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I have a rebuilt working radio coming to me next week. I want to install it in the car which has never had one. If there is anybody out there that has already done the same thing I would love to hear any advice they might have. I wii post some pictures and post some info when I start on mine for anyone interested. I still have the same1938 speaker in the radio but it is in good condition according to Bob Senior of Bobs Buick Parts who got it working. The dial now turns and the face looks good and the original knobs are also nice. Im hoping it sounds like an old radio not like a modern one. If it will at least receive one station clearly I will be happy. Bob put a solid state vibrator in it, I hope that wont change the way it sounds. I also have a BRAND NEW still in an unopened box a 1938 BUICK ANTENNA PACKAGE. It shows the insulators and some wires on the cover of the box but I haven't opened it yet, when I do I will post pictures of all the contents. I would love to just put a side mount antenna mast on the car as I liked the way they look and I'm sure they work better than the running board type.  I'm going to keep it original and do it the way it was in 38 no matter how good or bad it works.

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I would be very interested to see the contents of the '38 antenna package.

 

For mine, (which already had the radio installation), I refurbished the running board insulators where needed, using epoxy instead of the degraded molded rubber.  I ran a coaxial cable to the front of the driver's side running board, then linked the rear of each running board, again with a coaxial cable.  Hope this was correct - if you have any directions in your box, I would love to see them.

 

Results?  I get two or three stations, one is even reasonable.  Not great - just barely ok.  As the car changes orientation, the reception changes.  I suspect the running boards were ok in the early days of radio, when the stations' broadcasting power was much greater than today.  Or, my method of linking the two running boards was incorrect.  Or, my radio needs to be "tuned", a fairly complex procedure involving a signal generator and oscilloscope.

 

Let me know if your antenna kit has any clues!

 

Thanks,

Jeff

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Installing the radio is pretty straight forward if you have the front washers and nuts. You will also need a support for the rear of the radio. If you dont have one, it can easily be made. It goes  from the rear hood hold down bolt to the stud on the back of the radio.

The radio installation manual, (available as a reprint from Bobs, I think), shows the wiring diagram and wire routing for the running board antenna.

The manual also shows the original rear bracket. You can make one that is much simpler than that without all the adjustable links.

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The instructions are hard to read in the photo so I reprinted them here just as they are on the original paper.

 

                                                           *INSTRUCTIONS*

                                                           FOR INSTALLING

 

                                                    Running Board Insulators

                                                on  the 1937-1938 Buick Cars

 

                             Remove the four steel brackets from the step hangers of

                              the running board by removing the two nuts, one on

                              either end of each bracket and the single nut in the

                              center of the channel to which the running board is 

                              fastened.

 

                            Replace these four brackets with the four insulators

                            and reassemble, using the same nuts and lockwashers

                            originally used.

 

                             When both running boards are to be used duplicate

                             this process on each running board and join with 

                             interconnecting lead.

 

                            J.F.D. Manufacturing Co.                     Brooklyn, N.Y.

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That is interesting - an aftermarket product.

The parts look nothing like the original wiring and insulators on my '38's,

However, I'm sure they will work fine if the insulation has not turned to rock

Don the box was inside an occupied building for its whole life (78 years) and the insulators and the coax cable are like brand new. I don't know what an original insulator looks like but I will give these a try and see how they work. They were made specific for a 37 or 38 Buick. I'm waiting now for the book that Bobs is sending about the radio installation. Its another fun project for this car. Can you tell me in what order the radio nuts and knobs go as the radio pokes thru the dash. I have the nuts and the metal winged "treble bass" and the winged "local distant" pieces and then the original knobs. Also does the hot lead hook to the ignition switch?

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The manual, while not a great quality reprint, shows all the details of the installation.

The wiring is shown as connected to the ammeter, which means the radio can be turned on at any time - and left on. That is a feature I do not like. I connected mine to the ignition switch so the radio will go off when you turn the engine off.

Like lots of stuff - owners choice.

 

I'll take a photo of one of the original running board isolators. I'm sure yours would be just fine - all they have to do is insulate the running board metal from the chassis

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Don, I appreciate the offer for the photo but if its the same as Bobs sells they have a photo on their website. What is the route of the original antenna wire. My antenna wire has a two eyelets on the end that goes to the running board. One is a ground that leads out of the shield in the coax and the other is the part that goes to the running board. Is the stock one the same as that? Thanks for your help.  Dave

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The photo in Bobs is the same as the originals. i think they are from Steele Rubber.

 

The installation manual gives good pictorial instructions about routing the wiring along with a diagram, including where to place retainer clips. It is surprisingly detailed in my opinion.

 

it also describes the knob installation sequence.

 

Yes, there is a ground lug for the coax shield that goes to the running board mount and the eyelet at the end goes to the running board metal. looking at your photo of the wire, The original ground connection is a different design though.

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It all sounds great, the little book is coming. Do you know where to source the retaining clips? Gina and I are leaving in a few minutes in the old Buick to go visit some friends, when I get back this afternoon I'm going to start on the insulators. Thanks again Don.   Dave

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The changing of the vibrator tube to an electronic one is great. The vibrator tube(OZ4) was probably the main problem when those old radios quit working. I`m not sure about your radio, but there could be an "antenna adjustment screw". Tune to a weak station and slightly turn the screw left or right, if reception gets weaker turn screw opposite direction, should take no more than 1/4 turn or less.  The adjustment screw (in a slightly recessed hole) that I remember was located close to where the antenna plugs in and had an "antenna adjustment" label circling the hole.  Tom

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My radio now has an electronic vibrator. Bob senior told me he put one in. I guess thats good but I actually will miss the hum and you reminded me about pounding the dash to get the radio to work. I always thought it was just because of a loose power wire.  There isn't any antenna adjustment screw or hole that I can see anywhere on the case so either its non existent or its internal or I'm just missing it. We drove the car over 100 miles yesterday and I installed the rubber insulators under the running boards today. I'm hoping the radio install book will be here this week, maybe even tomorrow. By the way what does the vibrator look like? 

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The vibrator tube I recall was an OZ4, it was metal not glass, and had the similar plug in base as the glass tubes...

Thanks, I don't see anything with pins in my bag of returned parts. I have 3 metal canisters with brackets attached to them (A1211568) but I don't know what they are. 

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I thought that the running boards were the actual antenna. I read this interesting bit of information out of a little book I have called "BUICK FACTS 1938" which is about 150 pages and was issued to Buick salesman in that year. It says:

 

"The antenna system, with which all 1938 Buicks are equipped, is likewise unusually efficient. Both running boards are insulated from the car and are used as counterpoise, with the entire car acting as an antenna picking up the broadcast signal."

 

I don't know what "counterpoise" means and I don't understand how hooking the antenna to an insulated running board can turn the rest of the car into an antenna. Can anyone explain this? 

 

If the whole car is now an antenna maybe I will get signals from other countries!  haha

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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I thought that the running boards were the actual antenna. I read this interesting bit of information out of a little book I have called "BUICK FACTS 1938" which is about 150 pages and was issued to Buick salesman in that year. It says:


 


"The antenna system, with which all 1938 Buicks are equipped, is likewise unusually efficient. Both running boards are insulated from the car and are used as counterpoise, with the entire car acting as an antenna picking up the broadcast signal."


 


I don't know what "counterpoise" means and I don't understand how hooking the antenna to an insulated running board can turn the rest of the car into an antenna. Can anyone explain this? 

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I received the installation manual for the 38 CENTERLINE RADIO today, its very complete. I didn't realize there was something that installed in the front wheel dust caps to help prevent static but I got lucky and I got them from someone. I would love to see a picture of the stock coil wire suppressor and the distributor condenser and the generator suppressor actually on the car if someone can take them. Don are these parts on your car? I have the stock radio support brackets and it looks like I now have about everything to begin the install although won't be able to start until next week or the week after. 

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Hi Guys,

 

I am a former broadcast engineer, current communications technician AND the owner of a 37 Buick Roadmaster, now for an explaniation of the running board antenna....

 

To put it simply it is a very inefficient antenna design, but it is very visuially proper for a stylish car, no ugly whips taking away from the sleek lines :).

 

Now the description of the car being the antenna and the running board being counterpoise is exactly reversed.  In simple terms a counterpoise is the phantom half of the antenna, normally the ground plane in common terms.  It is not really mentioned, except in engineering design study,  that antennas have 2 equil parts.  In the case of a whip antennam one part is the whip and the second paet is the steel of the car that it is mounted on.  Now any AM antenna on a car is rediciously small and enefficent, but space is limited.  On the old Buicks the running boards were insulated from the body and then became the "whips" of a conventional antenna while the body of the car is the counterpoise (ground plane).  The running  boards were directional because of the body between them so they will recieve better to the side of the car.  In other words if you are driving toward or away from the station it will be weaker than if you were driving past the station.  Another problem is a factor we call polarization or antenna polarity.  Nothing to do with + or - like a battery, but wheather it is vertical or horizontal.  If the transmitting and recieving antennas are opposite the signal is approximately 1000 times weaker (-30 db) than a compariable antenna in the same plane.  Now AM broadcast stations all use vertical antennas so by default vertical whips are better.  The whole tower of an AM broadcast station is the antenna.  The base of the tower is actually insulated from ground much like the running boards on the Buick.

 

I hope this helps a little.  If I can answer anything please ask.

 

Robin

 

PS:  An electronic vibrator is a VERY good upgrade as a stuck mechanical can easily burn out a transformer and that is very very very bad.....

Edited by 37_Roadmaster_C (see edit history)
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I guess if at some point if I'm driving up a steep hill with the am station directly off to the side it might get good reception. Seriously I better not expect to much from the radio, hopefully there is a strong AM station here in Vegas that will get picked up regardless of the poor design. When I was young we used to build and listen to Crystal Radio's and we were excited if we could listen to anything. 

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Don those parts are only to remove static, do you have static? How is the reception? How many stations? Does the local/distant knob make any difference?

 

Hi Guys,

 

I am a former broadcast engineer, current communications technician AND the owner of a 37 Buick Roadmaster, now for an explaniation of the running board antenna....

 

To put it simply it is a very inefficient antenna design, but it is very visuially proper for a stylish car, no ugly whips taking away from the sleek lines :).

 

Now the description of the car being the antenna and the running board being counterpoise is exactly reversed.  In simple terms a counterpoise is the phantom half of the antenna, normally the ground plane in common terms.  It is not really mentioned, except in engineering design study,  that antennas have 2 equil parts.  In the case of a whip antennam one part is the whip and the second paet is the steel of the car that it is mounted on.  Now any AM antenna on a car is rediciously small and enefficent, but space is limited.  On the old Buicks the running boards were insulated from the body and then became the "whips" of a conventional antenna while the body of the car is the counterpoise (ground plane).  The running  boards were directional because of the body between them so they will recieve better to the side of the car.  In other words if you are driving toward or away from the station it will be weaker than if you were driving past the station.  Another problem is a factor we call polarization or antenna polarity.  Nothing to do with + or - like a battery, but wheather it is vertical or horizontal.  If the transmitting and recieving antennas are opposite the signal is approximately 1000 times weaker (-30 db) than a compariable antenna in the same plane.  Now AM broadcast stations all use vertical antennas so by default vertical whips are better.  The whole tower of an AM broadcast station is the antenna.  The base of the tower is actually insulated from ground much like the running boards on the Buick.

 

I hope this helps a little.  If I can answer anything please ask.

 

Robin

 

PS:  An electronic vibrator is a VERY good upgrade as a stuck mechanical can easily burn out a transformer and that is very very very bad.....

Thanks Robin, I appreciate the reply and I learned something.

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Hi Dave,

 

Did a quick license search and found 15 AM ststions within 30 miles of Las Vegas.  Some of which are high power (greater than 10000 watts).  Even with running board antennas and 1938 technology you WILL recieve some stations.  Now for my car the plan is to build up a very low power AM transmitter and feed it with a MP3 player all sitting in the glove box so the radio in the dash will actually be working, but the station will be my music.  This allows for several things: 1) music I like  2) deceptive bragging rites (Yea kinda foolish, but its me) 3) period music for shows and meets.  AND, it will all run on 6 volts so no problem and I could even plug the satelite radio into it and go from there....

 

R

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Hi Dave,

 

Did a quick license search and found 15 AM ststions within 30 miles of Las Vegas.  Some of which are high power (greater than 10000 watts).  Even with running board antennas and 1938 technology you WILL recieve some stations.  Now for my car the plan is to build up a very low power AM transmitter and feed it with a MP3 player all sitting in the glove box so the radio in the dash will actually be working, but the station will be my music.  This allows for several things: 1) music I like  2) deceptive bragging rites (Yea kinda foolish, but its me) 3) period music for shows and meets.  AND, it will all run on 6 volts so no problem and I could even plug the satelite radio into it and go from there....

 

R

 

Hi R

Your project sounds to me like the best of everything, would the radio still work as it did when stock if the thing in the glovebox was unplugged. Even if that isn't the case I like your project. Thanks for looking up the power of the AM stations in my area and letting me know the results. It seems I remember an XM radio gadget that let you set your radio to a certain station and then the XM played thru that but I think it required FM radio, does that ring a bell with you. I bought two LIFETIME XM SUBSCRIPTIONS when it first came out for radio's in my old Ford truck and in my KENWORTH whichI drove for 17 years. Both radios are still getting free XM today. Do you have an idea when you will build your project? 

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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 They also used to make FM converters for AM radios. You turned your radio to a specific setting (some reason 1410 rings a bell) then just tune the converter to whatever FM station you wanted. Unfortunately they were all made for 12volt cars.

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Hi All,

 

Give me a few days and I will post some info on building the AM transmitter.  I actually got the idea from an antique radio forum where one of the guys was building one so that he could have his antique table radios playing period correct music and talkies (radio shows) for people visiting his vast collection.  I looked it over and with my broadcast background saw that it would be simple to do for a car application and actually very cheep to build.  I will post more info.

 

 

Also, there are absolutely NO modifications to the stock setup. Just tune to another station if you want after turning off the low power transmitter.

 

Robin

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Hi All,

 

Give me a few days and I will post some info on building the AM transmitter.  I actually got the idea from an antique radio forum where one of the guys was building one so that he could have his antique table radios playing period correct music and talkies (radio shows) for people visiting his vast collection.  I looked it over and with my broadcast background saw that it would be simple to do for a car application and actually very cheep to build.  I will post more info.

 

 

Also, there are absolutely NO modifications to the stock setup. Just tune to another station if you want after turning off the low power transmitter.

 

Robin

 

 

Thanks Robin, I'm looking forward to your info on building the am transmitter.  It will be a fun and worthwhile project.

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I can't believe it took me several hours to mount the radio today. The stock bracket was used and its hard to get it bolted to the rear hood support bolt and adjusted to fit the radio stud while laying on your back on the floor with your legs and feet half out the door. I had to remove and install the radio several times to get the bracket assembly just right. The  antenna is now fed thru the dash grommet and inserted in the correct cavity between the body to sill brace but the running board connections are not done yet, maybe tomorrow. The radio is getting power, nothing smokes, and the knobs are on and the dial works,  Anxious to get the whole job completed and see what happens, so far it looks good. 

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 Whenever I've got to work under the dash it takes me awhile to get my mind made up to not put it off any longer, once I get going its not so bad. I was hoping to get the running boards mounted today but life had other plans for me. Tomorrow I must go again to Los Angeles, hopefully to return to Vegas by Wednesday. I wanted to finish the radio project before I left but now its to late. Oh well at least the radio is rebuilt and mounted so the hard part is done. 

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