Stewart-Warner Model 9005A
A 1948 Farm Radio
BY RICHARD ARNOLD
Richard Arnold describes the good features of battery-operated "farm sets" like the Stewart-Warner 9005A described so glowingly in ads of the day. (Editor)
I have been collecting radios now for a long time, but it is just recently that I have taken an interest in these "Farm" or battery radios from the 1930s and 1940s. Most collectors, I think, including myself, have avoided these sets, showing little or no interest in them. For the most part, they seem to be rather plain looking radios and didn't have any real value attached to them. You could and still can almost always purchase them real cheap. In fact I paid only $15 for the Stewart-Warner Model 9005A, shown in Figure 1. A front view is shown in Figure 2, (see print version).
I have now acquired two of these battery farm sets. One is this 1948 Stewart-Warner-and the other, a 1940 Truetone, the subject of another article.
The Stewart-Warner Model 9005A
The Stewart-Warner Model 9005A is a battery radio that uses four 1.5-volt filament tubes. These tubes are the following types: a 1A7GT 1st detector/oscillator, a 1N5GT IF, a 1H5GT 2nd Det-AVC and AF, and then finally, a 1A5GT output tube. This radio came with the standard 4-prong A & B combined power plug. The plate voltage is 90 volts. The IF for the radio is 455 Kc. It tunes the broadcast band only, from 550 to 1700 Kc. This set uses a 6-inch speaker.
Figure 1. The Stewart-Warner Model 9005A, a battery-operated farm set.
One nice thing about these battery sets is that they have "instant on." No warm up required. Another neat thing about them is that there is plenty of room under the chassis, so that the components are very easy to get to.
The Model 9005A is shown in Figure 3 hooked up to my Silvertone Powr Shiftr, a vintage power supply designed for radios like this one. (See my article on the Sears Powr Shiftr in the November 2005 issue of Antique Radio Classified and also the one by John Schehrer in the February 1994 issue.)
The cabinet measures 181/2" x 91/2" x 10". The cabinet is done in a dark walnut, and the dial scale is gold colored foil with a red pointer. There is a small window below the dial scale that is an on/off indicator. It is nothing more than a cam-operated metal plate with gold foil on it and a pea-sized red dot in the center of it. This dot shows up in the middle of the window when the radio is turned on.
The two knobs are for on/off volume and turning. The grille cloth is original to the set.
The Stewart-Warner Company
The Stewart-Warner Company started in Chicago, where the firm erected a very large manufacturing plant on Diversely Street, shown in Figure 4 (see print version). Over time, the company expanded outwardly in all directions, including radio, which they manufactured from 1925 to 1956.
It seems as if Stewart-Warner was a major player not only in the radio business but also in the automotive industry. Starting as far back as 1905, they furnished speedometers for the original Ford Model T cars, and they were perhaps the most recognized name in vehicle instruments in the history of the United States.
Figure 3. A rear view of the Model 9005A. Note the small chassis on the left and the absence of a power transformer. The unit in the vacant space at right is a Silvertone Powr Shifter, a universal battery eliminator by Sears.
For the year 1940, Stewart-Warner was eleventh on a list of major radio manufacturers in the sales of radios. They were tied with Crosley with 350,000 radios sold. They also made radios for the major chain stores such as Sears and Montgomery Ward.
The company advertising tells its story: "Radio's biggest dollar's worth in beauty, performance and tone..." "You can depend on Stewart-Warner radios." The one I like the most claims that "The Supremely Thrilling Stewart-Warner is the radio of the stars." Movie stars, that is. These are all sales pitches that could be found in such magazines as the Saturday Evening Post telling everyone just how great Stewart-Warner radios were.
During World War II one of the ads issued a warning -- "A Friendly Warning to radio set buyers. Following World War I, 1,826 different brands of radio sets entered the market. Today, 742 of them have been discontinued... 742 'orphans.' The same thing may happen again after World War II.
"As for Stewart-Warner, we intend to occupy a leading position in the industry as we have done for 21 years. You'll take no chances buying a Stewart-Warner radio set. Buy wisely and you will get a world of now entertainment plus increased pride of ownership."
I'll have to admit that I am really happy with the two battery farm sets that I have. They are something new to me and a little different from the normal stuff that I have been collecting. They are nice looking sets, work real well, and sound great.
If you are looking for some inexpensive radios that gives good service and will be easy to work on because the chassis are not all cluttered up with stuff, then farm sets may be the way to go.
These sets also have some interesting history pertaining to rural America prior to the coming of electricity to the farmlands.
Arnold, Richard. "Sears Silvertone Powr Shiftr." Antique Radio Classified, November 2005.
Maclaurin, W. Rupert. Invention & Innovation in the Radio Industry. New York: MacMillan Company, 1949.
Rider, John F. Perpetual Trouble Shooters Manual, Vol. 15, pp. 15-40.
Schehrer, John. "The Silvertone Powr Shiftr." Antique Radio Classified, February 1994.
(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.