PO Box 4044,Wilmington,NC 28406

Battleship USS North Carolina Radio Project Continues Part 3

January 2002

While waiting to get the antenna back up on the smoke stack we go to work on getting a receiver working down in Radio 2. We removed a RBC receiver from Radio 1 on deck 4 and took it to Radio 2 on deck 3, no easy task since that receiver is big, bulky and heavy. About 100 pounds to get up narrow, steep steps and through many small compartments. The power supply for the receiver also weighs close to 100 pounds.

After getting the receiver and power supply to Radio 2 we had to go to work on a receiving position to use our receiver in. We had plenty of radio desks but they were in sad shape. Carl (KC8BQT ) and myself started to work on restoring a desk and Terry (Ships Crew) went to work on getting power to our receiver.

With the desk ready, Carl went to work on setting up the radio, cleaning, lubricating, checking the tubes, etc. Clarence(KB4AKB) and myself went to work getting a receiving antenna cut through for our receiver.

Finally we have the receiver ready for power up. It's amazing, that receiver worked great after sitting up for 55 years. The CW filters are very sharp.

We arrived at the ship one Tuesday and found that the ships crew had erected the antenna for the TBM Transmitter and had the transmission line attached at the top of the smokestack. The line was coiled up on the deck waiting for us to attach it to the existing pothead connectors. We worked all day getting the line installed and tensioned.

The following week we were anxious to get started. After a year we had a complete radio system ready to be lined up and put on the air. We started lining up the transmitter with an old lineup card that we had. The transmitter lined up but the frequency was up in the high end of the 40-meter band. No problem, we had plenty of output, just need to get the frequency lowered.

The following week we came in, cut on the transmitter and started reading the manual and turning knobs to lower the frequency when disaster struck. There was a stinking smell in the air. One of our generators had gotten very hot.

Upon inspection we found out that the 3000-volt generator had gone bad. We informed the ship that we had a bad generator. The ship's historical department made the decision to have the generator repaired. They contacted a shop and made all the arrangements and financed the work to the tune of about $3,000.

Now we had a real job to do in getting that 300+ pound generator loose from the motor and down off it's mounting, moved the length of the ship and up 3 decks to the main deck.

On our next working day, Carl, Gary and myself started removing and tagging the generator leads. When this was completed we started disconnecting the generator from the motor and getting the generator loose from it's mounting. With that finished we started planning how we are getting that big heavy monster down from the mounting and out on to the main deck. Talk about a construction job, we knew it would take several block and tackles, chain hoist and a lot of muscle.

The next week with heavy work to be done I was strangely absent. Carl and Gary (ship's crew) with block and tackles was able to get the generator down from it's mounting and out into the passageway. Great job guys!

As we only work one morning a week, Tuesday, the ships crew moved the generator down the length of the ship, through many compartments to the #2 Turret ammo loading trunk where it could be attached to a block and tackle and hoisted up to the main deck.

The generator was off for repairs for three weeks and in that time we did some more cleaning and remodeling.

The first week in December when we came aboard we learned that the generator was ready for hookup. The ship's crew had taken the generator down three decks and placed the generator on the mounting for us. Thanks a million guys!

Carl, Terry and myself started the mechanical hookup of the motor and generator and then made all the electrical hookups. This took all of our working day so we decided to wait until the next week to crank the motor-generator.

The next week when we came in we cranked the motor-generator and it worked perfectly. We had power again!

We started lining up the transmitter again. It didn't take but a few minutes before we found out that we had no output from our first IF amplifier. The tube was changed but no luck. We went back and cleaned all the controls and tried again, no luck. This seemed like a great place to stop for Christmas and New Year. Besides it was getting mighty cold down there with no heat. I had a side project to work on over the holidays. We had to find a way to interface a CW keyer to the ship transmitter. The ship's keying leads have 270vdc on it and our 12vdc keyer don't like that 270v. I could work on this interface over our Christmas, New Year breaks.

On our first work day in January we tested my CW interface and found that it didn't work good and we still didn't have any output from the first IF amplifier. Bummer day!

Things started going our way on the next visit. The CW interface worked perfectly and we found the trouble with the IF amplifier. We had an open grid resistor. The resistor is a 5000 ohm resistor in the grid circuit of the IF amplifier. We were unable to find a power rating on the resistor; it's about six inches long and a half-inch in diameter. It's not soldered in the circuit it plugs in like a fuse or circuit breaker. We found the same resistor in another radio and borrowed it. We are still trying to find a replacement resistor.

When we plugged the resistor in and powered up we found that we now have output! Making some head way now. We can hardly wait for next week to tune it up again.

The following week things are still going our way. Knock on wood if you can find any in this steel Machine! We lined up the amplifier and had great output again. We are back to our point of 2 months previously. We are still tuned in the upper part of the 40 meter band and we need to be down in the CW band. We started slowly adjusting the frequency down and following it with the receiver. The dial on the old receiver is way off and we have no idea what frequency we are on now. I put out a call on the local 2-meter for a H.F. station that could work with us. Shortly we had WA4UUG and K8NQQ helping us out. They located our carrier and told us the frequency and helped us get tuned to about 7.034 . After a year and a half were very close to being on the air.

During the week we emailed W1SRR, Mac McCullough, who was a radio operator on the North Carolina from the day it was commissioned to the day it was decommissioned for a sked on January 29,2002 at 9:15 EST . We had many emails with Mac for help and he always came through for us. On January 29,2002 at 9:10 am I called W1SRR and he answered my first call. After sitting up about 55 years the Battleship North Carolina was back on the air with the original Transmitter, receiver and antenna. The QSO was not a great one because Mac had heavy QRM on his end but we did exchange signal report of 5-7-9 . This contact meant a lot to us on the ship but I think it meant a whole lot more to Mac.

Each time we work on the ship we learn something, during the contact with W1SRR we learned two things. The first was that we didn't allow enough warm up time. We allowed about 30 minutes and it takes a good 1 1/4 hours warm up for the transmitter to stop drifting around. The second thing was that when I keyed the transmitter, the receiver would clean out all the ear wax in your ears. Remember we have a separate transmitter and receiver and so far I see no way to mute the receiver when transmitting so this is a problem we are working on now.

The project continues.