Emerson R-156

© Copyright Alexander D. Schapira, 2014, All rights reserved

Here is an account of how I restored and repaired an Emerson R-156 receiver from 1937/1938.

I hope this will be of some interest to other Emerson afficionados.

Click on any picture for a larger view.

I acquired this radio locally. Although it was in absolutely terrible condition, had missing knobs, and the cabinet had been badly repaired with hardened glue oozing from every joint, I thought I could restore it.

Before investing too much time and effort in the radio, I checked that critical components were okay. The power transformer, IF cans and antenna coils ohm'd out properly.

Originally, I did not know what model Emerson this set was. The tubes installed in the radio were 6A7, 6D6, 6Q7, 41 and 81. A search for this tube lineup revealed several possible Emerson models. I thought that the 81 rectifier was a bit unusual. Upon removing the tubes I found each socket engraved with its tube number, and the rectifier socket was engraved 80, not 81! Someone had made an attempt, either intentional or inadvertent, to use an 81 half wave rectifier in place of an 80 full wave rectifier. So I searched again, this time with an 80, and found a good match for the Emerson model R-156. (Later, I found "156" engraved on the rear bottom of the cabinet.)

The cabinet, as found, victim of a bad repair.
The speaker cone had a major tear.
Maybe Ingraham, maybe not.
Glue to the left.
Glue to the right.
Nice little chassis. Needed a major cleaning.
Chassis top front, as found.
Chassis top back, as found.
80 Years of grime.
Chassis bottom, as found.
Chassis bottom, as found.
Chassis rear, as found.
The only identifying label.
The 80 socket and the 81 that was in it.
Topside with tubes removed.
The original dual electrolytic, the large cylinder, had already been disconnected and replaced with two paper axials.
Every dogbone resistor was way out of tolerance and the wax capacitors also had to go.
The original electrolytic can snapped out.
The original electrolytic capacitor slipped out of the can.
I made up a replacement to fit inside the original can.
Two 10uF/350V electrolytics.
The rebuilt capacitor fit into the original can.
And sealed with hot-melt glue.
Underside cleaned up after every resistor and capacitor was removed.
I found that one of the windings of the oscillator coil was open, and a lug was broken, a nasty surprise.
I carefully removed layers of wax and insulation until I found the break. I removed one turn and spliced the broken winding.
I "potted" the repaired winding with clear hot-melt glue, and reattached the broken lug with the same.
I coated the coil with more clear hot-melt glue to replace the wax and insulation I had removed. The coil functions properly in the radio.
Good as new.
I removed the excess glue from the cabinet, stripped the grease and grime, and gave it a couple of coats of clear lacquer.
I repaired the speaker and provided a new grille cloth.
The dial cleaned up nicely.
And the chassis did too.
After replacing components.
The repaired oscillator coil in place.
I didn't notice the 156 along the bottom left rear until I was almost finished with the repairs.
And the Made in USA along the bottom right.
The chassis reinstalled in the cabinet.

I added X1/Y2 RF bypass capacitors to the AC line, and a 30 ohm/8 watt series line resistor to reduce the transformer primary voltage by about 10 volts to about 112 VAC. The radio draws about .32 amp during normal listening.

It was very satisfying bringing this set back to life and restoring a radio of a bygone era. I hope you enjoyed the story. Please feel free to contact me at w2ads@arrl.net

    -Al Schapira, W2ADS

Page last modified 5/27/2015