How to repair an heirloom radio


The 1930s Delco wood cabinet radio. (Reader photo)
June 18

Question: I have a 1930s Delco wood cabinet radio that belonged to my mother’s parents. It works well enough to pick up local stations, but the sound quality is poor. It needs new tubes and power cable, and the cabinet also needs restoration work. I’d love to get it back in top working order and looking like new. Are there any shops in or around Northern Virginia that repair and restore old radios, inside and out?

— Purcellville, Va.

Answer: Here are two area people who get vintage radios working again: John OBrien, who runs Radio Repair Guy in Bethesda (301-535-3505; www.radiorepairguy.com) and Jay Forbes of J.F. Antique Radio Repair in Ashburn (703-729-9432; www.jfradiorepair.com). They work only on the innards, but suggested getting someone skilled in restoring antique wooden furniture to repair the cabinet. For that, OBrien recommended Restorations Unlimited in Sterling (703-904-9577; www.furniturerestorationloudouncounty.com).

New tubes and power cable aren’t necessarily the prescription for making your radio sound like new. “Tubes may be an issue, but others parts need to be replaced,” Forbes said in an e-mail. And OBrien wrote: “It is possible, but unlikely, that a ‘tube’ could be causing poor sound quality and it is 100 percent certain that a line cord in poor shape will not cause poor sound, but may pose a risk.” Whatever the problem, though, both men said it should be possible to get the radio sounding good again.

But is it worth it? Given the sentimental value, perhaps. From a collector’s standpoint, no. Getting the radio working well would probably cost around $200, Forbes estimated, and he guessed that you might need to pay a furniture restorer around $450 to work on the cabinet. “For this radio, it really is not worth getting repaired,” he said. “It is an average tombstone radio from the ’30s.”

If your main goal is to wind up with a good-sounding vintage radio and you aren’t emotionally tied to the one you have, you might want to explore the world of vintage radios and then decide where to spend your money. The Mid-Atlantic Antique Radio Club (www.maarc.org) is a hobby club focused on collecting, restoring and preserving vintage radio and television equipment. The club is sponsoring RadioActivity, billed as the premier East Coast antique radio event, on June 26-28 at the Holiday Inn in Timonium, Md. The event includes an auction and flea market, classes on repairing antique radios and their cabinets, plus displays and presentations. Details are on the club’s Web site.

You can also learn more about vintage radios at the National Capitol Radio & Television Museum in Bowie. (301-390-1020; www.ncrtv.org).

If you get the vintage radio bug and decide to work on one yourself, Forbes offers free training to people who want to learn how to repair tube equipment.

Question:W hat I can do to remove a small dried bloodstain on my auto’s fabric upholstery?

— Tennessee

Automobile upholstery tends to be stain-resistant. When blood is fresh, it often comes off with nothing other than a cotton cloth dampened with water. Or you can dribble on a little soda water and blot that up. The bubbles help push the stain out of the fabric.

For dried blood, mix a quarter-cup of baking soda with a cup of water. Dab the mixture onto the spot using an old toothbrush. Wait 20 to 30 minutes, then blot with a cloth moistened with the same mixture.

If the stain persists, try Biz or another detergent that contains enzymes that “eat” protein stains, including blood. Dilute a little of the detergent in water and dab it onto the spot. Wait 20 to 30 minutes. Then blot off with a cloth moistened in clean water. If that doesn’t work, try scrubbing the detergent with a toothbrush to break up the stain, suggests Laura Schneider of CR Brands, the company that owns Biz.

Or, instead of the detergent, try using meat tenderizer — it’s a protein-fighting enzyme, too.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

How to fix an old typewriter or flashlight

How to copy an old photo in a convex frame

SECTION: {section=lifestyle, subsection=home}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=14, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=lifestyle, subsection=home}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=14, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments
Most Read Lifestyle