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Vintage Radio Refurbishing Before Restoration
by: Ronald Baker / WB4HFN
The following pictures shows the individual components removed from the chassis that are cleaned separately. Most of these items are individually hand cleaned. In some cases where the white reflector shields for the meters and VFO are so bad, those are repainted a bright white to better reflect the light. The front panel has its own special refurbishing process to bring back the new look of the panel. Of course this process does nothing to hide scratches and other damage. Some light paint touch-up is possible but usually the touch-up can be just as noticeable as the scratch. Most of the time its best to just leave the scratch or just replace the panel. The last pictures shows the meters and VFO hood assembly reinstalled with new blue filter material to give the radio that famous blue glow.
The individual components removed from the chassis includes the transmitter RF cage, the VFO, meter and VFO shields, crystals, tubes and the front panel and knobs. All these components are separately hand cleaned.
The front panel refurbishing process is unique to all the other component cleaning. With a little time and technique the Drake front panels can look like new again. However, scratches and other panel damage will still remain. Once a panel is damaged there is not much that can be done to repair it. Touch-up is possible but in most cases that will still be noticeable and could look worse than the scratch itself. Because of the etched painting process Drake used, touch-up paint, even though the same color, will appear as a layer of paint on top of the painted surface of the panel.
Here is a picture of the cleaned chassis partially reassembled, the VFO and transmitter RF cage is reinstalled to the chassis. The VFO is also taken apart and cleaned, lubricated and adjusted for smooth tuning.
Here is a picture of the TR-4 meters being reinstalled. Here new blue filter material is installed behind the meters and in front of the dial light to produce the Drake blue glow from the meters. There are several sources of filter material with varying colors of blue, but I use the exact blue filter color used by Drake to produce the authentic blue glow.
This picture shows the new blue filter being installed behind the white background filter on the hood over the VFO tuning dial. The blue filter goes behind the white filter so the blue glow only shows when power is applied and the dial light is on.