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BOOK REVIEWS:The Radio Collector's Guide to Philco Bakelite Block Condensers, By Ray Bintliff
REVIEWED BY RON RAMIREZ
From Antique Radio Classified
(Copyright 1996 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)To anyone who has ever attempted restoration of a Philco radio made between 1930 and 1938, the uniqueness of Philco Bakelite block condensers becomes immediately evident. At times, the Bakelite blocks have either been bridged by replacements or completely removed from the set and replaced by terminal strips and new capacitors.
In The Radio Collector's Guide to Philco Bakelite Block Condensers, Ray Bintliff has expanded greatly on my article in A.R.C., October 1989, page 8. He has added much information and included very helpful charts.
The book opens with a brief history of Philco Bakelite blocks, first used in Philco's new June 1930 line, which included Models 30, 41, 77, 96, and 296. By 1935, Philco had begun using conventional cardboard tube condensers to some extent in its sets. This transition increased over the next few years, since by 1939, Philco sets included only one Bakelite block -- the AC line filter condensers.
Ray describes the two general styles of Bakelite blocks -- the standard style, which he prefers to call the "miscellaneous" style, and the universal style. The standard condensers usually only have two or three terminals, although a few used more than three. The universal style condensers all have six terminals, along with a seventh grounding lug in some.
Ray goes on to explain Philco's part numbers for its Bakelite blocks and the significance of the suffixes used in the part numbers. For example, Part No. 3793-DG signifies a universal block with two .015 micro Farad condensers inside, one lead of each condenser being connected to the seventh grounding lug.
Philco service bulletins and parts catalogs giving specifications for its Bakelite blocks were used in compiling the information in the book, as were other sources such as service manuals. Ray has gone to a lot of trouble compiling this information into extremely useful chart form, listing all 343 known Bakelite blocks by part number and referencing the next section, which gives drawings of all known Bakelite blocks showing the internal wiring of each. Finally, the book has another chart cross-referencing the over 100 drawings to Philco Bakelite block part numbers.
Not all of the Philco Bakelite block part numbers have corresponding drawings in Ray's book. He explains that complete specifications for all the part numbers were unavailable, and some information could not be confirmed. However, the most widely used and most popular Bakelite blocks can be found.
Various techniques of removing the old condensers (and the occasional resistor) from the Bakelite blocks are discussed. Many modern capacitors are small enough to fit easily inside the Bakelite block once it has been gutted. For the few Bakelite blocks that have a resistor inside, resistors are just as easy to replace.
This is an excellent book that has been needed for a long time and no doubt will find a place near every radio restorer's workbench. It is well worth the $9.95 price and should be considered a must for anyone who does work on Philco sets of the 1930s.
The Radio Collector's Guide to Philco Bakelite Block Condensers, first published in 1994, is now in its second edition. Softbound in an 8 1/2" x 11" format and containing 56 pages, the book is available from A.R.C. and A.R.C. advertisers. Be sure to check with these suppliers for ordering and shipping information.
(Ron Ramirez, 811 Maple St, Providence, KY 42450)