A 1950's Home Made Portable Radio by Sydney Dent
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
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.
| 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
Last updated 8.7.2004
2003-2004 © Maurice Woodhead