1953 Chevrolet Radio


1954 Chevrolet Radio


 Repair of the 1953 Delco radio and typical problems

The 1953 Delco Model 986668 AM radios that were installed as an option in the Chevrolets (Motorola also supplied radios) were of considerable good quality.  Both in construction and receiver performance.  The most common problems with these radios and most old radios in general, as a result of age, are deteriorating components.   Specifically, the most common problems are:


Bad vibrator: This effects the high voltage DC.  Typically, these can be replaced with a modern solid state unit which is unquestionably more reliable and quieter.  These solid state vibrators cost about $30 and are readily available.  It should be noted, that many older mechanical vibrators will work fine.  But, it is hard to predict when the contacts become so bad that the unit will cease to operate. 


Noisy Volume Potentiometer:  After age, they do get noisy (like in most radios).  Dirt and dust is the major culprit along with wear of the carbon element inside.  It is very hard to fine NOS replacements.  About the best that can be done is to clean and spray the noisy potentiometer with appropriate cleaner.


Leaky and Bad Capacitors:  As noted in the pictures, there are paper audio bypass and power supply filter capacitors that almost always should be replaced.  The power supply filer capacitors should also be changed with new comparable ones.  In these capacitors, the electrolyte dries up with age and the elements inside short out.  If not addressed, the short in the capacitor can be catastrophic as damage will occur to the power transformer.


Replace Vibrator Timing Capacitor:  Always replace this with a modern "Orange Drop" or equivalent type 0.006 ufd rated at 1600 VDC.

Caution:  I have repaired a lot of car radios including over 20 of the1953/54 Chevrolet Delco radios.  If you attempt to do your own repair, be very cautious not to destroy the IF and Oscillator coils (see photos).  I have repaired 4 that came in to me as others tried to repair them and inadvertently shorted something out causing DC to burn the coils out.  Be careful when working in these areas with the power on.  It is very very hard to find replacements for these.

Radio Repair  I do repair radios.  If you are interested in this service, please see my Radio Repair website called Redwood Radio. To view this site click here:  Antique Radio Repair for Cars and Home Radios

Radio Pictures

Typical Unit in for Repair

Componet side of unit. Dirty and dusty with noticable bad capacitors.

Top Side of Radio

In for repair. Basic cleaning here is needed.

Cleaned up Parts Side

Replaced all capacitor problems.

Clean Volume Potentiometer

Also change the capacitors on the unit. Shown are the new capacitors used for tone control.


Here is what one looks like. Inside is a vibrating mechanical relay that converts low voltage DC to AC before applied to the transformer.

Bad Capacitors

Typical of old age capacitors in the 1953 Chevrolet radio and all other old radios of any kind.



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