Guild Spice Chest Radio Restoration

A good friend of mine had a beautiful old radio in his attic. He was good enough to let me have a crack at restoring it to working condition.

It wasn’t clear why it no longer worked, but it was supposed that the tuner was dead. It’s a nifty little wooden cabinet with an AM radio inside its two doors and a couple of storage drawers below.

With a little prodding, I found that it was a model 484 “Spice Chest Radio” produced by the Guild Radio & Television Company in 1953 {1}.

label

The internal serial number of this beauty was 09198 {2}. Check out how Guild attached it to the box – staple!

serial number

On to diagnosing. After opening the radio up, 50 years of dust and mild corrosion were evident.

radio guts

But the radio was constructed well, and most of the parts looked to be holding up well. The circuitry underneath the radio was all built without a fiberglass printed circuit board, each of its components soldered directly together. PCBs weren’t invented until later.

circuitry

I noticed that the dial string was broken on the tuner pulley. That was easy enough to reorder. I found a spool on the internet, of course {3}.

old dial string

The next step was to test the vacuum tubes to make sure they were still operational. I completely lucked out for this, as a friend at work had an old tube tester, the Dyna-Jet 707.  It’s a portable, suitcase-like box. It’s all self-contained (except for input 120AC power), a beautiful unit. It’s dated 1956, and itself is a great relic! Below are pictures of his Dyna-Jet vacuum tube tester:

Inside the Dyna-Jet, you see a whole sea of knobs, sockets, and a few switches. Talk about a electronic tweaker’s dream! The manual inside was very explanatory on its operation, which is quite fortunate. Because of the sheer number of options, you’d never be able to just figure this baby out.

Basically, there are two sections on the Dyna-Jet for two different “families” of tubes (I assume). One switch alternates between those two sections. The first step in tube testing, though, is to look up your exact tube in the included catalog. From that listing, you find the knob settings based on a few parameters: socket number, heater (voltage), sensitivity, and switch setting.

tube

guild tube layout The tube set in the Spice Chest radio was:

  • 35W4
  • 50C5
  • 12AT6
  • 12BA6
  • 12BE6

Of these, two were bad and one was marginal. I bought my replacements online {4}.

tubes

After replacing those tubes and the dial string, the radio worked great. Finally, the unit needed dusting inside and out.

cabinet open

Full Project Gallery:

Footnotes:

  1. Guild “Spice Chest” Model 484 Radio, 1956 []
  2. Guild Spice Chest novelty tube radio []
  3. a great resource called Vintage Electronics []
  4. from a neat little outfit called TubeDepot.com []

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15 comments

  1. I just picked up the same radio. It powered up but no radio stations but just a loud buzz. There is a wire sticking out the back. When I removed the back cover and found that it was one of three wires soldered to the oval coil of copper wires on the back panel. I see the same wire in the above photos and it doesn’t appear to be attached to anything either. Is this an an antenna wire or ground wire? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  2. I just purchased a Ginger Bread Bin radio/phono by Guild. I’m thinking of converting to more modern electronics and mechanicals but I would like to know more about the manufacturers history.
    Also does anyone want the old parts

  3. I have one of these that just quit working. Would appreciate schematic if you still have it so I can get it going again. Thanks much, Phil

  4. i bought mine at a yard sale 4yrrs ago for 5.00 it just now went out looking for replacement bulbs help me out anybody thanks.

  5. I’ve got one of these radios and wondering if they’re worth anything. I turned it on, and it picked up fine, so I shut it right off and never touched it again.

  6. I have one that works well and is in great condition. Is it worth anything?

  7. I’m trying to move the guts out of my Guild Spice Chest 484 radio into another cabinet that is in better condition and has the doors and drawers intact, but not the original back (mine does). How do I do this without harming the radio? It works just fine. There are some rectangular nails in the back – do I just pull them out? I have an old Photofact, but it isn’t going to help with what I’m trying to do.

  8. I have a couple older radios like this but I can’t get them to work. I really need to take them to an antique electronic shop and see what they can do.

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