Ruston AO Diesels

R736476
25th September 2005, 16:29
The first 3 RFA Rover Class Small Fleet Tankers (Green, Grey & Blue) delivered from the former Hawthorn Leslie yard at Hebburn in 1969-70 were engined with twin V16 Ruston AO Medium Speed Diesels of 8,000 bhp each. Following unsatisfactory service with these engines the 3 ships were re-engined in the early 1970s.
I believe there were a number of merchant ships also engined with Ruston AOs amongst which were some for Lyle Shipping Co. Do any SN members have any knowledge of the Lyle ships and their fate?
Cheers
Alex

moaf
25th September 2005, 21:41
Not sure about the vessels Alex but I do know about Ruston engines. I have sailed with Ruston RK engines which were a follow on from the AO range. Most Incat fast craft are fitted with either V16 or V20 RK's. They are a complete nightmare and very unreliable. If you were to spend a year with these engines, you'd probably see more failures in that time than you would with any other engine in a lifetime!

Les Hughes
26th September 2005, 00:47
A lot of the SD14's built in Sunderland had these engines fitted in the 70's, as generators, they were a nightmare, the aluminium pistons used to melt regularly if i remember right.

R736476
26th September 2005, 08:45
Thanks Moaf & Les,
I see only this morning from a website dedicated to English Electric Vulcan Works history that AO's were also fitted in the BR ferry St George and Reardon Smith's Welsh City.
There's no doubt lots of horror stories out there! Crankcase explosions were not uncommon; by the time the Graviner alarms came up the crankcase reliefs were lifting!
Cheers
alex

trotterdotpom
26th September 2005, 19:32
Lyles, Hogarths and Lampberts of London, which made up Scottish Ship Management, all had ships with Ruston AO engines:

Cape Horn, Cape Hawke, Baron Ardrossan, Baron Inchcape, Baron Renfrew, Baron Wemyss, Temple Arch, Temple Bar, Temple Inn.

Huge problems with every ship. Baron Renfrew had a year in Brisbane! My three month projected trip on Baron Ardrossan lasted 11 months. An abiding memory is of the everlasting water restrictions and having to flush toilets with a bucket once a day (toilets were on fresh water and fresh water was manufactured on board if the engine was running (not all that often), there was very little storage capacity.The Engineers had even bigger nightmares!

Eventually, all the engines were replaced with Stork Werkspoors at Amsterdam. I left soon after that but did hear that they weren't that successful either.

John T.

R736476
26th September 2005, 21:36
Thanks ever so much John,
That's amazing information. Must have been a feast for some shiprepairers on the re-engine contracts.
Cheers,
Alex

Doxfordman
27th September 2005, 07:01
Not sure about the vessels Alex but I do know about Ruston engines. I have sailed with Ruston RK engines which were a follow on from the AO range. Most Incat fast craft are fitted with either V16 or V20 RK's. They are a complete nightmare and very unreliable. If you were to spend a year with these engines, you'd probably see more failures in that time than you would with any other engine in a lifetime!

Hummm, might have to take the wipe to you my boy! how could anyone abuse such a fine mechanical dinosaur, agricultral in construction, and never knowing what will fall off next. The AO's were far worse than any of the RK's in fast craft. I have not heard of a complete demolition of an RK but certainly there plenty of AO's destroyed. I speak with a little authroity in regard to fast craft having spent the last 15 years with large fast craft. Keeps you young! Maybe we need a seperate psoting place for fast craft???

R651400
27th September 2005, 07:41
It's hard to believe what you're reading about these engines.
Certainly takes the sting out of "Buy British buy best!"
Read an article not so long ago, Majestic Cruises "Ocean Monarch" ex 1955 "Port Sydney" still runs on her original Doxfords. Not only are they so quiet the Engineers can hold a normal conversation in the engine-room, after a long lay up they fired up immediately. Where did Rustons go wrong?

R736476
27th September 2005, 09:57
The AO was probably ahead of it's time and material technology and got government funding at the the time of Tony Benn's white hot technological revolution. This engine had a lot going for it with a good power/weight ratio. From memory the V16 with it's space frame construction weighed 67 tons for 8000bhp. The AOs were going to put the UK into the medium speed market big time against the French and the Pielsticks.
The engines for the Rovers I believe were a consolation prize to Rustons for the Goverment not going ahead with a new diesel electric submarine depot ship which would have had 8 -V16 engine sets.
The load reversers were novel and got mangled. Liner wear was phenomenal and between 1969-72, the price of hard chromed liners went up by a factor of 6. Accompanying lub oil consumption required personal barge. Cracked blower feet.
Exciting days!
Cheers
Alex

j voet
28th September 2005, 17:15
Would anyone might know the air draft on the Ocean Monarch or Baltica??

japottinger
28th September 2005, 19:47
We had Rustons on some of Brocklebank ships not sure the type but ships were built just after end of WWII.
They ran OK, only snag was that the whole cylinder head had to be taken off in order to grind any of the inlet and exhaust valves. The later Allen diesels had the valves in cages, and could be easily removed without disturbing the whole head.

R736476
28th September 2005, 21:20
Jim,
The AO as a 2 stroke, at least didn't suffer your valve problems. See the quote below from the Vulcan Works website, as you'll see they were much later than your Brocklebank ships:
"The Ruston AO two stroke turbocharged and intercooled engine was introduced in 1968 to bring a new standard of design criteria to shipowners and naval architects. The range was available in 6, 8 and 9-cylinder in-line and 12 and 16 cylinder vee-form units producing from 3000 to 8850 b.h.p.

The first engines went into service in July 1968 and whilst the first engines to be produced were four, nine cylinder versions for the British Rail ferry St. George, the first engines to enter service were two nine cylinder in-line engines fitted into Welsh City"

Regards
Alex

Ian Harrod
14th November 2005, 03:13
I spent 3 1/2 years a Mate on the CAPE HAWKE in the mid 80's, long after she had been re-engined. The Stork's were not much better. The longest we ever went in that time without a breakdown was the final 14 day voyage from Oz to the scrapyard in Kaohsiung!

cymruman
15th January 2006, 22:53
Reardon Smiths Welsh City and Cornish City were fitted with 2 inline AOs each and I remember the fearsome reputation these engines had. I was lucky in that I was only on the Welsh in the time it took to go from Calcutta to Aioi and was on board for the engine change to a V16 Pielstick. There were some very happy engineers when they lifted those monsters out and left them on the jetty.

Geoff.
16th January 2006, 09:22
The long malaise in British Engineering is due to the lack of incentive - including staus - to become well qualified in the field. Becoming something in money management - accountancy, stock broking etc. is held in high esteem, and attracts some of the brightest brains, despite (in my humble opinion) them being nothing but parasites. When derogatory terms like "metal bashers" are used and "engineer" now frequently means someone with no proper training who travels around fixing (in both senses) slot machines, what can we expect? It is no coincidence that the expression "beam me up Scottie" (no, not the dog) seemed so plausible - it's because of the more science based education system in Scotland at the relevant time. My secondary school, Kings School Peterborough, housed "6th Classics" in a nice room with a bay window overlooking the quadrangle and sports field, whilst physics and chemistry were taught in prefabs! The poor old woodworkers had a corrugated iron* (an engineer would say steel*) hut... Geoff Cobb, who rose to the dizzy heights of 4th Engineer, mv Antrim.

R651400
16th January 2006, 10:16
I've enjoyed reading this thread mainly because my British experience was a departmental closed shop.
The only time I ventured into the engine room was to ask the watchkeeper to cut the main fan increasing generator output to operate our main transmitter. Request not very well received in the Red Sea!
Sometime later I learned what an engine tie bolt was when one went and the ship started to hog and sag like nobody's business.
The bridge likewise out of bounds, except when taking DF bearings.
On Greek flag, everybody mucked in. I learned the basics of navigation, a wee bit of engineering since I was the only one who could read the American manuals and for similar reason quite a success as medic, diagnosing all the usual pimples to severe kidney stones which necessitated a medivac to Port of Spain.
I think Geoff has hit a valid point above why we are no longer flying at the head of the skein.
Regards
Malcolm

Tystie
24th January 2006, 11:08
Good site for SSM at http://www.scottishshipmanagement.com/ even shows a pic of a pair of AO's Did 6 months on Baron Ardrossan as 3rd Eng. Interesting to say the least.

R58484956
24th January 2006, 11:28
Welcome Tystie to the site enjoy it most of left the sea years ago but our minds are still there.

Bearsie
12th November 2006, 23:03
I've enjoyed reading this thread mainly because my British experience was a departmental closed shop.
The only time I ventured into the engine room was to ask the watchkeeper to cut the main fan increasing generator output to operate our main transmitter. Request not very well received in the Red Sea!
Sometime later I learned what an engine tie bolt was when one went and the ship started to hog and sag like nobody's business.
The bridge likewise out of bounds, except when taking DF bearings.
On Greek flag, everybody mucked in. I learned the basics of navigation, a wee bit of engineering since I was the only one who could read the American manuals and for similar reason quite a success as medic, diagnosing all the usual pimples to severe kidney stones which necessitated a medivac to Port of Spain.
I think Geoff has hit a valid point above why we are no longer flying at the head of the skein.
Regards
Malcolm

My "British Experience" was from the outside in as a teenage sailor on a german coaster. I spent a lot of time in all sorts of British ports and certainly enjoyed the people. But found the work attitudes rather strange and the technology a bit behind the times....
Quaint in a most pleasant way but most likely not very profitable.

I don't know much about Ruston, Doxford always had a good name however.
As far as Stork/Werkspoor is concerned, the Marika had one albeit much smaller for some odd reason it didnt have a heat exchanger and so the saltwater ran straight tru it... It wasn't that reliable either and eventually was replaced with a MaK engine.
Other than that and a crushed bow when the captain decided to broadside a 45 000 tdw tanker on the Elbe river, insisting he had the right of way !!! The Marika had a happy and long life. :)

Chillytoes
11th December 2006, 07:45
Hello, Ian.
I was on that scrap trip - 15/12/86. I also did a spell earlier that year, but I don't remember too much main engine trouble. Perhaps they had settled down by then.
Cheers
Neil Brough

trotterdotpom
11th December 2006, 10:40
Hello, Ian.
I was on that scrap trip - 15/12/86. I also did a spell earlier that year, but I don't remember too much main engine trouble. Perhaps they had settled down by then.
Cheers
Neil Brough

Hello Neil,

Nice to see you on the site. Did you notice the other day someone mentioned that the A. Venture is going to scrap in India.

John T.

Tony Breach
11th December 2006, 12:49
Question: When an engine is so obviously a total disaster and a ship is re-engined who pays?

I understand that the six Polar vessels built by Blohm & Voss at Hamburg 1968/9 were to have had 4 Rolls Royce auxiliary engines each but after the first few ships were delivered they experienced major problems. The remaining uncompleted ships were fitted with MAKs at the yard & the first vessels were re-engined with MAKs soon afterwards. 24 engines sounds expensive! Can anyone expand on this please?

Also, the first two UK flagged Geest ships of 1964 built by NDSM at Amsterdam had Werkspoor Sulzer 7RD76 engines which apparently proved to be troublesome. I have heard that these were the first and only Sulzers built by Werkspoor & that Sulzer pulled the license from them. In Geest they were known as "Work's Poor". These ships also had the propeller pitches reduced after a few years which slightly improved performance. Would appreciate any info.

eldersuk
11th December 2006, 23:06
Don't know if I'll be welcome on this thread. I spent 12 months as "maker's man" with Rustons in 1978/79. Mostly RKs.

Derek

Dragon53
20th April 2007, 18:01
Hi all,
I never sailed on either the Welsh City or Cornish City but I was a junior engineer with Reardon Smith at the time and heard some stories from engineers who had been on them.
Apparantly it was very rare to have both engines available to run at the same time, if you had both running for 24 hours you were doing well.
Lub oil carried in 45gal drums stored wherever there was room, it was said they burnt as much lub oil as fuel.
Heard stories of happy engineers when the were replaced with the single V16 Pielstick engine.
Regards,
Steve.

Chillytoes
27th April 2007, 11:55
Came across a photocopy I made some time ago from The Motor Ship (Feb 1975) on the re-engining of the SSM ships. It is a summary of a paper presented at IMarE which I remember reading at the time. And I remember reading the earlier paper extolling the virtues of the AO and the selection process which resulted in SSM buying them. Often wondered what happened to the earlier writer, his credibility shot to pieces.
However, back to the article, which notes the experience of "Temple Arch" first of the class and fitted with in-line engines, not the later Vees. At one time she was using 1,818 litres of lube oil per day. Others later were using 2,728 litres! Between her maiden voyage, Nov 69 and Nov 71, she had 158 liner changes! Makes you feel weak in the knees. Not the sort of thing you want to read, all alone, in the dead of night.
Luckily I escaped the AO's but sailed on Cape Hawke for a short period and took her to the breakers. The Werkspoors were ok but I recall that it was necessary to regularly apply copious quantities of oil to the valve stems via a syringe.

Wallyh
31st May 2007, 08:34
Sailed on the Cornish City Jan - July 1971, as Deck Cadet spent nearly as much time in the engine room as on deck, took six weeks from Panama to Japan, engineers working 18 - 20 hour days to keep the job going thin if I remember rightly in that six weeks we overhauled 24 or 27 heads out of a grand total of 18 plus the odd piston and liner, funnily enough think it was the best ship I ever sailed on for team work and everybody getting on with each other, job needed doing all clubed together to get it done, but it was a work hard play hard ship and some of the boys new how to do both

Wallyh

Janner100
6th June 2007, 12:55
Being from Cornwall I foolishly volunteered for the Cornish City in a conversation with Graham Hardy and consequently I sailed on the Cornish City July 1971 to january 1973 - joined Yokohama and discharged Mizushima.
Engineers were John Howells chief, Brian Lewis 2nd, Ian Mowatt 3rd, Dave Smith 4th, Chris Buckley J4th, myself J/E and frank Woods JE. John Gardener 'lectrician. Captain was Flash Thomas, Dave Wooton, mate (later killed in a welding accident on the Tacoma Citys' maiden. the second and third mates names escape me. Duggie Cummings and Hugh Hurst were deck cadets.

The trip was the usual break downs. came in patches as I remember. We machined the valves which removed any coating and seemed to last that bit longer. From an owners point of view I cn ee the advantage to twin engines. Keep one running and work on the ther at sea. As I remember the Cornish could do 11 to 12 knots loaded on one engine.

As is usual when away from the ship only the good memories were recalled.

Engineers were a great bunch. Worked hard and partied hard ashore.

cymruman
6th June 2007, 15:32
John Howells was Chief on the Welsh City when I was on her as engineer cadet.
As I remember he spent a lot of time on those 2 ships ( Must have been awful bad in a previous life ) and knew them inside out. Great crowd on board but I guess they had to be.
Nice to hear Graham Hardy get a mention, he was a gent and I always remember these words " Be very good or very bad at your job and I will hear about it, either way you'll probably be promoted " . It just wasn't the same after he died it all got too serious lol.

Janner100
6th June 2007, 16:04
I am assuming from your reply that Graham Hardy died prior to the Company's demise. The last time I spoke with him was in 1975 after the Tacoma City came into falmouth for minor repairs and a change of officers. After a few days out with Justin Schmidt I had a hankering to return to sea, spoke briefly with Graham but was talked out of the return by my then wife

Jim S
6th June 2007, 17:01
Can you tell me a bit more about the fatal accident to the Mate?
Welding related - electrocution?

I am assuming from your reply that Graham Hardy died prior to the Company's demise. The last time I spoke with him was in 1975 after the Tacoma City came into falmouth for minor repairs and a change of officers. After a few days out with Justin Schmidt I had a hankering to return to sea, spoke briefly with Graham but was talked out of the return by my then wife

cymruman
6th June 2007, 18:23
Re the welding death, and again I may be wrong as it was a long time ago and the news was about 12th hand, he was welding in the duct keel (I think), standing in water and touched the rod against himself. There were no low volt safety devices fitted to the set ( They were fitted to all sets immediatly after ).
I do apologise if this is wrong as I wasn't on the ship at the time and didnt know him, but i'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong.

cymruman
6th June 2007, 18:32
Re Graham Hardy:
Yes, sadly he died before the end of Smiths came, I believe it was a heart attack.
He was one of the nicest people I had met, despite the fact he was in personnel, and always had time to talk to you eiher socially or if you had problems.
His place was taken by Jeff Birrell and one of the older Captains ( Griff Jones possibly) it was very soon after that the first redundancys started and as I had had an 18 month spell with various other companies in between working for Bill's boats I was offered the chance of a job with West Hartlepool Stm Nav or redundancy. I chose the latter and ended up working for Hull Gates Shipping which was by far the best choice. The rest will be for another time.

Jim S
6th June 2007, 19:28
Re the welding death, and again I may be wrong as it was a long time ago and the news was about 12th hand, he was welding in the duct keel (I think), standing in water and touched the rod against himself. There were no low volt safety devices fitted to the set ( They were fitted to all sets immediatly after ).
I do apologise if this is wrong as I wasn't on the ship at the time and didnt know him, but i'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong.

Thanks for the info -
A tragic accident - the circumstances seem to fit a similar accident I heard of on a (BP I think) tanker where an engineer apprentice was similarly electrocuted while standing on engine room tanktops welding floor plate supports.

Janner100
6th June 2007, 22:26
I was on watch t the time of the accident. As I remember it happened around 10.30 am. Someone had tried to open the garbage tank with the locking pin on place and sheared the operating mechanism in the space under the tank (steering flat access).

Dave Wooton wanted the engineers to fix at sea but this was declined as a makers job in the next port which was Long Beach. Wooty decided that he would do it. The rest as they say is history. No industrial boots, standing in water where it had dripped throgh the broken mechanism. He took an arc and that was that.

Naturally it subdued the mood on the ship for a long while afterwards. Wooty was a nice chap with a young family.

We landed him in San Juan Puerto Rico and the company flre him home. He was later buried at sea.

I fixed the garbage tank in Vancouver with a junior on the promise of a weekend off which I took advantage of. Had a nice weekend with a friend in Nanaimo if you know what I mean.

Transferred to the Maria Elisa when we returned back to Vancouver.

cymruman
7th June 2007, 06:28
Thanks Janner, I stand corrected, a very sad incident indeed.

George.GM
7th June 2007, 13:27
A friend of mine was taking his Chief's orals some years ago. The examiner said " I see you are RFA, have the Admiralty come to terms with the excessive use of lube oil in the Rover class Ruston engines/"
"Yes" said John - "they changed the engines".
"That" said the examiner " is NOT coming to terms with it !!"

cymruman
7th June 2007, 18:08
Some people got no sense of humour, he obviously never sailed on them or he would have developed one.

Wee John
8th June 2007, 20:58
I never believed the storys about the Ruston AO untill I sailed on an old SSM ship and saw the L.O. lines from the hold to the E.R. for the extra L.O. Mark you she had been reengined with Storks and I dont know if that was an improvement.

Janner100
9th June 2007, 10:32
Believe me Ruston AOs were everything you haeard and then some.

Janner100
12th July 2007, 03:34
Bilgediver is a chap that could probably write a book and a sequel about the AOs. His knowledge of the damned things was awsome.

R736476
7th August 2007, 16:50
It's all coming back to me after 37 years!
The saga of the AOs in the first 3 Rovers began before the phenomenal liner wear, lub oil consumption and mangled load reversers!
Within the first few weeks of Green Rover entering service in the summer of 1969 a bearing on one of the 2 Fawick clutches failed; examination by the experts concluded that it was the wrong "spot" bearing- masking the real problem! The bearing was replaced and off she went again and first one Metalastic coupling failed followed by the second. The ship having lost both drives was hauled back to Falmouth. The alignment of both engines was checked and found to be a mile out from the specified 0-0. The hunt was then on for the innocent who had witnessed the alignment checks!!
Back on the Tyne high level meetings were held at which yours truly did mention that the engine double bottom lub oil drain tanks ran at quite a high temperature - 180F- very hot when you tried to pick your pen up from the tank top!! The decision was then made to recheck the alignments on Grey Rover which was still building. The lub oil drain tanks were heated up to working temperature of 180F and the alignments checked and found to be a mile outside the acceptable tolerances of the Metalastic couplings. On cooling down the alignments were still a mile adrift from 0-0. The decision was then made to reduce the size of the drain tanks from 2 bays wide to 1 bay and align the engines outboard and low to bring them in line at operating temperature. On Grey Rover it was quite a task to do the necessary steelwork and heating coil mods and get the drain tanks clean again - wasn't much skin left on my knees inspecting and re-inspecting the cleanliness of the drain tanks and I wasn't popular with the Hebburn Yard management!
Did Smiths and Denholms have the same initial problems?
Cheers,
Alex

capkelly
9th August 2007, 16:23
Sailed as mate on both "Baron Renfrew" and "Cape Horn" with the Ao's, very interesting and added to the grey hairs of the crew, breakdowns in heavy traffic, drifting for days, full deck cargoes of lube oil, and for us Deckies an education on liner changing from the Engineers (who had to be the world experts) as everyone got some ER experience

R736476
10th August 2007, 08:00
Sailed as mate on both "Baron Renfrew" and "Cape Horn" with the Ao's, very interesting and added to the grey hairs of the crew, breakdowns in heavy traffic, drifting for days, full deck cargoes of lube oil, and for us Deckies an education on liner changing from the Engineers (who had to be the world experts) as everyone got some ER experience

Amazing!!
In the first year of service 1969/70, Green Rover got through 101 cylinder liners!
Hard chroming was a good business to be in. Probably also contributed to a rise in the price of chromium in the commodity markets.
Regards,
Alex(EEK)

Roverdrive
3rd November 2007, 14:01
I sailed with Eastern Bulkers 1982/85. They had, if memory serves correctly, two vessels which had been fitted with the infamous Ruston engines. An abiding memory is of steaming to assistance of one of them off the coast of Australia. Her "good" engines clutch had failed, and the other engine was in pieces as usual. We had chain blocks big enough to swap out the clutches, so were doing a ship / ship transfer.
We came up to her on one of those days when the horizon is indiscenable, and the sea like a mirror. We stopped about 1/2 a mile off and motored over in the lifeboat with the chain blocks. Around the ship was a green tide of Heineken cans that had been amassing since they broke down!
I was offered the chance to have a look around the engine room, but as a 4th engineer was afraid of getting shanghaid.
I was lucky to sail on the Sulzer engined ships, so never had to suffer the water rationing that started as soon as the vessel left port.

oldsalt1
3rd November 2007, 15:41
The two Eastern Bulkers ships would have been the Kilinn x Tanjong Tokong x Cape Horn and the Kilchrenan x Tanjong Pasir x Baron Wemyss.
Both Tanjong Shipping of Singapore and Eastern Bulkers of Hong Kong were SSM's attempt of flagging out which didn't quite work.

I was on the Baron MacLay, the first to be transferred to Easten Bulkers. We arrived at the anchorage at Jurong and most of the crew went home while the engineers did some survey work etc and the re-naming took place.
The shore squad did a good job of painting in the new name Kilmarnock but slipped up somewhat when the port of registry on two lifeboats and the stern appeared as HONG KNOG.
The new crew and most of the officers were from mainland China with the Old Man & Chief from SSM, the mate and second were British.
Before leaving the Lecky was asked to show his relief how to drive the cranes.
The Chinaman thought it was a piece of p*** until he put the ponder ball through the Chief's dayroom window.

happy days

Roverdrive
4th November 2007, 01:26
Yes I was on the ex Cape Leeuwin (SP?) Tanjong Utara, which became the Kildrummy and then Rebeka Oma. I remember the Killin as being one of the Ruston/ Stork Werkspor engined vessels. Someone had a wicked sense of humour when they re named that one. Last time I saw her was 1985 in Bahrain dry dock after taking two missiles through the accomodation.
Pity they missed the engine room.

trotterdotpom
4th November 2007, 03:57
I sailed on Cape Leeuwin in about 1974. She didn't have Ruston Engines and as far as I know, her Sulzer never missed a beat. That didn't help during the oil crisis when we loaded sugar at Mackay and took about 70 days to get to London at economical speed.

Apart from that, she was a pretty good ship.

John T.

Philthechill
4th November 2007, 08:04
Japottinger, way back at the start of this thread in September 2005, mentioned some of Brock's ships having Ruston's. They were the 5VEBZ engines used to drive the generators and weren't all that bad as I remember them. They were, however, vastly inferior to the W.H. Allen 6-cylinder engines fitted in "Mangla" and "Mathura" with, possibly, the exception of starting them. You could start the Ruston's from wherever they last stopped but the Allens only had air-starting valves on two cylinders which meant you needed someone ("Tal wallah! Hitherao! Juldi!") to "bar" the engine round 'til you got it onto the appropriate cylinders. (Amazing what you can recall after all the years which have elapsed since those halcyon days!!!) Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

Jim S
4th November 2007, 21:30
Brocklebank's "Black Four" each had three Ruston 5VEBZ 4 stroke (non-turbocharged) diesels driving dc generators. As Phil says they were not bad engines however the years were taking their toll - by the mid - 1960's the engines were 20 years old. Crankpin ovality was a problem not helped by the sometime poor quality of re-metalling of the bottom end bearings. The design of the bottom end bolts could catch out the unwary. All this went someway to the wrecking of a diesel engine on Manipur, Magdapur and Mahronda. Manipur and I think Magdapur had replacements of the same type fitted. Mahronda had a Rolls Royce engine installed. The turbo-charged Allen's were great engines albeit their running hours were comparitively low as the steam turbo-alternator could take the full electrical load at sea. Allens also made a fine 2-stroke engine to drive generators. They worked on the "uniflow" style of scavenging with a head mounted exhaust valve and Rootes type blower. Fyffes had such machines.-

Philthechill
4th November 2007, 22:51
The necessity to bar the Allens in order to get one of the (two) starting-cylinders "on line" proved quite a blessing on "Mangla" once!
As S3/E I was responsible for the maintenance of the Allens and, after doing a blower bearing change (4000 hours seems to ring a bell!), on the "lone" Allen on the port side of the engine room I ran it up and checked all was tickety-boo with it before shutting it down again for the ag-wallahs to soogy down and give it a lick of paint.
A bit later on we got half-hours notice for arrival at Suez (we were homeward-bound) so I decided that I would start the Allen just down from the starting platform (No2).
I opened the vent cocks on the cylinder-heads and got the tahl-wallah to bar it over for starting. As he turned it over jets of water spurted out of the air-cocks on each cylinder!!!!!
Obviously we had a major problem and, as it entailed removing the heads to find-out how the water was getting into the cylinders, we would need to leave that engine as being unuseable.
However this wasn't a problem as we had the other two Allens, we could use, and which could easily handle all the electrical-load in port.
After we'd dropped the hook, to wait for the North-bound convoy to form-up I started stripping the heads off the engine. After removing all the heads and checking the head-gaskets and "O" rings, which were all in good shape, (but were all renewed to be on the safe side) it was all boxed-up again and the jacket refilled with water. (By the time all this was done we were through the Canal and in the Medi).
Air-cocks were opened, engine barred-over and, once again, water spurted out of the cocks!!
Complete and utter bafflement!!!!!
The one remaining piece of equipment which hadn't been checked was the blower!!!
There was a small drain-cock on the bottom of the air-side (as opposed to the exhaust-side) of the blower and on opening it water came out so I thought the unthinkable, "Is there a hole in the blower water-jacket?"
And that is exactly where the leak was!!!!
This meant that the engine couldn't be run any more, as they weren't meant to run normally aspirated, so we "only" had two Allens and the turbo for the rest of the trip.
When we got the blower off the engine and onto the plates we found that the jacket was paper-thin and made us wonder, "Are the others going to be the same?"
However closer examination revealed it was a bad casting so it was assumed all would be well with the other two engines.
I left "Mangla" at the end of that trip, to go to the ACL ships, and never had anything to do with Allen engines again but, in my humble opinion, they were far superior to the Ruston's. Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

Bilgediver
18th November 2007, 13:18
Reardon Smith Line ships Welsh and Cornish City were built with two in line nine cylinder engines coupled to a single screw.

The AO was a medium speed two stroke engine which the government were trying to push via Ruston Diesels who then became part of English Electric .

There are many tales of the AO some of which should be taken with a pinch of salt and most tales concern their early days when they were thrust upon unsuspecting engineers who were used to reliable engines doing what it said on the tin.

The basic problem seemed to be that the designers could not get the piston to run up and down in the liner without creating excessive liner and ring wear and also seemed to have no control initially of lubricating oil consumtion which on initial voyages was nearer 600 galls per day than the 65 expected.

You will deduce from this site if you read the offerings of some lads who actually sailed on the RSL ships that many of these problems were sorted or bought under control by a high maintenance routine. Unfortunately the vee engines had some different design faults as has been mentioned in this thread and others and they were more affected by load reverser problems as well as sometimes losing governor drive...Not a good thing in a low inertia engine and was not usually controlled by the overspeed :sweat:

You probably ask..what is a load reverser. Rustons had various ways of dealing with the constant downward load which is imparted on a two stroke piston and conn rod as compared to a fourstroke where the piston and bottom ends lift on the induction stroke allowing good lubrication.

In the in line engine they had an inertia device within the piston which acted like an oil boost pump or on later engines had a compression strut set internally between the piston crown and the gudgeon pin which also was set to lift the piston of the top end during the oscillation cycle of the conn rod. Both devices critical and requiring carefull set up and the instructions were not good :)

The VEE engine had a different load reverser involving the fork and blade which could also fail with spectacular results.

Another item which gave problems were the metalastic flexible couplings between engines and gearbox. In the early days it was not unusual to stop two or three times in an ocean passage to change the rubber compression pieces. Subsequently it was found that these buffers were experiencing oscillation at certain speeds which Rustons had not predicted and so in the short term these speeds were avoided and once convinced of the problem Rustons and metalastic came up with a modified buffer to reduce these criticals.

As if all these novel ideas wern t enough the engines also had a Westinghouse pneumatic control system which was set up to change the engines betwen manoevering mode...ie one engine running ahead and one astern and full away mode where both engines ran in the same direction.

The Welsh and Cornish City ran for 3/4 years with these engines and when it was time to go to Aioi for re engining we decided for the first time in 3 years to give the master full away when he asked for it leaving Kobe. I had never heard an AO in full song as wear rates in the combustion space were astronomical however with a passage of a few hours this was not a problem and maintenance was up to date. Once established on heavy oil I popped up to the bridge and was amused to see the skipper Fred Johns tapping the Tacho in the wheelhouse. I just smiled and said, well you asked for fullaway.

We fitted PC 2.4 16 cylinder engines which were certainly not as trouble free as expected however after the AO they were a piece of cake.

Life with the AO,s was helped a great deal by having lads like Cymruman and others on here who responded to the challenge even if at times it kept them out of the crew lounge.

We had our amusing times with these engines like arriving at Durban to pick up the pilot when the second engineer calls the chief to advise him they can,t stop the Starboard engine. Usually it was a case of couldn t start them .

Another time I arrived in Esperance to help a collegue do a full ring change out on both engines and when met by the agent was asked if we should warn the town before start up after the repairs. I asked why????? To be told that the previous ship with these engines had made a noise like a bomb going off after a rebuild. Further investigation showed that a Scottish Ship Managment vessel had called in after an engine failure when one engine had run away after a governor drive failure. Seems they might have been a bit stingy with the starting air and as a result the engine fired up with a stalled turbo and no ignition in some cylinders. There was eventually ignition in remaining cylinders including the uptakes :) This was a possible fault we were aware of and ensured that all turbos were spinning before giving fuel.

Certainly an interesting 4 years however as others here have said they were certainly happy ships .

I had the advantage of liasing directly with Rustons and later GEC Newton Le Willows to keep up to date with developements and also give them feed back.

Janner100
18th November 2007, 13:40
Indeed John,

Ian, Dave Smith and Chris Buckley were supberb in keeping the things going on the Cornish.

PS do you have a Skyphoto or similar of the Cornish City by chance?

Paul Cocker
12th March 2009, 16:49
Hi Folks , I wonder if any of you know which ship the engine that the Cadets at Llandaff practised their skills on !!!! came from? We had fun in Summer 1981removing the camshaft and exaiming the lost motion mechanism. Our tutor at the time was a chap known as Professor Hamworthy real I don't know. Ch. Eng. Danny Trigg called him that he had amusing stories for all during my trip starting Sept 1981 on the Port Alberni City.

Regards Paul Cocker

John Glover
13th March 2009, 23:55
I was Lecky on the Tanjong Pasir x Baron Wemyss She had been re engined with the WORKS POORS but was still an engineers nightmare.I used to turn out regulary with the lads when we broke down, rarely ran for more than 48hrs without something falling off. I left her in lay up in jurong Singapore and was transferred to Kilmun in Japan. I left KIlmun when my contract finished. After my leave i was told i would be joining a new ship in the U.S. the KIlchrenan. Comming round the end of the shed i realised i had been suckered when i saw the "New Ship" was indeed the renamed Tanjong Pasir. If i could have afforded it i would have turned around and gone home.

Happy days, i don't think so.
regards
john glover (Smoke) (Smoke) (Smoke)

jrg
21st October 2009, 03:42
I served my apprenticeship at Rustons (1967-1971)-my parents, brother, grandfather, great uncle, and various uncles and cousins all spent time there. A great uncle and his mate turned every AO crankshaft. Diesel engine production finished in Lincoln during 1974, and moved to Newton le Willows.
The AO engine was developed during the 1950s by Dr Alan Watson, and the first test bed trials commenced during 1964. The Welsh City was the first deep sea vessel with the engines.
Rustons were developing diesels, gas turbines and Napier Turbo blowers. This was bankrupting them, and the AO was rushed into production to start recouping costs.
I remember engines on the production line being stripped for urgent spares.

I was on the Welsh City when C/E Dan Trigg had a piston and con rod part on the port engine. Andy Perrott was 3/E-ex machinist-and he salvaged the rod by machining the palm flat in the lathe. Back in the engine with a new piston.
On that particular trip, we also had a crankcase explosion in the port engine.

As for the AO, I think it was a product dead end-lightweight and two stroke, the direction has been heavy four strokes with very high charging rates. The Wartsilas I am currently working on take some beating.
I was on a pipe layer that had four V8 Wichmann engines. Two stroke, but loop scavenged and cylinder lubrication. No trouble at all.

It is a pity that the AW 4-stroke space frame variant was not developed first-many problems would not have occurred, and at 500hp/cylinder would have superseded the AT (260hp). Assuming the AW was successful, it would have possibly replaced the EE Vulcan-a mediocre product by all accounts; however, the lightweight spaceframe idea in retrospect was always going to be a dead end compared to today’s products.
I also think that the Ruston idea of housing/water jacket/head was becoming outmoded-the engine was not rigid enough, and the ATs were susceptible to fretting. It was interesting to observe that when EE moved the APC to Newton-le-Willows, a complete redesign saw the introduction of a liner block to replace the jackets.

The RK was an English Electric engine, used primarily for rail traction. The basic design was pre-war, at 50hp/cylinder.
It was pumped up to 270hp, and used in the Tasmanian Incat ferries. A high speed, high vibration wave-piercer was not the best place for an overrated, tired old design-problems were soon apparent.

The engine at Llandaff College was out of the Welsh, I believe.

JRG

R736476
10th November 2009, 09:15
JRG, Thank you for continuing the saga of the Ruston AO. I never thought that 4 years later this Thread would still be running!! Some amazing stories!
I never knew or met Dr Alan Watson but in 1970 on the sea trials of RFA Grey Rover I had a very heated discussion with Dr Bradshaw from Lincoln as to the merits of the AO following a raging fire caused by a fracture on the port engine!!

Sabastapol
12th November 2009, 19:08
JRG, Thank you for continuing the saga of the Ruston AO. I never thought that 4 years later this Thread would still be running!! Some amazing stories!
I never knew or met Dr Alan Watson but in 1970 on the sea trials of RFA Grey Rover I had a very heated discussion with Dr Bradshaw from Lincoln as to the merits of the AO following a raging fire caused by a fracture on the port engine!!

Hi 736476 I feel I'm gate crashing here a little so excuse me. My father was never an engineer but nevertheless was always telling me how good Ruston diesels were and as I grew up I found this was pretty true. In the early sixties the company I worked for was looking for a tug for a new job that was breaking out, and a colleage and I went to Swansea to view a tug for sale there. Soon as we saw it we realised that it was not for us apart for the fact that it was unkempt and obviously too old.. However we had a look at the engine which was a Ruston. The machine we were looking at shone like a new penny, it was very old but the brass was highly polished, maybe to impress us. I think it was 6/8 cylinders. Memory not good here. It had paraffin heaters to each cylinder head which were heated for several minutes before the thing was turned over, whence it appeared to run as sweet as a nut as the say. As I have said it was too old for us. I have always remembered it and wondered how old it really was.
Best wishes.

Alex Baxter
27th November 2009, 20:40
Hi all,
I never sailed on either the Welsh City or Cornish City but I was a junior engineer with Reardon Smith at the time and heard some stories from engineers who had been on them.
Apparantly it was very rare to have both engines available to run at the same time, if you had both running for 24 hours you were doing well.
Lub oil carried in 45gal drums stored wherever there was room, it was said they burnt as much lub oil as fuel.
Heard stories of happy engineers when the were replaced with the single V16 Pielstick engine.
Regards,
Steve.

Hi Steve,

The Pielsticks were not perfect, although comparatively speaking, they were. Used to burst LP fuel pipes, and incinerate exhaust valves, but lube oil consumption was good.
Cheers,

Alex

jrg
28th November 2009, 02:47
Indeed John,

Ian, Dave Smith and Chris Buckley were supberb in keeping the things going on the Cornish.

PS do you have a Skyphoto or similar of the Cornish City by chance?

I have Skyphotos of te Welsh and Cornish, and can scan for you.

jrg

jrg
28th November 2009, 02:53
Hi Steve,

The Pielsticks were not perfect, although comparatively speaking, they were. Used to burst LP fuel pipes, and incinerate exhaust valves, but lube oil consumption was good.
Cheers,

Alex

I sailed on the Cornish City after re-engining during 1974. The Pielstick was a great improvement on the AO, but IHI altered various specs. Exhaust valves guttered; fuel pumps malfunctioned and injectors burned out. RSL decided to obtain all spares from SEMT to improve reliability.
As an aside, these two ships had the first deep-sea PC2.5 engine model.
Dan Trigg was C/E on the Welsh city going into Hamburg and all engine control was lost. The air distributor bearing moved in it's housing, and blocked the air ports-so no starting. The SEMT engineer who subsequently attended stated that the distributor was not and SEMT design.

JRG

Bilgediver
28th November 2009, 18:27
Hi Folks , I wonder if any of you know which ship the engine that the Cadets at Llandaff practised their skills on !!!! came from? We had fun in Summer 1981removing the camshaft and exaiming the lost motion mechanism. Our tutor at the time was a chap known as Professor Hamworthy real I don't know. Ch. Eng. Danny Trigg called him that he had amusing stories for all during my trip starting Sept 1981 on the Port Alberni City.

Regards Paul Cocker



Hi Paul

This was one of the engines from MV Welsh City and was shipped to Cardiff from Aioi in Japan. I am not sure if it is still there.

There may be pictures of the engines in Aioi in the gallery.

Bilgediver
28th November 2009, 18:31
I sailed on the Cornish City after re-engining during 1974. The Pielstick was a great improvement on the AO, but IHI altered various specs. Exhaust valves guttered; fuel pumps malfunctioned and injectors burned out. RSL decided to obtain all spares from SEMT to improve reliability.
As an aside, these two ships had the first deep-sea PC2.5 engine model.
Dan Trigg was C/E on the Welsh city going into Hamburg and all engine control was lost. The air distributor bearing moved in it's housing, and blocked the air ports-so no starting. The SEMT engineer who subsequently attended stated that the distributor was not and SEMT design.

JRG

Oh dear...... This was a fault found on the Cornish on the first voyage where the airdistibutor rotary valve would slip on its taper drive during a long passage. DOn t ask what happened at Antwerp but my friend Fred had a very red face up on the bridge when he failed to let the lads check it before entering the river!!!! Pilot absconded and told us not to call him back till we had disentangled the ship from between a couple of cardinal buoys!

IHI Aioi were supposed to have modified this assembly????

MarcelB
17th December 2009, 04:32
In the mid 60s Upper Lakes shipping in canada built 2 lakers.The 1st called the Canadian Century had a 6 cyl.poppet valve B@W slow speed which was a gem of a ship.The 2nd ship was named the Canadian Progress andf for some reason ULS decided to go away from a trusted and true B@W and had 2 x 8 cyl Ruston AOs.I was an oiler on the Century and had a chance to transfer over to the Progress which was in all means a much "better" ship.2 years newer,better aqccoms and all that.Well she was a much nicer looking ship from the outside but as they say beauty is only skin deep.From the time they fired up those 2 monsters they where a horror show.The 1st year they changed somewhere between 80-90 pistons,conn rods,cyl.heads and every fuel injector almost weekly.every man in the engine room where required to work their watches and between 4 to 6 hours ot a day.The money was good but the crew turnover was horrendous.After her 1st year when they very rarely had both engines running at 1 time they ghanged over from HFO to Marine gas oil.This made no differance they still rfused to operate properly.Finally in 1974 they decided to rengine her and put 2 Cats in as m/engs.These where a little better but not much.The ship is still running with her 3rd engine change she now has MAKs in her and they seem to agree with her a little more.The wierd thing is that if they had of waited 6 months they coulld have gotten a Harland Wolfe B@W the same as her sister ship.She was also fitted with Lincoln Ruston generators which ran perfectly up a couple of years ago when they just gave out from old age.Both ships are still running on the Great Lakes in the coal/ore/grain trade and the Century's B@W is still chugging along as for the Progress she holds the record for most crew changes in the eng.room of any lake vessel that I know of.

Fa's that?
2nd May 2010, 09:30
The two Eastern Bulkers ships would have been the Kilinn x Tanjong Tokong x Cape Horn and the Kilchrenan x Tanjong Pasir x Baron Wemyss.
Both Tanjong Shipping of Singapore and Eastern Bulkers of Hong Kong were SSM's attempt of flagging out which didn't quite work.

I was on the Baron MacLay, the first to be transferred to Easten Bulkers. We arrived at the anchorage at Jurong and most of the crew went home while the engineers did some survey work etc and the re-naming took place.
The shore squad did a good job of painting in the new name Kilmarnock but slipped up somewhat when the port of registry on two lifeboats and the stern appeared as HONG KNOG.
The new crew and most of the officers were from mainland China with the Old Man & Chief from SSM, the mate and second were British.
Before leaving the Lecky was asked to show his relief how to drive the cranes.
The Chinaman thought it was a piece of p*** until he put the ponder ball through the Chief's dayroom window.

happy days

Hello oldsalt1, I was 4th eng. on the Maclay at the time and remember telling the ch/eng. to take a look over the stern after the painters had finished re-naming her, and I can confirm the HONG KNOG. If my memory is correct I remember that the new lecky had never sailed on an AC powered ship before and joined with his own bedding. I think they tried to convince the lecky ( an ex tanker man with a fancy for the young steward ) to stay on. I think the chief was actually in his accommodation when they put the crane ball through his window
Also remember the long lunches on the poop deck with chips and beers and the stay in the YORK hotel? before flying home.

Happy days indeed. Malky

pandokerry
6th July 2012, 02:35
Just stumbled across this post....
I also served my apprenticeship with Ruston's and during that time had the 'honour' of working on their brand new design, the AO.
As mentioned by others it was designed by Dr Watson and Bradshaw(?), this was straight from the drawing board into metal, not an upgrade or improvement of an existing engine but a brand new design made by using a very lightweight welded lattice framework rather than the traditional cast frame.

I worked on the first production engine destined for St George(?) BR ferry and remember the owners reps attending for the acceptance test.We all knew that the piston/liner interface was a problem with scuffing and wear and literally held our breath when the owners nominated a piston to be pulled for inspection, fortunately for us the unit was as bright as new pin!
Later I went to work in the research department were we had 3 engines that we tried various ideas sent by the design team to solve the liner lube problem, sometimes crazy ideas, sometimes scary, but very very interesting!
Thank goodness I never sailed with them...

trotterdotpom
6th July 2012, 03:59
Baron Ardrossan had an engineer from Rustons permanently on board while I was there. He was a very busy boy! Not sure if any of the other Rustons's ships had one too.

John T

A.D.FROST
6th July 2012, 09:23
Just stumbled across this post....
I also served my apprenticeship with Ruston's and during that time had the 'honour' of working on their brand new design, the AO.
As mentioned by others it was designed by Dr Watson and Bradshaw(?), this was straight from the drawing board into metal, not an upgrade or improvement of an existing engine but a brand new design made by using a very lightweight welded lattice framework rather than the traditional cast frame.

I worked on the first production engine destined for St George(?) BR ferry and remember the owners reps attending for the acceptance test.We all knew that the piston/liner interface was a problem with scuffing and wear and literally held our breath when the owners nominated a piston to be pulled for inspection, fortunately for us the unit was as bright as new pin!
Later I went to work in the research department were we had 3 engines that we tried various ideas sent by the design team to solve the liner lube problem, sometimes crazy ideas, sometimes scary, but very very interesting!
Thank goodness I never sailed with them...

ST.GEORGE ran on MDO and so was the last of the 'AO' powered ship to be re-engined.(so close and yet so far)(Cloud)

howardws
10th July 2012, 18:03
In about 1974, when I was Third Engineer on Southern Ferries 'Eagle' I attended a Retired Naval Officers Association dinner as guest of my father. The guest of honour was an Engineer Rear Admiral who quizzed me on the problems we were having with 'Eagle's' Pielstick PC3s, numbers one and two in the production line I believe. He said he couldn't understand why any company would buy what were, to all intents, prototypes. I mentioned RFA and Ruston AOs and the conversation abruptly ceased!

Doxfordman
12th July 2012, 00:39
I had a very strong relationship with Ruston diesels at Newton-Le-Willows. does anyone remember Tony Orall, he was reported to be responsible for the design of the AO piston? I could wax lyrical about the development of the RK 270 engine but that would hijack this thread.

A.D.FROST
12th July 2012, 13:05
I had a very strong relationship with Ruston diesels at Newton-Le-Willows. does anyone remember Tony Orall, he was reported to be responsible for the design of the AO piston? I could wax lyrical about the development of the RK 270 engine but that would hijack this thread.

RK270 case of badge engineering (English-Electric)after E-E tookover Ruston Diesels of Lincoln and renamed themselves?(a little less haste)

R736476
19th July 2012, 08:41
I continue to be amazed that almost 7 years after starting this thread, the saga of the AO and its relatives continues......!
Alex

A.D.FROST
19th July 2012, 09:48
I continue to be amazed that almost 7 years after starting this thread, the saga of the AO and its relatives continues......!
Alex

Lasted longer than the ENGINE(Pint)

R736476
19th July 2012, 12:51
Lasted longer than the ENGINE(Pint)

Nice one! The three AO engined RFA Rovers entered service between August 1969 and July 1970 and had all received their Pielsticks by 1974.(Pint)