Article by Tom Lizak/K1TL
The station WPA was located across from the Gulf refinery along the Sabine River channel. All the HF antennas were ground planes (6/8/12MCs) with four elevated radials each. The 4MC antenna was a folded dipole, I believe. The MF (500KC) antenna was a long wire. The station did have a 200’ tower but was taken down due to a cracked base insulator…and never to be put back up again. Real sad as we did have a good signal on 500/416KCs when it was operating along with the 15KW TX. I should have taken more pictures of the transmitter room back then. Bill Prechtl (SK) and I took a walk to the MF antenna shack out in the swamp one winters day, watching out for alligators and snakes. I couldn’t believe the hole in the side of the small building from a lightning strike. The cracked insulator may have been caused by previous tropical storms/ hurricanes or from several lightning strikes.
We did get the 16MC TX up and running and used the folded dipole out in the swamp which was about 60’ above the swamp and a few hundred feet from the building. It worked somewhat but due to the feed losses, most of the RF was wasted. We later abandoned that frequency.
We had severe interference from SSB “National Guard Weekend Warriors” on 8.550MCs during some weekends. The ships complained about this and we notified RCA…it only stopped for a couple of weeks then started up again. This caused some loss of traffic. Our permanent 3rd shift guy, Lloyd Moore (SK), used to use 4MCs in the evening/morning hours but the key clicks were so bad, I couldn’t understand how he could hear anybody calling him with the key clix pounding away in the AR-88’s…but he did pull in traffic on that shift.
We did have some good operators, notably, Leland “Skip” Agard.
The station had a direct link to Exxon via LL which WPA handled all Exxon vessels along the Eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico. Also was a Western Union TTY and another LL TTY system which you see in the background in the picture below.
Alas, the station finally closed, I believe in early 1984, as I sent out the last “CQ”.
Above, is John Broussard (SK) hammering away at the mill…he is also famous for hammering away on the “hand pump” which would pretty much shake the table. Some ship operators could not copy him due to his sending “technique” so the other ops here would take his traffic.
Here I am …I can’t believe how thin I was back then !
Above is Bill Prechtl (W3KO, SK) in foreground and I’m sitting in the HF position straining my ears for signals on the infamous RCA AR-88 RX’s.
Picture of the building along the Sabine River shipping channel. All the HF antennas were ground planes with four elevated radials. We did get the folded dipole for 16MCs working but we did not get much traffic on that band most likely due to feed line losses. Definitely had some sinking of the ground around the building as you can see. Pretty much like walking “uphill” inside the building.
…and finally here is my “mug shot” along with my “number”. I lost more hair and is now “gray/white”.
73 Tom Lizak/K1TL