Crosley Model 146CS Console Radio (1947)

     

This large Crosley radio surprised me in a couple of ways. Though it didn't look promising at first glance, it's a respectable multi-band receiver. Before getting into details, let's see how it came into my hands.

Late one Sunday afternoon at the end of the month, I stopped at a curbside moving sale in the city. This radio chassis, filth-covered and obviously long neglected, sat atop a pile of even less appealing rubbish. Although a crude sign said Sale, it looked more like someone setting out trash to be collected. Still, in the spirit of adventure and bargain-hunting, I stopped for a look.

As I approached the chaotic piles of junk, a young fellow with dreadlocks and a moth-eaten sweater lurched up from a ratty armchair, beer in hand. He told me that all prices were negotiable—and whatever he didn't sell in the next half hour would be hauled to the dump!

As if to confirm this novel bit of salesmanship, a second guy drove up in a battered Japanese pickup and the two of them began loading a heavy old aqua beauty-shop chair. After watching them struggle with it for a moment, I pitched in and helped them muscle the chair into the truck, which sagged under the weight.

"Nice chair," I ventured, wiping my hands. Ignoring me, the first fellow directed the second, "Dump that, and we'll load up the rest when you come back."

Feeling a fresh urgency, I quickly returned my attention to the radio. I could see that it had over a dozen tubes, and covered four bands, including FM. It was missing two tubes, and obviously had no cabinet or speaker, but it still seemed worth something, and I couldn't bear the thought of that fine old workmanship being hauled to the landfill in front of my eyes. We quickly agreed on a price of $7, and I hustled it back to my car before the dude with the truck could return.

Since I had several other projects underway at the time, the set languished on a shelf in our garage for another couple of months. When I finally pulled it out for a cleanup, I was newly impressed.

Description

This radio was part of a large 1947 radio/phono console. Until I got the schematic, I had no idea what the cabinet might look like. When I saw the picture, I was just as glad that the cabinet wasn't available. It's not very attractive, in my view, and I have no space for such a large piece of furniture.

The radio covers four bands: the BC (AM) band from 540-1600 Khz, the old Police band from about 2.0-6.5 Mhz, shortwave from 6.5-18.5 Mhz, and the FM band from 88-108 Mhz.

The FM dial markings are unusual, using only the FM station call numbers from 200-300 rather than the usual frequency numbers 88-108. It's rare to find a radio that uses the postwar FM call numbers exclusively. You can read more about them in the description of my Philco 42-350.

The magic tuning eye's placement is creative—right in the center of the big dial pointer. The pointer's center is clear plastic, allowing the tuning eye to shine through.

Main controls are located to either side of the dial. On the left is the volume control. On the right is the dual-function bandswitch and tuner control. The knobs for these controls were missing when I took these photos. Since then, I have acquired a set of correct knobs from a fellow collector.

Thirteen pushbutton switches are arrayed below the dial. The center button turns the power on. To the left are six tone controls, three bass and three treble. To the right are six preset buttons, which tune particular stations when the bandswitch is turned to Auto. This radio was clearly sold in the Seattle area. The presets are labeled with still-familiar call signs, such as KING, KOMO, and KIRO.

Here's a list of the fourteen tubes and their functions.

Tube Function
6SG7 RF Amplifier
6AC7 FM mixer
6SA7 AM Converter
7F8 FM oscillator
6SG7 AM-FM First IF Amplifier
6SG7 AM-FM Second IF Amplifier
6SH7 FM Third IF Amplifier
6H6 FM Discriminator
6E5 Tuning Eye
6SQ7 AM Detector/ AVC/AF
6AQ7 Phase Inverter
6V6GT Audio Output
6V6GT Audio Output
5U4G Rectifier

The sensitivity and audio quality of this radio are quite good. The push-pull audio tubes also provide lots of volume! The original schematic calls for a 12-inch diameter speaker. I play it through a modern hi-fi speaker.

Restoration

As found, the radio had no identifying marks, other than the Crosley name on the dial. Before I could order a schematic, I needed some clue as to the model number.

I posted a question on the rec.antiques.radio+phono newsgroup, and George Gonzalez quickly replied, "That sounds just like the radio I restored for my brother-in-law. I think the model number is something like 146C." Sure enough, the Slusser collector guide listed a Crosley model 146CS whose description matched perfectly. I ordered a schematic from Antique Electronic Supply without further delay.

As long as I had George's attention, I asked him to look on his schematic to help me identify the two missing tubes. Comparing the full tube lineup to the tubes present in my set, it appeared the missing tubes were both type 6SG7. I happened to have two spares of that type, which allowed me to give the radio a preliminary quot;smoke testquot; right away.

Before turning on the set, I cleaned the controls with De-Oxit spray cleaner and did a quick inspection underneath. Nothing was obviously burned, but the speaker wires were badly cracked and useless, so I soldered in replacements. Then I connected an antenna and test speaker, and slowly powered up the radio on a variac.

To my delight, the radio worked! It sounded great on AM, less good on FM. Satisfied that the set was not hopeless, I powered it down and gave it a thorough cleaning inside and out. Then I embarked on the long process of replacing capacitors.

Another initial step was to replace the 1-megohm resistor hidden in the base of the 6E5 magic eye tube. That's a little trick you should remember if you have a magic tuning eye. This resistor often changes value, degrading the performance of the magic eye. If you didn't know it was hidden inside the tube base, you might go nuts trying to diagnose the problem!

In the process of replacing capacitors, I also checked voltages according to the values given in the schematic, and replaced several resistors whose values were out of spec. The chassis interior view shows the radio around this stage. (Don't look too closely at that photo, by the way! It was taken near the end of the restoration, when there still a couple of temporary, jerry-rigged replacements in view. I cleaned things up before declaring the job complete.)

Eventually, the radio performed well on all bands.

When the radio was removed from the cabinet, the previous owner had snipped off the dual pilot lamps rather than leave them dangling. As a final touch, I wired in new sockets and attached them to convenient spots behind the dial with a dab of hot glue. The lamps aren't needed for proper operation, but I hate to leave wires dangling. Since the dial is opaque, and there are no attachment points on the chassis, I assume the original lamps were mounted on the cabinet and shone down on the dial.

Final Thoughts

I owned this radio for several years, playing it occasionally in my workshop. Eventually, I sold it to a fellow who noticed this article. He had an empty cabinet for this model, but no chassis. Since my initial investment was small, I sold it to him pretty cheap.

©1995-2017 Philip I. Nelson, all rights reserved