Strange Things From The Past!!

marshynzs
1st February 2010, 21:48
If you are under the age of 65 then this will have little relvence to you.
Who of you remember some of the peculiar items purchased from the ships "Slop Chest"? One of the most infamous was the Hudsons soap powder whos main use was for washing boiler suits.Whoever formulated that product deserved a Nobel prize for chemistry (or should i say alchemy),it seemed to come in two varieties,hard, and diamond hard.The best form of attack to beat this beast was to wrap it in rag and beat seven daylights out of it with a club hammer!! Once pulverised it resembled some sort of powder.It was superb at shrinking your boiler suit and in my estimation you could reckon on at least a 2inch leg shrinkage a wash,in a couple of washes you had a lovely set of "Bermudas",just the job when you got into the hot weather,it also did a great job on the buttons (no press studs or zips in those days) the rubberised buttons had a tendency to turn into a jellly babe consistency, so not only did you have Bermudas but your torso was exposed to the elements!!
Yet another element of Dhobying(sp) was the use of the standard issue of yellow bar soap! another piece of chemical wizadry if ever there was.Every bar you got hold of seemed to have a beautiful arc,it was as if it had been designed that war.quite pleasing to the eye really!! the fact was it had been de-hydrated over time and was as hard as the hobs of hell,it would defy the most agressive attacks by the packing knife,hacksaw blades or any other cutting medium!! the cure for this baby was the blow lamp!! the little sod would put up a good battle for the first minute but would eventually relent at i estimate 214F.

I relate these incidents from my experience on several steam recip engines,we had no washing machines except for the one we rigged up to the main engine,it was a cit down 45gallon drum int which was inserted a piston and large rubber plunger which was attached to a rope and via a pulley system to the linkage quadrant,it was without doubt an awe inspiring site at 90rpm,what w thorough job it used to do,the motormen in my day used to say that steam men never got dirty!!there may be some truth in that,just depends how smart you were,like keeping of the top of the boilers,anyway us steam men always liked to look to look smart or should i say immaculate!!

Ive banged on about this long enough,i now have to buzz off and re-sharpen the packing knife

tsell
2nd February 2010, 00:15
I always wondered who was responsible for supplying the 'slop chest'. Was it the company, the master or the chief steward? Who profited by the sales?

Coming on deck during a gale, I was putting on my black oilskin jacket when it was whipped away in the wind and disappeared over the side.

I had purchased it a couple of trips before from Lily Volpert in Bute Street a short time before she was murdered.

Buying another one from the slop chest I complained that it was more expensive than the one I had bought ashore. I was told in no uncertain terms to, "Take it or leave it!" No option but to take it, but I never forgot the feeling of being taken for a ride.

Taff

Billieboy
2nd February 2010, 07:14
Lily Volpert! , that was a long time ago taff, seems to set a little bell tinkling in the distance!

john fraser
2nd February 2010, 08:35
I always wondered who was responsible for supplying the 'slop chest'. Was it the company, the master or the chief steward? Who profited by the sales?

Coming on deck during a gale, I was putting on my black oilskin jacket when it was whipped away in the wind and disappeared over the side.

I had purchased it a couple of trips before from Lily Volpert in Bute Street a short time before she was murdered.

Buying another one from the slop chest I complained that it was more expensive than the one I had bought ashore. I was told in no uncertain terms to, "Take it or leave it!" No option but to take it, but I never forgot the feeling of being taken for a ride.

Taff
Different companies had different methods of working a Slop Chest. In Ben Line it was the company.All profits paid for movies.paperback books,games etc .Any profit remaining went to various seafarer charities.A list of which was sent to each ship to be published on the notice boards,if the master bothered to display them.Some Offshore vessels it is the Master . Camp Boss or Cook that runs it. or a Catering company which.I do believe charge ridiculous high prices.

spongebob
2nd February 2010, 20:10
Marshynzs, your type of lathe driven washing machine was common to most Union Co ships and the soap we used for the boiler suits was USSCo toilet soap, pre grated,
As wise young men who took pride in their complexion, especially when going ashore, we bought our own Kinght's Castelle,Palmolive,Lux or Cashmere Bouquet tablet soap to compensate for the "wasteful" use of the company issue.
Those that were hard up or too mean bought a 6 tablet packet of Sunlight soap which was better all round
Many a ship's Colchester lathe must have been worn out without turning a rev in its true purpose.

Bob

tsell
3rd February 2010, 07:52
Lily Volpert! , that was a long time ago taff, seems to set a little bell tinkling in the distance!

Yes Billie, a long time ago indeed. Lily Volpert had a shop at 203 Bute St. Tiger Bay. We used to buy our gear from her and all the seamen knew her. I still have the Green River knife I bought from her when on my first ship.
In March 1952, she was murdered in her shop and Mahmood Mattan a Somali, was convicted and hanged at Cardiff Jail in September that year.
Sadly he was wrongly convicted and he was reprieved, posthumously, in 1998 after a long battle by his family to clear his name.

Taff

waldziu
7th February 2010, 09:42
Marshynzs,

As wise young men who took pride in their complexion, especially when going ashore, we bought our own Kinght's Castelle,Palmolive,Lux or Cashmere


Bob


As a spotty young stoker (not realy, skin and essence) in the mid late 60's. I was advised to use Pussers hard (yellow soap) as Lux and others had too many added extras to make it smell nice and consequently made a spotty youth even more spotty.



Now goes to find another word for spotty.

JET
7th February 2010, 10:15
I can recall the 'linking in' of the washing machine off the steam recip main engine quadrant after Full Away was rung. Those boiler suits certainly did take a pounding.

Regards John

Billieboy
7th February 2010, 11:05
I can recall the 'linking in' of the washing machine off the steam recip main engine quadrant after Full Away was rung. Those boiler suits certainly did take a pounding.

Regards John

Did you take it off the Air Pump?

marshynzs
24th February 2010, 21:28
I have been watching some repeat episodes ot The Antique Roadshow I.E some of the highlights of the past 30 years.On several occasions someone has turned up with pairs of clapped out shoes hoping they would be worth a considerable sum!!
I have not seen a selection like that for many a long year
but it did ring a bell.yes!! it was in the engineers changing room,the shoe box,now there was a sight to behold!
There seemed to be every type of footwear,gym shoes, brogues, wellies,football boots and any suitable footwear all totally knackered by the engine room oils of various types.I must make special mention of the Speciallity,that is the engine room shoes purchased from the Slop Chest.
Now these were something else,whoever manufactured those beasts must have bought a few herds on emaciated cows from the Pampas of Argentina (as a job lot)
At least they were leather,but the clever part was whoever designed them must spent hours calculating the sole thickness to the nearest half m/m because after comparitively short "running hours" two identical holes would appear in the soles,now what?? ok, head for the stores get hold of Beldams best quality general purpose silver backed jointing (for my American friends GASKET).
Remove shoes and place foot on jointing and carefully scribe around foot not to forget giving yourself liberal clearance as all good engineers should!! insert insoles and you were set for another few weeks,after several days it became noticable that your socks were changing colour at the bottom,not only were they changing to silver but they also aquired a unique pattern,a pattern of one inch squares,now this was particularly useful if you wanted to cut your socks into one inch squares as we all did in those days!! That silver finish on your socks really did give you that touch of class!!!
I shall return----sometime soon

eldersuk
25th February 2010, 00:25
I ordered a pair of engine room shoes from the chandler in Georgetown (Guyana). He assured me that he could supply the ideal thing. The shoes were put on board when we returned down river from Mackenzie, I was down below on stand by and when I eventually got the shoes we were full away out of Georgetown. On inspection they turned out to be the longest, pointiest winklepickers I've ever seen, so much so that I had to develop a special technique for climbing the ER ladders which involved turning my feet sideways to fit my splendid new shoes on the treads. About a week later I was messing about with something in the fo'c'sle and when climbing over a coil of rope my foot went through the centre and my shoe slid up my leg. Needless to say they went straight overboard and I had to wear my go-ashores until I could find some new ones.

Peter B
25th February 2010, 08:17
.....Needless to say they went straight overboard and I had to wear my go-ashores until I could find some new ones.....
The things we stored on the blue shelf before the environmental consciousness kicked in!
I remember once ditching a spent cylinder liner for a B&W 984VT2BF180 (840 mm bore / 1800 mm stroke). It must have weighed 5-6 tons or so, and was helped overboard by means of the aft hold derricks while going about 21 knots.

michael charters
14th April 2010, 21:07
I recon one could find the way across any ocean with a strong magnet. Just follow the old tennet beer cans, strewn along Davey Jones locker.

surfaceblow
15th April 2010, 04:36
I was on a U S Navy Survey Vessel in the dry lab when the engine room metal trash was dumped over the side. The mapping plotter picked up the old valves and rings traveling to the bottom. We also did core samples once in a great while we would spear some unlucky fish with the pipe on its way down.

Steve Hodges
21st April 2010, 21:00
The things we stored on the blue shelf before the environmental consciousness kicked in!
I remember once ditching a spent cylinder liner for a B&W 984VT2BF180 (840 mm bore / 1800 mm stroke). It must have weighed 5-6 tons or so, and was helped overboard by means of the aft hold derricks while going about 21 knots.

Perhaps not quite on the same scale, but one of my guilty secrets. On my last ship I was 3/E and resposible for the diesel alternators - if my memory serves, three 8-cylinder direct coupled units that ran at about 1,00rpm. I had several spare cylinder heads, and changed them when I suspected that the valves needed grinding in. Each head must have weighed getting on for 100lbs. I had taken one off and stripped out the valves, and thought I would clean up the cooling water spaces with an acid descaler. I mixed some up in an empty 45gallon oil drum, and lowered the whole head in. Then, because some bright spark had told me that the stuff worked better if it was warm, I led in a copper pipe tapped off the steam system and gave it live steam injection for 24 hours. I then fished the head out of the brew with a chainblock - it was almost spotless! Noticing a speck of muck on one of the valve seats, I scraped it with a screwdriver and about the top 1/8" of metal came away - every surface that had been exposed to the descaler was the consistency of cheese. Having discovered this on the 2400-0400 anchor watch, I swore my Junior to secrecy, and the two of us dragged the thing up the e/r stairways and heaved it over the poop rail. No one ever noticed that we were one spare head short - at least, not till I had left the ship, the company and the MN!(Thumb)

JoK
22nd April 2010, 01:49
Good story Mr Hodges. We cleaned charge air coolers,in place with everything blanked off. A steam hose quietly boiled it all night, then we would drain it, take out the blanks and put everything back together. The MAN rep told the 2nd later on that they were very lucky not to find the cooler sitting in the bottom of the space in little bits and pieces!

bluewaterman
30th April 2010, 23:18
Further to Marshynzs memories of slop chest items, does anyone remember "Scott's Block" (I think it was called) - a strange smoking substance which from memory resembled a smaller version of a block of pressed dates. To make it usable required the use of something very sharp (a wood plane was good) and also something to moisten it if my memory serves me correctly. Never really got on with it myself, but my dear old late pa-in-law -a professional pipe smoker if ever there was one- managed to burn as much of the stuff as I could bring home.

John Rogers
1st May 2010, 00:15
I think the name was Scotts Cake, I used to bring it home for my dad,then he would slice it and roll it with apple peel,smelled very good.

John.

bluewaterman
3rd May 2010, 10:10
I think the name was Scotts Cake, I used to bring it home for my dad,then he would slice it and roll it with apple peel,smelled very good.

John.

THAT's the stuff - yep I still remember the bits of curled-up apple peel in the bottom of my baccy pouch. Thanks John for jogging the the little grey cells.

Ray

PS - wonder if it's still available? Always seemed it was a peculiarly maritime only substance; perhaps someone knows otherwise

Billieboy
3rd May 2010, 10:20
Scotts cake, came in blocks 3/8" thick, I used to make a slicer for one old man out of a couple of bits of angle iron and a block of wood to support a packing knife suitably drilled. He used to smoke his pipe on the bridge and then put it in his reefer pocket as he grabbed the gasses to look at something, then the reefer started to smoke....

Klaatu83
4th May 2010, 17:48
There were several occasions when it fell to me to run the slop chest. My compensation was an additional two hours overtime per week.

One aspect of the job that I recall most vividly was the way Third-World customs officials invariably made a bee-line for the slop chest whenever they inspected the ship. They always made it their business to inventory the slop chest personally, and then simply take anything to which they took a fancy. I would then note down whatever they took and submit the list to the captain. He would then reimburse the slop chest out of the expense account that the company provided him expressly for the purpose of bribing Third-World officials ("Greasing the Ways", as the captains used to call it).

That sort of thing was common practice in Third-Word countries such as Peru, Iran and, almost needless to say, Egypt. However, things like that never occurred in civilized countries such as Britain, Germany or the Netherlands. I well recall one occasion when we arrived in the English Channel after a long voyage through Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Our captain had become so accustomed to piecing off officials that he immediately offered the Geordie North Sea Pilot the obligatory carton of Marlboroughs. "No thanks, Cap', he replied, taking out an old brier pipe and a pouch of tobacco, "I prefer my own".

Ian J. Huckin
6th May 2010, 20:03
Marshynzs, your type of lathe driven washing machine was common to most Union Co ships and the soap we used for the boiler suits was USSCo toilet soap, pre grated,
As wise young men who took pride in their complexion, especially when going ashore, we bought our own Kinght's Castelle,Palmolive,Lux or Cashmere Bouquet tablet soap to compensate for the "wasteful" use of the company issue.
Those that were hard up or too mean bought a 6 tablet packet of Sunlight soap which was better all round
Many a ship's Colchester lathe must have been worn out without turning a rev in its true purpose.

Bob

I'm way slow responding to this one but if we were going to Brazil our boilies would go over the wall on a length of line and we would save and scrounge all the foo foo soap we could find. Excellent currency with those nubile young Brazilian girls...worked in Micmac (Murmansk) too.........