Sunday, September 28, 2014

Curbside TVs

A few weeks back on my morning drive to work on Laclede Station Road in Webster Groves, I spotted these sitting at the curb ready for the trash man.  Of course I had to stop and save them.

The previous owner had taped the screens as a safety measure.  You would be hard-pressed to break the plastic screen guards with a hammer.  I think they're made out of surplus WWII aviation canopy plastic.

The Philco is a 1950 model, specifically a model 50-T1400.

This TV was originally delivered to 1609 Knapp Street in St. Louis.  This wasn't the curb where I found it though.  The house is no longer there and has been replaced with what appears to be subsidized housing.

As you can see, they did have a nice view of the Falstaff smoke stack.

Inside, most of the tubes had already been pulled and wires had been cut.  This wasn't a candidate for electrical restoration and I would *not* be plugging it in.

The picture tube is stamped August 15, 1949.

I took them through my normal "old TV breakdown and cleaning process" (patented).

Lots of elbow grease, scrubbing, touch up with stain and a newer (newer than the original anyway) 13-inch tube TV inside brought it back to life.

I left the circuit case inside so the knobs still function, although obviously they don't do anything.  The TV sits on top of that and lined up well.  I tried wiring the headphone jack to the TV speaker in front, but it required an amp so for now, you can listen from the TV inside.

I took a similar approach to the next TV which I believe is a 1955 Admiral Triple X (don't Google at work).  I couldn't find an exact match on the internet.

Inside, the tubes had similarly been pulled.

And mice had built a nest in the circuitry.

I removed the speaker grill, peeled off the fabric and washed in Woolite.  I restretched it over the grill to dry so it wouldn't shrink and after dry, reattached with 3M Super 77 spray glue.

Some words of caution for handling the tube.

I'm still not sure what the cabinet is made of.  At first I thought it was Bakelite, but it took a stain, so I'm not sure.

The tube is a 16".  I haven't found an older tube TV that will fit right yet.  For now, we're using the Philco in our kitchen.  I may throw the Admiral out on eBay and see what happens.


  1. Wow, excellent restoration and a phenomenal find. I can only dream of such curbside finds here in L.A., where practically anything pre-'80s becomes a treasured "vintage" item worthy of Ebay or Etsy $$$. Great job on the implanting of a newer screen. It would've been awesome if there was a screen that was large enough for the Philco interior that you wouldn't see the black trim on it. Nevertheless, your effort is well worth the post! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Narvo. There are some mounting posts on the front inside of the Philco cabinet for the original tube that prevent the 13-inch tv from sitting flush against the front, however, I think the frame would still show.

    2. p.s. I can see I'll be spending a lot of time reading through your blog. Looks like great stuff.

    3. Thanks, Tom. Enjoy. I've got lots of stuff to talk about on there, just not a lot of time to do it lately, hehe. I found your blog via 2 Warps To Neptune.

      I miss going to garage sales. They were a prominent pastime of my early to mid-teen years (about '82-'85). Back in Westchester, CA (where I grew up), especially during the summer months, my dad and I would get up around 6AM on Saturday mornings with a Thomas Guide and a notebook, and head to one particular telephone pole in the middle of town where all the garage sale signs were posted.

      We weren't alone; there were always others milled around this pole with their own notepads, jotting down all the addresses. It was funny, sometimes we looked like a caravan of cars heading off to each of the destinations. Hunters. I found so many cool things back then, often for dirt cheap.

      Those days were fun while they lasted; then the city clamped down on its "entrepreneurs" and decided that permits had to be purchased in order to hold yard sales. That was the end of it all.

      Where I live now in Culver City, they also require permits (GEEZ!), but every now and then there'll be a garage sale nearby and I'd go with my son to check it out. But it's just not the same these days. Sign of the times, I suppose.

      It's great to see what awesome things you've found. I've just barely skimmed your site and I already know it's chock full of goodies. So I'm sure I'll be here often. Thanks and keep it up. =)

    4. >I found your blog via 2 Warps To Neptune.
      Yes, he's been kind enough to mention me a couple times. Helped pick up a few readers.
      >I miss going to garage sales. They were a prominent pastime of my early to mid-teen years (about '82-'85)
      I attended my first garage sale when I was about 13 and got hooked (I'm going to write about that outing one of these days). I used to go with my mom every Wednesday until the mid 90's. You're right about those days before eBay when you could get the treasures cheap. I love the idea of the communal telephone pole. Around me, people typically post at the main intersection closest to their house.
      Permits for garage sales -- that stinks. Thanks again for checking me out and I'll see you on your site.


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