Ekco Radio Continued, Model AW108  

Pictured above is the Ekco AW108.  Manufactured in 1937 it was top of the table range for that year.  It was extremely expensive, costing £17.6.6. The sensitivity and selectivity of this receiver is exceptional.  It is housed in a large cabinet veneered in Walnut, but that’s not a single section of veneer covering the top and front of the cabinet, it is four mirrored pieces lined up together to add extra interest.  The Art Deco “wings” to each side of the cabinet are of no value acoustically at all, they are added on to the basic cabinet and exemplify the “Art Deco” stepped design motif so popular in the 1930’s.  This has the effect of making the sides some two inches thick. They are again veneered in the highest quality mirrored walnut, and the effect is stunning.  The receiver has a large multi-colour tuning scale, and as the wavechange knob at the side of the set is operated an internal lever changes an illuminated colour panel which indicates the waveband selected. This panel can be seen to the right of the large tuning knob.  To the left of the tuning knob is a TV4 “mystic eye” to enable the operator to ensure the station is correctly tuned. The receiver is physically impressive being some two foot and three inches wide.  

The receiver is constructed across three separate removable chassis’s, see picture above right.  The power chassis can be clearly seen to the right of the cabinet, and a H.F. chassis sits “within” the main receiver chassis. The receiver is a four valve superhet, but the high quality of the coils and other components really makes a noticeable difference to how the receiver performs.  The knob directly underneath the large tuning knob is a local-distance station switch.  This set really captures the warm mellow tone so expected of vintage wireless receivers, provided by a mains energised 10” loudspeaker.  A special network of a choke and capacitors boosts the bass response when the receiver is operated at low volume, by accentuating lower audio frequencies as the volume control is turned to minimum.  Unusually the output transformer incorporates a third winding utilised when the receiver is operated on medium and short wave to introduce compensated feedback.  Resultant elimination  of harmonic distortion greatly improves reproduction.  Decades of dust can be seen on the chassis, is it right to remove it having taken all those years to get there? 

Valve line-up is TH4, VP4B, TDD4, IW4/350, TV4, PEN428.  The last valve of the list is the output valve, though you may not be too familiar with the PEN428.    Made by Mullard, it boasts an enormous output of 8W.  The AW108 rarely turns up these days, but if you do see one you won’t regret buying it.  It sounds fantastic and as mentioned, my receiver provides hours of entertainment without complaint even though it has not been electrically overhauled – not bad after 65 years!

Continue to next page for a closer look at the Ekco AW108 cabinet