Childhood Memories of Soldering and the Philco Radio

I have memories of being 8 years old, soldering circuits in our basement, while hiding from my mother as she desperately tried to get me out the door to school. Those were fun times. The thrill of experimentation while racing against the clock to build something. What a rush!

Christine's memories from 8 years old are a little different.  Her parents had inherited a gorgeous 3 foot tall Philco radio from her grandmother and Christine would sit in front of it for hours. It brought old time radio shows and short wave signals from around the world. She smiles whenever she talks about it. Not the devious way I do when talking about sneaking a few extra seconds to get a solder joint just right, but with the sort of childhood happiness you imagine a kid would have staring up into a magnificent story telling piece of furniture.

This year that very same Philco radio was handed down to us. When it arrived in our living room it was in a state of disrepair. Apart from all the components being covered in a thick layer of dust the power cord was dangerously frayed. I started cleaning it up and quickly realized  I was going to need break out my old childhood friend, the soldering iron to make the necessary repairs.

And that's when it hit me. Alex was about to turn 8 and he didn't even know what a soldering iron was. How did I let things get to this point?

It didn't take much to get the boys interested in soldering. I mentioned something about melting metal and they were sold. So the boys practiced.



And practiced...



And practiced... 






Eventually I convinced them to take a break and we got the radio cleaned up and replaced the plug. I figured the chances of it actually working after all these years were pretty low, but to my surprise when we plugged it in it actually came to life. Christine was going to be so psyched!




That moment lasted for well,  a moment. Then the original transformer from 1963 began pluming back smoke and sizzling like a well buttered frying pan. Allison started screaming something about a horrible smell and that was all she wrote for the Philco's original components.

I did some checking on the web and determined that with a serious investment of time and money I could get the Philco back in to it's orignal working condition. For a lot less of both I could stick an amplifier and streaming media access point in that same chassie and bring the Philco into the 21st century. So that's the plan.

The Philco, now on it's 3rd generation with our family, will rise like a Pheonix from the ashes of its burnt out transformer as a wireless internet streaming speaker we can control from our computer and phones. From the outside no one will be able to tell the difference between this new version and the original.

And our kids will either grow up with memories of curling up in a blinket listening to stories in front of the Philco, or with fond memories of sneaking passed their parent to build things with dad's soldering iron when they should be getting ready for school.  If they're lucky, it'll be both.