Motorola 53R
 A 1953 Motorola table radio, model 53R.
 
Motorola 53R
By law, radios made between 1953 and 1963 had civil defense markings on the dial, but this one never had them.
The marks would have been at 640 and 1240 kilohertz. (Add two zeros to the numbers on the dial to get the frequency in kilohertz.)
 
Motorola 53R
Here's a look inside.
 
Motorola 53R
Notice serial number 15654 is hand written. I wonder if the person who wrote it is still alive. Did he or she write the numbers on the backs of 15,653 other radios? Is 15654 a code? How do you decipher it? I found another radio with the serial number 15698. I also found one with the serial number 62398. So now we have three numbers, two have 156 in common and two have 98 in common. Perhaps the last two digits are the number of minutes I will lie awake wondering about it.

 
Motorola 53R
Here it is the day I opened the box from ebay. I wanted a red one and I thought this one would be easy to paint.
 
Motorola 53R
The dial is in outstanding condition for this model radio.
 
The inside was very clean.
 
 
 
 
I had a tough time pulling off the back because the interlocking plug was stuck. It turned out it had never been removed.
All the tubes were Motorola! The back had been on for 67 years!
 
The paint is very thick. Boy, I'd hate to have to strip it off. Good thing I'm just going to give it a coat of red spray paint.

 
Notice in the photos above there are two shades of green and red, and a pink. The different shades may be the effects of age. The yellow radio seems to have a new paint job. The picture of the pink radio was found on a website in Spain, but pink wasn't one of the original colors. It might be an export, but if it is, why does it have the Civil Defense (CONELRAD) markings on the dial?
 
These are the colors the radio came in. No sign of "pink" on the list.
MODEL COLOR CABINET PART NBR
53R1A WALNUT 16E630169
53R2A IVORY 16K630171
53R3A YELLOW 16K630172
53R4A GRAY 16K630173
53R5A GREEN 16K630174
53R6A RED 16K630175

 
The price of the radio in 1953 was $19.95. That's equal to $194.00 in 2020.
I got this radio on ebay for $25.00, which is $2.58 in 1953 dollars. Sounds like I got a good deal.

 
I want a red one!
This is going to be easy! The radio is white, it just needs a coat of red paint.
 
Nice! Ver-ree NICE.

 
I can't believe I'm almost done with this! I put, like, minimal effort in it.
 

 
We'll come back in an hour and see how it turned out.
 

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick- DING! Time's up!
Whoo-hoo!!

 
 
I gazed in horror at the result. I had just RUINED the radio cabinet.
It was fine for 67 years. I get my hands on it and ruin it in an hour.

 
Well, I heard that brake fluid will cause all the paint to just slough off, so this should be easy to fix.
 
After 24 hours, this was the result. I thought it was ruined before. Look at it now!

 
I switched to paint remover. Six days later this is how it looked when I ran out of paint remover.
 
It took a lot of picking, scraping and sanding to get all the paint off. Notice the Bakelite is black! Why didn't they sell a black version?
It turns out the Bakelite is rough, so Motorola "smoothed" it by laying the paint on thick. Ironically, all the sanding and rubbing is smoothing it for real.
 
I'm getting tired of this. Let's examine the dial.