LARG Assists New England Historical Radio Society
with Transmitter Procurement
for Maritime Coast Station WNE

By Paul Bock, K4MSG (T2, PG)

February 14, 2010

Gates BC-250GY AM Broadcast Transmitter

In recent years, several individuals and groups have become interested in re-licensing old Maritime Coast Stations, or licensing new ones, to create "living history" facilities that perpetuate the colorful history of maritime radiotelegraphy.  One such group that is now in full operation on the West Coast of the United States is the Maritime Historical Radio Society, MHRS, which operates Coast Station KSM on a weekly basis.

Within the past year a new Coast Station license was issued to the fledgling New England Historical Radio Society, NEHRS, to operate on frequencies of 500 and 472 kHz at power levels up to 5 kw under the callsign WNE.  (NOTE:  Although the last two letters of the call look like a "vanity" assignment, no special callsign was requested in the application to the FCC and the one issued was simply "luck of the draw.")

I became interested in these "living history" projects as a result of  research into wireless operation from the early 1900s until 1920.  This research, in turn, was partly the result of assisting best-selling maritime author John Maxtone-Graham with technical details for a new book about the RMS TITANIC disaster.  Ultimately I developed a deeper interest in maritime radio in general, particularly radiotelegraphy, and as a result volunteered to assist NEHRS in locating a transmitter to get them started.  As luck would have it, LARG member Frank Gentges, K0BRA, had a Gates AM broadcast transmitter that could be modified for the desired frequency range.  After some consultation with NEHRS a plan was formulated for them to pick up the transmitter at Frank's QTH in Great Falls, and Frank vigorously recruited both LARG and AMRAD members to assist.

With the permission of my XYL, Sandra, we offered "messing & berthing" to the NEHRS crew for the weekend of January 22-24.  The "deed was done" on Saturday, January 23, and the following photos document the effort.  Special thanks to Dennis Boehler , KF4TJI, who took most of the photos (I took a few as well), and to Dave Putman, KE4S, without whose trailer & expertise we would never have gotten the job done.  After the loading was completed we all enjoyed pizza & sodas at Frank's house and marveled at the ease with which the job was done.

Currently, Steve Russell, WA1HUD, WNE licensee & owner, is planning modifications to the oscillator & tank circuit of the transmitter as well as installation of a commercial-grade QSK keying circuit so that WNE can finally get on the air.  I have qualified for a commercial 2nd Class Radiotelegraph Operator Certificate and hope to operate WNE some day. 

Now settle back and enjoy the pictures!

Frank, K0BRA, with the BC-250GY he donated to NEHRS

An interior view of the transmitter

The RF deck is on the left and the modulator deck on the right. K4MSG had removed and packed the tubes prior to this photo being taken. The transmitter uses parallel 810 tubes in the final with an 813 driver, and push-pull 810 tubes in the modulator.  Rated output power in AM broadcast service is 250 watts but a pair of 810s can safely provide about 450 watts ICAS.


  The Crew poses for a group picture after the transmitter is safely loaded into the truck.

L to R: Frank, K0BRA (LARG/AMRAD); Chris, W3CUM (LARG); Sandy, WB5MMB (AMRAD); Paul, K4MSG (LARG); Mark, K1RMC (NEHRS, kneeling); Doug, KJ4BRN (LARG); Paul, K4KRE (AMRAD); Steve, WA1HUD (NEHRS); Bill, N4TS (AMRAD); David, KE4OKY (LARG); Ryan, driver (NEHRS, in truck); Dave, KE4S (LARG). Photo by Denny, KF4TJI (LARG).


With the transmitter moved outside and loaded on a small trailer (above)
it was time to inch it up a grassy slope (below) to Frank's driveway.


A hitch-up to KE4S's SUV and away it goes up to the cul-de-sac parking area.


Now it's time to heave the 1,000-pound transmitter upright
so it can be loaded for transport back to Massachusetts.

With the transmitter upright it can be easily (?) tipped into the truck bed.

Final packing and then Ryan (driver), Steve, WA1HUD, & Mark, K1RMC,
are ready to hit the road northward.