Coal Burner

Kenneth Morley
13th November 2011, 03:00
Hi all, I don't hear anyone talk about the "HAZEL BANK" I was fireman onboard a ship to remember. Kenneth(Cloud)

Alan Rawlinson
13th November 2011, 07:53
Hi all, I don't hear anyone talk about the "HAZEL BANK" I was fireman onboard a ship to remember. Kenneth(Cloud)

Hallo Kenneth - always a pleasure and a great honour to respond to someone who sailed on the beautiful 4 masted ' PAMIR '

Re the Hazelbank -

Here she is in 1951 - The Master was a good sort, Capt Newton.

I remember the coal dust and the ash... Also, the quiet engines when in the cabins ( no diesel clatter on her ) and I remember a trip up to Kandy in Sri Lanka ( Ceylon then) with my shipmate Steve Cutlack when we were in Colombo. We have recently got in touch after all these years, and he is based up in the rain forest near Cairns..

Cheers/Alan

Alistair Macnab
13th November 2011, 18:25
I remember being berthed alongside "Hazelbank" at Esplanade Moorings, Calcutta in early 1954. Main thing I remember was the building up of full ash bags on deck next to the fidley which grew bigger day by day and a stray stream of smoke that issued from the side of the funnel about half-way up where presumably some corrosion had taken place! I was aboard the newest Bank Boat at the time, the "Fleetbank" and to see the two ships together was surely witness to the direction that Bank Line would take in the years ahead?

jimthehat
13th November 2011, 22:41
Hallo Kenneth - always a pleasure and a great honour to respond to someone who sailed on the beautiful 4 masted ' PAMIR '

Re the Hazelbank -

Here she is in 1951 - The Master was a good sort, Capt Newton.

I remember the coal dust and the ash... Also, the quiet engines when in the cabins ( no diesel clatter on her ) and I remember a trip up to Kandy in Sri Lanka ( Ceylon then) with my shipmate Steve Cutlack when we were in Colombo. We have recently got in touch after all these years, and he is based up in the rain forest near Cairns..

Cheers/Alan

I was on the etivebank ,left Avonmouth for s.wales to bunker and it was a culture shock,as the huge railway trucks were lifted up and the bottoms opened,we three apps were shanghaied into shifting the coal into the cross bunkers at every loading port.
I seem to remember the ash just being left on the boat deck until a barge would be brought A/s in port then it was wheelbarrows to the fore,The most primiteve method of loading was in calcutta where stages were placed up the ships side and the baskets of coal were lifted up each level by labourers,a time consuming method.

lakercapt
13th November 2011, 23:24
Coal burners after a long stay in port had a very large pile of ashes.
All hand on deck shoveling them off. Even the trimmers were helping.
Sure the engines were quiet except when one of the piston glands started to leak and there was a swush every second when the piston went up!! 60RPM
Didn't need to be in a hurry on them ships as at the watch changes and one of the furnaces in each boiler was cleaned it was slow speed ahead !!. No way to keep the pressure on the blood.

John Dryden
13th November 2011, 23:37
It,s a grand photo of the Hazelbank.I know hardly anything about coal burners and was wondering if,when tramping the world,surely the quality of coal would have varied at bunkering locations.Did that cause problems?

lakercapt
14th November 2011, 02:35
Yes it did as if the coal had a high calorific value you had to shovel less of it and there was less ash too.
Some bunker spots had good Welsh coal which was good to work with.
Others had the firemen (& trimmers) working hard to maintain steam pressure

Alan Rawlinson
15th November 2011, 09:42
Yes it did as if the coal had a high calorific value you had to shovel less of it and there was less ash too.
Some bunker spots had good Welsh coal which was good to work with.
Others had the firemen (& trimmers) working hard to maintain steam pressure

Hallo Lakercapt.

A slight diversion here, but am I right in thinking that the coal burners in the movies, shown burning hatches and smashed up boats in extremis to get up steam are fantasy? I am thinking of the John Wayne movie about the " Ergenstrasse " which was based on a true story of a German ship that made a run for it from Australia home. My guess is that this type of fuel would barely get them a mile or two. Am I right?

Cheers/Alan

lakercapt
15th November 2011, 12:56
Hi Alan
Not that I would consider myself an authority on it but how many films about the "sea" have you seen where you don't say what a "load of rubbish" Speed 2 was one that comes to mind.
Your quire about burning hatch boards etc. and many a time have I heaved them and it was hard especially the 12' ones!!!
My recollection of hatch boards would be they are fairly hard wood with galvanized metal bands at each end and a steel round iron for a handle.
Besides being a big work up chopping them up the furnace would have to be cleaned of all this metal.
I suppose you could raise steam by that method but whither it would be enough to supply the M/E and all the auxiliaries that are need to operate the system (Feed water pump, condenser pump, fan engine etc) would be doubtful

jimthehat
15th November 2011, 13:02
Hallo Lakercapt.

A slight diversion here, but am I right in thinking that the coal burners in the movies, shown burning hatches and smashed up boats in extremis to get up steam are fantasy? I am thinking of the John Wayne movie about the " Ergenstrasse " which was based on a true story of a German ship that made a run for it from Australia home. My guess is that this type of fuel would barely get them a mile or two. Am I right?

Cheers/Alan

Did not the movie San demitrious show the boilers being converted to burn wood?/ jim
ports where we picked up coal on the Etivebank ,,South wales.newport news,panama.newcastle NSW...calcutta ...Kobe ,,and there must have been a few more.

jim

stan mayes
15th November 2011, 14:03
I have sailed in tramps where dunnage was burned to conserve coal..
In Viking Star she was a coal burner out to the Argentine and oil burner homeward...Consequently a bigger engine crew was required -Firemen..
We were torpedoed and sunk homeward bound...Captain Mills and seven
crew were killed... Four of the dead were firemen so if the ship had been
an oil burner for the round trip they would not have been on the ship..
P and O owned two colliers before WW2..Eston and Redcar..
They brought coal to the Thames for their coal burning passenger and cargo ships in Tilbury and London docks.
Stan

jimthehat
15th November 2011, 16:45
I have sailed in tramps where dunnage was burned to conserve coal..
In Viking Star she was a coal burner out to the Argentine and oil burner homeward...Consequently a bigger engine crew was required -Firemen..
We were torpedoed and sunk homeward bound...Captain Mills and seven
crew were killed... Four of the dead were firemen so if the ship had been
an oil burner for the round trip they would not have been on the ship..
P and O owned two colliers before WW2..Eston and Redcar..
They brought coal to the Thames for their coal burning passenger and cargo ships in Tilbury and London docks.
Stan

Interesting Stan,usless at what goes on below deck,so can someone explain how she could burn oil on a homeward tripwithout doing major conversions,,ie fuel tanks

John Rogers
15th November 2011, 16:54
I served as a fireman and trimmer on a few coal burners and in my opinion you would not go far on hatch boards and furniture on a three boiler, nine fires, and a up and down three legged steam engine. A smaller built steam ship maybe,and as Stan mentioned you could mix the coal with wood to preserve coal from the bunker. I also was a trimmer on a 24, back to back fired boiler steamship,the old Elder and Fyffes ships.


John.

John Rogers
15th November 2011, 17:17
Between 1948 and 1950 I sailed on three Fort Boats,all of them coal burners with a three cyl steam engine, three boilers, and nine fires. Our stoke-hold crew consisted of three firemen and one trimmer per watch,3 watches, that's a total of 12 men. We also had one fireman who was on days along with the engine room store- keeper. My last Ft Boat I was on went to Avonmouth to be converted to an oil burner, and I stood by her all the time she was being converted over to oil.

When we sailed the stoke-hold consisted of 1. Fireman/WaterTender,(New Title Added) per watch, that's a reduction of 3 men per watch, that's 9 less crew member, we still had the one fireman on days with the store-keeper.

John.

Alan Rawlinson
15th November 2011, 17:48
Hi Stan ( and Laker Capt.)

Interesting contributions...

I suppose burning dunnage was better than dumping it over the side which was usually the disposal method. Still, I think the calorific value was minimal - if you have a coal fire at home, I remember that there was no substitute for coal to give out heat.

Apologies for my pedantic interest, but I wonder if the boiler opening was big enough to take large chunks of wood?

I have sailed in tramps where dunnage was burned to conserve coal..
In Viking Star she was a coal burner out to the Argentine and oil burner homeward...Consequently a bigger engine crew was required -Firemen..
We were torpedoed and sunk homeward bound...Captain Mills and seven
crew were killed... Four of the dead were firemen so if the ship had been
an oil burner for the round trip they would not have been on the ship..
P and O owned two colliers before WW2..Eston and Redcar..
They brought coal to the Thames for their coal burning passenger and cargo ships in Tilbury and London docks.
Stan

John Rogers
15th November 2011, 18:04
Hi Stan ( and Laker Capt.)

Interesting contributions...

I suppose burning dunnage was better than dumping it over the side which was usually the disposal method. Still, I think the calorific value was minimal - if you have a coal fire at home, I remember that there was no substitute for coal to give out heat.

Apologies for my pedantic interest, but I wonder if the boiler opening was big enough to take large chunks of wood?

The fire gate door was wider than a coal shovel so it would accommodate large chunks of wood,and those coal shovels were pretty wide. The nickname the firemen gave their shovel was 'Banjo"


John.

stores
15th November 2011, 18:29
there were 3 types of fort ships, the original north sands type were coal burners, then came the victory type, oil burners, lastly the canadian type, dual fuel, coal or oil, not many of the latter type, coal burners had a lifeboat on bridge deck and funnel deck, oil burners they were all on funnel deck, canadian type reverted to first layout, possibly water tube boilers on oil burners, coal burners had scotch boilers, details from THE OCEANS, FORTS AND PARKS, BY MITCHELL AND SAWER. Oceans were american built forts, all welded. others canadian built rivetted.(*))

John Rogers
15th November 2011, 18:51
there were 3 types of fort ships, the original north sands type were coal burners, then came the victory type, oil burners, lastly the canadian type, dual fuel, coal or oil, not many of the latter type, coal burners had a lifeboat on bridge deck and funnel deck, oil burners they were all on funnel deck, canadian type reverted to first layout, possibly water tube boilers on oil burners, coal burners had 2 scotch boilers, details from THE OCEANS, FORTS AND PARKS, BY MITCHELL AND SAWER. Oceans were american built forts, all welded. others canadian built rivetted.(*))

Hi Stores,
Glad to see you posting on this thread.Like I said, sailed on three Forts all coal burners at the time, Bristol City, Montreal City, Argodon and I think the Beckenham or Willesden may have been a Fort or Park early on in life,not sure but I think you would know.
Somewhere in my files I have their previous names,I will have to dig it up.



OK, I found the data. Bristol City was a Park Boat, named the Nandi , built 1943, the Monteal City was the Fairmont Park, built in 1943, the Argodon was the Fort Nakasley,built in 1943. The two City Line ships were in very good condition, however the Argodon was a rust bucket.

John

kewl dude
15th November 2011, 19:23
I just went out and took this attached picture:

Banjo.jpg (200.5 KB)

That is a Banjo on the right - with a 36 inch yardstick alongside for scale -- and a steel grain scoop on the left.

Shenango Furnace, the Great Lakes company my Dad worked for 1940-1968 converted two of their three ships from Scotch boiler hand fired coal burners with triple expansion quads to oil burning D type boilers with GE geared turbines the winter of 1951-52.

The third, William P Snyder Jr, my Dad was her Ships Representative, remained a coal burner but now D-type boilers and a mechanized stoker. And a 6,000 HP Skinner steam engine.

Somehow or another Dad acquired three banjo's that he brought home with him. He carried one in his car, one stood by the front door and the other the back door. This was in Duluth MN.

When I bought my first NEW car, a 1963 VW bug my Dad gave me this one since it fit into the small front bug trunk. I bought the steel grain scoop snow shovel on the left 1968 when I bought my first (and last) Duluth home.

Today I use both of these shovels maintaining my half acre of Vista, CA ground.

Greg Hayden

Duncan112
15th November 2011, 19:25
The first steamship to cross the Atlantic "Sirius" beating Brunel's "Great Western" by a few hours, although taking 4 days longer only succeeded by burning cabin furniture, spare yards and masts. (I understand that this event inspired the sequence in Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 days") This in spite of displacing a lot of passenger space for additional coal bunkers. By contrast "Great Western" arrived with several hundred tons of coal remaining.

I appreciate that this is some years before the age we are discussing

John Rogers
15th November 2011, 19:46
I just went out and took this attached picture:

Banjo.jpg (200.5 KB)

That is a Banjo on the right - with a 36 inch yardstick alongside for scale -- and a steel grain scoop on the left.

Shenango Furnace, the Great Lakes company my Dad worked for 1940-1968 converted two of their three ships from Scotch boiler hand fired coal burners with triple expansion quads to oil burning D type boilers with GE geared turbines the winter of 1951-52.

The third, William P Snyder Jr, my Dad was her Ships Representative, remained a coal burner but now D-type boilers and a mechanized stoker. And a 6,000 HP Skinner steam engine.

Somehow or another Dad acquired three banjo's that he brought home with him. He carried one in his car, one stood by the front door and the other the back door. This was in Duluth MN.

When I bought my first NEW car, a 1963 VW bug my Dad gave me this one since it fit into the small front bug trunk. I bought the steel grain scoop snow shovel on the left 1968 when I bought my first (and last) Duluth home.

Today I use both of these shovels maintaining my half acre of Vista, CA ground.

Greg Hayden

Wow Greg, that picture of the banjo brought back memories, I thought I would be the only one that knew what a banjo was,it was the best piece of exercise equipment I ever used, it put meat and muscles all over me. But I was so glad a couple of years later when we converted to oil burners.


John.

stores
15th November 2011, 19:55
HI JOHN i envy you, i only fired oil burners with scotch boilers, twin screw 2 up and downers, triple expansion. giant sewing machines, Willesden was built as Empire Canning, an empire B class, Beckenham was sister to Beaconsfield and Blackheath, she was torpedoed and sunk in 1945, tthose 3 were built to a Watts Watts design just pre war. best wishes, tony.(*))

John Rogers
15th November 2011, 20:13
Thank Toni,
The Bristol city had a lot of names, she started as a Empire Boat by the name of Archangel in 1943,she then changed names to Empire Nigel, in 1946, then became NANDI, in 1947,she then became Bristol City in 1948, then she became Zelengora in 1956, then Taras in 1971, Broken up in 1972. She was a fine ship,took a lot of beating on the N. Atlantic runs. She was one of Hills submarines, went under at Avonmouth and came up in New York.


John

stan mayes
15th November 2011, 20:42
Hi John,
While on the subject of coal burners I remember some ships had a 'saddleback'.
Was it for the coal to be directed into a certain area when bunkering?
Stan

John Rogers
15th November 2011, 20:53
Stan I cannot give you a good answer for that as I always joined the day before sailing,the bunkering I did see was from a large barge that had a hopper on it or from a big crane with a clam shell bucket. When the bridge rang finished with engines we were in the nearest bar,same way before sailing,we were always last on board.

John.

John.

stores
15th November 2011, 21:12
I only ever went aboard one coal burner, 1947 in barry wales, i was 8 years old, my father was chief steward on ss fort augustus, loading coal, coaldust everywhere, from bunkers also, just managed to get a photo of her, recently got my dads wartime records and later, now have photos of all his ships, he was on beckenham also, chiswick, beaconsfield, woodford, wanstead and wendover, a watts watts man ! he was on russian convoy jw52 to kola inlet, 2 convoys after the ill fated pq17, he was on ss ocean faith., regards, tony wilding, STORES.(Cloud)

joebuckham
15th November 2011, 21:23
Hi John,
While on the subject of coal burners I remember some ships had a 'saddleback'.Was it for the coal to be directed into a certain area when bunkering?
Stan

stan, never saw one but i believe the idea was to direct the bunkers into the wings when loading

lakercapt
15th November 2011, 21:26
The mention of a "Banjo" for a shovel.
The ones I was familiar with were No.8 Sydney shovel (why that piece of info was in my brain I have no idea.) They where quite wide and could carry a good pile of coal.
Still when working in my garden and shoveling I can pitch with great accuracy.

John Rogers
16th November 2011, 01:04
My son just cant get over how I sling the snow off of my drive, I'm almost 80 and can still out shovel him and he is a youngster of 52. Wife gets on my back for doing it,she keeps telling me to use the snow blower.


John.

John Rogers
16th November 2011, 01:11
I only ever went aboard one coal burner, 1947 in barry wales, i was 8 years old, my father was chief steward on ss fort augustus, loading coal, coaldust everywhere, from bunkers also, just managed to get a photo of her, recently got my dads wartime records and later, now have photos of all his ships, he was on beckenham also, chiswick, beaconsfield, woodford, wanstead and wendover, a watts watts man ! he was on russian convoy jw52 to kola inlet, 2 convoys after the ill fated pq17, he was on ss ocean faith., regards, tony wilding, STORES.(Cloud)


I think I mention to you some time back that I was Storekeeper on the Beckenhm, that would have been in Sept 1952,we were on the North Africa to Norway run.


John.

lakercapt
16th November 2011, 03:02
The coal burner I was on was S.S. Firby ex Ocean Fame in 1953/55.
Still remember it as it was 1st ship. (nearly last too)

Alan Rawlinson
16th November 2011, 07:17
Crikey, we've come a long way from the coal burning Hazelbank, but personally I enjoy reading all the nitty gritty of stoking the boilers! Would never have known anything about ' Banjos ' .

Going back to dumping the ash - was this once per watch or more frequent , I wonder? Pretty sure there was a wire hoist inside the funnel casing on the Hazelbank for bringing the ash up to deck level.

John Rogers
16th November 2011, 11:25
Every watch dumped their own ashes, we used a hyd hopper and it went over the side.

John.

lakercapt
16th November 2011, 12:55
Yes it was an ongoing chore usually done by the trimmer.
The ship I mentioned had an ash hoist that was worked using the vacuum from the condenser. This was located at the starboard Side of the stokehold (I think but could be wrong as it was nearly 56 years ago)
One important thing was to ensure the water was on the chute to flush them overboard.
Deck hands used to turn this off when washing down as it gave them more pressure.
Amazing how I remember all these details and can't remember where I put the car keys!!!

joebuckham
16th November 2011, 13:02
there was a chief engineer in sugar line whose nickname was 'little ash' his surname being 'compton' which i believe was a well known ash hoist

John Rogers
16th November 2011, 13:17
Yes it was an ongoing chore usually done by the trimmer.
The ship I mentioned had an ash hoist that was worked using the vacuum from the condenser. This was located at the starboard Side of the stokehold (I think but could be wrong as it was nearly 56 years ago)
One important thing was to ensure the water was on the chute to flush them overboard.
Deck hands used to turn this off when washing down as it gave them more pressure.
Amazing how I remember all these details and can't remember where I put the car keys!!!

Your grey matter is working just fine, that's how it worked when I was a Trimmer.

John.

John Rogers
16th November 2011, 13:26
More about the ashes and how they came about on each watch.
Before each watch was ending each one of the three Firemen would let one fire on each boiler burn down, then completely clean out the ashes while building up the other fires to maintain steam, this was done on all nine fires on a three boiler configuration. The Trimmer would shovel the ashes into the hopper and send them over the side. The engineer coming on watch would inspect each fire to make sure it was cleaned out,(just a peek inside the fire door) after he left the new watch would take a shovel full of hot coal from one of the fires and start a new fire. This was done on every new watch so as all the fires would be rotated through.

John.

stan mayes
16th November 2011, 14:21
Bill,John and Alan -
What a nice thread this has been in jogging our memories of our jobs of long ago..they did'nt affect me as I was on deck but I heard of them often when in
the galley enjoying a dish of blackpan.
( Never dump the ashes on the windy side!!)
Stan

stores
16th November 2011, 14:31
was there a opening in the side of the ships hull, port and stbd for this operation, would be good to see a photo ?

John Rogers
16th November 2011, 14:33
Very true Stan, and not only the ashes but the Rosie, and taking a l...., that was a good way of getting your own back.

Another name from the past.. The ROSIE.or was it ROSY.

John

stores
16th November 2011, 16:07
Rosie, Or Rosy, Or Gash, ? I Wonder What They Do With It Now, ? When I Think Of What Was Dumped OverThe Stern, Left Some Good Oil Slicks. Fuel oil and lube oil waste from ER purifiers,.

Alan Rawlinson
16th November 2011, 18:00
Rosie, Or Rosy, Or Gash, ? I Wonder What They Do With It Now, ? When I Think Of What Was Dumped OverThe Stern, Left Some Good Oil Slicks. Fuel oil and lube oil waste from ER purifiers,.

Does anyone know if the present Regs would permit the dumping of ashes at sea??

Another Question....

This is a deckie showing his ignorance, but what the heck...

' Blowing the tubes ' - what was that all about?

China hand
16th November 2011, 18:28
Allan,
Ask any Blue Star Line "A" boat duty mate on the 12 to 4, who, when he got the call from the ginger beers: "OK to blow tubes?", said "go ahead", and didn't immediately put the wind on the port beam (kept the lift free of soot), what excremental monologues he got from the Mate in the morning! And if it was raining and THE FUNNEL got stained?? Better to be an adulterer in taliban country!

Alan Rawlinson
16th November 2011, 20:32
Allan,
Ask any Blue Star Line "A" boat duty mate on the 12 to 4, who, when he got the call from the ginger beers: "OK to blow tubes?", said "go ahead", and didn't immediately put the wind on the port beam (kept the lift free of soot), what excremental monologues he got from the Mate in the morning! And if it was raining and THE FUNNEL got stained?? Better to be an adulterer in taliban country!

I seem to remember that - you've brought it all back...

but what were they actually doing? and what happened if the b tubes were not blown - did the revs fall away, I wonder?

John Dryden
16th November 2011, 20:50
Ok, what would you prefer when on the bridge with a strong following wind,the smell of the steam engine(no idea) or the smell of an oil engine(horrible)?

lakercapt
16th November 2011, 20:54
Stan I too was on deck but was "volunteered" to do that short spell in the stokehold as some of the firemen were sick or was it Ramadan??.
Glad it was only a short spell as it was a miserable job

Duncan112
16th November 2011, 21:05
Blowing tubes, This is done by directing jets of steam from long lances on to the superheater and economiser tubes, this cleared carbon deposits from the heated surfaces to allow for more efficient heat transfer between the hot gases and the tubes. Failure to blow tubes regularly would have several serious consequences, as the X Factor compère says, in no particular order..

Reduction in boiler efficiency leading to increased fuel consumption and black smoke due to non stocheometric combustion

To reduce the black smoke the tendency would be to increase the fd fan pressure, increasing the air supply to the burners, however, as the outlet passages were becoming choked the furnace pressure would increase, potentially causing a blowback (seen it once and that was once too often - the superheater had started to collapse and even with regular sootblowing the passages became choked, couldn't shut down the boiler until we got into Port Philip Bay and even with a much reduced steam load the burners started to blow back)

As the soot forms an insulating layer on the tubes and the heat transfer is impeded the soot will start to overheat (remember the water/steam in the tubes acts as a cooling medium) and ultimately catch fire, this is why we always liked the bridge to ring down if we started sparking as this was often a sign of problems to come.

On a Foster Wheeler type boiler where the economiser is arranged above the superheater it was usual to blow the economiser first to make a clear passage for the soot from the superheater, as the temperatures within the superheater were that much higher the soot blower lances were arranged to be retractable so they spent the minimum time in the hot gas stream, even so, if you lost steam to the lance it was essential to get it out as quickly as possible, before it drooped - ever tried getting cooked spaghetti through a needle eye?, after blowing the superheater you would then blow the economiser again to clear the superheater soot from these tubes.

Some ships, particularly motor ships with highly rated steaming economisers used compressed air to blow tubes - IMHO you tended to run out of air mid way through the sequence leading to the economiser not being blown properly. Latterly there have been experiments with both infrasonic vibrations to clear soot and mechanical removal whilst steaming by dropping what might best be described as ball bearings through the economiser.

If sootblowing failed and the gas passages became too choked then the economiser would be waterwashed whilst the boiler was shut down (good practise once a voyage anyhow), if that didn't work then you had to use a slicing saw to cut through the accumulated crud, unpleasant as soot is highly acidic when wet and you need to climb into the superheater and economiser spaces to do this.

John Rogers
16th November 2011, 21:55
Blowing tubes, This is done by directing jets of steam from long lances on to the superheater and economiser tubes, this cleared carbon deposits from the heated surfaces to allow for more efficient heat transfer between the hot gases and the tubes. Failure to blow tubes regularly would have several serious consequences, as the X Factor compère says, in no particular order..

Reduction in boiler efficiency leading to increased fuel consumption and black smoke due to non stocheometric combustion

To reduce the black smoke the tendency would be to increase the fd fan pressure, increasing the air supply to the burners, however, as the outlet passages were becoming choked the furnace pressure would increase, potentially causing a blowback (seen it once and that was once too often - the superheater had started to collapse and even with regular sootblowing the passages became choked, couldn't shut down the boiler until we got into Port Philip Bay and even with a much reduced steam load the burners started to blow back)

As the soot forms an insulating layer on the tubes and the heat transfer is impeded the soot will start to overheat (remember the water/steam in the tubes acts as a cooling medium) and ultimately catch fire, this is why we always liked the bridge to ring down if we started sparking as this was often a sign of problems to come.

On a Foster Wheeler type boiler where the economiser is arranged above the superheater it was usual to blow the economiser first to make a clear passage for the soot from the superheater, as the temperatures within the superheater were that much higher the soot blower lances were arranged to be retractable so they spent the minimum time in the hot gas stream, even so, if you lost steam to the lance it was essential to get it out as quickly as possible, before it drooped - ever tried getting cooked spaghetti through a needle eye?, after blowing the superheater you would then blow the economiser again to clear the superheater soot from these tubes.

Some ships, particularly motor ships with highly rated steaming economisers used compressed air to blow tubes - IMHO you tended to run out of air mid way through the sequence leading to the economiser not being blown properly. Latterly there have been experiments with both infrasonic vibrations to clear soot and mechanical removal whilst steaming by dropping what might best be described as ball bearings through the economiser.

If sootblowing failed and the gas passages became too choked then the economiser would be waterwashed whilst the boiler was shut down (good practise once a voyage anyhow), if that didn't work then you had to use a slicing saw to cut through the accumulated crud, unpleasant as soot is highly acidic when wet and you need to climb into the superheater and economiser spaces to do this.

Also a very old chimney sweep.(Cloud)

kewl dude
17th November 2011, 18:56
Please see my previous post:

http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=22506

17th November 2008, 19:48 #12

Greg Hayden

spongebob
17th November 2011, 21:49
I take the liberty of re posting an old thread of mine and note that the details of Titanic's stoke-hold crew certainly illustrates the huge task that boiler stoking was.

Coal Fired Days
An extract from my family history that has a nautical flavour-

The Deep Duffryn Pit was opened in 1850 and by 1896 a total of 1285 men were employed there.
By 1918, following the huge demands of British Navy for high grade Welsh steaming coal through-out the First World War, the work force was almost 3000 men. Many a Naval battle was claimed to of been won due to the superior heating value and steaming qualities of Welsh coal which allowed the British ships to raise steam more rapidly to out manoeuvre and out run the German fleets. Then came the downturn in demand for coal bought on by the peace, the post war recession and by the advent of oil as an alternative fuel. For both Naval and Mercantile shipping oil was a huge break-
through as its high heat value to volume ratio compared with coal provided greater steaming ranges, higher payloads of cargo and a huge saving in the amount of labour required to bunker the ships (load the coal) and to feed the fires under the ship’s steam boilers.
The task of a coal fueled ship’s fireman or stoker was one of the world’s worst jobs and British Shipping Companies often resorted to employing Lascar labour from Goa and other Asiatic regions as coal shoveling firemen in the tropical climates due to their tolerance of the boiler room temperatures but oil changed the continual shovelling in 40 to 50 degree heat to a task of regulating the oil flow with a tap.
To illustrate the change in demand from coal to oil, consider the SS Titanic which sunk in 1912. She was bunkered with up to eight thousand of tons of Welsh coal to feed the fires of the 29 triple furnace, double ended Scotch Marine steam boilers during the voyage across the Atlantic, 174 furnaces in all. More than 200 firemen and trimmers were employed to barrow the coal from the bunkers or storage holds to the firing platforms and to shovel it into the insatiable fires. With three watches every 12 hours there would have been about 70 men in the boiler rooms at any one time but a similar size and equipped ship fired by oil fuel would have only needed a total ship’s fireman crew of about 30 men, proportionally less accommodation and feeding costs and huge space savings in the way of coal storage.
This change in fuel preference saw many mines closed as the deep mined Welsh coal, although the best quality, was one of the most expensive to recover and the mine owners responded to this by asking the miners to accept wage cuts and to work longer hours in order to keep operating. The miners refused as they considered that even the existing conditions approached slavery so initially the Government intervened by paying the owners a subsidy to balance their losses but in the end wages were cut and the 1926 strike began. On the 30th of April The British Trade Union Council called for all trade unionists to strike and for a while Britain was paralysed as most of the British work force came out on strike to support the miners. The general strike only lasted for a couple of weeks and the other unions returned to work but the coal miners carried on their strike until the end of the year when starvation sent them back to work in an industry that continued its decline and thousands of miners left the Welsh valleys for whatever employment they could find elsewhere. It was estimated that more than 50,000 plus their families emigrated to the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Today, almost 100 years on, the Welsh coal mines are virtually non existent and a great deal of Britain’s coal requirements are imported from Eastern Europe’s open cast mines where cost of extraction are far below that of deep pit seam mining.


Bob

spongebob
20th November 2011, 23:08
I have never sailed on a coal fired steamer except for the Auckland harbour steam ferries as a passenger and when I used to hang over the engine and boiler room fiddly to watch the engineer and the fireman do their thing but those big banjo shovel photos remind me of the time I spent in the early 60’s in a NZ dairy factory that still had an old hand fired boiler that had. been pressed into use to supplement the auto stoker fired units due to a spring flush of milk.
The boiler was an old under fired multi-tubular unit with a fixed tended grate and two firing doors and was easily tended to by an ex RN CPO stoker, an acquaintance of mine from dockyard days, who had cut his teeth on hand fired boilers at sea many years before.
I was there to install some Bailey steam metering equipment and I was fascinated with the way he seemingly effortlessly shoveled and spread the coal with a flick of the wrist across the fire bed.
Being young, fit, clever and a smart arese it was not long before I had to have a go but not for long as the first shovel full mostly missed the fire door and the next few landed in a heap to blacken the fire and allow bald patches to form on the grate while the pressure gauge slid down the scale. Perhaps ten to fifteen minutes of this plus a bit of fire bed slicing saw me red faced and puffing like a Billy goat. Today I can well imagine the skill required to do the job with the foot plates rolling and pitching under foot as well

Bob

TonyAllen
21st November 2011, 01:54
A bit off thread but one of my uncles left the sea about 1950 and got a job at mambry and gartons sugar works in blackstock st Liverpool he was a giant of a man well over 6 ft hands like spades he was over 60 years at the time,during school holidays my twin and I went to see him at with nothing to do one day.he was looking after 2 coal boilers, went into the yard he was having a smoke said we could see the boilers,the spades which he called Banjos made our eyes pop out to us kids they were HUGE but he picked them up like a drum stick,made us stand back and open the front grate we never saw a fire so hot and then he put a long rake in to smooth it picked up the banjo and threw the coal in so far back it just ignited then kicked the grate shut.mind you he had been at sea for over 40years.sadly he was badly burnt a year later which was attributed to a railway detonater in the coal.he was lovable but hard man his brother Sam also went sea and he was 6ft 7 in his stocking feet also as a trimmer,when they went for a pint with my dad he said to me years later that there was always a space around them,when I was at sea I wished that I had talked about their time at sea,they went to sea to get away from a broken home he never did marry and lived with my Sister till he passed away and left her enough to pay off her morgage Tony

chadburn
21st November 2011, 14:40
There was of course the even older way of getting rid of the ashes which was still used well into the 1960's without using the Vacuum system and that was using Ash Bag's. These were made out of Canvas and were bound around the perimeter with rope with a loop on each corner. About the size of a fertilser sack they were hauled up from the Stokehold through the ventilator's which were fitted with a little ratchet winch and a door to remove the ash bag for dumping over the side from the Deck and down the disposal chute (if fitted), again wind direction was very important. A coal burner Fireman's job was indeed hard graft they seem to live on a Woodbine and a large mug of tea.