"Father I have sinned", No.2 (I MUST get this cleared from my conscience!!)

22nd November 2007, 22:37
Makrana, Calcutta 1963. Lots of leaking glands etc. etc.
A monster shut-down was decided on and I was tasked with starting the Ruston, just prior to the running Ashworth & Parker generator being shut-down, followed by the donkey-boiler.
The shut-down was proceeding nicely when the tal-walla approached me and said, "Char-sahib! Batti-engine bot gurrum!"
I ran round to the Ruston and, sure enough, it was fit to fry eggs on! "What the--------?" was my immediate thought and then I remembered! The water-pump gland had a steady leak on it and it had become part of watch/day-work procedure to check that the header-tank, for the jacket-water, was full and, if not, to top it up.
I had forgotten to check it was full before starting the engine!
There was a very simple alarm-panel on the engine which went into alarm for two things only, high water temperature and/or low oil-pressure.
As part of the start-up procedure the engineer who started the Ruston, and after it was settled-down, would switch this alarm ON.
In addition to my not checking the header-tank I had also omitted switching the alarm on!
The engine was extremely hot so I shouted-out that I was shutting it down because of this fact and did so immediately!
Realising I had made two massive blunders in not checking the tank, or switching the alarm on, brought-out the cunning all of us (well ME certainly!!!) possess in times of guilt such as this!!!!
Thinking very rapidly I opened the door on the alarm-panel, removed and broke the small glass fuse for the klaxon, replaced the broken fuse and switched the alarm "on".
The engine-room went from a reasonably comfortable working environment, with vent fans running, to "Hot as Hades" in no time at all!!!
The shut-down proceeded under torch-light and tal-batti's, much to all our discomfort.
Jim Robertson (Chief Electrician) meanwhile had checked the alarm-panel, found the broken fuse and told Pat he was somewhat puzzled by this as the alarm-panel was rubber-mounted and, therefore, the fuse should have been protected from any vibrations by this rubber-mounting.
Pat took me to one side and asked me to tell him, truthfully, if I had definitely (a) checked the header-tank, before start-up, and (b) switched the alarm on after starting the Ruston.
Naturally I said, "Yes!" then came out with some spurious long-winded explanation (a sure sign of guilt!!!!) as to why I remembered so vividly carrying-out both tasks!
The Ruston eventually cooled-down sufficiently to be re-started, the shut-down was finished (under much better conditions once we had electrical-power available for lights and fans!!) the donkey-boiler was flashed-up and brought up to full-pressure, Ashworth & Parker "genny" fired-up and put on-line. The Ruston was shut-down and we all went and had a few ales.
I was deeply-troubled by my dishonesty and eventually went to see the Chief, Dougie Ruddick ("The Duke of Bootle") to confess all.
I was convinced I would be paid-off and flown home, in disgrace, and never be allowed to go to sea again and was nearly in tears as I told him exactly what I had done.
He obviously realised I was genuinely remorseful and, to his great credit, he never tore me off a strip, or even rebuked me in any way, only saying that he was very pleased that I'd had the guts to confirm what he, and Pat, were fairly confident they knew already and that I'd learned that honesty was the best policy!!!
The only puzzle to them, apparently, was the broken fuse!!!!
He said he would have a word with Pat but, as far as he was concerned, the matter was closed.
So here I am 44 years later baring my soul (once again!!!) so that should any of my ex-shipmates still be having sleepless nights, as they try puzzle-out why that alarm didn't work, then they needn't any longer!!!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

Stuart Smith
23rd November 2007, 10:51
Great confession and story. I give you my absolution.

Jim S
23rd November 2007, 16:57
I take it "Pat" in your story was Pat McCartan. - I spoke to him on the phone a couple of months ago but not to worry your secret and confession is safe with me. - Well for the present time, but who knows.

Good story - You should take up short story telling.

Jim S

23rd November 2007, 22:01
Jim! I've re-read my "All our Yesterdays" yarn and realised that I didn't identify who "Pat" was! Of course you're right and it is Pat Mc Cartan who was 2/E. Next time you speak to him could you please pass on my burra salaams!! Excellent bloke and a fine Engineer! If memory serves me correctly I think he was one of the youngest blokes, ever, to get either his Chief's or Extra-Chief's ticket! Many thanks re. complimenting me on my story-telling! I've often thought about writing a book, to be quite honest, about life on a steam-ship as, once we steam-men have gone, there will be no-one to tell the tales about what it was like on these vessels from an Engineers point-of-view. However, like everything else, the idea gets put on the back-burner! But, hey! who knows I just might get stuck into it now I've got some encouragement from you!!!! Salaams! Phil (The future Enid Blyton!)(Hippy) P.S. I posted a photo in "Members Faces" on August 15th. and Pat is on it. If you type Pat O'Briens into the search box it will come up. Phil

Keltic Star
24th November 2007, 05:49
Don't worry Phil the statute of limitations has long passed. Great story though.

24th November 2007, 15:42
Hi Philthechill ,

I even feel better myself after reading that piece of ''Poetry''

Good on You.