It’s not uncommon to run across antique or vintage radios on Craigslist, eBay and other sales site which are advertised as “working”, “repaired” or “restored”. Many times these are in fact professionally reconditioned items – just like you read about here – but occasionally, there are some critical hidden problems to look out for. Let’s take a look at an underside photo which was included in the for sale posting:
Not too bad! It looks like there’s some new capacitors carefully installed – but there’s a problem. Can you spot it?
Again, with a hint this time! Several original paper capacitors look to be installed in the radio. It’s even believable they might work – by and large they’ll be well past their service lifetime, but through dumb luck you do occasionally find vintage capacitors which are still technically operational. Even if one is working now, though, they are universally all completely unsafe for operation for any length of time. Old vintage capacitors like these can spontaneously fail and short out, which can damage the radio or even start a fire! A repair like this is not in compliance with the best practices for antique radio repair, and I wouldn’t let one out of my shop in such a condition, that’s for sure!
If you’re buying an antique radio or vintage radio and have the opportunity, ask for photos of the underside of the chassis or ask to inspect it personally and check for old parts. If you’re having your old radio serviced, make sure to choose a reputable repair shop or service technician who will follow best practices and replace all components which are subject to spontaneous failure – not just the ones which are bad “right now”. Your radio – and maybe your home – depend on it!