Farnsworth Model GT-051 Bakelite Radio (1948)

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

Black Beauty` is my nickname for this classy Bakelite set. Sporting a dramatic, assymetrical design, with deep wraparound louvers and a bullet-like profile, it`s a great example of 1940s Streamline design. Definitely a keeper, in other words! I`m restoring the electronics of this radio as well as the cabinet, so let`s look at some highlights of ea

Farnsworth Model GT-051 Bakelite Radio (1948)
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ch process. This radio came from the factory with an ivory paint job. By the time I got my hands on it, though, the paint was deeply chipped in many places. After spending some time trying to smooth out the chipped spots, many of which were on the delicate edges of the louvers, I gave up and removed the paint with a chemical stripper. I don`t normally resort to such drastic measures, but the original paint simply wasn`t salvageable. Before removing the old paint, I brought the cabinet to an auto parts store and found a can of spray paint that looks like a great color match. When it`s time to repaint, I`ll have exactly what I need. I also carefully masked the bottom to preserve the original paper labels. I first taped a layer of plastic over the labels, using blue "painter`s" masking tape, then covered that layer entirely with a second layer of tape. Stripping the cabinet took a couple of hours. I worked outdoors on our deck, using a brush-on liquid stripper. From aluminum foil, I formed a temporary container about the size of a cakepan to catch the excess stripper and old paint. Most of the paint brushed off after softening, but a few areas required some careful scraping. For the flattish areas, I used an old putty knife that once belonged to my grandfather. For close crannies and details such as the raised Farnsworth lettering, I used various smaller tools, including toothpicks and a straight pin. Click the thumbnail...

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