Lafayette KT-135 EXPLOR-AIR radio kit

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More KT-135 stuff.
 
From a 1970 Lafayette catalog. The price, adjusted for inflation for the year 2018, is equal to $150.00.
 

 
The KT-135 had two different knob styles. This is an older version with the original style. It also matches the picture on the cover of the manual. Apparently there were four styles of "Leatherette covered Wooden Cabinets." If you need to replace the covering, the material seems to be vinyl wallpaper.
 
 
This radio sold for $100 on ebay in June of 2015. The seller stated it didn't work. No worries there, on page 18 of the assembly manual it says you can bring it to Lafayette and they'll fix it for you for four dollars!
 
Styles
 
The original style knobs on the left were included with the kit from 1958 to the mid 1960s.  The newer style knobs on the right date back to at least 1967. They were not sold in the catalog and a replacement is very hard to find today. As a matter of fact, except for the Lafayette HE-40, these particular knobs are not found on ANY Lafayette equipment other than the KT-135. The KT-200 and KT-320 used similar knobs, but they aren't the same. In the 1970s Lafayette sold a pack of five matched knobs that were almost duplicates, but the center was concave instead of flat.
 
The very early models had a cylindrical speaker magnet mount.
 

In addition to the two types of knobs and four styles of cabinet covers, there were three types of speaker grills. Oldest to newest shown.
 

There were two chassis types. The older models have the lettering printed on the chassis; the newer ones are stamped.
 
Early and later style capacitors and shaft extensions. The shaft is slightly longer on the newer style.
 
There were even three different manuals. Two are shown here. All the manuals show the old style knobs.
 
A third version?
 
Lafayette KT-135
From 1958 to 1960 the front panel in the Lafayette catalog was monochrome.
This picture is from the 1959 catalog. The 1961 Lafayette catalog shows the two-tone front panel.

 
Lafayette KT-135
This is part of a Lafayette ad from the February 1959 edition of Popular Electronics.
The actual picture is only one and a quarter inches wide.

 
KT-135
This clearer picture is from Electronics Illustrated - January, 1962.  Unfortunately, the picture is the size of a postage stamp, so it doesn't have a lot of detail.

It appears the word "Lafayette" is printed over the speaker, but in a different font. The name "Explor-Air" is missing. Notice the nice lower knobs. What color was the front panel?

Were any sold that actually looked like this?
 

Dating your KT-135 (sort of)
 
 
 
To get the approximate year your KT-135 kit was packaged, look for a number on the speaker. If you see a "20-84" and a "24," the date the speaker (probably) was manufactured are the two digits next to "24." Put the number nineteen in front of it. So "67" becomes 1967. Not all of the speakers had this numbering scheme.

 
Dating the knob style change
 
 
 
  1965 1966 1967 1968  

Using Lafayette catalogs to determine when the knob style was changed, we see it happened sometime in 1967. After 1967, Lafayette used the same photo for every advertisement. I guess they ran out of film. Click any picture to see versions of the catalog ads.

In 1967, Davies Molding, maker of the "Daka-Ware" knobs found on the KT-135, had a fire which destroyed their main plant in Chicago, Illinois. This coincides with the year the knob style was changed.

 
Lafayette Logo
 
 
 
 
This Lafayette trademark was filed on 10/30/1960. It's "first use" was reported on 05/12/1959. On the left is the trademark, on the right is the KT-135 front panel. Interestingly, Lafayette had been using this logo since at least 1947! By 1963 it had been phased out in favor of a LAFAYETTE logo in block letters, then later with a drawing of Marquis de Lafayette to the left of it. This new logo has a filing date of 10/28/1966. The older logo continued to be used alongside the new one in the catalogs, and of course, it was also found on the KT-135 till 1971.
 
1966 Lafayette trademark.
 

 
Dimensions
 
The dimensions, in inches.
 
The cabinet is made of 3/8" plywood. The side joints are dovetailed. The approximate outside dimensions are 10 1/2" wide, 7 1/2" high and 5 3/4" deep. 1/4" strips of wood around the inside front hold the front panel of the radio in place.

Because the cabinet was sold separately, not every KT-135 has one. It shouldn't be hard to make one, it's a wooden box that has a 10 x 7 opening in the front. When the radio is inside there is 1/2" of clearance on the sides, so you don't have to dovetail the joints. Just use the same strips of 1/4" wood that are around the inside front to hold the sides together. (See Page 8.)

Grab a cool looking roll of pre-pasted vinyl wallpaper to cover the cabinet. Don't worry about the wallpaper coming off the cabinet when the radio falls into the bathtub while you're in there listening to it. Let the new owner worry about that.
 
For a proper appearance, use #4 finishing washers and #4 slotted head wood screws to hold the radio into the cabinet. The finishing washers (called cup washers in the manual) came with the radio but the screws came with the cabinet.
The #4 hardware is hard to find. If you need the finishing washers, email me your address. I happen to have 96 spares.
 
 
 
Box with part number.
 
 
 
Band "C" is referenced twice on the BANDSPREAD dial.
 
 
 
LOOK! I cleaned up the mess I made on the card table! For once.
 
It stayed clean for a whole day. I got Art Auch's radio the next day, and started work on it. A week later I was swapping speakers. Art Auch's speaker was DOA. I ordered a 4" replacement for my modified radio (what did it matter?) and put the "stock" speaker into Art's radio. What you don't see is all the crap on the floor. Hey, I only have so much room on the table. 

 
On September 12, 2015 I found my old desk in a bedroom at my mom's house. I hadn't seen it in 41 years. It has a new finish on it thanks to my brother, but my initials can still be seen carved into it at the far right. Today I would never carve something into a piece of furniture.
  
KT-135
 
Next: Repair Tips!
 
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