BADXers! Some pix from my visit to the...

New England Museum of Wireless and Steam

E Greenwich RI

2 August 2003

Click on each picture for a larger image, then use your "back" key to return to this page.

And from 29 September 2018:

  A 4-minute video of the museum, featuring  lots of running steam engines, and a couple spark transmitters at this link:

4-min Video of "Yankee Steam-Up" 29 Sept 2018

Gary Thorburn


A Welcoming Image greets you at the top of the stairs in the Massie shack!
This musuem is compact and unpretentious, but its packed full of fine specimens. It's definitely worth a visit. But they are only open to the public twice a year, or by appointment for groups. Check them out at
Here's Robert W Merriam, the director of the museum, demonstrating a static electricity generator, and telling about Benjamin Franklin's contributions to our understanding of electricity.
There are some fine early Atwater Kents...
...and transmitters from the same era or even earlier. This looks like a shipboard spark station. See if you can identify the function of everything in this station.
Futility is hunting for these treasures at yard sales.
This building houses Massie radio station "PJ", rescued from Point Judith RI, its original location. I believe Massie was a competitor to Marconi, who had a fine network of commercial maritime stations, but forced to shut them down after losing a patent dispute with Marconi.
The working position inside the Massie shack. Check out the massive key! 'Wonder how much juice it switched? The rack at the lower left of the photo is a large glass plate capacitor.
I went primarily to see the radio stuff, and we'll get back to the radios. But at least half of the museum is devoted to working specimens of stationary steam engines. They are housed in a specially constructed building with a steam manifold under the floor to feed the engines. Most if not all engines are beautifully restored and in working order. You are viewing the building's window thorough a massive flywheel. Several of these were started up. An operating steam engine whispers softly with elegant, smooth power unmatched by any 21st century machine.
Here's the wood-fired boiler which feeds steam to the manifold to drive the engines. It takes truly dedicated volunteers to keep this fired up on a hot, sticky August day.
I suppose steam engines are "external combustion" engines.
This engine was originally used to power electric street lamps in Hartford CT. It still drives its generator. Everything you see is functional; not much superfluous safety equipment here. When it had smoothly reached operating speed, Mr Merriam threw a shining greased copper knife switch, and the lights in this building came to life.
Now back to the radios.
Who said Hitler had no heart? He gave these to his troops!
Major Edwin Armstrong, tragic hero of so much radio innovation, owned this 2-way hi-fi speaker. I'd love to have heard his early FM broadcasts thru this baby. I found the display case of Armstrong memorabilia and artifacts especially interesting.
Finally, an exhibit of early, spinning-disk TVs. Sadly, probably not in working condition.

Hope you enjoyed your virtual visit to the New England Wireless and Steam Museum. Plan to do it in person, there is much, much more to see.