The DuMont Telecruiser


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Click to send Chuck Conrad an email


Phone 903-643-7711

Or by Snail Mail:

Chuck Conrad
P.O. Box 1008
Kilgore, TX 75663


Credit Where Credit is Due...

This hasn't been a single handed project. 


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, TX.
(903) 759-7339

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 almost seven 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 being installed.  It won't be long before I start to install some vintage TV and audio equipment.

I hope to post new pictures shortly.

Stay tuned!

 

1949 DuMont Telecruiser, Model B, Number 101


New interior shots are now here!

Click 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 seven years into the project, and counting....

Decked out in its original color scheme and lettering as it was delivered by DuMont Labs to Channel 8

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 to anything.

The original KBTV building still exists today.  It is occupied by KERA-TV, the PBS station in  Dallas. 


I'm now working on the interior and electronics...

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 appears to be one of them.  It may have even seen duty on the bus. 

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 the interior is making progress.  The audio console sat on the left while the video switcher sat on the right.  Three equipment racks are now in place for monitors and other equipment.  The green and gray panel on the right is the power distribution panel. It won't be too long before I start installing actual working equipment!


"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 link (above)


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).  


Click Here to see more archival pictures

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