REFINISH AND RESTORATION: One family owned 1936 Zenith 6-S-322 restored and Bluetooth added

Here's a 1936 Zenith 6-S-322 that was sent to me for repair and restoration:

-Electronic repair and restoration: the electronics and guts

-Cosmetic repair and restoration: the outside refinishing and detailing

-Add Bluetooth

Let's see what we can do for this radio!

 

Here's a picture of the radio in its before state:

Not bad.

 

Here are the positives:

1. All the parts are there. Inside and out. 

2. No major peeling or cracking of the wood.

3. No broken dial glass

4. Front metal faschia is good shape not dented or bent.

 

Here are the initial not-so-positives:

1. Doesn't work. Lights don't come on. No sound.

2. Couple patches of finish worn through to the wood.

3. Grill cloth torn and frayed

4. One knob is chipped

5. Cord looks like an old cracked vine

6. Looked like the radio was stored in a wood shop for years with all the sawdust that was inside.

 

I disassembled the radio and found out many things about its history. The radio has been serviced many times by someone who was knowledgeable and professional.

ELECTRONIC REPAIR AND RESTORATION:

I discovered:

1. The candohm resistor had been bypassed at one point due to failure which is common among these mid to late 30s Zeniths. When these candohms fail, the 6X5 blows out sometimes taking the transformer with it. This radio original transformer was replaced at one point.

2. None of the old wax and paper resistors were replaced.

3. Pretty much all the tubes were shot

4. Dial light bulbs were blown

5. A bunch of resistors were out of spec.

6. The alignment was way off

7. Everything was dirty and dusty beyond recognition. Lots of sawdust everywhere.

After electronics were repaired, aligned, and burned in, the radio sounded pretty good!

Here's the pile of replaced components:

This power cord has sure seen better days. Would you plug it in?

I found a schematic but it didn't have a lot of component detail info; transformer, coil, voltages, etc. Plus it covered a range of models, so I wasn't feeling confident it was reliable for this particular model and this particular radio.

CABINET RESTORATION:

First, I had to remove a big piece of asbestos before I could start working on the cabinet. Yucky, dude. Best thing is to leave asbestos in place untouched but I didn't have a choice. I knew I would be sanding and refinishing and handling this wooden cabinet enough to warrant removal. 

Then I removed all the old finish. It was thin and came right off with some 250 grit sandpaper.

An earlier restoration of chips in the veneer was made by cutting shark tooth pieces of matching veneer and fitting them in place.

This was done in at least three places. The shark tooth book match pieces are hard to see in the photos below but red triangles are in the approximate shape and orientation of the repaired veneer.

Not a bad job at all. Much easier than re-veneering the whole thing!

The wood cabinet was in solid shape so it did not need structural repairs. There were no cracks by the grill which would have been a pain to replace. The veneer was not separating anywhere on the cabinet which means this radio was stored some place dry its entire life. Thank goodness!

Couple places were a little bowed in the wrong direction and needed to be smoothed. Then I sprayed a light coat of matte clear finish.

No color stain was used. This is the natural wood color after clear coat.

The black trim needed to be masked and re-shot then detailed to straight edges.

I was lucky to find a source for Zenith replacement grill cloth.

After several coats of clear finish and iterative cycles of sanding, polishing, and re-spraying, I have my final result!

This radio required a panel fabricated for Bluetooth controls. I used a piece of Lexar acrylic and mounted a DPDT toggle switch. For more informationon how to adapt your radio with Bluetooth, click here.

Here's the end result. Sounds pretty good!