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1934 __ Developments in Automobile Radio
Comment : This was the year that the auto makers “put up a radio front”. Put another way, much of the industry moved the radio control unit to the instrument panel. (This had been done before but on a custom basis). When the radio industry began to contract with the automobile industry for custom designed receivers, they were obliged to keep in step with the styling trends, at least in regard to the part of the radio that was visible to the eye. Hign quality American Bosch Model 79C radio : Vibro-Power "B" battery eliminator, Spark noise trap (suppresses ignition noise); More expensive materials that give new protections against heat, moisture, vibration and distortion; Six tubes model ($49.95 in 1934). The following is a breakdown of the original equipment business as it stood in 1934: · Crosley Radio Corporation was supplying Auburn direct and Chevrolet through United Motors Service; · Delco, United motors Service and B.O.P. (Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac) were purchasing sets under contract from a number of companies such as Colonial, Crosley, RCA and G.H.U. (Grunow); · Philco-Transitone was supplying custom made sets for : Chrysler Corporation cars, Ford Motor Company cars, Hudson Terraplane, Hupmobile, Nash-LaFayette, Packard, Pierce-Arrow and Studebaker; · Wells-Gardner was building sets for Cadillac-LaSalle; . Zenith provided radios for Hudson and Terraplane. The total sales of autoradios in the United States from the beginning of 1930 until the end of 1935 had totaled 1.909.000 units for a value of $82.488.000. The amazing part was that much of this was accomplished during the depths of the depression and the car radio was a relatively new product. Of course these figures were still small compared to the total radio market, but the projected sales for 1935 were over one million units for the year. There were about eighty-two firms building radios for automobiles at the beginning of 1935, and they ranged from the top line companies to the “loft” operations. Many of the newcomershad been in the home radio business and were adding a line of autoradios. If they had a loyal following of buyers, distributors or dealers, they would realize somme additional gross sales. It was always difficult to get an accurate count on the number of actual production firms, since many were second sourcing (having some of their sets made by another contractor), thus some doubling of the figures would occur. This was especially true of mail order catalog and specialty houses as discuss earlier. It was not unusual to find an identical autoradio shown in detail in the technical manuals in two or three places, each under different name. The design theme in styling and marketing was still one of streamlining and swiftness ; hence, references to the airplane were made. Streamlining was not limited to the automobile, however, as witness the RCA Victor “Magic Brain” autoradio. The Models M-104, M-108 and M-109 were available with the streamlined control unit wich was designed to be clamped to the steering column. The Nash and LaFayette cars featured a very practical, fabricated compartment in the left side of the instrument panel, designed to accomodate a Philco receiver control assembly. Packard was one of the first automobiles to incorporate the radio controls in the instrument panel, and has excellent liaison with the Philco engineers in the design of the radio and controls. One customer who made the most of this in their advertising program was the Ford Motor Company. The 1935 Ford Radio Philco Model FT6 was similar to the 1934 Model N except for the closed car installations. A larger, easier to read dial and controls were mounted in the space provided when the ash tray was removed. A separateash receiver assembly was available for installing in the instrument panel at an alternate location. It became the year to mont the speaker in the header area above the windshield. The 1935 Chevrolet radio Model 601574 partially solved the problem by using capacity coupling and resonating the receiver with the antenna to make up for the relative inefficiency of the under-car antenna which was necessary in the all steel top cars. The remote controls used with this receiver mounted in the instrument panel, provisions for which were made in the manufacture of the car. In 1936, The autoradio was coming in for its share of styling. Gone were the square corners and the multitude of screws holding the boxes together. A new system of spring bronze bonding strips eliminated the need to have a dozen screws holding each cover in place. On some radios, a quick release, threaded bar held the top cover to a center stud so that it could be removed while the set was in the car. This allowed the serviceman to check the tubes and vibrator. 1936 was a vintage year because all of the ingredients were there to make it so. The autoradio and accessories were on the market from the giant distributor in the city to the neighborhood dealer. It was a good year because the roster of familiar manufacturers were offering their best in the competitive market such as Arvin, Bosch, Crosley, Delco, Emerson, Firestone by Stewart-Warner, Motorola, Philco, RCA, Sparton and Zenith (just to name a few). All had a line of sets with matching dial plates for most any car. Motorola formally announced the “eliminode”, an improved electrical noise canceling system for their line of autoradios. The “eliminode” unit was enclosed in a separate die cast metal case containing motor noise balancing coils with adjustable shutters, high efficiency circuit filters and spiral wound antenna filters. This assembly was part of the Model 60, 80, and the ten tube “Golden Voice” receivers but not available on the low cost Model 50. Philco, not to be outdone, offered a choice of five models in their distributor line to meet “every purse purpose”. The sets range from the Model 816, with six multi-function tubes and internal electro-dynamic speaker, to the Model 819, a seven tube unit with a separate extra large speaker or a flat-type overhead speaker. All sets featured a new streamlined control unit that fit in or on the instrument panel. In 1937, Buick was the leader with the centerline radio. The complete assembly was mounted behind an attractive speaker grille located in the center of the instrument panel. The Model 980534 was a six tube superheterodyne with the speaker contained as an integral part of the receiver. Also new on some cars were the rubber covered, insulated running boards which served as the radio antenna. Reception was good except when driving under the streetcar troley lines. Ford Motor Company had a “better idea” with their new radio control head which feature an attractive translucent dial face with the V-8 logo cleverly serving as a pointer. The assembly was mounted above the ash tray in a cut-out provided. Ford also offered a new roof-mounted antenna since this was their year for the all-steel top. The “flip-up” spring loaded rod was operable from inside the car. Several other car makers would adopt this type of antenna in the future. Among the car radio producers in 1937, Philco had the lion’s share of the original equipment business, providing custom sets for Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler, Ford, Lincoln, Graham, Nash, Packard, Pierce-Arrow, Studebaker, Willys, plus foreign business. Delco provided radios for a number of the General Motors cars (except for the Cadillac-LaSalle wich were made by Wells-Gardner and some of the Buicks were made by RCA), while Crosley made a unit for the Cord. In 1938, Chevrolet had not yet moved the entire radio up to the instrument board, but the speaker was there and the radio was a suprise package. The premium unit was a seven tube superheterodyne receiver with automatic volume control; full range bass compensation; triple tuned, intermediate frequency transformers; beam power output; cold rectifier and an electric motor operated tuning assembly. An eight position, push-button tuning station, volume and tone controls, were located in the remote control unit, mounted in the instrument panel. The dash-monted speaker was of permanent magnet dynamic type, a feature made possible by improved magnetic materials and techniques. The advantages were: possible quieter operation and one ampere less current drain on the car battery. In addition to Ford, Philco was busy supplying specially engineered radios for many other leading American and foreign cars. The Model C-1550, for the Chrysler and DeSoto cars, featured an attractive instrument-panel-mounted remote control unit with a large matching airplane-type dial incorporating tuning, volume, and tone adjustements. The Packard Model P-1530, a seven tube two units system, featured an elaborate remote control head for instrument panel mounting which had four cables leading to it. These were station tuning, volume on/off, tone, and local/distantcontrols. These functions were accomplished by two sets of concentric shafts and a complicated array of gears and pinions, a spectacular bit of engineering. In addition to Motorola, automobile radio makers from Arvin to Zenith, were offering a line of aftermarket and replacement sets with controls and hardware for mounting in most any car, new or old. Zenith developed an unique set in their Model 5-M-294. This was a compact five tube two piece receiver assembly that could be converted by means of adjustable brackets for either left or right side of steering post mounting. This set was called Automatic because in addition to the manual tuning, it featured four push buttons, each of wich electrically switched an individual preset tuned circuit when depressed. This was one of five Zenith models offered during the year. The new cars seemed to be more desirable each year : the designs were truly objects of art. The driving compartments of the new cars were restyled as usual and there was a decided trend toward rectangularly shaped instruments with radio dials to match. The most popular radio control for 1939 was the slide rule dial with a row of tuning buttons underneath. In the case of some Chevrolet models and the Chrysler family of cars, the dial was in vertical position while still others used the small drum dial behind a peep-hole, but most of those were part of a linear design. As with the home radios, the motor car radios for 1939 were generaly featuring some kind of automatic tuning system. When traveling long distances such as on vacation trips, automobile occupants would find that most radio stations had a limited range for reliable reception. Regardless of this philosophy, it was the “in” thing to have, and it sold sets. The Chevrolet for 1939 offered three different radios, namely: a five tube single unit push-button Standard model and a seven tube dual speaker, Super Deluxe model. The first two sets were single unit receivers with five simple mechanical push buttons involving a system of adjustable levers, cams and return springs. They were the easiest of all to set on desired station; however, they did require more finger pressure to engage. The seven tube set, Model 985424, was the top of the line with two speakers. A small capacity-coupled permanent magnet dynamic “tweeter” was incorporated in the central tuning unit, and a larger electro-dynamic speaker was located in the drum shaped amplifier and power unit which was mounted on the fire wall. The push-buttons operated a complex system of electric solenoids and clutches to mechanically adjust the conventional tuning condenser in accordance with the preset positions. When all was operating as planed, a slight pressure on the buttons would tune in the desired broadcasting stations. Progressive development in the automotive and radio fields made 1940 another year of firsts. Welcome news to the promoters of Major Edwin H. Armstrong’s Frequency Modulation was the announcement that the Federal Communications commission had established a 42-50 megacycle (megahertz) FM band. This had no immediate impact upon the automobile radio industry, but by the end of 1941 there were about 400.000 FM radio receivers and twenty five commercial stations on the air. This was only a prelude to the future of Frequency Modulation and a time when the system would free the car from atmospheric static. In 1940, The Buick Model 980620 Sonomatic was a different creation. This was a single unit receiver with an eight inch dynamic speaker. It had a synchronous vibrator and six tubes with 6V6G beam power output tubes in push-pull. The 1940 Buick used a roof peak antenna as standard equipment and offered a vacuum operated whip antenna as an option. Tuning was accomplished by a conventionnal manual tuning control or by means of a five button mechanical tuner which could be readily set up for any desired group of stations. An electric clutch automatically disconnected the manual tuning mechanism when any one of the buttons was pressed. The Buick radio was made by RCA Manufacturing Company. The 1940 Ford radio which was supplied both Philco and Zenith represented an entirely new design. This single unit with integral speaker fit the place behind the instrument panel like a glove. To make sure that the windshield linkage didn’t strike the top of the set, an intentional box like cut-out was designed into the case. This was a five tube circuit incorporating the new loktal base tubes. The feature that interested the owner was the single button “Roto-Matic” tuner similar to the 1939 model in appearance but much simpler in operation. The antenna rod came through the roof and plugged directly into the top of the radio (with suitable trimwork). The two section telescoping rod could be extended from the inside by pushing up on a plastic sleeve provided. The remarkably low price, was $ 40.00 installed. Hudson again chose Stewart-Warner to build radios for their 1940 Hudson Terraplane cars. The Model DB40 receiver was an elaborate seven tube set using six metal tubes and a 6V6GT output tube for better heat dissipation. The set was built in two sections. The instruction manual consisted of four pages, including two pages of fine print on setting up and repairing the tuner. Stewart-Warner also made Packard’s radios for this one year. There could have been as many as five different models or variations in all. Four of them were seven tube sets incorporating five metal tubes and two 6V6GT push-pull output tubes. The other model was a six tube unit, similar circuit with a single output tube. These sets also had a rather elaborate tuning system. Several antennas were available, including door hinge pin and under-hood mounts that could be readily installed with no or minimum drilling. The radios were very neat and trim and could be had in a variety of styles, with or without push buttons, and even a large auxiliary speakers were available for mounting behind the radio grille of instrument panel. (Pol Beghon)« Keep in touch with the world with a Genuine Ford Radio.You're never alone when you ride a Genuine Ford Radio in your Ford V-8. The new of the world, sports, music, drama - a turn of the dial and they're yours. The new 1937 Genuine Ford Radio is designed specifically for your Ford V-8. It is matched and balanced to Ford V-8 construction. It has greater selectivity, greater volume, better tone values and clearer reception. It's a worthy accessory to the beautiful New 1937 Ford V-8. Ask any Ford dealer for a demonstration. Try it. Until you do, you'll never know the meaning of complete motoring enjoyment. When you do, you will appreciate the superior performance of this radio that will add immeasurably to your pleasure in driving your Ford V-8.For Motor Company, Dearborn, Michigan ». (Advertisement, 1937)
French comment : « Les premiers récepteurs pour voiture étaient presque tous prévus avec des commandes à distance par câbles flexibles : c'étaient des récepteurs américains à une seule gamme. Il est certain que l'utilisation d'une boîte de réglage, solidaire de la colonne de direction n'est pas sans agrément pour le conducteur. De plus, on peut - tout au moins théoriquement - placer le récepteur n'importe où : il suffit de prévoir des flexibles assez longs. Mais quelle complication mécanique supplémentaire ! De plus, le câble commandant l'accord ne doit présenter rigoureusement aucun jeu... La tendance actuelle, même pour les récepteurs fabriqués en Amérique est de prévoir la commande directe : c'est tellement plus simple et tellement plus sûr ! Mais il faut évidemment que le récepteur soit à la portée du conducteur. » (L. Chrétien, "Comment installer la T.S.F. dans les automobiles". 1947, p. 37, Paris : Éditions Étienne Chiron). (Pol Beghon)
Urls : http://users.skynet.be/antique.autoradio/ (last visited )

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