Antique Radio Restoration -- Volume 3
Plastic Cabinet Repair & Refinishing
By Bret Menassa
Reviewed By Ray Bintliff, W1RY
Bret Menassa has produced another video in his series about antique radio restoration. This DVD deals with the repair and refinishing of plastic cabinets.
The video begins with a discussion of the types of plastic materials used to produce radio cabinets. Logically, Bakelite is covered first, since it is the most commonly used material. Bret takes some "basket cases" and demonstrates how to clean a cabinet, repair cracks, reglue broken pieces, and replace missing pieces.
It seems that no cabinet is beyond repair using Bret's techniques. These damaged cabinets are good reminders that adequate packing is essential when shipping radios.
The natural color of Bakelite cabinets is usually a shade of brown, but some are painted, and the typical paint color is ivory. Painting is appropriate when a cabinet shows paint wear or when it cannot be restored to its original luster. Painting is also a good way to cover up major cabinet repairs. Bret offers excellent painting tips and demonstrates how to avoid nasty drips and runs.
Replacing flat pieces of Bakelite is straightforward, but he takes replacement a step further by using molds to replicate curved and intricate pieces. Following the cabinet repairs, he shows how to refinish and polish the cabinet to produce that "showroom look." He points out that sanding and polishing a cabinet requires quite a bit of labor and patience to produce the desired look. It is wise to practice these restoration techniques on some expendable cabinets before moving on to your valuable radios.
The tedious tasks are covered only briefly to show examples of how they are performed. The time-consuming tasks are performed off-camera, so that the video moves right along and never gets dull.
Other plastics such as Plaskon, Beetle and Catalin are covered with emphasis on how they differ from each other and from Bakelite. Bret tells why a Catalin cabinet can be restored to its original color and gloss, while restoring the gloss to Bakelite is so difficult.
In addition to techniques, hints and kinks, he discusses the various tools, chemicals, paints and materials that can be used to repair and refinish plastic cabinets. Bret also cites the potential health hazards when working with certain materials and chemicals. The use of rubber gloves and masks is recommended.
Most of the "how-to-do-it" information available to radio collectors covers electronics and the refinishing of wood cabinets, not plastics. This comprehensive 2-hour video fills that void. It provides practical advice and will be very useful to both the novice and experienced refinisher.
A video is the best medium for presenting this information -- far better than the written word, and this professional quality DVD does it nicely.
Antique Radio Restoration -- Plastic Cabinet Repair & Refinishing is produced by Bret's Old Radios and sells for $39.99. It may be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 51671, Denton, TX 76205, or from A.R.C. and other A.R.C. advertisers. Be sure to check with the suppliers for ordering and shipping information.
(Ray Bintliff, 2 Powder Horn Lane, Acton, MA 01720-2014)