eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: W7ASA on August 01, 2013, 06:44:51 PM

Title: Maritime CW Rigs?
Post by: W7ASA on August 01, 2013, 06:44:51 PM
I know that someone - somewhere decided that Morse was too "archaic" for use at sea for most 'Western' nations.  THANKFULLY the music of maritime Morse is at least heard on weekends from US coastal station KSM - my favorite radio station!  (and a very few foreign stations still use Morse)

My question is, WHERE did all of those old ship's CW radios go?  I mean, the oceans of the world were filled with hundreds of thousands of HF CW equipped boats & ships at any given time for most of the 20th century.  So - why are these old sets not found -stacked three deep- on every radio trading site? Were they all simply tossed overboard to make a new reef for fish?

Question #2: For those of you both aboard ship and ashore, what were your favorite HF CW transceivers back in the day?

73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._

Title: RE: Maritime CW Rigs?
Post by: K7KBN on August 01, 2013, 09:03:45 PM

1963-1966: USS Kitty Hawk.  Typical CW rig was an AN/WRT-2 transmitter and an R-390A receiver.  Antenna was usually a 30-35 foot whip that was horizontal at least half the time during flight operations.  The feedline went from the transmitter to a multicoupler, allowing up to five transmitters to use the same antenna at the same time.

Even the Kitty Hawk's ham station was an S-Line, with separate receiver and transmitter - and a 30L1. The antenna was "about" 16 feet of stainless steel aircraft tie-down cable that had been used as long as PMS allowed, meaning that most of its tendency to coil up had been worked out of it.  This just hung down from a conveniently-located antenna bowl accessible from a little catwalk right under the angled deck - about as far to the port side as you could get.  Ten pounds or so of non-metallic mass on the free end kept it from blowing around too much when we had 40 knots or more of wind, and we never had a problem.  On 15 and 20 we could, quite literally, work anything we could hear, and we didn't interfere with the more "official" communications.

Title: RE: Maritime CW Rigs?
Post by: ZL1BBW on August 02, 2013, 01:50:18 AM
Nicest ships station I ever had was on a big very fast refrigerated fruit boat.  Think it was NERA equipment, all synthesised dial up the TX freq on the desk push the button and just on the other side of the radio office it wirred and jiggered into life, a full 2kw out anywhere 1.6 to 25Mhz.  The Rx I think was a ITT McKay job with little flick switches for the freq selection.  Could work anything with that lot.

Another small chemical tanker had the full suite in the radioroom, everything with bells on and out on the bridge had a full suite on MF HF VHF R/T gear by Sailor, that was a special little ship.

Worst ever, was a old bulk carrier, had Siemens gear, I reckon it had been recovered from a German Sub it was that old.

Title: RE: Maritime CW Rigs?
Post by: W1JKA on August 02, 2013, 07:32:40 AM

Since your QTH is relatively near Norfolk/Newport News area if you have friends/contacts that work in the naval/civilian shipyards there ask them to snoop around a bit. When ships are taken out of commission or laid up prior to being towed overseas to the breakers often the equipment is stripped and put into back lot ware houses. Naval ship gear is often sold at the GSA auctions in your district but commercial ship gear is often still there and forgot about. I've been involved in such operations in the past and have seen several of these ware houses in the various shipyards around the country.

Title: RE: Maritime CW Rigs?
Post by: GW3OQK on August 02, 2013, 08:15:11 AM
Ray, sad to say that until 1980s the radio stations stayed aboard as the ship went to the shipbreakers, Alang being a major ship graveyard. I took part in quite a number of merchant ship refits in the 70s, and the old gear was mostly considered valueless. I recall a full Siemens radio station being landed and left in the rain for a week.

I wish now I had managed to keep some, but I guess I was a radio professional then and just wanted to get on modernising the worlds fleets and earning a living.

I have some old gear I use on CW. An old RN 40w tx, a Marconi Atalanta and 365A key. Always ready to try a sked if you want to hear it! Pic on QRZ

73, Andrew, GW3OQK

Title: RE: Maritime CW Rigs?
Post by: ZL1BBW on August 02, 2013, 02:22:02 PM
I do not know if this link will work, but oh happy days.  For those of you with sharp eyesight, notice the obligatory calender on the wall :-)

Title: RE: Maritime CW Rigs?
Post by: W7ASA on August 02, 2013, 09:25:53 PM
Thanks for the replies. 

Yes - I know that the word 'transceiver' is often out of place with professional Morse installations, though occasionally correct.  I would still prefer a separate receiver/transmitter, but will likely have to build one to match my wants and needs for my small 'ham nook' in the wall.


Heart breaking to think that "antiquated" ship's radios were not seen as being of any value.  When I read about some of the sets used for small boats and the required charging methods used during the Golden Globe / Solo & Unaided circumnavigation challenge and other/later events even into the 1980's, it would be enjoyable to keep these set's alive. Of course, back in the day when as a teen I used to fly private aviation with my Dad, he wanted the latest and greatest technical gizmos, while MY idea of an airplane was a tail dragger with a stick.  Evidently my semi-luddite view of life is nothing new for me.   ;)


I'll check with area Navy property disposal office and hams down in that area.  I'm a few hours from Norfolk, so who knows what might be sitting in storage?


Andrew, a sked with you there would be excellent.  I am revamping the ham station right now and generally work into the UK rather well!  I'll make note of it!


ZL1BBW - Unfortunately for some reason the content was unavailable to me.  Perhaps it will be there later.

73 de Ray ..._ ._

Title: RE: Maritime CW Rigs?
Post by: ZL1BBW on August 03, 2013, 01:49:31 AM
Try this link, hope it works

Title: RE: Maritime CW Rigs?
Post by: GW3OQK on August 03, 2013, 06:04:04 AM
Ray, I'm a luddite too. When I was about 12 my grandfather who was an aircraft fitter took me to work, and I sat in the pilot's seat of a Lancaster holding the stick back while they ran up all 4 engines! Also sat at the radio, and now I have a R1155/T1154 + bathtub key operational but I haven't made a qso to US on it yet.

Title: RE: Maritime CW Rigs?
Post by: K7RNO on August 03, 2013, 03:47:41 PM
It is too long ago to remember specific models, but I don't think I am giving away military secrets when I share that the German Navy of the late 60s used Rhode & Schwarz transmitters, black monsters with tons of buttons and cranks. The receivers in the shack were microwave oven size. Not sure if you would have room in your ham shack for one of those.

I do remember a test during my radio op training, where we were competing against the teacher in speed of tuning the TX. With the "wrong" frequency, it was a long and hard job to get it right. I was lucky to remember an easy frequency and beat the teacher's time, ha ha.

From my one gig as a merchant radio officer, on an older cargo ship, I only remember the vast array of batteries on deck and the fact that my cabin was right next to the shack, which allowed me to stay alive during the mandatory watches while we were rolling through the Biscay. With an extension cord for my headphones, lying down on my bed, I could take any sea. Sitting up, inside, not so much.

Good old days.

PS: Now living in the USA, the only hands-on memory of those days is my Junker key, silver Navy color. I got it off eBay, but it may have served at a place I once was. Heck, I may have even used it during my time. Sure feels the same as back then.