BY DON WATSON
Don Watson presents what might be a good restoration project for beginners. It's always better test your skills on a set that is quite common and has readily available parts. (Editor)
The Philco 46-350, shown in Figure 1, dates back to 1946 and appears to have been a very popular radio for the post-war era. The roll-top dial cover really makes this a classy radio. Looking at Philco radios on e-Bay, you will find about five of these every week.
If you are looking for a fun and a rewarding restoration project, this may very well be it. The radio does not use any hard-to-find parts and can easily be brought back to its original operating condition. The on-line prices are also very attractive with many to choose from.
The Restoration Process
My wife purchased my radio from a garage sale many years ago; however, it went missing in action for a decade in my collection. When rediscovered and plugged in, it came to instant life with no hums or buzzes. The filter capacitor was functional, but the aluminum case was cracked. As a restoration routine, I first replace all the paper and electrolytic capacitors.
Figure 1. The 1946 Philco 46-350.
A lot of AM radios manufactured today seem to fall short on performance in both sensitivity and selectivity. This one does not. The chassis starts out with a tuned RF stage and a 3-gang tuning capacitor. There is a built-in loop antenna; however, there is also an antenna transformer for coupling an external antenna. This option sets the radio apart from many others.
But wait, it gets better. There is a tertiary winding on the second IF transformer that is "gimmick" coupled to the screen grid of the first IF amplifier, a Type 1T4. I don't know how this is used. Depending on the phase, it could be used to approach regeneration to add considerable stage gain. The audio output tube is a Type 3Q5 which provides twice the power than a Type 3V4 and drives a 5-inch oval speaker for very adequate volume. The rectifier is a Type 117Z3.
I don't think you will ever find a radio that has its original leather handle that has not dry-rotted off over the years. I replaced mine with leather from an old belt that no longer fit my girth.
My radio did not require refinishing the wood cabinet parts; however, I did use Howard's Restore-a-Finish in the oak color to brighten it up (there is also a mahogany color). The Restore-a-Finish is available from hardware stores and home centers; just follow the directions on the can. For the leatherette part of the cabinet, I used Min-Wax paste wax to brighten it up. The paste wax also works wonders on Bakelite radio cabinets.
Now it's time for the fun part of your restoration project. During the cold winter nights when static levels are low, it's fun do a little broadcast band DXing. Even without an external antenna, this radio pulls in the distant stations. It's fun to keep a log of stations heard and the distance by states. Many of the stations heard from small towns are very entertaining and don't follow the syndication trail.
The radio, less battery, tips the scale at ten pounds. I can only imagine what it weighs with the battery. It must have been a hoot taking this to your Sunday summer church picnic.
It would be interesting to know what the actual production numbers of this radio were and the cost in 1946.
(Don Watson, 538 Yarmouth Rd., Elk Grove Vlg., IL 60007-3455)
Don Watson, a retired communications repair technician, has been collecting radios since the 1950s. He received his Amateur license at age 16 and has been an Extra Class Ham radio operator, K9DDO, since 1961. His hobby is restoring the electronics and cabinetry of vintage sets.