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Other Radios - Wood Tabletop: Philco PT-15 Restoration

The PT-15 as found
The PT-15 as found
A radio with both pushbuttons and a handle?! Wow, I had to have this one. As you can see from the photos, however, it really needed some work. The case is really in excellent shape, with no veneer damage. However, the lacquer was flaking off badly, both on the body and on the dark brown grille trim. The dial lens plastic is cracked in several places, and the radio was missing its knobs. For this, the seller wanted $59! I got it for $25, which was probably still too much, but after a day of radio hunting, I didn't want to go home empty handed.

Broken dial
Broken dial closeup
Cabinet Restoration

The first thing I did was to remove the chassis from the case, which was quite easy. Once the chassis was free, I took a closer look. The dial lens was held on by four staples and was removed. The handle, held on by two screws, was also removed. The station-tab holder above the pushbuttons was in poor shape, as you can see from the photo. It had come undone on one end, and gotten sort of mangled. I removed the two remaining nails and set it aside.

PT-15 Pushbuttons
After examining the case more closely, I decided to completely strip it and refinish it. I don't always do this, but this case was in pretty poor shape and really needed a lot of help. Stripping this small radio was a quick job. I used Park's Furniture Refinisher, which is about my favorite product for removing a lacquer finish. You simply wet some 000 steel wool in the refinisher, and scrub the surface. The lacquer melts and can be wiped off with paper towels. It only took about 20 minutes to remove the finish. The stripped radio is shown on the right.

Stripped PT-15
Stripped PT-15
The dark colored wood on the grille turned out to be walnut - just like the rest of the case. It had simply been darkened using toning lacquers. In the book, this radio is listed as having black lacquer trim. The trim on my example was in pretty bad shape, as 60+ year old lacquer typically is. I decided to redo the grille and feet in their original black.

Broken dial
New foot

First, I had to fix some damage to the case. Part of one of the "feet" or runners on the bottom of the case was gone. Because I was going to use black lacquer here anyhow, the type of wood didn't matter so much. I used a piece of craft wood which was whitled down to size. I then filled the cracks in between the old and new pieces with wood dough and sanded it down.

The next step was to lacquer the black trim. I carefully taped everything off, and then sprayed on multiple coats of Ace Hardware's Gloss Black Lacquer. Once the lacquer was dry, I removed the taping and paper, and buffed it down with a fine steel wool. I then stained the case with a medium walnut stain, to cover up any variations in color. Then, I sprayed on several coats of gloss lacquer.

The PT-15 as found
The finished PT-15
After the lacquer was done, I again rubbed out the finish with some 0000 steel wool, and at this point, the case was mostly done. I re-attached the handle. I then used some steel wool to clean up the brass station-tab holder which attached above the pushbuttons (it was green). Once that was cleaned up, I carefully straightened and flattened it. I reattached it to the case using three brass wire nails, which I had to clip to be short enough. Finally, I put two brown Philco knobs on. The completed radio is shown on the left. I think this one turned out really well.

I haven't really had a chance to check out the electronics yet, but that will be next! Stay tuned!