TREC OB Trucks Part 2

Derek Smith followed up his earlier posting on our Facebook group with more details of the Marconi truck and a question about TVI…

This is one of those ‘what happened to’ posts plus a little trip (for me) down memory lane.

The first pictures were taken during my time with TREC Consultants. I had been part of a group keeping the London cable TV station in Greenwich going when I was asked to join TREC as a cameraman / editor – we had to be a bit flexible in facilities in those days!

We were recording to and editing in ordinary low band umatic, but the real point of this waffle is the MCR that Alan English had acquired. I don’t know where he got it from but it had been originally supplied, so I was told, to ABC TV by Marconi in 1955 as a 3 camera unit, registration SUU483. Access to the mixing desk was via a rear door and on the interior wall alongside it was a Marconi makers plate. It had long since lost it nice ABC livery and was now (1978) painted all over silver, hence the ‘silver bullet’ nick name.

All of the original equipment had been removed and it was now fitted with 3 Shibaden FPC1000 cameras, a small sound desk, a vision mixing desk of unknown origin all the associated monitors, racks etc., so it was very much like a proper one.

The Silver Bullet parked outside the Midland Hotel in Manchester where we were recording a series of programmes for a steel stockholder (life was one mad whirl of exotic locations).
The racks area in the Shibaden days. The three CCUs are on the left hand side. Where would we have been without Dexion?

TREC was one of those small facilities companies with expectations of grandeur which never materialised. This was partly due to the strange choice of equipment. It was decided that what we really needed was to uprate the cameras – the choice fell between the IVC 7000P or these strange EMI 2008, which were really a badge engineered version of the CIE 300 series. They were problematic from the very start with the engineer from EMI spending more time in our scanner than at his office. The Shibadens and their associated control equipment had been relegated to the storeroom and the racks modified in the MCR to take the new CCUs.

Me in my (much) younger days alongside the Silver Bullet with one of the accursed 2008s. I seem to remember this was one of a series of publicity shots. The boss had a plan to acquire the Eltham Little Theatre and turn it in to a TV studio and theatre – yet something else that never got beyond the planning stage. If it had happened then the whole operation would have moved from our base in Welling to Eltham.

It was then decided to replace the umatics with something more suitable but did we go for a nice C Type machine from Ampex or Sony – no, the powers that be settled on a B type from Bosch. These were beautifully engineered machines with great picture quality, but I don’t think anyone in England other than us were using them and they certainly weren’t portable.

This lack of space in the MCR led to the Silver Bullet being stripped and presented to the Science Museum where it languishes to this day at Wroughton. I remember myself and our rigger/driver driving up there with it, and I was sad to see it go. If time and money were no object it would certainly make a nice restoration project for someone. The van was replaced by the larger MCR that I posted about before – but as I found all too often in the world of facilities nothing really did last forever.

Finally, a question. I’ve included this photo as the transit contains one of the BCN recorders and two frozen engineers. For some reason TVI wanted to record a conference they were covering for the engineering company Babcock & Wilcox on to 1″ B format and we were given the job.

This is the question bit – does anyone know what happened to TVI and the rather lovely scanner in the picture below? I looked on the DVLA site and the registration JWW200P has no information.

For some reason TVI wanted to record a conference they were covering for the engineering company Babcock & Wilcox on to 1″ B format and we were given the job.