Old radio repair possible?

My 1952 mercury is in need of a working radio. Long story short I bought a radio on ebay as the old on didn’t work and that radio didn’t end up working. Is it possible to have these old radios repaired? If so where could that be done? One more thing, is it possible to have a port added so I could connect me iPod to this radio,(I saw a radio on ebay that had had this done to it for the same car I have). Any help would be great thanks!



Can’t help much, but recommend you do a web search for classic car forums for your year/make of car.

Here is a list of vintage radio repair places listed on the Hemmings website. http://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/query?adtype=servicesoffered&type=radios

If your trying to keep a vintage car running and looking good, this is a good website bookmark.

Are you sure it’s the radio and not something else - like the power - or the speakers? I recall many many years ago having a radio “go bad” - turns out the antenna cable unplugged from the back and it wasn’t picking up any stations - no static b/c it had a squelch circuit which kept the speakers muted until it got a good signal.

the antenna is hooked up to the radio, so I don’t think that could be it. Thanks though!

Look for a stereo repair shop. A lot of parts can be bought new at Radio Shack.

Around here we have technical school that will repair most kinds of stereos and other consumer electronics for $10 plus the cost of parts. They do it to give the students a chance to work on a wide variety of equipment. You might be able to find something similar.

I put myself through college repairing these. That was a long time ago, but don’t these have a separate power pack that plugs into the radio. I remember having to design and build one for a guy.

I doubt that most technical schools would still have equipment and parts for repairing tube-type radios, such as those found in a '52 Merc. As was suggested, Hemmings Motor News is probably your best source for finding someone to repair virtually any old bit of automotive technology.

The antique radio repair places all thrive on mail-in business, so don’t worry if there are none near you. Just package it securely, insure it appropriately, and ship it off for repair.

Do you get a buzz when you connect the radio to the battery? These radios had a pulsator or vibrator. What has to happen is that a difference in potential between the cathode of the vacuum tube and the plate must be established. Therefore, the voltage must be stepped up for the plate of the tubes to something over 90 volts. However, your car only supplies 6 volts d.c. and you need 90 volts d.c. However, you can step up only a.c. or rapidly pulsating d.c. with a transformer. Hence the pulsator pulsates the d.c. and then it is stepped up to 90 volts or more. At this point the 90 volts is rectified (converted to d.c.) for the tube plates. The pulsator just plugs into the chassis of the radio and is easily changed.

If you do get a buzzing sound, you may have a defective tube. You might try swapping identical tubes from your radio that didn’t work and see what happens. Tubes are like light bulbs–eventually the filaments that heat the cathode burn out. Tubes are rather expensive now, but Radio Shack may carry some of the more common tubes.

As far as connecting the IPod is concerned, you need to connect it in at the amplifier stage of the radio. If you look at the volume control, there will be three connections for the control (there are two other connections for the switch on the back of the volume control–ignore these). One comes from what is called the intermediate frequency stage of the radio, and the other goes to the amplfier stage. A good radio man can install a jack and rig up a switch so you can inject the signal from the IPod.

My personal suggestion would be to purchase a new unit from one of these places that installs a face plate so that the unit looks original, but uses modern transistor circuitry. The solid state circuitry uses a fraction of the power that the vacuum tube radio uses. These updated units are really trouble free,and will have a port to connect the IPod. Vacuum tubes have become quite expensive, so this may be a less expensive option in the long run.

A car radio is just like a house radio of the time it is tube driven and may in your case have a vibrator that
basically makes the entire radio work. it will have to be gone through and all the capacitors replaced and all the tubes checked they even make a solid state replacement vibrator for it.
go to. www.antiqueradios.com they deal with both household radios and car radios and www.tubesandmore.com for parts. Done try to fire it up again until youv’e had it restored.

This may be butchery on a car like this, but on one of my old pickup trucks from the 70’s, I was able to take the guts out of the stock radio and put the guts from a cheapo K-mart AM/FM car radio in it’s place. I was even able to get it to work with the stock radio face and the needle even moved and everything! Unfortunately, you don’t seem to be able to buy cheap two-dial style radios any more.

If I remember right, that’s a 6V electrical system. Does your iPOD run on 12V? Now if it does, you have a REAL challenge. A few places, J.C. Whitney comes to mind as well as Radio Shack carry step-down transformers or voltage converters to go from 12V to 6V so you can keep your original 6V set-ups. I don’t know about a 6V to 12V booster, though. Something to keep in mind if you do any electrical work.

The 6V vs. 12V thing will not be an issue for connecting an iPod. That’s the power source for the car radio, and the connection would be at signal level which is not directly related to source voltage. The iPod has it’s own battery and probably runs on 3V or 6V internally. There is no way you’d get iPod control through the old radio, though maybe that place that puts modern internals into the old case could do that.

Those old tube radios are not that hard to troubleshoot and could be easily fixed if you could get the parts. The most likely defective components are the vibrator, the tubes, and the electrolytic capacitors. The rest of the work will be cleaning up connections and doing an alignment. If the tech needs a rare component like an IF or AF transformer, turning coil, etc., (s)he might be able to find it in the junk parts box or online.

The best approach is to talk with a well established electronics shop (been around 40 years under same owner) and ask them for their advice and suggestions.

Thanks, Ranck, for enlightening me. I don’t own an iPod so I didn’t know. On a further note about the '52 Merc, if you think about changing the whole electrical system to 12V, you’ll have to change out all of the bulbs incl. headlights. The starter will have to be re-wound and you’ll need to fabricate brackets for an alternator. A few of us got together (in our much younger years) and did this kind of a swap-out on a '50 Ford Tudor. What a (female dog)! But, man, did it work great! So we ended up with a not authentic car. We also did some engine work including putting in a Merc crankshaft that increased the h.p. by 25 h.p.! Just for your info. Some of us older guys really did “lead sleds” up and they were really quick.