Restoration of a Radiola 60
  See our local restoration contest: SQCRA 2012-2013



Bought from a retiring hobby technician, this candidate wasn't meant to be one. I bought it with a bunch other stuff and really had no intention of making anything with it. My passion is for consoles, but a loaded schedule left me with little time for a big project, so I thought this would take less time. Error...

As can be witnessed, the case was as good as firewood can get. No parts of the cabinet held together and a fragile temporary assembly was necessary in order to figure out how the cabinet was assembled and assess what was missing. The lower mouldings except two small broken pieces were gone and most of the bottom except for a piece of veneer and a piece of planck.  They would be helpfull as templates in order to reproduce the original pieces. The sides were in terrible shape, broken surface veneer and delaminated plywood base made it difficult to recuperate. The top had two holes for who knows what purpose...??? It was the only fair piece.

Temporary assembly (upside down)

The chassis is made of two seperate sections, one for power supply and other for the other functions. The frames were thoroughly rusted and the main transformer had it's HV coil open. So the previous owner fiddled some diodes on a perfboard and made his HV directly from household current (120Volts AC in North America). A large coil with aligator clips were used as an antena, far from original.

State of the chassis
below.  Wiring was fair but those which protruded outside were in poor shape requiring replacement. Not too many components as can be seen.

Removal of a main transformer from another chassis. This one has three secondary windings instead of two like the 60. I would find out it meant less power on the 2.5 volts winding and that meant powering all the tubes would be difficult, voltage dropping seriously and imparing reception. Choosing tubes surprisingly lowered the consumption and increased this voltage from 1.4 to 1.8, permitting fairly good reception. So began the dismantling of the electronics.

Detail of the interconnections between the chassis and pited rust.

Dismantling the tuning chassis.

The terminal strip between the two chassis was quite oxidized. Completely dimantled, it dipped in some rust removal solution for a whole day. It came out quite clean with the zinc plating in good condition.

The stripped chassis ready for paint.

  The tuner section and power supply repainted with the replacement power transformer in place. Wiring replaced.

Replacing wires with period correct coton covered conductors and power cord. Connection to mains by solder then taped with coton electrical tape (left), as the original.
Resistors were measured and within tolerance and used as is except for one, preserving originality.

Next began the task of restoring the cabinet. Figuring out how to fabricate the missing pieces from what was left and no other references proved to be an investigation of Sherlock Holmes level...

Copying what was left of the original lower moulding

One missing corner reproduced. A combination of router
bits and bench saw moulding blades were necessary to reproduce the old profiles.

The round part in each corner of the lower mouldings had to be shaped without a router bit, but with a moulding blade on the saw bench which  proved to be difficult and dangerous but it did the job. More work with files and sandpaper was necessary to properly fine tune and ajust the pieces.

I used a birch log and proceeded to make plancks out of it in order to fabricate the bottom, then these plancks were laminated as the original. One planck was left from the original and reused.

The old bottom veneer, the only piece left was used as a template to drill all the necessary holes.

Holes drilled, the reproduced mouldings glued to the new bottom and a rough staining complete the base.

Clamping the delaminated side boards. Diluted carpenters glue was injected with a large medical seringe between the many layers A heavy board 2 inches thick is used to apply uniform pressure over the entire surface.

Applying new veneer to all side boards with contact cement.

After regluing some of the base laminates, a proper veneer had to be applied for a nice finish. Unfortunately, this birch which was applied without a flaw had to be redone entirely with mahogany which matched the original much better.

Color matching with homemade samples besides the old top piece.

After many atempts to match the original color, success was achieved with Mohawk stain. Next came the laquer finish with close to ten layers and sanding between each layer. At the last layers, sanding through 220, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 2000 grits, then polishing with powders and a final finish was executed with Rottenstone to yeld a superb surface. The difference between sanding and polishing can be seen in the left picture. Fifteen hours of rubbing were necessary for all the individual parts of the cabinet to achive good results. Working on each unasembled part made the work easier and of better quality. However...

Never enough clamps!!!

Assembly caused many difficulties, as each component was finished to a bright polish and had to be accomplished in one shot. Not damaging and avoiding spreading glue was quite a task. Having enough of those clamps is another matter...

Escutcheons stripped of three layers of paint had to be treated gently in order to save the original patina. A light coat of linseed oil made them come back to life. They look quite nice on the finished cabinet

The feet are reproductions and were bought on Ebay. A good choice since I had access to none and would be very difficult to reproduce.


Two h
oles in the top had to be plugged with dowels and diamond shaped veneer patches laid in the existing veneer over both holes in order to make a very clean repair. This allowed to save the top and does not distract too much once finished. This trick was learned on the TV show The New Yankke Workshop.

More veneer repair. When missing pieces like this corner, a piece of scrap closely matching the type and grain patern is used and heavily pressed in position to fill the gap.

The speaker that will accompany the radio is an RCA A100. It was one of the matches sold with the Radiola 60 back in the late 20's. This one was in fair condition with one grillecloth and the wire to be replaced. A good cleaning  and some linseed oil brought it back to a nice sheen.

And voilą!


Some new wires for the antena and the pilot lamp, a new bulb, a mix of the best 26A lamps I had in my stock, installed and complete the chassis.

The radio and speaker as presented at the contest.
Working nicely in this recessed part of the woods for our annual gathering in Brigham, Quebec which has no close radio stations.

Comparative view


This project was a pretty big undertaking, but how satisfying. To be able to bring back a true piece of junk to its former glory is nothing short of wonderfull. And this cabinet style is not that spectacular on its own design, but I have to admit its among the best looking I have in my collection now.

This is the reason I promote restorations.

February 2014

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