S.T.C. History

From the 1930s to today.
S.T.C. in Australia was an independent subsidiary of STC in the UK. They started out importing radio components into Australia in 1923. By the 1930s the had begun to manufacture radio receivers and telephone equipment. They later expanded to manufacturing valves (tubes) and military equipment until 1987 when it was purchased by French company Alcatel.

If you have Telstra wall phone in your home, chances are it was made by Alcatel... A litte vestige of STC still in most Australian homes.

A little piece of trivia here... On many of their sets the first digit of an S.T.C. radio model number indicated how many valves the set used. This 5030 has 5 valves. A 630 say, would have 6 and the 830 model had 8.

And if 8 valves seems like a lot consider this... In 1938 S.T.C. produced a 1030-K model which used a ludicrous 11 valves in its design.

1030 K was probably the price tag too.

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ill titleS.T.C. 5030

Stately Lady.

ill_1This is a radio with a story to tell and I hope to unfold it here as I set about restoring this classic 1930's console.

A month or two back I attended an Auction held by the local Historical Wireless Society.

A number of incomplete (but still quite restorable and decent sets) had gone for only $10.00 when I put in a bid on a very attractive HMV set. But unfortunately the HMV proved too attractive to resist for a number of buyers and bidding soon went out of my price range.

Just when I thought I wouldn't be bringing anything home I managed to snag this lovely console model built by Standard Telephones and Cables Australasia Ltd in 1937 paying a mere $25.00 for it.

The cabinet was a little shabby and needed some restoration work but it was essentially intact and working. (Sort of!)

The 5030 has Medium and Shortwave, with a clever user interface. The different bands are printed on two seperate dial glasses stacked one atop the other. When switched to Medium Wave the upper dial glass is lit with a white light and when switched to Short Wave the lower glass is lit instead and with a red light to help you tell the difference.

An outstanding feature of this model is the "Acorn" style bakelite knobs. These are in excellent condition and really stand out from the pack.

Most surprising was the fact that the chassis was very clean, in excellent condition and a small amount of restoration work had already been done on it. Meaning that after a short inspection by a fellow collector she was able to be switched on and started bringing in the tunes albeit with a lot of scratching and squawking.

The next step was to set about a complete restoration of both cabinet and chassis.

It took a while before I had the time and resources to look hard at this radio and try to nut out the different problems, the most perplexing of which was a crackle that would occur any time the chassic experienced even the smallest vibration. I couldn't seem to narrow down the cause and in the end I decided to turn the chassis over to a professional to look at.

Fil La Spina is a fellow member of the Historical Wireless Society of South East Queensland and is a licensed electrician and radio repair guy. I explained the symptoms to "Doctor Fil" and left the patient in his care as I set about restoration of the cabinet.

ill titleCabinet Restoration

The photo above shows initial sanding being done to prep the surface for stripping.

Stripper applied and working.

I opted to use Old-Fashioned Shellac to refinish the cabinet using methods that would have been available to cabinet makers in the 1930s.

I didn't quite go the complete french polish as that would have been too much for an amateur like me. But I took my time, followed the instructions and got a pretty nice finish built up.

The dial surround was a metal oval frame made from what appears to be brass and then plated in a silver metal. (Possibly Nickel? Perhaps another collector can let me know?)

This was looking very dull and corroded but a little going over with steel wool got it all nice and shiny again.

I also had to fill in some cracks in the timber along the top and in the feet.

Last thing was to repaint the top edge trims and feet in black. I used a gloss black and then once it was thoroughly dry went over it just once with a spray of satin black to take a little of the gloss off. Then it was time for reassembly.

Mr Murphy Strikes!

So far all had been going swimmingly and I had not had too many troubles. This was all about to end.

I had a piece of fabric to replace the grill cloth which was too far gone to be of any use. I attempted to affix this to the cabinet with a staple gun and only when I turned the cabinet back over did I realise the staples had gone through to the front and cracked the veneer, punching it up like tiny mountains on the front of the cabinet. It was too horrible to look at so I never did take a photo.

So back to work. I had to push the little peaks down and try to get them even with the surface again. Then more sanding and shellacking to try and restore the nice finish I had so painstakingly worked on.

In the end I was able to get it looking almost as good as before but if you were to look up really close you would be able to notice the damage.

While all this had been going on "Doctor Fil" had restored the chassis and done a sterling job of it too. I'd go so far as to say the radio probably hasn't sounded this good since 1937.

So in short time I was able to put the chassis back in the cabinet and move her back into the house. My poor long suffering wife who was so dismayed when I first brought it home some 6 months earlier is now quite impressed at what a lovely piece of furniture it is and the electrical safety certificate attached to it by Fil makes her even happier.

I'm sure that if a professional furniture restorer were to look at it they would scoff and point out a million flaws, but I'm only an amateur and this is the first time I've ever attempted to do something like this.

I'm very happy with the finish I've been able to achieve and rather than look brand new I'm happy if I can make it look like a well cared for piece of 70 year old furniture.

I only hope I look as good when I'm that old.