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Chuck Conrad an email
Or by Snail Mail:
P.O. Box 1008
Kilgore, TX 75663
Credit Where Credit is Due...
This hasn't been a single
A great deal of the restoration work on the bus has been
done by my good friend and neighbor, Matt Matthis
Paint & Body work was
done by Bill Fishburn and his crew at Fishburn Auto Body in White Oak,
Hand lettering was done
by Darlene Rouse at Bella Mia, Longview, TX. 903-234-1448
Chrome by Eagle Plating,
Jacksonville, TX. (903-589-0858
My Brother In Law,
Charles, "Larry" Price, who first got it running.
Countless other people
have contributed time, advice, parts, equipment and support. My
thanks to all!
Originally I thought this project might take
two or three years to complete. I should have known better. As of this
writing, we are now nine years into it. A lot has been done,
but there remains quite a bit more to do. There is, however, light
at the end of the tunnel.
Elsewhere on these pages you will see some of
the adventures we've had.
It is now back from Fishburn's Auto Body in
White Oak, TX. Bill and his crew did an incredible job. The
paint and Bodywork are better than new.
This was no easy feat. I'd originally
taken it to another shop in Longview. After six months of very
little progress they quietly went bankrupt. The Telecruiser was
locked up inside their building, but I couldn't get it out. This
turn of events had all the makings of a huge disaster. Luckily,
their landlord turned out to be a nice guy and drove up from Houston one
Saturday morning to allow me to drive the bus out of his building.
Whew! I had it flat-bedded back to my garage and searched for a
new body shop.
My friend, Bill Fishburn came to the rescue.
Bill is an "Old Car Guy," so he understood the importance of the
project. At first, he was a bit reluctant to take on the job, but
he quickly became very enthusiastic about the project.
In mid March of 2012, we got the Telecruiser
back in my shop. A great deal has been done since its
return. All the lights are in place, it has been hand lettered,
chrome has been installed, a new roof deck is now in place and we are
currently working on the interior. Equipment racks are in place,
and the Directors desk and Audio Engineer's desk are in the process of
I hope to post new pictures shortly.
1949 DuMont Telecruiser, Model B,
Another surviving Telecruiser has
This one is outside the Channel 8 Studios
in Bogata, Colombia.
For more pictures visit our
Recently, our long time web hosting
company. Melbourne IT migrated this and our other web sites to
their new "Cloud Server." That sounds nice, but since that
time (Just before Christmas 2014) nothing has worked right and
I've been unable to log in to edit the sites. I've finally
moved everything to a different hosting company. It seems talking
to Melbourne IT (one of the worlds largest hosting companies) is
totally useless. They have been about
as much help as a pot hole in the middle of a busy highway.
If you have a choice in web hosting, I recommend that you use
anybody but Melbourne IT.
Meanwhile I'm trying to piece the sites
back together. Moving them to a new server makes a lot of the
links for various pictures fail to work. If you see a dead
link, please let me know and I'll try to fix it as soon as time
will allow. Please have patience though, this is a hobby.
Thanks for understanding.
Interior shots are now here!
To Come On In!
The restoration is making
progress, even if it has taken a lot longer than I ever
imagined. I'm now nine years into the project, and counting....
Decked out in its original color
scheme and lettering as it was delivered by DuMont Labs to
WFAA was originally called "KBTV."
Ready to roll! At
least sort of.... It is a real "exercise" to drive in the
100 degree Texas heat, but it starts right up and runs fine.
The ladder allows access to the
roof deck. Elsewhere on this web site, you'll find
pictures with cameras and a microwave dish on the top. The
ladder is how you got that very heavy stuff up there!
The paint and body work was done
by our friends at Fishburn Auto Body in White Oak, Texas.
Hand lettered signs were done by Bella Mia, Longview, Texas.
Here is what it looked like when
I found it....
This is the way I got it. It had
been sitting in a vacant lot in Dallas for years. The Telecruiser
was originally purchased by Kilgore oilman, Tom Potter, who put Dallas'
original Channel 8 on the air in 1949. At the time it was called KBTV and had studios and transmitter located at 3000 Harry Hines Blvd.
in Dallas. The story goes that Potter spent over a million and a
half 1949 dollars getting the station on the air. A year later, he
sold it to the Dallas Morning News (A. H. Belo) for a mere $100,000.
I guess he thought this "radio with pictures" stuff would never amount
The original KBTV building still
exists today. It is occupied by KERA-TV, the PBS station in
I'm now working on the interior
A pair of Conrac
Monitors are resurrected for use in the Telecruiser. There
will be seven monitors when I'm finished.
Here is a Dumont
Camera actually making a picture. When we removed the
multiple coats of paint, it said "KBTV" in the side. That
is what Channel 8 was originally called. As far as we can
tell, the station signed on with five of these cameras, three in
the Telecruiser and two in the studio. This is
one of them. Because early TV equipment was prone to
occasional failure, it was common practice to swap out a working
a camera from the Telecruiser for one in the studio. When
the brokwen camera was repaired, it was usually put back in the
bus, so it is quite likely that this camera actually saw duty on
It is hard to see in this shot, but the is a
picture on the viewfinder.
It doesn't look
like much in this picture, but here is the interior before equipment
was installed. The audio console sat on the left while the video switcher sat on
the right. The green and
gray panel on the right is the power distribution panel.
"Driving Miss Daisy...."
Driving the Telecruiser takes a lot of muscle
power. There is no power anything.... Steering is the
brute force "Armstrong Method," with a huge steering wheel that Ralph Kramden would have been
familiar with. The four speed manual transmission has no
synchronizers, so double clutching is a necessity. In fact, just
figuring out what gear you are in is somewhat of a leap of faith.
With more than 25 feet of linkage, between your hand and the
transmission, you tend to revert to "The Biblical Method" of shifting.
Seek, and ye shall find. If you don't find it, you
get to listen to gears gnashing against each other. The bus has
air brakes, which does make it stop fairly well. The down side of
that plan is early air brakes stopped working if you lost air pressure.
Break the belt that runs the air compressor, and you have no brakes. That
isn't very convenient at highway speeds.... Not that this bus can
really keep up on the highway. 50-55 mph is about it.
On location at Burnett Field in Dallas, Texas
about 1952 for a baseball game.
This picture was scanned from original DuMont
literature. It is the same unit we are restoring.
You can see this and other pictures by clicking on the TA-142 Camera
This TV Mobile unit was originally built for Channel 8
in Dallas, Texas by Allen B. DuMont Labs in Passaic, New Jersey. (Parent
company of The DuMont Network). It was featured in DuMont's 1949
Broadcast Equipment catalog.
Click Here to see more archival pictures
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