Story continued from ‘The story of my radio part 1: Seeking Restoration.’
The process of restoration:
On 25th February 2022, my radio had finally found a person who was willing to give a try on it. My brother had carried the radio to the workshop where it was supposed to undergo an inspection. The moment my brother kept the radio on worktable, it crumbled into pieces. The cabinet opened from all edges and roaches ran out. With a perplexed look on his face, the radioman shared his apprehensions about being able to restore the job and the high cost involved in the process. Upon our request to give it a try without worrying about the cost, he agreed.
The complete cabinet and dial-cord were broken, speaker paper was torn to bits, band-switch needed re-wiring, dial-lamp was burnt, backplate was bent, grill cloth was torn, Veneer and dial-glass were peeling off. These were some of the initial observations made during the physical examination. A coil and a valve needed replacement as informed on the following day after a functionality check. An approximate cost of restoration was informed for my approval. “There is no price-tag for the emotions associated with this radio, kindly go ahead.”, I approved with an advance payment.
Our radioman is a passionate collector and a restorer of radios by hobby and not someone who does it as a full-time job. Unlike repairs, restoration processes are long, tedious and requires a lot of patience. As the case with all projects which he takes up, he discussed my radio too with his community of radio enthusiasts across the globe and contacted friends in his circle of know-how. Everyone recommended him not to take up this project as they all believed it was beyond the possibility. In the eventuality of it not working even after so much effort and money being spent on it, they warned him to brave the brunt of being blamed by or facing the disappointment of its owner (me, in this case). However, upon my affirmation to not give up, our radioman took this by his stride and as a personal challenge to make every single equipment entering his workshop to go out in a workable condition.
Among all equipment that he gets for restoration, he described mine to be one of the toughest. Hence, he periodically updated me the status of the restoration process whenever he was with it in his workshop. In this case, the torn parts were replaced. The grill-cloth was procured from a textile store that was about to shut down at Shimoga, the brass knobs were retained after being hand polished for several days (without the aid of any chemicals), the coil was rewound with new wire, a new valve was sourced through a Facebook community of radio collectors living abroad. The cabinet was newly sawed and painted by the radioman himself.
Meeting the Radioman at his little world of radios:
Finally, my brother and I were at his little workshop cum museum of his personal collection of radios to take delivery of our ‘little project of determination’. My determination to get the radio fixed and determination of radioman to ‘fix’ it at any cost. Beaming with a wide smile, standing at the gate of his residence to greet us was Mr. Uday Kalburgi, the radioman of Bangalore and the magician who had breathed life into my ‘box of nostalgia.’
A portion of his house serves as a ‘Short wave radio museum’, his personal collection of vintage radios from across the globe and a tiny workshop to take up not-for-profit radio restoration projects. It felt like walking into an era bygone as he excitedly narrated the story behind each of the unit in his collection of 180-odd radios. The story of his craze for radios started with a radio displayed at the entrance which consists of a small coil and receiver that was made by him as a young boy of class five when he couldn’t afford a radio. It now is a home to fascinating stories from world-wars, flight crashes, kingdoms from around the world to gifts from modern collectors. Our conversation around short wave radio had travelled long around the globe for a good number of hours until my brother and I realized that we had other scheduled work to catch up elsewhere.
Little known until we returned home that evening, it was 25th February 2023. It was exactly a year ago that this story of my radio began when it was handed over to the magician who put back life into it.
Fact file: ‘Short Wave Radio Museum’ located in Basaveshwaranagar, Bangalore is a personal museum, open to the public on all days and the entry is free. Since it is also the place of the curator’s residence, it is required to call him over phone before planning your visiting.