RCA 100-A Speaker

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Brand: Radio Corporation of America  Year of Manufacture: 1927 

    This was an eBay purchase in October of 2006. This speaker was purchased with the intention of pairing it up with my Radiola 18. Restoration began in the summer of 2009. At a first glance, I thought the original paint and grille cloth were trashed. Asking a few questions via the Antique Radio Forums, original thread, I was able to find out what the correct replacement paint colors were. The electronics would prove to be rather easy to restore.  Below: An original advertisement from 1927.

    Upon disassembly, the speaker cone and frame were found to be in relatively good shape, with very little rust present. After a cleaning, a new cord was installed, a two conductor brown cloth covered type to replace a black cord someone had installed long ago. Hooking up the speaker to an audio device, I am able to get decent sound and volume, not too bad for just a cleaning. The circuit on this thing consists of a black cylinder shaped object mounted to the speaker frame that serves as some sort of filter. As my speaker seemed to be working ok, I left this alone.

Metal Case and Grille Cloth Restoration

    Before attempting anything drastic like stripping/repainting, I wanted to extinguish all of my other options first. The case looked great after cleaning it with Armour All Orange cleaning wipes. The case was then coated with clear gloss lacquer. In between coats it was sanded using 800 grit wet/dry paper. This way I was able to preserve the original paint and give it a nice gloss finish. This speaker is constructed using a pot-metal type of metal which is prone to cracking and warping. Luckily my speaker has no signs of this type of deterioration.

    While an exact reproduction of the grille cloth is available, I wanted to test out a procedure recommended by a fellow radio restorer. The old cloth was filthy, so it was carefully removed and laid out on a piece of flat glass. It was then soaked with 409 brand household cleaner. The cleaner was tested beforehand on a small section to insure that it wouldn't ruin the color. Once soaked with the cleaner, the cloth was patted down with shop rags. It was then thoroughly rinsed with water until there were no more traces of the cleaner. The grille cloth was then placed in front of a dehumidifier, still on the glass, and was dried over a two day period. The final results really improved the look of the cloth. As you can see in the above two photos, this cloth looks very different depending on the angle you are viewing it. Below: The speaker before restoration.


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