Always Replace All The Capacitors?

Sun Aug 12 13:44:58 EDT 2001

I agree it is more rewarding to have a rig that is functional again and
operating properly after replacing all the caps but you raise an interesting
dilemma here about when to leave well enough alone and when to replace and
restore. When you install modern plastic replacements you gain in the short
term, and this would be your choice because the rig is temporarily in your
care as its custodian at the moment but in the long term the rigs historical
value has been permanently affected. For example consider a Marconi 106-D, a
pre 1920 wireless receiver that sells in the 15K to 20K range for an original
unaltered one. Using a little creative license here what if a previous owner
had replaced with all new yellow plastic caps to "restore" it electrically. I
guess if he wanted to hear it work again he would have no other choice. What
would future collectors and historians think of his noble deed when the set
comes up on the market again which is inevitable? In another example I have a
friend who recently had the very good fortune in finding a 1934 Hallicrafters
S-1 in original unrestored condition. You may remember the S-1 was
Hallicrafters first commercially produced communications receiver which was a
simple 5 tube self contained bandswitching regenerative design. He told me
his first thought was to restore it and make it work again and of course that
meant probable wholesale component replacing under the chassis. Fortunately
he contacted the recognized Hallicrafters authority Chuck Dachis for advise
first and was told only about six of these receivers are known to still
exist. Because the capacitors all have the manufacturer's name with date
codes on them he has decided to leave it alone and display it in his
collection and show it at antique radio meets. This particular receiver is
important historically and to restore it would without question adversely
affect its future value as a collectible. I would guess if one ever came on
the market now which is not very likely, as the 6 are safely tucked away in
collections, it would most likely be in the SX-88 range price-wise. You could
always study the schematic and imagine how it would have worked anyway which
would probably be on a par with an Ocean Hopper (no offense to Ocean Hopper
devotees). If he had gone ahead and put a bunch of yellow ones in there and
tossed the originals out what would it be worth to the future generations of
radio collectors and historians? As our old radios gracefully age and
increase in value this is an increasingly important question that we must
decide. Ultimately we are only their temporary caretakers. My personal
decision is to restore the junkers and basket cases and leave the nice
originals alone. This gives an opportunity to acquire and hone your
restoration skills (refinishing, electrical and mechanical) and results in an
immense amount of satisfaction in enjoying the fruits of your labor by fixing
up and bringing back something that would most likely be lost anyway and in
this case no important history is destroyed. Each to his own though!

Have fun,
Greg Gore; WA1KBQ

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