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1940s Portable Radio Is A Suitcase
Wednesday, 14 August 2019 22:00

The meaning of the word portable has changed a bit over the years. These days something has to be pretty tiny to be considered truly portable, but in the 1940s, anything with a handle on it that you could lift with one hand might be counted as portable electronics. Zenith made a line of portable radios that were similar to their famous Transoceanic line but smaller, lighter, and only receiving AM to reduce their size and weight compared to their big brothers. If you want to see what passed for portable in those days, have a look at [Jeff Tranter’s] video (below) of a 6G601 — or maybe it is a GG601 as it says on the video page. But we think it is really a 6G601 which is a proper Zenith model number.

According to [Jeff], 225,350 of these radios were made, and you can see that it closes up like a suitcase. The initial 6 in the model number indicates there are 6 tubes and the G tells you that it can run with AC or batteries.

We love the name and appearance of the built-in antenna: wavemagnet. Marketing types existed back in the 1940s, too. You can remove the antenna and use built-in suction cups to affix it to a window. This is a great idea and one we wish more portable radios had.

The radio does have some asbestos in it, so that’s a concern if you want to rebuild one of these. [Jeff] says if it isn’t flaking apart you should be ok, but he wore a mask while dusting the case out, anyway.

The tube used modern (for the time) loctal tubes that used 1.5V filaments that were easy on batteries. No printed circuit board here, hand wiring was the order of the day. The radio sounds great, and the back part of the video talks about what he had to do to restore the radio to its current glory.

There’s not much good on AM anymore unless, of course, you put it there. We’ve also written about restoring old radios if you want more on that topic.