FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions

Many of the emails I receive ask the same questions. To save you and me some time, I have assembled the most frequently asked questions (with answers) on this page.

Do you have service data for....

The only service data I have available is that listed on the website. Please check my Service Data Instant Downloads. Individual service sheets are only supplied by email, and payment can only be accepted by credit card. There are companies which do a good job of supplying photocopied service data, and I am not out to compete with them. If you would prefer printed data, or wish to use an alternative payment method, please refer to the Suppliers section of the website for a list of alternative suppliers who can accommodate your requirements. The same suppliers may also be able to help if the data you require is not listed.

If you are looking for schematics for American sets, you will find a good selection for free download at http://www.nostalgiaair.org.

You can also ask in the discussion forums - someone out there may have the data or know where you can get it.

Can you repair my set?

I am currently unable to carry our repairs on equipment other than items in my own collection, due to lack of time. Please refer to the Repairers list on the website for a list of repairers around the country. If you are not in the UK, you will probably have more success with websites based in your part of the world - try the Links page.

But in the Manufactures and Sets section you say several sets were repairs for customers.....

Yes - but that was before I was commuting back and forth to Gloucester every day, and before I was spending quite a lot of my free time working on the CD-ROMs. Then I had the time, now unfortunately I don't. I don't even have the time to repair and restore many of my own sets!

How much is my set worth?

I am unable to give valuations on sets, because the prices asked and paid vary so much from one event to another. The best I can suggest is that the set is worth as much as someone is willing to pay you for it! Dealers catalogues and websites are a good guide, but remember that these are generally offering fully refurbished and guaranteed sets. A good set of the same type in as-found condition will be worth less than half this figure. Sets with incorrect, missing or broken parts are worth considerably less. Knobs, tuning scales and backs in particular are items that need to be present and correct. Any damage to the cabinet (in particular cracks in Bakelite cabinets) also has a detrimental effect on the value.

I have a post-war radiogram for sale/disposal. Is it of value? Are you interested?

No, it's worth very little I'm afraid. Radiograms dating from the 1950s onwards come onto the market regularly, and are often in beautiful condition, having been well-cared for all their lives. These units often become available as part of an estate, with executors desperate to find someone who will take them.

Because of their bulk, unremarkable styling and the sheer quantity of them available, '50s and '60s radiograms are not sought after by collectors and are consequently of almost zero market value. I never purchase - nor accept as gifts - any such units.

There are very few exceptions to the above. Desirable radiograms always date prior to 1950 and are even then strictly limited to very rare editions or the ultra-high-grade Decca, Dynatron, and pre-war HMV models (if your radiogram is stereo it will not be in this catagory). Otherwise there will be little interest.

You could try an advert in the local newspaper. Otherwise I can only suggest the local bric-a-brac or charity shop (although many of these will not accept any electrical goods), a local household goods auction, and finally if all else fails - the tip.

If you resort to the tip, please remove the valves and knobs first, since these parts may be of use to valve radio restorers.

This answer is based on text from the Radiocraft website.

How old is my set?

It is very difficult to date a set accurately from a description. Please take a look at the Dating Sets page, which gives more information on this subject. It is often the case that sets turn out to be more recent than the owner thinks.

Can you help me identify my set?

I am not able to identify a set from a photograph. Although I may have service data for it, I do not have the time it takes to search through dozens or hundreds of service sheets relating to a particular manufacturer. Many service sheets do not have photos, or only have a picture of one of several models covered, so even if I did have the time the chances of success are fairly slim.

The best approach, with British sets, is to note the details you do know (wavebands, valve line-up, power supply etc.) then search this online database. It does not yet contain details of all sets made, but it does contain a good selection of the more popular models. From the results of this search you should be able to narrow it down to maybe half a dozen models, at which point it may be practical for me to look at the data in an attempt to pinpoint the exact one.

I have just found or bought a set, should I plug it in and try it?

If the set has not been used for a number of years, great caution should be taken when applying power to it. There is a very real risk that the stress of applying mains power will cause serious damage, either immediately or after a period of time. An exploding electrolytic capacitor is something you do not want to experience! The risk is greater still if the set has not been stored at room temperature and humidity for the whole period of storage. Please refer to the relevant sections of the website for more details.

If you do not feel you are technically competent, please refer to one of the Repairers on my website BEFORE applying power to your set.

I have just moved into this house and found a set.....

If you have moved recently and found a set in your new home, do not assume it is yours. Legally it probably still belongs to the previous owner of the house. You should contact the previous owners to find out if they want the set. If you have been in the house for some time (perhaps over six months) you may be able to assume the set has been forgotten or abandoned, but you should check with your solicitor or other competent legal expert before claiming it. If the previous owner of the house has died you should contact whoever is dealing with the will and other legal matters. If you sell the set or do any work on it, and then the original owner reclaims it, you could be in a very awkward position legally and morally.

My answer to this question is based on my understanding of the legal situation. However I am not a legal expert so my answer may be inaccurate and should not be relied upon. Always check the legal position with a suitably qualified person first.

What sort of aerial should I use?

For most practical purposes, an adequate aerial for MW and LW reception is a 3 metre (10 feet) length of insulated wire, held upwards. This should give good reception of local and powerful stations.

For VHF reception, one of the T-shaped wire aerials supplied for use with hi-fi systems will suffice (try Maplin or your local TV shop).

Unless your set has been professionally refurbished and deemed to be electrically safe, I do not recommend connecting an external earth connection. Although this can help with reception, the level of earth leakage current from an as-found set would be sufficient to operate any ELCBs (earth leakage circuit breakers) in your house. Remember that a normal valve radio is unlikely to be as sensitive as a modern transistor set, so you should really only expect to receive the more powerful stations satisfactorily.

I am considering carrying out a modification to my set. What do you think?

I have been in discussions with a few people about this subject recently. It's the sort of subject that there will never be total agreement on. I have given some information and opinions on the Modifications page, which might interest you. As with the rest of this website, comments and opinions are invited!

Do you want to buy my set?

I am not really in the market to buy sets, but if you have items for sale please send me a list, with prices, for consideration. I am very unlikely to pay more than �30 for a set, so if you are asking more than this then you can assume I will not be interested. If you don't include the prices I will delete your email without replying to it.

It is worth advertising your set in the relevant section of my discussion forums, again with prices and your approximate location (adverts without prices and locations will be removed). It has a fairly good success rate, as long as you are realistic!

Who will buy my set?

If you have an early, rare or exceptionally good set to sell, or are in the market to buy such a set, I recommend you to contact Steve Harris at On The Air near Chester. However he is unlikely to be interested in more ordinary post-war models.

There are also a number of other good dealers listed on the Suppliers section of the website. Many of these have websites which will give you an idea of the types of set they deal in. In particular I can recommend Past Times Radio.

When dealing with dealers, remember that they have business to run! Therefore the prices charged will be higher than those in auctions, and the prices paid for sets will probably be lower. Dealers have to buy sets with little more than a visual inspection, then overhaul them to a high standard, clean and polish the cabinet, advertise the set, sell it with a guarantee, and still make enough profit on the transaction to cover their overheads and give them a reasonable income. It is a full time job, and they have mortgages to pay and families to feed too! So please don't feel offended if a dealer offers you a low price for your set then advertises it for considerably more a few weeks later.

You could offer it on eBay, but make sure you have good clear photos, an accurate and concise description and a realistic starting price.

It is worth advertising your set in the relevant section of my discussion forums, with prices (adverts without prices will be removed). It costs nothing to try.

Do you sell valves or other components?

I do not sell components or other spares. Please refer to the Suppliers page on my website for a list of suppliers. On the rare occasion that I do have sets or other items available, they will be announced on the website.

I have a problem with my TV/Amplifier/Ham/Military equipment.....

I am unable to help with any queries relating to vintage television equipment, amateur and ham radio equipment, valve hi-fi equipment, guitar and PA amplifiers, telephones etc. My area of interest and knowledge is valve and early transistor domestic broadcast radio receivers only. I am also unable to help with enquiries relating to sets that were not made or sold in the UK. Please take a look at the Links and Repairers pages, to see if you can find anyone who may be able to help you.

There are sections in discussion forums for many of these vintage technologies, so this is a good place to start.

My set does not work. Can you tell me what's wrong with it?

This sort of question is best asked in the relevant section of my discussion forums, where it will be seen by a number of people, including me. Emails regarding specific set faults will receive a standard reply asking you to post your message in the forums.

If you are posting a message in the forums, please include as much information as possible. Long-distance diagnosis is difficult at the best of times, and without full information it is impossible. Firstly please state the exact make and model (if known), since this will allow us to refer to the service information (if available). We also need as much information as possible about the problem; is it totally dead or is there a bit of hiss, hum or crackle? Do the valve heaters glow visibly? What tests and repairs have you done so far?

Do you have a copy of the service data for the set? If not, please try to obtain this first (it may be available via my Service Data by Email facility). If you are referring to specific components in your message, please state what service data you are using (Trader sheet, manufacturers service data etc), since the component references sometimes vary.

If you or a previous repairer has done any work on the set, check these areas very carefully. Many problems are caused by inadequate previous repairs or by mistakes made while repairing other faults. Before you write, please read the relevant sections of the website, since many questions I receive are already adequately answered there.

I can't do this fault diagnosis, I just want a quick-fix solution. Can I just change a valve.....

Valves are nowhere near as unreliable as people think, and most valve radio faults are not caused by valves (the most likely culprits are capacitors).

Most faults with vintage radio equipment require some diagnosis. Often a number of components under the chassis will need replacement due to age. It's not the sort of job that can be done in five minutes.

It's rather like servicing the car - some people have an aptitude or knack or ability to do it themselves, others take it to the garage. You can learn to do it yourself, and save some money, but it takes some time and effort, and you may make a few mistakes along the way. If you are willing to have a go, ask in the discussion forums, where we are always happy to help guide people who want to learn.

If you do not feel you are in a position to do the job yourself, for whatever reason, then I refer you to the list of repairers who will be happy to quote you for the work required. And I am sure their hourly rates will be much lower than the local franchised car dealership!

I followed the advice on your website and something went wrong.....

The advice on this website is just that - advice. It is not hard-and-fast instructions that will work in every instance, it is just suggestions and guidance. I cannot be held responsible for advice which is given in good faith. Hence the disclaimer on the front page of the website and at the bottom of every page.

If you do find any errors or inconsistencies in the information given, please let me know!

Why isn't the ........ set in the Manufacturers and Sets section?

Because I don't have the set in my collection, and nobody has sent me a picture and information yet.

If you have the set in your collection, please send me a picture and some information (like that given for sets that are already included) and I will be pleased to add it with an appropriate acknowledgement.

Can you put a link to my website, if I put a link to yours?

I don't play the "let's swap links" game. I won't link to your site just because you have linked to mine!

If you wish to link to my website, you are most welcome. Please link to the front page (http://www.vintage-radio.com) or to the first index.html page (http://www.vintage-radio.com/index.html) ONLY, because other pages may move or be renamed periodically.

If you want me to link to your website, please send me the URL and I will take a look at it. I am tending to link to websites that offer real information, rather than just galleries of pictures. This is especially true with websites outside the UK. The website doesn't have to be fancy, but it does need to be tidy, clear and easy to navigate. Sites that don't get updated at least once a year are likely to be removed. If your website doesn't work properly with Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or has popup adverts or other annoyances, then you won't get a link! Obviously the site has to be of interest or relevance to visitors to this site.

Can I take some of the pictures or information on your website and put it on mine?

Generally no. The only exception is that you may use a few pictures if you need them to illustrate some information you are writing for your website about that particular set, and you do not have any pictures. You must be providing real information and not just making a site of pictures. The source of the picture must be acknowledged clearly close to the picture on your page. This applies only to pictures that I have taken myself. Pictures from other websites that I have used are the copyright of that website and you should check there. If in doubt, please contact me with some details about what you want to use and for what purpose.

If you wish to use any other information please contact me with full details, and I will consider it. If you are producing a website that will be of real interest and value to vintage radio collectors in the UK we will probably be able to come to a satisfactory agreement.

Can I use a photo from your website when selling an item on eBay?

No. When selling on eBay you MUST include photographs of the actual item you are selling, not just something that looks similar. If I find any photos from this website used on eBay I will report the matter to eBay. The same applies if you take any part of my descriptions or add links to pages on this site.

I want to contact you but don't have email. Can I have your phone or fax number, or home address?

No. I don't have fax, and my phone number is deliberately kept private and is ex-directory. The website and CD-ROMs are done as a hobby. I have a full time job and a social life, so I cannot receive phone calls about vintage radio matters at any time that suits you.

If you don't have email, but obviously do have Internet access, why not set up an email address with one of the organisations that offer free web-based email, such as Hotmail or Yahoo?

Alternatively, you can write to me by snail-mail. The address is: Paul Stenning, PO Box 170, 89 Commercial Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5RR, England.

Are you sure you need to contact me directly? You may find the discussion forums are a more appropriate place for your query.

Why do you keep on about your discussion forums?

Because for most enquiries I receive, they would be a more appropriate place. For general questions about repair and restoration, problems with specific sets, obtaining components and information, offering sets for sale (private sellers only) etc., the forums are a much better place because your message will be seen by dozens of people and not just me. You are much more likely to get a useful answer, or even several useful answers and suggestions. I check the forums every day, so I will see your message and will answer it if I can help.

The only communications I want to receive directly are those about matters that concern just you and me, such as CD-ROM and service data orders etc.

My question is not on this page.

Send me a message via the Contact Me page or ask in the forums. Please try to give as much detail as possible, to help me answer your question quickly and accurately. Thanks.

If it's a good question, it may form the basis of a question on the next update of this page!

This website, including all text and images not otherwise credited, is copyright © 1997 - 2006 Paul Stenning.
No part of this website may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from Paul Stenning.
All details are believed to be accurate, but no liability can be accepted for any errors.
The types of equipment discussed on this website may contain high voltages and/or operate at high temperatures.
Appropriate precautions must always be taken to minimise the risk of accidents.

Last updated 14th April 2006.