Stewart-Warner Model 102-A Cathedral Radio (1931)


This fancy Stewart-Warner 102-A cathedral radio lived around the corner from me for years, but I didn't know that at the time. One day in 2008, the owner contacted me from Minneapolis, asking whether I'd like to buy an old radio. When I replied Yes, I learned that she lived about a block from an apartment where I spent several years in an earlier decade.

I mailed her a check and my Dad picked up the radio, storing it for me until the next time I visited Minnesota and was able to ship it back home to Washington. Most of these photos were taken in his basement.

The front of the cathedral cabinet is ornate, with a fretwork grille and graceful trim pieces. The dial escutcheon is cast in heavy brass.

Here's a view from the rear. The arched top is made of solid wood pieces, unlike the bent veneer used in most cathedrals such as my Philco Model 90.

Inside is a typical early-1930s radio chassis. Note the pretty blue tube with the balloon style envelope. The brand is Arcturus and it is a type PZ.

A plate on the back of the chassis says 102-A, so that's the model number I'm using, although the schematic says R-102.

Here are the radio's six tubes and their functions.

Tube Type Function
V1 24 1st Detector
V2 27 Oscillator/Oscillator
V3 51 IF Amplifier
V4 24 2nd Detector
V5 PZ Audio Output
V6 80 Power Rectifier

You'll find plenty of elbow room under the chassis. 1930s radio components are bigger than those made a decade or two later. You can see chubby capacitors in black or yellow cases, and some "dogbone" style resistors with body-dot color codes. This will not be any trouble to restore, although the new, much smaller components may look somewhat out of place.

Below is another view of the chassis just after it arrived in Washington. Plenty of vintage dirt! I had carefully packed the chassis, speaker, and cabinet in separate boxes. Rather than risk the tubes to a shipper, I carried them in my backpack when I flew home, along with the knobs and mounting screws.

The tuner needs minor rehab. The mechanism isn't seen in this view, but on the knob shaft is a thick rubber wheel. It fits against a toothed metal semi-circle on the shaft of the tuning capacitor. The teeth grip the rubber wheel, causing the capacitor and tuning pointer to move when you turn the knob. The rubber has dried rock-hard over the decades, and it was severely worn, anyway, so I'll need to find some rubber piece to replace it.

The lacquer finish is weathered and flaking in lots of places. I'll strip the whole cabinet and re-color it with toning lacquer, followed by a couple of clear coats for protection.

I suspect that the decorative trim pieces around the upper front are made of repwood rather than hand-carved. Repwood is a molded wood material often used for such details. You can read more about it in my Emerson Snow White article.

This should be a handsome radio when the project is done. I'll update this page with new photos at that time.

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