Western Air Patrol Model 557
Radio Receiver

Originally, this was a little Western Air Patrol Model 557 countertop receiver in a wooden cabinet, dating from around 1935. It was scavenged from a neighbour's discards in the 1970's. For a kid learning about electronics, that was a funny era for the transitions in electronics technology. One could go from working with 7-segment LED displays and digital ICs one day to working on very old tube radios like this the next day.

As received, the case was busted up but the chassis and tubes were intact, even the knobs were still present. Years later in the 90's when I was cleaning out the basement I still couldn't throw it out: with the stepped-envelope tubes with grid caps, all crowded together, and a nice warm backlit Art-Deco dial, it was just too cute.

If I couldn't throw it out, it was going to have to at least look nice. The chassis was stripped down completely, including drilling out the rivets for the tube sockets, everything painted, and then reassembled. Some new finishing bits - the speaker bezel, the dial bezel and the bottom/side channel for the chassis - were cut and filed out of aluminum, all done with an eye to Art-Deco style to match the dial and the period. The original transformer was burned out, probably why it was discarded years ago, so it had to be replaced.

This receiver is a 5-tube super-het with transformer for the B+ and filaments. The tube lineup is 6A7, 78, 75, 42, and 80, as might be expected for the period just before the release of octal-base tubes. However, the component count is minimal and - aside from the power supply - the basic circuit is almost identical to an All-American-5, years before the AA5 design would become commonplace! (See schematic.)

The 42 is very tight amongst the surrounding chassis elements. I wonder if it isn't supposed to be a 41, incorrectly replaced by the 42, which put an extra draw on the power supply and led to the burning out of the original transformer.

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"..DEL 557" (model) is visible on the back panel by the antenna terminal.

Rewired. New capacitors, old resistors. Fuse added for a little safety.

Notice "Air Patrol" below "Western" on the dial. Click for a closer view.

  Western Air Patrol Model 557
Radio Refurb
Feb 2008