Transfer Register

Back in 2003 I was hired to record several late 19th century and early 20th century trolleys out in Connecticut for a Smithsonian exhibit on public transportation.   When I arrived, I thought  I was in the wrong place because the museum was at the end of a suburban street and it wasn’t until I saw the Trolley tracks in back that I knew I was in the right place.   The museum is essentially a station house with a few garages that house all of the trolleys.  I met two jovial museum directors in the morning and they were anxious to get out and drive.

After a long day of recording trolly pass-bys, bell dings, door closes, and on-board movement, I was invited to check out some the other trolleys that were parked in the garages along side the tracks.  There were several other trolleys being resotored inside and one of the guys asked me if I ever heard a transfer register before.  I said, “no” and boy was I glad I did.  It sounds pretty awesome.  Trolley operators used to ring them to acknowledge  a transfer fare; they sort of look like little cash registers.

This was recorded with my Schoeps MS rig with an MK4 as the mid.  It was also recorded before the 744T was in my hands, and I was still running around with a Tascam DA-P1.  I used a Sound Devices MP-2 as a front end because the Tascam sounded like shit.  The batteries on that recorder were also damn awful, which meant I had to run around with these small lead acid batteries on my belt, but it got the job done!

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Michael Raphael March 31, 2009