Zenith 5D811 restoration

I've been helping my nephew restore a Zenith 5D811 that we picked up several years ago at Trader Jack's flea market near Pittsburgh. We work on it when I visit over the holidays. I purchased a copy of the Zenith service information from Steve Johnson's AntiqueRadioSchematics.org


We first spent some time polishing and waxing the bakelite cabinet, cleaning the handle, and repainting the grill.


We also cleaned the chassis and clear-coated it, as it had lots of green cadmium oxide on it.

I purchased some replacement capacitors from Barno Electronics over in McKeesport, PA. I should have picked up resistors, too, as a number of them had drifted high. I had to buy replacements from Radio Shack as Barno isn't open on the weekends.


My nephew Colin has some soldering experience as I had started him on some simple kits a while back (a "Big Ear" and a wireless FM mic). I had him do the capacitor and resistor replacement last night. 

We should have gotten radial lead electrolytic caps, but I bought axial caps from Barno without thinking, so we couldn't re-stuff the electrolytic can. Fitting everything on the terminal strip was a bit tight. We used the trick of soldering the grounded center lug of Radio Shack 5--terminal terminal strips to the negative terminal of the original electrolytic, instead of drilling a mounting hole in the chassis. We had to extend some of the leads to reach the proper terminals.

We didn't know whether the tubes were any good, so the smoke test was exciting. Colin was ecstatic when he tuned around, found a station, and realized that after all his effort the radio actually worked.


We glued some cardboard onto the back to replace the torn corners.





The dial cover is interesting. I suspect this might be an export model, as the dial is marked both in kilocycles and in meters.

The dial cover was pretty warped. Colin used his sister's hair dryer to heat it up and then placed it under some heavy books. That straightened it out, although not perfectly.


Colin wanted the "like new" look, so we polished up the brass on the knobs and the handle. We clear-coated them to keep it from tarnishing. We're still waiting for it to dry before completing the final assembly.




Here's the almost finished product. Colin still needs to make mounting holes in the back and mount it with the trimounts.



I like the result.


It works! We picked up WSM of Nashville, TN on 650 kHz.

© Steve Byan 2011-2019