ANOTHER PROGRESS REPORT (1995)

By Jerry Proc VE3FAB


Another season has passed and HMCS Haida has been prepared for her dormancy during the winter months. It is my pleasure to be able to report on the progress of the on-going radio restoration project for the 1995 season. This year's progress was phenomenal, and was directly influenced by the efforts of Jim Brewer (ex-RCN), another Haida volunteer. In past years, Jim was instrumental in the restoration of the Sperry Mark II short range radar and various subsystems in the Operations Room. Without his participation this year, there would be considerably less to report. The two major projects that were tackled this year were the refurbishment of Radio 3, and the shipborne radio remote control system.

Radio 3, located on the port side, flag deck, was an unmanned equipment room first installed in 1950, however, the equipment fitting for that period is not known at this time. By the mid- 1950's, the room was fitted with the transmitters, receivers and channel amplifiers which provided four out of seven available UHF radio channels. All equipment located here was unmanned and remotely controlled unless frequencies had to be changed or transmitters required retuning. Under emergency conditions, the radio gear could be locally controlled. At the time that Haida was paid off, the equipment fitting consisted of four AN/URR35 (200 to 400 Mhz) UHF receivers, four companion TED3 (AN/URT502) UHF transmitters and Channel Amplifier Units mounted in two equipment racks. Transmitter power output was adjustable up to 18 watts. Later, the purpose of the channel amplifiers will be explained.

The task of physically restoring Radio 3 commenced on July 1 and was completed by Sept 23, 1995. When the equipment racks were removed, the extent of damage by water leakage became very evident. Moisture had disintegrated much of the deck levelling compound and many of the linoleum tiles had peeled away. The material was literally crumbling under my feet. There were also two rust perforations in the deck, one of which allowed me to view the Stoker's Mess, one level below. Replacing the corroded deck plates would be cost prohibitive, so a joint decision was made to patch the perforations and refinish the deck with rust inhibitor and paint. I was pleased with the final result and it even had an authentic look to it.

As for the rest of the room, it was a disaster area as well. Layers of cracked and peeling paint had to be stripped off or chipped away. Keep in mind that this work was done during the hot and humid summer months and I'm sure that I lost a few pounds in the process. This compartment required a disproportionate amount of labour when compared with previous restorations but one has to keep in mind that this area had been unheated and unattended since the ship was paid off in 1963. By seasons end, one complete UHF radio channel was restored to operation. The remainder of this work is expected to be completed in 1996 provided that two of the missing TED3 transmitters materialize.

Aboard any warship, it is not possible to install radio receivers and transmitters next to the operating position, so a remote control system is used. Aboard Haida, this system consists of three elements. First, is the Channel Amplifier Unit (CAU). This is a bi-directional amplifier and control unit which amplified the remote audio source and then fed this signal to the audio input of a transmitter. In addition, it would amplify audio output from a receiver and then feed it to the remote end. The second element was the Remote Control Unit (RCU). This piece of hardware which interfaces the radio to the operator would pass audio, key the transmitter when CW was required, and had the function of an intercom. Internally, it housed a handset, a speaker, volume control and a few control switches. RCU's could either control one radio channel, or four channels, depending on the variant.

The fourteen RCU's aboard Haida were connected to a matrix switch known as a Channel Switching Unit (CSU). One side of the switch supports up to five different transmitter/receiver pairs. On the other side, up to ten RCU's could be hardwired, but only four RCU's could be connected to a radio channel at any given time. Connecting an RCU with a radio channel was accomplished by moving one of ten slide switches to a specific position on the CSU. By using vertical or horizontal wiring harnesses, the CSU's could be slaved to support an extended number of RCU's or radio channels. Haida was fitted with a matrix of six CSU's. Informally, the CSU was known as the 'Bread Slicer' and was the heart of the Shipborne Radio Remote Control System. The CAU/RCU/CSU remote control system was a Canadian development that worked very well and was admired by our contemporaries in the Royal Navy and the United States Navy.

When a ship is decommissioned, all radio gear is removed. If anything is hardwired, cable shears are used to expedite equipment removal. Such was the case for the remote control system. The effort to restore this system commenced in October of 1994 without any idea has to how long it would take. Initially, I made a rough estimate of the work required, and to my astonishment, I determined that there were 4,100 wiring splices and connections that had to be made. I proceeded to splice the single channel RCU cables and radios while Jim Brewer focused on the CSU's and the four channel RCU's on the Bridge and the Operations Room. The simplest remote control cable to splice consisted of six shielded twisted pairs, with a tight cotton binding over the braided shield. All pairs were surrounded by a thick plastic cable jacket and braided armour shielding. In some instances, this inch and a quarter diameter cable handled with the same ease as a uncooperative boa constrictor. By seasons's end, 75% of the system had been restored to working order including 13 out of the 14 RCU's. To our disappointment, we discovered that an eight foot section of remote control cable was missing when the last RCU failed to power up. Except for a minor wiring error on the very first RCU/CSU connection, there has not been a single wiring error or failure in 3,000 splices!

As various sections of the remote control system were rewired, we brought life into the system by actually operating it with the original radio gear. Our star performer is the 1944 vintage VHF receiver known as the RCK. Each Saturday, it's fired up and it spends the day monitoring aeronautical transmissions from the nearby Toronto Island airport. To receive marine radio traffic, a modern solid state VHF marine radio, hidden from view, has been patched into the system and monitors the Toronto Coast Guard on channel 16. Any traffic is piped directly to the Bridge and the Operations Room along with transmissions from Toronto Island air traffic control. From time to time, the Marconi CM11 transmitter is tuned up and AM transmissions are made on 7290 khz using the remote control system. The carbon microphones in the RCU handsets are detrimental to fidelity, but then again, that's how the original system worked. We now have full intercom capability between the Operations Room and Radio 1. As soon as additional handsets are found, the Bridge will have the identical capability.

As in previous years, a number of individuals have donated or sold missing pieces of radio gear or accessories to Haida. I would like to thank the following people for their participation in the restoration:

Name            Call    Location             Item donated or sold
__________________________________________________________________
Don Armstrong   VE3DBA  Chatham, Ontario     CPRC-26 radio
Tom Brent               Dewdney, B.C.        SCR522 control box
Tom Bryan               Silver Spring, MD    AN/UPA24 IFF unit
Henry Engstrom          Santa Clara, Calif.  SCR522 antenna cable
C.P.O. Fancy            RCN, Halifax, N.S.   TED3/CM11 crystals
Dexter Francis          Colorado Springs,CO  URR21 crystal set
RJ Henville      G3TPH  Dorset, England      B28 receiver manual
Jerry Proc      VE3FAB  Etobicoke, Ontario   E886 tuner replica
Dale Richardson  AA5XE  El Paso, Texas       AN/URR35 crystal set
John Sandison   VE5AAS  Regina, Saskatchewan Teletype documents
Gerry Sherman   VE3KDS  Weston, Ontario      Navy headphone
A special note of thanks goes to Bill Legg, Curator of HMS Collingwood Naval Museum in Fareham, England. He arranged to donate a 1944 vintage Marconi B28 radio receiver to Haida. The Royal Canadian Navy picked up the unit and delivered it to Halifax aboard HMCS Toronto. From there, it was personally delivered to the ship by Cdr. Bill Rupka who is based in Halifax. Major financial support for the radio restoration was provided by the Skywide Amateur Radio Club. Their generous contribution cut the direct expenses by half. Rick Ferranti WA6NCX of Arlington, Maryland made a personal financial donation to the ship.

Although we are not yet in possession of the goods, I must thank the British Columbia Reef Society and specifically Wes Roots and Howard Robbins for allowing four 28 foot whip antennas and a radar D/F antenna to be dismantled from the decommissioned destroyer HMCS MacKenzie. Shortly afterwards, she was sunk in order to become a reef and attract marine life. Manpower and muscles to remove the antennas was provided by Keith Kennedy VE7KWK (and company) of Surrey, British Columbia. Keith tried to disassemble these five section aluminum antennas, but years of salt corrosion seized up the threads on the joints. There was no other recourse except to saw the antennas in half in order to make them transportable to Toronto. Currently, the antennas are in storage with Tom Brent of Dewdney, B.C. Once they arrive in Toronto, two of them will be erected in their original positions near the main mast.

Generally speaking, the restoration can be broken down into three phases. The first is to physically restore the radio rooms. Secondly, missing equipment must be located, acquired and refurbished. Lastly, the on-hand equipment needs to be restored and connected to its own subsystem. I am happy to report that Phase 1 of the project is now complete and Phase two and three are in varying stages of completion. Another project was also launched in October of 1995. Haida's Coding office, which was being used as a storage area, has been cleared out and is being converted into a display area for pieces of radio gear which were originally fitted on the ship in 1943 and the post war period.

On a final note, a personal goal was also completed this season. Over the last two years, I spent all of my spare time researching information on Haida's radio systems. The final result, was a 168 page document titled 'Radio Systems Aboard HMCS Haida'. This book is now on sale in Haida's gift shop and quite a few copies were sold by mail order.

Again, I extend my sincere thanks to all those individuals who participated in the restoration during the 1995 season. Should anyone have the opportunity to visit Toronto, please drop into Ontario Place . HMCS Haida can be toured daily between mid May and Labour Day and tour HMCS HAIDA.
 

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