Stories of a “Marconi Man”

Many years ago while being part of the VHF squad at Marconi Depot in Liverpool I had the task of investigating the strange happenings concerning the Master on the Irish Ferry “Munster”.

The Master reported that every time he used the Argonaut VHF he got an electric shock.
No other officer had had the same experience.

I had been called to the ship twice before and no matter how I operated the VHF even while grasping the brass Telegraph most firmly, I never receive one tingle.

On this third occasion, both the Master and myself were getting quite concerned, and as the Master assured me he had received quite a “shock” while docking that morning so matters had to be firmly taken in hand.

I thought we now had to go into the realms of “Psychology” to try and convince the poor man that it was all in the mind.

Clipping my big Avo 8 to the brass telegraph and placing the wheelhouse chair close by, I lay the handset on the chair (like an operating table) and proceeded to push the prod end into the hard bakelite body -. slowly we worked along the press arm and down towards the mouthpiece.
Suddenly when I reached the corner where the pressel arm disappeared into the base of the handset, the Avo 8 needle shot up to 110Volts.
One of us was extremely amazed, the other in thankfulness!

I could not believe it, but on close examination, I found that moisture and dust had formed a conduction path down into the mouthpiece, where lay the pressel contacts which keyed the transmitter.

All the other Officers using the handset, had operated with their hand at the centre. While the Master had been holding it at the extreme end near the mouth piece, which, when he gripped the Telegraph gave him a 110 volt belt as he earthed himself – nearly dispatching him through the wheel house window.

There is an element of truth in all things!

Stan McNally

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