I recently had the privilege of working on this beautiful 1936 Zenith 5-S-29 tabletop radio. It’s a beautiful 5-tube table radio with a 6-inch speaker and the iconic black Zenith dial and lightning bolt Z pointer. This one is special, too, because it has a swept second hand to enable fine tuning.
This radio came to me locally from its owner who had purchased it on eBay a short time ago in “restored” condition. Unfortunately due to a memory issue with my camera the first set of photos was lost. The radio had definitely had some work, but this is definitely a case of “buyer beware” on eBay: it looked like the previous technician got bored half-way through and left most of the original capacitors intact. About 3 had been replaced with film capacitors, and the electrolytic capacitors had been replaced, but otherwise it was all original. The dial had some coloration wiped off the back, too, and a dried out rubber band instead of a proper dial belt. The zipties were there as well, although they appear to be serving their purpose so I left them alone.
The curved glass dial is held in place by a metal clip ring around the outside. Inside between the dial face itself and the glass was a ring of cork as a spacer.
In order to replace the dial belt it’s necessary to remove the dial ring.
The dials, side by side:
New dial belt slipped over both pulleys, and dial holder replaced:
I carefully re-glued the cork spacer (with its original gap in the ring) to the perimeter of the new dial face.
Dial pointers reinstalled on the dial:
I performed an RF and IF alignment to peak up the signal and really bring out the rich tone. Afterwards, 880 KIXI is coming in nearly spot-on. Prior to the alignment, it was coming in about 910. It tuned very well through all 3 bands – even bringing in 3 shortwave stations on Band C with the shop antenna! It’s that kind of reception that made Zenith famous with their “Long Distance” radios. Even an entry level set like this one was capable of excellent performance.
Reinstalled in the cabinet! Fully serviced and aligned, this radio will play beautifully in its owner’s home with a wonderful rich tone. Just in time for Christmas, too!