RCA-Victor "Livingston" Radio

RCA's "Livingston" radio (model 1R81) retailed for $79.50 in 1951—or about the cost of high-end smartphone in today's dollars. It boasts an 8" speaker, AM and FM (88–108 MHz) reception, and a phono jack. I got this one for less than $20 at an antique shop. Front view of the RCA Livingston.

The chassis was dirty, but in good shape mechanically.

Top view of the chassis before restoration. I repainted the the transformer end bells, added a fuse, and polished the cabinet. Electrically, I replaced the line cord and replaced all of the 'lytic and paper caps.Back view of the restored radio. The tubes are glowing.

I did make one small, but reversible hack to the radio: I added a Russian-made indicator tube to assist with tuning. The tube sits on a small metal "chassis" I made to fasten to the side of the set. The radio does not have AFC, but apart from being off-channel when turned it on, it tends not to drift. It sounds fantastic.View of the radio with the eye tube.


The dial pointer was missing half of its round decoration, so I set to work with some 1/16″ brass stock.The broken dial pointer, a small can of Krylon Short Cuts gold paint, and some 1/16&″ round brass stock.

I bent the stock, trimmed it, and soldered it into place on the back of the pointer.

The repaired dial pointer.

After adding some gold spray paint, and it came out looking like new. I cured the paint in the toaster oven in the background.

The repaired and repainted dial pointer.