I can still remember when, more than 4 decades ago, I was used to go and visit my grandmother Vincenza at her place for every holiday. It was never a long stay, just a day trip, as she lived in Nettuno, near Anzio (famous for the landing of the Allied forces during the second World War), about an hour away from Rome, where I was born. We would arrive usually mid morning.
There were a few hunches that would make you immediately realise that was my grandma's home: the first was the lovely smell of a meat bases tomato sauce, slowly cooking on the hob in the kitchen, that would fill the whole house. The second was the gentle noise of a radio playing in the background. It was like a magnet to me: I always loved to sit and tune the radio, while staring with amazement at the magic eye's green florescent beam, widening and narrowing as you fine tuned to the station.
When my grandmother passed away, nearly 4 decades ago, I knew what I would have loved to keep, as memory: her gorgeous radio! It was a Magnadyne ANIE series, 5-valve + 1 magic-eye valve, 1 Medium waves band, 2 Short waves bands, produced in Turin, Italy in the 1950's. When I got it, it was still in good working order, and I even managed to get some spare valves, in case one would blow.
This week I have been travelling back to Rome, and managed to visit my mum. After long time, I decided it was time to get the radio down from its shelf and try it out.
I wasn't very confident about being even able to power it on, after all the time spent just gathering dust. So, armed with a cloth, I got it down and started dusting it. The wood is still in very good condition, and so the plastic on the front. The knobs have an outer and an inner control each: the left one has the volume control on the outer and the tone control on the inner. The right knob has the tuning control on the outer ring, and the inner control is a multi-position switch, for the band selection.
It is time to remove the back cover, and have a look (after a good dusting!) at the inside of this beauty.
The first thing you notice is the 5 valves, lined up on the metal chassis, and the magic-eye valve attached on the front wood panel. It strikes the cleanness of the design and the arrangement of the components. Besides the valves, it is easy to spot the variable capacitor used for the tuning circuit, on the left, the transformer for the power supply, on the right, Unfortunately, to gain access to the bulk of the circuitry, I would have had to dismantle the radio completely, as they sit just underneath the metal, and I have not got any tool here with me to do it safely, without risking to damage the radio.
After a rapid inspection, I decided to power on the radio. I cannot see any sign of damages, with exception of what I believe is a capacitor with a false contact on the tone control potentiometer, which should affect only the quality of the sound.
Used to immediate response of nowadays electrical appliances, it felt like a very very long time from the moment I turned the switch on to the moment some sound started coming out the speaker. But valves need time to warm up, before the circuit starts behaving properly. And you can visually witness the warming up, by looking at the valves and look at them starting to glow. Unfortunately, one thing I noticed straight away is the failure of the magic-eye: no green glow is showing.
Not having any schematics available, I can only guess what the cause could be. The valve itself doesn't look damaged, so the next suspect would be another faulty contact. Again, to try and trace it, I would need to strip the radio, so I will just have to live with this for now.
Finally, I'm doing what I was used to, many many years ago: scan for a station to tune in. Unlike the last time I tried it, I don't seem to get any luck tuning into any station. After slowing turning the control and try scanning all the bands, I finally manage to get a very feeble signal (in the video you probably you can just ear it, immersed in loads of noise!) from a station in the medium wave band.
I suspect the cause of this degradation of the performance is due to the obsolescence of the component (I spotted quite a few electrolytic capacitors when I peeped under the metal case).For now, I will not try and attempt a replacement of components, to fix the problems, and it seems I managed to misplace the replacement valves I had. I'm sure they will be somewhere in the house, and will probably pop up next time I will be visiting my mum!
I'm pleased that, in general, this old friend is still "alive", but even if it had stopped working, it would not stop bringing up the memories of all the nice times spent with it, and all the memorable dinners had at my grandmas!
Thanks for reading.