RADIO BEACON REPAIR - ERS BOSTON STYLE

By Joe Rush

 

The fuse was jumpered, the power restored and we waited for the smoke to appear...........

I can recall another time I was mistaken for a Bosun’s Mate while in the First District, although it has little to do with my story. This was in 1960.

I had just completed ET School and my brand-new Third Class crow and I were TDY in Boston again. This time I was assigned to spend my TDY time working in the Electronics Repair Shop (ERS) with another ET, who was at time an ET2 and shall remain nameless for his own protection. If I told his name they might take away his retirement income.

One morning we got a heads-up that we were going to have to go out to the BOSTON Lightship and have a look-see at their radio beacon. The danged thing kept blowing fuses and nobody could determine why it did. We were plunked down on a 40-footer with a toolbox and told to sit down, shut up, and hold on. We did all of these things, for this was the Captain speaking and he was a Bosun's Mate.

Upon arrival at the lightship I was the first one to climb up the ladder, toting the tool box and ready for battle with the recalcitrant radio beacon. The Warrant Officer in charge of the lightship took a look at me coming up the ladder with the tool box and says; "What the hell they doin’ sendin’ a Bosun’s Mate out here to fix the radio beacon?" Needless to say he had deflated my ET balloon. Here I was on my very first important ET-type job, and the damned fool thought I was a Bosun’s Mate.

Well, we went ahead and did some trouble-shooting of the radio beacon and it kept blowing fuses. We eliminated every possible thing we could think of and it blew another fuse. After another study of the schematic and utterance of several oaths, another fuse blew. This nameless ET2 then started rummaging around inside the toolbox. It was his toolbox anyhow, I was only allowed to carry it. After a couple of minutes he found what he was looking for and pulled out a small cardboard box. He opened the box and inside it was a varied assortment of short pieces of copper tubing, different lengths and different diameters. He selected a piece of tubing just the right size, removed the blown fuse, and inserted the tubing.

I was speechless as I realized just exactly what he had in mind to do. This was trouble-shooting on a different scale from what I had imagined.

He looked at me, grinned, and said; "Now let’s see what was causing that lovely little fuse to blow." He flipped the power switch to ON and we sat back to watch for smoke. We watched for smoke for more than two hours - no smoke.

The upshot of it is that he pronounced the patient cured, tidied up his toolbox, and we departed. As far as I know that radio beacon may be out there somewhere "just a-workin’ away" to this very day.

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