Arvin 87R79 - $6 Find! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Wray   
Saturday, 07 November 2009 10:46

My brother Todd was recently out hitting the flea markets and ran across several transistor radios (and an Atari 2600 for that matter.) After an over-the-phone description, I had him pick this Arvin 15-Transistor 4-band radio for only $6. I also ended up with a pocket transistor and a larger "coat pocket" sized one that I haven't had a chance to toy with just yet.

Since I was lacking a 6-volt DC power supply to test it out, I went to the local Dollar Tree store and bought a couple 3-packs of C size batteries. The radio requires 4. I turned the knob to see how it sounded. Nothing. No life at all. I sat it down a bit discouraged, wondering why it didn't power up when it looked so clean and well-kept.

The next day, I toyed with the volume control some, and eventually I heard a crackle sound from the speaker. I determined that the Power/Volume control was damaged and the pot needed replaced. After a bit of toying (a good couple of frustrating minutes), it roared to life. It was set to AM, and I immediately heard the top of the Hour ID for 820 WBAP In Dallas Texas. From my kitchen in Bedford, Indiana. It wasn't quite dark yet, and the clear channels were booming in already!

I took it to work the next morning and listened to the local AM station from my desk deep inside the building for several hours. This is the first radio sensitive enough to receive any AM from inside our metal-covered building. I listened to it for 7 hours the next day, and some that night, all on the first set of C batteries. They haven't shown signs of wearing down yet, impressive given the fact that they're very cheap batteries and usually go dead quickly in other devices.

I took the board with the transformers on it off (see photo) so I could get at the power/volume pot so I could possibly get a new one somewhere. I was dismayed to see that there were multiple leads on the control (I had expected 3, there were 6), but encouraged to see that the power contact was external, and obviously very green and corroded. I found myself some aerosol electrical contact cleaner and sprayed it down and scraped it well. I shot some inside the pot itself, as well as the tone control pot to get rid of any crackle from dirt/corrosion inside of them, and reassembled the radio. It powered right up no problem, and the pots move from min to max without any crackle at all. It's like a new radio, at no more cost than the $6 given for it.

Reception is great on Shortwave/Marine Band, as well as AM, but the FM reception leaves something to be desired, at least indoors. I have located the model and chassis code in a February 1967 Sams Photofact service folder, so I would date the age of the radio to be most likely 1966, possibly (but unlikely) 1967. So FM wasn't its priority, as broadcast was still mostly found on AM in that era.