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Television in the Home

This opulently-styled receiver was released in 1949, just in time for the extension of the BBC Television Service to the Midlands. Indeed, most of the few surviving examples are 'Birmingham' models, pre-tuned to Sutton Coldfield. Priced at 77 guineas including purchase tax, this was an expensive set to purchase, though in terms of quality (both the cabinet and electronic design) it left something to be desired. These are large console receivers, and with their imposing 'art deco' shouldered styling definitely project a powerful 'presence; they command attention in the drawing room. Today, the very few examples remaining are now sought-after and valuable.

Well let's get started... The front slides out and here's the chassis in its pleasantly dust-covered state. This is always a good sign because it means the set hasn't previously been tampered with.


An Aurora standards converter/modulator has now arrived from Darryl Hock in the States too. This amazing little device is an essential accessory whenever you want to fire up an old British television on a modern signal. Get yours HERE !

But actually switching this old television on still lies a long way ahead...

Here's the CRM121 tube in its cradle of canvas straps, tensioned by springs. By now all the various coils and magnets around the neck have been removed.

The tube is carefully dismounted and put aside for safety, well away from the 'action'.

 The cabinet is complete disassembled. Here are the parts..
 But first a problem to address... The veneers and the general construction of this cabinet are not of the finest quality. The top curved panel is coming away. This is araldited back into position and some weight applied to ensure it is positioned correctly.

Also there are various minor problems at the veneeer edges to attend to. Superglue is trickled in and the edges are firmly pressed back. Then plastic wood is applied to fill the 'gross' aspect of the damage. All this is done to make sure the cabinet is roughly shipshape before the old finish is stripped off.

 The cabinet is stripped with Nitromors and then cleaned off thoroughly with coarse wire wool and cellulose thinners. The brown paint around the cabinet's orifice rims is removed separately, so it won't leech onto the main cabinet panels.
Here it is stripped. Meanwhile the smaller cabinet parts, here shown missing, have also had similar treatment.

The following day it's time to sand the entire cabinet. Here we see one of the grille spars receiving the treatment. Fine-grade production paper is used, sanding only in the direction of the grain.

Whenever small blemishes in the veneer are discovered, these are carefully stopped with plastic wood.

The side edges of the spars, now stripped and with the ply visible, will later be masked with maple brown paint before the main finish goes on.

The next dawns with final rubbing down and correcting the minor flaws remaining - as I go. All to the strains of the 'Music while you work" Guild CD coming over the workshop tannoy. I find this sort of music chivvies me along and is good for productivity ! (It's obtainable here)

In the meantime, more cabinet weakness has been discovered - this time underneath the base. The original glue has dried out and the corner reinforcing blocks just pull off. This has to be corrected first...

When sanding down, there's no substitute for the sense of touch. Running your fingers gently over the surfaces will reveal little imperfections which are invisible to the eye...

Some attention with the wood bleach is needed on a spot of discolouration found at the top of the screen section. This could have been part of the grain pattern, but I know it isn't, because it's not also seen mirrored on the other side...

And so the first coat of lacquer is applied. The customer has requested the palest possible finish so there's no call for cellulose, toner or compressor in this instance - the whole job is to be done with transparent acrylic, using spray cans. This is an expensive way to do it and many flatted coats will be needed. This is the same method I used on my own Baird Townsman. The results will be excellent.

A thin 'keying' coat is applied to start then more is added. At this stage we just need to build up the lacquer thickness. Since there will be a lot of rubbing down, the opaque masking of minor blemishes, veneer edges and cabinet orifices must come later.

The first major coat is left to harden overnight, then the first of the many flatting operations with 400 wet-n-dry is started. Many more flatted coats will follow. Depending on the type of surface, this can be up to 10 coats.

At this stage a block is used, to establish a really flat surface on the overall scale. This will pay dividends later on, ensuring the finished job looks really good, even in glancing lights...

While the cabinet finish is setting, there's time to take a first look at the chassis. Here the dust is being given the benefit of the air line.

Look at the horrible state of that dropper, all unravelled on the lower right! A problem in store.

Now the valves are tested, so any replacements can be ordered in good time, should they not be in stock.

First, here's the 20P1 line output. It looks excellent. Then I come to the U801 rectifier... this has dreadful internal shorts and an o/c heater. I look at my stock - all of these have an o/c heater too... apart from one! The heater on this valve operates at 80 volts and is very delicate. It's not a happy choice for use in this prime position. I don't think these sets could have been too reliable when new...

Of the nine 10F1's, three are good, two are marginal and four are low or broken. All the low and marginal valves are replaced from stock.

The story continues - click here...

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