Dominion Electrohome Model 162 Console (1947)

This is a Canadian radio, built by Dominion Electrohome Industries Ltd., of Kitchener, Ontario. According to the label, they were makers of radio receivers, air conditioners, fans, and Deilcraft fine furniture.

If you are looking for information about other Electrohome radios, you could try contacting the Canadian Vintage Radio Society. I don't have a reference book for Canadian radios, and don't know about other Electrohome models.

If you need a schematic for a Canadian radio, try your local public library. Many Canadian libraries have a set of RCC (Radio College of Canada) schematics and can provide you a copy at little or no cost. You can also order schematics from the CVRS, noted above.

This was the first console radio that I restored. What follows is a diary of the project.

January 22nd, 1996

I found this small wooden console in the back room of a rural shop, barely visible in the clutter. Although dingy and faded, I could see that the cabinet was unscarred and the finish easily restorable. I had long sought a radio that could double as a bedside table, and, at 30 inches in height, this one looked ideal. The color and style made a great match with our antique dresser, and the price was definitely right.

The following photo shows the radio in "before" condition, minutes after unloading at home.

The radio receives broadcast and shortwave bands and has a slide-rule type dial with a rounded glass. The four knobs control the radio and phonograph. The cabinet appears to have two drawers, each with a fancy brass pull, but the upper drawer is false. The lower one slides out to reveal the phono turntable.

The second photo shows our patient lying on its face later that day, after I carefully removed the major components from the cabinet. In this view, the phono drawer lies in the foreground, with the radio chassis to its left. The dual speakers are visible further back. They are mounted on the sides of the cabinet, concealed behind metal screens painted a wood grain to match the walnut finish.

February 16, 1996

Since taking these photos about three weeks ago, I have revived the cabinet finish using Danish oil in a walnut color.

The first step was to clean the cabinet using paint thinner (mineral spirits) and #0000 steel wool. Then I began applying the oil finish. For a cabinet like this, with only minor blemishes, an application of stain or oil is all that's needed to improve its appearance without making it look too new.

The radio performed beautifully as found, with good tone and selectivity. Like all such old tube radios, of course, it will require replacement of its old paper and electrolytic capacitors.

Although the electronic work is straightforward, I haven't yet decided what to do with the dial glass, which is broken in half near the center of the dial. The glass is curved, with the dial markings painted on the back. I've seen references to folks who can fix or replace dial glasses. When I get a chance, I'll have to phone around to see what's possible. While the break isn't ragged, I'm not sure I could glue it neatly enough to make a clean repair.

April 27th, 1996

After lots of telephoning, I couldn't find anybody who could replace this painted glass dial. So I screwed up my courage and glued it back together. I'm pretty pleased with the results. The dial is intact and solid, and you have to look pretty closely to see that there was even a crack.

Gluing the dial pieces together was a project in itself. First, I fashioned little cardboard pads for each end of this long glass and taped the pads on securely with masking tape. Before applying any glue, I tested my clamp setup and used a steel straightedge to make sure the dial would be going together straight. I used a long woodworking clamp; the pads on the end of the glass prevented the clamp from damaging the dial.

Then I took the pieces out of the clamp, applied the glue (Elmer's Stix-All Hi-Technology Adhesive), and gently clamped the pieces together again. I rechecked the dial with a steel straightedge to make sure the pieces were straight, and very gently wiped away a little excess glue that squeezed out of the joint.

After letting the glue set overnight, I removed the dial from the clamp and cleaned off a couple more stray glue bits with a very small knifeblade. The dial has now been replaced and looks very fine, indeed.

June 5, 1996

After several weeks of procrastinating, I finally got around to replacing all the old paper capacitors with new ones. I also replaced the power cord, which was dangerously cracked at the place where it entered the chassis.

So far, so good, except that when the dust settled, I noticed a lead hanging loose from a small transformer under the chassis. It must have been knocked loose when I did the other work. The lead is fairly long, and I can't tell by looking exactly where it came from. There are several possible attachment points in the vicinity. And I saw no broken solder joints or stray bits of wire to give me a clue.

Two of the transformer leads go to the speaker, so I'm guessing it's used for audio output. In reach of the loose lead is the 6K6 tube, which can be used as a power amplifier according to my tube reference book. The book also shows the pinout and internal wiring for the 6K6 tube. Pin 3 is the plate, a likely connection for audio output. It's tempting to experiment, but after working so hard on this set, I don't want to fry something through impatience. I need to get my hands on a real schematic, or get advice from someone.

June 24, 1996

I phoned a few places asking for a schematic, but none of them had Canadian schematics. Time for a query to the newsgroup.

Voila! Within a few hours, I had my answer and the radio was working again. Daniel Schoo, a newsgroup regular, advised that the transformer was indeed the audio output transformer, and that the errant lead should connect to Pin 3 (the plate) of the 6K6 tube. I tried it out, fired up the set, and was back on the road again! Another collector, Grant McGregor in Vancouver, volunteered to look for an RCC schematic in his public library and mail me a photocopy.

Here's a view of the radio on my workbench, surrounded by a jumble of test equipment and tools. The chassis is lying on its side atop a cardboard box, with knobs up in the air. The infamous audio transformer is visible to the left of the chassis. I don't usually work in quite such a mess, believe it or not. This is just how the scene looked when I popped the chassis onto the bench to make that last crucial connection.

It's the evening before we leave on a two-week family vacation. Now that the radio's working, I'm determined to get it back into its restored cabinet before we leave. It's a good thing that I bagged up and labeled all the screws and other connectors when I disassembled the radio last January. If I had left them loose, it would have been easy to forget or mislay things during the course of the last six months.

By mid-evening, the radio is working and reassembled. I return it to our bedside and enjoy some tunes while we finish packing. After we return, I'll photograph the finished set and update my notes.

July 12, 1996

After returning from vacation, I found the schematic waiting in my mailbox. Even though the set is already working, I'm glad to have the schematic, because it clears up a second little mystery.

The on/off switch (the leftmost knob) on this set is combined with the tone control. The volume control is the second knob to the left. Most radios have the opposite arrangement, where the on/off switch also controls the volume, and the tone control is separate.

At first, I assumed something was wrong. Volume controls are oft-replaced parts, and maybe some fumble-fingers had mistakenly switched things in the course of a repair. The schematic confirmed that this arrangement is intentional, however. The schematic also told me the date of manufacture: 1947.

July 25, 1996

Six months after buying the set, I'm finally ready to take my "after" photo. It's a gratifying occasion. In hindsight, had I worked steadily on this project, it could easily have been done more quickly. The electronic repairs took only a few hours, including some initial testing, replacing all the capacitors, and reattaching the loose transformer lead.

The most time-consuming part of the cabinet restoration was applying several hand-rubbed coats of oil finish to the top. The final result looked great, but I have since learned that the vast majority of old radio cabinets were finished in lacquer, which dries in minutes. In our humid Pacific Northwest climate, I found that it took days for the oil finish to dry completely. I will apply that lesson in future refinishing projects!

In our Restoration section, you can read articles with more details about cabinet refinishing.

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