Utilities Company –
The mightiest of the Grunow consoles, the 1541 Teledial is a 15 tube, 15 watt, 3 speaker radio with 4 bands covering 550 kHz all the way up to 80 MHz (though I have only received stations up to about 20 MHz as it’s ALL AM no FM here). This radio incorporates a selectable IF "fidelity" control for increased station selectivity and tone, as well as STANDARD or DIAL tuning with AFC (automatic frequency control). In addition, the cabinet is beautiful, featuring a closable cover over the dial and controls. According to a 1937 Grunow radio brochure I own about the teledial models, the 1541 retailed at $200 new in 1937, consisted of 15 metal tubes and a cabinet of full figured butt walnut w/end panels of stiped California walnut, an Oriental Walnut border, and an antique gold stripe around base. Also referred to as the most complete and perfect radio ever built, it is designed to be used with a doublet antenna (BC band only), or standard long wire on any of the bands. The 1541 has a great fully illuminated dial with a floating 3D effect and different colored band indicators that light up near each band’s area of the dial. The model #1297 or Teledial Super Tweleve utilized the same cabinet (with dial cover) but had a 12 tube chassis, 12 watts of power, and a range of 540 - 18000 kC (and by contrast retailed for $139.95 in 1937...$60 less!). The 1291 teledial also had 12 tubes but only output 7.5 watts of power and did not have the closable dial cover, only had one speaker, and had a different arrangement/assortment of veneer on the cabinet. It retailed for $99 in 1937 (this was the model Shirley Temple posed next to!). The 1291 also had a different dial, and only 4 knobs/controls.
I acquired this radio after seeing it in the “rough” room area of a local antique mall and picked it up for much less than $100. At that time the closable cover was broken off, the grille cloth was in bad shape, the teledial was missing some of its pushbuttons, and the veneer was lifting and missing in a few areas. Looking at the chassis, other than being dirty and missing about 3 of its tubes, it seemed complete.
Getting it home, I removed the chassis from the case and began work on getting some life back into it. After recapping and acquiring the correct tubes (I replaced most of them and now all are the black metal type that this radio originally was shipped with). I fully recap’d and did find that the one of the speakers was a replacement and that its field coil resistance was different than needed to divide the operating voltage up correctly for this set (and that someone had adjusted for this by adding an external power resistor to match the original value – and it was open). After replacing (Mouser Electronics), my next challenge was finding that the discriminator coil primary (in the AFC section) was open as well. Locating another similar replacement, I was able to fit the new coil – housing and all – inside of the old coil housing and make some adjustments to the circuit underneath the chassis(keeping the chassis all original in appearance). Once I had this in place, back to my Variac, I powered up the unit and voila! I was back in business. After many late night hours of tweaking this radio and replacing some parts here and there, I still had some issues that weren’t resolved. One was a squeal I could not get rid of at some combination settings of the tuning frequency and the fidelity control. Originally I had found that someone had disconnected one of the leads to by pass the 10 ohm resistor in the IF selectivity/tone control circuit – as it was sort of folded up and tucked behind the tone control. Well, I reconnected and had nothing but issues…until one night of being frustrated I disconnected it and my problems disappeared. Right or wrong, it’s staying disconnected (maybe a later service update someone had performed?). Lastly I was having some intermittent problems when I moved the band switch, and more noticeable when I would turn the chassis on it’s side and “flex” the chassis. I can say I spent many hours looking for a loose component somewhere and finally I found an original solder joint that I hadn’t messed with to be the culprit (fixed and now working great). I did have some issues with the indicator lamps in the teledial part itself as they are a pain to re-lamp (and the lamp holders fell apart as I replaced the bulbs). I did end up replacing them as well with some parts I found online (NOS – but not for this radio). Finally, I installed a 3 wire safety cord with ground (I found some nice cloth covered 3 wire lamp cord of a heavy gauge – expensive, but it gives it an original feel over black vinyl).
Figure 2 – Finished…
The cabinet? I did find some of the missing veneer pieces inside after I removed the chassis and glued up all lifting areas, and filled in some of the small gouges. The cabinet was in better shape than I thought after I stripped it, and I used Mohawk brand lacquers and toners in my restoration process. I fixed up the closable front cover and have that working very well now too (however some design issues make it a pain to open/close without going sideways and getting stuck if you don’t do it exactly right, so I leave it open). As for the grille cloth…I tried to salvage the original but really couldn’t and found an almost exact replacement from www.grillecloth.com (thanks John!). I did manage to get replacement pushbuttons off of EBAY, but I am still searching for 5 original control knobs (I have some that look close until I come across originals someday).
I know, not the BEST pictures – but at least you can actually see a 1541 on the internet. Maybe if I get time I’ll shoot some better pics? But who has time when there’s another radio waiting to be recapped? Questions or if you have 5 original knobs, E-mail me – firstname.lastname@example.org .