Friday, July 18, 2014

Richardson "5" - 1925

I recently purchased a Richardson "5" TRF receiver and after bringing it home discovered somewhat disappointingly that, although in excellent condition appearance-wise, this radio is not going to play without a significant amount of work.

Although it was sold to me with the opinion that it did play, I think it more likely that it played at some point in the past ... although I'm willing to give the seller the benefit of the doubt.

The Richardson Radio Inc of New York seems to have appeared on the scene in 1925, lasting perhaps a year and then vanishing. The Richardson "5" features neutralization but doesn't appear to mention licencing that technology from Hazeltine so this may have had something to do with their short life.

The chief problem seems to be the wiring which is soldered in only a few places and otherwise consists of stakes or posts that have been pushed through the insulation of the wires in the same way that inexpensive garden lights are sometimes put together.

Given time, almost 90 years in this case, the poor contacts and gradually deteriorating insulation have done a good job in turning almost every connection into an intermittent connection. When I powered the radio up it was obvious that the two stages of audio amplification were working but touching any wire in the RF amplifier or detector sections just changed the quality of the noise in the headphones. I was never able to tune in a station or even see if the RF sections were working.

So, I have a choice. This radio can either be dust collector on the shelf and an example of how not to wire a set or I could re-wire it using proper soldered connectors which wouldn't be "authentic".

Not sure what to do exactly. Not that I will be diving into it any time soon, I still have the AK20 restoration to complete before I start anything else.

It didn't come with a speaker but I didn't find any evidence that Richardson Radio ever sold a loud speaker and the example at the top of the page uses a "Superspeaker Console" from the Jewett Radio & Phonograph Co.

The Richardson "5" uses a six volt "A" battery and "B" battery voltages of forty five and ninety volts. When running from the ARBE III supply I set the "A" battery voltage to five volts so there is little risk of burning the five 01A tubes too brightly.

All-in-all I would say that it is a handsome set that will look good on the shelf and may eventually be made to work again. It will be interesting to see what difference the neutralization makes to a circuit that is essentially identical to the AK20.