1950 Midwest 16" Restoration

This 16 inch Midwest is my 4th restoration.  I acquired this set in March of 2007 through an ebay auction.  It is a model 932-CJ32.  In 10 years of collecting I have only seen one other Midwest set similar to this.  The set was located in northeastern Tennessee and was a pickup-only.  I made a 2000 mile trip from Milwaukee down to as far south as Mertyl Beach, SC, then up the east coast to Philadelphia and on toNew York. I picked up sets that I had purchased all along the way.  From New York, I headed back home via I80, made a stop in Detroit to pick up a set and then back home to Milwaukee.  This is a photo of the gentleman in Kentucky who sold me the set, standing next to it in his garage on the day I picked it up.

I had already restored three other sets, and I was getting to the point where my restoration skills had been finely honed and I felt more confident about tackling a more challenging restoration.  Both the cosmetic and electronic condition of this set were bad.  The cabinet was sound structurally and the walnut veneer was nice and tight, but the finish was bad.  The cabinet would need to be stripped and refinished.

The electronics were in sad condition.  Somebody had been messing around with the chassis and there were many disconnected wires and capacitors.  To make things worse, there was no Sams Photofact folder available for this set.  Because of that there were no photos of the wiring side of the chassis.  A good friend of mine sent me a copy of the only known schematic of the set which he found one of the Ryder’s TV volumes. 

This set uses a 16AP4 picture tube.  The 16AP4 that was in the set when I got it, had been damaged.  The base (socket) on the neck of the picture tube had been broken off and the glass tip-off under the base, where the tube air is evacuated out of the tube, was broken off.  The tube was no longer under vacuum and could not be used.  Fortunately I found a good replacement from another TV collector out east at a reasonable price.

In addition Tom Genova, who operates the web site http://www.tvhistory.tv/index.html graciously sent me a copy of a 1950 Midwest Catalog, which gave me some knowledge about the Midwest Radio and Television Corporation.  Midwest started out in 1920 manufacturing radios.  Later on when television started becoming more widely available, Midwest branched out into television set manufacturing.  Midwest was a direct sales company.  They sold their radios and television sets through a mail order catalog, not through local television dealers.  You could send in an order form with a down payment and Midwest would ship the item you ordered direct to your home.  Each month Midwest would send you a bill and you would make your monthly installment payment.

My first task was refinishing the cabinet.  It’s a most unusual design.  Very tall and narrow.  The cabinet is made of high quality ¾” solid core, walnut veneer, cabinet plywood.  It’s very heavy.  Midwest had their own cabinet factory where their skilled craftsmen made the cabinets for all of the Midwest radios and TV sets. I stripped off all the old varnish and sanded the cabinet.  Being as the set is walnut veneer, I did not use any stain, and left it natural.  The only finish that I put on the cabinet is 7 coats of clear automotive acrylic lacquer.  After the first three coats were applied, I wet sanded with 320 wet sand paper between each coat.  The finished clear acrylic lacquer lets the beauty of the natural walnut shine through.

The decorative bezel and trim around the picture tube is comprised of several components.  There is a metal window frame that has a fake wood grain finish printed on it.  I cleaned this component and sprayed 2 coats of clear automotive acrylic lacquer on to revitalize the finish.  Behind the metal picture frame is a piece of safety glass with a gold pinstripe outline of the screen and the Midwest company name at the bottom edge which is silk screened on the back side of the glass.  Fortunately this was in wonderful condition and with some windex and some paper towels, it all cleaned up nicely.  The last component is a wooden picture tube bezel which is sculpted to the contour of the picture tube.  This wooden bezel was in good condition but the white painted surface was very yellowed, possibly from cigarette smoke.  I sprayed a coat of gray primer, and two coats of flat ice-white lacquer to restore the bezel to a nice fresh clean look. Here are two photos of the completed restoration of the 16AP4 picture tube with the new picture tube installed. Notice the plastic cover over the body of the picture tube. This is to prevent shock to the service man when he is working on and around the picture tube. The body of the picture tube is metal is is live with 14,000 volts of electricity when the set is in operation.


Chassis restoration was a lot more difficult than on my first three restorations.  This set has a separate power supply and receiver chassis.  The power supply was easy to restore.  I removed the single electrolytic can and used my usual re-stuffing technique to rebuild the lone electrolytic can on the power supply chassis.  The original rubber line cord was all rotten, and so I replaced it.


The receiver chassis was a very dificult restoration.  The Ryder schematic did not have a tube chart and because there was no tube chart glued to the inside of the cabinet, my first task was to make a layout and tube chart of the chassis from both the top and bottom view.  These is one of the charts I made.


Somebody had been messing around under the receiver chassis. As a result many wires and capacitors were disconnected, and it was necessary to trace every component and every wire to make sure that it was wired according to the Ryder schematic.  This was a very time consuming job, because this chassis not only is a television chassis, it is also an AM/FM radio chassis, so things get a bit complicated; especially when you get to the multi-section selector switch.  But time and patients eventually got it all sorted out, and all the capacitors were replaced and all the wiring was restored to its’ correct configuration.  In the restoration of this chassis I replaced, 2 shorted doorknob capacitors, 2 potentiometers, 33 resistors, 19 capacitors and restuffed 5 electrolytic cans.

I tested all the tubes and found most to be good.  The bad ones were replaced from my tube inventory, and I had to order one tube for the FM radio section that I did not already have in my stock.

The last cosmetic issue was the front panel of the receiver chassis.  I stripped off all of the old lacquer finish, and used a cream copper polish to bring back the bright luster of the copper plating.  Then I sprayed 2 coats of clear acrylic automotive lacquer over the panel to preserve the shine and prevent it from tarnishing.

The knobs on this set are made from cellulose acetate butyrate.  This is one of the early plastics and it is prone to decomposing into a white chalky residue.  I cleaned the knobs well with a tooth brush and cleanser.  Then I sprayed 2 coats of clear automotive acrylic lacquer on the knobs to prevent further decomposition.  So far in 4 years the knobs still look fine with no signs of decomposition.

I hooked everything up to my variac and slowly powered the chassis up.  I was delighted to find a had a nice bright raster but the vertical centering was way off.  It turned out the vertical centering pot on the rear of the set was burned out.  I ordered a replacement and it arrived in about a week.  I installed the replacement centering pot and now the chassis was functioning properly.  I installed all the components in the cabinet and let the set run for several hours to make sure all was well.  After about 2 hours I heard an arcing sound and the set blew a fuse.  Upon investigation I discovered that the multi-section power supply resistor bar riveted to the rear of the chassis had shorted out to the metal chassis. I replaced the resistor bar with conventional 10 watt power resistors under the chassis and we were back up and running.  The set has run flawlessly ever since.  Even the AM and FM radio section work very well.

The last task was to create a back for the set.  When I received the set it did not have a back.  And I could not find any photo of what the back was supposed to look like.  So I improvised and made a back from 1/8 inch tempered masonite.  A fellow collector friend supplied a metal copula to protect the neck of the picture tube.

This set is one of my most favorite. I like it because it's very rare and has such an unusual design.  It's also a very good performer, in both the TV and Radio modes.