Stewart Warner Model R-192 Radio (1936)

        

        

This 1936 Stewart Warner Model R-192 is one of the oddest, and rarest, radios in my collection.

Stewart Warner dubbed this model the "Good Companion." The radio is housed in a round metal case finished in black enamel and chrome, with a semicircular dial. It stands on stout chrome legs above a black and silver pinstriped wooden base. Here is a period catalog photo:

Here is my partially disassembled R-192 in the workshop, waiting for restoration:

My Good Companion is complete and unmolested, but the chrome and paint on the cabinet and base must be redone. Of course, the electronics also need restoration.

Description

Stewart Warner produced the Good Companion with three color schemes: one in black and chrome, like mine; another in antique copper, as shown at radiomuseum.org; and a third in chrome, as seen in this photo contributed by a fellow collector:

I haven't found any print ads for this radio, but the Good Companion made an appearance in the October, 1936 issue of Radio Craft magazine. This "Special Radio Show Number" featured an assortment of new radios on its cover and invited readers to identify them. The R-192 peeks from behind the Radio Craft logo at the upper left:

An article in the magazine provided an answer key to the quiz, with a manufacturer's blurb for each pictured set:

  

Round radios like this weren't produced in the USA, but the Ecko company in England offered three 1930s sets with similar Bakelite cabinets, models AC76, AD36, and AD65. Below is model AC76:

The Eckos were introduced in 1934-1935, shortly before the 1936 Good Companion. Who knows, perhaps the Ecko sets gave inspiration to the designers at Stewart Warner, or the various designers responded independently to contemporary design trends. Either way, the results are dramatic and memorable.

I have a few other round radios, but their cabinets are spherical, taking the form of a world globe or baseball. (See Colonial Globe, Sonora Globe, Vista Globe, and Trophy Baseball.)

  

As with many round or spherical tabletop radios, the electronics inside the R-192 are simple. This radio receives the standard broadcast (AM) band, from about 550-1700 kilohertz, and it uses only four tubes, of types 6A7, 6F7, 41, and 84. Click this icon to view the schematic diagram:

Of course, people bought these radios mainly for their unique design, not for high performance. When the electronics are restored, this one should work as well as any modest tabletop of its era.

If you're shopping for one of these scarce radios, be patient and fatten up your wallet. In 2016-2017, a couple of these sets sold in the range $2,000 - $3,000. (I spent much less because my R-192 needs a total cosmetic overhaul.)

First Look

My radio includes all the bits and bobs needed to reassemble it on its stand, but I won't bother with that until the restoration is complete. Let's take a closer look at its parts.

The cover comes apart in two pieces. On the rear is a serial number tag that says it was made by the Stewart-Warner-Alemite Corporation of Belleville, Ontario. The radio can run on either 25-cycle (Canada) or 60-cycle (USA) AC power, and it bears an approval sticker from the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario:

  

Turning the chassis over, we see that the precious (and fragile) dial scale is in excellent condition, with clear markings and no cracks or breaks. The speaker cone has a few tears, but those are easy to fix with tea bag paper and flexible glue.

Looking from a lower angle, we see why this radio is surprisingly heavy for its size. It has a big power transformer, the massive black component in this photo:

The previous photo also shows how the designers sandwiched components tightly into small spaces. The cramped layout is typical of every round or spherical radio that I've seen, and it makes restoration trickier than with a conventional chassis, where components are spread out under a roomier rectangular frame.

The next photo shows the upper chassis from one side. In this view, the speaker and dial face to the left. We can see two tubes (types 6A7 and 6F7), a large reddish coil, and the metal vanes of the air-variable tuning capacitor.

Viewing from the other side, we can see the second pair of tubes (types 41 and 84), the audio output transformer, and a tall aluminum cylinder containing two electrolytic capacitors used as filters in the power supply.

Stay Tuned . . .

At this writing (early 2018), I haven't begun restoring this unusual radio. I'm looking forward to the work, but first I need to clear my workbench of some other projects.

©1995-2018 Philip I. Nelson, all rights reserved