Philco 84 Restoration: Getting Started

Workbench

Over the past few weekends, my wife and I have been preparing our garage and making space for a workbench for me to use for radio restoration. I have a good start, but need to get a few other things eventually. Top of my list is a Variac to slowly bring radios up to voltage without stressing them out by applying 120v immediately. (In fact, the first radio I chose to restore was manufactured to use 110v, so I have to have a way to power it without overpowering it). I also need to pick up a Vacuum Tube Volt Meter (VTVM) at some point.

Being relatively new at this, I already made some mistakes.

When I was in the process of removing the chassis from the cabinet, I knew I needed to remove the knobs first, then remove the screws from the bottom of the chassis, but I neglected to notice that the pointer on the dial was friction fit onto the dial shaft of the tuning capacitor. I ALMOST broke the fragile translucent frequency display plate by trying to force the chassis out of the cabinet before I realized it was causing resistance. I then gently wiggled the pointer off the shaft and the chassis came free from the cabinet without further resistance.

First look at the chassis:

Here’s the layout of the tubes on the chassis:

I removed two of the tubes immediately by carefully rocking them back and forth from the base in order to not damage them in the process. The tubes removed were the Type 80 and the Type 42. When I looked at them under sufficient light, I was able to confirm that the Type 42 was marked correctly, but I have questions about the Type 80 tube. Not sure what it is as it is not marked. Someone on Facebook pointed out to me that it didn’t appear to be the correct tube also, so that leaves me questioning whether it is right.

When I removed the top of the can that shields the Type 77 tube in the corner, I attempted to remove the clip from the top connector of the tube and didn’t realize how easy it was to break. This is where I made my second mistake… I pulled too hard and the wire under the metal cap separated from the cap. The clip is still seized to the cap. Mark that up as a learning lesson. Don’t get too impatient. These are fragile devices.
Both Type 77 tubes have loose top connectors. I will have to research how to remove the clip on their caps before going further.
Here’s a photo of the top of the chassis diagrammed above. Note the thick layer of dust that must be cleaned up:

Top of Philco 84 chassis

The bottom of the chassis is incredibly dirty… with an amazing amount of cobwebs, silk spider egg pods and dead spiders as you can see below:

Philco 84 under chassis spider webs.

Looking at the chassis underside, there’s a little room next to where the cord comes in that I might be able to put a panel mounted fuse on, instead of using a clip.

Next Steps:

  • Using a soft brush and perhaps a vacuum, get as much dirt and debris out of the chassis

  • Look at the underside of the chassis to determine if any work has been done on it so far or if it has never been in the shop

  • Safely remove the remaining two tubes without damage

  • Electrically test the coils to see if they have the dreaded “green disease” (copper wire corrosion), which would mean I need to rewind them with fresh enameled copper wire of a super fine gauge… ugh…

  • Create the template for the grill cloth insert for the Facebook contact.

New Project: Restoration of a Philco 84 Cathedral Radio

When my father-in-law was still here in Aiken, SC, once in awhile I’d join him on his weekly garage sale hunts for items that can be resold on eBay. We stumbled upon an old Philco Cathedral radio from 1935 last June. It’s been sitting there in my garage for the past year looking at me and crying to be restored. Well, once the XYL (wife) got it in her head to clean up the garage, I made a deal with her….

“If we do a good enough job on getting the garage organized, how would you feel about me restoring old radios on the workbench (that we also got from garage sales)?”

She agreed and supported that idea! Well, it was enough of a catalyst to inspire me to do a great job on organizing the garage. She was very happy with the results. Now I have the green light to start on this new project and after researching the radio and watching several YouTube videos by Backtothefutureradios about this particular radio… I’m excited by the challenge!

1935 Philco Model 84 Radio

Stay tuned and I’ll post my progress here and we’ll see if this radio is a good candidate for restoration and if I can handle the challenge. I have a lot to learn, but there’s a huge community out there that offers support on projects such as this.

73 de N5PRE

It's Bacon!!!

I like bacon. I got a chance to try out Hormel's Natural Choice Original Uncured Bacon with a free sample through MyMagazine Sharing Network recently. I think this will be my go-to bacon from now on. I like the flavor and the fact it is uncured and doesn't have the nitrites in it like cured bacon is important to me.

Before cooking

Before cooking

My favorite way to prepare bacon now is on a cookie sheet in the oven. I cover the cookie sheet with foil and place the bacon close together and fit as many as I can on one sheet. (Usually around 10 pieces). I put it into a cold oven and set the temperature to 450 degrees. I immediately set a timer for 20 minutes and check the status at the end of the timer. Usually it only takes a few minutes more to get to the degree of doneness I like. I then use tongs to place the hot bacon on paper towels to absorb the excess bacon fat. It is easy to pour off the bacon fat from the cookie sheet into a container after it cools a bit, but while it is still liquid, and save it for other recipes calling for bacon fat. A bonus is that you can fold up the corners of the foil and wad it up and throw it away (or recycle) and the cookie sheet is still pristine!

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Rest in Peace, Art Bell W6OBB

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It's been a while since Art Bell did his own show, but he was still a part of my life until his recent departure from this planet on Friday, April 13, 2018. We were Facebook friends since 2011 and I kept up with his new family that was still growing and responded to his comments, which were very much like my own thoughts.

Art was a definite influence on my life. I was always the curious type and loved to listen to late night radio ever since I was a kid. That's how I discovered Art. I instantly became a fan once I found out he was an amateur radio operator, a topic that came up often on his show. It was during the 1990's before there were iPods and Podcasts, so in order to work during the daylight hours that my job required from me, I had to get creative in my thinking on how to listen to his entire show and still get a nights sleep.  Having a Pioneer component stereo system that included an auto-reverse cassette tape deck, I acquired the best quality metal tapes in the C-120 size which gave me 2 hours of recording time and set my alarm on my clock radio for 12:05 AM so I could get up and start the recording and again at 2:05, when I put a second tape in the deck for the rest of the show to record. I then took a portable cassette player with me in my work van and listened to the recordings as I made my commute and during the day between stops. It wasn't perfect, but it worked for me.

Art introduced me to several authors that piqued my interest in curious things as well. If it weren't for Art, I would never heard of Graham Hancock, author of "Fingerprints of the Gods", Colonel Philip J Corso, who wrote "The Day After Roswell". Also there was Zecharia Sitchin who had his own interpretations of Sumerian clay tablets, Linda Moulton Howe, who investigated crop circles and more with vigor and Patrick "Paddy" Heron, author of "Nephilim and the Pyramid of the Apocalypse" who became a personal friend of mine after I contacted him about his book, may he rest in peace.

Art also introduced me to music that I may never have thought to seek out with his amazing bumper music repertoire. In the New Age category, I fell in love with Cusco and Loreena McKennitt. Also, expanding my taste, I learned to enjoy Crystal Gayle, The Highwaymen and Tito & Tarantula. Because of his love for music, I became a music lover... so much so that I can't stop making classic music ringtones for my phone these days.

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Art's ham radio discussions on the air on his show and on HF were something I enjoyed the most. I never had a QSO with him, but I heard him on 160 meters often and enjoyed hearing about his huge 75 foot high two wire loop antenna that generated 350 volts on its own from the atmosphere until he figured out how to tame it. How I would love to have a 5 acre antenna farm like his.  Even though I already had a license before listening to Art, his participation in the hobby encouraged me to upgrade my license.  

Rest in peace, Art. Thanks for all the hours of entertainment and being a part of my life.

73 de N5PRE

RIP Uncle Al Schade N6UMW

Well, a legend has passed. My uncle Al Schade, amateur radio operator N6UMW passed away at 93 in his sleep last night. He was an inspiration to me all throughout my life. He was in WWII and the Korean conflict and migrated into the Space Program and became an integral part of it during the Apollo years and ushered in the Shuttle. His last role was Project Engineer for the Shuttle Challenger. He retired after that and said it was amazing they even got those things working. "They literally have over a million moving parts!" he said to me once.  

Alfred Schade N6UMW

Alfred Schade N6UMW

One of the coolest things Uncle Al did for me was spark my interest in science. He gave me a window from an Apollo spacecraft command module (one that was extra and never went into space) and a couple of test tiles for the space shuttle heat shield.  Uncle Al was also very diligent about sharing family news with his blind (from diabetes) brother Walter in the 1960's and even sent him miniature reel-to-reel tapes with "letters" on them. I found one when I was younger and have digitized it below. It talks about the family for a bit and then there's a complete play-by-play narration on how an Apollo mission will be conducted, strewn with extra facts only an engineer would appreciate. Give it a listen, it's fascinating!

I remember when I first got interested in ham radio... it was years before I actually got my license. Uncle Al always had an interest in it too. We both got our licenses in the late 1980's and we once had a QSO on 10 meters. We were both excited to be able to hear each other. I was in Houston, TX and he was in Cambria, CA. Alas, that was the only time we were able to talk on the air.

I always knew the day would come when Uncle Al would pass. He was almost 94 years young. I'm just happy he passed in his sleep and it was peaceful in the end. I have mixed emotions about his loss. Mostly I'm happy that he lived a life to celebrate and not so sad. After all, he's been reunited in heaven now with his siblings that have already gone and his parents and I'm sure it's a joyful occasion.