ARRL member Gene Greneker, K4MOG, of Powder Springs, Georgia, recently fulfilled a dream for the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center museum — formerly WCC on Cape Cod — to add an important artifact to its collection. Greneker spotted a brief item in QST last year seeking a so-called “Creed machine” for the museum. While most ship-to-shore station traffic was conducted by skilled Morse operators at their keys, the Creed machine — or keyer — read a punched tape prepared in advance that generated one-way Morse code broadcasts to ships at sea.
“We have searched continuously for roughly 10 years for this artifact, following leads with historians, other museums, archivists, ham radio operators, collectors, and any other possible leads,” said Chatham Marconi Maritime Center Operations Manager Dorothy Bassett. The mention in QST, resulting from a visit to the museum by ARRL Lab staffer Mike Gruber, W1MG, did the trick. Greneker spotted it and let Bassett know he had what she was seeking.
“Our members and supporters raised the funds, and we were able to purchase the Creed machine, a custom table, and an entire exhibit to showcase this item and how it worked with our Kleinschmidt machine,” Bassett recounted. The Kleinschmidt machine — or “Klein” — refers to the equipment used to create the punched “Wheatstone” tape, the narrow ribbon of heavy, perforated paper read by the Creed keyer.
Bassett said that once the exhibit is complete, the museum plans to install a button that visitors could push to start the machine, “so guests will get to hear the Creed working, see the tape move, and watch the pins and mechanics in action.”
Greneker said the Creed machine is a rare find for a collector, and he obtained his when he and Fred Dorsey, WA4TDC, bought an entire lot of equipment that had been installed at WOE in Lantana, Florida. “Most of these stations only had one keyer to broadcast the traffic lists on the hour, and these were cut with the Wheatstone perforator,” Greneker told Bassett. “Given that there were not that many shore-to-ship stations, not many Creed keyers were ever manufactured.” Greneker said the machines were assembled by hand and expensive to purchase. He speculated that the Creed machine he donated may once have been at WCC.
“RCA was famous for taking old equipment from the flagship station (WCC) and sending it to the smaller stations (WOE) when they needed some item. The flagship station then got the new replacement equipment,” he explained. Greneker explained that when shore station operators such as RCA closed those facilities, “the entire station was loaded up and carried to the dump, making the keyers almost impossible to find today.”
Bassett said that museum volunteer Lewis Masson had worked for 35 years at the RCA station as a wireman, and the Creed machine was deeply important him. “Every time he came into work, he heard it running, and it was a tried and true part of the original atmosphere,” she said. “This piece is very special to us, and I can’t thank the ARRL enough for running the ad that secured procurement.”