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Old 24th Oct 2020, 3:45 pm   #1
Keith's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, UK.
Posts: 610
Default Philips 274A - ugly duckling!

Some of you may remember seeing this set at the Wooton Bassett auction in February 2019. I daresay a number of members had a good chuckle at the indignity that someone had inflicted on an otherwise potentially sought-after receiver. Not so much a minor blemish - more a "monstrous carbuncle", as Prince Charles would have put it! Actually, I thought of it as a possible blessing - maybe the bidding would be correspondingly impacted and I might walk away with it for a song. It almost worked.

I had always liked the understated lines of the 274. Presumably Jonathan Hill must have agreed when he featured it on the cover of Radio Radio being held aloft by a silvery goddess! Furthermore, apathy had once let one pass me by when I failed to follow up an advert in our local paper.

Having got it home it became clear that things were worse than I thought (we've all been there, haven't we). I had assumed that I would have three holes in the side of the case to deal with which might not have been too difficult to conceal. However, in order to make the switch sit flush on the surface, the perpetrator had also carved two channels through the veneer for the wires to lay in. I didn't take a photo of this as it was too depressing. The set sat on a shelf for a long time....

To take my mind of the conundrum of the case, work commenced on the chassis. The first items to be tackled were the electrolytic capacitors. These were of the wet electrolyte type and, being a prominent feature, I decided on the re-stuffing process. Careful hacksawing allowed the can to be removed, along with a dribble of electrolyte, and revealed a wavy star shaped stucture - presumably a way of maximising surface area and hence capacitance. The metal surface had a sintered appearance. Modern components were substituted and the can re-assembled.

Next the multiple capacitor can was dismantled and re-stuffed - nice to see the precise date of manufacture (24th April 1934). Very few other components needed to be replaced - all the resistors were deemed to be near enough for valves! Of course, it no longer has an on-off switch. The original has lots of missing bits. An in-line switch has been fitted - not ideal but far better than what preceeded it!

Eventually the cabinet had to be tackled. A complete strip of veneer was removed as shown and car body filler used to fill up the holes and other excavations. After rubbing down to a flat surface a new piece of veneer was applied. I was lucky enough to find a reasonable match for the grain. Getting the toning right took a number of attempts, however, using a mix of propietary wood stains. In the end I decided enough was enough and the whole case was sprayed with matt polyurethane. This was flatted down on subsequent coats to remove any hint of glossiness.

Cabinet and chassis finally came back together, but the odd mounting of the speaker baffle caused some puzzlement. A significant gap between this and the case made me suspect that something had been mislaid during the long period on the "shelf of shame". Thankfully a helpful fellow member pointed out that this was a design feature and suggested a source of suitable felt to replace the tatty bits that I had presuably discarded. Thanks Sideband.

So there we have it. An ugly duckling restored to a half way decent swan! The performance is remarkable for a TRF with no apparent reaction. The "tone" is only OK but I suspect that the substitution of a 354V for the apparently unobtanium 994V may be the culprit here. The really good news is that my wife likes it so it has taken its place in the lounge, no less. The only downside is the lack of the shiny red "waves and stars" Philips badge in the dial escutcheon. If I could find one of those I'm sure my wife would love it even more!
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Keith Yates - G3XGW
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