KTRB's Antique Transmitter Rescued From Building
By John Chappell, Museum President

Editor's note: In 1942 KTRB moved from its original home on McHenry avenue to a new site on Norwegian avenue in Modesto.  The station at the time purchased  a surplus 1000 watt AM transmitter from the McClatchy Corp. in Sacramento as a backup for their main transmitter.  This story,  by our museum President John Chappell,  concerns the removal of the transmitter from the building on Norwegian.  The building has been empty for years has been burglarized several times.  The museum group hopes to display the transmitter someday if we are ever successful in obtaining a building.)

November 3, 2011

Ever notice how simple projects we have to do always take longer than planned? First of all it didn't rain today so Jerry Moore, Frank Azevedo and I were able to meet at 3 PM to move the transmitter out of the KTRB building on Norwegian Ave.  That's a good thing!

Once the protective box, that had been built around it,  was in was removed, the transmitter still looked great from the front with all the tubes intact. Too bad some copper parts had been cut out and part of the tuning network and rectifiers had been vandalized from the back, but you couldn't see that from the front.  Once it is cleaned up we would be proud to have it displayed in any museum with our name on it.   That's a good thing!

Getting the large back building equipment door open to get the transmitter out was one of the first obstacles.  Working with only a flashlight to see,  we found out the reason we were having trouble opening the door.  In addition to the locks, the door had been sealed with long screws into the frame.  Do you think any of us would have thought to bring a Phillips screw driver?  Jerry and I both searched our pick-ups and could not find one.  On my way out of the parking lot to buy one Frank found one in his pick-up.  That was a good thing!

After getting the door unscrewed in the dark it opened... and let there be light!  Another good thing!  But wouldn't you know it, there were overgrown palm trees now blocking the door and the space needed to back in the pick-up, not to mention getting the transmitter out.   Note the IPhone3 picture of Frank trying to hack down the trees with his mammoth  shovel.  But wait!    Didn't I see a crew of guys out front with a chain saw trimming back some of the trees and bushes from the building?  Note the photo of Jerry directing the chain crew to cut a path between the truck and the transmitter.  Another Good thing!

Remember, what got us enthused to start this project in the first place was Paul Shinn, the current contract engineer in charge of the property, who said couple of us could probably move the transmitter in two sections.  After the three of us starting moving it towards the door, it was quickly determined that 3 retiree's were going to have great difficulty trying to get it into the truck.  About then we decided it was best to remove all those big tubes in case we dropped it in the process.  Did I mention yet that this thing was HEAVY (and this was the lighter of the two units)?  I was seriously thinking about taking Jerry's advice and call in some professionals with the proper equipment to do it right, so that we would all be walking out of there with all our body parts intact. 

Frank and I looked at each other.  I think he was thinking like me that we had come this far today, the truck was there, the transmitter was a few feet away.  Then I heard a chainsaw out front.  We both smiled.   Hate to say it but these guys were less than half our age and twice our size.  Yet,  It took all 6 of us to load the transmitter into the truck. 

Sliding the unit out of the truck into Frank's barn was accomplished by the three of us without too much trouble.  Although sitting here now I realize that I need to remember that you are supposed to lift with your legs not your back for tomorrow.  Yes, tomorrow!  We have the heavier section to still get into Franks barn.  We have a little better plan for tomorrow though.  Before we left we asked the chain saw crew if they would be back tomorrow.  Its gonna cost me a couple of pepperoni pizzas and drinks but the rest of the palm tree will be chain sawed down and six people will be lifting the last section into the truck. 

Thank-you Jerry for all of your organization and labor to make this happen, with a special thanks to Frank for the use of his truck, barn storage, and muscle!  That's a great thing!


This homebrew transmitter was in use at McClatchy's KMJ in Fresno before they sold it to KTRB around 1942.  It was built by McClatchy Engineering in Sacramento. 
Frank Azevedo ready to attach the pesky palm tree.
The first section of the transmitter is successfully removed from the building. 
Jerry Moore and the chain saw man plan the attack on the palm tree.
KTRB's Antique Transmitter Rescued From Building
Day 2

We were able to successfully move the heavier second section of the transmitter on Saturday Nov. 5, 2011.  Wish I had the opportunity to take some good picture from the front while the tubes were still intact.  Sorry that most of the pictures are from the ugly back side.  The first section, with all the tubes in pIace, is beautiful from the front.

The day reminded me that with the right tool(s) a man can do any job.  Three pizzas seem to work for getting three of the chain saw gang back to help us load.  Once again it took 6 big guys to load and us 3 to unload, with some ingenuity.  Jerry looked at the three of us and the 6 it took to load it.  He suggested that we tie the end of the transmitter to the barn and drive the truck out from under it, while two of us guided it off.  Frank had a better idea.  "Wait here and I'll get a moving barn?"   As you can see Massey Ferguson came to the rescue with Frank perched on top.  The complete transmitter is now safely in Frank's barn. 



Note: The building has been broken into at least eight times in the last few years.  The object of most of these break ends was no doubt the copper wiring in the electrical circuits throughout the building.  There is virtually nothing left in the building of any value.  The worry now is that the building may become the victim of an arson.