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Whole lotta Nekkid Heathkits going on: Cabinet restoration time begins!

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by W7UUU, Jun 14, 2016.

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  1. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    So today I pulled all the Heathkit rigs from their cases and started the process of a complete (hopefully professional looking) restoration of them all as far as finish is concerned, including all the SB boxes as well as the DX-60/HG-10 boxes.

    I took the DX-60 box, an SB-301-size box, and an SB-600 box to the bead-blaster place not far from my house. He evaluated the thinner aluminum of the SB cabinets as well as the more robust steel case for the DX-60b and the HG-10b. The blasting expert at the shop thinks that sand blasting will actually be better, using a very fine gauge of sand. We're just going to blast the exteriors, and the interiors will simply get new primer and paint. Why? COST!! It's more difficult to get the insides than the outsides, except for the DX-60b/HG-10b

    So what I'll end up with is bare aluminum (and steel for the DX/HG of course) which I'll then use a Zinc Chromate "self-etching" aircraft aluminum primer with a couple days to cure, then a THIN layer of Krylon gray wrinkle paint with a couple more days to cure, and finally the "eBay Heathkit paint guy" SB-light-turquoise paint, with multiple light coats so as not to plug holes or mask the wrinkle finish of the previous coat. The DX-60b/HG-10b will be painted with SB "Dark Turquoise" again from the eBay Heathkit Paint Guy - it's not exact to the original, but will have to do. Both cabinets are nasty - so it will have to be slightly darker green.

    This is a major commitment to my project - this isn't going to be cheap. Depending on the cabinet, probably anywhere from $20 to $40 each, and I have the following to do:

    DX-60b, HG-10b, SB-101, SB-301, SB-401, SB-610, SB-620, SB-630, SB-640, SB-650, "extra" SB-X01 (for the SB-401 I have to pick up at the end of the month - a friend restored it for me), "extra" SB-600 box.... that's 12 cabinets total to be sand blasted so we're talking $300 - $400 for the blasting, plus another $150 in paint and primer.

    Restorations are going VERY well: the more complex units my friend in Oregon did - SB-101, SB-301, SB-401. I know my talents at this stage and I consider those rigs outside of them at this time. I've just finished the DX-60b (just last night actually - awaiting RF cage cover and bottom cover, thanks to Chris KD2ACO for the bottom cover, and Steve W0GSQ for the RF cage cover - just awesome guys - thanks so much!! Also the HG-10b although it might have an issue on 40m - will have to wait now to dig into it again - I've finished the SB-630, and now have in front of me still the SB-610, SB-620, SB-640, and SB-650. I have the recap kits on hand from Hayseed Hamfest for the 610 and 620. The 640 I consider to be mostly cosmetic and mechanical - not much there electronically.

    But I just can't hold back - the SB-650 simply has to be next!!! It was given to me free by my local friend Ron KC7J and although being in pretty dire condition, it's 100% restorable and in fact, I will "re-kit it" and take it completely apart, then rebuild it with mostly new components.

    So ... the project continues: Off to the sand-blaster with all 12 boxes tomorrow - their shop is swamped so will be weeks before they're all done... giving me time to work out the "paint booth" that will have to live in the garage.


    Nekkid Heathkits (absent SB-401, and 1 SB-X0X box, SB-600 box already at the blasters):

    kits 1.jpg kits 2.jpg kits 3.jpg DSC_0012.JPG
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
    N7ANN, N2EY and KC9VFO like this.
  2. KK6IYM

    KK6IYM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Those are some very clean-looking radios and with the painted boxes should really be show pieces. Nice. I agree with you about the sand (or bead) blasting prep. When I want a radio to look its best, I take the case to a local powder coater where they blast to bare metal and coat--$70. With the Heathkit, I think the wrinkle paint undercoat route is probably the best solution to get that "original" look.

  3. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Yup. Except for the DX-60b / HG-10b and SB-650 which are all smooth originally.

    Gotta love the SB-640 in that lineup - it's seriously in need of cosmetics! But it's utterly pristine other than being filthy and the dial doesn't work. I think that will be a pretty easy restoration. Granted, I still have to fabricate the Molex bracket for the SB-101 and wire the connector into the radio but that won't be difficult.

    If anyone happens to have an old basket-case SB-101/SB-102 that happens to have that Molex external-LMO bracket, I'd sure love to hear from you!! :)

    N2EY likes this.
  4. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page



    The DX-60B and HR-10B had a wrinkle cabinet. The DX-60, the DX-60A, and HR-10 all had smooth painted cabinets. But, the "B" versions all had wrinkle finish! The same for the SB-650! The wrinkle cabinet for the HR-10B is the only difference between it and the plain HR-10. The cabinet was made wrinkle to match the DX-60B.

    I have never seen an SB-650 without the "wrinkle", actually more of an "orange peel", cabinet.

    Your SB-650 may have had a paint job after it left the factory and your DX-60B and HR-10B may have had the cabinet replaced. But, when the kit left the Heath plant, unless someone made a mistake and put in the wrong cabinet when the kit was created, all of them had a wrinkle finish.

    You can check Penson's book if you don't believe me!

    Glen, K9STH
  5. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Interesting - my DX-60b and HG-10b are utterly not wrinkle nor the SB-650, which I bought from the original builder who put it away decades ago. Weird stuff. Not making things up - just "telling it like it is" with the boxes I have on hand in person.

  6. KS4W

    KS4W Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I got my novice license in 1975 I acquired, in piecemeal fashion, a DX-60 (not B) and a HG-10B (along with a Drake 2-A.) The DX-60 was smooth and the HG-10B was wrinkle. I was a broke teenager and so excited to have a station the non-matching cabinets didn't matter to me.

    Anecdotal at best but my 2¢...
  7. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Yep I think not all Heath cabinets were painted the same. My SB-650 is utterly original and totally smooth. The DX-60b has a very very slight wrinkle - more of a hammertone - nothing like the SB-boxes. The HG-10b is also more of a hammertone.

    But I'm going to treat them all the same - they will all be wrinkle finish. My only concession is the DX-60b and HG-10b color will be Heath SB dark green which is just a shade darker than original. Oh well - they're both so scuffed up I need to do something with them.

  8. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    From the photos, it looks like you may have all 3-different front panel colors for the SB-Line! However, there may be only 2 of the colors, the lighting may be playing tricks.

    Glen, K9STH
  9. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Instead of bead blaster, try oven cleaner. It is very aggressive stuff. i sprayed my sb 610 cabinet. I would spray, wash off, reapply. Took a few times and I had a bright shinny aluminum cabinet. Applied the paint looks great. A lot cheaper!
  10. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Not a bad idea - certainly worth a try. Just plain old "easy off" oven cleaner? But how does it handle all the zillion little holes? I really need the paint out of the holes otherwise the new paint coats (primer + wrinkle + final) will surely plug them. I do plan to do very light coats at every stage. I've done a LOT of "rattle can painting" over the years so I'm pretty confident.

    I'll pick up some oven cleaner today and at least give it a shot... any risk to metal damage? Also - I have TWELVE cabinets to do, including the steel DX-60b and HG-10b... they might prove to be much more of a challenge...??


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