1965 Chevy C10 Radio Trouble

Hello all. I’ve been having some trouble with my the radio in my C10 lately and rather than chase a false lead for hours on end, I figured I should try to ask people who know actually what they’re talking about. Here are the details:

The radio is the original radio that came with the truck. It recently got rebuilt by someone in the area and according to my father (the real owner of the truck) the radio was working perfectly when the guy had it set up. Now that we have it in the truck however, the radio is super quiet or signal is really bad (or both). The radio has sufficient power, as the lights in the radio turn on when the engine is on. The speakers seem to be powered, as there is obvious movement and sound when I turn the radio on. For a while, we were able to get a radio station coming through the speakers, but it was really quiet and it only came through clearly when we grabbed the antenna. We tried swapping out the antenna for a different one, but it didn’t seem to change anything.

I’m definitely not literate with speakers or radios, but is it possible that something isn’t getting enough power, or that there is a connection that’s weak? My dad said it could be due to the ohm difference between the radio and the speakers, but we aren’t sure if that’s the case.

If anyone who is smarter than us could give some advice, it would be greatly appreciated. Also, if this is the wrong place to be asking this question, let me know and I’ll make a post somewhere else.


Check the ground on the antenna where it is connected to the body. When it worked by you grabbing the antenna you provided the ground connection.

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Sorry, I should have mentioned that we already had it connected to the body. We thought that paint might be messing with the connection, but no luck, even when it was direct metal-to-metal.

Have someone who knows what they are doing adjust the “antenna trimmer”. It’s a small screw behind the tuning knob, and needs to be adjusted by a small screwdriver with a non- metallic shaft.

Have someone who knows what they are doing adjust the “antenna trimmer”

Forgot about that one have not seen one in many year’s,

The radio is from 1965!!!

I saw that that is why I forgot about the antenna trimmer it has been to many year’s since they had that feature.

I will have to try that out. Thank you!

Lol. The uncle who taught me whatever I know about cars died in1968. I picture me getting to sit and talk with him again, after I kick the bucket and explaining that cars no longer have carburetors or distributors, and that his beloved Chrysler Corp is now owned by Fiat. He’d give me a shot in the back of the head and say “didn’t I teach you not to lie?”


If you want to have some fun one day do as I do about once a year I have a set of point’s laying around but anything on that order would work. Go a part’s store and lay it on the counter a say I need a new one and watch the look on their face as they try to figure out what it is.

I get almost all my parts online now. I’ve converted all three of my old cars to electronic ignition. It’s usually one of the first things I do when I buy one.


As far as tuning the antenna goes using the trimmer capacitor on the back of the radio, I seem to remember you where supposed to tune in a weak station near one end of the AM band. I think it was the lower end but I’m not sure of that. You then turned the adjustment for best reception of the radio station while listening to it. It has been decades since I have seen that adjustment also.

Weak station around 1400 kHz AM. Antenna fully extended if collapsible. Volume all the way up. Adjust trimmer for maximum volume.

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Thanks for the info @TwinTurbo. Though I most likely won’t ever need it again.

Does this radio have tubes?

Did the rebuilt radio initially work great in the truck, or in the guy’s shop that rebuilt it?

The radio works fine if someone is touching the antenna?

@MikeInNH. My 1966 Rambler had a transistor radio which was installed at the factory. My dad had a 1963 Studebaker Lark he purchased as a new car and it came with a transistor radio. I believe tube type radios were gone by 1962.
The 1960 Rambler my parents owned had a radio that had tubes, but the plate voltage on the tubes was 12 volts, so it didn’t need a vibrator, transformer, or rectifier tube.
In the case of the OP, the problem seems to be in the RF section of the radio. If the antenna is good and adjusting the trimmer doesn’t help, I would look for a blown transistor in the RF section.
If the radio is just an AM radio, it would probably cost less to buy a new after market radio than repair the present radio.

I don’t remember the cut-off year. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it were tubes.

Up until the 80’s and 90’s the FAA and airforce were still using Tube computers in some areas.

I think @Triedaq dating is correct for the tube radios in vehicles. The government equipment is a different animal. Along with budgets to watch there may have also been concern with EMP blasts wiping out transistorized circuits. The good old ‘cold war’ days. Now there are other players on the scene to worry about. TV’s seemed like it took a little longer to go totally solid state.

EMP blast will wipe out a Tube based system also. The tube(s) themselves might be a little more robust, they are NOT immune. Plus there’s other electronics that will be effected.