Majestic 1S49 “Melody Cruiser” (circa 1941)

In the 1920’s lasting through at least the early 1960’s, there was apparently a continuous interest in model ships.  Several companies made clocks (with the dial inside a ships wheel, of course) for a bookshelf or tabletop.  Several models of radio were also made, apparently starting in the late 1920’s.  This one is the Majestic model 1S49, circa 1941 that i purchased at a shop in Strasburg, VA.  (Grigsby-Grunow Radio, became Majestic Radio & Television Company in 1932, and it was based in Chicago.  Majestic seems to have made a few versions of the “Melody Cruiser” from 1939 until 1946, though i haven’t yet found authoritative documentation.)

The ship is made entirely of hardwood, carved and finished in lacquer.  The sails are shiny, chromed metal, and the lines consist of a continuous run of stranded, aluminum wire that serves as the antenna for the radio.  The bowsprit is cast aluminum or pot metal.  The radio inside uses 5 tubes:  12SA7GT, 12K7GT, 12Q7GT, 35L6GT & 35Z5GT.  The chassis is very compact but i was able to work on it with no problems.  There is a sheet of asbestos above the chassis to protect the wood from heat, and this requires careful handling.

The quality and workmanship of this is not certainly not first-rate.  The photo shows the radio dial held in place by tape, the use of cardboard to create a spacer between the speaker and the front baffle, and parts glued together.  Then again, this has held mostly together for 77 years…

Chassis restoration was simple.  In the photos, notice the clever tuning mechanism.  The articulated arm allows for a indicator to sweep across a short, horizontal dial without using cord and pulleys.

I was able to clean this up and leave the original finish and all original parts.  The only broken part was the bowsprit in front, about half of it was missing, leaving the wires dangling and the sails all out of kilter.  Since i don’t know how to repair pot metal parts, i started looking for similar ships in antique shops.  And amazingly enough, i found a clock in a ship, of almost identical design, in an antique shop in Snohomish, WA! I hauled that silly thing 2,500 miles back across country just so i could harvest the bowsprit off it for my radio.  After studying photos on the web, i was able to re-string the sails properly and make everything nice and taut.

Unrestored condition of Melody Cruiser
Melody Cruiser logo plate
Back of ship
Not much room in there!
Factory label
Construction of cabinet
View of chassis – note the tuning mechanism
Another view of the chassis
View under the chassis, before restoration
After restoration, the tubes glow in warm appreciation of my efforts.
Completed chassis back in cabinet. Masts tightened, and bowsprit replaced.

 

References:

Jack Gray, Vacuum Tube Ship Radios, accessed 1/28/2018

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