Modernizing a 1947 AM Radio

Sunday, January 9, 2011

For a while my wife has been asking me to modernize a Model 56E Gilfillan radio from 1947 that belonged to her great grandmother. It's a very attractive wooden box with a vacuum tube AM radio inside. It still worked but we don't listen to much AM radio these days, preferring our MP3 collection on our Squeezebox SLIMP3 player or someone's iPod. We've been using some wireless speakers around the house and been happy with their quality so I finally decided to transplant the innards of the wireless speaker into the radio box.

First I took out the insides of the old radio to see what I was going to be working with. The knobs on the front simply pulled off. Underneath there were only 2 wood screws holding in all the electronics and they were all on a single metal frame that came out with no problems.

I used the guts from a CABLES UNLIMITED SPK-VELO-002 900mHz Wireless Speaker. These are nice speakers with static free sounds and they don't interfere with WiFi networks. It took a while to find and remove all the screws holding it together, but once it was dissected I had the circuit board, buttons, and speaker that I needed for the operation.

I did some soldering to transplant the buttons, and used a generous amount of cardboard and hot glue to achieve my objective. In the end it looks just like the original and we now have an attractive retro way to listen to music in another room. It was a fun project and is a unique conversation piece to show guests.