MRHS Report No. 5 for the Weekend of 30 June/1July 2012 

We received a report that for some readers Report No. 4 was hard to read because the text displayed as black letters on a black background.  If that happened to you we apologize.  We hope the problem has been corrected.



Transmitter Supervisor Steve Hawes (L) stands bravely at the Box of Death, so called because we were warned by the last transmitter site engineer to NEVER turn it on.  But in fact it is a very valuable tube tester allowing us to test the mercury vapor rectifiers and thyratrons used in the vintage transmitters.  The tube is shown under test at right. 


Make a Donation

Steve is ready to put himself on the line by using the BOD and the rest of us are happy to pay for tubes for him to test.  Our transmitters from the 1940s and 1950s need tubes and other parts that have become scarce or almost unobtainable so every bit of financial help we get means a lot.  If you're a True Believer and can make a contribution to The Cause it will be most appreciated.  And remember, we're all volunteers so 100% of your contribution goes directly to purchase the items needed to keep the transmitters and receivers working and the antennas in the air.




Updated Information 

This is the 1929 RCA receive site where Night of Nights XIII will be held.  Why not join us?  See below for location and time information. 


Night of Nights XIII will be held on 12 July 2012 - the date of the supposed last commercial Morse transmission.  Every year on that date we pick up the thread and carry forward with the traditions of maritime Morse.  More details will follow in these reports and on our Web site.


We have just received confirmation that frequencies for both KPH and KFS will be available again this year, this through the kind support of Globe Wireless.

The MRHS Transmitter Department will have to confirm the availability of transmitters and antennas for these frequencies but for now we hope to activate KPH and KFS on the frequencies below.  KSM will also be on the air but on a reduced number of frequencies due to a lack of enough transmitters and antennas for all KSM frequencies.

KPH -            KFS -            KSM -          

426               500                426
500              17026.0           500
4247.0          12695.5          6474.0
6477.5                                8438.3
8642.0                               12993.0

All frequencies for these three stations will be keyed in parallel.

But wait, there's more!

Rene Stiegler of Shipcom LLC has said that every effort will be made to have WLO and KLB on the air once again this year.  This too will have to be confirmed closer to Night of Nights but probable frequencies are listed below.

WLO -           KLB -

2055.5           488
4343.0           500
12992.0         8582.5

All stations will listen for calls from ships on 500 and ITU channel 3 HF:

ITU Ch 3 -


Amateur Station K6KPH -

K6KPH, the amateur station of the MRHS, will be on the air listening for calls on its usual operating frequencies:


That's right!  A total of 16 transmitters will be on the air from the Bolinas transmitter site for Night of Nights.


Right, good question.  We get so caught up in this event each year that we forget that a lot of folks may be finding out about it for the first time.  In a nutshell, this is a True Believer event to the max.  Check out this description - complete with time and location information.

12 July 1999 was a sad day for many of us. We knew it was coming but when the end finally arrived is was a shock. I was there.

It was the supposed last day of Morse code. The final sign off took place at a remote station on the Pacific coast. Women attending the event were dressed asif at a funeral. Grizzled, hard bitten old men, the kind you wouldn't mess with in a bar room, had tears in their eyes as the last messages was keyed out to the world at 0000 gmt. And then there was silence.

It was just beeps in the air.  But that's how much Morse code means to the men and women who made the profession of radiotelegrapher one of honor and skill.

But the prediction of the death of Morse code was not to be fulfilled. On that day the Maritime Radio Historical Society was born. On that day we began plans to restore a Morse code radio station - the famous KPH. One year later we held the first "Night of Nights" when not only KPH but other coast stations appeared once again on the air. Every year since we have commemorated that date by returning these stations to the air and thereby, we hope, honoring the men and women who came before us.

Join us this year for Night of Nights XIII. See and hear a real Morse code coast station in full song. Mingle with the pioneers who werethe men and women of the airwaves.

Or, if you can't join us in person, join us on the air. KSM and, we hope, KPH and KFS will be in action.

K6KPH will be open to calls from amateur stations.

When: 12 July 2012 - Doors open at 3:00pm, first transmission at 5:01pm

Where: KPH receive station, 17400 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Point Reyes National Seashore, past the oyster company and G Ranch

Information: or +1 415-663-8982

Light snacks will be served.

VY 73,

Chief Operator


                                      POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE

Once there were dozens of coast station in the US alone.  They ranged from the power houses of the big communications companies like RCA, Globe Wireless and Tropical Radio to the smaller, privately held stations.  They stood shoulder to shoulder across the commercial marine bands working ships, sending weather and press and putting all else aside when those most electrifying three letters - SOS - crackled in their headphones.

Every one of these historic stations was closed and bulldozed before the tubes in the transmitters even grew cold.  Every one that is except KPH.  That's because both the transmit and receive sites  are within the Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS), part of the National Park Service.  KPH continued in service until 30 June 1997.  On that day the transmitters were shut down, the lights turned off and the doors locked.

The PRNS now owned this major communications facility with only a general idea of what it was and probably very little idea of what should be done with it.

Fast forward to 1999.  Two guys show up saying they have founded the Maritime Radio Historical Society.  They say the thing to do with KPH is to preserve and restore it.  And not only that, they say they're the guys to do it.

Put yourself in the place of the administrators of the PRNS.  They're used to dealing with wildlife and native plants and beaches.  Now they're looking at these two radio squirrels who they don't know.  The squirrels say they want to work on transmitters generating thousands of volts and antennas 100ft in the air.  The potential for things going very badly was clear.  And yet... they said "Okay, go ahead!"

Think of the vision of those folks.  And think of the trust they placed in the MRHS.  Today it seems almost impossible to imagine.  We still find it hard to believe.  But from that day to this they have been unstinting in their support and enthusiasm for The Cause.

We appreciate the thanks we get from fellow True Believers who think our project meaningful and worthwhile.  But the real thanks are due to to Point Reyes National Seashore.  Without those folks none of the things we have been able to accomplish would have happened.

Why not plan a special trip to visit the PRNS, one of the most spectacularly beautiful parks in the country.  Plus you'll be able to stop by and pay us a visit!

PRNS Web Site 


                               DENICE CONTINUES TO MAKE PROGRESS

As many will recall our beloved Denice Stoops suffered a stroke aboard her newly assigned ship.  After beginning her rehabilitation in a Singapore hospital she's now home and continuing her recovery.  Lots have folks have sent cards and letters to Denice via the MRHS.  She's received and enjoyed them as we hear in this report just received from Kathy Lauer, Denice's sister:

Greetings to Denice's Fans all over the world!

Good news comes to you this week.  Denice was released from the rehab hospital and is now resting comfortably at her father's home in Saginaw, MI.  Denice will start out patient rehab on Mon. July 2nd.  What a happy fourth we will have this year.  Rehab will be three our hour days a week about half a day each. 


Denice is "moving" around the house quite well.  Her speech continues to progress daily as she hears "new" words.  Today it was California and Florida.  She said she was moving there..........what she meant was here in Mi.  Each day I seem to get a good laugh out of her.  This is always a funny moment for both of us.


She is keeping up with in-coming emails on her blackberry.  Not sure if she is returning any of them yet.  Her sea gear finally arrived just this morning.  She now has her lap top, though we haven't gotten it out yet.  Hopefully soon.  Not to rush it.  We only take things as fast as she wants.  Her brain may not be quite ready for that task yet.


I wish to thank you all for all of your well wishes, cards, emails, etc. It is very good for Denice to hear from you all.  I know she is thinking of you as well.


Current address is:

1524 Marquette St.
Saginaw, Mi. 48602

Kathy Lauer

Denice began her radio career as a radioman in the US Coast Guard at NMC, then transitioned to KPH in 1979 to become the first female radiotelegrapher at the station.  When KPH closed she had a number of jobs but none really satisfied.  Then she decided to go to sea on Military Sealift Command ships.  She got all the licenses and certifications needed and began her new life aboard ship.  She was about to set sail on her new ship when she suffered her stroke. 

Denice is a central part of the MRHS and is known the world over for her keying style on the air.  We at the MRHS join her family and all of you in wishing her a full and quick recovery.

Denice in the radio room aboard SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN/KXCH where she is R/O 


Just before press time we received this wonderful email, the first from Denice!

i am on the road to recovery. all warmth received. sending love you way!

As you can see she knows her fans all around the world are sending her all their love. 


                                           WWII VET VISITS THE MRHS

We receive lots of requests for information about visiting the transmit and receive sites we've restored.  But this one was special.  Normally we ask folks to join us during one of our regular Saturday work days.  But this particular request was for a visit on a weekday.  And it was from the son of Sam Bayer, WWII veteran, a radioman aboard USS IOWA  (BB-61).  So of course we made a special arrangement for the visit.

          Sam Bayer tells MRHS Chief Operator Richard Dillman of some of his experiences

Sam was aboard USS IOWA in Tokyo Bay for the surrender ceremonies.  At the last moment he was advised that the radio ship assigned to send news of the ceremonies had not arrived and that he was in charge of sending all communications through his ship's radio facilities.  The problem was... he hadn't had the required high power transmitters on the air before!  But in the grand traditions of the service he had the transmitters tuned and on line in time to transmit the press information about the historic event.

That was only one story he told us.  Like every WWII vet I've had the honor to meet he was modest about his own contribution to the war.  But of course he is a genuine hero.

After the war Sam had a great time with his home brew kilowatt and HQ-129X at his amateur station W2PAR.  He had a rotary beam driven by the post-war classic prop pitch motor.  It was a 40m/20m/10m beam (that's right kids, 15m did not exist at the time!).  The beam was bigger than the house!  Sam reports a neighbor running in to say the house was turning as turning as he aimed his beam at some choice DX.

                   Sam is a happy man after sending a CQ via the K6KPH transmitters

In an email, Sam wrote:

"It was great to visit with you and get a little nostalgic. When I sat down at the key it was the first time in a little over fifty years that I handled one. Brought back a lot of old memories."

Visits like Sam's remind us what we're really about at the MRHS.  While we're busy with repairs and restorations our real program is to assure that the traditions and skills of men like Sam are not forgotten. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------- 


Those True Believers who have followed our project may know that some years ago we recovered two Press Wireless PW-15 transmitters from the KFS transmitter site in Palo Alto, CA, south of San Francisco.  One of the transmitters, which was on the air on the supposed last day of Morse code, has been restored and is on the air as an alternate transmitter for the KSM 12Mc channel (see below...).  On Night of Nights this transmitter will be back on its KFS 12Mc channel.

With that as background check this out...

One of the great things about this project is the correspondence one receives.  Take for example this note from Harvey Masters who noted our restoration and use of a PW-15.  Harvey writes:

Hi Richard ---


I was in the Army Signal Corps during WWII and trained at the Signal Corps base at Camp Crowder, Missouri.  I was working at a radio station in Greensboro, NC as a broadcast engineer (technician) at the time I was drafted, so the Signal Corps was a natural.  I went to radio school there for several months.  One of the transmitters we studied was the Press Wireless 15 kw, the largest transmitter the Signal Corps had.  They did all kinds of things to simulate failures which we had to locate.  One of the things, I thought, was kind of dirty.  They would put finger-nail polish on some of the relay contacts.  You would locate the fault, but there appeared to be nothing wrong.  Finally, as a last resort, you would use an ohmmeter.  Eventually, I came to know the transmitter pretty well.


Overseas I was in the CBI Theater (China-Burma-India).  I was part of an eleven-man team.  Our mission was to operate and maintain fixed-station transmitters.  The team consisted of 3 transmitter technicians, 3 diesel/generator technicians, and 5 key operators (Morse Code).  I, of course, was one of the three transmitter technicians.


Our first assignment was in Kharagpur, India --- about 80 miles outside Calcutta.  This was a B-29 Bomber base (20th Air Corps).  There we had only the one transmitter, the Press Wireless 15 kw.  We provided communications for the 20th Air Corps Headquarters at Kharagpur to the Pentagon.  The transmitter fed a Rhombic Antenna (a highly directional, four-tower, diamond-shaped antenna).  We transmitted directly to Hawaii.  From there it was relayed to Washington.


I have only one picture of the transmitter which I took with my Kodak Brownie 6-20 Box Camera.


From left to right are Joe Richmond and Joe Machost, both key operators.  They took away my two transmitter operators and assigned them to the receiver station.  As we were operating strictly Radio Teletype, 24/7, they didn't need key operators.  So these two were pronounced transmitter operators.  They both did a great job.  As you can see, formality was rather relaxed in the hot, India environment.


Later, the B-29's moved to Tinian in the Mariana Islands where they bombed Japan constantly.

We moved to Kunming, China where I was responsible for a number of smaller transmitters, the largest being 1 kw.  They were all keyed.  Strangely, my older brother was a bombardier on one of the 29's and had been in India for some time before I arrived.


Harvey Masters       

As it happens our own PW-15 was on the air on KSM frequency 12992.0kc on Saturday 30 July.  Here it is in full operation:



Note the flashing mercury vapor rectifiers.  When we received the transmitter these had been replaced by solid state units.  The MRHS Transmitter Department replaced these with the original tubes, filament transformers and wiring.





   Mike carefully collects the "holy water" condensed by the dehumidifiers in the control room at the transmitter station.  We bottle this in small flasks for sale to visitors. 

Hey Mike!  Been working a lot of those Mongolian ships?  Right, that's what I thought.  Keep trying, OM!

Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea... let's go to press with Mike
Payne's report No. 4 for the weekend of 23/24 June 2012...

Sat Jun 30

Posn 6:

2104 AB3AP (21)

Posn 1:

2145 W5ZR (14)
2147 W6UDO (14)
2152 WD0BC (14)
2208 K6ACJ (14)
2218 W4DLZ (14)
2233 W8IM (14) QTC NR52 KSM VIA K6KPH SWL RPT FLA 2210Z 4/6/8 NO CPY 12 QSA 5 16 QSA 5 22 QSA 1 12/16 QRK 5 22 QRK 1 AR
2237 K4VIZ (14)

Watkins-Johnson WJ-8718-23: No dwell time, receiver stuck on 8438.3mhz. Reprogramed for 4 second dwell - receiver back to normal ops now scanning 4/6/8/12/16/22mhz.

A-Tronix CW electronic keyer on holiday. This equipment malfunction delayed putting on the KSM wheel for about 35 minutes. I programmed the keyer incorrectly and had to put on the Boehme Keying Head Driver Type 4-D-B with the ole perforiated tape and send out as the wheel while I attempted to correct my programming error on the A-Tronix. Only partially corrected. Will correct errors Sunday.

KSM: No sigs

Number of guests were I think six.

RD did the honors while I kept futzing around on Posn 1.

I managed to bcst KSM Tfc List and High Seas Wx without incident.

Sunday July 1st

Posn 1:

2027 W4LNI (14)
2140 VO1RAC (14)
2213 N4KGL (14)
2240 W6AWO (14)
2245 KD7KAR (14)
2250 W7ASA (14)
2255 KB1VEN (14)
2323 PY2EL (21)

So I arrive 15 minutes early to try and reprogram the A-Tronix. 30 minutes later I am still trying. So why not just reference the instruction book you might ask...cause there isn't one. Bummer. So, back on the wheel goes the Boehme, but finally, I program the A-Tronics correctly and put her back on the air. Whew!

And in case you missed the new call on the TFC List it is NBVO.

And my last call for the day was PY2EL, out of Sao Paulo. He had his keyer cranked up to between 30 es 35 so I cranked up my bug to same. The ole bug was smoking but had most excellent time.

Also, spent good amount of time CQing 7 and 21mhz but no luck except for PY2EL. It seemed that today and yesterday there must have been solar flares because intermittent very heavy QRN that would come and go, knocking out all signals at times.

KSM: No sigs

Visitors were none. As it was heavy mist and fog out at the station today, I figure that kept folks away.

KSM Tfc List and High Seas Wx bcst without incident.

As always, if I missed your call or failed to note you in this weeks report please accept my apologies and let me know at

Until next time, 73s from ZUT central KSM/K6KPH MP





Richard Dillman, member of the Operations Department and Chief Operator at KSM and K6KPH, will be interviewed on community radio station KWMR in Point Reyes Station about the MRHS and Night of Nights.

The first program will begin at 1:00pm Pacific time on Friday, 6 July.  On 12 July, the morning of Night of Nights, Richard will be a guest on "Swimming Upstream" with Amanda Eichstaedt.  The interview will begin at about 10:00am Pacific time.  We hope that ex-KPH operators and other important folks will join in by phone.

KWMR is the media sponsor for Night of Nights.  Listen to KWMR over the air or on line for the best of what a real community radio station can offer.

Listen Live 

Until next week we wish you fair winds and following seas.

VY 73,



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