Zenith Model T600 TransOceanic Radio (1955)


The 600 series of Zenith TransOceanic radios succeeded the earlier H500 models and it persisted from 1954 until 1962, when finally Zenith discontinued the tube TransOceanic line in favor of its newer transistor versions.

This model T600 dates from 1955. It looks a lot like the H500 sets that predate it in my collection, but a closer look reveals several refinements.

While the gold dial surround is essentially the same, the 600 series TransOceanic has a slide-rule type dial that's easier to tune and to read than its predecessor. The following photos show the rotary 500 dial on the left and the slide-rule 600 dial on the right.


The faceplate also included a momentary-depress dial lamp switch, whereas earlier models omitted a lamp to avoid accidental battery drainage. Also visible on the frontpiece (at lower left) is the headphone jack, moved from its former location on the chassis inside the case.

Looking at the front of the radio, the gold Zenith crest still stands at the top of the flip-up lid, but underneath it, where the Wavemagnet antenna formerly hung on clips, is a shallow flip-open compartment containing the operator's manual and the Zenith Dial-O-Map, a compact listing of worldwide broadcast stations and related information.

Not visible in the previous photo is the detachable Wavemagnet antenna in its new location, lying in a recess behind the carrying handle on top of the case.

Earlier Wavemagnets were stowed with clips on the back case cover, and it was a bit of a Rube Goldberg manuever to get one unclipped, plugged into the back of the radio, and suction-cupped onto a window. This Wavemagnet is easier to pop loose. You just push a finger up through a hole inside the case top, and when you pull up the Wavemagnet, the cable follows through a second hole in top of the lid—a simpler solution all around.

Another convenience feature is the spring-loaded power cord reel. It's the big black round thing at upper right in the following photo.

This is handier than the loose cord of previous models, and if you look at the rear view, you can see that the TransOceanic interior still had plenty of headroom, even after adding the reel.

The 6 in model 600 TransOceanics indicates six tubes, which are 1U4, 1L6, 1U4, 1U5, 3V4, and 50A1. The 50A1 tube is employed as a "thermal regulator" to protect the other tubes from fluctuations in the supply current.

The T600 was introduced in the 1955 model year and sold for $139.95. For an extra $20.00 you could get a brown cowhide case instead of the standard Black Stag leatherette. (I own one leather TransOceanic, a Model A600L.)

This set still has the original owner's manual, the little gold book lying under a clip inside the back cover.

I haven't yet restored this radio's electronics. Before starting any electronic restoration, you should get a schematic to guide your work and help you understand the electronics. You can order a T600 service manual from one of the sources listed in our Parts page.

Zenith TransOceanic 600 Model Numbers

The 600 series model numbers follow a semi-logical pattern. For some time previous, Zenith had been using alphabetic letters to denote the year of manufacture. When they launched the 600 TransOceanic series in 1954, they had gotten up to the "year letter" L, so the earliest 600 model TransOceanic became the L600.

Later models were designated R600, T600, Y600 (and after reaching the end of the alphabet and starting over), A600, and B600. Not every intervening letter was used, so there was no S model in the series, for example.

Just as with cars, the model numbers indicate "model years" which may overlap calendar years. So a Model T600, for instance, might have been manufactured or sold in 1955 or 1956. The final tube TransOceanic model was the B600, introduced in 1959 and last sold in 1962.

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