The main purpose of the forties room has always been to create an atmosphere where I can listen to my collection of old time radio shows; thus THE main component of the room has always been the radio. And ever since I’ve started casually looking for ideas and artifacts for the room about 9 months ago, I’ve known exactly which radio would fit the vision: a 1939 Zenith console (aka floor) radio with a big, radial dial.
After traveling to almost two dozen places over the last week from Walnut, IA to Council Bluffs, IA to Missouri Valley, IA to places here in Omaha, today I found and bought a 1939 Zenith 6-S-326.
Let me tell you about this thing. First of all, the radio turns on and, after warming up, picks up static. And after turning it on the first time and seeing the beautiful glow of that big round dial, it was pretty amazing. The radio picks up three bands, controlled by a knob: Broadcast, Police, and Foreign. There is another knob for adjusting what looks like equalizer presets: Foreign, Hi Fidelity, and Voice. There is a power/volume knob and the volume goes up to about fourteen and a half. And of course there is a tuner knob. The power cord is in good shape, but I can’t tell whether it’s original or not and the vacuum tubes glow very faintly. Finally, the wooden exterior is in pretty excellent shape.
Now the bad news: there really isn’t an antenna; the “antenna” that is attached looks like a wire that someone cut from a pair of cheap modern headphones. And the dial doesn’t quite work; it moves somewhat, but it’s attached to the tuner knob with a set of pulleys and the band around them is slipping. So it needs a bit of work, but in all, I think it’s absolutely beautiful and I got a pretty good deal.
So here’s the plan: I’ll fix up the electronics and the tuning mechanism and then I’ll buy an AM transmitter (possibly from http://www.ramseyelectronics.com/hk/default.asp?page=amfm) and hook it up to my computer so I can broadcast my shows from mp3’s to the radio. More posts on this as I make progress. Stay tuned!
Total spent today: $450.00
Nice. As far as playing your MP3s through it, you could just run the output from your computer directly to the speaker in the radio cabinet. That wouldn’t be near as cool as actually using the receiver, I know.
Yeah, that’s pretty much plan B. If it’s too difficult or costly to get her running, I’ll probably hide an mp3 player or netbook behind the speaker.