One of the things we do here at Flatwater Trading Post is bring history back to life.  The first project we want to share with you has a lot of personal meaning to us at the shop.  Many years ago as a young boy my parents would take some of us to visit one of my father’s older brothers.  His name was Ray and he was a committed bachelor.  One of the nicest guys you could meet with a quick sense of humor.


Ray was a dry land farmer and truly lived off of the earth.  His house was very modest and could have used a women’s touch, but that was what made it so appealing to a young man of my age.  He had so many cool things such as old guns, wood working equipment and the most interesting to me of all was a Halicrafters S-38C that sat in the kitchen.  It really caught my attention.

Ray noticed that and took the time to show it to me and explain how it worked.  He told me stories about how he was a radio corpsman in WWII and learned Morse Code and went to England and through France into Germany in Patton’s Army as he called it.


Well the bug bit and I was hooked.  It led me to get my Amateur Radio license and an interest in Electronics.  It eventually led to my getting into the Information Technology business (Computers) and a life long career.

When Ray’s time was short and he had to go to the Nursing Home, I was surprised but grateful when he wanted me to take his old S-38C.  It had seen it’s better days by then, and sat neglected further in storage after I got it.

So now I thought one of first projects we would share would be a refurbish of his S-38C.  Our intent is to bring it back to operating condition and clean up it’s appearance, not to restore it to pristine condition.  Part of the charm of this unit, is the memories we have of one of our favorite relatives.

Rays-S-38C-2 Rays-S-38C-5 Rays-S-38C-3

As you can see from the pictures above, the exterior is in need of some clean up, but the case is in overall good shape.  The Chassis is showing its old age, but  everything is in an un-molested state.  All of the knobs are in good shape and intact.

The following picture shows the chassis as I am taking it out of the cabinet.


This one shows the underside of the chassis, which validates that it has been untouched.  It still has the original electrolytic capacitors and the wax/paper capacitors.  We will replace those as part of the refurbishment.



In the following picture you can see the chassis after removing the tubes.  It is in need of a good cleaning.  The biggest problem I see, is the need to remove about 10 -15 dead spiders.  It seems they all came to the S-38 to die.  It also seems that there is a lot of fly excrement on the chassis.


First step in cleaning is to use a brush and a vacuum to clean the chassis


After brushing and vacuuming, this is what we have.  Still needs a lot of work.


Final step is using Brasso to clean up the chassis.

Rays-S-38C-21 Rays-S-38C-23

A little elbow grease goes a long way.

Now on to the underside.

Here you can see the underside chassis with the wax and paper capacitors still in place


Next is a picture of the chassis after replacing those caps, note the electrolytic is still in place.


Here I am building a replacement for the electrolytic caps on a terminal strip.


Now it is placed in the chassis.


In this picture you can see the final result of the recapping job.  Note the safety cap in the lower part of the picture.  I have also rewired the switch and added a new cord that has the wide blade on one end to try and prevent the chassis from becoming hot.


This is a final shot of the chassis after recapping and cleaning, right before it goes back into the cabinet.


The final step is to clean the case with some simple green and then to protect it with some carnauba car wax.  I buffed it up and it shines better then new.  It does have some water spots on the finish that I wasn’t able to take out.  I was OK with that, because it left it with some character that reminds me of my Uncle.

I fired it up, and it worked right away, for a few minutes.  Then I would hear a slight pop, and then just static.  Shut it off for awhile and turn it back on and it would work again for awhile.  So I replaced some slightly out of tolerance resisters, but no go.


Finally I retested the tubes.  I got to the 12Sa7 and it showed doa.  I tapped the top of the tube and bingo it came to life.  Hmm, was it really bad?  So it took it out, put it back in and it was doa.  Tapped it again, this time it didn’t light up.  So I replaced that tube and it has been working like a champ since.  I did a quick alignment, but I need to do a more thorough one in the future.

The next vintage restoration project we do, I will try to give you more detail.  I decided to do this one as an after thought and didn’t take as many notes as I should have.  I hope you enjoyed the project as much as I did.   Hope to see you next time.