Weltron 2001 "Space Ball" Radio/8 Track (1970s)
A stellar example of 1970s "space-abilia," this Weltron
model 2001 radio/tape player has a unique, unmistakable profile. It's
the size and shape of a bowling ball, with a spaceman-like face
and a carrying handle on top.
Adding to the space-guy look are
the twin speakers, whose grille holes give the appearance of
ears or headphones. At the back of each grille is a jack for
an extension speaker. A stereo headphone jack is placed under
the "chin" at bottom front.
At the bottom of the swiveling base is a giant rubber suction
cup, making the radio extremely stable on a smooth surface.
A funky, although not too practical, touch is the chrome mounting ring on top.
Yes, you could actually hang this radio from a chain on the ceiling!
I doubt that many people actually did that, however. With the
telescoping antenna fully extended, that would have made a pretty
Just for fun, I also included a photo of my JVC VideoSphere television
standing next to the Weltron. Together they make a pair that's out of this world!
Like the Weltron, the VideoSphere could be hung from the ceiling,
in its case by a chrome chain.
The "mouth" of the spaceman is where you insert an 8-track tape
cartridge. The three slider controls to the upper left of the
mouth are balance, tone, and volume, from left to right. The
rightmost round knob is the tuner and other one
selects AM, FM, or Tape mode. The square black pushbutton
under the round knobs is the track selector for 8-track use.
The round silver pushbutton at lower right is the power
switch, and a small battery charge meter appears at lower left.
This set can use AC power, flashlight batteries, or 12-volt DC power
from a car's cigarette lighter. The battery pack is accessible through a hatch in the
back. Like many others of this type, mine is missing
the little battery door (anybody have a spare for sale?).
The Weltron 2001 came in other colors (at least red and yellow) in addition to the white
shown here. The white color is most common and it
tends to yellow with age. When I bought the set, it was colored a light tan
except in unexposed areas.
This 1972 drawing from US patent D224233
appears to show the Weltron cabinet:
Whitening Yellowed Plastic
I spent a long time restoring the original white
color. I disassembled the entire radio and
wet-sanded the case down to white with extremely fine wet sandpaper.
After the hand sanding, I polished it back to a glossy shine using
Novus Plastic Polish #2. If I had known
how much work that would be, I might have left it alone!
refers to a chemical
process for whitening yellowed plastic cases. I haven't
tried that process, so I can't vouch for it.
Despite the wacky appearance, these are durable and well-built radios.
They were very popular in their day and many of them are still in
circulation. I bought mine at a rural shop for $23, which I
considered reasonable, but not a great bargain considering that
the tape player doesn't work. Colors other than white would probably
raise the value somewhat.
With 25 transistors, this is a complicated radio, and
not an easy one to work on. The electronics are
packed tightly inside the spherical case, and the
tape mechanism is buried down inside the bowels of the
chassis. The next photo shows
the chassis out of its case.
Apart from shooting some De-Oxit into the controls and cleaning
off grime, I didn't do any work on the electronics.
The non-functioning tape player doesn't bother me,
since we don't have 8-track tapes in this house. I had to visit
the thrift store to find a tape to test the player, in fact!
Getting the radio out of the case might have you scratching your head until you lift
the handle and notice the two big screws hidden underneath. After you remove those, the
top half of the case will lift off and the rest should be obvious. Don't forget to
loosen the headphone jack before lifting out the chassis.
The model 2001
is available from Sams.
Although I have a houseful of antique radios, this one found
its way to our bedside and occupied that coveted spot for several
months. Its not-too-big size and compact controls make it
easy to operate, even in the dark. And it has stereo FM with a headphone
jack, ideal for late-night listening when one's spouse doesn't want
to be disturbed. Now, if it only had shortwave!
This radio makes a brief appearance in the movie
Boogie Nights. Watch for
two of them on a display rack behind Buck, in the scene where Buck tries to
sell a stereo system to a local yokel.
Weltron sold a few other models, all of which have
become collectible in recent years. A rectangular-shaped
radio/8-track set is fairly common, usually at lower prices than
this unusual model. Model 2004 has the same spherical
cabinet as the 2001, but with a cassette deck instead of an 8-track
player. I consider the 2004's dial less interesting than the 2001's.
It's a lot more crowded and it doesn't suggest a face as the
After enjoying this radio for several years, I sold it for
use in a museum display.