[Introduction]:Updated 9/29/06

Once upon a time..

Sometimes, when you are least expecting it, lightning strikes.. and you don't know for sure it struck until some time later!. Here is an example of what I mean.. I received an e-mail in the fall of 2005 asking me the value of a Zenith Model 2501-P.. the 25 tube Zenith Stratosphere..

Hi! How are You? I was wondering if you can help me. We have and old Zenith Radio 1938 Zenith Stratosphere Model 1000z, serial# 754318 Model# 2501 P,

We were wondering what you would thinks its worth, and how we could go about selling it to someone who would take care of it????

It is in pretty good shape, a couple of dings and scraps along the way! If you are interested I have pictures I could send you! Let me know.

Well.. I often get notes from people asking me what something is worth. I try to answer those that I can, but often there is not enough time. I couldn't resist this e-mail, and I replied and asked for the photos. I told myself that this may just be a hoax,.. but.. you never know..

It was not a hoax.. I got back a nice note, with some photos attached.. Here are the original photos that I got.. You can click on any of these to see the photo in full size. Be sure to use your browser's BACK button to return to this page!

Dial #1 - Dark Photo

Dial #2 - Photo shows dial intact..

Front #1 - Full Front with door open..

Rear #1 - Full rear of radio..

Radio Serial #

Power Chassis Serial #

Close-up of Speakers and Power chassis

Close-up of Radio chassis

Front #2 - Full Front with doors closed

After a few e-mail exchanges, I got the owner's phone number and spoke with them.. a very nice couple.. He told me he purchased the radio back around 1965 when looking for some old radios to work on (he was taking a course in radio at the time). They believe that it may have been originally owned by a furniture store back in the 30's. It sat in a corner long enough so that when he was on his way out, and asked how much for that big old radio in the corner, he was told $15! He has been hauling it around with him ever since! He was thinking of selling it now that he was retiring, and they were planning on moving.

I let them know that they had a very rare radio, and what I thought it might be worth. There are many rumors on what Stratospheres had sold for, or supposedly sold for.. I tried to do some homework and found that the set on eBay in early 2005 reportedly never completed the transaction, while the refinnished one at Estes Auctions did sell.

After I gave them the information, I decided to make them an offer.. I told them they would probably do better on eBay though.. They asked to think about it a bit. I called them back a few days later, and they decided to accept my offer..

The radio was located in the midwest (Missouri). I decided to fly out there to meet these folks and also see the radio first hand. I made plans to get the radio back to my home in the northeast. The radio is HEAVY, so this was not going to be easy!..

Being winter, and close to the holidays, I did not want to drive the radio back, but instead decided to trust it to a shipper (Craters and Freighters). They dealt with museum goods, pianos, etc., and I had good experience shipping radios in the past. I called them ahead of time, got a quote, and made arrangements to bring them the radio. I also made sure that they could insure it properly.

When I arrived, the couple welcomed me into their home and were really wonderful. We had coffee, and they showed me the radio. They told me a bit of the story on how they had acquired it, and how it had moved with them over the years. They were looking to move again, and had decided to finally let it go. It looked to be all there, and the cabinet was solid.. It was getting late, and I told them I would be back in the morning and consummate the deal. The next morning, we secured the chassis and speakers to the cabinet with some bolts, and they helped me load the radio into a van I had rented. On the way over, I purchased a pair of broom handles at a local hardware store.. I used them as rollers to help slide the radio into the back of the van with out damaging the cabinet.

After about an hours ride, I arrived with my treasure at Craters and Freighters. They made up a custom crate using styrofoam and plywood. The radio is first palletted and shrink-wrapped. They arrange for the insured shipping and proper delivery to my home.. It was not cheap, but the radio arrived about a week later in fine shape! I have had nothing but good experiences with this franchise..

Once the radio arrived, I took the radio and power chassis out of the cabinet, as well as the speakers, and examined the condition. The radio has lots of issues.. It is missing the knobs. It has a few chips in the veneer, one tear in the grille cloth. The cabinet is solid, but is missing one small "foot". The power chassis has lots of surface rust, and is in need of a major overhaul.

I have just started the restoration, so the story is still sort of evolving.. I have been trying to document this saga in photos, so that you can see the story unfold! I purchased a set of reproduction knobs from Larry Bordonaro of Antique Restorations. I have done some research on the dial lights, and started the rebuild of the power supply and amplifier chassis. Feel free to look over my shoulder as I take on this most enjoyable task!