Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Montgomery Ward Airline Console Radio - Unrestored

Normally I would not post a project that has not been completed.  However, I am making and exception to my rule today after learning of the great dumpster diving victory of fellow blogger Maria from over at Shallow Thoughts from Iowa (  Maria and her husband happened across a Capehart Panamuse console radio from 1941 or 1942 in a dumpster and they saved it.  The cabinet is a little rough in places, but it has great potential.  You can see all of her pictures of this great find at her Flickr set (

I am sharing my radio, pictured above in it's as-found condition, to try to encourage those of you who come across these old pieces to save them.  I stumbled across this radio at the end of my shopping in the fall city-wide garage sale and was able to pick it up for only $5.  Most people looked at it and turned their noses up at it.  The top is covered in scratches, gouges, black marks, and even a place where there is a small piece of the veneer missing.  I love a great challenge!  This is very close to the condition that my 1946 Majestic Console was in when I purchased it early this summer.  I posted the final, restored product in this post.  If you haven't read my post on the Majestic radio, follow the link and read about it.  You have to look past the scratches and flaws to the bones of the cabinet.  These old radios had very attractive cabinets, and if you like the style, it is worth the work and expense of restoring.  When it's finished and sitting in your home, you will definitely have something to be proud of.

If you come across one, or have one that you don't want, don't throw it away!  Advertise it for sale, or donate it to someplace that will resell it.  There are many people who collect these treasures, and they cringe when hearing of these great pieces being thrown away.  Even a radio that is not in a condition to where it can be restored may be of use to someone who might need a part off of it. 

Also, please remember that just because you have an old tube radio does not make it worth a lot of money.  Do some research, there are a lot of factors that go into the value of one of these old pieces.  

One note, if you decide to restore one yourself, just tackle the cabinet.  Unless you have a background in working with electronics, I do not want to encourage you to work on the electrical side.  This is best left to someone familiar with the workings of these classics.

When working with furniture stripper, stain, lacquer, varnish, polyurethane, or whatever you use to restore the cabinet, make sure you work in a well ventilated area and follow the manufacturer's directions exactly.  Take your time and don't rush the project.  You will be pleased with the results if you take it slow and follow all directions.  Plus, if you restore the cabinet yourself, you get the pleasure of showing it to your friends and saying "I did that!"

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