I must be insane! Ekco A22...
As per the title, I think maybe it's time someone called the men in white coats out to take me away!
Just before the NVCF I spotted an Ekco A22 in poor state on the good old eBay, and promptly bid a silly amount on it... then a few days later I decided to take a closer look at the photo's, and noticed a crack in the side of it, Damn it!! No wonder the bidding had stopped! Never mind, I'm good at repairing damaged Bakelite, and black is second easiest to repair. I've always wanted to get the black and chrome model A22, I already have the brown one in excellent condition, just a slight crack in the dial, but otherwise it's mint, it even works too.
Anyway, I won the manky one, went to collect it, apparently it was found in a barn! It still surprises me that these turn up in such places, it didn't look too bad when I first saw it, but closer inspection showed what a terrible state it was in, there was something that looked like mould growth all over it, which I'm not entirely sure what it is now, it was set hard, and at first I thought it was what I'd read about in my 'Bakelite collectables' book, where they show a fusty looking German Volksempfanger, it says 'this model was found damp, resulting in the filler blistering to the surface' at which point my heart sank, thinking this set is going to be hideous, and I'd never be able to get it looking right. I gave it a good wash after removing the chassis, which didn't fetch off much of the blobs, and Bakelite polish didn't shift them either. At that point I thought 'give it up, it's a dud..' and shoved the chassis back in.
Since I was completely deflated, and I thought it was a heap, I decided to throw caution to the wind and shove some mains up it to see what would go bang. The chassis is in a state too, rust everywhere! Someone at some point has renovated the set, there are new ceramic cased resistors fitted, and a Rifa cap, and I also noticed the dial is a home made replacement! It looked very convincing in the cabinet, but closer inspection shows it to be a circle of 2mm perspex, with a photocopy of a dial on paper behind it! Whoever did the photocopy even left the felt pads on the original when they shoved it in the copier! The mains cable is 3 core, and in modern colours, which got me thinking, someone cared about this set not too long ago, and then it got put away and ended up in this state, shame! With power connected the output bottle heater started to glow, the dial lamp lit, and the rectifier glowed purple, nothing went bang! A check with the meter showed no HT on the output tranny, so I dug out a spare rectifier, still no HT, but no purple glow from the new one. I checked the choke, and it's open circuit, so I bridged it with a croc clip lead (yeah, bodgery, I know!) After a few sparks from the lead HT was now present on the output tranny, and there was hum from the speaker, touching the top cap of the output valve produced loud amplifier buzz! The damn thing was actually working!! Connected the ipod to it via a capacitor and it played music, probably for the first time in years.
So now I've decided I have to restore it, I can't leave it in this state! I have a spare chassis in much better condition, but with damaged transformers, hopefully the choke is OK though.
I decided to have another go at the cabinet, when repairing cracked Bakelite, I normally make the cracks fit back together as near perfect as possible, sometimes even grinding away some bakelite from behind the crack, then using good quality superglue, stick the crack back together and clamp it up. Once fully hardened after a couple of days I sand back the glue that oozed out flush with the Bakelite, give the whole area a sand to make sure it's flat, then re-polish with No.5 polish until it is nice and smooth, the superglue being clear becomes almost invisible, and polishes up to the same shine as the Bakelite. So with this thought, I decided to try on a hidden area a bit of P600 wet and dry sandpaper, just to shift the crud from the surface and flat it a bit, I then gave it a good polish with No.5, and it actually came up rather nice! I also decided to see what would happen if I scraped off one of the blobs of goodness knows what that I thought was mould, I was expecting a gaping crater to open up, but was pleasantly surprised that it scraped away and left nice clean-ish bakelite underneath! I used the rounded end of my 6-inch steel rule to scrape them away, which did the job nicely without gouging the Bakelite. A further light sanding took away the remaining rough feeling and it polished up nicely. I did consider painting the cabinet if it still looked horrible after all this, but I'm hoping I'll get away with not doing so. Just need to find something to restore the black colour to the bakelite, since it's faded to a dark brown with all the neglect, although, the deeper I sand it, the darker it gets.
I think the plan of attack now is to finish cleaning up the cabinet, repair the crack, then possibly strip down the chassis back to bare metal, give it a good de-rusting, paint it with silver, and black behind the dial, re-build it with new components and wiring, if that all goes well, I'll treat it to one of the £40 reproduction dials currently available on eBay, and keep an eye out for a back cover too. Oh, and probably need to get the chrome ring re-chromed too, and some new speaker cloth!
What an excellent project and challenge, a rare treat too! A quick check shows only one other 'roundie' EKCO radio thread here at Vrat. Thanks for sharing the story of your A22's return to good health, a great opening post and I/we look forward to following instalments as you progress with the restoration. ?
Cheers Chris, I think this ones going to take quite some time, but hopefully the end product will be worth the wait!
I still need to write up about the AC76 roundie that I revived back in 2010, that one was a total strip and rebuild, also with a damaged cabinet, came up lovely, but is still waiting for a new chrome bar and some chrome centres for the knobs.
I take my hat off to you sir ! The bakelite is showing a dramatic improvement and in time, I am sure the chassis will too. Well done thus far. ?
Many people (including myself) would shy away from such a task that you have undertaken.
Time for a little update!
The appearance of the set improves almost every time I do a little more scrubbing, it actually doesn't look too bad in the photo's! I also discovered the other day that greasy fingerprints make the Bakelite look darker, a bit of wax polish might bring it up nicely.
One thing I wasn't planning on was my latest discovery, I'd known about the crack in the cabinet since before I bought it, and I'd noticed whilst cleaning it that there was some sort of repair visible inside the cabinet, and the outside had been painted, just where the crack is.
I decided to strip off the paint, since it was flaking anyway, and get the cabinet ready to repair the crack. Once the paint was stripped I discovered something I really didn't want to see, a big clump of car body filler, filling a great big gaping hole...
And it seems that it was the filler that caused the crack in the first place, either because the cabinet warped and shrunk around it, or the filler expanded. Since it was holding the crack open, I decided the best course of action was to knock out the lump of filler and get rid of it. It looked crap anyway, and would require repainting to hide it! So out came the hammer, and I gave it a damn good thrashing!
Looking at the hole, it lines up with all the trimmers on the side of the chassis, so it seems some lazy (insert extremely rude word here) decided they needed 24/7 access to these trimmers, and bashed a hole in the cabinet to get to them! It was probably done way back when these sets were considered junk, but still! I want to wring their neck!!!! With the filler removed the crack can be closed up nicely, I just need to get some straps to pull it into shape whilst it glues.
My plan now is to make a mould of an undamaged area of cabinet with silicone moulding paste, then cover the hole with it and back fill it with some epoxy resin and fibreglass, and I'll dye it black during mixing. I've made knobs like this before, and also the resin sets with a shiny finish, unlike whatever that filler was they used before. I'll also strengthen the cabinet with more fibreglass to make sure it doesn't break again. Whist I'm mixing some silicone I might as well make some moulds of the knobs too, since 2 are missing, and I have a full set on the brown one to copy!
I've had another play with the chassis, and got a full set of valves in it now, the original output valve needs a new top cap, as it has actually rotted through! I'm sure I have a valve that's down to air with a good top cap on it I can pinch. It doesn't receive anything when powered up, probably because the twiddler has been hard at work! The choke is currently in bits, thought I'd found the dead bit as there was a hole in the side of it with green showing through, but repairing that didn't bring about any continuity, although after unwinding a layer where the green spot was, I blasted it with a megger and it read continuity, and testing with the bench PSU and a light bulb showed it to be healthy again! I think for reliability I'll pinch the one off the parts chassis.
Had a week away in the wonderful Portmeirion last week, which presented an excellent opportunity to de-rust some bits, which were left fermenting in vinegar for a week, I came back to a very brown mess in the pot (that sounds wrong!) but once given a quick scrub with a toothbrush the rust washed away leaving lovely clean metal. I’ve only done a few screws, nuts, washers, the smoothing cap clamp, dial lamp cover, part of the tuning drive and speaker fixings so far, but it’s certainly looking better. Going to need a lot more vinegar for the rest of the chassis!
I’ve also had the set working, I ran through the alignment using my recently acquired Windsor sig gen, and the RS components frequency counter, the IF was very close, but the RF was miles out, my guess is all the rust on the trimmers is stopping them from reaching the required capacitance, swapping in some big washers helped, and I was then able to receive Absolute radio, albeit a little quietly.
Since then I have started to strip the chassis ready to tart it up 🙂 it’s getting there, very slowly!
The chassis is nearly stripped, just a few valve holders and wire remaining! Last part removed today was the main tag strip that has the components running round the circumference.
Some parts have been de-rusted already, using bog standard white vinegar, screws and small chassis parts have been done this way, for the main chassis I've ordered some 'Restore Rust Remover' from Shield technologies, I've used this stuff before, it's expensive, but it works very well. I tried to do the power chassis with some that I had left from an old bottle, but there wasn't enough of it left! I also have a wire brush that goes in the drill, which I have removed some of the rust with before using the chemicals on it.
I'm still in two minds as to whether or not to remove the valve holders before de-rusting, since it would need the rivets drilling out and then replacing, and I don't have any tooling for rivets. I got away with not removing the valve holders on the AC76, and even went to the effort of masking off the rivet heads with blu-tac when repainting it.
I've found a potential problem with the tuning gang, the earthing springs are both broken and don't make good contact with the shaft, and it also has a lot of corrosion on the vanes which is causing it to short. I might have to steal the one from the parts chassis if I can't sort these issues.
A few random shots of the work so far!
Lloyd, you are certainly not insane. That is a very challenging restoration but I'm sure you are getting a lot of satisfaction from the results you are achieving. Many years ago I restored an AC85 that had been left outside for a year or two. It still had its back on and wasn't as rusty as your A22 but I remember having to reconnect all the IF transformer windings that had rotted away. Like yours the cabinet came up nicely from a deplorable state but stupidly I took it for photography to a local newspaper who were writing an article on Bakelite. This was in the winter and on carrying into their premises I slipped on an icy pavement and smashed the cabinet and later found that I was missing quite a lot of pieces. Later, on moving house I donated the chassis to the Museum of Communication for spares. ?
Cheers Peter, challenging is certainly one word for it! Sorry to hear about the AC85, must have been heartbreaking! I have an AC85 too, lovely set, mine has only ever had the crumbled rubber wiring replaced, and was still working well on all it's original components, even the wax/cardboard smoothing block was still in place! I've not tried it for a couple of years, probably about time I gave it a run to see how it is.
The A22 has been fermenting in rust remover for a couple of weeks, and has actually come up OK, it didn't shift all of it, so I got a sanding sponge from Halfords, and a wire brush that goes in the drill and gave it a good going over with those to finish off the last few bits of rust. It is quite pitted on the top and rear edge, but otherwise looks good, I have also given it a coat of grey primer, which has made it look a whole lot better!
Fermenting, I put the parts into seal-able bags with the rust remover solution in the bag, then place it into a bucket of rainwater to push out the air, and that means I use less rust remover!
After 2 weeks, or however long it really was! Nearly all the rust has gone.
After going over with the wire brush in the drill, and the sanding block to shift the last remaining bits, then wiped down with cellulose thinners ready for priming.
Some of the original plating still on the chassis, would have been quite nice and shiny when new!
Finally, some primer on it!
The tuning gang has also been in rust remover, and has come up nice, it has taken on a dull greeny brown finish, which actually looks alright! it may get a go in the ultrasonic cleaner yet, just to shift any crud from between the vanes. Talking of the vanes, they are aluminium, and have corroded and in some places have lumps or blisters which cause it to short out, so I've been using the Megger to make them show up and then getting some fine grade wet and dry to try and flatten them.
The 2 IF cans have also been given a light sanding to remove the worst of the corrosion, and the part that the dial mounts onto has been cleaned up too.
Now I have to make a start on the main part of the chassis! Oh, and sort out the hole in the cabinet...
Great write up on the Ekco A22 restoration project.
How successful long term is eradication of rust from the chassis? Apart from the primer do you use any additional treatments?
long term I can’t comment too much for this particular rust remover, it says in the instructions that after the object being de-rusted has been in the solution to take it out, and scrub it with a nylon brush to remove the blackened deposits, clean it in fresh water, then to prevent flash rusting dip the item back into the solution and leave it to dry naturally, and sure enough I’ve done that and the items do not begin to rust again. Not sure what is in this stuff but it only reacts with the rust and leaves good metal alone.
The last chassis I did was of an Ekco AC76, that was de-rusted with another product in an ultrasonic cleaner, which I haven’t been able to find again! It was called ‘micro 90’ and came with the ultrasonic cleaner. The chassis was primed with the same Halfords branded stuff, which is acrylic based, and then topped with ‘Ford polar grey’ also from Halfords, that was done in 2010, and last checked last year and there were no signs of rust re-appearing. The set is kept in the house, so warm and dry. I figured since these paints and primers are meant for cars that they should be just fine for a radio chassis! I have also used the same stuff on an outside light fitting, a Coughtrie FS10, which is made from cast aluminium, and so far, after 3 years out in the cold and wet, and also the baking sun, it’s still looking good!
For this A22 chassis, I’m looking at using silver as the top coat, and I’m testing a can of ‘Rust-oleum’ painter’s touch craft enamel in metallic silver, I’ve put Halfords primer followed by said paint onto a bit of old wood to see how it goes, so far it looks good, the 2 are compatible at least, and it seems quite a hard paint, I’ve only had a go at it with fingernails so far.
I used electrolysis on a lot of smaller parts for my car... works well and is dirt cheap. Just beware not to attempt to do chromium plated parts this way.
Here's another rusty A22 chassis. It's not quite as bad as the one that is the subject of this topic but it still needs a lot of work to make work again. But if the chassis is bad just wait until you see the condition of the cabinet.
Wow, yes that’s one rusty beast! Go on then, let’s see the cabinet!!
Andy, cheers for the info on electrolysis de-rusting, I’ll give it a go on some other bits at the weekend, I’m sure I saw some washing soda in the cupboard under the sink! BTW, love the Mini! I’d like one myself, but haven’t anywhere to keep it (yet!!)
Hi Lloyd, the cabinet is in the shop. I'll take a picture of it tomorrow, (Friday) When you see it you'll agree that the rusty chassis is the last of my problems with this set.
The performance of the other A22 is disappointing at the high frequency end of the medium waveband and in fact my 1936 Cossor 364 outperforms it on MW and LW. Like the A22 the Cossor 364 is a "short superhet" that is the type receiver that doesn't have an amplifying stage between the detector and output valve.
Checked the waxies in the rusty A22. All are useless. By the way I've got NOS capacitor clips, let me know if you want one.
Pictures of the Cossor 364.
Here's the picture of the cabinet, or what remains of it.
It might be possible to replicate the missing part now that that I have a complete cabinet for reference.
Oh dear!! I was going to say at least the dial looks ok, but then noticed the chunk out of that too! The chrome ring and speaker cloth look in fair condition, and might clean up nicely. I have an Ekco BV67 that arrived with only half a cabinet, I was lucky enough to find an empty cabinet from the mains version for not much money, so the chassis got re-homed. I wouldn’t have bothered with it if it was the mains version, but since it’s the battery vibrator version I thought it worth saving!
I’ll have to dig out my other A22 and see what the performance is like in comparison to other sets.
I’ve got to the point of priming the main chassis now, although I only got half done yesterday as it started raining just as I was about to go out and spray the other side! Damn this weather, this summer has been absolute garbage this year!! Hopefully I’ll get it done today, just got back from Grantham after shopping, and there was one hell of a rain storm, so bad that there was water coming out of the drains, and rivers running down the sides of the roads, so it’s probably on it’s way here now...
Where did I get to? Well, the chassis is looking pretty good now, I finished painting the main parts yesterday by adding the black part.
Here's a few shots of the progress so far
The main part of the chassis after a night in rust remover
After a clean up, notice I hadn't removed all the components at this stage!
Components removed, remaining stubborn rust deposits removed as best I could with sandpaper, a Dremmel and any other methods I fancied at the time!
Primer at last!
Silver paint already done, mask made of cardboard and newspaper to spray the black part that stops the dial light from reflecting off any metalwork that it shouldn't.
Not bad! Even has the slight over spray appearance of the original!
It's finally going back together, even got the dial drive parts fitted, they too have been re-sprayed.
Now I need to decide what to re-attach the valve bases with, originally they were fitted with brass rivets that were plated with something to give them a silvery appearance, I had to drill them out to remove the bases unfortunately, I have pop-rivets, but to be honest they look cheap and crap, so I'd rather try and find some new brass rivets, and the tooling required to put them in.
I've now turned attention to the coil pack, the coils look in good nick, but the bracket that has all the trimmers on it was rusted solid, and I'm sure it was causing problems trying to align the set, at present the trimmers are all in rust remover, and the bracket has been sanded to within an inch of it's life to shift the rust and restore a nice flat surface.
More to follow!!
That’s a big improvement, the chassis looks new. ?
That's a nice job.
I will be waiting to see how you solve the rivet issue I also dislike pop rivets.
I bought some copper rivets but so far not been very successful in fitting them.
Need a fly press ?