August 3, 2013 Update: Read about my experience electroplating copper back onto some of the mounting hardware.|
June 22, 2013 Update: After searching occasionally for many years for another Crosley 03CB radio in a location close enough to drive to, I finally saw one on Craigslist in Harrisburg, PA, about 300 miles from my home in Erie, PA. Melanie and I picked it up yesterday. It needs - and will receive - a total restoration for both the cabinet and the electronics, but it appears to be in better condition that my first pre-restored Crosley 03CB. This radio is Chassis #95.
If you look at the photo below of the first radio (the one with my kids and father-in-law sitting next to it), you will notice that the tuning dial has no cover over it. I never knew there was supposed to be a glass bezel in front of the dial. Back in the 1980s when I restored that radio, the Internet was still Darpanet and 'normal' people did not have access, so research was much more difficult. I could not even find SAMS Photofacts for it in order to work on the electronics. Fortunately, I was now able to buy a high resolution scan of the original Crosley documentation for a mere $9.95 in PDF format (AntiqueRadioSchematics.org).
Here are a few initial photos of how the radio looked when I picked it up. A thorough documenting of the restoration process will be posted here over time. Before doing any of the major work, I need to complete the grandmother clock I've been working on for the last couple years. It was built from scratch using hickory wood from the local lumber mill. I'm in the final sanding phase as this is being written, so the stain and polyurethane will come soon. Then, finally, the clockworks will be mounted inside (it's already been test-fitted), glass panels installed, and the clock will assume an esteemed spot in the living room.
Console Front View
Console Side View
Console Rear View
Console Top View
Electronics Chassis Top
Tuning Dial & Buttons
Antenna Connection Terminal
Electronics Chassis Rear
This 1941* Crosley floor console radio model 03CB was given to me as a Christmas present in 1983 by my wife, Melanie. It was found by my sister, Gayle, and her husband, Mike, in a barn on Kent Island on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It sported a couple shortwave bands and AM (no FM in those days). Unfortunately, I did not take any detailed pictures of the unit, so the best I could come up with is this shot of my two children (Philip & Sally) sitting with my father-in-law, Marlet Goodwin, on Christmas day of 1990.
Its original finish was peeling off, and all the metal parts - the dial and trim plates, electronics chassis, etc., was rusting. It sat in our house for a couple years and then I tackled the refinishing project. Every bit of of the stain and shellac was removed from the case, and paint from the metal parts, using naval jelly (the good, caustic pink stuff). Hours of scraping, filling and sanding took care of the wood, and then a Minwax stain was applied, with a top coat of a few coats of Deft lacquer. The dial was carefully cleaned and lacquered. The dial trim plate was primed and painted gold (the original color). I removed all the tube and primed and painted the chassis gray (its original color). All the paper capacitors were replaced, and the tubes were tested on a portable tube tester that had been given to me by überengineer Jim Wilson. Only a couple needed replacing. Those were the days before eBay and the Internet, so finding replacements took enlisting the help of Ham friend who found them at a Hamfest. The antenna was a solid rectangular coil that ran around the rear outside edge of the entire chassis.
After doing a good visual and continuity check of the electronics, I plugged the radio into the wall. No smoke - that was a good start. A beautiful warm glow appeared at the base of all the tubes, and before long there was a welcoming 60 Hz hum coming through the huge electromagnetic speaker (no permanent magnet). I turned the dial and, voila!, the local AM stations came in clear as a bell (well, as a bell with a 60 Hz hum). The hum was eventually tamed by adding a couple caps across the coil. It probably killed some of the bass, but who would notice on AM? I pushed the "Japan" button and picked up some foreign station, but it definitely was not from Japan. Similarly, other far away broadcasts were received on the other bands, but I cannot recall the details.
Melanie and I gave the radio to her sister as a wedding present in 1993, since her sister's home was decorated in a Victorian theme. It has since, shall we say, "moved on," and I now have no idea where it resides. Oh well, that's the risk I took in gifting it. Here are a few of my other projects.
* I originally had 1926 as the year since I remember seeing the date on a label inside the radio, but research has shown that
it is most likely a 1941 model. The 1926 date was probably for one of the patents listed.
Crosley Radios, Cars, Appliances, & Proximity Fuses
If you have any interest in vintage radios, you undoubtedly are familiar with Crosley products. They were very different from today's Crosley products in terms of quality. My experience with Crosley was while restoring a 1941 console (floor) model that was given to me by my sister. It was constructed of solid wood and a nice mahogany laminate. The face plate, dial, and knobs were heavy gauge metal. Following the success of their radios, Crosley ventured into the automobile market from 1939 through 1952. Little known even amongst Crosley fans is that they built proximity fuses during World War II. "Crosley's involvement began in late October 1941 when they were contacted by the Bureau of Ordnance and told that they would be contacted later that month concerning a 'top secret, top priority' project." A Crosley VT (variable time) fuse was credited with the downing its first Japanese dive bomber in 1953. The Brits used them against German V-1 Buzz Bombs. Thanks to RF Cafe visitor Kevin A. for the tip.