Pepsi-Cola Novelty Radio
By Ray Bintliff, W1RY
Novelty radios always seem to be in demand. Ray tells about his encounter with a Pepsi radio. (Editor)
Novelty radios always seem to draw a crowd at radio meets whether in a flea market or a contest exhibit. Although novelty sets sell for premium prices, the radios inside the cabinets, or in this case, a large bottle, are not usually impressive. Typically, they are a run-of-the-mill 5-tube, Broadcast band, AC/DC TRF or superhet. The same chassis in an ordinary cabinet will sell for much less.
Pepsi Cola Hits the Spot
The Pepsi radio shown in Figure 1 was manufactured in the late 1950s and is shown in the current edition of John Slusser's Collector's Guide to Antique Radios with a value of $600-$650. Not bad for an AC/DC 5-tuber.
Alas, I can only claim temporary possession of this collectable radio. The radio came into my hands to be repaired, and it is now back in the loving arms of its owner. But I did have a chance to dig into its innards
Figure 1. The Pepsi-Cola novelty radio in its oversized replica bottle.
Figure 2. Here is a real "tuning cap." The calibrated bottle cap serves as the tuning dial.
The bottle cap is actually a calibrated tuning dial, as Figure 2 shows. The speaker is located in the base of the bottle and faces downward. The base has six legs that raise the speaker about three inches above the bottom of the legs. There is a cardboard disc near the bottom of the base that protects the speaker cone. Figure 3 provides a close-up view of the base, legs, and sound ports. The volume control-on/off switch is at the right side of the picture.
Figure 4 shows a top view of the chassis and its tube complement: Types 12BE6, 12BA6, 12AT6, 50C5 and 35W4. The loop antenna and the extender shaft that connects the tuning dial to the variable capacitor are to the left of the chassis. A close-up view of the loop antenna and the extender shaft is shown in Figure 5 (see print version).
As Figure 6 (see print version) shows, the operating instructions and a tube layout diagram are printed on the cardboard disc that protects the speaker cone (and keeps out prying fingers). Note the Fahnestock clip for an external antenna. The radio's sensitivity is very good, and it is hard to imagine a need for an external antenna. Even with the speaker aimed downward, the radio's audio quality is good.
Figure 3. The radio's base shows the cardboard disk that protects the speaker and serves as a sound diffuser. Note the volume control on the right side.
This is a fun radio, both aurally and visually. I hated to give it back.
Slusser, John. Collector's Guide to Antique Radios, 6th
ed. Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 2005.
(Ray Bintliff, 2 Powder Horn Ln, Acton, MA 01720)
Ray Bintliff, a frequent contributor to A.R.C. and a member of its staff, holds an Amateur Extra Class license. A retired engineer, he enjoys repairing and restoring pre-1945 radios and test equipment. In addition to Amateur Radio, his interests include electronic equipment and audio reproduction.
Figure 4. A view of the 5-tube AC/DC chassis.