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It was one of the most popular BAKELITE radio sets of the 1950’s gracing many a home and YET it was a typical example of how British companies took the valve radio and by a process of removing certain components cut costs - hyped profits at the expense of safety.

If you had an inquisitive child or even adult! who removed the back cover, put the mains plug in place and turned the set on followed by fingers touching the metal components such as the chassis et would give you a hair raising teeth clenching ripple of 240 volts ac !

What was missing was the mains isolation transformer which the more expensive radios had to stop the metal chassis giving the nosey an electric shock. retro1 The bakelite case insulated the mains BUT

The HEAT on the inside of the radio case originally was not such a problem as most homes did not have central heating.

The GREEN object is what is known as a DROPPER resistor and it had mains voltage going through it to DROP the voltage to various lower voltages, it was a cheap nasty and definitely dubious means of achieving the voltage drops AND it ALWAYS was one of the components apart from of course the VALVES that got hot!

Those dumb idiots amongst us who touched that without suitable electrical knowledge and safety gloves et in place to insulate NOT ONLY from the heat but the mains voltage would indeed have had their eyes light up! Just pray you don’t have a dickey heart or a pacemaker et ! Of course, the reason why there was a plug in place instead of one continuous mains lead was to ensure that is you removed the back cover you also removed the plug?!

PhilipsV21Not that Bush were the only ones to use this cheap nasty tech re their 1950s valve radios.
Other popular models were Philips - Stella et

This small a.c/d.c mains valve radio was made in 1959, and was one of many radios to have p.c.b mounted technology. It has medium & long wave band coverage.
Most restored models required extensive replacement of resistors and capacitors, modifying the connections between the volume control and the p.c.b, and adding negative feedback to improve sound quality.PhilipsV2C1B

The pcb was problematic as the valve sockets could overheat causing the metal tracking / terminals on the underside to turn black.

It might have been an early example of a pcb board but thankfully given the later 1950s through to the 1960s on we can breathe a sigh of relief when the first transistor radios came into the shops.

For some of you having some of these older radios as I have, around the home brings back as it does to me, a sense of nostalgia.
Grandma’s radio sat on the sideboard gleaming bakelite or the sound of that valve radio blaring away in the cowsheds playing the music from radio 2 and the era of the dance bands through to popular music 1950s onwards.

Even the cheaper ‘nasties’ had a depth to the sound from them that the early transistor radios lacked. I would add forgive the pun, warmth! Certainly the latter Bush DAC bakelite radios delivered a more than acceptable sound coupled with tuning, volume et.

TODAY if you are thinking of acquiring one of them, or any valve radio; do your research!
Some of the valve radios can have problems re acquiring valve replacements for them.
If you find a decent non cracked, painted or badly scratched i.e DAC radio there are still those such as Ray from the Radio workshop https://www.radio-workshop.co.uk/ Check him out, I think he also sells radios. #recommended

Some other points of interest re classic valve radios.

NEVER EVER plug one in you acquire from ie car boot sales, auctions or found in the loft et unless it has been checked by a qualified electrician / engineer et In some instances it will not only blow your fuses but may also catch fire. I’ve NEVER indulged in not engaging my brain before checking the overall condition of several key factors re these radios such as the condition of the interior - I’ve found dead electrocuted mice, huge spiders and webs! corroded and perished insulation on wiring et MarconiRadio11

I’ve spent hours and hours over the years adding to my small collection of valve radios. It’s not just the amount of work involved in sourcing parts, replacing components, testing, alignment and more, intense, tedious at times and yes soucing valves CAN not only be time consuming but expensive; yes there are cheaper i.e Russian replacement valves et but the quality is often suspect.

Finally it has to take patience, care and attention to detail re the finish of the i.e cabinet and other visual features such as the loudspeaker facing et On the right is my very early Marconi valve radio that has been carefully restored and is now a gleaming eye catching centrepiece that has garnered many an envious desire for me to sell ! No way!

USING a valve radio is NOT the same as turning on and off a transistor / micro circuit solid state device. The valves not only have to warm up and the radio may require the station you are listening to retuning cos of ‘drift’ but a valve radio once turned on should be on for at least 20 minutes before you turn it off. NEVER turn it on for a few minutes and then turn it off!

VALVES? Make a cuppa, get out the fancy cakes, sit back and check out the youtube Mullard valve vid  https://youtu.be/GDvF89Bh27Y The Blackburn Vacuum Tubes Factory (Full)
In the beginning the humble thermionic valve gave rise to what was the age of entertainment, a gateway to a world of music, drama and so much more.
It’s why so many of us musicians still have a great deal of respect for its origins, especially when we cast our minds back to the heyday of the good old Marshall valve amps with its unique guitar squeal and howl.


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