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Tube Radio Repair

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I recently had my AM tube type radio from my 1950 Oldsmobile repaired by a

real professional. Bob Comtois of Northeast Vintage Automobile Radio Repair

located in Chelmsford, MA is a super guy to deal with. He does radio,

table top, and console radio repairs and stands by his work. His rates are

very reasonable and you can contact him at: 978-259-3293 (9:00 am to 9:00 pm)

or at NVARadio@COMCAST.NET

I mailed him my radio from NW Florida and had it back in about one week

fulled checked out and repaired. Bob also installed a plug in whereas I

can plug in a portable FM and CD player which will play through the AM radio.

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Very timely post, since I have a couple of tabletop tube radios that could stand a looking at. Take a tube component to anybody here, they look at you like you just arrived from Mars...

Yup- another hobby. Zenith and Philco tube radio sets, and old tube stereo components.

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Bob got into the business when he couldn't find someone to fix the radio

in his 1949 Desoto. He set about to learn the business and knew someone

that still sold tubes, etc.

I could not be more pleased with the work and follow-up he did with me.

Too bad we don't have more guys like him in business.

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Same things could be said for Alan Kriss. He's done 2 radios for me now. Outstanding work at a very fair price, plus he'll talk shop with you as long as you like......Bob

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I believe Alan Kriss also services Autronic Eye/ Guidematic units.

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Yes he does, also speedometers, clocks, power window/seat switches, and prob a few other things I don't know about. His turn around time isn't the quickest but his attention to detail is top shelf. He doesn't just "fix" the item, I swear he details it too. He is also fun to just chat with, I like him...........Bob

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Bob,

Can you share Alan Kriss' contact information with us? I have a clock that needs

repair.

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Don't know that Alan publishes a price list. Give him a call, he is very easy to deal with, his work is top shelf and his prices way reasonable........Bob

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Just ran across this old thread and thought it worth a comment.

Old tube radios are actually fairly easy to bring back to life as Glenn (rocketraider) can attest. In the case of tube radios in our cars probably 1/2 of those that fail just need what is called a vibrator replaced or maybe even a tube or two. Sometimes it is a good idea to replace all the non ceramic coated capacitors since the types used in those old radios are prone to accumulating moisture. So where do you find replacement parts? Sometimes on ebay and there is a company in Germany that is manufacturing quality electron tubes at reasonable prices. Reasonable enough that it makes no sense to do anything but just replace all the tubes rather than hunting down an old tube testor. Chances are decent that you can find an old Howard Sams repair guide for just about any tube radio put in a car on ebay. Just have you specific model number convenient so you'll know you are buying the correct one. Early solid state radios (transistor) and hybrids (part tube part transistor) can be more of a pain than the old tube units. Don't sound as good either!

And Glenn, I'm also into collecting repairing old tube radios. Like you commented; "yep another hobby." Right now working on a 1939 Philco and a Hallicrafters late '50s hybrid receiver. Nothing new, I was doing both cars and radios even back in the my teens. These days I've been half way looking around for one of the better mono tube Hi-Fidelity or first generation Stereo setups from the 1950's (best sound quality ever in my opinion). There is just something about the richness of sound from tubes that solid state has just never achieved. I also collect old highway maps, old road atlases, and recordings from the 1930s through the 1970s.

Jim

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I'm lucky enough that one of the instrumentation techs at work is also into tube and owns a working tube tester, as well as can repair stuff for me if needed. He's currently hotrodding a 1959 Fender Bassman amp for himself.

I need to take him my 1961 Zenith stereo portable phonograph for a little TLC. Got a new Astatic cartridge a few weeks ago and that wasn't it.

My favorite antique shop here had a late 50s Magnavox stereo portable that I dithered about because the thing was a typical Magnavox- big as a suitcase and heavy. I went in there yesterday and it was gone. Pfft.

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I'm lucky enough that one of the instrumentation techs at work is also into tube and owns a working tube tester, as well as can repair stuff for me if needed. He's currently hotrodding a 1959 Fender Bassman amp for himself.

I need to take him my 1961 Zenith stereo portable phonograph for a little TLC. Got a new Astatic cartridge a few weeks ago and that wasn't it.

My favorite antique shop here had a late 50s Magnavox stereo portable that I dithered about because the thing was a typical Magnavox- big as a suitcase and heavy. I went in there yesterday and it was gone. Pfft.

Glenn there are usually dozens and dozens of tube testers to be found on ebay for anywhere between $10 and $100. The trick is making sure they have the manual with them to be able to set them up for the given tube types. As I mentioned I just stick all new ones in and forget about testing.

Old phonographs can be a real pain because of the mechanical aspects and the drive bands that can get stretched or break with age. Of course the old cartridges can be a pain as well.

Back before Magnavox was traded around by every other electronics company on the planet they produced some really nice phonograph equipment. Not always the best, but nice. I have a 1960 Magnavox console Stereo AM/FM/phonograph that belonged to my parents. It worked after I put a new cartridge into it, but shortly thereafter the changer developed issues and I haven't gotten around to taking that monsterous thing apart to get to the problem. Darn radio also has issues as well. Works but not like it should; I suspect nothing more than a good case of dust build up in the variable air tuning capacitor. The whole thing sounded like a million bucks when everything worked and it has enough power you could probably take out plate glass windows with the volume all the way up.

The bad thing about tube portable phonographs is the tubes needed massive magnetics (transformers) in the power supply which made them not only bulky but heavy. Then add to that the transformers on the back of the speakers and they really needed wheels to be called portable. A good portable could put out half decent sound.

Those old Fender amps your friend is working on are still in great demand just like Hammond B-3 organs. If you look at bands and what they have on stage you'll be surprised at how many of those old Fender amps are right up there with them. Of course the old Hammond organs are so darn big they present a bit of a transport problem, especially if they have the Leslie Speaker system, as many in use today do.

If you really want to get into some high quality sound, find a Sure Vocal Master sound system with column speakers from the late 1960s. Unbelievable!

Jim

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Ditto on bulky Hammonds. My 1961 L-100 series is a 3-man job to move around and it is considered a small Hammond. I need to oil the thing- I think I missed doing it last year.

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I have found that the big capacitor (not the cans) that is wired to the vibrator often is dead.

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Yes what d2 Willys said. That is a very high voltage capacitor and there is little chance it will still be functional after all these years. Vibrators get replaced when it is the high voltage capacitors that are just plain wore out.

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BTW, the repair man listed in the first post must have given up as both the number and the email address do not work for me. (the post is now over 7 years old)

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