Bardenwerper heirloom Philco 41-250 Project


The Bardenwerper Philco 41-250, before work started.

This radio has a special meaning to me because it was my Grandfather Bardenwerper’s and was used during the Second World War as the family radio. My father, Charlie had it in our house when I was young, during the 50’s and 60’s and we spent many hours listening to it. I recall listening in our darkened bedrooms to nighttime Milwaukee Braves games. Since then, it has sat unused in his attic and now it belongs to me.

Sadly, as it goes with old electronics, it has stopped working, primarily due to aging semiconductors. It has had some repairs done to it over the years. Once it suffered a catastrophic failure of the main transformer. Whoever fixed it used a non-original transformer and replaced a handful of condensors. This repair was probably done in the late fifties or early 60’s.


Bottom of the original chassis. Note the cobbled in transformer
and the damage. You can also see a few of the replaced parts.

Finding the cabinet to be in good condition, I put a light coat of Old English scratch repair on. I bought a repro faceplate and buttons, refurbished the brass strip and proceeded. The chassis may have been restored, but with a lot of effort, as it had been badly scalded when the transformer failed and the one on there was cobbled in. Mouse urine had damaged the front of the chassis. I found some difficult to repair wiring issues and the earlier repair had chopped into the original layout, with a few parts missing or damaged.

My first option was to find parts, but that proved difficult. The next choice was to find a donor chassis. As I searched and learned more about the radio, I realized that the basic chassis has been used in several other models and had gone through changes during the model production run. The 41-250 being a table model, it seemed to be popular with restorers, but 41-285 chassis presented themselves more frequently and cheaply on Ebay, probably because the original cabinets were more frequently lost. The differences were relatively minor, so I decided to buy one.

The one I bought was in pretty good condition, but had been robbed of a few external parts. It actually made sound when I tried it, but I knew better than mess with it any more. I did not want to damage the transformer on this one. It had several principle differences from the original, one being the channel indicator. Mine was an earlier version with a single indicator light that was controlled by a second string (the first one being for tuner and frequency indicator control). The new one was supposed to have separate lights for each channel. Someone, however, has cut the wires and taken away the bulbs and holders.

The new chassis, showing location of missing indicator bulbs and the overall condition.

I then began the process of deciding the best way to make a working radio out of what I had. I chose to proceed with restoring the 285 chassis due to its condition, the only big difference being the tuning indicator, which I favored anyways. The wiring issues could easily be dealt with as the restoration continued. Eventually I would find a set of indicator lights and they could be installed near the end. Not having them would not interfere with the rest of the project.

I dismantled parts of the 250 to see if they could be simply swapped out for those on the 285. I also experimented first with the 250 chassis on how best to take it apart. Only one can really needed to be dismantled, because a critical resistor was inside and it also needed new leads installed, so I took it apart. I found it to be in excellent condition and it is now ready for the new leads and the resistor.

This is where my work ended. I now find myself in a physical condition that is not going to allow me to proceed, as my hands have developed an ever worsening tremor. Soldering and work with small parts is now impossible.

I would like this radio to remain in the family. I have all the work sheets and wiring diagrams needed to continue the restoration. I have made up lists of parts in need of replacement. I bought several books on radio repair and those would go along with it. On the next page are sections of the wiring diagrams so you can see the critical, though minor differences in the wiring for the two chassis. I think the 285 might work OK without making these changes, but the 250 has a different external antenna and the 285 wiring might not pull a good signal. The 285 radio had a much larger speaker and the differences there would primarily affect the quality of the sound. The changes look to be simple enough that it makes no sense not to do them.

I own a tube tester and have tested all of the tubes except for the older style 6 prongers. The newer style Loktals are all good and there are spares, except for the ones peculiar to the 285 (it has and extra Loktal, which is an improvement). I have a high quality schematic for the 250 which includes the parts list, tuning data and all of the update data. For the 285, I have most everything you need for locating the differences.


 

Differences between Philco 41-250 and 41-285 chassis

 

 



41-250 Antenna



41-285 Antenna

 

 



41-250 Audio



41-285 Audio

 


As I said, I would like to see this radio stay in the family. When I thought about fixing it, I had very little knowledge of old electronics, but reading a few books, I discovered that I had more pre-existing knowledge that I realized and the rest was amazingly easy to comprehend. After all, it is really only just ripples, more or less like throwing a stone in a lake, except the ripples are made of electricity!

It would make a great father-child project. You might want to pick up a new hobby in your retirement, or you may already have the skills. The number of people who are working on these old radios is dwindling and they are getting big money from those of us who want to hear history come to life.

Please let me know if you are interested. We can figure out the details of getting the radio into your hands later. People are sometimes traveling back and forth and we can make it happen, even it is takes a few hand-offs. Several of us have been working with family electronics in the past and we know how to make this happen.