Brown's Gyro Centenary

13th June 2010, 12:20
Those who took a pride in keeping the old Type A & B compasses running may be interested in this site :-
Spent many hours keeping the compass and repeaters pointing in the right direction. In addition to SG tools supplied, I always kept a can opener in gyro room, which was usually, on Empire ships, adjacent to stewards store room. When on the Australian "slave trade" if suffering from an overdose of the alcoholic vapours in port, a can of tomato juice seemed to have a remedial effect (perhaps the stolen fruits syndrome). Later generations I suppose have dry ships, Arma Browns, and the service engineer's phone number.

Peter Martin
15th June 2010, 07:57
In a Blu Funnel 'A' Boat, the gyrocompass was in the bowels of the ship and then some! End of evry watch open heavy door and descend steel ladder to a 1960's version of Hades.
A.B. mounted on the forward bulkhead in sprung loaded cradle. Pick up sound-powered phone to the Bridge, turn the handle 2 or 3 times and advis master compass heading while all repeaters checked.
Must have been hottest non-engine space on the ship!
Ah! Not so happy days!

Malcolm S
18th June 2010, 13:04
I recall the Arma Brown as a pretty neat small piece of kit. My present vessel has an old C Plath / Anschutz gyro. We are in the process of fitting a new digital gyro. I thought that being digital it would be nice and compact - far from it! Its huge! The sphere - yes it has one - floats in water.

18th June 2010, 16:56
Hi Malcolm, I also would have thought a modern digital gyro would have been compact. Is that just a digital display with the standard Anchutz technology of a floating sphere. I'm surprised the viscous fluid is simply water, distilled?
Doesn't seem much of a technological advance since I left the sea 23 years ago

5th November 2010, 18:10
Yes Peter Marshall, Like Blue Flue in those Royal Mail Ships with Brown compasses, they too were buried in the bowels of the ship. Must have been a Brown's recommendation.
As I recall the Brown's units were a bit delicate. Most of our ships had Sperry Gyros, much more robust.

Mike S
6th November 2010, 02:00
mmm......bit puzzled!
The last tug I was on built in 1992 had a wee gyro about the size of a Heineken beer keg. Settled in 90 mins from start up.
Sperry something ..........and it was a great little device.

6th November 2010, 07:52
You haven't seen a Gyro till you have encountered a pair of Sperry 1005's (?) !!

Yours aye,

6th November 2010, 10:31
Aaaaah the Brown Mk.B. Wonderful piece of kit betty known to me as the "Bouncing Betty". Dreams of Red Stop and Cats Whiskers. Pure Nostalgia (Thumb) (Thumb)...............pete

7th November 2010, 11:04
When attending a gyro compass course in Glasgow I was informed that Brown's gyro was an instrument and Sperry's was a machine. Never had my hands on a Sperry's "Bendix" but took pride in looking after SG's creation. SG Brown ensured Salvesen's custom by making a specially fast follow up motor that didn't get left behind when a catcher rapidly changed course. Elf & Safety were not around when cleaning gyro parts with carbon tectrochloride and renewing the mercury in the slip rings. Believe that when the Admiralty placed huge orders with Brown for the rapidly expanding fleet priot to WW2 they had to move old SG aside as he found mass production methods difficult to adjust to. An air jet from the main rotor controlled the paddles which sent the direction signal to the repeater follow up motor, this was checked by holding a wet finger near it. I used to think about that little puff of air down below when sailing with a master who made lengthy entries in the NOB concerning course to steer.
Happy days.

10th February 2011, 19:06
Had my fair share of chasing beads of mercury around trying to keep worn out Brown A's and B's functioning! Did a course at Brown's factory in Watford in the 60's and was introduced to the Arma-Brown, which was starting to make an impact. Interestingly, on the inside cover of the manual, in large capitals, were the words,"THIS MANUAL IS NOT TO BE SHOWN TO SHIPS' OFFICERS". Afraid we'd fiddle I suppose!

10th February 2011, 20:08
Shifting ship in Hull it was necessary to give the engines a good burst astern to change berths, with the resultant heavy vibration. Suddenly the Arma-Brown engineer appeared from the chartroom exclaiming "our test bed for these compasses is nothing like this". I was quite surprised as we were told that these compasses were fitted in Nato tanks.

Andy Lavies
10th February 2011, 20:15
Had to make up some wiring bits for the "A" type in Laganbank after sea water got down the ventilator and caused a tidy firework display. Kept it going for nearly three months until we got a real Brown's engineer aboard at Liverpool. Couldn't do it on a modern gyro, I'm sure.

11th February 2011, 00:07
On Northbank gyro kept falling over. Capt Kent took over and stripped it right down fixed the fault (brittle pcs broken off and causing friction),put it back together and it ran perfectly. He told Browns but got a stinker of a reply - only qualified Brown's personnel allowed etc. In Chalna??

bev summerill
12th February 2011, 17:28
The MV Kaduna a Paddy Henderson ship did not have a gyro in 1968.The first Blue funnel Master who joined refused to sail unless one was fitted. I guess ED officers were more confident in their own ability with the magnetic compass
Bev Summerill

12th February 2011, 22:10
On the Eastern Moon (ex Hoegh Silvermoon) the Sperry was also hidden in the depths of the engine room and the ship was prone to frequent black-outs. I became so trained to react to the first sign of a possible blackout, hairing down ladders to catch it before it toppled, that for the first few days on leave the slightest flicker of the lights had me out of the chair ready to bolt god knows where !


13th February 2011, 00:28
The MV Kaduna a Paddy Henderson ship did not have a gyro in 1968.The first Blue funnel Master who joined refused to sail unless one was fitted. I guess ED officers were more confident in their own ability with the magnetic compass
Bev Summerill

When mv Kaduna was built (without a gyro) she was not manned by ED officers but by Paddy Henderson officers. These ships sailed from UK to Burma with neither a gyro or a radar, so it was the Paddy's men who had the confidence and ability.

Shortly after EDs took over these ships the fore topmast was removed and adapted as a radar mast on the monkey island and a gyro was fitted.


1st March 2011, 07:02
has anyone sailed with Russian gyro's? a cross between arma brown amd sperry with none of the good points. not nice being laughed at on Sunday morning in Hamburg whilst unsuccesfully trying to find someone who can repair one, eventually bodged ourselves where it lasted until we cleared the Elbe, thence to Harwich where a nice man from Lillie etc came on board and fitted a 12 volt anschultz

Wally h