Historical

Radio Repairs and Restoration

This week we're going to introduce another way that volunteers are working to maintain the ship. Normally we show what the crew is working on or events where the BROWN is involved.  Sometimes other crew members jump in and write things describing their actions to go with the pictures I've taken (because trust me, you don't want me trying to explain what the deck hands are doing, or worse, what the engineers are working on with 'thingy-ma-bobs' and 'do hickies'.  Before I go any further, I'll just remind our readers that those that volunteer on the ship, do so because they want to help preserve history.  The volunteers are the craziest, most talented bunch that come from all walks of life and have more perspectives than we can explain.  Some of our newest volunteers are very cerebral, amazingly talented, and very dedicated.   They have been working on the ship for the last 6 months making repairs and restorations of the Radio System as necessary - to make the system operational and retain it's originality as much as possible while at the same time, creating and integrate modern radio communication capability. 

I could try to explain what our wonderful friends are now doing, but instead, I'm going to let them do the explaining...(thanks guys, for the write up, it made the writing of this blog much easier!)

Objectives:

             I.      Assess the system configurations and modifications that have been made to the radio system over the ship’s history. Restore to the original configurations to the extent possible.

          II.      Repair the main receivers, and the Main Transmitter. Remove and retain the Marine Band transmit frequency crystals and retain for historical purposes.

       III.      Install Amateur Radio (HAM) band crystals into the transmitter so Licensed Ham Radio Operators will be able to operate the transmitter.

       IV.      To the extent necessary, the Emergency – Auto Alarm, Signaling and Direction Finding capabilities will not be repaired (made operational) at this time in order to prevent accidental Emergency transmissions. In all cases, to the extent possible the originality will be maintained.

          V.      Repair/Replace the Antenna Tower, Re-configure/Re-install the Long-Wire antennas as necessary.

       VI.      Install an Antenna Distribution system so that any of the Ham Radio antennas can be patched to any of the pre-defined Ham Radio operating locations on the ship or over-the-side for operation on a pier.

    VII.      Install a modern Ham Radio Transceiver in an obscure location near/in the Antique Radio so an operator can communicate via the Antique Radio equipment or the Modern Radio. 

It's been at least 10 years, but most likely more, since our radio system was used on a somewhat regular basis.  As with any historical thing (boats, buildings, aircraft...), there is a period of time that is needed to figure out what things have been modified, and to trace where wires and antennae are headed.  Add tubes, transmitters and receivers to the mix and you get a LOT of work for at least 3 volunteers who come on most Wednesdays and Saturdays to make headway with the system.  Currently they should have things working in a couple more weeks and are working on objectives 5 and 6 (Antennae tower and distribution system).  We can not wait to hear our  historical radio back working and we plan on some upcoming video to share with you all in a few weeks!    


Project Liberty Ship, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all volunteer organization engaged in the preservation and operation of the historic ship JOHN W. BROWN as a living memorial museum. Gifts to Project Liberty Ship are tax deductible.

From The Library Part 1: Getting Started...

Welcome to the first in a series focusing on the BROWN's Historical Library. Long before the BROWN came to Baltimore, she was collecting books, training and reference manuals, and other materials as a school ship for many years. Project Liberty Ship has continued to receive, collect, and preserve historical materials for more than two decades. Here, we will take a look at some very cool (for lack of a better term) artifacts and books we have rediscovered.

Above: A look into the library in progress. All of the carpentry seen here was custom designed and built by two of our volunteers. At this point in the process, there were more than 400 different items that had been digitally   catalogued, including   autobiographies,   pictorial histories, self published personal memoirs and even anthropological studies. 

Above: A look into the library in progress. All of the carpentry seen here was custom designed and built by two of our volunteers. At this point in the process, there were more than 400 different items that had been digitally catalogued, including autobiographies, pictorial histories, self published personal memoirs and even anthropological studies. 

Below: A 1914 Webster Dictionary and Vest Pocket Library published in Baltimore MD. The watch (not historical) is for size comparison. 

Until very recently, no in-depth inventory has ever been conducted. Several members of PLS have recently undertaken the task, creating a virtual catalogue of all of the materials, searchable by title and author to related subject matter and even years of print. 

The most recent set of books brought in to the library, ready to be inventoried. Talk about having your work cut out for you!

The most recent set of books brought in to the library, ready to be inventoried. Talk about having your work cut out for you!

September 1943 issue: I wonder if they still honor the 48 hour delivery guarantee...

September 1943 issue: I wonder if they still honor the 48 hour delivery guarantee...

 

 

 

Some artifacts are more interesting than others, if only for the documents, information, and even service awards that are included with them.

 

There have been many interesting finds, most of which relate directly or indirectly to the United States Merchant Marine and subjects such as World War II naval history and even admiralty law.

A US Navy Bluejackets' Manual, with a picture of its owner and his wife, a professional model, from 1944. 

A US Navy Bluejackets' Manual, with a picture of its owner and his wife, a professional model, from 1944. 

This is a short excerpt from a very cool 1944 printing of Nor Death Dismay, a real accounting of American Merchant Mariners in wartime and their stories. 

(Side Note: Writing this post as an active merchant mariner, I find it amazing how, while times have changed, so few of the American public know anything about the US Merchant Marine and what they have done for our country!)

 

VOYAGE-LETTER
From the firing of the first American gun at Pearl Harbor, directed against the enemy planes overhead, the people of America gave their full measure of gratitude and admiration to the men who wore the uniforms of the armed forces of the United States. A few months later, the nation began to sense that the heroism of men in uniform was being matched by a body of Americans who wore no uniforma body of civilian seamen, who, in the first months of the war, had been sent out, without
weapons in their hands, to face an enemy armed with the most frightful of weapons; unarmed men, who had gone out without hesitation to face death.

These were the men of American merchant ships.

But secrecy enveloped the comings and goings of these men, secrecy was enforced upon all the movements of ships at sea. All that the people of America could be told was little indeed. With mounting sorrow, week after week, they read the terse statement that an American cargo vessel (unnamed) had been damaged or sunk; but they could only guess at what the men upon such a ship had endured. Seldom did any detailed account find its way into print, and even then neither ship nor men were named. The people of America sensed that the men of the American merchant marine were men to be proud ofbut only the men themselves knew what the sea masked. Of the unending carrying of military equipment, troops, and food for our Allies, from American ports to ports overseas, this was said: We simply do not know and cannot yet be told the cost of these operations. 

Ships go down, and men with them, and their battles are seldom recorded. The merchant seaman voyages from mystery to mystery. Never since men explored unknown waters in rude sailing ships has the sea witnessed so much risk, so much loss, such splendor of the human spirit, nor so vast a crisis in mankind’s fate.

merchant-marine_warning-poster.jpg

When that was said, one American steamship company—the American Export Lines—had already begun to gather from its own ships’ officers their personal narratives of war-time voyages.

The voyages here described form but a small fraction of the thousands of war-time voyages successfully completed by the vast fleet of cargo-vessels directed by the War Shipping Administration. Every steamship company in the United States had joined in that titanic enterprise. The present narrative does not even include the hundredth part of what the officers and men of this one company accomplished. What is set down here can serve only in faint measure to indicate the courage, the loyalty, the cheerful acceptance and performance of tasks beyond man’s strength to performbut which the men of the merchant marine did performthat was typical of all.

The long voyage ending, the tired ship-having delivered her precious cargo, taken through countless dangersmoves slowly up the harbor and comes at last to the pier which is her home. Shore workmen swarm around and over her littered decks. The men of her crew, joyfully or gloomily, prepare to go ashore. But the work of her deck officers is not yet finished, although the mate, bending over the broad-paged log book in the chartroom, has written with the stub of a pencil, upon its final page-that entry that compresses into its few short words all the immense relief of men who for weary months have been bearing the unbearable burden of responsibility, secrecy, and unceasing danger of sudden or dreadfully lingering death!

“Arrived, 9:21 A.M. Secure at pier. F W E.” “F W E”“Finished With Engines.” A sigh of ineffable relief! The rough-log has been finished; but the ships Master has still many duties to be done before he may rest. Last of all these, there is the Voyage-Letter to be preparedthat brief summary of all the significant events of the voyage, from its beginning to its present end, which will preserve forever the record of an American vessel and the American seamen who served upon her.

S. D. McC.

 

Project Liberty Ship, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all volunteer organization engaged in the preservation and operation of the historic ship JOHN W. BROWN as a living memorial museum. Gifts to Project Liberty Ship are tax deductible.

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