The Sentinel 286PR
by Richard Arnold
One thing always leads to another in Richard Arnold's constant pursuit of old radios. This time a small, rather ordinary Sentinel set makes him easy target for an ad for a more exciting Sentinel Treasure Chest radio. Another search was on. (Editor)
About a month before I saw the 1947 Saturday Evening Post ad for a Sentinel Treasure Chest radio on a web site called "Ad Access," I had found a Sentinel radio in my favorite antique store here in Ardmore, Oklahoma. It's a little plastic radio, a Model 344, in ivory color. I had seen these radios around before but was never really interested in them. However, pickin's were really poor that day, and so the Sentinel Model 344 was fixin' to be my first Sentinel radio. I couldn't go home empty-handed.
Because of that purchase and the subsequent research I did on the Model 344 and the Sentinel Corporation, the magazine ad for the neat little Sentinel Treasure Chest portable caught my attention. So, though this article was originally going to be about my Model 344, that plan has changed. To me, the Sentinel 286PR Treasure Chest, shown in Figure 1, is now a tad more interesting.
The Sentinel Radio Corporation ad, shown in Figure 2 (see print version), calls this AC/battery portable radio "Sentinel Radio's Newest Sensation." The ad assures you that you will have "Studio tone in your home or wherever you may roam."
Figure 1. A view of the Sentinel 'Treasure Chest' Model 286PR with its lid in the open position.
It sure is amazing that this 60-year-old ad is still working. After all, it had caught my attention, and after looking at the picture and reading about the Treasure Chest in the ad, I was hooked. I just had to have one, and so, the hunt was on.
Sentinel's Treasure Chest Radio
The Sentinel Treasure Chest radio ad goes on to say that this is a radio "as personal as your watch, and as carefully made a diminutive jewel of a set -- merely a handful -- but big, mighty big, in performance."
The Treasure Chest is actually a Model 286PR. It measures 8" wide x 4" tall x 5" deep and weighs in at only 5.5 pounds with batteries.
The Treasure Chest radio is made of plastic, but it looks like metal. It comes in two-toned, plastic cases of various color combinations. This particular radio has a black lid that also serves as a loop antenna, a black bottom, and a red wine (burgundy) colored center. The top has a square chunk of gold colored metal mesh that covers the speaker opening.
According to Rider, this radio came in two different chassis designs. The 286PR, the 4-tube radio in this article, has a selenium rectifier. The four tube types used in the 286PR are a 1R5 oscillator, a 1T4 IF, a 1S5 detector, AVC and AF, and a 3Q4 power tube. The other chassis, the Model 286P, has the same tubes, except that it utilizes a 25Z3 tube as a rectifier. The IF for both chassis is 455 Kc.
Figure 3. A rear view of the Sentinel radio.
The portable Treasure Chest model, of course, comes with a handle, and on this model it is burgundy colored. The service notes say that it is leather; however, mine is original, and it looks like plastic. It is an AC/DC battery portable, and in the portable mode, it uses a 67.5v "B" battery and two 1.5v "A" batteries.
There are dual knobs on the left topside of the cabinet. The thin burgundy colored outer one is for volume control. The larger control is for power selection -- battery or AC -- and for turning the radio on or off. The dial on the right top of the cabinet is for station selection.
I have noticed that there seem to be some slight variations in the cabinet design. Some of the thin outer knobs are a bright red, while others, like mine, are more of a red wine color. There are different textured metal grille covers and sometimes the name "Treasure Chest" that appears on the inside of the lid cover is missing (maybe just worn off?). A rear view of the set is shown in Figure 3.
I did not have too long a wait until I started finding these sets on eBay. It seems that they show up pretty often. So they are not all that rare. What seems to be rare about them is finding one in good condition. Some are either in pretty bad shape or really not in the condition that would make me happy. Then one day, this one showed up, I bid on it, and got it.
I really like this little radio. It is the only one like it in my collection. It works quite well and looks good. I sure am glad that I ran across the ad that got me interested in it. Now I have two Sentinel radios in my collection. Maybe I will write an article on the little Model 344, the more mundane Sentinel, later on.
On the other hand, I'm now looking for a Sonora Gem, another small radio and the hunt goes on.
Rider, John F. Perpetual Troubleshooters Manual, Vol. 16, pp. 14-16.
The Saturday Evening Post, June 23, 1947.
(Richard Arnold, P.O. Box 275, Lone Grove, OK 73443)
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.