1950 Stromberg Carlson TC125 Restoration

The Stromberg Carlson TC125 was my 6th restoration. The TC125 is a 12 inch black and white set that uses the 12LP4 all glass picture tube. This particular model has the Stromberg Carlson "Opera Glass" feature which "magnifies" the picture so that it fills the entire area of the round picture tube. In the normal mode, the top and bottom of the round picture tube has a blank area above and below the image in the screen. This chassis also uses an inductor tuner that tunes the TV stations in two "bands". Low band is chanels 2 thru 6 and high band is chanels 7 thru 13. There is a band switch next to the tuning knob that switches between the two bands.

I acquired the set from a party that placed a Craigslist add in Mertle Beach, South Carolina.  I had the seller remove the chassis and picture tube from the set, and then he boxed the cabinet up and shipped it to me on Grayhound Package Express.  Grayhound does a good job of handling fragile items that are large in size. All cargo rides in the baggage compartments of the bus and is handled by hand by the baggage handlers.  The chassis was moved separately by a person that was traveling from South Carolina by car to Madison, Wisconsin.  I drove from Milwaukee to Madison and took possession of the chassis there.  Sometimes you have to be rather creative to get a set moved from where it is, to where you are.

As you can see from these before photos, the set was in poor cosmetic condition, especially the top of the set. 


I stripped the old finish off of the top and re-stained it to match the rest of the set.  Then I applied 2 coats of 2 pound cut shellac, and then finished the set with 5 coats of clear acrylic automotive lacquer that was wet sanded with 400 wet emery between coats to achieve a nice smooth finish.

The knobs and the screen bezel had a metallic chocolate brown finish that was chipped and scratched.  I took the screen bezel to the auto paint store and looked through auto paint color swatches until I found a perfect match.  Then I had a spray can custom made in that color, to use in repainting the knobs and screen bezel.  After the re-painted parts were dried for about a week, I used colored epoxy resin to “color fill” the numbers and words that were cast into the knob surfaces to make them stand out. 

When I received the set, the knob in the center of the channel knob was missing.  I did have a replacement knob to fit, but it is not the exact correct knob for this set.  This set has the Stromberg Carlson “Opera Glass” feature which magnifies the picture to fill the entire screen.  The correct knob in the center of the channel knob should have the words “Opera Glass” on it.  Unfortunately, I could not find an exact correct knob to replace the missing one.

The “Stromberg Carlson” emblem on the set was also looking rather sad. Fortunately it was cast from solid brass.  I took a sanding block and 400 wet emery paper and flat sanded the face of the emblem to bring back the original luster of the brass. Then I carefully polished it with a stitched cotton buffing wheel and polishing compound to a bright luster.  The finished emblem was coated with 3 coats of clear lacquer to preserve the finish.

I made a list of the needed capacitors from the schematic and ordered what I needed.  The re-capping was a straight forward process much like most TV chassis.  However these early Stromberg Carlson chassis have an unusual “stepped” design as can be seen in this photo.  This “stepped” design makes the re-capping a bit more difficult because you have to work on a surface that is not flat like a normal chassis.  Most of my friends in the TV restoration hobby agree with me that working on these early Stromberg Carlson chassis is more difficult than a standard chassis, and we all dislike this “stepped” design.

The grill cloth was in very poor condition and had a tear, which can be seen in the before photo above.  I took the original grill cloth to a local store where they sell drapery and upholstery fabrics.  They have hundreds of books with sample fabric swatches.  I found something that was a reasonable facsimile and special ordered a yard.  I think the pattern compliments the style of the set nicely even though it is not original.

After completing the re-capping of the chassis, I tested and replaced any weak tubes, and installed a good used 12LP4 picture tube because the original picture tube was completely dead.  I powered the set up and was pleased with a fairly nice picture. The set does have one problem that I was not able to correct.  There is a distortion in the vertical linearity when you use the “opera glass” feature to expand the screen, and there is a shadow on the lower left part of the screen.  Nothing we did was able to get rid of the shadow and we even changed out two deflection yokes and several ion traps in an attempt to get rid of the shadow.  I guess we will just have to be content with the picture the way it is.  After all the set is almost as old as me, and I don’t function as well as I did when I was younger either.