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Author Topic: Antique Magnascope wood restoration  (Read 3825 times)

Posts: 309


« on: August 26, 2012, 07:03:50 AM »

I bought an old Magnascope AM/SW at a pawn shop yesterday and it actually works.

I would like to restore it, either to keep it in our already antique riddled living room, or maybe post it on Ebay.

Did a search on wood restoration here in this forum and found very little.

My question: I know painting a metal cabinet is a no-no.  But what about wood?  Is the value/worth of the radio lessened by a re-finish job?

If the answer is no, how would you fill in a couple of minor chips?  Would you use a wood filler? (Again....does it reduce the value of the radio?  And....will the filler stay put???)  Or would sculpting a couple of mini-pieces of wood, gluing them into place and then sanding be a smarter idea??

Never have had to do a re-finish on an antique before.  I have a Stewart-Warner console and an old 1948 Monkey-Ward Airline floor model that have beautiful finishes for their age.  However, this radio has a rough finish.

Works fantastic!  You just can't beat tube audio!

73, Bill - WA8MEA

Posts: 3152

« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 08:09:38 AM »

Bill --

For BEST RESULTS in your DELCO Magnascope AM/SW radio restoration,
 I would suggest other forums that are targeted for this type of restoration (Antique Radio Receivers 1920 - 1950).

Antique Radio Forums

There are individuals and vendors that specialize in wood, wood veneer, grill cloth and restoration supplies.
 You have a number of professional restorers in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.

John and Jean are probably the best known in northern Indiana.
John Goller, N9EWA and Jean Goller, N9PXF in Leo, IN

DO NOT PAINT the wooden case.

Radio Daze
western New York

The annual Midwest show was 3 weeks ago.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 08:24:31 AM by W9GB » Logged

Posts: 4420

« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2012, 08:15:03 AM »

My question: I know painting a metal cabinet is a no-no.

Say what? Maybe you know something I don't, but a good paint job can cover a multitude of sins. The operative concept here is "good paint job". Where most people go off the skids is with a lack of proper surface prep, the patience to primer & level the base coat before applying the color top coat, and a poor choice of paint gloss & color. I like shiny new things as well as the next person, but on an old radio a low-gloss matte finish plays much better. If the first thing you notice about a restored radio is the paint job there is an issue with the paint job. You want good surface prep, uniform color, and nothing that distracts from the more attractive features of the radio. Think autumnal umbers and warm greys, avoid hammertone green whenever possible.

If your arm isn't sore after prepping a cabinet you aren't finished prepping the cabinet.

But what about wood?  Is the value/worth of the radio lessened by a re-finish job?

This requires a judgment call... Antique purists avoid the words "wear & tear" and came up with "patina" as a polite code phrase for "wear & tear". Sometimes it's much easier to spin chipped & scratched veneer as a sign of character in a 70 year old patina than it is to refinish the wood in a way that says "nice" without saying "over restored".

Some of the old cabinets had beautiful wood grains and colors that are so dulled and oxidized it takes a skilled eye to appreciate them, which is exactly why it's a good idea to develop your wood restoration skills. If the casual observer takes note of how nice the wood looks that means it was properly restored. You want depth & clarity in the wood grain and color so avoid anything that plugs up the surface texture. Polyurethane and Shellac are marvelous for table tops and floors, but on a radio cabinet I much prefer Minwax stains & oils. You can build depth with each coat, it won't chip like Tung Oil will, and you'll find a variety of colors at your local handy guy store. On some cabinets Minwax Natural (clear) is more than adequate to refresh the wood, at other times a light Walnut can add needed color to faded wood. The slight yellow of an Oak stain can warm up the veneer in a way that says 'old' without saying 'fake'. Much of this is a judgment call that comes with experience, careful consideration of the condition of the radio, and the Zen of the radio itself... Some consoles bordered on the gaudy with dark stain accents while other areas featured cross-grain veneer work that deserved a clear / light tint oil to make them more obvious.

If you're sensitive to the style of the radio itself that can tell you what to do, and sometimes it pays to go slow and mull it over at length. would you fill in a couple of minor chips?  Would you use a wood filler?

Filler putty is quick and easy but has no grain and will never blend as well as a good veneer patch. Working with veneer is both a skill and an art that requires practice. Anyone with a block of wood and some 220 grit sandpaper can level out filler, but what makes a patch blend is matching the grain and cutting the patch to go with the flow of the piece. Avoid square patches, go with oblong shapes instead. If it's a small ding a veneer patch will likely be much larger and that might be a consideration, if the radio has a multitude of dings it might be worth stripping off the old veneer entirely and starting fresh. I have an old Philco with badly faded & cracked veneer on a sound cabinet that's a good candidate for a veneer transplant. I should also mention that only a bit of glue is need to hold a veneer patch as even a light surface treatment like a Minwax oil will penetrate the patch and bond the pieces together.

Always remember that you can't permanently screw up a metal cabinet because no matter how bad a paint job might be, a week of drying followed by an hour of sanding can bring it back for a second chance. With a wooden cabinet you'll typically block sand it well enough to remove surface oxidation and level the texture, but not much more as removing too much wood creates problems for the next restoration........


Posts: 309


« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 03:16:35 PM »

Guess who trumps all of us? ? ?  The XYL!  She didn't know I was considering refinishing the cabinet (although I am sure I mentioned it and she wasn't listening....again....) and when I told her I got some good tips on refinishing she said; "Oh, no...don't do that!  Get some Murphy's Oil Soap, clean it good and then some Pledge or Behold."

As far a painting metal stuff....maybe I've been watching too many of those pawn shop shows on TV.  It seems that whenever someone covers over original paint on an item a customer brings in, the owners have a fit.  Now it works for personal use, sure.  I've done it with several Heathkits.  But for resale as a collectable....I just don't know that much about it.

Have to check a few things on the inside of the radio.  I believe this has a dial light.  If it does, it's out.  The tuner and band switch could use a little spray cleaner.

As far as the DELCO....yeah....I saw DELCO Magnascope listed for other radios on-line.  This radio only has the word Magnascope printed in black letters on the back cover.  There was some type of info sheet on the bottom that has been torn away.  As yet, I have been unable to locate a radio like it after surfing for a couple of hours on the I-net.  Maybe when I take the back cover off, I'll have something to work with.

Thanks for all of the help....

Posts: 3152

« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 03:27:45 PM »

Sage Advice from long-time restorer:
Looking back at an early restoration, what should have been an easy repair (an hour or two) turned into a nightmare (days of labor) due to my lack of information.  At the time I did not have many Riders manuals and relied on the information I had to restore the radio.  The one thing I learned from all of this is to always look at all the Riders pages for a particular radio before working on it.

You never know what small tidbit of information might be on that addendum page. It could save you a lot of work and headaches. I am happy with how it plays and looks now that it's restored. It's not a museum-quality piece but it is nice enough to display and use on a daily basis. It took me an enormous amount of time to restore but I look at it as a labor of love. Besides now I have a great story to tell and a radio that I bought for an outstanding price.

The model number will be KEY to find proper Riders Schematic Diagram.
Beginner's Corner

Nostalgia Air has an extensive collection of Rider documents

Magna Electronic Corp. may be original mfg.

IF the unit has 5 tubes and NO AC transformer (AC/DC set),
 then an isolation transformer and Normal safety precautions required.

TIPS and TRANING for Antique Radio Restorer

Phil's Old Radio

« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 04:02:49 PM by W9GB » Logged

Posts: 4420

« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 03:49:48 PM »

As far a painting metal stuff....maybe I've been watching too many of those pawn shop shows on TV.

From the perspective of a reseller they want complete and original condition with no missing parts or evidence of a hack restoration. They can talk up the price on original condition as that's a default reference point, but a 'customized' piece is a crap shoot that can raise safety issues or sales objections from the antique purists.

BTW: Murphy's Oil Soap and Pledge is a good starting point, but it won't do much for discolored shellac or sun faded wood. To bring back the original vibrancy you'll need to sand down to protected wood. As for repainting metal cabinets, even if it isn't original there are pieces that look absolutely bitchin' with a fresh coat of black crinkle Krylon.

Depends on the piece..........................   Wink

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