How do I get my 50's TV fixed?

I have what I think is the most wonderful old (early 50’s) blond-wood Motorola TV/AM radio/Record player… It’s a huge cabinet with doors that open to reveal a TV on one side, and a record player on the other.

It hasn’t really worked since I got it 10 years ago, and I always swore I’d get it fixed, but that seems impossible.

I don’t really remember the 50’s, but when I was a kid in the early 70’s, I still remember people talking about how TV’s needed to “warm up”… I didn’t understand it then, but since I’ve tried to turn this one on, I think I know what people were talking about back then… The TV slowly comes on, and shows a picture - for a while it flips and flips, and if you play with the knobs on the back it eventually stops and you can see a really distorted picture.

I know it has something to do with tubes, since it’s totally filled with them, but unfortunately tubes don’t seem to burn out like light bulbs - they all look the same to me…

Are there still people out there who can fix old televisions? More importantly, how do you find them?

I don’t know if this TV is worth anything, but I’d just love to get it up and running. Has anyone ever gotten an old TV working again?

Oh, it’s easy. You just go down to Thrifty Drugs and test them on the tube tester. :smiley:

You may need to learn way more about electronics than you planned. Most of the parts on those old TV’s were made to be easily replaced. Unfortunately, the 7-11’s around me anyway took their tube testers out a while ago claiming something about low demand.

Anyway, this may be a good place to start.

I sort of remember those tube tester things - when I was a kid I think they had them at the corner Gas Station…

So if I figure out which tubes aren’t working, I can just replace them and the TV might work again? That sounds too easy… what’s the catch?

If all it is is a blown tube. I have my first TV – a little Hitachi I got when I was ten, and it has no tubes (other than the CRT) in it. Still works, but the picture is a bit soft. I’ve been told that the ‘electron beam guns’ need to be adjusted. If your picture is distorted, maybe that’s what it needs?


You need to find a tester and the right tubes. Plus…learn the other screen adjustments. That was the time when a TV master could just whack it hard in just the right spot to make the picture right again.

OK, I’m already scared after going to that radio site… electron beam guns… 6000V Axial something or other capacitors… I’m getting confused already! :eek:

I could probably manage the whacking part - Work, darn it, work! WHACK! Now, I just have to find out where…

Given the symptoms and age, the most likely problem are the old capacitors. The electrolytic ones dry out over time. On old equipment, I go thru and just replace them all. (It also makes it easier to test the resistors inline.)

Another cause of distorted picture are the alignment coils around the neck of the picture tube have shifted. Note that any attempt on your part to adjust these will just make it worse. Any good modern day TV repairman can fix that if you could find one.

I also have a tube tester, doesn’t everyone?

I guess I just have to find an old TV repairman? I think that’s the only part of what you said I understand… Or have the guts to attempt myself - I have visions of myself touching something and being blown to smithereens… :wink:

As soon as you’ve got those tubes replaced at your neighborhood fix-it shop, you could grab a bite at the automat and check out the latest issue of Look. That Jayne Mansfield is a hot number!

I prefer the local diner over the Automat… and I don’t know how to break it to ya, but Jayne Mansfield doesn’t do it for me - I wouldn’t mind the issue with Rock Hudson, but what’s the point? Just another all American movie star who wouldn’t be interested in a guy like me :stuck_out_tongue:

Some, but not very much. The nostalgia value, in my opinion, is much higher. (If I had one of those cool things, no way would I sell it for the prices listed.)

I totally agree! Whether it works or not, it is just so COOL looking … You don’t even have to open the doors and it says “1950’s” - it isn’t going anywhere soon!

You know, if you couldn’t get the original innards to function again, you might be able to take out the picture tube and put in its place a small black-and-white TV of the same size. Keep the innards stored away in a safe place in case TV technology ever evolves the way medical technology does. Like Walt Disney’s head, people of the future might be able to bring the original components back to life.

Crap, I just got beat by Lissa, but I’ll post anyway. Now that I think of it, color TV’s were probably pretty damn rare in the 50’s.

I’ve always thought it would be cool to just find a cheap TV with the same size and completely replace the hardware. Perhaps you could store all the replaced crap at your parent’s house. Of course it will be a major technical problem to get the mechanical channel tuner to interface to the new tv’s channel changer, but I’d just make sure that the IR receiver was exposed (or perhaps you could fab a fiberoptic IR channel), and mount the remote in an old school mechanical tone remote.

Make sure your new TV has sufficient color controls to favor green and red so that your TV looks authentically barf colored. If you have plugged it in recently, be very careful, because if I recall correctly, there are some serious voltages in there that may take some time to dissipate.

That’s actually an interesting idea… Might even be able to find a flat panel colour LCD to put in… Of course, the cabinet will hide most of the corners, and I guess it would have to be square instead of wide, but who knows…

After all, if they can keep Walt’s head alive or frozen or whatever, I should be able to do something with this…

I might skip the barf coloured part… This was a black and white set, and I’d want to keep “authentic”… The barf would have to be in black and white. :smiley:

Vacuum tubes are surprisingly easy to find, and most aren’t even expensive with the exception of audio/amplifier types. What your TV needs is a “recap”; replacement of the electrolytic power supply capacitors and the wax-paper-foil capacitors as well. Do not operate vintage electronics until this has been performed, as the much higher current draw will toast hard to find, expensive components like power transformers. Total cost of the replacment capacitor parts would be ~ $25 or so. Labor is another matter, which is why TV’s are basically a throwaway item these days.

For a good background on what needs to be done, how to do it, or find someone who can see Phil Nelson’s site:

I think you’re both crazy…you SHOULD go down to the soda fountain at the aforementioned Thrifty Drug. The soda jerk there will make you a great phosphate.