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Only  Zenith  Radios

1930 - 1940

photo: I believe this 1927 ad ran in National Geographic magazines - Zenith was always catering to the high-end clients (at least, in the 1920s.)

Did Zenith really build the best "consumer-entertainment" radios? They thought they did. The Great Depression taught Zenith "survival" during a time when building "the best" didn't necessarily equate to the high sales and profits necessary to survive in any business. When Zenith was about to "go under" in 1933, they hired a small company in Chicago called Wells-Gardner Company to build a line of inexpensive radios for them. Zenith had been building the $200+ models that sold well in the twenties but certainly were not selling in the depths of the Depression. Zenith had many times before claimed to "not know how to build cheap radios." Wells-Gardner built the low-priced Zenith radios first called "Zenette." Most consumers saw that the "Zenettes" were the "cheap" Zenith radios and sales were less-than-expected. In 1935, Zenith coined the name "Challenger Line" and these WG-built models did well, ultimately saving Zenith from the Depression. By 1936, Zenith had learned from Wells-Gardner how to design and build radios inexpensively. Almost all companies that survived the Depression learned the same approach that Zenith did. So, although Zenith radios from the thirties may be a little on the cheap side, they certainly weren't alone. Where Zenith pulled ahead of the competition was in their advertising and in their styling. Electronic design engineering was more-or-less average but the cabinet styling was incredible. Over the decades, Zenith radios of the thirties, especially the late thirties, remain attractive and desirable simply because Zenith cabinet designs generally took a fairly conservative approach, usually avoiding wild "deco" designs. Today, most collectors (and even interior decorators) find that the 1936 to 1940 Zenith cabinets are the most appealing to modern tastes.

Only Zenith Radios

Model 77


Zenith's Model 77 was introduced in late 1930. The Depression had halted sales of the more expensive radios, so Zenith cut costs wherever they could. The Model 77 was housed in the same cabinet as the earlier Model 54 and Model 64 but whether the Model 77 used surplus cabinets from the proceeding year or just built new cabinets of the same old style is not known. The built-in loop antenna used in the Model 54 and Model 64 was eliminated as another cost-cutting measure. However, the tuned input, tuned output TRF circuit remained the same and an improved power supply was added. The Model 77 was not produced in any significant quantity.

This particular Model 77 was originally sold to Glen Wydette of Reno, Nevada by Nevada Machinery & Electric Co., Reno's Zenith dealer at the time. It is in excellent all original condition having always been stored inside a house.


Model 775B


This is a 12 tube, dual speaker, superhet using a pair of 59 tubes in Push-pull for the audio output. The dual 8"speakers are mounted a right-angles to each other. A "shadow-graph" tuning meter and "tell-tale" control indicators were also included on this high-end receiver. Sliding doors can hide both the speaker grille and the tuning controls. Even Zenith had its "bad days" when it came to quality control. The pillar on the right is mounted one-quarter turn off. The flat should be facing backwards to give ample clearance for the sliding doors, (it's facing left and can't be rotated because there isn't enough clearance due to the square base on the pillar.) Whether Zenith's QC missed the error or just "let it go" is not known.

An interesting find inside this Model 775B was an extension cord that was manufactured by COLT - the firearms company. The COLT logo is on the brown bakelite "head" of the extension cord and the power cord is brown cloth-covered cord. It is in excellent original condition, although what it was used for in the operation of this Model 775B is a mystery.

This 775B was originally owned by the Bothelo family of Walnut Creek, California. The original manual and the sales tag were also in the back of the set.


Model 805


By 1935, Zenith was considering the "cathedral" style of cabinet a bit archaic. The 805 was the last cathedral Zenith offered even though a few other manufacturers continued with the style for a year or two more. This little five tube set is a good performer and the two tone finish with black Japan trim is quite attractive. Covers BC and one Shortwave band.

This Model 805 is in excellent all original condition. It didn't come out of Reno though. This little radio was found by NU6AM in an antique shop in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. 


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Model 9-S-54


Zenith's famous "Big Black Dial" was introduced with the 1936 model line, although Zenith originally called it the "Black Magnavision Dial." It was a striking departure from the small, hard to read dials that proceeded it. The 9-S-54 was a 9 tube receiver with RF amplifier, triode audio drivers and a pair of push-pull 6F6s producing about 10 watts to drive a 12" electrodynamic speaker. The speaker was mounted on an "Overtone Amplifier" - a spacer that increased the opening on the baffle board and also increased the speaker's distance from the baffle board - an effort to widen the audio frequency reproduction. Two-speed tuning is also featured along with band-in-use indicators. The cabinet uses walnut veneers with black Japan trim and the upper pilasters are burled with marquetry trim. This particular 9-S-54 belonged to the Gladding family of Virginia City.



Model  12-A-58


The 12-A-58 was Zenith's 12 tube, dual speaker model for 1936. It was the "top of the line" radio from Zenith with the obvious exception of the Stratosphere models. The four tuning ranges covered 140kc to 380kc, 550kc to 1750kc, 2.0mc to 6.8mc and 6.8mc to 23mc with "band in use" illumination provided. A shadow-graph tuning indicator is also featured. Similar to other radio designs of the Depression, the 12-A-58's impressive tube-count requires a critical look at the schematic. Zenith actually  "doubled up" on the rectifiers, the audio drivers and, of course, the P-P output. A dual diode (6H6) is used rather than a duplex diode-triode which then requires a separate 1st audio amplifier tube be used. One tube is required just for the shadow-graph operation. The Second Audio uses parallel 6C5 tubes. The minimum stages provided are only one stage of RF amplification and one stage of IF amplification. A Converter stage is used rather than a separate Mixer and LO. When closely examined, the 12-A-58 circuit is really equivalent to about a seven-tube set which was sufficient for AM BC reception. Sound quality is very good since considerable effort was put into that part of the radio circuit design. The speakers are 12" and 6" in diameter and use Zenith's Overtone Amplifier mounting system. Two-speed tuning was provided.

The two 1936 12-tube models departed from the standard 1936 "Black Magnavision Dial" and used two different types of dials. The early 12-A-57 and 12-A-58 models utilized a "layered" glass dial that provided band-in-use illumination. The SW and LW bands were illuminated in red while the AM BC band and Aviation-Amateur bands were illuminated in green. To say that the early edge-lighted dial scales were subtly illuminated would be an understatement - dim is more accurate. Certainly the feeble illumination was the reason for the updated design of the second version dial which is a single thickness glass dial with scales in red, green, blue and yellow. The second dial style was much easier to read and was well-illuminated even though the vibrant multi-color scales are somewhat gaudy.

This early version 12-A-58 is in excellent all original condition. It was found in Reno and was undoubtedly sold by Nevada Machinery and Electric Co., Reno's Zenith dealer. The 1936 selling price was $159.95. Without a doubt, the 12-A-58 grille is a representation of the Olympic Torch along with the Olympic Wreath. Some of the 1936 Zenith advertising does mention that the "Torch" grille was to commemorate the 1936 Olympics. In collector circles, the 12-A-58 is sometimes referred to as the Zenith "Torch Radio" Unfortunately, another much-used moniker is the "Baby Stratosphere." This is a ridiculous nickname that has no basis in any Zenith advertising and is merely a recently appearing eBay seller's gimmick used to drive up the final auction price. To avoid confusion, the correct model numbers should always be used to identify any of the Zenith radios.


Model  5-S-127




Small tube-count, table model radios were good sellers and the five tube circuit was just about the minimum number of tubes for a superheterodyne circuit to function with. The rectifier tube reduces the number of tubes in the actual receiver circuit to four. The converter tube allows both local oscillator and mixer functions within one tube envelope. The IF amplifier tube accounts for one tube while the functions of detector, AVC and first AF amplifier are performed by a duplex diode-triode tube. Finally, the audio output tube accounts for the fourth tube. This use of multi-function tubes, the converter tube and the duplex diode-triode, allowed Zenith (and most other manufacturers) the ability to offer decent performance with a minimum number of actual tubes present on the chassis. The reduced number of tubes allowed for a lower selling price which appealed to many cash-challenged radio buyers in the late-thirties. Price was $39.95.

Zenith provided the "Big Black Dial" even in these small tube-count radios giving the owner the impression of a substantial apparatus. And, for the average user, the performance was more than adquate. These five tube circuits do sound great on the AM BC band and the six-inch electrodynamic speaker responds well in the larger cabinet of these particular style radios. On shortwave however, the limited front-end selectivity allows rampant images to start showing up by 10mc. But, in 1937, only the shortwave enthusiasts would have noticed that and they would have been looking for a larger tube-count radio for their shortwave listening.


Model 10-S-160


Zenith's 1937 models continued the "Big Black Dial" with the higher tube-count models featuring a "bull's eye" type of shadow graph tuning indicator. The shadow graph is essentially a meter that measures carrier level of AM signals. Instead of a needle, the shadow graph uses a rotating vane. The vane is rotated (as a meter needle would increase) with signal strength. Behind the vane is a small lamp the casts a shadow on the back of a target piece of semi-transparent plastic. As viewed from the front, the shadow appears to widen or narrow depending on the signal strength. This would be how the 1936 Zenith shadow graph worked (along with many other manufacturer's shadow graphs.) The 1937 Zenith models are different and use an armature needle that had a ball on the end. With the 1937 shadow arrangement in the Zeniths, the shadow of the ball appears to move within the "bull's eye" with the proper tuning being when the ball is centered in the target (or as close to the center as possible.)

The larger 1937 models also were fitted with a papier-mâché "beehive adapter" over the 12" speaker. The beehive was called an Acoustic Adaptor and it could be adjusted to provide bass response for the room where the radio was installed. About 10 watts from the Push-pull 6L6 audio output (optional 6F6s could also be used) was the main feature that distinguished the 10-S-160 from the smaller consoles in 1937. The acoustic adapter and the acoustic amplifier along with the push-pull audio resulted in impressive sound capabilities.

Certainly, for the 10-S-160, the feature that is most innovative is the cabinet style. The upper-side gadrooning, gold stripping and unusual grille cloth (the photo shows the original style grille cloth used) all give this model a unique appearance that is either appreciated or abhorred. This 10-S-160 also has the "shaped" convex glass dial cover that bulges in the center, however the gold "Zenith" logo is not on this particular glass which is the original glass in this radio. Generally these "shaped" glass dial covers are on the earlier 1937 production year models.

This 10-S-160 was purchased new in 1937 from Nevada Machinery & Electric in Reno by the Guallo family. The radio never left the Guallo house for the next sixty years, at which time (1997) it was purchased for the museum. It is in all original condition. 


Model 12-U-159


If you wanted Zenith's "top-of-the-line" (and couldn't afford the Stratosphere models), the 12-U-159 was it. At $175.00, it offered the purchaser a 12 tube chassis with 4 bands (band-in-use illuminated and color-coded), a 12" bass speaker with a 6" treble speaker, shadow-graph tuning indicator and a beehive acoustical adaptor on the bass speaker. Push-pull 6L6 audio output produced about 10 watts of power (optional 6F6s could also be used.) The cabinetry was stunning with burl veneers, Japan trim and parquetry inlays. Much care was afforded the design of the transformer-coupled audio section and it results in the 12-U-159 being one of the best sounding Zenith console radios.

The 12-U-159 is a much larger radio than its predecessor, the 1936 12A58. Measuring four inches taller (at 45" tall) the cabinet is impressive in size. Also, the dial is 11" in diameter - the largest dial that Zenith ever produced - and it was only used on the two 1937 12 tube models. Unlike the 12A58, the 12-U-159 doesn't tune the LF band. Zenith, instead decided to offer continuous coverage tuning by replacing the LF coverage with an 18mc to 55mc band. At the time (1937,) the 11 year sunspot cycle was near maximum, the 10 meter amateur band was becoming very popular and many experimental wide-bandwidth "hi-fidelity" AM stations in the 50mc region were on the air. This probably proved to be more entertaining than the predominately CW signals that were from ships and coastal stations that were operating in the LF region. Today, though there is ample activity in the 18mc to 30 mc range, the signals do require good propagation conditions for reception and this is limited to daytime reception during the sunspot maximum during the 11 year sunspot cycle. Additionally, the 12-U-159's sensitivity on the top band is quite poor and requires very strong signals for successful copy.

The color coding on the "Big Black Dial" is subtle with no color used on the AM BC band (or white,) blue used for Police band, red used for the SW band and yellow used for the VHF band (called Ultra High Frequency on the 12-U-159 dial.) Don't expect vibrant colors in any of the 1937 Zenith Big Black Dials. The color is a very light, semi-transparent paint that was applied to the back of the dial. Some dials will have the numerals also colored but usually just the linear scale is colored. Some early versions of the 12-U-159 will have a "shaped" dial glass with "Zenith" in gold applied at the center-inside along with the "Seconds" scaling in white. Most sets have just the standard convex glass that has the "Seconds" scale applied on the inside of the glass (as shown in the photo.)      This 12-U-159 was found in Reno in the 1990s. 


What Happened in 1938?

The 1938 model Zenith radios show some interesting cost-cutting measures that were incorporated into design and construction. Notice that the 1938 (and later) power transformers are reduced in size. Whether or not the earlier power transformers were rated for continuous-duty while the later transformers weren't was never specified by Zenith but it's certainly more common to find bad power transformers in the later Zeniths.

1938 is also the year that Zenith stopped supporting the use of metal tubes in their radios. This resulted in all 1938 and later models not having pin one of the octal sockets connected to chassis. To have the metal tube shell act as a shield, pin one of the tube base is connected to the shell and then the corresponding radio tube socket has pin one connected to chassis, thus provided the grounded shield. When Zenith eliminated the "pin one to chassis" connection on their radio chassis this then required the user to purchase the glass tubes and use the separate tube shields that Zenith provided. If metal tubes were all that was available, and if the grid lead was long enough, the metal tube could be installed and then the tube shield installed to provide the shielding. Of course, the object of eliminating the "pin one to chassis" connection was to force radio owners to use Zenith glass tubes as replacements.  

Always looking to save a penny or two, Zenith reduced the number of tie-points used in the under-chassis construction in 1938. Notice that component leads are twisted together at junctions and then soldered, leaving the soldered junction pointing up in the air. Although electronically these were fine connections their appearance is rather crude-looking. Don't change these connections during a restoration since they are part of the chassis "lead dress" which can affect performance. Zenith expected that only technicians would be looking under the chassis anyway.

As the thirties ended, Zenith started using the problem-prone 6X5G cathode rectifier tube (used in most 1940 Zenith models.) Early versions of this tube developed cathode-to-heater shorts which usually burned-out the high-voltage winding in the power transformer. So, be sure to thoroughly check out the power transformer in a prospective late-thirties Zenith purchase if it's condition is unknown by the seller. You may find a serious problem lurking under the chassis.


Model 6-S-222


The "Cube" style, (introduced in 1937 with the 5-S-126), was so popular that Zenith kept it in the 1938 line-up at the same 1937 price of $39.95. The tube count was increased to six, although Zenith did this by replacing the duplex diode-triode (6Q7) with separate first audio amp (6F5) and a dual diode (6H6) so performance is about the same as the 1937 version. The larger cube radios featured AM BC plus two shortwave bands and a 6"speaker mounted in the top of the cabinet which resulted in a pleasing sound quality due to hearing the sound wave indirectly. In referring to the various "Cube" models one should use the proper model number since using just "Zenith Cube" is confusing because there are so many Zenith models that used various types of cube-style cabinets.

In 1964, for my fourteenth birthday, I was given a Zenith 6-S-222 for listening to shortwave. This was my very first radio and it started my life-long interest in vintage radios. Unfortunately, the 6-S-222 shown in the photo is not my original radio. In 1973, during a move, I made a hasty decision and my original 6-S-222 went to the dump. The 6-S-222 shown is the third one I've owned - I think I'll keep this one.

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Model 7-S-240


The "Robot Dial" (aka: shutter-dial) was introduced in Zenith's 1938 models. All of the larger models featured this fancy, mechanically articulated band-in-use dial scale. As a particular tuning range is selected the dial scales retract and only the correct scale appears. The illumination is a single bulb from the center of the dial. Since each of the scales are metal with white nomenclature on black paint the center-to-edge illumination is fairly dim and makes the shutter-dials sometimes difficult to read at night in the "lights-out" listening mode. The 1938 models featured the shutter-dial on seven tube models on up. In 1939, the shutter-dial is on nine tube models on up and for 1940 to 1942 only the 12 tube models and larger feature the shutter-dial. Certainly the expense of the shutter-dial limited its use to only the higher tube-count Zeniths.

For 1938, most models included a cathode-ray tuning indicator to replace Zenith's old "bull's eye" shadow-graph. The tuning-eye tube required an RCA license to use so many manufacturers (like Philco) never used them. Again, because of the expense, only higher tube-count Zeniths use the tuning-eye tube with the same sort of installation versus tube-count that is found with the shutter-dial use.

The 7-S-240 is a chair-side model. These smaller-than-a-console radios were popular in the late-thirties for apartments or other limited spaces. With the 7-S-240, the unusual cabinet allowed of storage of magazines and books. The sound quality from the eight-inch speaker is fairly good but certainly not up the level of the higher tube-count chassis.


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"232 Series"

Models 7-S-232, 7-J-232, 9-S-232 & 12-S-232


For 1938, Zenith offered a deluxe table model radio featuring the new Robot Dial and Cathode-ray Tuning Indicator in a superbly styled, machine age cabinet. Four versions were available - two different seven-tube chassis, a nine-tube chassis and a twelve-tube chassis. The nine and twelve-tube models had motor-drive tuning.   All models utilized an eight-inch electrodynamic speaker, (except the "J" model farm-set  which used an 8" PM speaker.) These were expensive sets with the 7S232 selling for $74.95, the 7J232 going for $79.95, the 9S232 price was $89.95 and the 12S232 topping the price list at $99.95. Shown in the photo is the seven-tube AC model, the 7-S-232 which was found in Reno.

The 1970s TV series, "The Waltons," featured a 232 model in several episodes, hence the common collector nickname - Zenith Walton. It's confusing to use this moniker because it seems dealers have applied "Walton" to any of the 232 models. It's commonly believed that the Zenith used on the TV series was a 12-S-232, which should then be the correct "Walton" version. It's better and more accurate to refer to the particular radio by its proper Zenith model number - no confusion that way.

It's worth noting that the grille cloth on this 7-S-232 is a reproduction. When found, this radio had brown velvet for the grille cloth - cool. Otherwise the radio is all original.


Model 12-S-267


For 1938, all Zenith radios that had nine-tube chassis or higher tube-counts featured motor-drive tuning. Although called "automatic" tuning, it really wasn't since the user had to hold the actuator knob until the dial pointer was close to the frequency desired and then release the knob. The motor did reverse directions and allowed covering one end of the tuning range to the other easily. The motor drive tuning is only featured on the larger 1938 chassis since the following year brought electronic automatic tuning using push buttons which eliminated the need of "motor tuning" from one station to another.

Also, 1938 is the last year of wooden knobs for the majority of models. Some wooden knobs were still used in 1939 but molded plastic was being used more and more, especially on the larger console models. The 1938 Tone Control is switched preset audio compensations of Foreign (short wave reception - reduced bass,) Bass (reduced highs,) High Fidelity (wide response - lots of highs with some lows,) Normal (not so wide response) and Voice (some highs, reduced lows for better intelligibility.) The audio response of the 12 tube sets for 1938 is very good but its a difficult choice as to whether the High Fidelity or Bass sounds best - it's probably a subjective choice that's very dependent on the program material and the volume level that it's listened to.

The high-end 12 tube model for 1938 was the 12-S-267 which featured Zenith's departure from transformer coupled audio. The 1938 12 tube models used a vacuum tube phase-inverter circuit in place of the interstage-coupling transformer. This was less expensive to produce and generally trouble-free. For the top-priced 12 tube model the dual speakers used in the earlier models were dropped although the acoustical adapter (beehive back cover over the speaker) continued to be used on the 12" electro-dynamic speaker. The frequency coverage was standard for Zenith in 1938, that is, Standard AM-BC (540kc to 1700kc,) Police Band (1.6mc to 6.5mc) and Short Wave (6.5mc to 18.0mc.) Certainly the stunning cabinet with deco and machine-age styling using various linear angled veneers makes the 12-S-267 standout. The grille cloth features a "rolled" bulging center piece that sets-off the whole bottom of the cabinet. Of course, the Robot Dial is featured on the 12-S-267.

The 12-S-267 shown in the photo left is awaiting restoration. I do have the piece that is missing on the base. Luckily, the Zenith "block" pattern grille cloth is being reproduced. This cabinet had been painted black sometime in its past. A former owner had the cabinet refinished however it's not a very good job and I'll have to re-do it in the correct Zenith color with grain filler and lacquer. I'll add new photos when the project is complete. The musical instrument in the background is my 1938 - DEAGAN - Model 35 "Mercury" - Vibraharp (sometimes these instruments are called Vibraphones but Deagans are always Vibraharps.)  


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Model 6-S-330


Zenith continued to offer its six-tube chassis table model for 1939 at the same 1938 price of $39.95. Electronic tuning push-buttons made their debut in the 1939 Zenith line (though mechanical push-buttons had been popular on Zenith radios in the late twenties.) The radio tunes AM-BC and two Shortwave Bands with a six-inch speaker delivering pleasing audio. The cabinet is finished in Nydoc, a decal-like application that resulted in a faux finish that resembled burl veneer after the finish coat of toned lacquer was applied. Nydoc (and the lacquer finish coat) is notorious for chipping and flaking leaving the white wood base exposed.

This near perfect, original example spent the last sixty-odd years in the dark upstairs rooms of the vacant Werrin Bldg. in Virginia City, Nevada. Electricity was crudely wired to the upstairs rooms in the Werrin Bldg. and the last tenants moved out in 1947. All of the windows were covered with external metal shutters leaving the interior very dark regardless of the time of day. When I first saw the five radios that were in the upstairs rooms in 1994 I had to inspect them with a flashlight. Even though a tentative deal was made on the five radios, I never was able to complete the transaction with the owners. Instead the owners allowed their "renters" to sell the radios to the tourists over the years. The last radio to be sold was this Zenith and fortunately, I knew the collector that purchased it. After acquiring the Zenith, he came down to the museum with his "new find." Upon hearing where he had purchased the Zenith, I recognized it and knew it was the "last" radio that was going to be available from the Werrin Bldg. Luckily, I was able to offer in trade a mint condition Hickok 6000A tube tester for the radio. Maybe the Hickok was worth a bit more than the Zenith but it was the Werrin Bldg. provenance that I was interested in. 


Model 10-S-452


Zenith's 10 tube chassis for 1940 was offered in many different cabinets but certainly the most attractive was the chairside model. The art deco influence was enhanced with contrasting Japan trim (in dark brown) and booked walnut veneers. Also included was a 10 inch speaker, built-in wavemagnet antenna and casters (for easy moving.) The sound emanating from this little package is spectacular.

Believe-it-or-not, this radio was found under a house in Reno. Most of the finish was gone from years of what would normally be considered the poorest of storage conditions. However, the east slope of the Sierras is noted for its very dry conditions. Since the radio cabinet was not exposed directly to rain or snow, just dryness, all that happened was that the finish fell off. The radio chassis had no corrosion. I generally advocate keeping a radio as original as possible but this one was an exception. After all, how much more damage would refinishing do? This cabinet was done with several coats of amber shellac followed by two coats of lacquer. I tried to duplicate what is usually found on Zenith finishes here in Western Nevada. That is, somewhat faded orange-brown in color that is caused by the exposure to UV at high elevations.


Model 12-S-471


For 1940, Zenith changed the shutter-dial design for the 12 tube and larger radios. These shutter-dials, called the "Triple-Spectrum Robot Dial," feature three different colors for the dial scales. Black was used for the AM BC band, blue was used for the Police band and gold was used for the SW band. The 1940 models also improved the Radio Organ buttons from the "pull hooks" used in 1939 to "rocker levers" for 1940 models. Zenith claimed the Radio Organ could give 64 different tone combinations. By 1940 all Zenith models were fitted with molded plastic knobs.

The 12-S-471 featured a fabulous modern design cabinet with a slight hint of art deco but the design also seems to have some of a south-west influence to its appearance. The receiver uses 12 tubes with a tuning eye tube, P-P audio and a 12 inch speaker. 1940 is the first model year that Zenith started to use the problematic 6X5G rectifier tube in which early versions had a tendency to develop cathode-to-heater shorts. This generally caused the HV winding on the puny power transformer to open. It's very common to find 1940 Zeniths with a replacement power transformer installed. In fact, when first obtained, this 12-S-471 had a replacement transformer and had been converted to use a 5U4 rectifier. I managed to find another 1940 12 tube parts chassis with a good original power transformer and that was used in the rebuild of this set. To protect the power transformer one shouldn't use the older 6X5G tubes but should use the later 6X5GTA versions that corrected the design flaw that was in the original versions of the tube.

Besides the chassis problems, this 12-S-471 had the dreaded "potted plant syndrome." I don't know how long a potted plant resided on top of this Zenith but it was long enough to absolutely destroy the top veneer. It was rotted through in the center and warped everywhere else. I replaced the ruined veneer with a new piece of "iron-on" walnut veneer. Many of the new veneers will have glue already applied on the backside that is heat-activated and this type of application actually works very well. You just have to prep the surface really well for the veneer glue to have a good surface to adhere to. The finish was grain filler, amber shellac and lacquer. Only the top was finished, the rest of the cabinet is original finish.

The sound quality of the 12-S-471 is excellent with the typical Zenith "booming" bass. A very nice radio for night-time as the cathode-ray tuning indicator and great dial illumination (for a shutter-dial anyway) give just the proper ambiance for "Lights Out" listening.

 Henry Rogers © 2001/2018

New editing and additional information © November 2013, added 5-S-127 Sept 2018


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Website Navigation Index

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Western Historic Radio Museum Information
 Contact Info, Museum History 1994-2012, Museum Photo Tour, Using Photos and Info from this Website & Radio Value Info

Nevada Radio History - 1906 to 1930
Arthur Raycraft, Nevada's "Father of Wireless," America's First Radio Tour, Early Nevada BC Stations & More

KOWL's Gates BC-250L BC Transmitter
2007 Move from Lake Tahoe - Restoration - PLUS -  2013 Move to Dayton, Nevada & Getting on 160M

Parish House History
1876 to Present
Virginia City, Nevada

Lots of Photos


- Wireless Apparatus, 1920s Radio and Communications Equipment  ~  Full Length Articles with Photos -

M.H. Dodd's 1912 Wireless Station
100th Anniversary  Edition 
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Universal, Intermediate Wave and Short Wave Models History, Restoration and Operation - Lots of Photos

"A Guide to the Synchrophase MU-1"
Comprehensive Manufacturing History, Restoration, Neutralizing, Performance Information - Lots of Photos


 SE-1420, IP-501 & IP-501A
"The Classic Shipboard Wireless Receivers"
Comprehensive History, Restoration and Operation Info - Tuning in NDBs with IP-501-A

Vintage Long Wave Receivers
Long Wave Receiver Profiles, Loop Antenna Info, NDB Info and Log,
Fallon NV "Master - M" Loran Station Tour



- Vintage Communications & Amateur Radio Equipment  ~  Full Length Articles with Photos -

National Co. - HRO Receiver
"The Cream of the Crop" 
Comprehensive History, Serial Numbers, Restoration, Lots of Photos & More

National Co. - NC-100 Series
"Moving Coil"  Receivers 
Comprehensive History, Serial Numbers, Restoration & More - Includes Civilian Versions, Military Versions & Airport Versions

Hallicrafters SX-28
"A Pre-war Masterpiece"

Comprehensive History, Serial Number Analysis, Restoration Details & More

Hallicrafters DD-1 "Skyrider Diversity"
Comprehensive History, Serial Numbers & Restoration Details

NEW!          Navy Dept - RCA - RAA-3 Receiver
1930s Ship or Shore Station Longwave Superheterodyne
History, Circuit Design & Construction Details,
Restoration Log with Lot of Photos

 RCA's Amazing AR-88 Receivers
Comprehensive History, Restoration Info, How to do IF Sweep Alignments, Serial Numbers & More

RCA's Legendary AR-60 Receiver
Comprehensive History, Serial Number Analysis, Restoration Details & More - including the AR-60 connection to Amelia Earhart's Disappearance

Hammarlund Mfg.Co.,Inc
The Incredible Pre-War 'Super-Pro'
Comprehensive History, Serial Number Analysis, Restoration Details. Includes info on the Hammarlund Comet Pro

Patterson Radio Company
   PR-10 Receiver & Pre-selector              
Comprehensive History, Los Angeles Radio Mfgs History, Circuit Details, Serial Numbers, Restoration Details & More

NEW!    Hallicrafters' Super-Pro, the R-274 Receiver
Comprehensive History, Circuit details with Comparison to the Hammarlund SP-600, Restoration Details, Best features of each Receiver. Yes! You can VOTE for your favorite Super Pro


-  Rebuilding Communications Equipment  ~  Full Length Articles with Photos -

Rebuilding the R-390A Receiver
Detailed Restoration Information for each module with Lots of Photos

Rebuilding the ART-13 Transmitter
Detailed Restoration info - includes details on building AC power supplies (with schematics) Lots of Photos

Rebuilding the Hammarlund SP-600
Detailed Restoration Information with Lots of Photos

           T-368 Military Transmitter                    
Detailed Information on Reworking, Testing and
Operation with Lots of Photos

Rebuilding and Operating the AN/GRC-19
T-195 XMTR & R-392 RCVR

 Detailed Information with Lots of Photos

Successfully Operating the BC-375 on the Ham Bands Today
Detailed Information on Power Set-ups that Work, Dynamic Neutralization, BC-191 Info & More

Rebuilding the Collins 51J Series Receivers
Detailed Restoration Information with Lots of Photos - Includes R-388 Receiver

Rebuilding the BC-348 Receiver
Detailed Information on all BC-348 Types, Dynamotor Retrofit Information, AC Power Supply Enhancement - Lots of Photos

Building an Authentic 1937 Ham Station
Utah Radio Products - UAT-1 Transmitter


- WHRM Radio Photo Galleries with Text -

Entertainment Radios from 1922 to 1950

Roaring 20s Radios
1922 to 1929

Vintage Table Radios
1930 to 1950

Floor Model Radios (Consoles)
1929 to 1939

Only Zenith Radios
1930 to 1940

Communications Equipment from 1909 to 1959 - Commercial, Military & Amateur

 Early Ham & Commercial Wireless Gear
1909 to 1927

Classic Pre-WWII Ham Gear
1928 to 1941

WWII Communications Equipment
 U.S. Navy & U.S. Army Signal Corps  1941 to 1945

Commercial & Military
Communications Gear
1932-1941 & 1946-1967

Post-WWII Ham Gear
1946 to 1959

Vintage Broadcast Equipment, RTTY, Telegraph Keys & Vintage Test Equipment

Vintage Microphones
 & Vintage Broadcast Gear
1930 to 1950s

Radio Teletype - RTTY - with Real Machines
includes TTY Machines, Military TUs and Amateur TUs

Telegraph Keys - 1900 to 1955
"From Straight Keys to Bugs"
Hand Keys and Semi-Automatic Telegraph Keys

Vintage Test Equipment
1900 to 1970

Includes Tube Testers, Freq Meters, Wobulators and More


Radio Boulevard
Western Historic Radio Museum

 Vintage Radio Communication Equipment Rebuilding & Restoration Articles,

 Vintage Radio History and WHRM Radio Photo Galleries

1909 - 1959



This website created and maintained by: Henry Rogers - Radio Boulevard, Western Historic Radio Museum © 1997/2017