Zenith AM/FM tube radios

I just purchased a near mint c. 1960 Zenith model H845 radio. It's really a nice set with dual speakers and good bass tone. My question is why did Zenith choose to still use the metal box chassis in this top-line radio instead of the printed circuit board which was the wave of the future back then? I read in a book on Transoceanics that the founder of Zenith preferred the box chassis and point-to-point wiring over the circuit board. Does this type of setup have a better sound than the circuit boards? Thanks, M



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I still remember the ads, "hand wired chassis" , even on color TV's. I'm not sure why it was a selling point, but they advertised it.

I had a freind who's ant worked for Zenith hand wiring TV sets, and was always impressed as a kid that she knew how to build a TV.


Glenn Sparks (Sparky)
KI5GY
gsparks1@houston.rr.com
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No, it would not sound any different.
Zenith was rather conservative with their designs. When printed circuit boards became popular back in the 1950's, many of them were rather poorly made and sometimes intermittent connections would result. Often heat generating components like power resistors and tubes would damage the boards after a few years of use creating all sorts of problems. Most of the old time techs hated PC boards because they had to learn how to solder all over again to keep from ruining the PC boards when making repairs. Zenith played the "Hand Wired" card for all it was worth, and it probably boosted their business.
Interesting that Zenith did build a few table model radios in the mid-1950's with PC boards, apparently without any problems, but then dropped the use of printed circuits in their larger products for many years. Except for solid state TO's and pocket radios, IIRC it was in the 1970's that PC boards started to appear again in the larger mainline Zenith products to any great degree. Even the first couple of generations of Zenith solid state color TV's in the 70's had a metal chassis with point to point wiring connecting all the plug in strips where the PC modules went.

D



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{quote}Also the manufacturing was such that they could be assembled easily. The connectors were hollow metal tubes where the component leads could be inserted and then soldered. No labor intensive crimping and wrapping around terminals.{/unquote}

I seem to remember that those Zenith hollow metal tubes had a lot of cold solder connections----At least on the few Zenith TV's that I worked on.


Meade
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Thanks for all the good information. I do have three or four Zenith clock radios from the 1957 to 1964 period with the printed circuit boards and they work fine, but like you said, Zenith apparently thought the metal box chassis was more appropriate for their more up-line products. M



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Hi M,

Yes, I own a H845 also and the sound is fantastic! That is when it plays.

It needs a recaping and a little TLC, but the sound is great. It's actually the best sounding radio I own right now. The Zenith 10S464 is a very close second. That little desktop radio booms and is crisp and clear.

Good luck on the purchase, and if anyone out there knows where I can find a schematic & parts list for the H845 , please let me know. I did not see it at Nostalgia.

Thanks,

B



B - KC9CVW
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B (uliv), Don't you think these later sets are underappreciated? The tone and sound is wonderful on these radios. Also, what type of wood is the cabinet? Mine looks like walnut or cherry. It has a beautiful finish that looks original. M



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Hi M,

Underappreciated? Perhaps. I can't say its the most eye pleasing radio. The model I have has a pretty blonde wood cabinet, with a beige plastic front. It's not ugly..kinda non-descript..but the sound is awesome. My Mom and Dad recently purchased a $300+ Bose Soundwave radio...you know the kind advertised in magazines. It has a nice sound too, but there is something a little impotent about it. It strains itself to sound good. This old H845 cranks, and it has more in reserve.

Now that I have chatted about it, it may be that incenive I need to get it going again! Its rather funny...the room where I repair and restore does not even have one working radio! You'd think that I would have gotten one working...!

Thanks for the schematics!

B


B - KC9CVW
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The 845 and it's earlier incarnations go all the way back to the Zenith Major. I don't know how Zenith did it but all of my other Tube type AM-FM table sets are not even a close second to the performance of these 8 tube Zenith's. I frequently spend evenings listening to the C845 beside my chair receiving an NPR station 75 miles away playing Cool Jazz, I'm using a homemade dipole tacked to the wall behind the bookshelf the radio is on for an antenna, signal is full quieting and with AFC no drifting. These sets have an extra winding on the output transformer that feedsback to the tone control and give a true tone control instead of just a Hi cut. I had to buy two more 845's via ebay for my Wife's office and my Daughters apartment after they listened to mine. There were three different finishes for the 845, Oiled Walnut, Blond, and Ebony. The later model the H845 has a dial light, The last gasp of this set was the X337 (I think I'm right on that model number) it has different knobs and a slide switch for band selection, also has a different tube line up and the one I have does not have near the performance of the 845's. The closest Sams for this set is for the 835 which is the same radio with a different dial setup. BTW I've got a Zenith ad dated 1964 that gives the price of these sets at $129.00, quite a chunk-o-change in '64.......RB


KA0SCR
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Randy, what's a Major? I haven't heard that term before.

I know that my 1949 Zenith 7H920 with its three-gang tuning cap is the best-performing radio I own and resembles these '845s (it's the only one that can grab the 500 watt station from my hometown 45 miles from here). I've seen 1946 sets like this such as 8H023 but I haven't heard of them going back any further than that.

thanks


Paul
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Hi Paul, The Major was the name given to the Zenith 8H034, I believe it was Zenith's first post war AM-FM table set and was named to honor Major E H Armstrong. It's got both the 42-50 and 88-108 FM bands. I've got one and it's a nice playing set but without AFC tends to drift a little, correct me if I'm wrong but I think it was the only one of Zeniths postwar AM-FM's to have the 300 ma filiment string, the later models used the 150 ma string of miniature tubes right up to the end of the tube era.....RB


KA0SCR
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Thanks for the clarification Randy. Learned something new today. Anyway, I looked up my Zenith service guides, and you're definitely right, 8H023/8H034 had a series string of 300 mA 6V tubes plus 25L6 and 25Z6. Looks like a couple of #47 lamps and a resistor in series too.

The next generation of those included my 7H920 which uses mini tubes of mostly 12V, and 19T8, 35B5 (mine already had a 50B5) and a selenium rectifier - that seems to have been the blueprint for all future models. Has AVC on FM also.


Paul
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Randy, That original price is very close to what I paid at an antique mall here in Houston--$124 tax included. It was more than I wanted to spend, but I could tell it was quite a radio. When I got it home and took the back cover off, I saw that it still has all Zenith tubes and was very dusty inside. That tells me that this radio was not really messed with so it was a pleasure for me to clean the inside. The thrill of finding an original unmolested radio is something pretty special. M



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I have a C845. How different is it than the H?

It has a GREAT sound and is very sensitive on both AM and FM...no drift either.



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Hi Art....Only difference I can see is the H model has dial lights, they added a small 6 volt transformer to power them. The last version the X337 has dial lights but uses a couple of big resistors to drop the voltage, kinda cheezy if you ask me.....RB


KA0SCR
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Art, One more difference between H and C845 is that the H model doesn't have a phone jack/hookup on the back of the radio and I think the C model does. No telling why they took this feature off of the later H model.



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In my last reply, I meant the word "phono" rather than "phone". Sorry.



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Today the H845 has to be the all time best buy in tube Zenith's, even on ebay they're going for less then $30. When I play mine for non vintage radio people, they are amazed at the sound quality. Got mine by trading away a broken Sony Walkman. Was the H845 a top of the line table model in Zenith's line up?
In fact, many of the better AM FM tube radio's of the early 60s are great buys....it's just nuts to pay big $ for a 30s or 40s non-working radio



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