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March 02, 2009



well, bought a new radio over the weekend (hallicrafters s-53a) at a ham swap, and like a proud father, wanted to tell you guys about it. originally i was hyped up about it, but now i'm more mixed, but thats more my personality than issues with the radio.

first off it's an old, tube radio from 1950 that a gentleman completely restored. i'll send a pic sometime. it's like a old car that was restored in a lot of respects. it's am and sw. no fm.

there's a lot to be said about analog tuning versus keying in numbers on a digital unit, you cover a lot more of the radio spectrum looking for signals and get more familiar with where stuff is. sound quality is okay, speaker is on top, mainly it sounds old and smells old after it warms up. the tubes give off a lot of heat and light at night, which is concerning to my wife, who's afraid this thing will burn the house down. i like it, i just wish it had more knobs and switches on it to play with. i picked up new zealand, turkey, romania, ukraine so it is a hot s/w receiver. it also picks up hams, but they are harder to dial in to be understandable.

anyhow, the net is it is fun, interesting, a blast from the past, but kind of scary cause you don't know if it is going to blow up.

i'll send another comment on what the hallicrafters group said about tube smell, kind of interesting.

thanks. kr


as promised, i asked the halli yahoo group about tube smell:

Quick question for you, bought a restored S-53A over the weekend and
really enjoy it. Question: I haven't had
a tube based radio in about 30 years and didn't realize they gave off
that much heat. Also, it gives off an odor, like unto something that
is old when hot. Do you guys find this normal? Also, is there a
chance the house will burn down because of this thing?

Thanks for any responses.


Old radios do tend to have a distinct smell when they are on. As long as it
is not a burning odor, enjoy it. Some of mine give off that tube smell when
they are off and I occasionally take a big whiff. Almost as good as something

Right on. Tube smell is what its all about. I love the smell of hot tubes
in the morning. Anyway, as long as a cat didn't piss in the radio, you are
probably safe. They do have this wonderful odor only hot tubes can produce.

If it was just a cosmetic restoration you could have leaky caps
underneath that are overheating the transformer.

Best to see what was done, especially with the PS electrolytics.

Also its a good idea to use a bucking transformer to reduce the input
down to around 110-115V. This will make even a properly restored radio
run cooler and not affect performance.

Only thing that smells better is the Model 28 running next to a tube radio.
Love all that oil smell!! 73

You OM's are making me cry! My SB-401/301 combo with the Model 28...scope
"lock" in to the mark & space....listening to the receiver
"come to life" as
the tubes warmed up, those WERE the good old day's! But we were younger
then....and instead of needing a third hand to TUNE such a setup today-with
arthritis, we were fast enough with TWO!
Thanks for the memories!

I bought a HT-32B from a guy who had a cat and maybe more then one. The
HT-32B smelled fine cold but Oh, after it was turned on and sat for a
half-hour or more, the cat pee smell brought tears to my eyes. The wife
thought something died in the shack. Tried all sorts of things to get rid
of the smell but nothing really worked long term. Finally found a ham who
liked Hallicrafters and had two cats. Talked to him several months later
at a hamfest and he said the rig works great and he could not detect any
objectionable order. I guess sometimes you have to match the rig and its
issues to the environment.

I'm working on another SX28 for a guy. this one sat for years and inside
was mouse pee stains on the chassis.I have cleaned as best as I can, we will see
what THIS one smells like when hot!

Real Radios Glow In The Dark, Bro...

I'll keep my tube stuff, regardless - right now it's all I have. With
the exception of 2 pieces, had it all since I was 15.

Besides, it will survive the EMP's....

I don't remember if the S53 is a transformer set. If it is and it is
getting too hot, you should have it checked to see if the old paper capacitors
were replaced. Don't do this by yourself if you have no experience. Take the
radio to someone who knows. If it is an AC/DC set, it is normal for these to get
really hot due to some of the type of tubes that it uses.

Please dont take this as a bad joke; if the smell persists, let me know how
much you pay for it and I will buy it.

In the movie appocalypse now, a key actor claims while looking at the
battlefield. .. "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning. It smells like
... "Victory"

And when I turn on any of my Hallicrafters Radios and that particualr smell
comes out, I also say something quite similar: Ï love the smell of my Halli on
the mornings, it smells like "Victory"

Its an AC set Guido and my S-53A runs rather comfortable at 113VAC


For some reason ebay yanked this auction, wonder why?

jeffrey McMahon

My wife would never let me keep a radio that evidenced potential house flames.


Ed: I'm curious too. I'm planning to pick up a lower priced working tube radio. I wonder if tubes for most makes are still readily available. I'm sure RCA, Zenith, Philco---the popular U.S. brands---still have plenty of parts availability. I wonder if the Japanese and German tube radios are also possible to maintain? Can repair shops improvise with parts, or do the tubes have to be exact replacements? I like some of the European brands.


Many tubes have substitutions. There are still many tubes available... on ebay, for instance

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