All effective communications is line of sight.
Reliable reception depends on current weather and solar conditions, along with time of day and time of year.
All AM HF communications is affected by lightning - since there is always a lightning storm somewhere.
A 104 inch whip is a unbalanced load - in order to be effective on 11 meters - you need to get the antenna at least 36’ off the ground and at least a dipole antenna - 1/2 wave length in size… Preferably a beam type antenna.
In the old days - it was a target rich enviroment - where everyone had one and everyone used one. Hence your basic communications was not 1000’s of miles but just a couple of miles.
Rag chewers, old washer women, little kids - all polluted the airwaves.
The radio equipment was basically crystal controlled and 23 channels.
As long as everyone was on a equal playing field, everyone using a legal 4 watt AM / 12 watt PEP SSB transceiver - it was possible to carry on global communications on a almost daily basis back around 1966…
It was nothing to talk to someone in Australia in the morning or someone in California or Oregon in the afternoon. England was only 3000 miles away, and it wasn’t hard to talk across the pond.
As more and more units were produced, and people made a living souping them up, it became harder and harder to talk.
About 1972 - I can remember when the first Yaesu FT 101’s came out.
Soon after, the death knoll rang for 11 meters…
When a person could use 25 watts AM or 100 watts SSB and could modify or buy a used tube type 1000 watt amplifier - it became such a power struggle that most people like me just gave up and turned it off by 1980.
When the cheap Japanese stuff came out in 1973 - the quality equipment all dissappeared and the companies went out of buisness.
Regency, Browning, Tram, Pace - nothing but a memory…
How can you make it reach out?
Find yourself a Long John Beam antenna - it made a 12 watt signal appear as a couple of hundred watts perceived to the other persons receive.
And, it listens better then a vertical or a dipole antenna - because it has rejection in one or more directions.
Second antenna is a PDL or a Moon Raker IV
Third choice antenna would be a dual 6 Hy Gain antenna…
Using really good coax - LMR 400 or Belden 9913 is a must!