Zenith H503

Logo This looks like the little brother to a tube-era Trans-Oceanic. It runs on a single band (AM broadcast), but it's of the same era; it's got the black-leather luggage styling; the loop antenna is in the tilt-up cover; and it's made to run on either AC or DC (provided you have the batteries). It even takes the same tubes as my H600 (3V4, 1U4, 1U4, 1U5* and the dreaded 1L6).

* earlier models use the 1S5. I don't remember which one I have and I'm too lazy to look).

If you find this thing, see if it's got a 1L6 in it. If it does, replace it with a 1R5 and use the 1L6 in a Trans-Oceanic or something else that can use it. The 1R5 is essentially the same tube except that it doesn't work well over 10 MHz; since this radio only picks up broadcast AM (around 1 MHz), the 1L6's extra abilities are wasted and a 1R5 would do just as well or better. 1R5s are inexpensive; 1L6s are very expensive.

Plays nice enough. I like it—it looks a bit like a doctor's satchel when you carry it. Unfortunately mine's seen better days; the bronze face plate just looks dirty in this photo, but in reality it's worn and I'd have to paint it to make it look nice. And if I paint it, I'd have to figure out how to paint the frequency numbers again, and probably the Zenith emblem at 12 o'clock, and I'm no good at that sort of thing.

Also the pointer is broken off. The original has a thin stick that pivots on that white disc in the center of the grill. I keep thinking I'm going to try to fabricate something but haven't managed it yet. Or if I can find one from a parts donor T-O, I may use that.

Funny—every one of these I'e seen for sale has the same broken pointer. That must have been a common problem on these units.