Windsor 2-Transistor Boy's Radio (1960s)


I got this Windsor transistor radio from my Dad, who found it at a Minnesota garage sale years ago.

Inexpensive two-transistor sets of this type were known as "boy's radios" and they were popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when transistor technology began to boom. US import tariffs of the time were based on the number of transistors in a set, so a two-transistor radio—the cheapest practical design—could underprice more complex (and better-performing) radios.

The front of the radio has a vaguely Buck Rogers appearance and it features not one, but two crowns:

The back of the radio says BOY'S RADIO JAPAN, in case you were in any doubt:

Nowadays, we might call these "children's radios,", but 1960 was a simpler time.

I have seen one other Windsor of this type, with a white plastic case and gold metallic parts. Like many other Japanese importers, Windsor left behind little or no history. If you search online, you'll find photos of other Windsor models (which generally have a more squared-off, late-1960s appearance), but no schematic diagrams or company info. This is typical of "no-name" Japanese manufacturers who flooded the US import market in the 1960s.

Inside, you can see the few parts needed for this rudimentary receiver. One transistor is the light green standing cylinder in the upper center. Below, and to the right, is the second transistor, an aluminum cylinder labeled E:

The square translucent box contains the main tuning capacitor. Below it, and to the right, are two black cylinders containing electrolytic capacitors; those will need to be replaced if I want to get the radio working. At the top, the long wire-wrapped component is the ferrite-core loop antenna. The large metal disc near the center is the rear of the speaker.

To service the radio, you remove four mounting screws and the circular nut that holds the earphone jack. This exposes the reverse of the circuit board:

The component leads were obviously soldered to the circuit board by hand. Many modern circuit boards are machine-soldered and have a neater appearance.

The rear of the board is printed with a part number: SANKO STR-217. Perhaps there was a Sanko company that manufactured and imported this radio, of perhaps Sanko supplied circuit boards to many different radio companies—your guess is as good as mine!

This radio doesn't work, undoubtedly because its electrolytic capacitors have dried up and failed. If I replace the capacitors and spritz a little electronic cleaner into the volume control, there's an excellent chance that it will come back to life. But that's a project for another day.

Meanwhile, this Windsor makes a vibrant display piece. Thanks, Dad!

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