National NC-57

LogoI wasn't planning on buying another National, but I found this at a thrift shop looking pretty forelorn and priced at $10. I figured I could part it out or use it as a trade down the road.

Damned if it didn't work almost immediately (see baseline below), so I don't have the heart to tear it up. Instead, I thought I'd use it as another repair/restoration guinea pig.

I'm becoming quite a fan of National products.

NC-57 adBackground: this ran from 1947 to 1950, according to The Radio Shoppe. The earliest National advertisment I've seen is in the November 1948 issue of QST, though I did see a dealer's ad from earlier in the year (left). This is the little brother to the big NC-173/183 machines, at least in styling. It has far fewer bells and whistles than my NC-173, but it does include a built-in speaker.

There are also an NC-57B and NC-57M variant. I haven't yet determined what the differences are.


In case you care, I found the following to be useful or interesting:

February 2013: Baseline

I'm not going to do the whole song-and-dance that I did for the NC-173, but I'll do some. I found this at a local thrift shop where it was piled in with the clock radios and curling irons and such. $10. On the surface it's obvious why: this one has been through the wars. The great thing about a sheet-metal cabinet is that they can take the use and abuse that would destroy a wood or plastic cabinet; the bad part is that they look like hell after doing it.

Known missing: the bottom metal panel, all the knobs, and the dial light. Known damaged: the plastic dial protector, the speaker, and the bandspread dial cord.

But the chassis looks solid (if filthy), all the electrical stuff appears to be there, none of it looks burned or abused.

Tube Compliment

6SG7 - RF amplifier
6SB7 - Converter
6SG7 (two) - 1st and 2nd IF amp
6H6 - 2nd Detector / AVC / ANL
6SL7 - First audio / CWO
6V6 - Audio out
5Y3 - Rectifier
0D3/VR-150 - Voltage regulator

May 2013: Mothballed

So what happened with this. We plugged it in, fooled with it a bit and it works. Not fantatistic, but it works. It needs an alignment but still. Go figure. I added a speaker (see photo).

Then it turned out that the frequency readout disc was broken in half (no chassis photo at the moment—sorry) and the broken-off piece is long gone. That makes alignment a hell of a lot harder. Also doesn't help much for tuning. Yeah—you can live without it, but it is a useful luxury and the radio looks like hell without it.

So far I haven't found a source to replace it. I was hoping to get a photo of the disc and I'd try to print one, but no go on that either.

Now I'm keeping an eye out for a parts radio, though again—so far no luck. Every NC-57 I've seen has been far more complete than mine. This one may end up being a parts donor afterall.

April 2015: Dial Photos

Gene, KB4EMV, was kind enough to send me photos of the dials from his own NC-57 project radio. He's looking for a power transformer so if you have a line on one for a reasonable price, please let me know.

It's going to be some time before I pull this one back out to work on it, as I've got a couple of other things ahead of it in line. But it's great to get the train back on the tracks again. I'll update here when I get a chance to get going again.

Current status: this radio is no longer in my collection. This page will be removed in late 2024.