Duane McGuire Blog

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McGuire Family Philco

Category: Family, Historic Technology, Projects, Ham Radio
Date: 2024-02-11

In the late 1930s, Mom and Dad bought the Philco radio model 37-610 on time for five dollars a month. For folks who never had a mortgage or a car loan, it must have been a pretty important purchase! When I was young, Dad had this radio in his workroom at the PUD. When it was on, it was tuned to local KAPA. I had it stored in the basement until a few weeks ago.

When I was given the radio more than 20 years ago, this is what it looked like.
After my recent work, this is the radio's new look!

When Dad passed away in 2001, Mom thought that I should have this radio, since it had been special to her, and she thought I might be able to fix it. I guess her faith was justified, but the project had to wait for the right moment. At the time, I didn't have the experience with veneer repairs that I do today, nor the vision of how a good case repair would be done. I did know that I could hire someone to repair the workings of the piano, but the radio waited for me.

A few weeks ago, the Facebook group, Old Tube Radios popped up in my Facebook feed. I was naturally attracted to what I saw there (as Facebook knew I would be). After spending some hours looking at what others had done with old radio restorations, I went to the basement and brought up the Philco. I was confident at this point that I could make the case look good. After online conversations with folks in the group, I began to think that even I could make the repairs to the radio itself.

Philco 37-610 comes alive

My growing education about old tube radios revealed that generally, if all the capacitors in the radio are replaced, it will probably work again. I ordered capacitors, a new soldering iron, and a replacement rectifier tube. Over a couple of days, I replaced all of the tubular capacitors one at a time and it started to come to life.

Here I have the chassis ready for capacitor replacements.
New capacitors installed.

First sound

The radio is 86 years old, and working again!

It was truly exciting to hear the first sounds come from the radio after decades of silence.

Case Restoration

I decided to play with the art deco theme and turn the problems into a feature using a contrasting veneer. My goal was to create a custom version of the Philco 37-610 that, to the uninitiated, would look original. At the same time, to me it would be a reminder of the life this radio has had.

I began the veneer repair by forming the end radii with a Forstner drill bit. My thought was that would give me a perfectly formed arc to terminate the new banding. It worked out.

I carefully removed old veneer up to scribe lines on the horizontal speaker grill banding. Generally it just peeled off, but some required a little coaxing with a heat gun to soften the old hide glue. I cut a matching banding from some veneer on hand. I don't know what the species is, but it makes for a good contrast. I chose the purist approach and applied the veneer with hot hide glue -- as was done in 1937. I stripped the old finish, colored the base, and finished it all with several coats of lacquer and a bit of toner for color. I was able to order new grill cloth and a Philco decal from Radio Daze to complete the case restoration

Philco 37-610 Resources

The schematic below is included in the 1936 service notes. Philco-37-610-schematic.png

General Antique Radio Resources

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