Masthead

The Trans-Oceanic was Zenith's premium luggable radio that bridged the era between World War II and the early 1980s. The models made up through Sputnik used tubes; after that they changed to solid-state. As I have no solid-state models (they're still too expensive for my blood), I'm only going to discuss the tube-era rigs that I own.

Also—because Zenith Trans-Oceanics (usually called T-Os among collectors) remain popular among collectors, there is no shortage of information about them. For this reason I'm only going to give a brief summary of tube T-Os. If you want more info, check out the Resources section at the end of this page, or read the book The Zenith Trans-Oceanic: the Royalty of Radios by John H. Bryant and Harold N. Cones. I've got the first edition and enjoyed it very much. I haven't seen the 2nd edtiion and can't comment on any changes they may have made.

So I'm just going to give a brief rundown of the different models. Tube-era Trans-Oceanics break down roughly into five models:

Clipper

Zenith ClipperThis the pre-war model, and it was the Clipper, with trans-oceanic being an adjective. It's model number is 7G605. It several of the Trans-Oceanic features that would be found on later models, but it's different enough that it can't be confused with the others.

The most obvious thing about the Clippers is the graphic on the speaker cloth (left-side). Earlier models had a sail-boat, later ones have the airplane. Also, the front cover folds down on this model; on later ones it'll flip up and back. The square frequency dial will carry over to later models.

8G005

Zenith 8G005This is the first post-war model, and it officially has the Trans-Oceanic name. There are three obvious identifiable characteristics to it:

  1. it has that square airplane dial. An airplane dial (or clock-dial) is where the pointer is attached to a pinion in the center of the dial, and it spins around; the frequencies are printed around the edge of the dial;
  2. the Wavemagnet on the flip-up lid is black with a big Z in the center;
  3. it has a fixed luggage handle on the top (later ones are hinged so the handle.

There are other differences but those are major cosmetic things to look for.

There are variants of this, all of them internal so you can't tell them apart by the cabinet. The original is an 8G005 with no suffix (came out in 1946), that was followed by the 8G005TZ (1947), the ..TZ1 (1948) and the ..TZ2 (1949). There are some slight changes in the tube lineup (primarily the rectifiers), bandswitch and coils.

This is the earliest model that I have. Mine's a TZ1, so it's got the 117Z3 tube instead of the 117Z6 (I have no idea what difference that makes). It's a fair performer compared to my 600 series model; I'm not sure how much of that is due to improvements in the later model or if my 8G005 just needs an alignment and general going-over. Probably both.

G500 Series

This one looks like the 8G005 but it has two obvious differences:

  1. the Wavemagnet on the flip-up lid has the Zenith crest logo rather than the big Z;
  2. the handle on top has hinges so it can fold down.

Internally the chassis is new; instead of the old loktal tubes, it's now all-miniatures: two 1U4s, the dreaded 1L6, a 1S5 and a 3V4. Biggest difference is that the rectifier tube has been replaced by a selenium rectifier.

I don't have one of these so no photos. Or maybe I do—I'm not sure. I think I have two more TOs in storage and maybe another carcass, so I'll update this when I know for sure.

HZenith H500500

First one to be called the Super Trans-Oceanic. This one still has the airplane dial but the gold bezel is widened to the right, and the frequency bands are printed on the glass. Also the Wavemagnet is now gray rather than black, and it's held on by two thumbscrews rather than by edge clips.

I have four of these in various degrees of quality. Photos as soon as I get one or the other looking good enough that I wouldn't be ashamed of showing it here. There's also the fact that one has the wrong fold-over lid for it (it's got the 8GY lid).

This one is an interesting hybrid; it's still got the airplane dial but the side has been elongated to include the band names on the dial glass. Internally—I have to look, I don't know what the differences are. I do know this one has the hateful 1L6 tube ($50, last time I looked), along with two 1U4s, 1S5 (later variants use the 1U5 instead), 3V4, and a selenium rectifier.

600 Series

Zenith B600This is the "Super De-Luxe" Trans-Oceanic. It's the biggest and heaviest of them all. It's easy to spot because the airplane dial has been replaced by a slide-rule dial (where the pointer needle moves side-to-side rather than turning). Also the log-book is now on the flip-up dial, and the Wavemagnet is mounted in the top of the case.

The 600 is called a "series" because the model names vary depending on the first-letter code Zenith used. The L600 was from 1954-55, R600 and T600 are from 1955, Y600 is from 1956 and 1957, the A600 is from 1959 and the B600 is from 1959-1962.

Mine's a B600.

After this, Zenith's Trans-Oceanics went solid-state. I don't have any.

 

Resources

Wikipedia

NostalgiaAir.org

Phil's Old Radios

Padgett's TransOceanics

Zenth Trans-Oceanic - "The Royalty of Portables"

©opyright by James Ollinger. All Rights Reserved.