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A 1950's Home Made Portable Radio by Sydney Dent

A Home Made 4 valve Portable Radio

A brief history of the Radio's past.

Sidney Dent, the builder, was a member of the Model Railway Club in Kings Cross London.  Model Railway Club. Although never a regular visitor to the Club, he had appointed the Club as executor for his estate, thus relieving his elderly sister of the job. Any proceeds from sold items were to be donated to the Club - it paid for a very nice professional video player and TV unit. Sidney, apart from being a railway modeller, was one of the 'old school' and also had an interest in many other things. Among some of the hundreds of magazines and books which had to be thrown out were publications on building your own radios, TV's, home generation equipment etc. His sister had dilligently wrapped and tied them up with brown paper and string into managable parcels ready for dumping. I hate to think what we might have thrown away simply because there was no time to look through everything. As part of the MRC team of three who undertook the final disposal about 15 years ago, I was told that if there was anything which would be useful to myself, I was welcome to it. Thus I acquired a very useful woodworking vice, a tin of interesting and rather esoteric home made tools for model building and a six-volume set of books on engineering practices from 1915 (I recently saw just one volume for sale, priced at 16.50!). Whilst clearing the attic, I noticed a nicely crafted wooden box; curiosity led me to see what it contained and it turned out to be what appeared to be a hand built portable radio. Such was the quality of work and its curiosity factor I was loathed to just see it chucked away - which would have otherwise been its fate - and so although I had no use for it and didn't like to power it up in case I damaged it, I gave it houseroom by displaying it on a cabinet top, with the lid lifted if I was expecting visitors! It eventually migrated to a safer position, on a bookshelf performing a useful function as a bookend (!) and there it would have stayed had I not found a good and appreciative home for it. I'm delighted to see that it will still do the job for which it was built and is a fine tribute to a very careful craftsman.

David Burleigh

The Radio

The cabinet seems to be Oak and the control surface is made from Paxolin. The connections from the aerial in the lid, use the lid hinges to get the signal from the aerial to the tuning circuit.

The circuit is a conventional 4 valve portable circuit from the 1950's using DF91,DAF91,DK91 and DL92 valves.Which suggests its design is early 1950,s or I would have expected the 96 series to be used on account of the lower filament current.

As can be seen from the following pictures it held internal batteries of a very small size. Were they homemade?.
There is a four pin connector at the front left hand side of the top for connecting external supplies plus a two pin socket for an external speaker.
The very small knob (top front middle) is the on/off slider switch which is also fitted with a buttion depressed when the lid is closed to remove the power.
The chassis and component layout is unconventional, its all well engineered and obviously hand made.

When power was applied it proved to be erratic in its current consumption so the power switch was cleaned. It tuned Medium wave but at very low output, however when the output valve was reseated it started working normally and Longwave tuned as well.
Apart from needing the switches and valveholders cleaning there is nothing else wrong with the set.

If you recognise the set or its layout please let me know. The design may well have been featured in an old Practical Wireless or other magazine

Front View Right Hand Side view Close up of Right Hand side
The Lid closed View from the Bottom View from the Rear Left Hand side
Chassis view from the Right Hand side Chassis view from the back Chassis View Right Hand side. No 2
Chassis view Left Hand side. No2 Another chassis view from the Left hand side.


Last updated 8.7.2004
2003-2004 © Maurice Woodhead