Capacitors - In or Out?

Sun Aug 8 08:15:32 EDT 2004

What I will say here on the subject is controversial and will possibly stir
up a real hornet's nest. If you want the radio to operate properly with good
daily reliability it will be necessary to replace all the original paper
capacitors and in some cases all the silver micas too in order to properly align the
set. Your goal might be to perform the work in such a way as to try to
duplicate the original lead dress and solder joint quality. With that said, are we
increasingly being faced with a dilemma? We could ask ourselves; is it
absolutely necessary that every radio we acquire be restored to working order? Many
will answer "Of course it is!! What is the purpose of even having it if you don't
fix it to work?" That is absolutely the expected reply from the casual
collector or beginning hobbyist because their goal is usually to attempt to make
every radio "brand new" again or close to it. I can relate to that because I was
one of those who once held that position. I erased a lot of valuably history
when I replaced original factory parts that had manufacturers names and date
codes with orange drops and yellow polys just so I could hear the set play
again. In some cases the final test was the last time I had it turned on before it
assumed its position on my display shelf, the original parts possibly still in
the trash can nearby. Would you say I made a wise choice? What if we chose
certain radios in our collections to restore and set aside others to just be
cleaned and otherwise left intact in order to preserve the historical record?
Would this make sense in some cases? What if you found a near mint Breting 12 or
14, or Patterson PR-12 or RME-9, all very historically significant receivers
from the mid-Thirties?? What about a Hallicrafters S-1 or S-2? If you want to
plug them in again you know what you must do first but what about all that
history? In each of the cases cited above the construction is a valuable record of
that point in history for that manufacturer. Is it OK or are we being selfish
if we want to undo what that assembler put in, in the way and fashion that he
or she did in 1935 so we can make it play again? What if we left the good
ones alone for now and restored a junker or basket case instead? Would this not
provide an even higher sense of accomplishment and fulfill the desire to have a
working example? I understand not everyone in our hobby is a collector and
many prefer to operate them in communications work with little or no interest in
just displaying them. What about those hobbyists who are on a budget and
don't have room for a lot of duplicates, are not particularly interested in
storing historical non-working examples or who are only interested in getting it
working again. I am calling this a dilemma because I don't have the answer and I
don't know if there is one right answer but I suppose really it's "each to his
own." In another example; I recently acquired a very nice working
Hallicrafters SX-10. You might recall the SX-10 is a very rare (less than 200 made) 1936
10 tube super covering 5.6mc to 79.5mc with a 1600kc IF. This was an unusual
circuit and at a quick glance it looks like an SX-11 but was aimed really at
the then new and popular 5 meter experimental work. Bill Orr; W6SAI called it
"The 1936 "Receiver of the Year." Sometime around twenty years ago or so a
previous owner replaced all its original capacitors with modern parts and aligned
it. My question is; did he hurt it or help it? Does the practical value of
having this receiver work in the ranges it covers outstrip its value as an
historical record? Does it matter more today than it did twenty years ago? Perhaps
others who have thought this through could help by posting their thoughts on the

Regards, Greg Gore

PS- If I get some original Aerovox capacitors with 1936 date codes, clean
them out to get the cardboard tubes, put them over the replacements and fill with
beeswax is this better? Another alternative would be to send the cardboard
tubes to a company I know about who can wind new waxpaper caps with the old
technology and seal them inside my tubes creating essentially a rebuilt cap. The
cost is $15 per cap but I expect the life to be better than the originals due
to more modern methods. Am I nuts for considering this?

This list is a public service of the City of Tempe, Arizona

Subscription control -
Archives -

More information about the Boatanchors mailing list