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Old 19th May 2024, 4:13 pm   #1
dazzlevision
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Default Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

I recently acquired this rather attractive ac mains only L/M/VHF/Gram radio from another forum member, who had added a Bluetooth module, in order to make wireless use of the Gram input. It was made in 1959/60 and must be one of the last (if not THE last) AM/FM valve ac mains radios manufactured by Ekco (which also had the rights to use the Ferranti brand name). The contemporary Ekco model A455 is similar. I have also seen a very similar chassis in an Ekco export AM only radio.

The cabinet is in very good condition and the set has a rather modern appearance (for a valve radio). The light wood veneer is protected by what looks to be Polyester varnish.
Two speakers are fitted: an Elac 6” x 4” and a Plessey 4” round tweeter.
The tweeter is wired in parallel with the Elac but fed via a 2uF paper dielectric capacitor.

The EM84 “magic eye” tuning indicator has a straight line bar type display and the fluorescent material inside it is of the longer lived variety (compared to the earlier Fan or Maltese Cross types, such as the EM34 and EM80).

There is an internal and rotatable ferrite rod aerial for the two AM bands and an internal VHF loaded dipole aerial, which is plugged into the external VHF aerial socket when no external VHF aerial is required.

The set uses a Plessey made “piano key” type of switch bank at the bottom of the tuning scale, which was a design feature adopted by most UK set makers in response to contemporary imported German radios such as those from Grundig.

The chassis is quite substantial, with a variable inductance VHF tuner unit, a larger than usual audio output transformer and three tuning scale illumination lamps.

There is no “hum cancelling” tap on the primary of the audio output transformer and (surprisingly) the EL84’s original 150 Ohm cathode bias resistor (R25) is only a half watt Erie ceramic tube type, which is still within tolerance!

More posts to follow..........
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Last edited by dazzlevision; 19th May 2024 at 4:40 pm.
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Old 19th May 2024, 4:27 pm   #2
dazzlevision
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Initial condition

The fixed contacts part of the mains on-off slider switch in the “piano key” switch bank was missing and a lever operated microswitch had been fitted in order to retain the mains switching (albeit only interrupting the live feed).

Everything else was original, apart from the coupling capacitor from the anode of the EABC80’s triode section to the control grid of the EL84, which had been replaced with a modern Polyester film type.

The EM84 tuning indicator has some visible phosphor burn (darkening).

The original two core mains lead had been replaced by a three core type (with white PVC outer and the modern individual wire colours). I know there has been some debate on this forum as to the wisdom of doing this, due to the increased electrical strain on the mains transformer’s windings. However, as this radio has a separate external earth terminal socket, wired directly to chassis, this would seem to have been allowed for in the original Ekco design specifications. The mains transformer itself is of generous dimensions and pitch dipped.

I removed the Bluetooth module and associated wiring, plus the microswitch and wired the mains lead directly to the mains transformer (for the time being). This allowed better access to the underside of the chassis, for component replacement.

I usually vacuum out the cabinet and chassis on items I restore, but this had probably already been done, as it was all very clean and tidy.

The radio worked on VHF, but the gain was rather lower than I would have expected (VHF reception where I am is “fringe”). It also worked on AM, with fair sensitivity. The magic eye display was quite bright.

Note: all circuit references mentioned are as shown on the original Ferranti A1016 service data circuit diagram.

The chassis had a significant number of Hunts Moldseal metallised paper dielectric capacitors fitted, which will almost certainly be defective, having a much reduced insulation resistance. Most of them have a removable white paper sleeve fitted, with the Hunts brand and values printed on it (even though they are also marked on the actual body of the capacitor).

In addition, there are some small TCC electrolytic capacitors, such as the FM ratio detector reservoir and EL84 cathode bias decoupler, both of which are suspect.

There are also a couple of small, metal sleeved TCC “Metalmite” paper dielectric types (C42 and C44, both 10nF) with a metal strap around their middles, which is soldered to chassis. I think this was done to provide an electrostatic screen around the capacitor’s windings, in order to reduce hum pickup. These are in the low level audio stage and will also very likely be significantly leaky. However, as they are not subjected to a high dc voltage (AM and FM detector audio feeds to the grid of the EABC80’s triode), I’ll leave them alone for now.

As the valves are all original (Mullard), they’ll have less than full emission and the EL84’s getter deposit has become largely transparent, which could indicate the presence of gas.

The external AM aerial socket (designed to accept “Wander” plugs when the radio was made) on the rear of the chassis is damaged – the metal socket had come away from the long SRBP strip it is fixed to. I think it will be necessary to fit a single round plastic 3mm socket in its place (but it’s unlikely to be used, as there’s little left to listen to on the AM bands). I have noticed that an identical long strip of sockets was also present in a number of other Ekco and Ferranti radios produced around the same time, so I might come across one in a “scrapper” set, in order to fit an undamaged one in the A1016.

You'll see from the photo with the paper sleeved Hunts Moldseal capacitors, that I had already begun component replacement before I got to those two (it was necessary to move some components out of the way, in order to gain access to the suspect/faulty ones).

More posts to follow..........
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Old 19th May 2024, 4:40 pm   #3
paulsherwin
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

The various 'plastic' Ekco models of the early 60s are surprisingly good performers, and I'm sure you'll be very pleased with this one once it's fully fettled. Valve FM sets never work well with their internal aerials unless you're located next to the transmitter.
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Old 19th May 2024, 4:50 pm   #4
dazzlevision
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
The various 'plastic' Ekco models of the early 60s are surprisingly good performers, and I'm sure you'll be very pleased with this one once it's fully fettled. Valve FM sets never work well with their internal aerials unless you're located next to the transmitter.
Yes, I'm sure it will work well. I am in between the coverage areas of Mendip and Oxford VHF transmitters and reception from either is not good. I do have a "T" ribbon feeder cable aerial in my workshop that I am using with this radio, which gives better results. One advantage of a weak VHF signal is that it allows me to "see" the set's sensitivity increases with component replacement.


There is a very similar looking Ekco export radio to the Ferranti A1016, but it's AM only:

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=101548
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Old 19th May 2024, 5:00 pm   #5
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

It looks as if Ekco just stripped out the VHF circuitry to produce that export set. Lots of countries took a long time to start FM transmissions - Australia started in 1976, and many non-Western countries were even later. I think the Irish launched a limited service in 1961.
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Old 20th May 2024, 9:42 am   #6
dazzlevision
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Restoration, stage 1.

I began the restoration by removing and testing all the paper dielectric capacitors (one at a time), as I could then properly test them for insulation resistance and capacitance.
Even if they tested OK (highly unlikely), I replaced them with modern plastic film types, to avoid any future problems developing with them. There is one 10nF paper type within the VHF tuner unit (C52, 10nF), which would involve substantial dismantling, so I left that in situ for the time being (it’s wired across the ECC85’s heater supply, together with a 1000pF ceramic type, C53 and a series connected RF choke).

After replacing all the Hunts paper types one at time, I found the following ones were very much out of spec:

C14 0.01uF, HT line RF bypass, measured 23pF
C31 0.01uF, EF89 anode circuit HT feed RF bypass, measured 100pF
C58 0.1uF, ECH81 heptode pin 1 and EF89 screen grid HT feed RF bypass, measured 1.5nF

All of the removed paper types were significantly leaky, with most having a dc resistance of less than 2MOhm.

The result of these paper capacitor replacements was a significant increase in background hiss level on VHF (i.e. the IF gain had increased).

I then moved on to the electrolytic capacitors. The background residual mains hum was very low, so the main HT can is likely OK (Dubilier Drilitic, 50+50uF, with no sign of weeping or bulging at the solder tags end). C45, the 2uF 275V in the FM demodulator circuit and C49, the EL84’s 50uF 12V cathode bias resistor ac bypass, are both important for correct circuit functioning and these two tested as follows:

C45 2uF, 0.03uF

C49 50uF, 12uF

The big 2uF 150V Hunts Moldseal (C61) that feeds HF audio to the tweeter tested as follows:

C61 = 4.2uF, resistance = 200kOhm.
I use a cheap handheld capacitor tester and due to their method of testing, they usually give an incorrectly high capacitance reading when the item under test has a low insulation resistance.

This was replaced with a much smaller (ex-equipment) axial plastic film type which wasn’t canary yellow! I had to replace the original metal retaining clip with a black plastic “P” clip.

I then turned to the Erie carbon composition fixed resistors, some of which looked rather distressed. These were:
R26 (820 Ohm, 2 Watt carbon, measured at 1021 Ohm) which is part of the HT smoothing network
R30 (18k, 2W carbon, measured at 22kOhm) which forms part of the decoupling network feeding HT to the screen grid of the EF89 and HT feed to g2 and g4 of the ECH81 heptode section
R7 (56K 1W carbon, measured at 65kOhm), which feeds HT to the ECH81’s triode anode (so only relevant to AM operation).
I replaced all three.

The other usual suspects for drifting high in radios of this era are the high values types in the AGC and Magic Eye circuitry and the anode load of the EABC80 audio preamplifier stage. The relevant circuit references are: R15 (470k), R11 (2.2M), R29 (1M), R27 (470k), R28 5.6M9 and R21 (220k). Surprisingly, all of these were still within (or close to) their original tolerance ranges, so I left them in situ. They are all Erie ceramic tube carbon composition types.

I also checked other important circuit function resistors: R8 150R ECH81 cathode bias, R13 180R EF89 cathode bias and R3 10R (in series with the earthy end of volume control track, at which point the negative feedback form the audio output transformer’s secondary is applied). These were all within marked tolerance.

As the EL84’s getter had virtually disappeared, I replaced the valve with a good used spare. I also replaced the EM84 (with phosphor burn), with a good used spare that didn’t exhibit any burn.

The mains tapping adjustment is located on the main transformer and consists of three fixed spade terminals onto one of which a flylead is slid onto. The connector at the end of the flylead was insulated by a short length of “Hellerine” expandable sleeving, which was disintegrating, so I removed the remnants and fitted a more modern version. The other two spade terminals are thus not insulated and are at “near to the local mains” potential – something to be wary of when working on the radio when power is applied .

There is an 8uF electrolytic (C47) which decouples the HT feed to the EL84’s screen grid and the triode anode of the EABC80. It looked OK (no bulging or weeping end bung) and the ripple voltage across it was negligible. The audible residual hum level was very low, so I left it alone.
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Last edited by dazzlevision; 20th May 2024 at 9:49 am.
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Old 20th May 2024, 10:04 am   #7
dazzlevision
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Restoration, stage 2.

Returning to the mains switch, I found that I had a very similar Plessey manufactured piano key switch bank assembly that I had removed from a “scrapper” Murphy A674. The only difference being the number of pushbuttons and the arrangement of waveband and gram switching contacts, but the mains switch section was identical to the A1016’s.

From the A674 switch bank, I removed the moving and fixed contact parts and cleaned the fixed contacts with cotton buds soaked in Servisol contact cleaner and lubricant. This removed some black (Sulphurous?) deposits. I then worked the sliding contacts back and forth across the fixed ones to clean them.

Fitting these into the complete Plessey switchbank assembly was rather fiddly, and I had to make small adjustments to the fixed contact fingers (which are bifurcated) in order for them to snugly move onto the fixed contacts when the switch was operated.

I then treated all of the switches with a squirt of Servisol contact cleaner and lubricant and operated them many times in order to minimise any contact resistance. I then had a fully working Plessey switch unit.

To finish off this part of the repair, I fitted a replacement (UK made) black PVC two core mains cable with individual wire colours of red and black (for originality).

The top end VHF tuning coverage wasn’t quite as high as the tuning scale indicated (it should cover up to 100MHz), as I couldn’t tune in Radio 1 (99.2MHz locally), whereas it was OK at the lower end.

I checked the mechanical adjustment of the VHF tuning drive system (the set uses variable inductance VHF tuning) which all seemed correct. I suspected the problem was more down to ageing in the drive cord (stretching over the years) and slight electrical drift in the VHF tuner unit’s components, rather than a specific fault.

As I had an identical spare VHF unit removed from a “scrapper” Ekco A320, I thought I’d open it up and see what was inside.
I found that the yellow coloured grease on the metal shaft that the tuning assembly slides along had dried out and that the Hunts Moldseal in the heater circuit was accessible enough to be replaced with very little disturbance to adjacent components.

At this point, I then decided to remove the VHF unit in the A1016 and apply fresh grease, replace the Moldseal and inspect the unit for any other issues.

Removing the VHF unit actually involved quite a lot of disassembly, as it shares a common mounting bracket with the AM tuning gang. The whole assembly is secured to the main chassis by four anti-microphonic mountings, using special screws and PVC grommets (which were OK).

During the disassembly process, I managed to keep the AM tuning drive system intact.
Upon reassembly, everything still worked (phew!) and by slight adjustment to the brass collar on the AM gang’s shaft, I could bring in Radio 1 at 99.2MHz and Radio 2 was still in the marked “Light” region of the tuning scale.

I followed the rather brief FM RF alignment process in the Ferranti A1016 service manual, in order to optimise VHF performance. This involved adjusting the physical positions of the two tuning slugs (L3 - RF amp and L4 - Mixer/Oscillator), with the tuning cursor and signal generator both set to 91MHz.
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Old 20th May 2024, 10:22 am   #8
dazzlevision
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Restoration, stage 3.

The front panel of the cabinet is made from moulded plastic (Ekco had a big plastics moulding business). I removed the two speakers and millboard base for the tweeter, plus the four pieces of brass trim attached to it (including the bezel for the tuning indicator), leaving just the plastic moulding. I then sprayed the moulding with Amberklens aerosol foaming cleanser, left it to soak in for a minute and brushed off the surfaces with a stiff paintbrush. Finally, I rinsed the moulding in warm water and dried it off, using kitchen towel to soak up any water droplets.

There are three brass trim strips on the front of the cabinet, which were quite tarnished, so I rubbed them down with Brasso to reveal the bright metal. I then applied two coats of Rustins clear metal lacquer to protect the surfaces. The same process was applied to the EM84 tuning indicator’s Brass bezel.

After the plastic front moulding was completely dry, I reattached the brass trim strips and the EM84’s bezel.

The plastic tuning scale’s screen printing was completely intact (I have found some Ekco radios from this era to have badly flaking screen printing). I sprayed some foaming cleanser onto a clean and lint free cloth and wiped over both sides of the scale, with impressive results – crystal clear. I also cleaned the white painted metal tuning scale backing plate. The two rotary control knobs and the piano key knobs were also cleaned with foaming cleanser and a stiff paintbrush.

Whilst the tuning drive system was more accessible, I applied a small drop of light oil to the relevant parts that would have been factory lubricated. I also applied a drop or two of Servisol contact cleaner and lubricant to the AM tuning gang’s rotor earthing contact fingers.

The two speakers were fine (no cone deformation or rubbing of the voice coil against the permanent magnet). All that was required was a gentle brushing to remove the years of accumulated dust and fluff on the cones.

I noticed that the rotatable AM ferrite rod aerial assembly didn’t stay in the position to which it was set, due to a loose rivet joining the metal support bracket to the ferrite rod assembly/millboard adjuster. I closed the rivet up slightly and it now stays in position after adjustment.

Ekco used white self-adhesive tape to produce part number labels for such things as the mains/audio output transformers and the IF cans. Over the years, the adhesive fails, and the labels come adrift. Often they are to be found in the bottom of the cabinet, but not in this case. So, I used my Brother label printer to make some similar looking replacements.

The two speakers and EM84 were refitted to the plastic cabinet front, which was then fitted to the wooden cabinet frame. The chassis was secured into the cabinet and all wiring connections made up. Finally, the two rotary control knobs were fitted.

The back cover is in good condition and secured to the cabinet with the original back Japanned round slotted head woodscrews (favoured by Ekco) and flat metal washers.

Conclusion.

The end result is a very nice and “modern” looking valve ac mains table radio that works very well. Of course, the twin speakers give of their best on the VHF band.

I might experiment with tweaking the VHF tuner's adjusting slugs, to see if I can get it to tune in Classic FM (around 101MHz), without losing Radio 2 at the other end of the band.
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Last edited by dazzlevision; 20th May 2024 at 10:27 am.
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Old 20th May 2024, 10:30 am   #9
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

A few more photos.

Interesting to note that the Ferranti name at the bottom of the front is actually secured onto the brass strip through two rectangular holes punched into it.
When I removed this to polish the brass, the Ferranti name was also stamped into the brass itself. I guess this allowed Ekco to use the same strip for their Ekco branded model A725 export radio, which used the same front plastic moulding.
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Old 20th May 2024, 11:39 am   #10
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

The eagle eyed may have noticed a small slider switch (with contacts SW1A, 1B and 1C) that is operated (via a length of drive cord and a return spring) by the VHF piano key.
I expect the reason for this is either insufficient contacts available on the main Plessey switch assembly or (more likely) keeping the switching closer to the RF/IF circuitry involved, for stability reasons.

I noticed that R38 (10k 0.5W carbon composition) the EL84's control grid stopper isn't shown on the circuit in the Ferranti provisional service data (typed sheets).

In addition, in the final printed and stapled service manual, the value of C43 on the circuit diagram is obscured (it's actually 220pF).
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Old 20th May 2024, 11:52 am   #11
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Lovely, thorough job, and write-up, thank you!

A strikingly modern looking set, in part due to the bold, sans-serif font chosen for the control labelling.

I'm always sceptical about plastic cases and baffles, and find the wood-cased equivalent versions generally sound better. How does yours sound?

The front layout is reminiscent of my Ekco U243 from 5 years earlier, though the materials and detailing seem to set the two apart by a greater period:
https://www.snellingsmuseum.co.uk/ar...udio/ekco-u243
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Old 20th May 2024, 12:20 pm   #12
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Great write up and your set is in great cosmetic condition. I have one of these but in a poorer state. A great set but mine may have been twiddled together with intermittent LW (due to the piano switching) and no magic eye deflection on FM. These are fine sets and mine sounds great despite some glitches I still need to address.
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Old 20th May 2024, 12:27 pm   #13
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

That looks great!!

How well does it work, I wonder, in comparison to the likes of a similar era radio such as the Bush VHF61 or 81??

I always find the first generation of FM radios to be a bit on the deaf side, and similarly they lack selectivity if presented with the output of a gainy beam antenna.
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Old 20th May 2024, 12:37 pm   #14
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Thanks for the kind comments and yes, the A1016 is a very modern looking set for a valve table mains radio, which is why it appeals to me.

It's just a pity that it only covers up to 99MHz on VHF, but as I said in an earlier post, I might try to get around this.

Ekco build quality is on a par with Bush (at that time) - substantial! The A1016 is rather heavy.

On VHF, it is quite sensitive and selectivity is good, possibly aided by the variable inductance VHF tuning unit. I am in a mediocre BBC VHF reception area, apart from a very strong station near Radio 4, but which doesn't swamp R4 out.
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Old 24th May 2024, 8:00 am   #15
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickthedentist View Post
I'm always sceptical about plastic cases and baffles, and find the wood-cased equivalent versions generally sound better. How does yours sound?
Apologies for only now specifically replying to this part of your post, Nick.

At my age, hearing only extends up to around 6kHz, so I'm not the best judge of sound quality. However, I do also have a restored Ekco A277 VHF/FM only receiver, in an all wood cabinet and with two large speakers (but no tweeter) and they both sound rather good to me.
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Old 24th May 2024, 9:28 am   #16
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Thanks, that's interesting.

I'm "only" 50 but 25 years of dentistry have taken their toll on my hearing too. This became obvious when I realised my £1.99 headphones sounded similar to my decent ones, whereas the difference used to be night and day.
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Old 24th May 2024, 10:24 am   #17
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Early bakelite radios had a wooden speaker baffle screwed to the case rather than fixing the speaker directly onto it. It might be because the speaker was very heavy but perhaps it was also to improve the sound quality to match the woodies.

However, in my experience, some plastic is not a good baffle which is a pity when the Ferranti is such a good looker and uses two speakers for that "little extra."

Perhaps the more flexible plastic, used by Grundig, has a better characteristic for such use.

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Old 24th May 2024, 12:01 pm   #18
Nickthedentist
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

Yes. This does look like a direct-to-plastic design though.

Mind you, on the otherwise-solid Bush VHF61, the baffle is nothing more than a rectangle of rather feeble hardboard.
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Old 24th May 2024, 1:33 pm   #19
paulsherwin
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

All the Ekco plastic models of that era do have surprisingly good sound.
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Old 26th May 2024, 2:48 pm   #20
sexton_mallard
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Default Re: Ferranti A1016 radio restoration

After reading this thread I liberated my set from the back of a wardrobe. This set was purchased as a project in the late 90's in Dublin.

Sounds very good even on its built in aerial placed about 16 inches from a wall. Lots of bass and the tweeter works fine with the treble turned down a little on the tone control. This was a well used set going on the wear to the back and cabinet. The serial number is displayed for the record. I fitted a NOS ECC85 at the time and had to replace the usual capacitors. The trim has oxidised to a bronze colour which IMO is not unattractive.
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Last edited by sexton_mallard; 26th May 2024 at 2:53 pm. Reason: additional info
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