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Mobile TV Truck

04/11/08 | by admin  Categories: Mobile TV Truck

The van was purchased by WGSF-TV, an educational station in Newark, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Columbus, in 1969 through a grant from the Thomas J. Evans Foundation. After several years of use by WGSF-TV, the van was donated to the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus.
Recently, the Ohio Historical Society agreed to loan the van to the Early Television Museum, where it will be put on display. The van has most of its original equipment, including TK-30A cameras and the microwave system.

Link to article about the WGSF mobile production van, with commentary by Daniel Black:

See also this promotional advertisement by RCA:

The Early Television Museum is located at 5396 Franklin Street in Hilliard, Ohio (614) 771-0510


2008 Early Television Convention The 2008 Early Television Convention will be held on Friday, May 2, Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4 at the Early Television Museum in Hilliard, Ohio. . . . One of the presentations will be on The RCA TJ-48 Television Van * by Chuck Pharis * The museum will have a TJ-48 van on display at the convention. This van was originally used by KDYL/W6XIS in Salt Lake City, then purchased by WGSF-TV in Newark, Ohio, where it was used until the 70s. It was then donated to the Ohio Historical Society. The Society has loaned the van to the Early Television Museum. More details and pictures will be posted soon. For more convention info, go to: http://www.earlytelevision.org/2008_convention.html
  04/22/08 @ 08:49

Tom Miller [Visitor] Email
Play Day with an old new friend. I will be bringing Mr Crosley's 1948 station wagon for a visit with the WGSF mobile unit.

Lord willing, this should happen Saturday morning 5-3-08 for the 2008 Early Television Convention in Hilliard, Ohio.

I am hoping for a few Photos. I usually accompany Mike Banks in the Cincinnati area when he does talks on his Crosley book.

I assume I was the last one to put a clutch and paint on both of the vehicles...
  04/27/08 @ 10:47

admin [Member] 
Tom is all too brief in his post.
He is referring to the book, "Crosley - Two Brothers And A Business Empire That Transformed The Nation", Rusty McLure with David Stern and Michael A. Banks, Clerisy Press, Cincinnati, OH; ISBN-1313: 978-1-57860-291-9

Tom has restored a 1948 Crosley station wagon, and has taken it to various Crosley collector events, where he met Rusty McClure, a grandson of one of the Crosley brothers, Lewis M Crosley. Powel and Lewis Crosley formed the Crosley Corporation, pioneers in radio and television broadcasting. The company's receivers were well known in the 1930's and 1940's.
They created WLW, for a time the most powerful broadcasting station in the world, which appropriately labeled itself, "The Nation's Station." Indeed, WLW, at 700 on the AM radio dial, could be heard anywhere in the nation. The station was (and remains) legendary, both for the powerful transmitter and the programming that went out from it.
My family's radio was often tuned to their broadcasts during that time period when they ran half-a-million watts of power.
Later, they ventured into television broadcasting, all emanating from "Crosley Square" in Cincinnati. At one time the corporation also made refrigerators, owned a baseball team, and were involved in special production contracts for the war effort during WWII. The entire story requires a book, and it is a good book, well written.
And they made automobiles - the Crosley. They were - well, a little different from other automobiles. And Tom has one that he takes to public appearances by the author of the book, Michael Banks.
Tom was responsible for at least two paint jobs on the mobile truck. There are photos in the WGSF photo album showing the truck as it came from KCPX, with the WGSF Channel 28 logo, and finally as Channel 31 as it appears today.
Tom was driving the truck down Horn's Hill one evening, accompanied by John Hall, when the "malfunction" occurred. They went flying down the last grade on the hill, and coasted out to the sandy stretch of bank along the Licking River.
Tom's father worked in auto repair, and the necessary replacement was promptly taken care of. I doubt (hope not, anyway) that Tom has had a similar adventure with the Crosley.
Now if Tom and John can add some more to the narrative.

Leland Hubbell
  04/27/08 @ 14:55

John Louden [Visitor]
One thing I remember about the truck was how heavy everything was. It was a real chore getting the VR-660 in and out and also lifting cameras and support equipment. It was truly a learning experience. It really makes you appreciate the ease of use for today's equipment.
04/28/08 @ 06:58

ara cochran [Member] Email
I remember Mr. Hubbell bringing this truck back from out west somewhere, at least I think it was driven back by him. I never worked in this truck, we used a van donated by Walker and Battat to do remotes from the Hartford Fair in 1968 with my friend Bob Buhler and Susan Edwards as talent.(Never to old to remember a pretty girl, wonder what happened to Susan). It was a great excuse to get out of the house and roam the fair for a week.Looking at the interior of the truck reminds me of a Minuteman Missle Lauch site. It's the 1950 vintage "electronics".
  04/28/08 @ 10:09

admin [Member] Email
Yes, the mobile van came from station KCPX, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Dorothy (wife) and I flew out, and drove it back. That was quite an interesting trip, and the van got a lot of attention wherever we stopped.
The speedometer went out along the way, so we stopped at a GM place to get it repaired.
We found an old-timer who knew all about 1948 model Chevy trucks. "Keep the speed under 55 MPH," he said, "And that truck will run forever."
The interesting thing about the speedometer failure was how well we were able to cope without it. The floor metal plates would vibrate at about 55 MPH, so it was go for the "55 MPH indicator" and back off slightly. The driver's side mirror would vibrate at about 35 MPH, and those covered most of the needed speed indicators.

See the EFT website for a story about the van, and its previous life at:

Also at : http://www.earlytelevision.org/wgsf_rca_van.html

The one thing in the photos that I had forgotten about was the microwave rack on the right side, and the color of the seat backs.

Leland Hubbell
04/28/08 @ 10:59

admin [Member] Email
Chuck Pharis - Restoring another RCA TV van:
It has been some since I have visited Chuck Pharis's web site. Since he is one of the featured speakers at the ETF Convention, I thought it was time to visit again. You may wish to, also, to see what he is working with.
According to Chuck, the WGSF van may be the only one left in the world with most of the original equipment.
That makes it even more exciting to know that we - the WGSF television staffers - are part of something that is now so significant.
You can see what Chuck is working with at:
  04/28/08 @ 15:33

admin [Member] 
Power to 'The Truck'

All of the original equipment in the RCA mobile television production van used vacuum tubes, and there were a lot of them! Vacuum tubes have a big appetite for electrical power, and dump a lot of that power as heat. The original owners of the truck installed an air conditioner in the left rear window, and cooling was necessary even on days that the ambient outside temperature was on the cool side.
The combination of the television equipment and the air conditioner brought the total electrical current load close to 60 amperes, at 220 Volts. This rather heavy electrical requirement created some interesting situations as we traveled the community, setting up for remotes in - well, rather remote locations, at times.
The success of any set-up was therefore dependent upon a supply of enough electrical power to run a typical small house of that era. The ideal location had an outlet for an electric stove (range outlet, 60 amperes, 220 volts). Lacking that, Chief Engineer and Jack-of-all-trades Leland Hubbell drew upon his knowledge of electrical systems, and went inside the main power panel. A variety of "pig-tail" cables with connectors and heavy-duty clamps interfaced the supply panel to a fused switch box. An electrical meter was essential to the operation, and a check was made to assure things were correct at the power outlet/panel before powering up the truck.
The electrical power supply cables to the truck had twist-loc connectors, and these had to be inspected frequently for good,clean contact, as they often showed signs of overheating. The connectors had to be soldered; screws would loosen under the load, and quickly overheat and char the connector. The cable entered the truck at a multi-plug outlet box. The load was balanced as closely as possible, with part of the equipment on each side of the 220 volt supply. The connector box had three low-wattage lamps as power indicators, and could be set up for 3 phase systems by internal links, if needed, but was always used on single phase settings while we used the truck. One lamp was across one leg of the 110/220 line, and two across the other. If both lamps glowed equally, the incoming voltage balance was assumed to be acceptable.
The truck had a 'power-stat' adjustable transformer to set the voltage to the correct range for the truck. This was located just behind the driver's seat, at the bottom of the equipment racks. The truck electronic equipment required a nominal voltage of 110-120 volts, and local sources were found to vary all over the range, sometimes too high, sometimes too low. The air conditioner required 220 volts, supplied by its own power cable, but came through the
    Most set-ups were routine: Find a 60 ampere range outlet, or a "mains" supply panel, measure to determine voltages, plug in or clamp on the WGSF switch/fuse box, check the indicator lamps, and tweak the power-stat for the correct voltage. If things measured up, we could start turning on the equipment. We were not always able to turn on everything, especially at locations like the  Hartford Fair Grounds, because the lines couldn't handle the load. We were sometimes reduced to running only one camera, and no air conditioner.
    Electrical service is supposed to be inspected and installed by licensed electricians, but we were never sure what we would find. For example, when I connected inside the power panel for a set-up at a public location,  the lights on the truck power strip showed a big unbalance - one lamp went bright, the double lamps dimmed, before we turned on any equipment. And I was clipped onto big 4-ought (0000) size cables in the box. Turned out the ground cable wasn't! It fed an electric stove in the kitchen, and they had not connected the ground (neutral) cable to the main ground because the range was 220 volts. The ladies said the burners worked but the clock (operated off of 120 volts) never did. Once I went to the main ground with our clamp, all was OK. But I told them to get the electrical company back in and make it right!
    Another remote almost brought disaster from improper wiring. I had checked it out in advance, and left instructions to use the standard range receptacle behind the commercial type electric stove. The guys on the crew for the remote said that they would handle the set-up, and I could attend another function before showing up at the remote. I arrived to find everybody in somewhat of a state of shock! (Luckily not electrical.)
Spotting another standard range outlet receptacle out in the open, the 'techie' decided not to crawl behind the greasy stove, and plugged the truck power cable into the one feeding the large deep fry oil cooker. The plugs mated; the voltages didn't! Someone had wired 220, 3 phase, service into what was supposed to be a standard outlet for 110/220 single phase service. The crew had presence of mind to unplug quickly - when the power-stat started smoking. Fortunately, nothing was damaged, nor anyone hurt.
We did an out-of-town basketball remote where the service proved to be under-powered. We were able to wheel the truck into an Industrial Arts shop room, putting us inside, nice and cozy, on a winter evening. Too cozy! Too warm, so we also plugged in the air conditioner. We made it through the game, and were into the wrap-up when the breaker finally gave up and popped out. A close one.
We had electricians install a special circuit for us at several locations around Newark. There was one at the Newark High School gym, and the Performing Arts Center (auditorium), as well as at White (football) Field. Many of the schools had a kitchen with a suitable electrical range outlet available.
  04/29/08 @ 21:07