Zenith AM/FMs - 1950 vintage
Frequency Modulation Arrives At The Sparkbench!
This is a model H724, chassis 7H02. Circa 1951.
I guess all old-radio buffs eventually look for the old radio that "Granny" used to have and I'm no exception. In my case, I'm not too old so the 'granny's radio' isn't really a vintage piece.
Anyway, I ran across a model close enough to granny's Zenith and brought it home, only to see the actual model show up on eBay shortly thereafter (see below). I figured I better see if the radio was as good as I remembered before investing in two of them.
Model H723Z2, chassis 7H04Z2, mfg. 1952
The second photo is the real McCoy. We lived in eastern NC and there was only one local FM ststion to be heard. I remember in my quest to have a radio with an accurate AM dial for DXing, I made a paper overlay that was well calibrated that I could tape onto the radio when they let me play with it.
See the little dot just before 100 on the FM dial? That was where the Zenith-owned FM station in Chicago was. That was a mystery that has now been solved. The last radio on this page also has the switch setting of AM/FM100 on the front panel, even though it works on other frequencies.
One day something fried in the radio and it doesn't take much to figure which young radio tinkerer in the house caught the blame. I did my part in cutting out a burnt component and they agreed to carry the radio to the shop. This is where I learned about radio/tv repair shop nightmares. It went on for months before they finally admitted they couldn't fix it because someone had been tinkering with it. Guess which young radio tinkerer caught hell a second time. After a few months they apparently tossed it out at the radio shop because the next explanation was "we don't know where it is".
Ironically after all this, after I purchased the one in the top picture, I immediately recognized which was the faulty component after nearly 30 years. A simple power supply resistor that any radio shop should have been able to deal with. Makes me mad all over again.
Model Chassis 7H822Z. Circa 1949.
In hunting around for old Zenith AM/FMs, I ran across this little model which looked kinda cute, so its also being adopted at the Sparkbench. Its a Model 921, apparently from about 1948 or 49.
In summary, if you're looking for a good mellow sounding FM radio, look for any of the above. Its been so long since I tuned a FM radio that wasn't digital its a strange sensation. These vintage models work fairly well, better than I remembered (especially since there's more than one station on the dial.) They're prone to have bad caps in the IF xfmrs but thats a whole 'nother story.
Update - 15 July 1999
I finally found one like I wanted, so radio #1 (the gold dial) was sold. It was in nice cndx - no cracks in the case and working excellently, All the IF coils had been repaired with silver micas (if you know these radios then you know what thats all about).
I put the 2 (gold dial and brown dial) side by side to see how they match up. Mr. Gold Dial has a tone control on the side which the other one doesn't. It should. Mr. Gold also appears a bit better on AM but Mr. Brown seems better on FM. No logic in that since the innards are basically identical. If I had to say which was better, I'd give the prize to the gold dial version-mostly for the tone control (and I listen to AM) even tho the brown one has notably crisper FM. Probably only a minor difference in alignment.
Update - February 2000
As I've been playing with various models of the 'same' radio, I thought it might be helpful to others to see some of the variations. (Its a sidetrack to antique radios thats getting out of hand!!!)
Click here to go to Page Two for even more details.
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