Trav-Ler Model 5066
by Richard Arnold
Vacation or not, wherever he goes, Richard Arnold is on the lookout for old radios to add to his collection. A "smiling radio" is obviously irresistible. (Editor)
I purchased the radio shown in Figure 1 while on vacation about five years ago in Galveston, Texas. I have a few plastic and Bakelite radios in my collection, but as a rule, I try to stay with the wooden sets. This one particular set caught my attention because of its cabinet design and of how clean and undamaged it was. I think I gave only $35 to $40 dollars for it. While doing my research for this article, I found that the set is now selling in some places for between $169 to $215, and this wasn't even on eBay.
Someone has coined a term of endearment for this radio. It is called the "smiling radio." Maybe that's why it caught my attention -- it was smiling at me. Heck, at my age, anything pretty that smiles at me gets my attention.
The Trav-Ler 5066
The Trav-Ler 5066 was made in 1948. It has a dark, solid brown Bakelite cabinet. I have, however, seen brown cabinets with a swirl effect in them. The radio measures 10 x 6 x 6 inches. It has a 6-tube, AC/DC, superheterodyne chassis with a loop antenna. The tubes types used are one each of the following: 12SK7GT as RF, 12SA7GT as mixer and oscillator, 12SK7GT as IF, 12SQ7GT as detector, 35L6GT as audio output, and finally a 35Z5GT rectifier. The IF is 455 Kc.
The Trav-Ler 5066 has a 5-inch speaker and a galvanized chassis. The radio tunes the broadcast band from 540 to 1720 Kc. The two knobs are used for on/off volume and for tuning. The tuning dial is of a slide-rule design and is multicolored -- very striking -- and it blends in beautifully with the dark brown Bakelite cabinet.
In fact, while looking at various pictures I have found of this model, I have noticed that there are some cosmetic differences. On some of the sets the name Trav-Ler that is located on the front of the radio directly under the dial scale has white lettering, while on others, it is red, and on mine it is gold.
Figure 1. My Trav-Ler Model 5066.
Another example of a slight difference is the dial scale color. Mine has a reddish brown overall color with lighter tan, red and white stripes, while the other set I have seen has a bright yellow overall color with yellow, red and white stripes. The knobs are also different, if they are the originals in the pictures I have seen. One set, like mine, has knobs that are the same color as the cabinet, a dark brown. On the other set, the knobs are more of a caramel or dark tan color.
A Look-Alike Set
There is another brand that is a look-a-like set to the Trav-Ler as far as the Bakelite cabinet goes -- the Aetna Model 505 of 1948 vintage. It has a different chassis design, as it is an All-American Five AC/DC set. It also has a different dial scale. The dial scale has at the top center the Aetna name on it in capital letters. The whole dial scale is only two colors -- brown with white stripes and numbers. The knobs seem to be caramel or dark tan like those on the other Trav-Ler mentioned earlier. Except for the addition of an RF stage in the Trav-Ler, the tubes are the same.
Companies like Colonial or Noblitt-Sparks (Arvin) could have made the Aetna radio for Walgreen's drug store, as there were a number of different manufacturers that did this for the chain store companies. However, in this case, Trav-Ler made the radio.
Trav-Ler also made other sets under the trade names of Travel-Air and Travel-Aire. Their home office was located at 571 W. Jackson, Chicago, Ill.
Well, I like the little Trav-Ler, and I guess I'll keep it. It not only looks good but plays well, and who knows what it will be worth in another five years!
Howard W. Sams & Co. Inc.
Pelham, John C., Radiophile.com website compares Trav-Ler 5066 and Aetna 505 radios at http://www.radiophile.com/plastic.htm.
Richard Arnold, P.O. Box 275, Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443. E-mail: email@example.com
Richard Arnold, a frequent contributor to A.R.C., has been collecting radios since 1985. His interest is primarily in cathedrals and 1920s battery sets, and his collection ranges from crystal sets to a 1928 American Bosch in a Pooley cabinet. His prize is the 1932 Jackson Bell Peter Pan featured in the June 1991 A,R.C.