Above, a 1925 portable RCA Radiola radio weighs about 45 pounds. Frank Moore, right, holds a 1916 loose-coupler model.
By JACQUELINE McCARTNEY Of The Gazette Staff
Billings collector tunes into the past
Frank Moore can easily be forgiven a slight smile of amusement as he recalled a proud collector of antique radios telling him that he had so far amassed five.
Moore has 150, most of them neatly stashed in a self-styled basement gallery he calls his "little radio museum" at his home, 4623 Phillip Sl
A shop foreman with the Montana Highway Department, Moore said he is interested not just in the radios, but also in preserving communication's history. "It's part of our heritage, I guess," he said. "It's a fascinating bobby, really, to see wbat's transpired from 1895."
Radio, indeed, has traveled a long trail since the first radio communication signals were sent through the air in 1895, Moore explained as he pointed to one device, another and still another as he related radio's history.
"A lot of this stuff is just thrown out," he said. Trash to others, however, is treasure to Moore, wbo not only collects radios but restores them.
He is especially fond of an Atwater-Kent radio from 1925, mounted on a bread board, that he cleaned and restored.
One of his oldest styles is a 1916 loose-
coupler radio. Tben there are the crystal sets, which required hones, from the mid-l920s. Moore also has several homemade radios from the '20s.
Many of the 1930's cathedral style sets he has still play. Radios, . much a part of Americans' lifestyles in the "golden age of broadcasting," became quite ornate in the 19308 with the popular cathedral style - . Moore's basement shelves are lined with this mode - and novelties, such as his Sparton instrument in blue mirror casing.
More '30s gems are radios in a treasure chest and grand piano casings.
Some radio cabinetes and casings are lavish. Moore turned over the wood front panel of a radio be was restoring to reveal decorative carvings. "Today they won't spend that much time on that sort of thing, " he said. Insides of radios were given attention as well, Moore said turningover brightly colored
vacuum tubes to show their ceramic and brass bases. "Everything back then was kind of pretty inside, well-laid out," he said. "They built quality things back then."
Moore has drawers full of tubes, including his set of "True Blue" tubes that have yet to be used, and also a collection of the buge batteries used before the advent of alternating electric currents.
Radios with loop antennae, hom speakers, a chrome Scott radio that was ''the stradivarius of radios for its time," said Moore, a FreedEisemann radio that requires turning three knobs to tune - they all have a home in Moore's basement
But 150 radios, scores of tubes and "ariollS parts make for a crowded basement Some of Moore's radios are housed in his bedfoom, and he recently had to sell one because he simply ran out of room.
One gadget Moore'recently got that will probably spend some time upstairs before
moving on to Moore's basement is a new
Mccartney, Jacquelinei. "Billings collector tunes into the past." Billings Gazette 12 November 1985: 1. Print.