Feet up, reading a book!

K urgess
1st July 2008, 18:46
Not too sure about how this came about. I think I got into an argument with Marconi about excess hours as an electronics officer or I may have decided enough was enough.
Anyway, I kept a fault/work record of essential work that was in excess of 10 hours a day or couldn't be done/ wasn't a legal requirement during watchkeeping periods.
Some of it was down to the shipping company but most down to a totally knakkered VLCC radio station.
The ship was the Esso Northumbria and I joined her at the end of March 1977. Joining was a bit of a farce. I arrived at Eastham on March 23rd and was put in the Alexa Hotel. Not too sure what happened next but I went to Heathrow next morning to fly out and ended up back at home to wait for her to arrive at Wilhelmshaven. Finally joined her there on the 27th.
The work record starts on the 1st April 2 days out from Wilhelmshaven with the first excess hours on April 4th and ends on the 25th June 102 reports later.
My voyage log shows it was a bit of a leisurely trip. We anchored off Las Palmas for a day and then set off for the Gulf. Must've had a lot of engine problems 'cos we spent an awful lot of time doing no more than 6.5 knots. Ended up off Dubai at anchor having first engine room repairs, then pumproom repairs and then awaiting orders for 9 days.
Loaded at Rastanura sea island for 3 days then set out for Singapore. Picked up the pilot by helicopter on June 18th and had discharged at the SBM by the 22nd. Not too sure what happened next but we seem to have stooged around up the east coast of Malaysia polluting the sea and the atmosphere probably trying to get gas free.
Anchored off Jurong for deslopping on the 27th June and then alongside the repair berth at Sembewang the following day.
My repair/fault record stops on the 26th because that's the day before the Singapore Marconi techs arrived onboard take over and my watches stopped for the last time ever.
I finally got off on July 9th when they managed to find a relief. He wasn't an electronics guy and got thrown in the deep end. I had to stay for a week and make sure he was OK before I was allowed to fly home. Not his fault. I went on leave and then sent off my resignation to Marconi. So that's 31 years ago this week that my life changed.
I'll post these as they come with some notes if the grey cells will allow me to add any details.
I'm afraid it comes across quite quickly that I was not impressed with my fellow radio officers. I'd been on her before and there was a regular Irish sparkie called Pat Barrett from Dublin who'd been on since the trials/maiden voyage and he kept her shining like a new pin. He was unable to relieve me that trip because of illness and I'm not too sure if he'd got back to her or not in between my trips. I was told that my predecessors had spent most of their time in the bar and one had been renowned for holding conversations with lifeboats.
Referring to my letters to the Memsahib and ignoring the mushy bits I find that the delay in leaving Wilhelmshaven was due to pump failure. I found the name of the bloke I relieved and my next comment is that I wasn't impressed with the state of the station. The gear appeared to work but the main transmitter seemed a bit "dodgy". You'll find out exactly how dodgy as I go through these reports.
Esso had a purposeful go slow policy which is why we tootled along so slowly. "We're due off Las Palmas on the 6th & we'll be stopping to do a welding job. Apparently we're cracking up & they're having to weld a plate on the side to stop leakage." (EEK)
Apparently we got halfway down the English Channel before I was signed on and then only because i went to remind the purser that it hadn't happened yet.
A small detail that I'd completely forgotten was that in an attempt to phone home I found that the crystal I needed to call Portishead on 4 mc/s was duff. This is about when I started on the radio room because I couldn't find anything at all.

So report number one on the 4th April -

RADIO ROOM. Sorting drawers and cupboards prior to compiling a station location list which not found.
CRUSADER. Fitting new license crystals and compiling new tuning card.

I obviously couldn't make a phone call on 4 mc/s because nobody had fitted the new crystals.

K urgess
2nd July 2008, 10:33
I must make a correction to a mistake I made 30 odd years ago when I wrote East Ham as Eastham.
Eastham is on the Mersey and may confuse those who never met Stan Padfield at Marconi's East Ham depot. Lucky people! [=P]

No input to Crew TV receiver from video player in Officer's bar. Found video player not connected to Junction box, only to Officer's TV. Recorrected (sic) correctly by fitting co-ax plug. Now operating both TVs satisfactorily.

Before the days of word processors this was all typed up on the radio room typewriter. I imagine I meant "reconnected".
This was considered "essential" maintenance. At the time it seemed a bit strange that it had been purposely disconnected. Somebody obviously didn't care that the crew couldn't watch videos.

2nd July 2008, 11:29
Nice one Kris - I look forward to further installments.

The wonderful Padfield. I mentioned him once before in a thread but cannot remember which one. He was a master on the RT and many an RO who was desperate to leave a vessel or was over his time was convinced by Stan - with bribes of leave etc etc to stay. Maybe you were on the receiving end of one of these Kris? It was obvious when he booked calls that the poor RO was doomed!

Neville - Hawkey01

K urgess
2nd July 2008, 12:09
Certainly was, Neville, although he seemed to avoid calling me on the phone if at all possible except when trying to get me back after a leave. If a relief wasn't forthcoming I usually got a message from THULIUM EASTHAM. In the end he used to try and get me back early because he knew that if he left it too long I'd find something in Hull docks that I fancied sailing on. Unfortunately all that changed when I got my MED and had no choice but to obey his every command.
I'm fortunate that my wife is as much of a magpie as I am and so I have access to the letters I wrote at the time.
First go at joining this one, I caught the train from Hull at 10.37 and "got to East Ham at about quarter to four. Stanley seemed in a reasonable sort of mood & I wasn't in there for more than about half an hour which was remarkable." (EEK)
"I met the junior off the "Northumbria" & found out what was going on. Apparently they still have "slight" mechanical problems."
This was a bit of a surprise and for a while I thought Stan was going to allow me to corrupt one of our younger members of staff. Fortunately for someone's future career this wasn't allowed to happen. [=P]
Once I get deeper into this series of reports you'll realise why I wondered what the hell they'd both been doing before I joined.
Typical example is the morse key that the junior reported as having more sideways than up and down movement. He wasn't joking but a morse key is a very simple piece of mechanical engineering and it didn't take me too long to get it working like new. Couldn't understand why it had been allowed to get so bad. Especially since it could go down as overtime.
On a slightly off topic note. I modified my Vibroplex mechanical bug while I was on Big Geordie by fitting a wooden base to it. What I'd forgotten as well was the reason for the base. The keys had 3 little rubber feet and if you got a bit over-enthusiastic they had a tendency to fall over and got really bad in poor weather. So it was a two-handed job. A wooden base (junction box) and a bit of non-slip rubber and it became a lot easier to send the regular 400 word messages that were common just before the advent of telex installations.


Clive Kaine
2nd July 2008, 19:23
I remember once when I was QRY for an R/T call at GKA, listening to a Marconi R/O calling his office. The poor guy had been on his ship for ages, and was obviously desperate to go home. The office wallah was giving him all the usual stuff to placate him, saying he couldn't make any promises, of course he'd do his utmost to relieve him at the next port, but they were a bit short of personnel just now, etc etc.

At the end of the call, the operator at GKA came back with, "that's 10 minutes there old man - by the way, that was Marconi's standard tape you were listening to there!"

I felt sorry for the poor old Sparks, but I had to laugh.

K urgess
2nd July 2008, 21:38
Must've been desperate to get off, Clive. I can quite imagine that it sounded like a standard tape. There's only so many ways you can say "tough luck."
I don't remember ever having to ring up for a relief. Sent a couple of messages but that's all. Got off my last (this) one by having the Memsahib ring up Stan every day demanding to know where I was because there were house purchase papers to sign.
I missed a report out

Intermittent modulation fault. Traced to possible dirty contacts on Input and System switches. Both cleaned and now modulation satisfactory SSB/DSB RT.

The rot starts. I'd done a two day course at Glasgow about 6 years previously on the Crusader and the basic message was "this is how you tune it" and "don't mess with it".

Trace rotation stopped. Scanner found to be rotating and all voltages to PPI motor and associated circuitry satisfactory. Found PPI motor sticking. Sharp tap to motor and operating satisfactorily. Fault not re-occurred.

One of those hated faults that go away and can't be simulated. Keep your fingers crossed time 'cos we were anchored off Las Palmas at the time.

Telephone unit relocated and changed. Fitted to side of main consol wall-type telephone unit to clear desk. Re-wired and tested satisfactorily.

This one didn't really count for overtime because it wasn't desperately necessary.

Unit unserviceable. Preliminary investigation to determine parts required.

Again not really necessary but one can't ignore a request from the Old Man for photo-copies. These photo-copiers were the old heated roller and special paper type nothing so fancy as toner. Bit better than the wet Gestetner copier I had to do the menus and stuff on on the last ship.

Reported to be slowing down/running irregularly. Unit checked and found worn governor brush/plate which replaced. Replaced motor negative carbon brush, cleaned commutator, cleaned all sliprings, greased and oiled gearbox as per manual instructions. Cleaned and oiled all moving parts. Adjusted for correct speed. Adjusted zero mark. Replaced zero contact and re-adjusted. Cleaned front panel. Operating well after running for one hour.

Looks like it was lucky to be running at all. Probably never been routinely inspected or maintained since the ship was built 7 years before.
Anybody got a picture of one of these Kelvin Hughes jobs? The grey matter seems to have blanked out what they look like altogether.

Checked motor speed again. Also checked paper feed, adjusted stylus. Operating well but requires checking when vessel in soundings.

First time on here she was one year old. Now she was 7 years old and you could tell!

2nd July 2008, 22:24
The MS32 echo sounders were really ok when working and regularly maintained, should have had its 12 monthly KH service, but you only get that if someone rings the office and tells them you are in port and the service is due!!! Failing that the standard KH "BIG HAMMER" is required. All great fun, would certainly do it all again kris. Sorry no picture available but well remember it. This was the one with the 250v working capacitor across the
transducer winding for tuning. Supposed to test the cables from bridge to transducer with a megger (500volts up it) capacitor goes down, ends up with very weak signals, big job tank diving to replace blown capacitor.UGH!!
best wishes ftf

K urgess
3rd July 2008, 20:16
These transducers were replaced in drydock at Singapore, ftf.
Definitely a workup.

A bit of background to lighten the technicalities. Been reading my letters to the Memsahib. I don't think I need to describe the Esso Northumbria there's enough around if you search the forums and gallery.
The food was good apparently, as I noted immediately on arrival onboard. Including a choice of main courses at all evening meals.
Esso had started issuing "fancy grey uniform gear" to everyone.
The bar had set opening hours which was a change from my previous trip. It closed at 2230 hours.
Everybody I spoke to in the first few days reckoned she was "just about clapped out".
I appear to have relieved my predecessor before because I comment that "As per the last time I relieved him the radio station is in one hell of a mess. At least all the gear works (touch wood) although the main transmitter seems a bit dodgy."
I seem to have been trying to "wangle" a course on something at Hull depot so that I could get summer at home.
The laundry was apparently locked and appeared to be out of use. There were "tangle-matics" on each deck instead.
There was almost nothing left out for suppers. The Memsahib had sailed with me on the previous ship so she understood most of what I was twittering about. Especially the matter of suppers which had been exceptional.
I discovered that the library was locked in the bond of all places so I had nothing to read. That probably accounts for getting bored enough to actually do some work. [=P]
One sentence reads - "Not what I'd call a happy ship & so far seems to be staffed by old-age pensioners." That from a 30 something old man so it must've been bad.
Apparently everything was paid for with cash. You had to get a sub from the Old Man by getting him to cash a cheque and use the money to pay for bond and bar.
Being relatively newly married (17 months) money seems to be an overriding consideration. Especially since we were trying to save for our first house and start a family. This is highlighted by the fact that I paid off my last ship in the middle of January and it was the end of March before Marconi finally paid me the overtime for that trip. Also the price of petrol and cigs had gone up in the budget so I was trying to give up smoking (finally succeeded 20 years later).
All these reports are concerned with "chargeable" jobs that meant I'd worked more than 10 hours in any one day. The actual job was probably done both in normal time and overtime. I've lost the actual hours of overtime but by the time we got to Las Palmas I'd got 5 hours in two days. I'd also managed to repair the cassette player in the bar "much to everyone's joy".

Back to the technical bits.

Replaced timer with reconditioned spare. Adjusted temperature control. Cleaned unit and now operating well.

Again marked with a question mark because it wasn't the sort of thing Marconi would pay overtime for.

Aerial catching on TV mast stay. Lowered aerial, checked over for wear and tear. Anchoring points moved slightly and hoisted clear of all obstructions. Good signals.

One of the few wire aerials left. The rest were mostly whip aerials on the bridge wings. The mast stays were wire so I would have been getting a bit of QRM.

Unit operating erratically. Timer faulty, exposure plate badly burnt, roller motor starting intermittent. Unit dismantled and also dismantled faulty unit in workshop. Re-built unit using good parts from both units. Timer overhauled and now operating satisfactorily.

Again not chargeable but kept the deck officers on my side.[=P]

A note about the "workshop". The only time I ever saw such a thing and this one was really an accident. It was next door to the radio room just aft and used to be the ship's secretary's room. It had been converted into a hobbies room/workshop and then became a depository for all the broken bits of kit on the ship that nobody could be bothered to repair. I may even have some pics of it somewhere if I can find them.

K urgess
4th July 2008, 19:48
The two attached pictures are one of me at the console in question on my first trip on Esso Northumbria. It also shows the morse key mentioned in report 015. There was nothing wrong with it first time I was on there. The second one shows the type of morse key which was a 365EZ Marconi key. They were not normally fastened down. The one on the right is my bug key showing the base I fitted and showing what twenty years in the loft will do. (EEK)

Main consol, typewriter drawer collapsed and bottom drawer immovable. Both drawers slide supports badly damaged and all ball bearings missing. Removed both drawers and supports. Blanked off top drawer with front panel from drawer and converted bottom drawer into cupboard using drawer front panel as door. Door handle fitted and wooden floor. All other drawers checked and found okay.

This typewriter drawer was in a very convenient place so probably suffered from too many sparkies with "feet up, reading a book" [=P]
Bottom of first page.

Continuing as per 001-4/4 sorting radio room papers and reports. Tidying drawers.

Sorting radio room cupboards, finding and listing radio room tools.

Excessive sideways movement of arm. Key badly adjusted, dirty and difficult to use. Stripped key completely. Cleaned, greased bearings, checked wiring and components. Contacts cleaned. Unit re-assembled, adjusted and operating well.

Workshop next to radio room commenced clearing accumulation of broken down equipment and spare. Checking electronic test equipment and finding tools.

Continuing as per 016-13/4

Unit removed from bulkhead. Bulkhead and case cleaned. Amplifier unit checked and dusted. Missing MW/LW coil not found in spares holding. Unit replaced on bulkhead and operating satisfactorily except on MW/LW.

I couldn't understand why the coil had been removed and removed not very neatly. Never did find out why and the whole unit was replaced at drydock.

Continuing as per 016-13/4

Continuing as per 016-13/4. Sorting drawers, nuts.bolts, spares, tools and cleaning.

K urgess
5th July 2008, 20:20
Locker cleared of accumulation of assorted broken equipment and spares.

Shelves erected to hold radar, Minerva, navigation light spares. In order to clear deck space for storing capital project radar and echo-sounder equipment in cases.

Continuing as per 022-19/4.

Shelves completed and stores placed thereon. All capital project equipment available at this time stored on cleared deck space.

Tapes not playing. Head/pinchwheel assembly not reaching tape when play button depressed. Unit stripped from case. Found piece of plastic jammed in mechanism. Unit cleaned and adjusted. Now operating satisfactorily.

Continuing moving capital project cases into locker for storage.

All this locker clearing was because we were headed for drydock. While tidying the radio room I'd found a whole pile of delivery notes. At one of those management meetings we all loved I found out that the stuff had been delivered over the last few months wherever the ship got to and was spread all over the ship in any space that happened to be available at the time. Because it was my responsibility as the electronics bod, or so I was told, I had to find it and find somewhere to keep it safe. At least we agreed that I could use the Nav. equipment locker. Plus I got to know the ship intimately. It's amazing the nooks and crannies they'd found to tuck it away in.

K urgess
6th July 2008, 22:35
Apologies for the last paragraph in the previous post. I couldn't change it from bold type for some reason.

Reported non-operational wheelhouse to poop cicuit. Circuit checked and functioning well. No intermittent faults as far as can ascertain.

This was another one of those systems that was very difficult to fault find because the faults were mostly intermittent.

Consol lighting switch faulty. Removed faulty switch and replaced with spare. Necessary to remove emergency transmitter and switch off mains/disconnect batteries before work done.

Consol lighting units all badly damaged by old age/heat. All units removed and dismantled. To be replaced with new/neon unit whichever available from electrician.

Consol lighting. Fitted isolating 115 to 220 volt transformer, choke, starter and fittings for 220 volts, 12 inch, 8 watt neon.

Old Bush receiver from workshop not functioning, required for use as entertainment with integrated TV game. Replaced EHT diode, V1 and V2; replaced scan coil assembly and EHT unit with spares held onboard. Picture set up using local test card from South African Television. Slight foldover at left of scan, unable to rectify at this time.

Fitted extension handset with microphone isloating switch in handset rest for use on IF/HF R/T working to avoid handing over handset when calls connected. Handset wired in parallel with remote speaking unit. Original handset re-wired from base to consol with multicore cable to enable extra handset wiring to be incorporated.

This comes under the heading of do not ever mess with the gear according to General Orders. (See attached)
The console lighting wouldn't work at all so with the bulkhead lights as the only illumination the desk was in constant shadow. As you can see from the picture in the previous post there was nothing wrong with it first time I was on there.
As to the telephone extension. The handset was in the corner next to the Crusader and wouldn't reach the person wanting an R/T call. That meant I had to vacate the operating position.

Ron Stringer
6th July 2008, 23:30

There were trials with the type of lighting used for consoles in order to choose the type to be adopted. Eventually incandescent tubular lights were preferred over fluorescent types. There were four reasons: some tubes caused RFI interference on the receivers; You couldn't dim fluorescent tubes; there were concerns about reliability of the starters when subjected to high RF fields from the adjacent transmitter and during the trials, R/Os complained that when using the Crusader on HF, the RF used to light the fluorescent tubes, causing them to flash in time with the morse key.

So they adopted 'Linolite' incandescent tubes, which always ran hot and had a very short life - but the trials R/Os had never complained of that!

K urgess
6th July 2008, 23:45
Never saw any flashing from the flourescent when using the transmitter, Ron.
The R408 never complained either. As far as I can remember there was only one complete unit available and I fitted that in the middle position.
It may have had something to do with the isolating transformer and all the earthing I used. The wiring on the incandescents had become dangerous because the insulation had gone hard and cracked off leaving bare wires.
If you look on the picture of the console in my previous post you can see a flourescent tube attached to the copper aerial feeder from the Crusader in the corner above my head.
It wasn't the lamps that had a short life they were all perfect. Which was a nuisance because there was no other use for them.


Ron Stringer
6th July 2008, 23:54

I was always anti the system used because the incandescents were terribly prone to failure under vibration. Since by the time those consoles were fitted most new ships were motor ships, vibration was guaranteed. Being naturally mean, I considered the regular requisitions for replacement tubes to be an outright waste of money. At that time, most of the radio installations were on rental/maintenance, so Marconi footed the bills. When the shipowner bought the installation outright, the tubes became a nice little earner!

K urgess
7th July 2008, 21:43
I have a feeling that the flourescent was replaced with the incandescents by Marconi Singapore during drydock but the grey matter won't confirm that, Ron.

No FM/VHF reception. Removed unit from SRE rack for testing on bench. Rigged extension cable from SRE rack and suitable aerial. Using oscilloscope, HF and AF signal generators and Avometer. Found FM RF unit completely misaligned. IF amp checked with 10.7mHz (IF frequency) signal and found aligned satisfactorily. Set up RF stage using 100mHz signal amplitude modulated with 1000cps note as per instruction/service sheet. Unit operating satisfactorily on local signals. Unit re-installed in SRE rack.

The SRE rack was the Ship Recreation Equipment. Usually the only thing fitted was a broadcast receiver. On these newer vessels you got the works. A full rack including amplifer, record deck, receiver, etc.
I'm trying hard to put the misalignment down to vibration but turbine powered supertankers didn't have that tendency to shake themselves to bits.

Reported picture rolling when used in conjunction with video player. Unable to rectify at this time or to ascertain whether video player or receiver at fault.

Trouble was that everybody onboard knew how to adjust a TV set so I usually spent most of the time getting it back somewhere near the right settings before I could see what the original fault had been.

Checked all remote units and found to be functioning correctly. Replaced unit next to small radar after previously removing for cleaning and minor repairs. Noted wiring from this unit to main remote switching panel badly deteriorated.

I'd never seen so many remote handsets and loudspeakers on this system. The actual transceiver was in a locker on the bridge deck but more of that later. I even had a remote unit in the radio room.
I still can't understand how the wiring on this ship had deteriorated so much.

Reported impossible to play instructional cassettes supplied by Exxon New York through London office. Found picture not syncing. Tested with Walport film and found satisfactory. Found that picture attainable when player in NTSC mode but unable to get picture and sound together even with receiver in US mode. Tapes are produced in the USA. Conclude that these tapes are unsuitable for the system in use on this vessel.

Oh dear! We couldn't watch the American safety films. What a pity!

Reports of PPI moter (X5) sticking received while radar in use on South African coast. Cured by tapping motor as previously.At this time radar not in use so servo motor X5 replaced with spare available on board. After fitting re-aligned picture/heading marker to relative 000. Alignment satisfactory and set operating well.

The spares holding for these radar was amazing. All in fitted wooden cases with locks and handles.
When the radars were replaced in drydock the whole spares holding and the old radars were taken out to sea when she left and dumped.

Coming next - The Crusader Chronicles.

7th July 2008, 22:01
Kris, did you ever come across the Sperry Magnetic Compass Automatic Pilot -we had it on the Rossini - had a perchant to throw a wobbler and the ship would suddenly go hard a port. Had a printed circuit board which if you turned around and replaced resulted in the the ship suddenly going hard a starboard - I dont think it was a success - it certainly wasnt on the Rossini and we had to put a man on the wheel permanently after a couple of narrow squeaks ( anal ones that is ) (EEK)


K urgess
7th July 2008, 22:22
Don't think so, Chris.
I remember that the autopilot on the Port Townsville was a large motor connected by an open chain to the shaft of the steering wheel at the main helm position in the wheelhouse. As far as I could make out the control system was a couple moveable cams for course setting on the magnetic compass that operated a large contactor in a box on the bridge. These in turn started the motor in one direction or the other. There must have been some sort of damping on it but I wasn't responsible for it's operation so I avoided it like the plague.
I can well imagine such a system doing what you describe.
I think it was only used during the hours of daylight and then only well away from any sticky up bits of rock.


K urgess
8th July 2008, 11:10
Correction to my explanation of SRE it actually stands for Sound Reproduction Equipment.
The grey cells finally threw up the right answer as I woke up this morning. [=P]

K urgess
8th July 2008, 21:44
And then the fun started.

General overhaul and location of fault in drive amplifier causing intermittent reduction of power. Removed final stage front panel and knobs, removed drive amplifier, checked all coax and multiway plugs/socket. Found PLAJ almost adrift and resoldered. Washed and polished final stage output valves, glass covers, overload sensor and cover. Generally dusted final stage and cleaned front panel. Found chrome plating on HF output contact slightly burnt and coming away from base metal. Scraped off remaining chrome, cleaned and polished contact. SKAX on drive front panel, found one pin loose and being pushed back when socket attached. Pushed into place but requires new plug.
Power unit 1. Removed from chassis and thoroughly cleaned. All connections checked. Checked contactor assemblies and found RLB contacts badly pitted and damaged. Replaced RLB with spare on board. Cleaned contacts on RLA and RLD and tightened loose nuts on RLC. Unit replaced.
Transmitter run up and still intermittent power reductions. Not caused by aerial earthing all meters come down the same amount and the transmitter remains in tune. Connected oscilloscope across Mixer output and checked function of drive and power reduction. By tapping front panel drive reduced intermittently. Found resistor across drive potentiometer touching front panel, this adjusted but fault persisted then cleared itself.
Master required to stop using transmitter as found that pickup in emergency aerial downlead causing sparking to signal mast, on 4mHz.

Thought that the fault could possibly be due to lack of maintenance. The manuals and technical bulletins were very good for helping out in these situations.
As those who sailed with these transmitters will know the overload system consisted of a photo-electric sensor that checked the light level coming off the final stage. Simple really but dirty valves and covers meant they could be glowing white hot and you still wouldn't get an overload. I seem to remember they were very dirty. I think this was backed up with some current sensing.
Basically the thing was falling apart and I was lucky to keep it going.
The last straw this day was being told to stop transmitting because I was causing a firework display on the monkey island. Not ideal on a VLCC cleaning tanks and gas freeing.
I certainly earned our nickname this night.[=P]

Continuing general overhaul and tracing intermittent power reduction fault.
Re 038-05/5 Master's request to cease transmission.
This stemmed from a report of sparks coming from the area of the main aerial while transmitting. Location of sparks thought to be where emergency aerial halyard (wire rope) rubs agains mast stanchion. The rubbing action has removed paint and rust making metal to metal contact. It was found that, because of the use of wooden blocks at the end of the crosstrees and at the mast, and because of the halyard being of the approximate same length as the main aerial and effectively insulated from aerial and from earth, that the halyard was picking up the RF from the main aerial particularly on 4mHz and re-radiating. The sparks being caused by its sudden earthing against the mast stanchion. The wire rope was cleaned to bare metal just above the lower eye and earthing braid attached and covered with wound copper wire, then covered with tape and painted. The earthing strip was then likewise attached to a rung of the mast ladder, which was checked for a good earth connection, and treated the same as the previous connection. It was noted before this work was carried out that there was a resistance reading of approximately 3 kilohms between the halyard and the mast.
Main transmitter. Continued with intermittent fault of power reduction. Found several plugs and sockets on drive amplifier were loose. These were found to reduce the drive output as shown on an oscilloscope when "waggled". All sockets were tightened and now equipment appears to be operating satisfactorily with no recurrance of intermittent fault.
RF stage runners greased after cleaning. Frequency generator tray checked thoroughly for loose connection/screws, dusted and cleaned.

Didn't have the choice of replacing the halyard with rope. There wasn't anything suitable that would take the strain. Testing the transmitter again to make sure we'd got it right was done very carefully.
Didn't make any difference to the intermittent fault.

Continuing general overhaul. Sideband generator removed from cabinet and checked for visual signs of damage, loose nuts, poor soldered connections. Unit dusted, cleaned and returned to cabinet. Transmitter tested and satisfactory.
Power units removed from cabinet and checked as per sideband generator. Unit 2 C5/6 showing signs of electrolyte leaking and R11 reading low resistance so both replaced from spares. Voltages checked at testpoints. -24v set up using RV1. Units replaced after dusting and cleaning. Transmitter tested and found satisfactory on all bands.

Cracked it I thought.
Lasted 11 days. :sweat:

K urgess
10th July 2008, 22:32
Oh Well I shall try again.
Pressed the preview key and it vanished into cyberspace before I could do anything about it.

All radar equipment on board for installation in drydock checked against available advice/delivery notes to ascertain which is missing. As much as possible of the equipment has been moved into the navigation equipment locker. Ship spaces searched for missing equipment but no more found.

How to get to know a VLCC intimately.

Checking all receiver aerials for physical damage and usefulness. Also checking distances of whip aerials from main aerial downloads for EAsso's information in connection with new Telex installation planning. All aerials found to be in good condition. All receiver aerial coaxial cables identified and labled at change-over switch in radio room consol.

It seemed that every traffic list brought another silly request from the office. They weren't all for me either.

Continued unfinished job of sorting radio room cupboards and tidying up. Fitted fan to bulkhead, flourescent fitting to bulkhead, and two extension power sockets at bench opposite consol. Washed and polished bulkheads on starboard side of radio room. Cleaned and polished bookcase, bench, notice frames, etc. Sorted through manuals removing those no longer required or those duplicated for storage in workshop.

A few years of smoking sparkies (including me) and no cleaning and the place was a delightful brown colour. Surprising effect on the light levels from a bucket of soapy water.

Switch removed from consol for overhaul. Unit checked for loose connections and damaged components. All satisfactory. Unit dusted and cleaned and consol mounting rails cleaned. Aerial feeds checked and polished. Unit returned to consol, tested and ok.

Report of tape slowing down during play. Unit stripped and checked. Found loose screw in works of deck. Located missing screw position and replaced. Unit run for half hour and appears to be operating satisfactorly. Unit boxed and returned to bar.

Hopefully success this time when I click on the button. (EEK)

Ron Stringer
10th July 2008, 22:58

When MIMCo began selling ARQ equipment to ships (as opposed to oil rigs and the early engine room data transmission exercises for Shell Tankers) we provided sets for extended trials on both Esso and Shell tankers. Both trials proved very successful and we received orders for permanent installations aboard ships of the two companies.

Esso wanted the equipment for their VLCCs because when those vessels were coming into European ports there was a mass of paperwork (stores requisitions, wages calculations etc.,) to be done at a time when the Master might have his hands full in bringing the vessel through the Western Approaches and up the Channel, possibly in bad weather. The telex meant that much of the work could be sent ashore, all necessary preparatory and financial adjustments could be made in the office and the results could then be sent back to the ship. In Esso's opinion, there was no need for telex on the lightening ships because they were in port every day or two.

Shell wanted the equipment for their lightening ships because they considered that the work load on the Master was very high and the telex would allow much of that work to be shifted ashore. Detailed cargo figures and other operational information were required at Shell Centre without any delay. In Shell's opinion, there was no need for telex on the VLCCs because their Masters had weeks at sea with very little to do prior to arriving back in a European port and so had plenty of time for the paperwork.

K urgess
10th July 2008, 23:26
Since this was my last trip I didn't get to see it, Ron.
Never got too close to a VLCC after this ship.
Just goes to show how differently different shipping companies thought.


K urgess
13th July 2008, 22:16
Reported non-operational from port manifold to bridge. Investigation reveals, by substitution, that speaker unit at port manifold inoperative. Unit removed and tested at starboard manifold and not working. Starboard speaker used at port manifold and operating satisfactorily. Speaker left at port manifold. Inoperative unit removed to workshop for repair. Found speaker coil apparently open circuit. All attempts to remove speaker unit from housing failed due to severe corrosion of fixing screws. Unable to locate suitable replacement although port aft bell/gong system speaker looks to be the same type and may be used as temporary replacement.

I can't remember anything but port side to when alongside in a tanker so I wasn't surprised that the port manifold talkback was the first to go.

Reported loose amplifer. Amplifier found to be improperly secured. Secured correctly after visual check for defects. Operating satisfactorily.

Lovely long word. 90% BS. (LOL) Have a beer, Sparkie. Welcome words. [=P]

Salvor II emergency transmitter removed from console. Support tray also removed to allow access to battery charger control panel and terminal tray. Transmitter checked for damaged components, dusted and cleaned. Machine re-greased. Coil L5 requires replacement as does front panel meter but no spares available in ship's holding.
Battery charger control panel checked for loose connections, damaged components. Unit dusted and cleaned. Wiring harness checked in back of console and securing straps tightened.

Never could figure out how an internal coil core got broken along with the meter.

Further attempts to remove loudspeaker core from loudhailer unit. Replacement unit located with same speaker type but different housing. Require to replace faulty unit with good one plus matching transformer as original in order for unit to be safe for use on deck.

Ongoing for quite a while trying to get an EexD unit apart that had been out in all weathers for 7 years.

Hydraulic valve operating system. Replaced solenoid for 6 centre starboard duct valve because of non-operation of valve closing side. No improvement so checked switches in control room which appear okay. Removed drawings from control room to identify terminus strip and wiring numbering to check continuity at a later date.

Continuing as per 050-14/5. Checked cable continuity with solenoid in circuit and "open" side of solenoid open circuit. Disconnected solenoid and shorted wires. Continuity satisfactory. Checked solenoid and continuity both ends satisfactory. On inpections found solenoid terminal blocks out of alignment and wires not connecting properly. Re-connected ensuring proper sighting of wires in terminal blocks. Tested and satisfactory.
Control number 24 (4 starboard cargo valve) non-operational. Checked continuity and tested for outgoing signal and found satisfactory. When wiring re-connected operating valve and valve position indicator operating.

Took me a day to figure out the drawings and identify where I had to look. One way to pass a few watches I suppose. Don't know why I got lumbered with this since we had a lekkie on board. Probably because I was the only one who knew anything about hydraulics. Certainly got around the old tub. Attached is a picture I took in the cargo control room.

Further search for missing cases at request of Esso. Found three missing items leaving two unaccounted for.

Just when I thought I'd been everywhere (including the focsle a quarter mile away) I found these in the steering flat. (?HUH)

13th July 2008, 22:27
You answered my only question at the end of chapter one Kris,,
you were either at Eastham,oil berth or Stanlow oil refinery/oil berth.
I don,t think it was ever called eastham, induvidually.
you were either in the Ship canal or not lol.
I joined the Shell boat Harpula, at Stanlow for a 11month 28 day voyage ending in Singapore (vietnam coast with the Saigon flyer, ) and flying home ..
2 days short of a TAX free voyage ...SWINES ...
great memories though...
somebody take me BACK PLEASE.....?

13th July 2008, 23:18
Deck, not Sparks; but a very, very typical scenario. We were all there and it was so many years ago, but it was fun; and we did it well! I don't think things have improved?

K urgess
19th July 2008, 14:43
After collecting remaining cases of gear into navigation equipment locker opened two cases of FMC70120 in order to ascertain what missing case contains. Information given to Master for inclusion in telex to Esso.

A further attempt with the aid of UMS personnel (S. Sharrett) to play Exxon supplied video tapes. Attempts unsuccessful and report prepared for Master/Esso outlining the reasons and possible rectification.

I have no idea what they'd done but the sound and picture wouldn't synchronise at all. Seemed to be the totally wrong format for our equipment.

Commenced check of all valves and spares to compile spares required lists and check which need replacing to bring spares up to minimum DTI level. Intend send requisition from Gulf if possible in order that spares may be supplied at Singapore during drydock period.

This was the third time I'd gone through this and she was the worst. I seemed to be getting the same ships all the time and having got the radio station up to scratch on the first trip I was finding it necessary to do it all over again when I went back.

And now my 11 days of relative peace are over.

Overload lamp flickering and transmitter cutting out intermittently during telcon this morning. Fault cleared itself. The fault sounds like some form of arcing in the final stage but close scrutiny shows no sign of burning or arcing. The transmitter was run on SSB with tones and the fault reappeared once but cleared before final stage opened. Sometimes occurs when HT switched on and Tx not keyed. The transmitter was left to cool down in order that the final stage valves (V8/V9) could be changed but had to be used for working before this could be accomplished.
The FS bias and drive bias were found to be out of adjustment so they were set up as per manual. After this transmitter constantly overloading after running with HT on for about five minutes. It was also noted that the FS Cath reading was flickering while overloaded. After last watch the transmitter was allowed to cool down and then the two final stage valves were changed because of suspected internal short in one of them. An extended test on 16mhz SSB with tones blew the fuses FS2 and FS3 in power unit two after about half an hour. After they were replaced and the transmitter run for three minutes on DSB Mic the overload light came on again. It was noted that during normal no-key running with HT on the FS valves (V8/V9) were bright orange. A further test after resetting the overload showed the transmitter operating satisfactorily.

I remember being extremely displeased because there was nothing you could put your finger on. Wasn't too happy about going to bed with a tx that may or may not work if I had an emergency situation during the night.

Because of the flickering of the overload lamp during yesterday's working it was thought that the overload relay RLD may be faulty. Upon investigation it was noted that the relay is the only one of the old type GEC/XB3 M1466 PC65406/15 relays in the SSB generator and that the wiring to its base was in poor condition with bad joints and poor insulation. The relay was replaced with a spare from the spares holding type PLY 7103 507/1/0229/010. Also changed the LT switch, which was a temporary replacement, with the correct type. The transmitter operated satisfactorily during extensive working today.

I seem to remember that the relay problem was a TM (maintenance upgrade) that hadn't been done and the switch had been sent but nobody had bothered to fit it. Probably found at the bottom of a drawer with the usual "oh I wonder what that's for" remark.

Continued as per 055-17/5 checking spare valves.
Operated satisfactorily during extensive WT and RT working throughout today (May 20th) but during last QSO Portisheadradio, overload light started flickering and FS cath reading jumping with no apparent effect on QRI which reported okay by GKC. This fault cleared itself after two or three minutes.

And so the fault carried on to the next page........

K urgess
22nd July 2008, 22:33
Continuous fault as per last night's note. Occurring on 16, 22, 23, 25 mHz only. Occurs when FS (Final Stage) pushed fully home in cabinet. Sparks from FS fastening screws when tried to close up transmitter. Only occurring when key up, operating normally when key down. Meter readings of V5 only effected. Changing V6 no effect. Fault cleared when front panel of FS removed. Found SWB lower left paxolin spacer badly charred so exchanged with lower right spacer. Also signs of arcing between SWB wiper terminals and chassis post. SWB wafer badly charred unable to clean properly. Front panel replaced and fault reccurred. This time managed to get final stage out with fault still occurring and noticed R1 anode trap V8 sparking and glowing white hot. Transmitter closed down.
Final stage section along with drive amp etc., removed from cabinet with assistance. While removing found poor connections at PLV not fully home. Replaced R1, and also R2 and C12 which both show signs of damage/age. Only one 680pF capacitor available so replaced original C22/C23 after cleaning. Transmitter re-assembled and appears to be operating satisfacorily on 16, 22 and 25mHz (23mHz OK but no crystals for transmission test). Run up on all bands and radiating satisfactorily. Tidied up, all units pushed fully home and screwed in place.

So far so good. (EEK)

No FM/VHF reception. Local station on 92mHz not being received. Appears to be due to breakdown of RF amp and oscillator transistors. These replaced from ship's spares. Found great improvement and retuned as per manual. FM RF/osc stage require removing from chassis for correct fixing of transistors into PCB. Unable to complete at this time due to heavy traffic working.

Occasional repeats of overload light flickering during past two days in first five minutes of switch on and then OK. Overload reset as per manual section 7.7.2. Replacement of C12 as per report 059021/3 requires adjustment of RV3 according to manual but no information as to method available in manuals or TSMs (Technical Service Memos) so left alone. In order to prevent further arcing at SWB the switch wafer was removed and rotated through 120 to move the damaged section away from the terminals and chassis support. All terminals were removed and re-positioned and burnt spacer used at top support so that undamaged spacer in use at previous arcing point. SWC aerial tapping switch also slight damage from arcing at lower left support. This damage cleaned as much as possible before re-assembling final stage. Coupling between aerial capacitor and cord drive to MF tuning which previously noted as slightly damaged now sheared completely. Previously noted to be out of alignment due to strain at some time in the past. This repaired using Devcon quick setting (5 minute) epoxy resin. Positions of tuning knobs and capacitor vanes checked with manual and aligned correctly. Tuning knob limit stops greased slightly as were bushes of anode and aerial tapping switches before assembly.

Now I could attack the other gear.......

K urgess
27th July 2008, 17:06
And the saga continues

Continuing as per 055-17/5 and 058/20/5 checking spares prior to requisitioning missing items.

Constant overheating of transceiver unit. Since this unit is mounted in the navigation equipment locker with no ventilation it gets exceptionally hot. Past attempts at cooling have been made using a domestic fan attached to the deckhead with the transceiver case left off. This fan was mounted in such a position as to be dangerous to any personnel entering the lockers without a safety helmet especially when switched on and despite a guard. Two fan units from scrapped vending machines were fitted to the transceiver case. One on top as an extractor and one at the front as a blower. These were connected to the switched 240v mains input from the control unit so that they operated only when VHF in use. Tests show these fans provide a good through ventilation of the case when in place. Case fitted and left for a test period to determine if temperature lower using this method or open fan method.

Continuing as per 055-17/5, 058-20/5 and 062-25/5. Crusader spares checked and requisitions made for missing items. Tools checked and missing items requisitioned.

Fuse list made up and fuses checked. Sorted valves and stored in rack built for spares locker. Tools sorted and placed in racks made and fixed in spares locker.

Compiled list of lamps in use after checking through manuals. COntinued fixing tools in racks in spares cupboard.

Sorted listed and counted all spare lamps available.

I hate checking fuses and lamps. (Cloud)

While sorting spares found spare insert for loudhailer. Commenced stripping loudhailer unit found to be faulty in report 049-13/5. Drilled out seized screws holding magnet and horn in place.

SHeared screws on loudhailer horn filed flat and four new holes drilled and tapped for 3/16" brass screws. Replaced diaphragm assembly with spare number T0505 after removing all excessive rust and cleaning with rust inhibitor. Unit reassembled and all possible leaks stopped and unit generally sealed with plastic putty. Unit tested and operating correctly during bench test. Exterior of unit cleaned and painted.

Loudhailer unit tested then replaced in position at starboard manifold. Tested with bridge and control room and operating satisfactorily.

Removed receiver from SRE rack and commenced removal of FM RF stage in order to correctly solder first two transistors in place as per 060-23/5.

28th July 2008, 01:37
Acha, Marconi Sahib:

This is a great thread! - really pulls at the old nostalagia heartstrings, although it sounds like it was a real workout for you at the time.

I'm fortunate enough not to have sailed on such a fault-ridden ship. The worst I had was a CP container ship with old AEI gear. Among other things, I couldn't get decent signals on the receivers and the autoalarm, and found that all the receive coax cables bar one were open circuit somewhere inside the accommodation but couldn't find where. (Marconi's Liverpool said they "found this hard to believe" but agreed after we got back in port.) The transmit aerial switching unit on top of the MF/HF transmitter was full of dry joints and the Seaguard autoalarm had the hardest motor to start up that I ever met- about 5 minutes or so each time - but nothing wrong that I could find, although my thumbs and index fingers were almost worn to the bone by the end of the trip.

On another ship, two of the Argonaut S power supply bridge rectifier discrete diodes burned out. I fitted new diodes, only to see two of them glow red hot. Assuming I'd dropped a clanger, I took them out, checked them against the cct and refitted - same results. Eventually I found that the pcb didn't match the handbook, which was for mk.1 pcb and I had mk.2.

Like everyone else, I have many other faults which linger in my memory, but which probably mean something only to me (eg running a new coax from the foremast on a newbuild panamax bulker to the radio room because the original cable had been stretched during installation; changing the earthing for 3 Spector installations because the original earths had been connected to the main transmitters' earthstrips before the actual grounding to the ships' structures resulting in ground loops on 12MHz. etc). However, this is Marconi Sahib's thread and I don't want to be accused of hijacking it. (Maybe we should start a new thread - "faults I have known".)

As I said, a really interesting thread - thanks again.

K urgess
28th July 2008, 14:34
It certainly was a work up, Mimcoman. Which is probably why I've kept the evidence all these years.
Most stations were trouble free to a large extent. I remember those auto alarms that wouldn't start no matter what you did. Not having the correct manual was another one. Usually the gear had been upgraded but the manual hadn't or some bozo had thrown away the wrong one when having an attack of the super efficients.
Dead giveaways for future troubles could be anything from no ALRS corrections done for 6 months to finding a radar scanner in the battery locker. The latter had fallen off a Marconi Raymarc 12 because of vibration. Tried to do it again while I was on the ship but I managed to save it with some help from the engine room. Still hate heights.

K urgess
30th July 2008, 18:28
Replaced FM RF stage in Eddystone broadcast receiver, aligned as per manual and re-fitted into rack after cleaning. Removed control panel from console and repaired monitor volume control which intermittent. Cleaned panel and polished then re-fitted in console. Removed amplifier tray from console and checked for poor connections and damaged components. Cleaned and polished fascia and returned to cabinet.
Removed gram deck from console and stripped for overhaul. Cleaned and polished unit and set up for correct operation. Re-fitted in cabinet after cleaning and re-greasing sliding rails.
Removed tape deck from console. Complete non-operation. Found main motor supports loose with circlips missing completely at one side. Refitted as well as possible and tested with tape. Speed changes considerably but working reasonably well and unable to complete clean and overhaul at this time. Re-fitted in console after cleaning and polishing.
Cleaned and polished outside of console.
All the equipment fitted in this console and the console itself were in an extremely dusty and dirty condition through neglect.

Inverter unit and AF amp removed, checked, cleaned and replaced. R408 main receiver removed, checked, cleaned and replaced.

Taking my life in my hands disturbing the R408. Not the most robust of receivers.

While checking as per 073-02/6 found that relays not operating correctly. All three relays removed and cleaned. Then replaced and adjusted until operating correctly.

Last thing you want is for your AA to fall over when you're all by yourself. One did it on me once and I ended up doing a few very longgggg hours.

Extremely poor sensistivity on all bands above 4mHz. Removed unit from console and removed receiver unit from tray into which fitted with autokey. Visual check shows that coil formers of TR16 and TR18 are broken and that someone has adjusted several transformer cores in the past. Removed RF board from unit by unsoldering all connections. Removed TR16 and TR18 from board carefully using solder wick and flux paste to remove excess solder. TR16 coil former broken almost at base and glued back together easily using quick setting Devcon. Coils checked and found OK before remounting TR16 in PCB. TR18 core was found to be sticking out when unit first opened and waggling of core caused improvement in sensitivity. Upon removal of TR18 from PCB found one wire adrift from base and one wire broken inside insulating sleeve. Unsoldered base completely and glued together base and coil former and renewed part of coil end wiring. When glue set transformer re-assembled and re-mounted on PCB. PCB wired into receiver. Signals improved slightly but not as good as can be expected from this set. After consulting manual set up RF signal generator at 2.7mHz injected at TP3 and found almost zero output. Adjust core of TR17 for maximum output as per manual. It (file://\\it) was found that this core had been badly maladjusted in the past. The core was quite stiff and therefore not misaligned due to vibration. Since adjustment of TR17 core and slight movement of TR15 core improved the signal a great deal it was decided not to adjust anything else. It appears that someone has taken a great deal of trouble trying to line the pointer up with the scale and only succeeded in reducing the sensitivity of the set. It is now possible to hear Portishead and even the BBC on the receiver whereas before absolutely nothing could be heard above 4mHz. The unit was replaced in the tray and after cleaning and checking the autokey the unit was replaced in the console.

All that could be done because we were alongside at Rastanura.

According to my letter to the Memsahib Portishead started his new calling system on June 1st. The old system was to call on your calling frequency while he scanned the calling band for calls. This day he started announcing which channel he was listening on "so all you have to do is is wait until he's listening on a channel you've got and away you go. Saves a lot of key bashing and he was quite easy to get today."
We went alongside Rastanura after a day at the outer anchorage in company with the Esso Ulidia. I've noted that "the Ulidia's sparky is a bit P'd off because his relief fell asleep on the flight out and missed the stop at Dubai. God knows where he ended up!"

So June the 2nd, my 31st birthday, my 11th anniversary of working for Marconi and I couldn't even get a drink because the bar was sealed up of course. After dinner a Greek sparky turned up who was having problems with his Crusader so he got an instant course in what could go wrong.

For those who need reminding and those who've never seen one, the attached is a Crusader main transmitter.
Turn the lights down sit back and enjoy.(==D)

Steve Woodward
31st July 2008, 10:29
Remember the sparks on my first ship dreaming about having on of these ( crusader)

K urgess
31st July 2008, 11:03
He would have been quite welcome to the one on the Esso Northumbria, Steve. [=P]

31st July 2008, 11:25
From my experience they are fine until they get 'long-in-the-tooth' when many araldite/bending contacts/jury rig repairs so you're allotting more time in repairs and component replacement. Good TX when all's well not so when it isn't.


K urgess
31st July 2008, 12:18
Must've been a change in standards, Mike, or maybe just getting too complicated.
Having sailed with 20 year old Oceanspans I wasn't expecting a 7 year old Crusader to fall apart so comprehensively.
I must say though that I can't remember having ledex problems with it other than a tightening of loose screws.

31st July 2008, 12:58
Must've been a change in standards, Mike, or maybe just getting too complicated.
Having sailed with 20 year old Oceanspans I wasn't expecting a 7 year old Crusader to fall apart so comprehensively.
I must say though that I can't remember having ledex problems with it other than a tightening of loose screws.

Not nearly as robust as the old Oceanspans Kris. You were very fortunate not to have ledex problems, in severe cases it can lead to lose of drive during a QSO due to the ships vibration. One ship was so bad with slack wafer centres, I noted that several wafers were already araldited by previous R/O's and contacts generally in a bad condition that I opted to change the whole ledex assy. After that it was a dream, no further problems for the 3months I remained on her. Unfortunately I can't now relate it to which ship it was as I didn't keep with me much in the way of servicing records after leaving the ship - which would now, in hind-sight be very informative.

K urgess
31st July 2008, 14:07
I could well have had ledex problems on other ships particularly with those Pennant(?) systems, Mike.
I've recently found references to other reports like this one that have gone missing along the way. The only other references I have now are the letters to the Memsahib and those are obviously not very informative from a technical standpoint.
The one ship where I could well have had problems vibrated so badly that a radar scanner nearly fell off (previously one had fallen to the main deck) but that had a Commander main Tx and was a bit newer than this.

31st July 2008, 14:37
I could well have had ledex problems on other ships particularly with those Pennant(?) systems, Mike.
I've recently found references to other reports like this one that have gone missing along the way. The only other references I have now are the letters to the Memsahib and those are obviously not very informative from a technical standpoint.
The one ship where I could well have had problems vibrated so badly that a radar scanner nearly fell off (previously one had fallen to the main deck) but that had a Commander main Tx and was a bit newer than this.

I remember regularily checking the mounting bolts of the radar scanners especially the larger 10cm. The 3cm ones with not so much bulk seemed to fare a little better depending where they were mounted. Luckily never had one fall off which would mean not just the loss of one radar but the old man bending your ear as why it happened - followed by plenty of interrogation from head office and much extra paperwork(Cloud)

31st July 2008, 14:39
You could tell a Crusader with ledex problems by the hole bored in the tx side panel to let you insert a screwdriver for on-the-run ledex adjustments when you were changing bands and needed the transmitter NOW.

K urgess
31st July 2008, 14:45
Nobody told me about the one that had fallen off, Mike.
I found it in a locker on the bridge deck while lookong for something else. (EEK)
The one I had to fix had stalled because of strain on the motor. A check revealed the glass fibre giving way where the flange was fitted. Had to take it down and ask nicely if someone in the engine room could fix it. They did a good job but then I had to get the motor running and re-fit the repaired scanner. Both radars were Raymarc 12s so 3cm but I think the true motion one that came loose had a 12 foot scanner.

31st July 2008, 16:54
There was a company message from Shell saying one of their ships had a scanner fall and therefore instructed regular inspections and checks of mounting bolts, welds etc. I generally did that every couple of weeks ....and really trying not to look at a birds eye view of wives bronzying.

K urgess
2nd August 2008, 21:27
Reported lack of operation between control room and maneouvring platform. Found two contacts on RLB welded together slightly. Replaced faulty relay with spare. Also found RLC one pin of coil loose in base and possibility of intermittent open circuit coil. Replaced with spare. Tested from maneouvring platform and operating satisfactorily.

I really loved the engine room, not. Wandering past all those high pressure superheated steam lines. (EEK)

Intermittent operation of cargo control room call button. Button removed from loudspeaker panel and stripped. Found to be dirty and full of hydraulic fluid and/or oil. Cleaned all contacts and cleaned off as much of the oil as possible. Re-assembled and re-soldered button in place. Operation improved but still largely intermittent. Checked relays and gain controls in bridge console. Cleaned all six relays and adjusted contacts. Now operating satisfactorily after adjusting control room to manifold gain.

Again reported non-operation between control room and maneouvring platform. Tested and found OK inward to control room but intermittent from control room out to all stations. Checked control panel switches and relays. Cleaned and adjusted contacts but still intermittent on re-test. \concluded microphone and/or switch faulty so changed with SHURE 418B type spare (MIC 87) upon re-test found to be operating most satisfactorily at all stations.

Reported poor sensitivity. Re-tuned as per manual and re-tuned TR cell. Signals improved and much better than previous display.

Three out of six units unserviceable. Checked and found one unit fuse blown, remainder dirty battery contacts. All units cleaned and checked then tested with fresh batteries. All units operating satisfactorily.

Sorting out one complete set of installation wiring diagrams from approximately six part sets. Compiling list of drawings in alph-numerical order.

No picture available on either crew or officer's TV sets. Unit removed to radio room and tested. Heads cleaned with surgical spirit and gently polished. Tested and operating satisfactorily. Unit installed in officer's bar and tested with colour TVs. Operating satisfactorily.

Overload condition permanent. Checked trip current and meter reads zero. Checked V6 (ECC84) and found heaters not glowing. Replaced with spare and okay. Checked old valve heaters and found to be good. Replaced old valve in circuit and now operating satisfactorily.

I think that's the last time I report the Crusader going wrong. From the past reports you can see it was full of intermittents and when valve bases start to go you know you've got problems. Amazingly it appears to have lasted until I shut it down for the last time 20 days later.

K urgess
6th August 2008, 21:02
Sorting out, for removal to central stores, all items not required for use by radio department or for ship's complement hobbies use.

The only picture I could find of this dumping ground is attached.

Continuing as per 084-08/6. All extraneous materials such as plumbing spares, locks, door fittings, electrical spares, vacuum cleaner spares, etc., removed to central store.

I didn't think plumbing and household maintenance where part of my remit. (==D)

Cleaning down benches and covering desk surface with material that can be kept clean. Sorting boxes of unserviceable electronic equipment and used spares.

Battery charger for Starphone walkie talkies with broken contact on battery voltage checking position. Unit stripped and broken contact removed. Old non-automatic Starcharge unit stripped and contacts removed from voltage check position. Re-assembled automatic Starcharge using contact from old unit to replace broken one. Fitted on/off switch to unit. Tested and operating satisfactorily. Cleaned all contacts on battery charging positions.

In order to aid in cooling down transmitter in the tropicss when switched off after working, fitted extractor fan into duct which channels hot air out of the radio room into the alleyway. Fan is an old unit from a scrapped photo-copier and has been fitted with switch and indicator neon in side of duct where easily visible. Fan is wired into junction box for bench light and sockets which is in the cupboard under the bookcase.

What isn't listed is the time spent finding the relevant electrical drawing and updating it everytime I did some mod like this.

Modified and fitted lock and handle to right hand cupboard door because old catches broken and unsatisfactory. Lock fitted for drydock security purposes. Fitted bolt to left hand cupboard door at same level as handle and lock. Key tagged and marked for tool and spares cupboard.

TM429 RADAR "B".
Reported poor performance. Tuning unsatisfactory. Replaced crystals which showed poor ratios. Replaced klystron and retuned but still unsatisfactory. Replaced magnetron and modulator valves to improve transmitter output. Test with neon at waveguide shows improvement. Tuning still unsatisfactory.

That's a blast from the past. Checking radar crystal ratios with an Avo. And disconnecting the waveguide in a steel room to check the radiated power with a neon from the end of the open waveguide. (EEK)
No wonder my brain feels fried sometimes.

TM429 RADAR "B".
Checked IF amp voltages and found correct. With aid of Second Officer tuned receiver and found to be very sensitive. Tuned TR Cell and set up crystal current. Now operating as well as Radar A.

I was a great fan of Decca radars. They would normally work for quite a while before going off tune and were relatively easy to sort out. Just sometimes they took a bit of TLC.

K urgess
12th August 2008, 16:54
Reported non-operation. No picture obtainable on monitor. Heads cleaned again as per 082-06/6. This thought to be due to playing of video casserttes picked up at Dubai which have been wet with saltwater at some time. Now operating satisfactorily.

Used to get some messy video cassettes at times. This was well before the explosion in the home video market so this was about the only place I saw them. Being Sony systems they were Betamax. By this time I'm sure we'd got rid of the video cassettes that came on 8mm film that the machine rasterised.

General cleaning and tidying radio room.

Checking drydock specifications and making out work responsibility list for forthcoming drydock.

It was really enjoyable (LOL) on a VLCC checking that the work was progressing on the radar scanner replacements and then making sure that the echo-sounder and doppler transducers were being fitted correctly. For a time I found it easier to climb down from the monkey island, down eight decks to the maindeck, down the same distance to the bottom of the engine room and then drop out through the bottom where they'd removed the aft echo-sounder transducer. Then walk up forrard under the ship to check the other ones. The lift, of course, was out of action during the drydock.
What I didn't enjoy was climbing down inside the forrard tank when we first arrived to try and locate the transducers. Dantes Inferno had nothing on that. Slippery oil covered ladders and what looked like hundreds of local cleaners digging the sludge out nearly 70 metres below.
Not sparkie's normal habitat.

Sorting boxes of wiring and cable previously stored in radio room spares cupboard in order to dump useless items. Sorting out filing cabinets and generally tidying up. (still)

Attempts to to cure fold over of scan at left side of raster. Adjusted by means of 625 line hold equalizer and picture stability control. Video games machine appears to have interlacing ault. Traced as far as possible using oscilloscope but no circuit diagram available.

Video games machine the latest technology ping pong machine. (==D)
I seem to remember, having given the grey cells a stir, that the oscilloscope was a Heathkit one as were the sig gens etc. I also seem to remember having to complete building it all before I could use it.

Shore technician from Marconi Marine attended and set up colour for better colour reception on video tapes.

We had arrived at Singapore SBM at 1300 and they were on board pretty quickly. My messages about the state of the gear must have had some effect. Note they only came to do the TV.

Shore technicians from Walport Telmar attended and exchanged faulty ship unit for re-conditioned unit. Operating satisfactorily.

There wasn't a lot wrong with the old one except needing an overhaul.

Complaints received of picture jumping and lack of sound at crew monitor. Tested with tapes and found to be normal picture at officer TV after cleaning pinchwheel, capstan and tape guides on video machine. Officer TV frame hold adjusted more to centre of steady portion of control adjustment. Audio gain of video cassette amplifier increased as per Sony manual and all components of system now satisfactory.

So much for shoreside assistance.(Cloud)

Reported poor picture on crew TV receiver when on video. Checked and adjusted horizontal hold. Operating satisfactorily. Most of the problems with this system arise from the necessity to change over aerial plugs when changing from shore broadcast to ship video system. Investigation reveals no satisfactory solution to this problem. The aerial amplifier is in the AC room on the bridge deck and two outputs are taken by seperate routes to the crew bar and officer bar. This makes it impractical to connect the video player into the aerial system because of signal loss in the run from the officer bar to the AC room to the crew bar. Other problems relating to the loss of colour and periodic jumping of the picture can only be ascribed to the variation in the cycles of the mains supply. The only cure for this is the fitting of a frequency converter in the supply to the video machine.

Films were a lot simpler. These Sony video players were not really suited to the environment. A lot of "finger trouble" when being used and "adjusted" while I was on watch!

Requested check for operation and charging of batteries for use in forthcoming deslopping operations. These units have not been used for a considerable length of time. All units physically checked but unable to check operation due to discharged batteries. Three battery chargers checked and commenced charging nine batteries.

The Bantams (Pye) were the size of a car radio and quite heavy with seperate microphone on a curly lead. The Starphones were about the size of an old analogue mobile phone.

Checking with charged batteries for correct operation. One unit completely unserviceable, one unit transmitter fault and three operating units. More batteries put on charge to complete charging of all batteries. Used batteries (in tests) re-charged.

And that's that. 25th June 1977 we were tootling around the east Malaysian coast trying to get gas free. 27th we went to anchor at Jurong to start deslopping. Went alongside Sembewang repair berth on the 28th and into dry dock around the 4th July.
9th July 1977 I signed off articles for the last time and flew home. Two months leave and left Marconi's.
Joined SAIT and started doing all the jobs that sparkie never did while he had his feet up reading a book. (Whaaa)
Attached is a picture of GZJE radio room taken just before reaching Capetown on the outward leg.

12th August 2008, 21:15
Glad hear that you thought the Northumbria was a wreck, sailed in her as lecky in 1975 and was amazed at her poor dirty condition compared to her sister ESSO Uldia, mainly north country engineers who had it in for me being Cornish. got lumbered with the cargo control room hydraulics as well. not the happiest ship that I`v sailed on. The sparks was a young lad and was not very mechanically minded,so spent a lot of time helping him out. That was long ago and your logs brought back a lot of the dormant grey cells.Thanks for that .Gordon.

13th August 2008, 11:24

well now what am I going to read. Enjoyable thread.

Neville - Hawkey01

K urgess
13th August 2008, 12:55
Thanks Neville and all those that have followed my path to resignation. [=P]
Beware, I have all my service sheets as a techie for SAIT that may give an insight into the sort of kit around the UK coast in the late 70s. May take a bit of sorting out though.
Attached is me the day before I flew home from Singapore cuddling up to my favourite piece of kit.
I still have the helmet and the Esso badge off the boiler suit.(==D)

13th August 2008, 13:34
Thanks Neville and all those that have followed my path to resignation. [=P]
Beware, I have all my service sheets as a techie for SAIT that may give an insight into the sort of kit around the UK coast in the late 70s. May take a bit of sorting out though.
Attached is me the day before I flew home from Singapore cuddling up to my favourite piece of kit.
I still have the helmet and the Esso badge off the boiler suit.(==D)

Especially like the Mimco badge on your safety helmet Kris, nice touch. That's also some neon you have on the aerial feeder, must have lit up the radio room nicely (Thumb)

K urgess
13th August 2008, 14:10
Here she is in all her glory after a few years use ashore and then by the kids in various battles. Probably not up to elfin safety standards now.

Green circle was radio department. The Marconi badge was so the shoreside techs could spot me. Not a good idea. The SAIT badge from when I changed allegiance. Shipboard name to let everyone know who they were speaking to.

Left side red triangle was the Esso "Safety And Me" (SAM) scheme precursor to elfin safety. We got vouchers for number of days without a shipboard accident or screw-up. Exchanged out of a catalogue a bit like Embassy vouchers. The Memsahib is still using the Prestige pressure cooker I sent for when I got home.

Rear view as the department colour again with my safety/personnel list number so they could identify the bits if anything went wrong.

Right side shows rank with my collection of "Ropey Trophies" above. These were awarded amongst the officers for "Cock-up of the week". In the grades of Brass (1st), Chrome (2nd), and Scrap (3rd) and in the form of a standard "Shanks" ships toilet flush valve. The original was mounted on a wooden plinth and awarded on a Saturday before the movie. Always kept in the bar with the current holder's name writ large next to it. Never for anything serious, more for doing something stupid like falling for a practical joke or falling down a ladder. I remember being extremely proud of my two golds and five silvers. The only one I remember is the first gold for trying to blow the ship up by generating sparks from the aerial as described in one of my reports above.

If you look at my profile picture, Mike, taken on my first trip on GZJE, you can just make out the neon in the top right. Fitted by the regular sparks at the time, Pat Barrett from Dublin. Certainly very handy and I used to think I could see the standing wave as I tuned the Tx.


13th August 2008, 20:26
I'm also sorry that this thread has come to and end.

(The high polish of the feeders is also notable! I used to tell people that polishing them (and the earthing strips) made them more efficient because it improved the skin-effect resistance. The radio room does look better if they're shiny - although I sailed on a ship where the copper had been painted red.)

Ron Stringer
13th August 2008, 22:00
I sailed on a ship where the copper had been painted red.)

And so did every R/O that replaced me on any ship that I sailed on! I was the red paint equivalent of Johnny Appleseed - I couldn't abide copper tube that was bare (whether shiny or dirty) and where all the securing clips on top of the stand-off insulators were coated with verdigris and Duraglit residue. Clean it all up for the last time and then paint it red, forever.

14th August 2008, 08:37
Clean it all up for the last time and then paint it red, forever. You might call this Blue Flue bullsh**t but the norm was before each ship arrived at it's first home-port it had to look almost as good as the day it sailed which included the radio office. All gear gleaming and copper shiny bright. I carried this practice through to foc and Greek skippers were always impressed. Red painted copper ugh!

14th August 2008, 10:14
Curses - when the Jnr R/O's is at a loose end whats he going to do? Can't polish red paint.

Ron Stringer
14th August 2008, 12:22
the norm was before each ship arrived at it's first home-port it had to look almost as good as the day it sailed

Sorry but in the radio rooms that I installed as a shore technician, the copper tube was always painted red before I left! Even the ones that I did on the run, between ports. The engine room always had red paint to spare, so I used it.

14th August 2008, 12:53
The engine room always had red paint to spare, so I used it. No need for apologies Ron, each one to his own. I was only following company policy which I followed through during my entire seagoing life. Quotes above indicate it was a personal preference and not MIMCO policy to have red painted copper tube aerial leads then?

K urgess
14th August 2008, 14:14
Some ships had them painted some not.
I usually left them as they were and either polished them or touched up the paint.
Since I did a few trips relieving the regular sparks I was loath to mess with "his" station.
I used to find it a nice mindless job to polish them if I was bored. I can only ever remember being told off once at Sunday inspection for not having shiny brass and copper in the radio room. [=P]

Ron Stringer
14th August 2008, 19:18
Quotes above indicate it was a personal preference and not MIMCO policy to have red painted copper tube aerial leads then?

Definitely a personal preference. Was most put out to find on my first ship that the Chief R/O believed that, having spent a lot of money and over a year's study time to get a PMG and a BOT radar maintenance ticket, the best way for a new R/O to spend his time was to polish bits of copper tube in the radio room. As soon as he went on leave, I painted it all red and when he returned I told him it was a requirement of the new safety regulations. No probs.

15th August 2008, 10:47
Definitely a personal preference. Was most put out to find on my first ship that the Chief R/O believed that, having spent a lot of money and over a year's study time to get a PMG and a BOT radar maintenance ticket, the best way for a new R/O to spend his time was to polish bits of copper tube in the radio room. As soon as he went on leave, I painted it all red and when he returned I told him it was a requirement of the new safety regulations. No probs.

My personal preference was for polished copper. In a way it was part of the radio room 'housekeeping'. I liked it looking clean and tidy, no ALRS volumes scattered about unless in use, corrections timely done. Cupboards listed so you knew what spares were where. Fault log updated straight after repair etc etc.
Polishing the copper didn't take long and certainly did look a lot better than painted IMO. Even if it was very busy I still found time to polish the copper - as Kris says it was a mindless job so not so bad.

Don't know how you got away with saying that painting was a requirement of the new regulations... didn't he question that?

Ron Stringer
15th August 2008, 15:38
''''''hmg;kdrkumffjcdfukmjfjDon't know how you got away with saying that painting was a requirement of the new regulations... didn't he question that?

No, he was old school. If the office said something had to be done, he would never even consider questioning it. So I lied and said it was mandatory and he accepted it. Easy really. Polishing brass was a duty given to new-starting office boys, char-ladies and the like. Not necessary and a waste of time so I found a way round it.

Essential work for the efficient operation of the station and the radio service got done promptly and dilgently but anything else could go hang.