Irkutsk Radio Works "Rekord-53" Radio (1953, USSR)

        

        

This "Rekord-53" from the Irkutsk Radio Works is my only radio from the USSR. In fact, it's the only Soviet radio that I've ever seen! It was purchased in a local shop for $46. The owner said that she got it from a lady who brought it from Sweden.

The first photo shows the unrestored radio. The front panel of the radio is covered with fabric, which doubles as the speaker grille cloth. The gold-colored trim pieces on each side of the panel are thin metal, matching the thin dial bezel.

The moniker Rekord appears across the grille in Cyrillic script. The 53 in Rekord-53 indicates the year of manufacture, I believe.

This is a multi-band radio, covering longwave, medium-wave (BC), and shortwave bands. The radio's most distinctive feature is the painted dial glass. Done in white and black, it shows a northwoods scene with a lake, trees, birds, and distant mountains. Although painted dials are commonplace, it is most unusual to see one with a realistic landscape!

Letters at the bottom of the dial serve as markers for the bandswitch. The leftmost marker ("np") indicates phono mode, allowing you to use an external phono turntable. Fellow collector Oskari Heinonen advised me that the letters at top center of the dial identify the manufacturer (NP3 = IRZ = Irkutsk Radio Works). Unpainted channels in the dial allow the red pointer to be seen from behind.

The paint was applied in two layers, first the black details, then the white background color. Be very careful if you clean such a dial, since the paint is quite fragile. Mine has begun to spot away here and there, although the overall appearance is still good.

Inside the cabinet is a basic five-tube radio. The tubes are types 6A7, 6K3, 6G2, 6P6S, and 6Z5S. As in many European radios, the back of the chassis has a voltage switch allowing you to operate the set at 110- or 240-volt line current. My chassis is complete, but rather rusty and needing total restoration.

  

This clearly was not an expensive radio. The build quality is rather crude—for instance, the red dial pointer is simply a piece of wire dipped in red paint—and the circuitry under the chassis has an almost hand-made look. Few, if any, of the connecting leads are insulated. Visible edge-on near the center of the next photo is a long phenolic terminal board. Projecting from it are longish, bare metal connecting pins, to which components are attached. Most 1950s radios would use a machine-made terminal strip for this purpose.

Radio cabinets are typically made of veneer, but this one is made of solid wood, something very light such as pine. The next photo shows the fat side pieces from behind.

The final photo shows the cabinet underside, complete with chisel marks and other evidence of handwork.

This radio was offered in the basic model you see here, with only a connector in the back for a phono turntable, as well as a "radiogramophone" with a phono in the top of the cabinet. You can see photos of other Rekord-53s, and many other Russian radios, at Vitaly Brousnikin's website: http://oldradio.onego.ru/foy.htm. (Click on "Room 3, 1950s" when you get there.)

I haven't begun restoration of this set, except to clean it up. Meanwhile, it makes a novel addition to my collection of mostly US radios.

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