This web document describes the radio fitting aboard the RCMP vessel St. Roch. For those interested in the historical aspects of the St. Roch, please visit the web page of the Vancouver Maritime Museum .
|St. Roch (Vancouver Maritime Museum photo)|
This is a cutaway graphic showing the starboard side of the St. Roch. The radio room is on the port side. (Courtesy Dept of Supply and Services, 1983)
Vessel type: Started as a Schooner. Later converted to a Ketch.
Length : 104 ft 3 in.
Beam: 24 ft 9 in
Draught: 11 feet
Displacement: 323 tons
Top speed: 8 knots
Launched: May 7, 1928
Sixteen years after being launched, St. Roch was refitted at Dartmouth, N.S. in preparation for her 1944 voyage. A much larger deckhouse was constructed with individual cabins for the crew, the 150 hp diesel engine was replaced with a 300 hp. diesel, and there were other, lesser, upgrades.
Retired RCMP S/Sgt. Dan Lemieux of the Vancouver Marine Museum provides this detail regarding the power plants. "The 1928-1943 engine was a 150 hp Union Diesel, six-cylinder, four-cycle, with single acting 8 1/4 inch diameter cylinders. The propeller was a single screw, three-bladed propeller, 58 inches in diameter, with a 35 inch pitch. At 340 rpm, it produced a top speed of 8 knots. The engine consumed 290 gallons of fuel in a 24 hour period at optimum speed. Since the vessel could only carry 7,000 gallons of diesel, (25 days sailing), it was necessary to carry many 45 gallon drums of diesel. When the main tanks went dry, the crew had to wrestle the drums out of the hold and transfer the contents into the tanks. St. Roch cruised at 6 knots for best fuel consumption. After the 150 hp engine was extracted during the 1944 refit, it was fitted into a fishing vessel on the West Coast. That vessel sank in a storm and that engine is now resting on the bottom of the Bay of Alaska.
The second engine produced 300 hp. It was also a six-cylinder, four-cycle engine but having 11 inch diameter cylinders. At 350 rpm it only produced a top speed of 8 knots. Dockyard mateys tried a 4 bladed propellor but it caused vibration, so they went back to the original three bladed one. More power....but no increase in speed.
In Halifax they installed a new battery bank on a platform in the engine room. A small gasoline auxiliary engine was used to charge the batteries. This allowed the crew to use the radios and other electrical devices without running the main engine. It was especially helpful during the 11 winters they spent frozen in ice in the Arctic".
RADIO ROOM ERAS
Radio call sign: VGSR
1928-29: This was St. Roch's maiden voyage and her first trip into the Canadian Arctic. The vessel sailed from Vancouver on June 28, 1928, wintered at Langton Bay, and returned in the fall of 1929. On launch, she was fitted with state-of-the-art radio equipment. This consisted a 100 watt, medium wave (375 to 1428 KHz) main transmitter, namely the Canadian Marconi 100W4 ( S/N 62) which is used for all ordinary ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore work. Also installed was a 50 watt short wave transmitter whose model number is is not known at this time. It was a HF set for communicating with stations beyond the range of the main set such the area around Hudson Bay or, possibly Ottawa.
Fred. W Sealey, was the radio operator aboard St. Roch in 1928. born in England, Mr. Sealey discovered his calling in 1918 while his family was en route to a new home in Victoria. "While on the boat from Vancouver, I happened to be outside the `wireless' cabin when the operator started up the old spark transmitter and the crash of the spark could be heard all around the deck," recalled Mr. Sealey. "I decided right there and then that the `wireless' was for me.". With a daytime job and classes at night, he quickly obtained his certificate and went to sea with the Canadian Marconi Company.
Research indicates that the St. Roch stayed in touch with a network of stations in the Arctic and all around Canada. Radio operator Cst. Edward (Dean) Hadley, was the radio operator aboard St. Roch in 1929. Hadley transmitted regular reports to Coppermine, NWT twice a week. Other research material indicates that one of the duties of the St. Roch crew h was to provide daily weather reports to Ottawa. It was also mentioned that the crew routinely listened to the radio when they were off duty.
The vessel obtained a broadcast license so that they, on occasion, could broadcast news and music to the northern natives. Dean recalls that it was around 667 KHz. where they aired their broadcasts. As one would expect, the AM signal would have a limited range. There was no regular schedule, just the occasional news and music, with most of the potential listeners being forewarned via short wave radio that there would be a broadcast.
It is also believed that Land Stations in the North were notified about St. Roch's broadcast schedule and, perhaps word spread to the native people that had access to battery operated receivers. There were long periods of time when the ship was frozen in ice so she was used as an RCMP "Detachment" . Perhaps there were more broadcasts during this period.
1930-34: The longest voyage in the history of the ship. St. Roch provided service to the Coronation Gulf area of the western Arctic. Returned to Vancouver after spending four winters in the Arctic.
1944: This was St. Roch's "lucky" 86-day voyage on the more northerly route of the Northwest Passage from east to west, sailing from Halifax to Vancouver. It is believed that the radio room was upgraded during the refit and this was probably the final configuration before the vessel was retired.
1946 - Operation Muskox was an 81-day military exercise organized by the Canadian Army in 1946. It involved the 48 members of the Army driving 11 4½-ton Canadian designed snowmobiles (a.k.a."Penguins"). They were joined by three American observers in a smaller American-made snowmobile called a "Weasel" as well as an observer from the Royal Canadian Navy and a number of scientists. The Royal Canadian Air Force provided airdrops of supplies. During this period, the St. Roch was used as a radio beacon for Operation Muskox in 1946. No other details are available at this time.
|Radio room 1928-1929 era|
|Radio room 1930-1933 era. The equipment depicted in this photo and the one above it are the MST2 tuner and MSA5 amplifier made by Canadian Marconi .|
|Emergency transmitter. This is likely a home made unit.|
|(Photos courtesy Vancouver Maritime Museum)|
|This diagram shows all the interconnections for the Canadian Marconi 100W4 transmitter with a pairing to a MST-2 tuner and MSA-5 amplifier. It is presumed that this same configuration was used aboard St. Roch but it still requires confirmation. Click on thumbnail to enlarge. (Image courtesy Denis Couillard)|
|This was the operating position in the St. Roch radio room. Above
the gramophone is the National HRO receiver, and above and to the right
is the storage rack for the HRO plugin coils.
Below the coil sets, is the external HRO "doghouse" power supply..Out of sight are the 200PT and LTT-4 transmitters and the bed for the radio operator. It is assumed for now, that the St. Roch paid off with this basic configuration . The gentlemen in the photo is radio op Dean Hadley. Here he is inspecting the radio room in October of 2018. It was in this room where Dean spent three summers and two long winters when the St. Roch was stuck frozen in the ice of the Northwest Passage. Eugene Dean Hadley died peacefully in his sleep on July 13/19. He was 98. (Photo by Jason Payne, PNG)
|This is another example of an HRO Senior receiver. (Photo courtesy Radio Boulevard web site)|
|HRO receivers did not utilize a band changing switch. Insead, the operator needed to remove the existing coil set and plug in a coil set for the desired frequency. National Radio included HRO coil storage boxes with the radios in three-coil and five-coil standard versions. (Photo courtesy Radio Boulevard web site)|
Radio collector Tom Brent, provides some details on the HRO receiver depicted in the above photo. "This radios the original HRO introduced by National in 1934/35. Later, a reduced cost version was introduced (no S meter or crystal filter) which was named the “HRO Junior”. By default, the original version became the “HRO Senior” and was marketed as such. During WW II it was upgraded to become the HRO-M and subsequently, HRO-5.
In the HRO photo, there is no ID tag in the upper-right corner of the front panel which means the set was produced prior to mid 1938. Secondly, there is a pilot light on the front panel -, something that did not show up until production run F in 1935. Knowing the S meter details is something that would enable us to pin down the production date a little closer".
|At the left is the Canadian Marconi 200PT transmitter with the LTT-4 transmitter at the right. Also fitted was the National HRO receiver. In this view, part of the radio operator's bunk is visible. This is also where the radio op stored his personal belongings. (Image courtesy Vancouver Maritime Museum)|
|This is a birds eye view of the radio room. (A temporary sketch drawn by Tom Brent from memory )|
Dean Hadley was the wireless operator on the 1942 voyage (West to East ). In his book "What a Life !" , he describes St. Roch's transmitter as the Canadian Marconi 100W4, , a CW only transmitter. It is believed that the 100WM4 was removed during the 1944 retrofit and replaced with the Canadian Marconi LTT-4 transmitter When the radio room was re-modelled in Halifax in 1944 , it was moved to a narrower room adjacent to the galley. Hadley’s quarters were inside the radio room. To learn more about Dean Hadley, please select this link.
On one of the Equipment Requisitions drafted by F.W. Healey. an RCA Victorola Gramophone along with 50 records was noted. This would serve as a small entertainment for the crew. Other requests were for dry batteries, In 1928, that request consisted of:
* (Qty. 8) Eveready "Layerbuilt" heavy duty, 45 volt 'B' batteries
* (Qty. 2) Eveready "Light Duty" 22.5 volt 'B' batteries.
SUMMARY OF TRANSMITTING EQUIPMENT
1928 to 1944 – The Main transmitter was the Cdn Marconi model 100W4 transmitter transmitting in the MF band. . Replaced with a Marconi LTT-4 during a refit in 1944.
A 50 watt HF transmitter was also installed in 1928. Model is not known but it just might be the Canadian Marconi 100W3, a CW only unit. Suspect it was replaced by the model 200PT transmitter for which there are no specs at this time.
ORIGINAL MACHINERY ABOARD THE ST. ROCH
On the 2nd of February, 1945, Captain T.H. Evans, Engineer Superintendent Ship Repairs, West Coast writes to HMC Dockyard , Esquimalt to report on the machinery aboard the St. Roch. This was the configuration at that time.
Type: Union Diesel,
Model 56 - Serial #41528
Horsepower - 150
RP M - 350
Bore - 11"
Stroke - 15"
EQUIPMENT DRIVEN BY MAIN ENGINE
* Anchor windlass
* Main generator - 5 Kilowatt, Electric Tamper & Equipment Co.
Output is 120 volts at 42 amps. Serial #lD6545. Driven by 3 V-belts
off the intermediate shaft.
* Fresh water pump
One Russel Newbury Diesel Engine, Type D2. 18 HP at 1000 rpm.
Serial #3520 -
EQUIPMENT DRIVEN BY AUXILIARY ENGINE
* Generator - 3.4 kw (not 5 kw) Pratt & Whitefield. Serial 9120
RPM . - 1000. 110 volts at 31 amps
* One Reavell &. Co. Ltd., two stage single acting
water cooled air compressor.
* One set of Hart Batteries - 56 Cells in series . - 110 VDC.
* One model 30I ammeter used to monitor battery charging current.
* One Mk XVIII gyrocompass which draws 9 amps.
* One Fairbanks-Morse electric bilge pump. Serial #61173 drawing 24 amps.
* 2 inch centrifugal fuel pump.
* One DC to AC converter Jenette Man. Co. Type CA 18. Serial #2240
Input: 110 VDC at 2.5 amps.
Output : 110 VAC at 1.7 amps
* One electric galley stove.
A listing of the St. Roch holdings can be found here.
Of interest to to radio collectors would be these two boxes:
Series 5 Box 8.17 Marconi 200PT-ID Plate Modulator Equipment, East End 200PT
Series 5 Box 20.3 Marconi Company Equipment Manuals 1942
The following equipment manuals are held by the Vancouver Marine Museum
200PT-1A Transmitter (confirmed as installed)
200PT-1D Plate Modulator (confirmed as installed)
LFR-2 Receiver with PPR-1 Power Unit.
STT-4 (type 96450) Transmitter.
At this time, it is not known if some of these manuals are simply contributions or whether they apply to the radio gear installed aboard St. Roch.
1) Dick Pulsifer RCMPVA Nova Scotia Division <rpulsifer(at)bellaliant.net>
2) Retired RCMP S/Sgt. Dan Lemieux Special Events Docent, Vancouver Maritime Museum <deebeel(at)telus.net>
3) Spud Roscoe <spudroscoe(at)eastlink.ca>
4) Vancouver Maritime Museum
6) The Annual Reports of the Radio Division, Department of Transport 1936-1942
7) John Gilbert <johngilber(at)gmail.com>
8) Dept. of National Defence Letter reference EE 41-1 10 regarding the machinery
9) Correspondence from F.W. Sealey, Senior Constable, Wireless Operator
10) F.W. Sealey http://www.radioalumni.ca/x_SealeyFW.htm
11) Laval Desbiens < desbienslaval(at)gmail.com>
12) Denis Couillard Ultra Electronics <Denis.Couillard(at)ultra-TCS.com>
13) The Early Development of Radio in Canada 1901-1930 , page 34. By Robert Murray
14) HRO photo https://www.radioblvd.com/National%20HRO.htm