Zenith Model 835 Chrome-Grille Tombstone Radio (1934/35)
Zenith model 835 (1934/35)
The model 835 chrome-grille tombstone radio was Zenith's
top-of-the-line table set for the 1935 model year. Introduced
in the summer of 1934 with a list price of $89.95, it was one
of three magnificent small-white-dial chrome-grille tomb-
stone radios offered by the company that year (the others
being the
809 & 829).

This radio, considered by many to be the holy grail of Zenith
tombstones, makes a bold and powerful statement, both in
terms of appearance and performance. Its large machine
age cabinet, embellished with chrome grille and elegantly
contrasting veneers, houses an impressive 10-tube all-wave
chassis that had precious few rivals amongst its peers. If
one compares, for instance, the early
Philco 16B tombstone
set introduced around the same time, on paper at least the
835 takes the prize*. The five-band 16B has dual IF amp-
lifier stages but lacks an RF stage, whereas the 835 has all
of the above. Both sets do have similar audio, based upon
triode-connected type 42 push-pull stages driving a 10"

I believe that Zenith had reached their pinnacle of technical
prowess with the models of their '34/35 line (which included
the three Stratospheres). For the remainder of the pre-war
era, while producing competent electronics, they focused
their energies on ergonomics and aesthetics rather than on
chasing endless performance refinements. With few excep-
tions, never again would Zenith's pre-war sets match the
technological sophistication they demonstrated in 1934/35.
Even their flagship Stratosphere 1000Z, which continued to
be offered through 1937, never progressed beyond what it
was when first introduced in late 1934.

The model 835 is a 5-band receiver providing frequency
coverage from 530kc - 46.15mc. The tube line-up is 6D6
(RF amp), 6A7 (mixer/LO), 6D6 (1st IF), 6D6 (2nd IF), 75
(2nd det/1st AF/AVC), 42 (triode-connected driver), 42 * 2
(triode-connected push-pull output), 76 (tuning control) and
5Z3 (rectifier). The radio uses a 4-gang tuning condenser
with separate coils for each band. A shadow graph meter is
employed for accurate tuning. The schematic may be found
here, courtesy of NostalgiaAir.

Many ads for this model state the upper limit of the frequen-
cy coverage to be 48MHz (as seen in the Nov/Dec ad snip
pet below). Radio Retailing in their Sept of 1934 Specific-
ations Listing shows it as 46.15MHz, however, which app-
ears consistent with the actual dial markings. The error in
the ad copy appears to have not been caught and to have
been distributed widely.

I was fortunate enough to find this radio on Craigslist in the
fall of 2009. The cabinet is original and complete and in
excellent shape, as is the loudspeaker. The chassis had
been "restored" prior to me obtaining the set. Unfortunately,
the well-meaning restorer had replaced most of the caps
and resistors with a mis-mash of types, some of which were
the incorrect values. The soldering was so bad that merely
pulling on many of the components was sufficient to detach
them. I ended up reworking the set, replacing most of the
caps yet again. I would normally have re-stuffed the original
paper caps on a set such as this, but these were long gone.
So be it. Nevertheless, the set is now an impressive perf-

* To be fair to Philco, their 5-band 16B chassis was intro-
duced in the
16B cathedral set in June of 1933, a full year
ahead of Zenith's 835. This leaves open the possibility that
the 835 was in fact Zenith's answer to Philco's popular 16B;
was the use of triode-connected type 42s in the driver and
push-pull output stages by both manufacturer's sets just a
coincidence? Shortly after the 835's release, in the fall of
1934 Philco upgraded their 16B to use an RF stage, though
they did reduce its band count to 4. However if one dis-
counts the 835's fifth band, providing marginal coverage of
the range 18 ~ 46 MHz, the two sets are remarkably similar.
"Zenith adds the 'Minute Hand'... in
Split-Second Tuning"
click to enlarge
For the first time in history... one radio defintely superior to all others
ad from Nov/Dec 1934, showing significant price increase
from September (both are ads from regions in the East)!
Copyright TubeRadioLand.com
Sept 1934, Radio Retailing, pg 1
Sept 1934, Radio Retailing, pg 1
E.F. McDonald's Split-Second tuning patent.