Stokers & trimmers

thunderd
24th May 2005, 01:05
Last night whilst browsing on the net I came across a couple of brief articles on stokers and trimmers, they were mainly about people on warships but I would imagine they would operate similarly on merchant ships.

I never sailed on a ship that burned coal so I've had no experience but I doubt I could imagine a less glamorous job. Imagine during the war on a stormy Atlantic convoy, in the bowells of a defenceless merchant ship, the heat and dust and the expectancy of a torpedo coming through the side at any moment. That and a world without rum would have to be my vision of hell.

They must have been very strong physically and mentally. I would like to read more about these men can anybody steer me to a web site where I can learn more about them.

thunderd
24th May 2005, 01:40
Apparently they were also known as the black hole gang, many thanks for the reference Zelda

thunderd
24th May 2005, 03:14
Exactly as I'd imagined the conditions, what a wonderful description, you could almost see the picture.

Doug Rogers
24th May 2005, 04:00
And which reminds me of the song "A'firing the Mauretania" which says it all about the black gang down below..certainly very tough individuals in every respect to have stood the rigours of the job.

thunderd
24th May 2005, 05:56
Don't know the song Doug could you hum it for me please?

Doug Rogers
24th May 2005, 06:48
Did you catch it Derek??

Guest
24th May 2005, 07:59
You could read 'The Death Ship' by Ben Traven. It was written in 1926. Forget the Boy's Own" , ring to the title, originally written in German, it is recognised as a classic.

Dave

Burwah
24th May 2005, 11:50
There were still a few coal burning ships on the Oz Coast in the early 60's. One, the SS Balarr was owned by Australian Steamships Pty. It was one of the River Class built at Whyalla after the war.
It had two B&W water tube boilers with mechanical stokers so firing these boilers was a far cry from the days of hand firing the old Scotch boilers. There was a hopper at the front of the boiler which was topped up as required, generally at the rate of 5 mins shovelling every 20 mins. There were three firemen to a watch, one man to each boiler and the third worked in the bunker as a trimmer. They rotated their duties around between watches so that each man had a turn in the bunker. The bunker was filled in Sydney at the beginning of each trip and was sufficient for a return trip to Fremantle so there was no trimming required for probably about half the voyage anyway. At the end of the watch the ashes were raked out at the back of the boiler and were left cool down ready for the next watch to shovel them into a hopper where a high pressure jet of water discharged them overboard through a pipe.
The boilers were not very big and the boiler room rather spacious so it was a relatively cool working area. It was what some may describe as being an "old man's home".
By 1962 steam ships were becoming rare and to find a coal burner was even rarer. She had a triple expansion engine with a Baurwach exhaust turbine.
I spent 8 months on her as 4th Eng. getting steam time in for an endorsement on my ticket.
At that time I think BHP still had two of this class, the Iron Duke and the Iron King.
Before I left I took some 8mm movie of the engine room and stokehold and the National Maritime Museum in Sydney have a copy of it for anyone that is interested.
I hope this adds a little more information to the Stokers and Trimmers topic.

Regards,

Sid.

thunderd
24th May 2005, 13:29
Sid thanks for the great description I am slowly starting to build a picture in my head about these guys and the job they did. Thanks also to the people who recommended some books. As I said in my original post they didn't have the most glamorous job on the ship but I have a feeling in my bones there are some very good tales lurking in their history and I intend to pursue it further.

John Rogers
24th May 2005, 19:43
I served as a Fireman/Trimmer when I first went deep sea,then when most of the coal burners converted to oil we became Firemen/water tenders(keeping an eye on the water glass on the steam boilers). The trimmer job was to bring the coal from the inside of the bunker (Hold) and dump it on the deck plates for the fireman to shovel into the fire. Most of the cargo ships I was on had three boilers with three fires to a boiler. A couple of old ships I sailed on (Banana Boats) had 24 fires back-to-back we called them ocean going coal mines. We did receive an extra tot of rum from the chief, and we were known as the Black Gang. If you need any more info on coal burners just send me a email or a post.
John Rogers. (Cloud) Coal dust.

thunderd
24th May 2005, 23:56
Interesting looking notice board in the background Dave. The heading is Honour roll and then what look like colours as sub headings, any idea what it all meant?

John Rogers
25th May 2005, 00:52
I just read the poem that Zeewestie posted, its right on the mark.
Every Fireman did his time in hell working as a trimmer before he was promoted to Fireman. Inside that coal bunker you had a couple of three bulb light clusters to light your way, a wheel barrow and a very large shovel.all you could see were the other Trimmers white eye balls. The thing was the longer the voyage the further one had to go into the bunker to wheel out the coal.

Stuart Smith
25th May 2005, 09:18
Here's a nice photo from Daveinnols's gallery. I use this as a background photo. It pixilates a bit but I like the atmosphere.

thunderd
25th May 2005, 10:35
It only needs one of these gents to have horns on and that would be the perfect picture of hell. (K)

trotterdotpom
27th May 2005, 01:28
Hi Derek,

The steam tug Forceful at the Queensland Maritime Museum runs trips into Moreton Bay several times a year. She is manned by volunteers and stokers are always required.

I was lured into doing a trip a few years ago in an attempt to get a free trip for my son (about 11 at the time). I spent a day on board getting up steam and learning the ropes, then the following day doing the trip. Yes, it was murder, but my son, who I ended up paying for, thought it was hilarious watching me through the skylight! When I surfaced in the Bay, most of the BBQ had been eaten too. Despite all that, it was a great day and gave me renewed respect for the stokers of old.

The tug, 115 ft and 288 grt, was built in Glasgow in 1925. I sailed with a BHP Chief Engineer who's father was Chief Engineer on the voyage out to Australia, apparently the trip took about 6 months (via various coal bunkering ports). During the war she spent time as HMAS Forceful and was still working in the Brisbane River until about 1970. Full info and photos are on the museum's website www.qmma.ecn.net.au

So, Derek, if you live near Brisbane and you're feeling fit, here's a chance to live the stoker experience.

Thanks to Dave M for reminding me about the great book "Death Ship" by B Traven. The author was such an enigma, no-one even knows what the "B" stands for or what country he was from. I read the book as a teenager and despite the privations it described, it was one of the things that drew me to a seagoing life. I must try and get a copy and read it again.

John T.

thunderd
27th May 2005, 02:32
Thanks for that John. Prior to moving down to Tassie 18 months ago I lived in Brisbane for about 16 years. Many times as I drove around I saw the old tug and also the warship they have there. I always meant to do the trip you described but never got round to it. Your great story now makes me deeply regret that I never did it.

trotterdotpom
13th June 2005, 14:32
Thanks for that John. Prior to moving down to Tassie 18 months ago I lived in Brisbane for about 16 years. Many times as I drove around I saw the old tug and also the warship they have there. I always meant to do the trip you described but never got round to it. Your great story now makes me deeply regret that I never did it.

Derek,

The warship in the old drydock you mention is HMAS Diamantina. At the end of World War 2, the Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands signed the surrender documents on board the ship and copies are posted on her. Well worth a visit.

A few weeks ago, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman, took a swim in the dry dock (which is leaking and not as dry as it's supposed to be). It was some sort of publicity stunt, but he decamped fairly quickly when it was pointed out that there are also sharks swimming around in there!

John T.

thunderd
14th June 2005, 01:41
Well John its good to see a politician joining all the other sharks????

tell
15th June 2005, 01:23
sometimes in the shipping pool in Liverpool there would be a mass rush for the door out of the place , everyone knew it was the Chiripo looking for firemen, she was a skin boat and had 32 fires back to back they tell me

thunderd
15th June 2005, 11:19
Tell forgive my ignorance but what's a skin boat? Also how many stokers and trimmers would 32 fires need on a watch/shift?

John Rogers
15th June 2005, 11:49
When I sailed on Fyffes Banana Boats we called them Skin Boats.(Banana Skins)
I sailed on three of their ships the Cavina, Bayano,and the Ariguani they were built around 1921-1923 and they all had 24 fires. We had one Fireman per six fires and four Trimmers servicing the Firemen for a total of eight per watch. On the Cargo ships we had nine fires for three boilers,two Firemen and two trimmers per watch. The Skin boats were also called Plum boats by some people. (Fruit)

Guest
15th June 2005, 13:01
When I sailed on Fyffes Banana Boats we called them Skin Boats.(Banana Skins)


And I'll tactfully avoid being deleted from the thread by not repeating what we used to call passenger ships.

John Rogers
15th June 2005, 18:32
Come on Dave you are among shipmates. I heard them referred to has "Bloods" when they are about to give a tip for service.

thunderd
16th June 2005, 08:34
When I sailed on Fyffes Banana Boats we called them Skin Boats.(Banana Skins)
I sailed on three of their ships the Cavina, Bayano,and the Ariguani they were built around 1921-1923 and they all had 24 fires. We had one Fireman per six fires and four Trimmers servicing the Firemen for a total of eight per watch. On the Cargo ships we had nine fires for three boilers,two Firemen and two trimmers per watch. The Skin boats were also called Plum boats by some people. (Fruit)
Many thanks for the answers to both my questions John.

John Rogers
16th June 2005, 12:20
You are welcome.
John.

John Rogers
18th June 2005, 15:08
Derek,I was just looking at my old Seaman Record book and I see that I sailed on another Skin Boat, the S.S. Corrales as a Greaser,made two voyages in her,glad to say I was not shoveling coal at that time. Greaser!! isn't that a terrible title for a rating,did they ever change it?? I believe Americans called them Oilers.

thunderd
19th June 2005, 00:12
Derek,I was just looking at my old Seaman Record book and I see that I sailed on another Skin Boat, the S.S. Corrales as a Greaser,made two voyages in her,glad to say I was not shoveling coal at that time. Greaser!! isn't that a terrible title for a rating,did they ever change it?? I believe Americans called them Oilers.

Funny you should say that John, I also had an unusual memory flash and looked up my record book, I did one trip on a banana boat and can't for the life of me remember whether it was the Matina or Andalusian, I also think it was an Ellerman and Papyanni boat. We called them banana boats (never heard the word skin) it was at a time when everyone down that way used to walk around strumming ukeleles.

Tell me if I'm right but I have a vague memory of having to go down into the holds to get rid of any bananas that were getting too ripe, which makes me think the ship was not refrigerated.

John Rogers
19th June 2005, 13:28
You could be right Derek about the lack of refrigeration on the old banana boats as I cant remember any refrigeration ratings on board, when we arrived at Avonmouth we had loads of yellow bananas that were thrown away. Our regular run was a 4-5 week voyage from Avonmouth to Jamaica and return,we also carried about a 100 passengers. One time we went down to Tico West Africa for a load,first time for Elder&Fyffes, I was told it was the last one as it didn't make any money for them,bananas were very small and took for ever to load them after sailing up a very narrow tidal river. I worked in the refer room on one of the port line ships, the cleanest and best job I ever had at sea.

trotterdotpom
19th June 2005, 14:19
I seem to recall that the bananas were kept at a temperature which put them into suspended animation and stopped them ripening without freezing (50 Deg F rings a bell, but is probably wrong). Despite this some of them would still ripen. On Fyffe's "Morant" we went to Latakia,Syria, and the dockers were told they could have the yellow bananas. After biting through the skins, they appeared to wonder what all the fuss was about!

On "Geeststar" we were given a box of bananas to pay off with. I dragged this box which was bigger than my suitcase down the gangway at Barry. The taxi to Cardiff broke down, I dragged it to the roadside and hitched a lift. At the station I humped it onto the train, then on and off again on a few changes of train to Middlesbrough. I finally got it home and the green bananas were distributed round the airing cupboard and numerous drawers all over the house. This was the prescribed method of ripening. I'm sure bananas were still turning up ten years later!

I now live in Queensland, Australia, where we are known throughout the country as "banana-benders". I never want to see another bloody banana as long as I live!

John T.

John Rogers
19th June 2005, 15:29
For Banana Lovers, And Non Banana Lovers, A little history:

The importing of bananas was firmly established at Avonmouth in 1901 when the very first shipment to arrive in Britain came into Avonmouth Dock. The fleet of Elder&Fyffes ships was held in high regard by the Avonmouth and Bristol Dockers, who dubbed them “Plum Boats” meaning a plum-of -a-job which gave them at least three days of guaranteed work, an important factor during the depression years of the 1930s
Of the Fyffe’s fleet of twenty-one ships in 1939,fourteen were lost with many of the crew- sunk by enemy action.
With the loss of so many banana ships the Government in November 1940 declared bananas a luxury fruit, and the trade was suspended for the duration of the war.
As soon as the war was over Fyffe’s lost no time in returning to the banana trade. History was made on Sunday 30th of December 1945 when the Tilapa in her new white paint bringing to Britain the first consignment of bananas into Avonmouth following the war.
At first bananas were on point rationing for sale to under 18 year olds only. It was the first time that children under five had seen bananas, although they may have partaken of mash parsnips flavored with banana essence in sandwiches, served as a substitute for the real thing during the war.

The S.S.Bayano record is unequalled by any other Fyffe’s line ship, in her thirty-eight years the Bayano completed 280 voyages. And delivered to Britain some 3,000,000,000 bananas before being sold to the breakers in 1956.

She was also known as “Lucky Bayano” built in 1917 (6,815 g.r.t.) served in two wars, in 1940-1945 made over 40 voyages across the North Atlantic, to be in a convoy with her was regarded a good omen for a safe voyage.

Data extracted from the book “War Story” by Ethel Thomas

Guest
19th June 2005, 18:30
As one who has never been embarrassed about looking a fool, can I ask 'What about the snakes?"

When I was a kid in Manchester, we were forever hearing tales of the deadly fer de lance than came over on the banana boats with the specific intention of threatening the entire population of Trafford Park and getting the dock workers the rest of the day off.

Surely you knew this when you were wandering round the hold contemplating the hue of the surrounding bananas?

DaveM :)

John Rogers
19th June 2005, 19:44
Dave,never saw a snake in with the bananas,we did find big spiders,some of the guys would pick them up and put them in a match box to save them, and these were the swan match boxes if you can remember them. (Getting the day off with pay) Rumors of snakes started by the dockers I bet. JR

thunderd
20th June 2005, 00:16
As one who has never been embarrassed about looking a fool, can I ask 'What about the snakes?"

When I was a kid in Manchester, we were forever hearing tales of the deadly fer de lance than came over on the banana boats with the specific intention of threatening the entire population of Trafford Park and getting the dock workers the rest of the day off.

Surely you knew this when you were wandering round the hold contemplating the hue of the surrounding bananas?

DaveM :)

You are right about the snakes Dave and the spiders were horrendous I remember we used to go down the hold with flash lights and you would see pairs of eyes that seemed to be 6 inches apart glaring at you, I am not ashamed to admit it used to be my worst nightmare I don't think I got one good night's sleep on that trip.

janbonde
20th June 2005, 20:46
Had a friend who came to sea as a fireman,it seemed to be where a lot of guys who wanted to go to sea after their national sevice and had been soldiers, but having no sea time to qualify for the deck went to this dept.Part of his training was tossing gravel through hoops or barrels i do not know for sure which but it was basic.then on to the Empress boats at Liverpool to break him in,that was the mid fifties

Guest
20th June 2005, 23:37
You are right about the snakes Dave and the spiders were horrendous I remember we used to go down the hold with flash lights and you would see pairs of eyes that seemed to be 6 inches apart glaring at you, I am not ashamed to admit it used to be my worst nightmare I don't think I got one good night's sleep on that trip.

Ugh! Thanks Derek, but I think I was happier with John Roger's answer. I'd have had the creeps thinking that lot was wandering around the ship. :sweat:

Dave

thunderd
21st June 2005, 00:07
Ugh! Thanks Derek, but I think I was happier with John Roger's answer. I'd have had the creeps thinking that lot was wandering around the ship. :sweat:

Dave
That was one of my only 2 bad trips, the other one was on a coastal tanker the BP Rover, sitting on a few thousand tons of aviation fuel , I vowed never to sail on a tanker again.

James_C
21st June 2005, 00:39
Ach ya old wumman Derek.
Thon Aviation Spirit is great stuff for lighting the Poop deck BBQ, and if you get a whiff of it, well, who needs beer eh?


LOL


Lately, I've been reading 'Dinosaur Down Below' by the late Iain Muir (ex C/E of the Waverley).
On the subject of tankermen, he writes (in 1980):

"Tankermen are a race apart, you DO have to be mad to work them. That may seem like a glib statement, but when one looks back just a few months to the searing holocaust that engulfed men, ship, installation and locality at Whiddy Island, Bantry Bay and realises that this fate could overtake most of such ships at many points in their career, the measure of the job can be gauged.
Even with today's new safeguards, it is no sinecure. It is either for the daft or the dedicated"

(Hippy)

tell
21st June 2005, 01:51
I was on a Tanker called the Avon Venturer(the old Cliona), she didn't have Butterworth gear for tank cleaning, we used to go down the Tanks with a steam hose with a wooden nozzle, when the Bosun heard you singing Nellie Dean he'd order you up out of the tank, good thing was tho' you always got a glass of rum off the skipper for doing it

John Rogers
21st June 2005, 01:57
One time while on the Esso Saranac we were carrying a load of aviation fuel and when we were entering the lock gates in Avonmouth the guy on the wheel or the pilot did a bad job of bringing her in and we scraped the sea-wall and made a few sparks,I can tell you there was some tight A...H....for a moment and the people standing on the side of the lock moved away very fast.

Guest
21st June 2005, 08:07
[QUOTE=James_C]
"Tankermen are a race apart, you DO have to be mad to work them. QUOTE]

Yeah well, of course I know that now. BUT at the age of twenty it seemed to me that anything carrying 30,000 tons of oil had to be the safest bet in town and anyone who shipped on an ore carrier had to be really daft.

Everyone knows oil floats to the top, so how could one of them sink ? Ore carriers - GLUG - Gone!

DUH!

Dave (Thumb)

thunderd
21st June 2005, 11:08
I'll probably be shot down for this one but in the media there seem to be more reports of dry cargo ships catching fire than there are tankers, tankers seem more to break their backs after running aground which goes to show tankers are lousy navigators (just kidding)

trotterdotpom
21st June 2005, 12:18
I was on a Tanker called the Avon Venturer(the old Cliona), she didn't have Butterworth gear for tank cleaning, we used to go down the Tanks with a steam hose with a wooden nozzle, when the Bosun heard you singing Nellie Dean he'd order you up out of the tank, good thing was tho' you always got a glass of rum off the skipper for doing it

On Esso Mersey, I seem to recall, a couple of large whiffs of naptha fumes was as good as a couple of stiff rums! Not so good if you liked a smoke with your drink though.

John T.

Guest
21st June 2005, 12:37
I'll probably be shot down for this one but in the media there seem to be more reports of dry cargo ships catching fire than there are tankers, tankers seem more to break their backs after running aground which goes to show tankers are lousy navigators (just kidding)
The only time we came close to running aground was coming through the Dardanelles. They used to have the engine room on stand-by. We were in close company with another of our ships and as we approached the Aegean end and were about to return to normal, the electrician (first trip) switched from the stand-by generators and blacked us out. We went out of command, much to the Old Man's embarrassment, as our other company ship passed us by. I suspect there had been some intention to show her a clean pair of heels.

Irritation turned to more concern as they had trouble getting us up and running again and we were drifting towards the hard stuff.

It was a lovely sunny day and amazingly peaceful when all the noise stopped.

By the time we got under way again, the second mate had reckoned we'd had about an hour left before we heard crunching noises.

I would point out however, that in all that time we had a pretty good idea where we were. (*))

Dave

billyboy
23rd September 2005, 08:23
Started shoveling coal on railway locomotives. when "Beechings" axe fell I went see on cross channel service with ss Londres and ss Brighton. however they were oil fired boilers. the only shoveling i ever did at sea was for two weeks on a paddle steamer called the sussex queen. hot. dirty.tiring experience. oil burners much more fun, till one has to strip off and get the black goo out of the crude filters ... LOL

billyboy
23rd September 2005, 08:45
Cant remember all of this one. maybe some of our black hole members will recall it for me....
The coal was slack and full of slate, thats what stuffed the 4 till 8
8 till 12 were all good men, but they were stuffed by half past 10.
12 till 4 men did thier best, but came up stuffed just like the rest.

anyone know the rest of this ?

neil marsden
28th September 2005, 14:13
Great thread and interesting reading, hope the attachment works but as you'll see we have a three furnace coal fired 'Scotch' boiler. Not quite ready to steam again just yet but if our Heritage Lottery Fund comes good we hope to be back in operation in time for Liverpool's 'Capital of Culture' year in 2008
For more pictures please see our web-site at www.danieladamson.com

Best wishes,

Neil (Daniel Adamson Preservation Society)

PS The image shows our starboard wing furnace 'barred up'

thunderd
29th September 2005, 00:14
Neil could you please tell me what materials were used for lining these furnaces. I would imagine over the years the technology would make available different materials to be used.

neil marsden
29th September 2005, 14:29
Dear Thunderd

In this instance the contruction of the boiler is very similar to those which I encountered on my first trip on Clan Line's 'Clan Maclachlan' (b.1947) albeit in her case thankfully she was oil fired! The current boiler installed in 'Daniel Adamson' was newly installed in 1953 (being the third since built, second replacement circa 1936) and built by Kincaid of Glasgow. The furnaces are of rolled steel which are corrugated along their length, again identical to 'Clan Maclachlan' the corrugations (so I was taught) impart a greater heating surface area while at the same time provide added strength. The combustion chambers are of heavy gauge steel plate, while the fire bars, wing and centre bearer bars are of cast iron. Missing from the photo are the protective firebricks which would be built up to the level of the back plate. This 'refractory' lining was as far as I am aware the standard material used and apparently not improved upon by 'modern' alternatives. I have a book showing engineers re-lining a Victorian navy vessel's boilers with exactly the same materials. We need to identify a supplier of suitable fire bricks as we progress the project, so any suggestions would be most welcome.

Regards

Neil

lakercapt
29th September 2005, 19:58
The first ship I sailed on was Ropners "Firby" and she was a hand bombed coal burner.
Remember it well as it was suggested as an apprentice I should be knowledgeable of all aspects of shipboard duties so spent some time in the stokehold.
There were three scotch boilers each with three furnaces. Three firemen and a trimmer were on each watch. First job each watch was to clean out one furnace which the previous watch had let burn down. Breaak up and clean out clinker which the trimmer helped to dump overboard. There was an ash hoist that worked on the vaccuum created by the condenser. It was impossible at this time to maintain steam pressure of 220lb/in so the ship slowed down. While doing this you still had to keep the other furnaces fired. You them brought up till all the furnaces were glowing and you could have a short break. The trimmer then did his job of keeping us supplied with coal. We used approximately 40 tons per day. The trimmers job was easy for the first few days after bunkering as the coal flowed down hopper but lated on they had to barrow it to the shutes.
No.8 Sydney shovel was the tool we used and each fireman had his own and no one else dared touch it. With dumping ashes after we left port to firing I became accurate at shovelling and even to this day can throw a shovelful within inches to where I want it./
Was good training but was I glad to get back on deck,
As I was fairly small I was sent to speed up the forced draught fan when the engineer wasn't looking. C/E hated that as it increased consumption but made the firemans job easier.

John Rogers
29th September 2005, 20:22
Yes,thats the way it went Capt Bill on the old coal burners,and like you say I am still good with the old banjo (Shovel) but now its snow.
Banjo was the name of the very large shovel that firemen/trimmers called them back in the good old days of ocean going coal mines.
John.

thunderd
29th September 2005, 23:03
Thanks Neil and the others for the great explanations. The men who worked down there must have been a special breed and tough as nails, probably very unlikely you could get someone to do that job nowadays.

fredkinghorn
6th October 2005, 21:10
Sailed on two coal-burners. S.S.Gothland, she ran from Leith to Copenhagen in the 1950's. The S.S. Cairnesk, ran from So. Sheild, Leith to St,. John's N.B. in the winter end Quebec -Montreal in the summer-late 50,s to 60's. I was catering not the "Black Gang".

fred

Kenneth Morley
18th October 2005, 02:19
At 16 I sailed on deck (four masted barque) then down below on the Rarangt rimmer bound for the UK from New Zealand, she was 20 fires. Why did I do it, believe me I learnt the hard way. I did go back on deck finished as AB, however I finished back down below trimmer,fireman,greaser and motorman. The only work on the boilers I did'nt like was cleaning out the back ends after punching tubes, the xtra pound was OK. I spent time on the Aussie Coast Aldinga and Aroona I could bore you all stiff with the past but I won't. Kenneth

thunderd
18th October 2005, 08:25
At 16 I sailed on deck (four masted barque) then down below on the Rarangt rimmer bound for the UK from New Zealand, she was 20 fires. Why did I do it, believe me I learnt the hard way. I did go back on deck finished as AB, however I finished back down below trimmer,fireman,greaser and motorman. The only work on the boilers I did'nt like was cleaning out the back ends after punching tubes, the xtra pound was OK. I spent time on the Aussie Coast Aldinga and Aroona I could bore you all stiff with the past but I won't. Kenneth
Well Kanneth if you're prepared to tell the stories I for one would be delighted to read them so please go ahead and "bore" us.

Derek Roger
8th November 2005, 12:52
Do you remember how much extra speed you got from the Baurwach turbine when it was hooked in ??? Derek

Burwah
10th November 2005, 10:03
Hello Derek,

Sorry I can't tell you what the difference in ship's speed was with the turbine in or out but have some H.P. figures available.

The sea trials were held 18-19 Nov. 1948 and I copied some of the data from the ship's manual which was mainly concerned with engine performance.

On run 7a with the turbine out, the RPM was 83.8, IHP 2764, SHP 2485. Ship's speed not recorded.

On run 8 with the turbine in, RPM was 92, Recip'g IHP 2478, Turbine IHP 1182 making a total of 3660. SHP 3320. Ship's speed 14.85 knots.

I hope the above will be of some interest to you.

If you are really into the technical stuff can I give you the pressures and temperatures, fuel consumption figures, etc. relevant to each run.

Regards,

Sid.

Derek Roger
10th November 2005, 18:57
Thanks Sid;
Approx 10% increase in shaft / propeller rpm would equate to about 10% increase in speed (neglecting the effect of slip )
As you suggest this would only be significant if the fuel consumptions for both runs were about the same .

I understand the Bauerwach Turbine was used with Diesel Powered vessels also ; the steam being generated by an efficient exhaust gas boiler . This was all therefore recovered energy usually lost to the Exhaust .

I seem to recollect that the increase in speed was around 6 % in such cases . I shall have to dig up the old text books ( Mc Gibbons ) which had some detail of the Bauerwauch configuration .
Quite a brilliant idea for the times in my view .
Derek

mick Wright
10th November 2005, 20:35
I was a trimmer on coal burning trawlers out of Grimsby when I was 15 years old,should have been 18,no luxury of a barrow just muscle.
Some pieces of coal were as big as me,I do not know how they got them through the bunkering hole,but the fireman who was the chief or 2nd engineer expected it delivered in nice little pieces.
There were no bathrooms or toilets or these ships all over soft soaping and a kettle on the galley stove.
I wont tell you what we used for toilets until after the 9 pm watershed.

Mick Wright

Kenneth Morley
1st May 2006, 23:06
Help, I am looking for a photo of coolies loading coal I just cannot find it again, help please. Thanks Kenneth

KPC
2nd May 2006, 03:49
When I got away in 1964 many of the Firemen and Greasers wore their Belt buckle on the Hip as opposed to in front as is the norm...reason being that when working the Fires the belt Buckle would get very hot and hence Belt was worn buckle on hip. Many/most/all the Firemen ,Greasers and Motormen were out of coal burners and had come through the war etc.........some VERY interesting personalities were loose and roaming the Decks.....Strange Days indeed.
KPC

Kenneth Morley
3rd May 2006, 03:14
Hi Stuart, The photo of the stoke hole great brings back many memories as trimmer and fireman are there anymore photos in gallery. I did see one of Coolies loading coal but cannot find again. Thanks Kenneth

jock paul
4th May 2006, 20:32
Brings back memories! I sailed on 3 coalburners in the '60s round the Southern African coast and Indian Ocean Islands. Never as fireman, but engineer. Those firemen & trimmers were tough. We had 2 firemen per watch plus 1 trimmer. Each fireman tended a 3 furnace scotch boiler. It was never easy, but with poor quality coal it was hell. All fires had to be "cleaned" at the start of each watch. This involved breaking up any clinker, Using an iron bar called a slice which was about 1 inch diameter and about 7 feet long. At the business end it was tapered like a cold chisel. After the clinker had been raked out of the furnace onto the furnace floor and dowsed with a salt water hose, the rest of the fire was lifted off the fire bars with the slice to allow ash to fall through the grate into the furnace ashpit. Fresh coal was then added to the fires. The ashpits were then raked out ( burning or hot coal left in the ashpits Would "eat" the oxygen in the air which was fed under the grate for combustion before it got to the fires). The ashes were then shovelled into a drum, usually a cut down oil drum and winched up to main deck level, if you were lucky there was a steam powered hoist, if not it was "armstrong gear". From the deck the drum was skidded to the ship's side and emptied overboard. It wasn't unususual to take out 50 drums of ash per watch. We often counted these as it gave an indication of the quality of the coal. Cleaning fires took about half an hour. We started abot 15 minutes before the change of the watch, the "old watch" would clean the fires and the "new watch" would shovel ashes and rebuild the fires.
In the tropics I've seen the fireman taking 8 salt tablets on a 4 hour watch, yet they still sometimes came down with heat cramp, usually the stomach muscles. They suffered! I always sailed with African, mainly Zulu firemen. I've read much about the legendary Scouse and Clyde blackgangs but I would put those Africans against any of them. THEY WERE HEROES.

thunderd
5th May 2006, 00:01
Jock thanks for that great description of the job, these guys sure were tough.

John Rogers
5th May 2006, 00:14
Could not of said it better,except the ones I sailed on had three fireman and one trimmer per watch,one fireman for each boiler of which there was three fires to each. Going off watch we would let one fire in each boiler go almost out,that way three new fires would be built up each watch.
John
John

jock paul
6th May 2006, 11:53
Hi John, because of the poor quality coal we usually had, all fires were cleaned every watch. Working pressure was usually about 180 p.s.i. when cleaning fires it would start "coming back" and the engineer would start throttling in the main engine to hold pressure. I tried to never let the pressure drop below about 150 p.s.i. Sometimes, in very bad weather, it could be a bit hair raising, with the bridge screaming for revs. to maintain steerage way and on the other hand the chief yelling not to drop the pressure too far! Also, it could be rather amusing with the engineer coming off watch trying to keep revs. up to get a good average for "his" watch and the engineer coming on yelling at him for "stealing his steam!" By the way, some entries to this thread refer to "firemen" and others to "stokers". I never heard anything but the term "firemen" used in the Merchant Service and thought "stoker" was reserved for "The Grey Funnel Line".

John Rogers
6th May 2006, 12:15
Jock, I never heard Firemen called Stokers in the MN either, I think the term stoker is used for the benefit of the non-seafarers so not to confuse them with the Fireman with the hose and ladder. They seem to know what a RN Stoker is.
John

Kenneth Morley
14th August 2006, 04:05
Hi all, are there any ex firemen from the PORT ADELAIDE on line. (Cloud)

Hugh Ferguson
10th October 2006, 22:17
About one half of my 10 years at sea were spent in 4 coal burning Blue Funnel & Glen ships. All the "black gang" in those ships were Chinese. I was fascinated by the spectacle of watching them shovelling coal into the furnaces and frequently took the opportunity of going below, sometimes to have a go myself. My efforts to get the quite large shovel of coal in past the furnace door were rarely successful and usually resulted in failure, with the coal being deposited on the stokehold plates. Skilled firemen never seemed to miss, even in a seaway! To watch them land a heavy shovel full of coal at the back end of a furnace, after waltzing across the stokehold floor from bunker to furnace, was like watching a kind of ballet.
The quality of coal made a huge difference to the degree of labour involved.
Nothing that I ever ever experienced matched the excellence of Welsh Steam coal. Fires could go 24 hours before raking clinker was necessary. From Aden on it was usually S.African coal and after that, Bengal coal, both of which required cleaning fires and blowing tubes every 4 hours when the ship would slow to half of full speed. Blowing tubes involved blasting the fire tubes with steam to clean the dirt off of them, thus losing steam which could have gone to the triple expansion reciprocating engine. A very wastefull system but the best there was in those days.
Sailing in a motor ship after that was like living in a different world-BLISS!

Kenneth Morley
18th October 2007, 02:24
Hi All, I was wondering are there any x "RARANGA" or "PORT ADALAIDE" or "HAZELBANK" firemen or trimmers still around,I have many memories of these ships.(Cloud) Kenneth

Hugh Ferguson
18th October 2007, 12:04
Help, I am looking for a photo of coolies loading coal I just cannot find it again, help please. Thanks Kenneth

Kenneth, Have a look in my photo gallery. You'll find me under "h" in the Member's Gallery. Hugh Ferguson.

stan mayes
18th October 2007, 14:41
I have just read of all the coal which was shovelled into the furnaces..
What of the millions of tons of ashesdumped into the oceans through the years?
And don't forget the lee side!!!
Stan.