Emerson Radio


This is an Emerson model AM-169 AM/SW table radio, with a very cool Ingraham cabinet. I've had this one sitting on the shelf for many years, and finally got around to restoring it.

Some specs:

Manufacturer: Emerson Radio & Phonograph Corp., NY
Model: AM169
Year of Manufacture: 1937
     6A7: Pentagrid oscillator-modulator
     6D6: !st RF Amp
     6Q7: diode detector, AF AMP., A.V.C.
     25L6: dual half-wave rectifier
     2UR-224 ballast tube


The cabinet was in pretty rough shape, but all the wood was still there, so I figured there was a good chance I could refinish it.         


The chassis was pretty dirty, and showed evidence of water damage. The tuning capacitor was frozen by decades of dirt and corrosion and the belt was long gone...

First order of business was to remove and disassemble the tuning capacitor, so it could be cleaned.


I cleaned up the chassis, first with a rag and methanol, then polished it with metal polish.
It cleaned up pretty well; you can see the repaired tuning capacitor on the far left.

As expected, both of the electrolytic capacitors were shot; one was shorted and the other one was open. They were left in place but taken out of the circuit and replaced by two new electrolytic caps out of sight under the chassis. Otherwise, the circuit checked out with just a few tweaks of the IF transformers. All but one of the tubes checked out; the weak tube was replaced. The speaker cone was in rough shape and the dust cover missing. I decided to keep the original speaker and just fixed the tears with some nail polish.

The ballast is mounted in a standard 8-pin tube black metal housing. It was covered in rust, presumably from the water exposure. I disassembled it, sanded the metal housing down to bare metal and painted it with satin black high temperature spray paint so that it looked new. Fortunately, I had a replacement tuning belt in my supplies, which completed the refurbishment of the tuning capacitor.


So, have you ever done something that you realized was REALLY STUPID as you were doing it, but continued to do it anyway?

That's exactly what happened when I decided to clean the dial with a bit of methanol. OF COURSE  it was fine at first, but then as the methanol began to solvate the vintage plastic (probably nitrocellulose),  I destroyed half the dial before I realized what was happening. It left a white opaque residue, and in a 3-stooges-like move, I tried to remove the residue with metal polish and removed the black legends on one side.

So I went online and found a replica dial. Unfortunately, while  accurate, the replica was printed on gold-colored cardboard and not at all like the engraved metal background of the original.

However, a reasonably good fix was obtained with the kind assistance of a graphic artist who photoshopped a mask of the legend from a scan of the replica dial. I was then able to print that on a sheet of water-slide decal paper with a 600 dpi laser printer. After a few practice runs on random pieces of sheet metal, I was able to successfully apply the decal to the original dial background after polishing off the remaining legends. It can be a quite tedious to get such a large decal placed correctly without bubbles or wrinkles. Photo on the left shows the original dial after I destroyed it, and the photo on the right is the dial after application of the decal.

I am keeping my eyes open for a genuine replacement dial, but for now this will have to do.

An often ignored item, I also refurbished the feet with new felt cut from a felt furniture pad and glued in the metal cups.
The two old ones shown were the best ones, the others were in much worse shape.


And, here is the restored chassis.

Finished project. Thee cabinet was not stained, just sanded, smoothed and coated with three coats of satin polyurethane.
Took a while to sand off the old finish; because of all the curved surfaces it had to be done completely by hand.
I had anticipated having to repaint the red pin stripes, but it turns out, they are not painted on but rather inlaid plastic pieces!
A replica replacement Emerson "treble clef" decal finished the job. I applied one coat of polyurethane over the decal for protection.


The original back with the "Ingraham badge" was missing. I fabricated a back panel from a piece of plywood and stained it to match. I modeled it after photos I found on the 'net. Perhaps someday I can replace this with an original...


Yes, it really works! Here is a short video showing operation of the radio. I used an AM transmitter with an iPod as a music source. 
There is no AM reception here, partly due to our location and partly to the high density of RFI in the house from all the other electronic devices.

Note: Tubes were pre-heated to decrease time to turn on.

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tiny_eledarlogo.gif (1592 bytes)   Anyone have one of these radios with an intact dial and/or back? Let me know!  Click HERE to send any comments or questions. 

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