Here are some sets that are waiting their turn on the bench or have been partially restored and await parts or cabinet restoration.
Philco 625: This radio came from a local antique dealer that didn't want to see it destroyed by someone intent on using the cabinet for some other purpose. The radio has been recapped and is playing well, although a few issues remain with a loud squeal above 12 megacycles. I suspect I created this problem by brutishly moving wires to and fro while recapping the radio. This is a project to address when wearing ear protection and while no one else is home! The cabinet looks as though it was invited to a dance to serve as the floor. I'm waiting for warm weather so I can work outdoors while doing what needs to be done to repair the cabinet.
Fairbanks-Morse 82 chassis: Came to me via an eBay auction as a parts set. Since I own a Fairbanks-Morse #100 console with a tuning dial that exactly matches the one that comes with the #82, I decided to buy it as a source of backup parts. After unpacking, the chassis looked like it has some life left in it and it cleaned up fairly well, so it eventually got on the bench for a recap. She's now working - sort of. She hears my SSTRAN but fails to receive any signal arriving via the antenna. I'm suspecting that the SSTRAN's signal is being heard only because it is so local and strong and that an open resistor or bad connection is interrupting the arrival of the incoming signals via the antenna. The antenna coil tests good, by the way. This is likely to be one of those projects that goes on for a l-o-n-g time. If ANYONE has knobs for the #82, 90 or 100 models, please let me know, or send me a picture of them so I can have them made locally!
National NC-183D: Purchased, on my behalf, for $50 by a friend attending a swap meet. The seller reported that the radio had "issues", but a recap brought the radio to life. The recap is mostly done and the radio plays reasonably well. A few resistors have been replaced but more are likely to be out of spec. The radio got pulled off the bench more than a year ago to make room for something "more urgent" and it has been sitting, belly up, on the floor ever since. Maybe later this year.....
National NC-183: Came to me on a trade that turned out to be a bad deal for me. The radio (and matching speaker) arrived nicely painted but not working, despite assertions by the former owner that is was working fine when shipped. That was not likely, given the tubes installed and other issues uncovered over many hours of diagnosing why the radio was not working as promised. Once the radio was repaired to the point where it was working, it left the bench (in favor of something more urgent - do you detect a trend here?) and has been on the floor, belly up, for too long. This radio was my first exposure to National Receivers and I very much like how they sound. Perhaps a NC-300 or NC-303 will follow me home some day. This radio has a cracked main tuning dial. Anyone got a replacement?
E. H. Scott SLRM: Works well, mostly, but is deaf on the broadcast band. I recently read that this band-specific problem may be due to a bad trimmer capacitor so, once again, a radio awaits an opportunity to get on the bench.
RME 4350: As a Novice ((WN9UWU) back in the 60's, I used to have CW 80 meter ragchews with Butch, WN9VIV, in Madison, WI. Butch had a RME-4350 receiver and, for some reason, I remembered that 40 years later when I saw an ad for one. This radio works, but it is tired and a recapping, resistor update and alignment will probably do it wonders. Unlike many on the used market, this one has a fine tuning mechanism that works fairly smoothly. Add this radio to those waiting for their turn on the bench, and many months of retirement are now spoken for!
Silvertone 4586A: A Craigslist purchase in Medford, WI. The coils and transformer checked out, so the chassis got the usual dust and grime removal treatment followed by replacement of the electrolytic and paper capacitors. A couple of resistors were out of spec so they got replaced as well. This radio is sensitive with potent, full audio. I'll exercise this radio over the winter and refinish the cabinet in the Summer of 2016. Although this picture does not make the point, the dial lamps seem weak and I need to determine why. They are of the correct type and I measure 6.2 volts at their sockets, yet the dial is not illuminated as brightly as I've seen on this model in YouTube videos.
Arvin "Rhythm Queen": Purchased at a yard sale back in the 80's, this set has been waiting for its turn on the bench for a long time. My bench skills may have finally evolved to the point where I can do this radio the justice it deserves. This rare and highly collectible set needs new knobs and a source has been identified. I'm not sure how to patch the chipped veneer on the right top, but know of a local resource for help.
Zenith 11S-474: Another Craigslist find, this set came back to life in one evening of recapping. The project is currently stalled by my inability to tweak the dial string. This chassis has a dial belt AND a dial string. The belt was easily replaced but I've not found a dial string guide for this chassis so the broken string was replaced in what seemed to be a logical process. While the dial again turns when the knob is rotated, the cord/string slips intermittently and becomes ineffective near the band edges. I applied some beeswax to the string to create more traction but it didn't help much. A future visit to the Callaway Clock and Antique Radio Repair Service in Antigo, WI is likely, since Bill Callaway is particularly adept when it comes to Zenith radios! The cabinet, although intact, needs to be refinished as the existing lacquer is severely alligatored
FAIRBANKS-Morse 91-C-4: Progress on this chassis has been stalled by my confusion over the band switch's mechanism for lifting each band's dial display. Each band's frequencies are displayed on a separate painted metal plate and those plates lift or drop into view as the user rotates the band switch. The first band dial moves smoothly, but the others do not and I need to understand how this mechanism works if the set is to be more than eye candy. The famous painted dial is safely tucked away while the chassis awaits repair
Pilot G528 console: Another Craigslist find, this 12 tube set will provide an interesting project later this winter. Normally, I am drawn to consoles and large table sets with round "airplane" dials. Slide rule dials simply don't have as much allure. The dial on this set is so colorful and large that an exception had to be made. The seller said it was working, but one of the two rectifier tubes was dead so I'm a bit skeptical.
Philco 655: Here's another Philco that came my way via Bill Callaway. The set receives beautifully after the usual replacement of capacitors and out of spec resistors but the Shadow Meter is not working correctly and I need to do some research prior to attempting a repair. The set does not require the meter to work in order to be enjoyed as a receiver, but I really want to get that meter working again!
Philco 37-11: This set is a BEAST. The heavy chassis is matched by a heavy cabinet. This was another Craigslist find and the previous owner had stripped the cabinet and applied a clear polyurethane finish. While this does reveal the wood, it does not resemble the set's intended appearance. The stripping also removed the original grain filler so the grain is now quite rough. This is another cabinet that begs for attention during the short refinishing season here in Wisconsin. The original dial was broken and I do have a replacement on hand but it is fragile and will not mount it until repairs are complete. The chassis is currently on the bench and roughly half of the original paper caps have been replaced. Progress is slowed by the Bakelite blocks and the compartmentalized chassis but the hope is to have the job done by Spring.
Zenith 8S-154: I actually have TWO of these sets. The first chassis is working after the usual restoration process, but the cabinet was marred by fractures in the veneer on the curve between the top and front surfaces. A second set was obtained since it has a cabinet in somewhat better condition. The plan is to meld the two sets into one, utilizing the best offerings from each set with the remainder becoming a parts donor. I do have a complete set of knobs with the first set, but the image below is of the second set and it is missing several original knobs.