Cleaning & Maintaining Collectible Radios

Care & Restoration 0 Comments 07/04/2017 (This is a Level 1 Resource)

Improve and stabilize your collectible without a lot of work!

Posted By: Bradley Stone (UncleBrad)

Cleaning & Maintaining Collectible Radios

If you have found a treasure in reasonably good cosmetic condition, there is process to improve and stabilize it without a lot of work.

Before you begin, ensure you have the best panels and other parts for your radios.  I use the best covers, knobs, meters and other components from donor rigs all the time.

 The fundamentals are the same as detailing automobiles; even the products used are the same.

What You Will Need

  1. Air compressor w/extended blow nozzle accessory
  2. Simple Green solution
  3. Several microfiber cloths
  4. Soft, authentic, good-quality sponge
  5. Toothbrush
  6. Hobby brushes
  7. 000 steel wool
  8. Meguiars Cleaner Wax
  9. Meguiars Quick Detailer
  10. Lemon Pledge
  11. PlastX Polishing Compound
  12. Goo Gone
  13. Machining oil
  14. DeOxit
  15. Ultrasonic Cleaner


  1. Remove the radio from the case.  Using the blow nozzle, carefully use compressed air on most surfaces.  Stay away from speakers and delicate components.  Do not spray inside IF cans.  You can destroy a speaker very quickly using compressed air!  The idea is to remove potentially abrasive dirt before washing.
  2. Prepare a bucket of soapy water.  Any dishwashing liquid will do, but Dawn works best for the greasy, oily surfaces.
  3. Pull out all the tubes and/or removable boards.
  4. Spray the Simple Green solution on the chassis, about 6" square.  Using a toothbrush and hobby brushes, clean the area.  Progress to other areas.  Wrap a microfiber towel around the handle of your toothbrush and dry the areas as you clean them, carefully working around IF cans, variable caps, etc.
  5. On corroded chassis areas, such as the exposed metal backside, use 000 steel wool with a little machining oil and gently rub out if possible, using a circular motion.
  6. Use de-oxit on the tube sockets, wafer switches, slide and potentiometers.
  7. If the knobs are dirty, remove them and place in an ultrasonic cleaner for about 45 minutes with water and a bit of dishwashing soap. 
  8. Clean the line cord with the Simple Green solution and working it through a microfiber cloth.
  9. Using a soft, authentic, good-quality sponge, liberally apply the soapy water on the front panel and scrub with the soft sponge.  In very dirty areas, gently use a toothbrush.  Avoid getting water in meter movements.  Allow to dry in the open sun.
  10. Use Goo Gone and your fingernail for any old, dried adhesives found.  You will NOT scratch or damage the surface as long as you use your fingernail and invest some time.
  11. If the front panel surface is faded, and the paint is not chalky or damaged, test a small portion with cleaner wax to see if the surface shines up.  If so, carefully use cleaner wax. Skip this step if the front panel is in good shape.
  12. If the knobs are off, put them back on the radio.  You can use the toothbrush to clean the indicator markings.
  13. Spray about a 6" square portion of the front panel with  Meguiars Quick Detailer.  Do not substitute with another brand!
  14. Using a dry, clean microfiber cloth, quickly and gently buff the area.  This product can be used on any surface; no need to avoid plastics.  In fact, the knobs will shine up nicely with Quick Detailer.  Move on to other areas with the Quick Detailer until the front panel is finished.
  15. Lubricate any bearings with the machining oil.
  16. Reassemble the radio.
  17. Polish the case with Lemon Pledge and a microfiber cloth.  Lemon Pledge works on ANYTHING - metal, plastic, or wood.  It will help protect even the chassis.
  18. Remove and polish meter plastic covers with PlastX if necessary, using the instructions provided on the bottle.  Re-install.

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