Philco Model 38-690
BY FRANK DROST
Within one year Philco extensively modified a low production set. Frank Drost asks why. Maybe you have an answer. (Editor)
The Model 38-690 was Philco's largest and most expensive model radio for 1938. It was much changed from the 37-690 offered the year before. The cabinet reflected the modern design popular at the time, featuring vertical wooden bars on each side giving the cabinet a skyscraper look. The chassis was also redesigned. The RF deck of the 38-690 used a simpler design which eliminated many of the trimmers found on the 37-690. The 38-690 used Type 6L6 output tubes instead of the Type 6B4 triodes of the 37 model. There are also many other circuit modifications. Why such an extensive electronic redesign of such a low production radio?
Ron Ramirez in Philco Radio reports that the set covers the frequency range from 530 Kc to 18.2 Mc in five bands, uses 20 vacuum tubes and features automatic tuning, automatic frequency control, one woofer, and two tweeters. Also featured are "Acoustic Clarifiers" and variable IF bandwidth.
The Model 38-690 is a complex radio and requires a lot of patience to perform a proper restoration on its chassis. Many resistors and capacitors will be needed, and proper Philco documentation, which is available, should be utilized when restoring one of these radios. The alignment instructions for the magnetic tuning are helpful for getting that feature to work properly. Once done, the Model 38-690 will give an impressive performance and become a key part of any collection.
Reference: Ramirez, Ron, Philco Radio 1928-1942. Atglen, Penna.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2006.
Frank Drost's Philco 38-690 with the roll-cover open.
The Philco 38-690 with the roll-cover closed.