Zenith TransOceanic Battery


Two views of the battery used in tube-powered Zenith TransOceanic portables. Weighing more than many modern radios, this massive unit is actually a battery pack delivering two different voltages (90 volts and 9 volts) from two groups of cells.

A four-prong metal connector protrudes from the top of the cardboard case, which is 14 inches long. When installed in the radio, the battery lies on its side, with the metal connector facing the back of the radio.

If you run across one of these, don't throw it away! It's unlikely to have any juice left, and the insides of old batteries usually contain nasty chemicals. But the casing makes a nice container for a homemade battery pack.

If nothing else, you can toss the insides and keep the casing inside your TransOceanic for added authenticity.

The second photo shows the battery's insides.

The 9-volt section is to the left, inside its own cardboard casing. The 90-volt section is to the right. As you can see, that section is built up from gangs of individual cells wired together. Each little red button is a cell; they have a waxy coating and are quite shiny.

The 90-volt section also has a cardboard inner casing, which I removed for this photo. At the top of the photo is the connector, which I turned sideways to give a better view.

Some of the button cells in this unit have swelled up a bit over time, causing some buckling in the 90-volt section. As a result, the insides just barely fit in the outer casing, and I had a heck of a time squeezing everything back in after taking these photos!

I have a second battery in better condition, but that one's on display in my office at work, where I keep a couple of TransOceanics and some other favorite sets.

All tube TransOceanics can run on AC power, and these batteries were very heavy, as well as expensive. Add the fact that they're not rechargable, and it's no wonder you don't see these very often. I suspect that many TransOceanic owners got sick of buying batteries and simply ran the radio on AC power.

This battery isn't manufactured any more, so if you don't want to use AC current directly, you can either wire up your own battery pack using modern batteries or obtain an AC-powered DC power supply.

In our Building project section, you'll find instructions for building a solid-state power supply.

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