cabinet radios still sound good.

- ralbuck

I thinks those old radios are underestimated today in their sound quality. They may not reproduce stereo sound, but that vacuum tube technology is still revered today by many audiofiles and musicians. Unfortunately today, if you want a vacuum tube amp, you either have to shell out some big bucks to have them professionally restored, or you need the electronic skills to do it yourself.

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