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Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
12-31-2012, 03:45 AM
Post: #1
Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
OK, I am looking for opinions/input on which of these sets offers the best bang for the buck. Any info is much appreciated.

Gene
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12-31-2012, 08:35 AM
Post: #2
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
That's easy, the 37-116X, the brand Z sets tend to be over priced for what they are. I wouldn't call a 15 tube brand Z a bad performer though, if you can get one for a reasonable price I would not turn one down, but since they are normally twice what a 37-116X costs, and the 116s are better all around performers, then a 116 series set is a better deal.
Regards
Arran
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12-31-2012, 09:05 AM
Post: #3
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
Except for the 15-U-269, I like the looks of the Philco better than the Zeniths. The 37-116 is the 1 console we have in our living room.
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12-31-2012, 02:48 PM
Post: #4
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
Thanks for the replies! I have been looking at these 116's. Pricing (on CL) varies from $150-$600 ($600 for a "restored" one.) Willy sold one for $336 plus the freight but the pics are gone so I don't know what it looked like. The trick is to find one locally that isn't overly expensive. All the "deals" seem to be in the midwestIcon_rolleyes

I prefer the look of the '37 over the '38. It is difficult for me to think of the slant front as attractive. Now if it was a 690.................

There was a Zenith 15u269 on CL for $800, but it had a hole in the grille cloth and the finish needed work. I don't know about the electronics on that one. It is gone so someone evidently bought it. Willy sold one for $895 plus shipping recently.

Gene
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12-31-2012, 05:51 PM (This post was last modified: 12-31-2012 05:53 PM by Phlogiston.)
Post: #5
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
If it is actually restored, ALL caps restuffed, resistors replaced with vintage ones (or vintage looking) original filter cap cans in place, G tubes (if not Philco G tubes), no rust and the cabinet is either very nice original or refinished properly, then $600 would be a very good price.

Or you could get the beat-up Zenith, which I still might do. But I have the Philco already.
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01-01-2013, 04:19 AM
Post: #6
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
The big passion for Zenith sets was based on the fact that the Walton family on a TV series had a certain Zenith radio.

Zenith sets are OK as long as a person likes them for what they are, rather than what they see on a TV screen

I regard Zenith radios a "blue collar" radio. They were priced a bit lower than RCA sets, and Philco as well. Their chassis were decent performers, and their cabinets were cheap and, ranging from acceptable appearing, to out- and-out gauche. With possibly one exception, Zenith never had a cabinet with doors on it. That would have been a big cost increase. There were many RCA and Philco models with doors on their cabinets. Finish quality was, again, acceptable, but mot exceeding that of other brand's cabinets.

Zenith had a nasty habit of bloating tube counts. The best example of it was their "Stratosphere" model. Other models used two type 6X5 rectifier tubes, rather than a single 5Y3 or 5U4, for example.The 6X5's were noted for breakdowns, and burning power transformers. Coupled to that, they used marginal specs for heir power transformers, and suffer need for replacement. If you're looking for a good radio, with bloated tube count, possibly a Midwest would please you.

I've always observed that Zenth's success in the market, was the big round dial. I'm sure that lots of buyers felt that the larger the dial on a radio, the more stations it would receive.

One big hidden issue is performance. Beginning with Philco's model 16, Jim Skinner, pres. of Plhilco had the audio response extended to 7000 cycles, from the usual 4500 CPS. While broadcast stations weren't putting out that fidelity, it made Philco sets sound more enjoyable, because harmonics and overtones were enhanced. Not even RCA did that, so in that respect, Philco had an unnoticed edge. And to take advantage of their good audio, Philco had some pretty husky speakers (The "U" and the "W" types, on some models. Zenith never came within a mile of that!

However, if Zenith is your "thing", have at 'em!
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01-01-2013, 04:45 AM
Post: #7
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
I got to tinker with a couple 1938 Zenith 15 tube consoles. I loved the look and I might have been able to tame one, but didn't like the $2000 price tag on them. I would definitely go for a 37-116 or even a 38-116 in a heartbeat and they don't sell for too much around here when one pops up. I have seen them in the flesh, but haven't gotten to hear one yet, but I'll bet they sound very good if my 116x is any indication.

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01-01-2013, 05:11 AM
Post: #8
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
Doug is spot on with his analysis. Icon_thumbup

I think you guys know which one of the two sets being discussed I would pick...and it wouldn't be the Brand Z set. Icon_wink

That said, I actually wouldn't mind owning a Walton tombstone...but I'll be darned if I'm going to pay $3000+ for one. A person can get a real radio for that kind of money - Scott, McMurdo Silver, or Philco 37 or 38-690 - and may even have change left over.

--
Ron Ramirez
Ferdinand, IN
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01-01-2013, 06:27 AM
Post: #9
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
I always figured that the cabinets on brand Z sets weren't really that bad, at least on a higher end 15 tube models, Crosley cabinets, on the other hand, really were cheap. The point is taken about some of them being tacky, I never liked the Walton tombstone cabinets for example, but being a Canadian collector I have higher standards for radio cabinets. I don't know what the production numbers were for the 15 tube brand Zs verses 37 and 38-116s but the figures in the gallery seem to suggest that for a 15 tube console they made a lot of them, probably more then any make, I think they were also better built so more survived. Of course they have an amber celluloid dial viewed through a peak hole rather then a big black dial, and the cabinet style is rather restrained, but they don't just look like performers they can back it up.
I think The Waltons TV show may explain a good part of the appeal, but also when the order of the big black dial became really popular in the late 1980s early 90s they were the only North American electronics brand still in business. Philco was gone before 1980, and RCA was sold to GE and then sold again to Thompson, who then spun off the name on Asian badge engineered junk.
Regards
Arran
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01-01-2013, 06:40 AM
Post: #10
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
Doug,
I appreciate your analysis between the two brands.

Not really having the electronic knowledge that many of you folks do I was using what I thought were two comparable sets. I do believe the Philco is the better set, and since I probably wouldn't be able to purchase both anyway Philco would be the choice.

For me Zenith made some what I consider attractive sets.....the teardrop dial being my favorite. Like any other hobby, one goes through phases of liking or disliking certain brands, types, etc. So I have to admit that since I purchased Ron's book I have been reading a lot on the Philco's and have acquired several recently.

I will shortly be in the position to be able to buy one "high end set" so I am trying to gather information to help me make my choice. I have one in mind, but am not quite sure yet if I should take the plunge on it or not. Time will tell.

Again, I do appreciate all the replies to my thread; and it gives me a way to learn even more about these wonderful radios.

Gene
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01-01-2013, 05:20 PM
Post: #11
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
I can remember brand Z being the radios I wanted when I started collecting and I would not even touch a Philco. Well, you were even allowed to look at the brand Z consoles that ended up in shops here because a big collector had them already spoken for and the shops paid off. Then the Philco sets began to sneak into my collection and suddenly the flood gates opened. Now I prefer Philco over most others and I would definitely go for a 37-116 if I can find one nearby at a reasonable price.

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01-01-2013, 06:52 PM
Post: #12
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
I agree Jayce!

Also agree with Ron.......I just can't see the money for the "Walton" tombstone.

I also like some of the Majestic's , Sparton's, Stromberg's etc.
Some radios just seem to jump out at you, but I try to research the item to see what is is really like.

Gene
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01-02-2013, 04:39 AM
Post: #13
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
The early Majestics are good sets, heavy as all get out though. Still, there is a model 92 Majestic for sale on CL right now that I am knashing my teeth over. Too far away and the start of the year bills are killing me this year! I really hope karma kicks in and a 37-116 or 38-116 turns up later close by!

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01-02-2013, 05:37 AM
Post: #14
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
Sparton and Stromberg Carlson sets are cut above any brand Z set, above most Philco models as well (not the 116s though). Spartons and Strombergs obviously aren't as common as brand Z sets but they do turn up fairly often. Majestics were generally well made, at least the earlier ones were, the original Grigsby Grunow went under in 1934 and then the company reorganized under Majestic Radio and Television. Majestic underwent a slow decline from being a reputable set around 1934-35 to basically a bargain brand by the early 1940s. In each case we are speaking largely of pre war radios, thought post war Spartons and Strombergs are still better then average. There are lots of other makes to look at, RCA, as has been mentioned, G.E, Stewart Warner, FADA, etc. Canadian G.E is one of the brands I collect, many shared their chassis with Canadian RCA models, American G.Es, aside with ones made between 1930-35, are altogether different.
Regards
Arran
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01-02-2013, 08:26 PM
Post: #15
RE: Philco 37-116X vs 15 tube Zenith
From the radios that I have seen, almost every make had a set that is desirable. And every person has different tastes I realize. I favor wooden cases. Some of these are like works of art.

I agree with Arran on the Stromberg's & Sparton's. But what Doug explained about Philcos having a higher frequency response I didn't know. That is good information to have when choosing sets!

Gene
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