Belgrave's Olde Tyme Radio Centre marks 30 years - Dec. 13, 2018
Belgrave’s Olde Tyme Radio Centre is reaching the end of its 30th year in business and the workload is still very heavy as the business is poised to enter its fourth decade.
Owner Gary Clayton started the business as a hobby in his Walkerton home in 1988. It began with a natural interest in restoring antiques. Clayton said that he restored pieces, but brought in someone else to work on the electrical aspects of restoring antique radios, telephones and gramophones, learning everything from Rex Fee in Palmerston.
Over the years, however, he learned more about restoring the electrical components in the decades-old machines and decided to strike out on his own, moving to Belgrave just a few years later.
While the repairs may seem to be a rather niche market, Clayton said that he at the centre typically runs between eight and 12 months behind on repairs and refurbishments. He is one of the few establishments that takes on the complicated task anymore and he has customers come to Belgrave from all over North America for his services.
Unlike antique car repairs and refurbishments, which are often made more difficult by a lack of access to parts, Clayton said that antique radio tubes and electrical parts are available in abundance if you know where to look.
Clayton says he has over 25,000 tubes in stock at his location and that there are hundreds of thousands available in a location in Arizona, as well as others in Russia and China. Most of the other parts, he said, are still being made around the world.
The work, he said, can be trying and requires patience, but he truly enjoys it and loves the satisfaction of restoring a piece that hasn’t been able to produce sounds for decades.
Clayton said that some of the most complicated repairs he had to take on over the years has been bad wiring. When he has to replace all of the wiring in an antique, he said, it can take hours and hours of labour-intensive work.
He said that spending over 25 years in Belgrave has served his business well, with the village being centrally located between major cities like Kitchener, London, Owen Sound, Detroit and Sarnia.
Over the years, Gary says he has been supported tremendously by his wife Nellie, who often works in the front of the store while he would be working on antique units in the back of the shop.
For more information, visit its website at www.oldtymeradio.ca.