Zenith Royal 1000 Trans-Oceanic


I never thought I'd own a solid-state T-O; they haven't been made in over 40 years and they're still expensive. I got this one for $15 at a thrift shop because it was broken, which is how almost everything I have gets here.

Some background first. Zenith made its first solid-state T-O, this Royal 1000, in 1957; it ran concurrently with its last tube-version, the H500 Super Trans-Oceanic. The next one from the early 60s is the Royal 3000. And finally in the 70s there was the Royal 7000 and the R-7000, and that was it. They're desirable in that ascending order, with the R-7000-2 variant being the most pricey (typically a couple hundred dollars). There's a ton of stuff about these elsewhere on the net, so I'll leave it at that.

Zenith Royal 1000 Trans-Oceanic (front)This one works but it's ailing. I'll replace the photo later but this is all I've got at the moment. I like this one because you rarely see it this way: the front cover is hinged so you can fold it down to expose just the tuning dial; but you can drop the lower panel down to show the speaker and the control knobs, which is how it's usually pictured.

Like the tube-type T-Os, there are three antennas. The standard broadcast antenna is a ferrite loop underneath the black bar that sits directly on top of the cabinet. That's the b/c wavemagnet. If you're having reception trouble you have to rotate the radio to try and improve it.

The second wavemagnet is detachable and it's located in the back. It's a small black box with a red ladder-line transmission line. That's used to pick up weak b/c and some shortwave, where you can extend the antenna to hopefully get better reception. Like other T-O wavemagnets, there are suction cups on it so you can stick it on a glass window.

The last antenna is an extendable whip, called the Waverod, and it's located under the black piece that forms the carrying handle of this radio. There's a button you can press that lets one end of the handle go, the other side is hinged. So you lift the handle up and you see the telescopic whip end, pull it out and you've got your shortwave whip. Collapse it and drop it back into position, and there's your carrying handle.

On mine, the handle was broken. It looks like someone may have tripped while carrying it and landed on it, so that the handle buckled in the center. I got the handle apart and glued it, so it's back together in properly. I don't know if I can buff out the crack or not.

Zenith Royal 1000 Trans-Oceanic (rear)Here's the back. The spring was sprung and the leatherette's a bit loose, but that's a small thing. Here I've got the wave-magnet sitting on the panel—it normally hooks onto the back panel in front of the frequency dial.

The big black rectangle in the lower right is the battery case. It takes nine(!) D-batteries: eight to run the radio proper (12 volts) and one for the dial lamp. The battery case hooks in by a plug so you can swap it out; I don't know if Zenith made a special battery pack for it or not, but I believe that's what it was for.

This T-O is the only one I know of that only runs on DC power. I assume it's due to the necessity to save the weight of the AC conversion components. The Royal 1000-1 variant accepts an AC adapter accessory. Mine has been "retrofitted" with it by a pervious owner; his adapter accessory, for better or worse, is long gone.

The bad part about this radio, in my opinion, is that the coils are exposed (left side of cabinet). I like the idea of being able to get to them easily, but I think this is asking for trouble.

Zenith Royal 1000 Trans-Oceanic (rear detail)Here's a view of the back with the battery compartment removed. The wiring on the right side is the "retrofit" external power adapter that a previous owner added.

One of the interesting things here is that transistors are plug-in, so you can swap them out if necessary. If you look on the left for the upside-down numeral 4, for instance, there's a transistor with a red dot on it; there's another above it that's in shadow: those are the output transistors and they're matched. According to Zenith's service docs, if you ordered replacements, you had to specify the color dot as well as the part number.

As I said way up near the top, my T-O is ailing. Even at a full 12 volts, I only get a "comfortable" audio level even at full gain on the most powerful station on the dial; and the audio has some other defects. I'm going to replace the electrolytic filter capacitors—they're probably original and old enough to get the senior citizen discount at Olive Garden.

Long story short: one of the audio transistors failed and was replaced.

Current status: runs fine.