When nothing else can express an actual situation, you can always rely on pictures. The old adage that "a picture is worth a thousand words" is very true! When you want to report on something as I am doing now, you want to convey your information without using any excessive verbal assault.
Recently I received a communication regarding the state and condition of the BBC 250KW SW unit we purchased. In this communication I was led to believe this unit was operating when it was decommissioned, and all I had to do was put it together, plug it in, and continue operation like it was prior to being de-commissioned. I was told that all I needed was a high power Transformer and that was it! This individual was and still is definitely mistaken, sadly.
Why is it you suppose that there are always others who seemingly know more about something than those who really do? Monday morning quarterbacks? Arm chair know-it-alls? Personally, I have always tried to leave expertise to the experts. Those who actually know what they are doing.
So! I'm told that the BBC 250KW Shortwave Transmitter was working when it was decommissioned? Perhaps? I was not there! However, the question now is? Was it working according to design specifications? I think not! What did I find? Plenty! And? I have the receipts to prove it!
The BBC 250KW was decommissioned in the mid to late 90's. It was dismantled May of 1998. The unit was taken by multiple truckloads to a warehouse in Italy. The intention of the purchasers was to re-commission this unit and place it into service in that area. This could not be accomplished because of country politics. So, they decided to put this unit up for sale. Elder Jacob O Meyer and the undersigned made a trip to the warehouse in Italy where it was stored just to size up the situation. After visiting and reviewing this unit, the decision was made to purchase the same.
This was in the Summer of 2000. This unit came to my attention via a friend in government services, who has since retired. The European broker that offered this unit was contacted by me personally. Arrangements were made to visit the warehouse in Italy and view this unit. Whereupon we made the journey to Italy and decided to purchase this unit and then have it shipped to the USA via ocean going vessel.
The unit was received in Baltimore Maryland. When the paperwork and customs clearance were finished, we transported this unit via trucks to our TX site in Bethel, PA. This occurred in the Fall of 2000.
How long does it take to put this unit into service. I was told that the original purchasers planned to put this unit into service in approximately one year from start. Because they have more financial capabilities and manpower at their disposal therefore it follows that the downtime would be greatly reduced.
I was the one who did almost all of the work at this location in re-assembling the unit. This includes planning and engineering the peripherals associated with this unit. The former owners planned on using three to four men and taking one year (or so) to re-commission this unit!
One of the first things we had to do was build a transformer vault to isolate the high power components.
Then the equipment was placed inside.
Preparing the BBC for building entrance.
Putting the large unit into the building.
Transmitter on Pad.
Each one of these processes required time and finances. The overhead door had to be expanded to accommodate the size of the BBC 250. The transformer vault was an addition to the original building. This had to be constructed with acceptable materials. Again cost and time were involved.
Piece by piece the unit was assembled. This took time and expense.
The high power transformer to convert the High Voltage from 13.2 KV to 16 KV. US voltage was too low for this unit.
The 40 Ton Chiller for the BBC 250 had to be added.
The tube cooling unit also needed to be manufactured according to our specifications and installed.
Power supplies had to be installed for the chiller units.
High power cables had to be run throughout the system.
The cooling system had to be installed above the unit.
To bring things current:
This circuit board was in the antenna output monitoring circuit. We have never used this stage. It was discovered to be defective while testing the final circuitry. See anything unusual about the circuit board? Cost replacement? Almost $1,400.00!
The circuit board below is used in the frequency and pre-driver stage, called a broadband amplifier board. This board was examined by three electronics technicians and found to be defective. Replacement cost? Almost $ 4,000.00! Because this board was found defective, the circuit board that works in conjunction was also replaced. Replacement cost? Over $ 4,000.00!
We also had to replace the final plate breaker switch. Why? Because upon ignition, this unit broke and operation was no longer possible. Also, this plate breaker unit had reached its limit on closing (operating) times. These are only rated for so many closings. Replacement cost? $5,000.00!
Not to mention resistors in the Crowbar Protection Assembly. Replacement cost? Almost $1,400.00! The Positive Switching Regulator needed replacement. Parts for the High Voltage rectifier units. One high speed blower motor had to be rewound. Burned coils, burned contacts, 24 volt relays, 48 volt relays, 220 volt relays, had to be replaced. All of these replacement parts took time and finances. Some of the parts took several months to be manufactured before sending them to WMLK Radio.
In bringing this report to a close, I can state emphatically that this unit in the condition we received it could not operate as it should. We now have virtually restored it to original operating specifications. Many circuits had to be restored to original operating conditions and the bypass jumpers removed. The easy shortcut/bypass method of operations is employed many times by some when the circuit malfunctions. This is a dangerous procedure, and should only be used as a "temporary" fix. Then the circuit should be restored to original operating procedure.
This picture is of the operations panel. Everything is sequenced (turned on) to the final plate breaker. The final plate breaker is in the energized position. We need to either repair (if possible) or replace a circuit board in the HV rectifier control cabinet, as it is not responding. Upon examination, one of the resistors was found to be lifted (one end) from the board. This usually connotes a testing position. Incidentally, this is where the circuit has failed for controlling the firing angle of the rectifier units. Obviously, the previous owners were having problems with this circuit as we have never even touched this card until recently, i.e. two weeks ago!
I will keep you updated concerning further progress on this unit. Thank you!
Sincerely, Gary A McAvin, Chief Broadcast/Operating Engineer.