What on earth did engineers on steam ships do?

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benjidog
1st June 2006, 23:13
Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is an ever-decreasing number of people alive that served as engineers on steam ships. It occurred to me when reading some recent threads that I have never seen an account describing the duties of ships engineers and that, unless someone writes one, this information will be lost forever.

By this I mean an account describing in enough detail that someone who has never been on a steam ship would understand them, things like the following:

(a) What did ships engineers do just to keep the ship moving along - e.g. from stoking to responding to bridge commands
(b) What standard maintenance tasks had to be performed on a daily/weekly/monthly or whatever basis
(c) What kind of running repairs were undertaken when things went wrong
(d) Risks and dangers

The key point in all this is to bring alive for future generations what it was like to work as an engineer on a steam ship.

Is anyone aware of a work that does this already? If not is there someone out there who is interested in writing it all down before it is too late? I am not necessarily talking about publishing a book, but maybe a personal account that could be made available to interested parties. I would be pleased to help anyone wishing to take this on in terms of editing, formatting, and generally tarting the final product up but only a real engineer could provide the raw materials.

What do you think - is anyone interested?

Regards,

Brian

thunderd
1st June 2006, 23:57
Brian there is a very good description of part of what you are asking in the thread called "Stokers and trimmers"

Jim S
3rd June 2006, 21:07
Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is an ever-decreasing number of people alive that served as engineers on steam ships. It occurred to me when reading some recent threads that I have never seen an account describing the duties of ships engineers and that, unless someone writes one, this information will be lost forever.

By this I mean an account describing in enough detail that someone who has never been on a steam ship would understand them, things like the following:

(a) What did ships engineers do just to keep the ship moving along - e.g. from stoking to responding to bridge commands
(b) What standard maintenance tasks had to be performed on a daily/weekly/monthly or whatever basis
(c) What kind of running repairs were undertaken when things went wrong
(d) Risks and dangers

The key point in all this is to bring alive for future generations what it was like to work as an engineer on a steam ship.

Is anyone aware of a work that does this already? If not is there someone out there who is interested in writing it all down before it is too late? I am not necessarily talking about publishing a book, but maybe a personal account that could be made available to interested parties. I would be pleased to help anyone wishing to take this on in terms of editing, formatting, and generally tarting the final product up but only a real engineer could provide the raw materials.

What do you think - is anyone interested?

Regards,

Brian
Brian,
I feel I owe you an apology, - when I saw the title of your thread I thought it was those motor ship men having a dig. Once I had read it though I see that is not the case.
As an exercise some years ago I embarked on writing "memoirs" of my time from an apprentice fitter to Chief Engineer of which 6 or 7 pages was a brief description of the duties and development of the sea going engineer. Four pages illustrated the preparation for sea and watchkeeping on a typical oil fired steam turbine engined cargo liner of the 1950-60s.
Regards,
Jim S

Derek Roger
4th June 2006, 01:29
On steam ships we sweated gallons ( Engineers )
We had a wooden "Pani " ( water ) bucket for the engineer officers of the watch which held something more than a gallon which was repenished by the " Tail Wallah " ( oiler ) at least 2times if not 3 times a watch East of Suez. This was in addition to the 3 or 4 "tea breaks " we indulged in . Always a big bottle of Salt Tablets on the E/R Desk !
If your sweat didnt have a salty taste then time to consume a few " Salties "
One of Brocks vessels lost a 5 th Engineer in the Red Sea due to a combination of heat exhaustion ( Lack 0f Salt ) amd he also apparentley had Astma . He was buried at sea .
My Kids still dont believe we had to drink about a gallon and a half pof water per watch and take the salt tablets .
In the dining saloon there was always bottles of salt tablets on thetables at all meal times .
The worst thing however was " *****ley Heat " which was a very bad Itch all over the body and the only thing which would reliev it " Temporarily " was a hot shower .
It took months to get rid of it !!!

Oh Happy Days ?????????????????????

Doug H
4th June 2006, 03:15
Jim S: I'm sure many of us would be interested in reading those "memoirs" of yours. It's good that Brian's suggestion may have given you cause to share it. Any chance of posting it on the site??

Rory
4th June 2006, 04:11
Jim;

The gang is right. You should give us all a treat, and let us know the way it was. You are very good at writing too. I asked you about the UFCo BAYANO and BARRANCA, the Spanish built mini Containers that look more like a Great Lakes boat than anything else. You wrote me back a complete history, and all the details of the teething troubles experienced when you took her across the Pond on her Maiden Voyage.

I realise therse two were Diesels, but the story was fantastic. By the way, in case you deleted your copy of the email I still have mine over here.

Cheers,
Rory

wakaman
4th June 2006, 04:32
Derek Roger is right,sweat and salt tablets were the order of the day,the
one and only steamer I sailed on was american built,everything was metal,
on a 75 day voyage from Liverpool to Sydney,average temp on the
manouvering platform was 115 fah,the space between the boilers and the
bulkhead was 28 inches,thats where the soot blowers were,you went in
did 3 or 4 turns then got out,you had to have a mate watching you.
After 2 days at sea,it was impossible to access the e/r from the eng,s
alley way,you would fry before getting halfway down,lol...but the dhobi
dried in about 5 mins.The boiler feed pumps were an abomination,with 3
vertical pistons that always needed the glands tightened or repacked,
no stopping to do it either !! manouvering was an art,the telegraph was
behind,the eng and fireman on the bailey board was way over the other side
of the m/e,trouble was there was a bloody great big stm pipe in the way,you
had to bend down and signal the boiler boys with your fingers,one finger up
=dead slow ahead...one finger down=dead slow astern..etc..
Ah Doxfords....!!!!

John Rogers
4th June 2006, 15:19
Sailed on many steam driven ships,both coal fired and oil burners, I was too busy shoveling coal or looking at the water glass and pressure gage to worry about what the engineers were doing. They came into check the fires during the watch but most of the time they stood under the vent cooling off.(Kidding Guys). All the engineers I sailed with worked hard,especially when we dropped the bottom ends and we all took turns swinging that large hammer,we were dressed in shorts and sweat rag and the ginger beers were in boiler suits,now I know why they called them that,hotter than the hobbs of hell they were. Hope to see the paper written on the engineers posted soon.
John

benjidog
4th June 2006, 17:06
Jim,

I know a great deal of my postings are tongue in cheek but I was deadly serious about this one.

I have always been fascinated by steam power since I was a lad in the 50s and we had real steam trains. In this day and age it sounds almost unbelievable, but when I was about 8 or 9 I used to sneak into the railway engine sheds near where I lived in North-West London with a friend (1A Willesden and 81A Old Oak Common if there are any railway buffs out there) to watch the engines being serviced, tested and cleaned. The railwaymen used to tolerate us most of the time though occasionally we got caught by the lughole and turfed out by a supervisor.

My interests next graduated into the early atmospheric and low compression steam powered beam engines in mines in Cornwall and elsewhere and finally to the pinnacle of steam - the unbelievably huge steam engines in ships.

Maybe someone has written an account of the type I was suggesting already and I just haven't come across it - if so I would welcome a pointer to it. It would be a tragedy in my opinion if the operation and maintenance of these superb pieces of machinery were not recorded by someone who could paint a first-hand picture of what it was all about - dirt, steam, noise, heat - the works! Photos are fine but so limited.

I hope you will share your "memoirs" with us - I am sure a lot of SN members will be interested in reading them.

Regards,

Brian

R58484956
4th June 2006, 17:27
Go on watch check some temperatures, sit down under a forced draught fan and wait for the tea to arrive one hour later,3 1/2 hours later take some readings, enter into log book and wait to be relieved. It was a hard life. If on 8/12, come up shower, clean mess room boiler suite (Bombay style with cotton butons)and scout decks for any spare passengers.

Derek Roger
4th June 2006, 20:23
On Maipura we had 3 Scotch Boilers supplying the steam Turbine . On ' Stand Bye and maouvering we had one e/r rating on each bolier watching the Gauge glass and adjusting the boiler feed valve which was manual additionaly we had the Tail Wahlla ( Oiler ) who stood handy to do any other chores as required by the engineeer who was on the control wheels . One for ahead and one for astern . On Maipura the contol wheels were about 3 to 4 ft in diameter and could be easily swung ( spunn ) I think it was about 20 turns from open to closed and of course we contoled the turbine / shaft revs by adjusting the number of turns open .
At the same time in the stokehold there was a fireman or Tidal at each boiler furnace front and he was resonsible for lighting or pulling ( shutting down ) the 4 separate fires in the boiler Maipuras boilers each had 4 furnaces .
The engineer would watch the telegraph and respond to orders at the same time as checking the water level in all boilers and watching the steam pressure ; trying to keep it as close to 250 PIS without lifting the saftey valves ( That cost a case of beer and a lot of ribbing by the rest of the crew )
The steam pressure was controlled by the engineer who who had three light panels ( one for each boiler )each with 4 switches ( one for each furnace in the boiler.)
In the stokehold each boiler had its panel with 4 lights ( each one a different color ) and the engineer would switch on which fires / furnaces he wanted lit and which shut off /Pulled .
At the same time the fireman had to watch his smoke and adjust the air supply to give good combustion and no smoke .
As apprentice I was on the telegraph and movemnt book as well as watching and adjusting the gland steam on the turbine. Also My duty was to ensure the feedwater heaters had about 6 " of water in the glass and also adjust the amount of extra feed to keep the main condenser glass at the correct level .
Everytime we were given a movement change all these parameters had to be adjusted .
After about 6 months on Maipura the 3rd Eng put me on the controls and I became quite adept . One had to be a bit of an octopus but after a while we could antisipate what was going to happen and all the adjustments became automatic without thinking exactly why we were making them .
While all this was going on we would be having a smoke / coffeee and talking about the last / next "run ashore "
Talk about Muti Tasking We had absolutly no automation at all with the exception of the steering gear telemotor.

Ships Agent
4th June 2006, 21:27
I sailed on the P.S.N.C. Kayeson which had two 4 oil fired burners controlled by a Somalian donkeyman (no English) located behind the manouvering consol with a similar set up in that the watch keepers adjusted the speed according to the bridge telegraph orders. we had two turbinesHP & LP the juniors job was mainly to watch the boiler gauges during manouvering while the lecky kept the log after full away it was just the usual maintainance of the various pumps steam up and downers as well as electric pumps check temps on the turbo alternator bearings dodge the steam leaks (superheated steam leaking is no joke as you cant see it and it can cut through skin and bone no problem) when in port for maybe just a few hours the engineers operated the cargo pumps manually 1st open the steam valve to warm the pumps through and hand crank the oil pump on the pump as required bty the deck officer as req. pumps located on the same flat as the turbines and as you can imagine it was very humid most times, pump the bilges leaving the oily residue of course, it would not do to discharge the oil overboard now would it. Being a Hastie's man I was given the job of checking the levels of the steering gear.Plug the condenser tubes clean the desalinator of lime and on a good trip you got to do a boiler clean. Then of course you got to sleep of a run ashore Usually out of sight behind the switcboard. Kayeson was a steam tanker sister ship to the william wheelright

Tony Crompton
5th June 2006, 08:22
[
One of Brocks vessels lost a 5 th Engineer in the Red Sea due to a combination of heat exhaustion ( Lack 0f Salt ) amd he also apparentley had Astma . He was buried at sea .

What ship and when?
----------------------
Tony C

Derek Roger
5th June 2006, 14:20
I dont recollect what ship but it was in the mid / late sixties when I heard about the incident .

Tony Crompton
5th June 2006, 17:43
May I suggest that in the Red Sea you are never more than a few hours away from a Port where medical assistance is available for someone so seriously ill or in the worst case to land a body for autopsy. I believe that the days of burial at sea were long over by then apart from ships having a doctor to determine the cause of a death. If someone had died in the Red Sea probably the body would have been landed care of the British Consul in Aden.

On "Malancha" in 1956 we steamed back 2 days to Capetown to land a Khalasi
who had died.( During the first Suez closure )
------------------------------
Tony c

Pompeyfan
5th June 2006, 19:50
We used to give salt tablets to engine room crew on both Canberra and Arcadia.

And we were still conducting burials at sea during the early to middle 70s Tony on Canberra when she was still employed on 'line voyages, and Arcadia when she was crusising full time firstly from the west coast of America, and then from Australia. I left her in 1975, and we were still conducting autopsies and burials at sea then. Countries would not allow us in with a body on board be it Red Sea or wherever. Nowadays cruise ships in particular have proper storage facilities, so the body is either brought back to the home port or landed. Also, ships that have doctors on board would not give a cause of death without an autopsy. By the way Tony, the medical condition you and Deryk mentioned would be Asthma. There is an H in the word!. I am okay with medical spelling, but hopeless at other spelling?!.

Since you like steam Brian, you would no doubt like a trip on Shieldhall from Southampton?. She is running trips at the moment. I bumped into her crew a few weeks ago after they had finished getting her ready for the new season. Like steam train enthusiasts, they are all volunteers. I saw her steaming off St Catherines the other day after collecting my grandchildren. I hope to do a trip on her in the next few weeks. David

Tony Crompton
5th June 2006, 20:37
David you are talking about ships with a Doctor and full medical facilities aboard. Unfortunately this was not the case in Brocklebank ships.
---------------------------------
Tony c

(Just off to Malta for a fortnight.Lots of "Ships Nostalgia" there. The War
Museum is very moving with memorabilia from the Malta convoys)

Pompeyfan
5th June 2006, 21:22
No, I don't suppose you did Tony. But doctors, even with medical facilities aboard ship do not give a cause of death without an autopsy. It must have been very difficult for crew on cargo ships not used to dealing with this, and still would be of course. And the days of steam which Brian opened this thread for would have been even worse?!. David

waimea
6th June 2006, 13:05
Why do engineers always go ashore in threes? Because one can write, one can read and the other likes to be seen with intellectuals

Jim S
6th June 2006, 21:17
Amazing how this link went from what engineers did on steam ships to burials at sea - with that in mind with your indulgence I will continue in similar vein.
I served on Elders & Fyffes CAMITO between 1969 to 1971 as 2nd Engineer.
She carried up to 100 passengers that could be categorised into two distinct groups 1- individuals, couples, families travelling out to Trinidad, Jamaica or Bermuda to start a new life. 2- round trip passengers, the latter as couples or individuals, invariably elderly people. Sometimes one of this latter group would not make it. In my 25 trips there were three occasions when we had a natural causes death on board and a "stop at sea". Always a great ceremony highlight of the voyage - for the surviving passengers that is. It is certainly true that the sale of film and cameras from the ship's shop would increase when the word got out that there would be a burial at sea in the offing.
The service would be held by the Master on the 4 to 8 afternoon watch and those off duty were expected to attend. Reverting to engineers mode now - with a ceremony set for 16.30 hrs, shortly after taking over the watch at 16.00hrs preparations would be taken to stop.CAMITO was a twin screw turbine steamer and speed would be gradually reduced until approaching the alloted time the propeller revs had been reduced from the normal 110 rpm to manoeuvring speed of 80 rpm. Astern guarding valves and turbine drains would be opened, bled steam shut off and live steam opened up to plant such as feed water heaters and distillation plant that might require it.
Normally the 3rd Engineer would return to assist and the daywork Donkeyman and Storekeeper would go to the boiler room to assist the watchkeeping fireman deal with the firing of the 3 Babcock boilers - each with 4 oil burners.
The telegraph would ring STOP and the engineers would bring the turbines to a stop using Astern steam and maintaining the use of astern steam to ensure that both propellers did not rotate (to prevent any unpleasant accident).
The Master would say a few words and the bosun and his AB's would lift the board containing the body to the ship's side and on the order tilt the board and let the body slide out from under the Red Ensign to the deep.
Soon Full Ahead would be rung - the bosun would receive the traditional bottle of rum, the spectating passengers would head to the bar to compare notes and toast the dear departed shipmate. The 2nd Eng. and his assistant would start restoring the plant to normal sea conditions and in the case of one of the 3rd Eng that I sailed with - depart the engine room to get showered into his uniform and see if there were any young females that might have been traumatised by the afternoon's events so that he might afford comfort.
I always kept a stock of diesel generator bottom end bolts (used), and some blank flanges to be used as weights by the bosun when doing his sewing up of the canvas shroud. I should add that CAMITO carried a doctor.

william dillon
6th June 2006, 22:04
Amazing how this link went from what engineers did on steam ships to burials at sea - with that in mind with your indulgence I will continue in similar vein.
I served on Elders & Fyffes CAMITO between 1969 to 1971 as 2nd Engineer.
She carried up to 100 passengers that could be categorised into two distinct groups 1- individuals, couples, families travelling out to Trinidad, Jamaica or Bermuda to start a new life. 2- round trip passengers, the latter as couples or individuals, invariably elderly people. Sometimes one of this latter group would not make it. In my 25 trips there were three occasions when we had a natural causes death on board and a "stop at sea". Always a great ceremony highlight of the voyage - for the surviving passengers that is. It is certainly true that the sale of film and cameras from the ship's shop would increase when the word got out that there would be a burial at sea in the offing.
The service would be held by the Master on the 4 to 8 afternoon watch and those off duty were expected to attend. Reverting to engineers mode now - with a ceremony set for 16.30 hrs, shortly after taking over the watch at 16.00hrs preparations would be taken to stop.CAMITO was a twin screw turbine steamer and speed would be gradually reduced until approaching the alloted time the propeller revs had been reduced from the normal 110 rpm to manoeuvring speed of 80 rpm. Astern guarding valves and turbine drains would be opened, bled steam shut off and live steam opened up to plant such as feed water heaters and distillation plant that might require it.
Normally the 3rd Engineer would return to assist and the daywork Donkeyman and Storekeeper would go to the boiler room to assist the watchkeeping fireman deal with the firing of the 3 Babcock boilers - each with 4 oil burners.
The telegraph would ring STOP and the engineers would bring the turbines to a stop using Astern steam and maintaining the use of astern steam to ensure that both propellers did not rotate (to prevent any unpleasant accident).
The Master would say a few words and the bosun and his AB's would lift the board containing the body to the ship's side and on the order tilt the board and let the body slide out from under the Red Ensign to the deep.
Soon Full Ahead would be rung - the bosun would receive the traditional bottle of rum, the spectating passengers would head to the bar to compare notes and toast the dear departed shipmate. The 2nd Eng. and his assistant would start restoring the plant to normal sea conditions and in the case of one of the 3rd Eng that I sailed with - depart the engine room to get showered into his uniform and see if there were any young females that might have been traumatised by the afternoon's events so that he might afford comfort.
I always kept a stock of diesel generator bottom end bolts (used), and some blank flanges to be used as weights by the bosun when doing his sewing up of the canvas shroud. I should add that CAMITO carried a doctor.

Jim,
Great story, especially the bit about the "3 E", obviously a very caring person..... (Applause)
P.S. I hope the flanges were also "used", no point in wasting new ones.. (Thumb)

KIWI
7th June 2006, 04:13
My memories of steam are a Norwegian Liberty,no forced ventilation,no booze & sweating so much that one did not pass water for days.Ice water in engine room tho & a plentiful supply of salt tablets.Taking settling tank dips ones feet literally squellched in shoes & the sweat just ran from fingers.Maloja not quite so bad as there were vent fans but there were spots where one felt the heat & probably the engine room lift was as good as it got. Kiwi

raybnz
7th June 2006, 08:00
As a first tripper and junior on the Corinthic one of my duties was to make a cup of tea for the watch. But I was able to get the best tabnabs especially the cream filled ones. And who said Shaw Savill was a poor feeder. Not on their first class passenger ships. Us engineers ate the same food as the passengers.

Another job I got was to do maintenance in the galley for the chef. After that I always got the best of steaks cooked by him. He was chef on the Gothic when the queen was on board.

Apart from pumping bilges, looking after the generators, blowing the pre heaters on the night watch, taking the log, learning to blow the evaporator down ,pack glands, check the steering gear, keeping a eye on the boiler water levels plus a dozen or so other jobs life was a breeze.

Oh yes on the 12 - 4 New Years eve I laced the tea with rum. Brought a smile to the thirds face.

Chris Field
7th June 2006, 21:46
You didn't have to be an engineer to get heat exhauston in the 1950's in the Persian Gulf in a Liberty ship- City of Colchester in my case, as a first trip deck apprentice on 10 quid per month...
When they got me back from the hospital in Mina al Ahmadi I was th only fit white person on board. Interestingly, the hospital served Guinness or light ale for lunch-the greediest consumer was a RN frigate captain who was also in for heat exhaustion...
24 salt tablets per day was my ration, with unlimited water- a far cry from the twice -a - day water supply we had on the ship! Following the Gulf we had a relatively cool trip to Colombo and Chalna, my sympathies with the poor old engineers down below!

Derek Roger
8th June 2006, 00:57
In a former post i referred to '*****ley heat ' but the system removes some letters as being sear words so I shall try to spell it another way so we can get a response . " Pr1kly Heat " Anyone who was in the Red Sea Gulf area knows of this . Not all got it but when you did it was not Fun .
Derek

Derek Roger
8th June 2006, 00:59
Well That worked !!! The only comfort one could get was from a hot shower and it didnt last long !
Derek

oglebilluk
9th June 2006, 12:11
Yes I also remember seeming to live on salt tablets in Brocks.
I notice a posting re Malancha putting an ill guy ashore. A few years later whilst homeward bound the 2/E was laid low with heat stroke, 3/E with a broken arm and 4/E (myself) laid off with back trouble. Leaving only the Chief and first trip 5/E to get us back. Fortunately someone realised the impossibility of this and a second and third flew out to join us a Suez. Happy days.
I also remember the frustration of the steam driven Weir pumps which had the horrible habit of stopping for no particular reason. Again on Malancha each had a hammer hanging alongside to belt on the valve chest, usually effectively. One canal passage we suddenly realised the lube oil header tanks were almost empty, no alarms had sounded; the Weir pump had stopped and (even at slow ahead) the shaft driven pump was just keeping the system primed. Happy days!
You don't know what you missed with all those reliable electric pumps

Bill

ChiefCharles
10th June 2006, 02:38
I have followed this thread initiated by Brian(Benjidog) closely and found it both amusing and enlightening. I wonder how on earth the diesel engineers on the mv “British Commodore,” which was an innovative BP tanker built in 1967, managed to cope with the situations which arose in the second half of 1970.

This approximately 68,000d.w.t. motor ship was fitted with the following “steam equipment.”
One 88,000 pounds per hour Babcock and Wilcox integral furnace water tube boiler operating at 285 PSI coupled to an Exhaust Gas Boiler powered by the exhaust gasses from the Main Diesel Engine.
At sea speed the Exhaust Gas Boiler generated sufficient steam to run the Turbo Alternator which produced sufficient electric power to run the engine room plant without the necessity of running a Diesel Alternator or firing the Main Boiler.
The Evaporator used Main Diesel Engine Jacket Water as it’s heating source.
In port the cargo was discharged by Turbine Driven Cargo pumps and obviously in port it was necessary to fire the Main Boiler.
There was also an Auxiliary Package Boiler – 150PSI.
The Butterworth Heater when required used steam from the Main Boiler as did the Cargo Heating System.
In the centre of all this “steam equipment” was an 18,000BHP, 9 cylinder, 840mm bore VT2BF Burmeister and Wain Diesel with three Turbo Chargers.

I had just joined the ship as Chief Engineer prior to her departure from Malta Dry-Dock to pick up a cargo in the Eastern Med. (cannot remember where). The cargo was to be discharged at the Isle of Grain and required heating to a certain temperature to ensure it would not solidify. Shortly after departing Malta we experienced a leaking generating tube in the Main Boiler. This tube was plugged.
Upon leaving the loading port we lost further generating tubes which required “plugging.”
Halfway back down the Med., it became time to commence heating the cargo and the boiler continued having tube failures.
Even with the Evaporator operating at full capacity our distilled water tanks were not holding their own and in fact we had to supplement the boiler feed water with water from the domestic tanks. The problem of the leaking boiler tubes and the necessity to heat the cargo was discussed with Capt. Joe Beattie ( a grand Scotsman ) and he suggested calling at Algeciras (Spain) ( no idea how to spell it ) and take on as much domestic water as possible to enable us to reach the IOG and heat the cargo. I discussed this with Head Office and they agreed and in fact when we arrived in Algiceras, Engineer Superintendent, Stan Symon (now sadly deceased) was on the jetty to greet us. Following discussion, his opinion agreed with my own ref the cause of the boiler tubes failing, namely the result of improper or incomplete internal chemical cleaning during the dry-docking.

On departing the port the tubes were leaking to such an extent that the water could be seen through the inspection window boiling on the furnace floor. It was decided not to attempt any further tube plugging but proceed full speed to IOG.

We arrived at IOG without further incident and proceeded to discharge the heated cargo at a reduced rate so as not to fire the boiler too hard.

The Senior Superintendent fro “A” Fleet, David Gibbons inspected the boiler during the discharge and witnessed the leaking water “boiling” on the furnace floor.

He then made the decision that the Main Boiler, Screen and Generating tubes would be replaced during the passage to the Gulf around the Cape by a Sea Going Maintenance Team from (if I remember – Sweden/Norway) who would join the ship at Las Palmas together with the new tubes.

This would entail passage from Las Palmas to the Gulf with electrical power supplied by the two Paxman Diesel Alternators and steam for domestic and fuel heating from the Aux. Package Boiler. In view of the fact that the Paxman diesels had never been run for a sustained period and that one unit at maximum load could barely sustain the full speed required electrical load the Diesel Engineers were not too happy with this scheduled boiler repair.

We departed the IOG after both Paxman diesels had been serviced by a Manufacturer’s Rep., with the two units operating in parallel.

Except for some boiler tube tool problems and the fact that we were seven generating tubes short, problems which were resolved off Durban with the assistance of the local BP Superintendent Donaldson, the passage was without incident and the boiler repair completed on schedule and tested one week prior to arrival at the Gulf loading port.

The Paxman Diesel Alternators had done their job – had they suffered? – read on.

Several days into the loaded passage towards Cape Town the Main Engine had to be stopped in order to clean the Jacket Water Coolers. Because air was being supplied to the main deck it was necessary to supplement the Turbo Alternator electrical load with the Outboard Paxman Alternator.
There was aloud bang from the Outboard Paxman and two crankcase doors “blew off.” This was noticed by the watch keeping Junior Engineer who had just added one gallon of oil to the Paxman diesel. He informed the Engineers in the Control Room by intercom. Surprisingly the unit continued to run and remained on load in parallel with the Turbo Alternator. On receiving the message the Engineers in the Control Room took the unit of load and shut it down, started the inboard Paxman Alternator remotely and put it on load in parallel with the Turbo Alternator.

No alarms(all of which were operational)sounded in the Control Room. Examination revealed that the number two “A” bank connecting rod had fractured, the top half of which came out through the crankcase door together with the piston gudgeon pin. (Nearly caught by the Electrician, Fred Stewart who was in the area) The cylinder head was removed and exposed the top half of the piston seized at the top of the liner, but bit dropped out when given a light tap. The remainder of this piston was found in the sump. Two “B” connecting rod was found bent but intact. Number two “A” liner was found broken into several small pieces for the lower half of its length and the bottom of number two “B” liner was also broken off. The crankshaft balance weight was found broken off in way of the aft retaining bolt. The Liner Block Casting was found damaged in several areas. It was soon decided that the unit could not be repaired due to lack of all necessary spares and these were immediately ordered by cable and passage was resumed.

Five days later it was once again necessary to stop the Main Engine due to failure of the Exhaust Gas Boiler Circulating Pump. The inboard Paxman Diesel Alternator was immediately started and put in parallel electically with the Turbo Alternator as when the Main Engine is stopped quickly it was necessary to ignite fires in the Main Boiler to prevent loss of steam pressure. The Exhaust Gas Boiler was isolated and drained and passage resumed.

Shortly after this steam vapor was noted issuing from the Inboard Paxman Diesel crankcase breather. The unit was shut down for examination. This examination revealed nothing except a slight trace of water in the sump. This water was drained and the unit restarted. As the electrical load was gradually increased to maximum as a test a copious flow of steam vapor issued from the breather. The unit was again shut down and the fault found to be a leaking lube oil cooler. As we had no spare cooler tube stack on board it was decided to exchange coolers with the defective outboard Paxman Diesel.

24 hours later the Main engine had to be slowed due to a Scavenge Fire. I was called and as the fire was quite fierce stopped the Main Engine and extinguished the fire with the steam smothering system.
During this period the Turbo Alternator began to vibrate seriously and within a very short span of time was vibrating so severely that that it was sufficient to operate the over speed trip mechanism. The unit did NOT over speed.

As work on exchanging the Paxman Lube Oil Coolers was not complete we suffered a total power failure.

Within one hour work exchanging the coolers was completed and the Inboard Paxman Diesel Alternator was started and put on load.
Work also commenced lifting the Turbo Alternator cover in order to examine the turbine rotor and bearings.
Work also commenced cleaning the Main Engine Scavenge spaces.

The situation was now as follows:
We had one serviceable Paxman Diesel Alternator.
We were heading north away from the major South African Ports
We were unsure if the Turbo Alternator could be repaired until a thorough examination was complete.
Head Office was advise of the situation.

The Captain received a cable fro HO requesting us to call Mr. David Gibbons as soon as possible. As there was no answer we finally reached Mr. Gibbons at his home number. Mr. Gibbons advised the Captain to change course and head fro Walvis Bay. He advised myself to endeavor to overhaul the Turbo Alternator and prove it with a full load 12 hour test before the Captain could revert to the original Northern course.

The Captain commenced heading to Walvis Bay at 1230hrs and at 1535hrs the inboard Paxman Diesel Alternator failed resulting in a complete power failure. As the Main Engine was doing full speed at 108rpm at the time I had to “kick” the engine astern on air to stop it dead and thus avoid bearing damage due to lack of lubricating oil.

Examination of the Inboard Paxman Diesel revealed that the Number two “A” bank exhaust valve had broken. The cylinder head was removed revealing that the piston had forced the broken exhaust valve into the head leaving a two inch diam. hole in the head. A spare head was fitted together with a new piston and connecting rod. The liner was satisfactory. Upon completion the engine could not be “barred over” by hand and it was suspected that part of the broken valve had found its way into another cylinder. The other “A” bank head was removed and a piece of broken exhaust valve found on top of number three “A” piston but both piston and head appeared undamaged, Unit was closed up. However nothing ever comes easy!! The unit would not start due to the bendix mechanism sticking in the engaged position putting a severe load on the Air Start Motor holding bracket causing it to fracture. All parts were replaced and unit started without a further problem.

Main boiler was fired and steam admitted to the Jacket Water Heating System and the Lubricating Oil Sump. After a thirty six hour delay passage was resumed to Walvis Bay with a load of 230KW on the Paxman Diesel Alternator. This low load was achieved with the Paxman Diesel running on diesel fuel thus eliminating the requirement for heating steam and therefore no boiler. All non essential lighting was shut off. All vent fans were shut off except one in the Engine Room. The Galley was limited to the absolute minimum.

Approximately 24 hours later the vessel was safely anchored in Walvis Bay.
Paxman and Brotherhood Turbine reps. were waiting to board the vessel (with spares.)
The Paxman Rep. condemned the Outboard engine and it was removed from the Engine Room and stored on the bridge deck. HO advised a replacement engine would be supplied at the discharge port. His reasons for the failure – Malta Dry-Dock had apparently broken off the crankshaft balance weight during repairs, fabricated a new one but refitted it with non standard retaining bolts which threw the crankshaft out of balance. Also the connecting rods and bottom ends (which are matched pairs) had been assembled at random. During the overhaul the pistons were probably put in from the top instead of through the crankcase most likely breaking the rings in the process. A good case for having a Makers Rep. present at overhauls.

The Brotherhood Rep. fitted a spare turbine rotor, renewed the high speed bearings. labyrinths packing and high speed flexible coupling. He found the old rotor to be “throwing .003””. His opinion was that the problem was caused by the rotor not being true between centres.

The ship was out of service for ten days.

The passage from Walvis Bay to Ravenna was completed without incident except Number 6 Main Engine Liner fractured and had to be replaced. Diesel Engineers delight!!

My point with this lengthy tale is that all the Engineers except myself
were Diesel men and I had served on steam and diesel. These so called Diesel Engineers coped extremely well with the steam system problems encountered which is why I prefer the terms Marine Engineer or Ships Engineer. Marine Engineers, no matter what their background can handle any problem with little guidance That’s what makes us unigue!

Roger

KIWI
10th June 2006, 04:43
After that lot the only other thing that could happen would have been to run out of liquor.I bet during the power shortage suitable beer cooling was kept going. Kiwi

tunatownshipwreck
10th June 2006, 07:21
What an experience, great reading.

Basil
11th June 2006, 22:39
ChiefCharles,
On steam turbines we'd a few bits to fix - as you do - but nothing like that litany of trials.
Any first trippers who decided to make it their last trip? :)

froggie
12th June 2006, 11:18
Hot in the Engine Room? I remember being in the Purser's Office in ORONTES during a very hot Red Sea passage when a lady came up the counter and handed the Assistant Purser a ten shilling note saying - "Please arrange for the poor men in the Engine Room to have a cool drink." The Purser himself got up from his desk, crossed to the counter and said to the lady: "Engine Room, madam - the cooks in the galley are working in much hotter conditions". - "Really", replied the lady, "then spend the money on drinks for the cooks". When she had gone the Purser turned to the rest of his staff and said. "Look after you own department,lads"

william dillon
12th June 2006, 21:28
Hot in the Engine Room? I remember being in the Purser's Office in ORONTES during a very hot Red Sea passage when a lady came up the counter and handed the Assistant Purser a ten shilling note saying - "Please arrange for the poor men in the Engine Room to have a cool drink." The Purser himself got up from his desk, crossed to the counter and said to the lady: "Engine Room, madam - the cooks in the galley are working in much hotter conditions". - "Really", replied the lady, "then spend the money on drinks for the cooks". When she had gone the Purser turned to the rest of his staff and said. "Look after you own department,lads"
:@ BOO!! BOO!! (Cloud)

Derek Roger
13th June 2006, 01:03
Typical of the Chief Brush !

jock paul
20th June 2006, 20:11
I'd like to add my tuppence worth to this thread. I will give the watchkeeping routine on an old up and downer as I remember it.On going on watch 15 minutes before hand over,you entered the engine room. At the top of the engineroom you checked the feed water temp on the D.C feed heater.Then went to the entabliture (cylinder) level and checked the lub oil feed boxes. Then to the middle platform, felt by hand all crosshead and valve gear bearings. Down to the main platform, checked water gauge levels and hand felt the bottom end and main bearings. Went down shaft tunnel, checked bearings and stern gland plus tunnel bilge. Back to engine room, checked engine room bilges, through to stokehold checked burners / fires.
Then check auxiliary plant, jennys, feed pump, main circulator. Relieve the offgoing engineer. check logbook. adjust any temp. /pressures. check draught pressure to boilers. Depending on which watch, you may have to blow boiler tubes. All main engine bearings were felt by hand at least every hour. Feed check valves had to be adjusted as necessary. In bad weather you often had to throttle the engine by hand to stop the screw racing. These engines had a wheel operated "maneuvering valve" for normal speed adjustment and between that and the engine a "throttle" which was a lever operated butterfly valve used for rapid response i.e. a racing engine. Standing by that throttle valve for a 4 hour watch was no joke in heavy weather. I noted earlier in this thread another contributor quiried the hammer by the Weir feed pump. On a worn pump the steam shuttle valve sometimes stuck and a sharp clrack on the end of the valve housing would persuade it to start again. Another cause of weir pump stoppage was a device in the valve chest which enabled the pump to work with a certain amount of steam expansion as opposed to carrying steam to the end of the stroke. This was sometimes adjusted too far and the pump would stop.Again - the hammer!Sorry I am getting a bit carried away, I could carry on for hours! Thanks for your patience.

william dillon
20th June 2006, 21:16
I'd like to add my tuppence worth to this thread. I will give the watchkeeping routine on an old up and downer as I remember it.On going on watch 15 minutes before hand over,you entered the engine room. At the top of the engineroom you checked the feed water temp on the D.C feed heater.Then went to the entabliture (cylinder) level and checked the lub oil feed boxes. Then to the middle platform, felt by hand all crosshead and valve gear bearings. Down to the main platform, checked water gauge levels and hand felt the bottom end and main bearings. Went down shaft tunnel, checked bearings and stern gland plus tunnel bilge. Back to engine room, checked engine room bilges, through to stokehold checked burners / fires.
Then check auxiliary plant, jennys, feed pump, main circulator. Relieve the offgoing engineer. check logbook. adjust any temp. /pressures. check draught pressure to boilers. Depending on which watch, you may have to blow boiler tubes. All main engine bearings were felt by hand at least every hour. Feed check valves had to be adjusted as necessary. In bad weather you often had to throttle the engine by hand to stop the screw racing. These engines had a wheel operated "maneuvering valve" for normal speed adjustment and between that and the engine a "throttle" which was a lever operated butterfly valve used for rapid response i.e. a racing engine. Standing by that throttle valve for a 4 hour watch was no joke in heavy weather. I noted earlier in this thread another contributor quiried the hammer by the Weir feed pump. On a worn pump the steam shuttle valve sometimes stuck and a sharp clrack on the end of the valve housing would persuade it to start again. Another cause of weir pump stoppage was a device in the valve chest which enabled the pump to work with a certain amount of steam expansion as opposed to carrying steam to the end of the stroke. This was sometimes adjusted too far and the pump would stop.Again - the hammer!Sorry I am getting a bit carried away, I could carry on for hours! Thanks for your patience.

(Thumb) Jock,
No need to apologise, this makes fascinating reading, keep it coming. (Applause) (Applause)

benjidog
20th June 2006, 23:09
Thanks to everyone who has replied. There is some fascinating stuff there which I hope has been interesting to all members.

What I am still wondering is whether there was a maintenance schedule though - jobs that were done hourly/daily/weekly or whatever - like the checks you do on a car (or at least should do according to the maker's manual).

I am sure you folks didn't just wait for something to bust before you did any maintenance. Can someone throw any light on this point? I think William has come the closest to this. Did ships come with maintenance schedules for engineers or were you just supposed to know what to do?

Regards,

Brian

Ron Stringer
21st June 2006, 00:43
Then to the middle platform, felt by hand all crosshead and valve gear bearings. Down to the main platform, checked water gauge levels and hand felt the bottom end and main bearings. Went down shaft tunnel, checked bearings and stern gland plus tunnel bilge. .
The "Regent Pembroke" (1964) was a steam turbine tanker with a high degree of engine room automation. All important bearings were fitted with temperature sensors connected to alarms. These could be set (and initially were) to within 0.5 of a degree celsius.

On the maiden voyage, after we left the Tyne for the Gulf in ballast, we experienced a lot of problems with the various automated systems, both in the engine room and elsewhere. We carried only 4 engineers (the automation was intended to make it possible to reduce the numbers to a Chief and 3 watchkeepers) and they found the workload overwhelming under the high level of faults that was occurring. All of the bearing temperature monitors had failed and were out of action. A posse of engineers from the various suppliers was flown out to Port Said to meet us and deal with the misbehaving systems and sensors.

When they inspected the engine room they found that all the bearing over-temperature alarms had been disconnected. Asking round the engineers they found out that the middle-aged 3rd Engineer had been responsible. Asked why he had disconnected them he explained that they were faulty and continuously kept sounding alarms on the control console. Checking the log printout, the suppliers' engineers found that in each case the temperature of the bearing had exceeded the maximum temperature set on the control system when the alarm was sounded (at which point the sensor had been disconnected). Going back to the 3rd Engineer they pressed him for an explanation of his decision that in each case the sensor was faulty. "Why, I felt the bearing and it felt OK so the sensor must have been on the blink."

Time to widen the acceptable temperature range set into the control system and time to suggest to the 3rd Engineer that his hands might not be so accurately calibrated as the electronic devices and it would be better if he were to leave the bloody sensors alone. No further problems with bearing overheat alarms (but plenty of others).

Ron

BarryM
21st June 2006, 15:28
I recall standing by what was then the largest VLCC ever built in Europe which had the novelty (well it was then) of extensively instrumented and automated plant monitored from the Engine Control Room. The Control Room had (thank you God!) the previously unknown luxury of air-conditioning. Enter C/Eng 'Blodwyn the Bleed' - does that ring a bell with anyone? - who pronounced that he had never needed air-conditioning in his day and the plant would not be run whatever the temperature. Much mutinous muttering from we watchkeepers accompanied his retreat. It took the Super to convince Blodwyn that actually the A/C was installed for the benefit of the instrumentation consoles which appreciated dry, cool conditions and not for the benefit of the Engineers who were dispensable.

Jim S
21st June 2006, 18:51
Firstly regarding air conditioned control rooms - on Fyffes MAN engined motorship MOTAGUA which had an early design of data logger - should the air conditioning on control room fail the main engine exhaust temperatures would sometimes be logged and printed out in US Dollars! As has been already stated the air con was for the instrumentations benefit.
Fyffes also used a Planned Maintenance System which I believe originated in BP Shipping - Stephenson & Partners were the consultants that put it together - I would be interested to hear how others got on with such systems. I admit that I failed to get to grip with it. The administration of the system consumed a great deal of the C/Engs time and once a backlog occured it was a downhill spiral from then on.

thunderd
22nd June 2006, 00:39
I'd like to add my tuppence worth to this thread. I will give the watchkeeping routine on an old up and downer as I remember it.On going on watch 15 minutes before hand over,you entered the engine room. At the top of the engineroom you checked the feed water temp on the D.C feed heater.Then went to the entabliture (cylinder) level and checked the lub oil feed boxes. Then to the middle platform, felt by hand all crosshead and valve gear bearings. Down to the main platform, checked water gauge levels and hand felt the bottom end and main bearings. Went down shaft tunnel, checked bearings and stern gland plus tunnel bilge. Back to engine room, checked engine room bilges, through to stokehold checked burners / fires.
Then check auxiliary plant, jennys, feed pump, main circulator. Relieve the offgoing engineer. check logbook. adjust any temp. /pressures. check draught pressure to boilers. Depending on which watch, you may have to blow boiler tubes. All main engine bearings were felt by hand at least every hour. Feed check valves had to be adjusted as necessary. In bad weather you often had to throttle the engine by hand to stop the screw racing. These engines had a wheel operated "maneuvering valve" for normal speed adjustment and between that and the engine a "throttle" which was a lever operated butterfly valve used for rapid response i.e. a racing engine. Standing by that throttle valve for a 4 hour watch was no joke in heavy weather. I noted earlier in this thread another contributor quiried the hammer by the Weir feed pump. On a worn pump the steam shuttle valve sometimes stuck and a sharp clrack on the end of the valve housing would persuade it to start again. Another cause of weir pump stoppage was a device in the valve chest which enabled the pump to work with a certain amount of steam expansion as opposed to carrying steam to the end of the stroke. This was sometimes adjusted too far and the pump would stop.Again - the hammer!Sorry I am getting a bit carried away, I could carry on for hours! Thanks for your patience.

Jock that was a great description and we are all a bit better educated thanks to you.

jock paul
22nd June 2006, 19:43
Amazing how this link went from what engineers did on steam ships to burials at sea - with that in mind with your indulgence I will continue in similar vein.
I served on Elders & Fyffes CAMITO between 1969 to 1971 as 2nd Engineer.
She carried up to 100 passengers that could be categorised into two distinct groups 1- individuals, couples, families travelling out to Trinidad, Jamaica or Bermuda to start a new life. 2- round trip passengers, the latter as couples or individuals, invariably elderly people. Sometimes one of this latter group would not make it. In my 25 trips there were three occasions when we had a natural causes death on board and a "stop at sea". Always a great ceremony highlight of the voyage - for the surviving passengers that is. It is certainly true that the sale of film and cameras from the ship's shop would increase when the word got out that there would be a burial at sea in the offing.
The service would be held by the Master on the 4 to 8 afternoon watch and those off duty were expected to attend. Reverting to engineers mode now - with a ceremony set for 16.30 hrs, shortly after taking over the watch at 16.00hrs preparations would be taken to stop.CAMITO was a twin screw turbine steamer and speed would be gradually reduced until approaching the alloted time the propeller revs had been reduced from the normal 110 rpm to manoeuvring speed of 80 rpm. Astern guarding valves and turbine drains would be opened, bled steam shut off and live steam opened up to plant such as feed water heaters and distillation plant that might require it.
Normally the 3rd Engineer would return to assist and the daywork Donkeyman and Storekeeper would go to the boiler room to assist the watchkeeping fireman deal with the firing of the 3 Babcock boilers - each with 4 oil burners.
The telegraph would ring STOP and the engineers would bring the turbines to a stop using Astern steam and maintaining the use of astern steam to ensure that both propellers did not rotate (to prevent any unpleasant accident).
The Master would say a few words and the bosun and his AB's would lift the board containing the body to the ship's side and on the order tilt the board and let the body slide out from under the Red Ensign to the deep.
Soon Full Ahead would be rung - the bosun would receive the traditional bottle of rum, the spectating passengers would head to the bar to compare notes and toast the dear departed shipmate. The 2nd Eng. and his assistant would start restoring the plant to normal sea conditions and in the case of one of the 3rd Eng that I sailed with - depart the engine room to get showered into his uniform and see if there were any young females that might have been traumatised by the afternoon's events so that he might afford comfort.
I always kept a stock of diesel generator bottom end bolts (used), and some blank flanges to be used as weights by the bosun when doing his sewing up of the canvas shroud. I should add that CAMITO carried a doctor.
I am not going to name the ship, for obvious reasons, but i'll tell the story. in the mid 1960's the master of a ship that I sailed on was murdered by the steward (knifed) whilst in his home port, Durban. His family had the body cremated and wanted the ashes scattered at sea. The company agreed and after discharging our cargo and before loading we put out from the dock with his wife, the minister and mourners. It was decided the burial service would be a short one held at the aft end of the bridge deck. We steamed to about 2 miles off shore, engines were stopped and the service read. the widow asked the minister to open the urn and scatter the ashes. He went to the bridge wing and held the urn over the side, then there was a backdraught and they all came floating back, settling over mourners, crew and minister. The old man had got his revenge! I realise this tale may be in questionable taste, but it did happen.

J Boyde
23rd June 2006, 09:25
Whilst all my time was on motor ships, I also had a reasonable amount of time with boilers. I sailed on one with two boilers, steam was the majority of auxilary plant. I am sure there are many who sailed on similar ships. Very hot in the tropics, not much ventilation, and yes, we ate a lot of salt. I have heard of people wondering why we had boilers, even on more modern vessels. Well we had to be able to move the fuel in cold conditions somehow. I am sure the companies would not appreciate having their ships towed because all their fuel became rather thick, or solid.
Jim B (Thumb)

Jim S
23rd June 2006, 21:49
Brian (Benjidog) is still looking for info on maintenance routines -
It is over 30 years since I left the sea so I appreciate that things could have changed since then. I believe it is easier to answer his query for motorships (and auxiliary diesel engines on steam ships). The maintenance of diesel engines is mainly on an "hours run" basis although "condition monitoring" by oil analysis, vibration and instrumentation data gathering is a modern approach for non-intrusive maintenance.
The makers of engines and auxiliaries provide recommendations for service intervals. - Auxiliary engine fuel injectors and oil change might be in the region of 500 - 1000 hours and an engine overhaul at 25000 hours.
At the risk of being shot down by other contributors - Many marine engineers had their own "condition monitoring" approach based on experience. To use modern terminology certain equipment would be looked at as "critical items"
fire pumps, bilge pumping systems, boiler feed pumps, sea water distillation plant together with boiler water quality and cleanliness of lub oil systems and of course electric generation could arguably be considered the essentials that would keep you out of trouble. Some items such as hydraulic systems and lub oil pumps were best left alone if working satisfactorily.
Certifying authorities such as Lloyds, American Bureau, Norske Veritas would stipulate periods between surveys. Before I left the sea Lloyds approved a scheme whereby the Chief Engineer of a ship could carry out machinery surveys of stipulated items either at sea or in ports where no Surveyors were located. The Chief Eng had to write up a report and any parts that had been replaced had to kept for later inspection by the Authorities Surveyor.
Some companies had their own "Planned Maintenance Systems" which maybe easier to execute on modern UMS (unmanned machinery space) ships where engineers are on day work rather than traditional watches.
In earlier days (and maybe even appropriate in some cases today) Even watchkeeping engineers had other defined responsibilities. For example
4th Eng. - Boiler Water testing & treatment, maintenance of pumps.
3rd Eng - Auxiliary diesel or turbine generators, oil fuel transfer and bunkering
On some older ships the 3rd Eng would also have to act as Electrician.
On ships with limited refrigeration spaces, a dedicated Refrigeration Engineer may not be carried. - In Brocklebank ships this was the responsibility of a Jnr 3rd Eng in addition to his watchkeeping duty on 8 to 12 watch.
I have not mentioned the 2nd Eng - his duty was the supervision of all of the above and the day to day operation and maintenance of the ship's main and auxiliary machinery including deck machinery and "hotel services".
A Chief Eng that I sailed with in Fyffes did the bunkering - "If there is an oil spill I have to write the report - I may as well try to ensure there is no spill" -A practice that I adopted when attaining the rank. "

Hopefully this may generate some more answers to Brian's original thread.

jock paul
25th June 2006, 11:38
I am not sure if this comes under the heading of "planned" maintainance.On up and down steamships that I sailed in, the only thing I remember being planned was boiler water treatment, we used "raw"fresh water, no evaporators. We preferred a product named DM Compound produced by Reunert & Lenz. Otherwise it was mainly cleaning feed water and oil fuel filters. On some vessels we took indicator diagrams to check valve settings, but usually it was a case of "If it goes, leave it alone!" Of course there was the usual running maintainance of taking up slack bearings, packing glands, grinding valves ( pumps and piping), cleaning tubes (boiler and condenser) One thing about those ships, it was extremely rare for something to come to a sudden,shuddering halt.Everything gave due warning if it needed attention.As far as electricity was concerned they were mostly 110 D.C. Two steam jennies and (perhaps) a deisel for harbour work when winches weren't called for. Prctically the only maintainance was changing brushes and occasionally undercutting the commutators. Strayng away slightly,on one vessel we only had one jenny and the crankshaft broke at sea, it was a weird sensation at night in the engine room with only parrafin lamps by the water gauges and two by the main engines. Made you realise how hazardous it must have been for engineers in the days before electric lighting in engine rooms.

froggie
25th June 2006, 19:53
I agree with jock Paul that it is strange how this link has gone from steam ship engineers to burials at sea. I can endorse his report on scattering ex-seamens' ashes at sea. In my case it was a former Chief Steward whose ashes we scattered from the wing of the bridge. They blew back inboard. One of the mourners whispered "He's come back to check on the Deck Buffet!" After this we made holes on the container and quietly dropped the whole thing from a lower deck.

I am sorry to read a couple of comments on my story of the Purser who diverted a passenger's gift of cool drinks to the Galley Staff. I told the story to raise a smile.
In every ship in which I sailed there was never any inter-departmental strife.

Derek Roger
26th June 2006, 04:22
Froggy;
I think one of those coments were mine. I would be the last person to raise hell with fellow shipmates . All my time at sea was with great people and I wish I could meet them all again !!!

Do think that the cooks stole the engineers beer was a bit off though. LOL

Regards Derek

benjidog
26th June 2006, 15:52
Thanks again folks for your contributions to this thread.

I am getting the feeling that with steamships a lot of it was really down to the engineers being so familiar with their monstrous charges that they knew what was normal and reacted to anything "wrong" it before things got to the point of actually breaking down. That adds to the various statements people have made in this and other threads about the reliability of these old engines. There is something very clean and simple about them that I find so appealing.

Again off the point but I recently read that they are doing a reconstruction of the engine of the Great Eastern - not sure if they plan to make it work - I wonder if the HSE will have things to say as it can't possibly conform to modern standards but is a reconstruction. I will certainly be going to see it one day

Brian

jock paul
27th June 2006, 19:31
If you can get hold of a copy, there was a book published in the late 50's early 60's titled A SOCIAL HISTORY OF MARINE ENGINEERING by a marine engineer named GUTHRIE. It was piblished by TIPTREE PRESS. Though, if my memory serves me, it is not very deep, it is interesting. You could possibly try CONWAY PRESS, i believe they took over TIPTREE.
Regards Jock

Have come across a reference to this book -I've got my facts wrong.

Correct title - A HISTORY OF MARINE ENGINEERING

Author - JOHN GUTHRIE

Publisher - HUTCHINSON

Chris Field
12th July 2006, 15:10
I agree with jock Paul that it is strange how this link has gone from steam ship engineers to burials at sea. I can endorse his report on scattering ex-seamens' ashes at sea. In my case it was a former Chief Steward whose ashes we scattered from the wing of the bridge. They blew back inboard. One of the mourners whispered "He's come back to check on the Deck Buffet!" After this we made holes on the container and quietly dropped the whole thing from a lower deck.

I am sorry to read a couple of comments on my story of the Purser who diverted a passenger's gift of cool drinks to the Galley Staff. I told the story to raise a smile.
In every ship in which I sailed there was never any inter-departmental strife.
At his request, an aged ex-steward from the Waimea (Maritime Carriers, NZ) had his ashes cast o'er the ocean off North Cape, by me, Third Mate.
Problem: the bosun and his band of workers had assiduously coated all the after castle with loverly white paint that morning as was their duty...He is still there no doubt.

Peter Fielding
12th July 2006, 16:30
Thanks again folks for your contributions to this thread.

I am getting the feeling that with steamships a lot of it was really down to the engineers knowing being so familiar with their monstrous charges that they knew what was normal and reacted to anything "wrong" it before things got to the point of actually breaking down. Brian
This is perfectly true. After some time in a ship, you got to know the normal sound of the engine room, even though this was a combination of main engine/s, (motor or turbine), generators, assorted pumps, compressors, fans etc. Any variation from the norm was immediately detectable, even if the cause was not instantly apparent, and was enough to send you on an urgent tour of inspection.

billyboy
12th July 2006, 23:39
Right on Peter. just a few revs difference on the main engines would wake a sleeping engineer

Derek Roger
13th July 2006, 15:40
The lack of noise is what wakes Engineeers ( This one at least ! )
Having spent 9 months on the Moss Tanker " Ras to Jazz" run I flew home from Bahrain to London and then on the Sleeper from London to Inverness .
After the usual dinner and a couple of libations in the dining saloon I turned in .
For those who have travelled on this train you will remember that they change engines at Lockerbie and the train is very quiet for about 10 minutes as this is being done .

I awoke in pich black and was disoriented and without any sound figured the ship had " Blacked Out "and was grouping for my torch which was always on my night table by my bunk .
I got mad and shouted out " wheres my F----ing Torch " by which time I was out of my bunk on the "Train " and grouping in the dark .
I eventualy found the door and opening it an looked out along the alleyway by which time a number of heads here sticking out ! And the Steward was coming up the alleyway with a torch in his hand like of of the usherettes at the cinema .
One chap said " whats going on somebody shouting and swearing ?? "
I responded " Yes I heard it too ! Disgusting ! " and gingerly retired to my " sleeper "
I quietly laughed so hard that my sides hurt .

Oh Happy Days Derek

jock paul
13th July 2006, 19:27
I don't know if it is still used at sea, but I remember that when we got a hot shaft bearing it was the done thing to pack it with tallow. There was a small inspection flap on the top half of the plumber block to allow this to be done. It was often a successful cure. On main engine and horseshoe thrust bearings, if they were over heating, there was a sal****er service pipe which ran along the back of the engine. This had telescopic pipes with nozzles at intervals which could be directed onto a hot bearing. It also supplied cooling water into the engine column passages to cool the slide bars.
Talking of noise or lack of it in the engineroom. I don't know if it still happens, engineers with a warped sense of humour have been known to tap a convenient piece of steel in the engineroom with a hammer in time to the beat of the engine and watch with fiendish grins as the off watch engineers come hurtling down the ladders to find out what has gone wrong. Of course I would never do a thing like that..........!

R736476
13th July 2006, 21:37
The lack of noise is what wakes Engineeers ( This one at least ! )
Having spent 9 months on the Moss Tanker " Ras to Jazz" run I flew home from Bahrain to London and then on the Sleeper from London to Inverness .
After the usual dinner and a couple of libations in the dining saloon I turned in .
For those who have travelled on this train you will remember that they change engines at Lockerbie and the train is very quiet for about 10 minutes as this is being done .

I awoke in pich black and was disoriented and without any sound figured the ship had " Blacked Out "and was grouping for my torch which was always on my night table by my bunk .
I got mad and shouted out " wheres my F----ing Torch " by which time I was out of my bunk on the "Train " and grouping in the dark .
I eventualy found the door and opening it an looked out along the alleyway by which time a number of heads here sticking out ! And the Steward was coming up the alleyway with a torch in his hand like of of the usherettes at the cinema .
One chap said " whats going on somebody shouting and swearing ?? "
I responded " Yes I heard it too ! Disgusting ! " and gingerly retired to my " sleeper "
I quietly laughed so hard that my sides hurt .

Oh Happy Days Derek
Derek,
I really enjoyed this one and can just see you! The wife wondered why I was rolling about!!
Until tonight I'd never looked at this thread as like others I thought it was motor men taking the mickey!
Lots of familiar situations, running and maintaining everything on a shoe string, leaking tubes and no water (just like on Doxfords with water cooled pistons), spare gear missing when you needed it as dead ship in mid Atlantic (flogged in Port Said apparently), amazing what was put at the door of the last 3rd engineer! Mustn't forget when we didn't have electricians and the 3rd engineer worked wonders with insulating tape and Henleys Compound.
Benjidog you have all the makings of a best seller!
cheers,
Alex

benjidog
13th July 2006, 22:44
I'm glad this thread is still generating interest.

Thanks Jock Paul for the corrected reference to "The History of Marine Engineering". I just ordered a copy from Abebooks so will provide a review of it at some future date.

I am still really surprised that people thought I was taking a pop at steam engineers. They have always had my greatest admiration.

There would have to be something wrong with you not to be impressed by the sheer power of a steam engine going at full blast whether in a mill, train or ship. There is something animal about them - they seem to be alive and breathing.

Brian

Stewart J.
13th July 2006, 23:34
Diesel man myself but must agree with previous posters odd sounds or silence would and still does wake me instantly. Nothing worse than waking and switching on the light and nowt happens.

Stewart

eldersuk
14th July 2006, 00:00
First night home on leave. Getting up at 0400 and setting all the controls on the cooker to 'full ahead', taking the washing machine adrift and looking for the log book for the CH boiler - then waking up!

Thankfully, I've kicked that habit now!

Derek Roger
14th July 2006, 01:01
I dont think any of us really like to talk of the stress that Mates / Engineers took as part of everyday life . It was a great life but for those in positions of responsibility ( all watch keepers + Captains and Chiefs ) there was always an understanding that we were " responsible for our actions and decisions )
After swallowing the Hook it takes a while to come to terms with civiy street where the majority dont seem to care !
I worked hard as a junior to "Get it Right " and in Brocklebanks and Moss Tankers as a Chief Engineer I was " Blessed " with great engineers who had the same work attitude and comittment to the "JOB"
I have worked ashore with many fine people since those days but I have to say " They were The Best "
Derek

jock paul
14th July 2006, 19:35
Hi, Derek. I can empathise with your last post. It took me quite a few years after I swallowed the hook to come to grips with attitudes ashore. At sea it was a case of "work hard and play hard", with the priority given to the work. Somebody said that seamen are the last of the Elizabethans and I believe this is correct. They could be hair-raising if you didn't know them, but when you did, you wouldn't find a more loyal set of men with what I think are a superior set of values. Ashore, in many cases, loyalty to your fellow men seems to be a quality that is laughed at. A case of look out for number 1.
Of course this is a generalisation, but it is too often true. Another thing that still amazes me is the petty beaurocracy which prevails ashore. Any person who can boast his/her own desk is a little tin god. No value seems to be attached to the "goodness" of a person, only what they own or can produce.
Glad I've got that off my chest, now I will wait for the wrath to descend from on high!

thunderd
15th July 2006, 00:53
First night home on leave. Getting up at 0400 and setting all the controls on the cooker to 'full ahead', taking the washing machine adrift and looking for the log book for the CH boiler - then waking up!

Thankfully, I've kicked that habit now!

Hilarious (Applause)

jock paul
15th July 2006, 19:15
I recall standing by what was then the largest VLCC ever built in Europe which had the novelty (well it was then) of extensively instrumented and automated plant monitored from the Engine Control Room. The Control Room had (thank you God!) the previously unknown luxury of air-conditioning. Enter C/Eng 'Blodwyn the Bleed' - does that ring a bell with anyone? - who pronounced that he had never needed air-conditioning in his day and the plant would not be run whatever the temperature. Much mutinous muttering from we watchkeepers accompanied his retreat. It took the Super to convince Blodwyn that actually the A/C was installed for the benefit of the instrumentation consoles which appreciated dry, cool conditions and not for the benefit of the Engineers who were dispensable.
Sailed with one Australian chief engineer who was mad as a hatter. He insisted that for engine efficiency we had to have a "high ambient temerature". To this end he insisted that the engine room skylight was to be kept closed while we were at sea! When the temperature on the floorplate level reached 130F we other engineers nearly mutinied. I had to go and talk to the Old Man and explain the situation -why I was ignoring the chief's orders and opening the skylights! That same chief was mad keen on yoga. I went to his cabin one day in port and found him standing stark naked on his head against the cabin bulkhead! Not a pretty sight.

Derek Roger
15th July 2006, 21:17
We have all sailed with a few " Odd Balls / Characters " trouble is we never realised that we also had our reputations !
I sailed with one chap when I was Chief who I had earlier sailed with when I was a Junoir and he a 4th Eng. He continually would be telling stories to the juniors and apprentices of my earlier antics primarily to do with the Hi Jacking of any kind of Transportation available anywhere we happened to be !
He would always finish his stories with " Eh Chief you were quite the character then ! "

With regard to heat we had one 4th Engineer who simply refused to go on the boiler tops or up the "Fiddley " as " it was too hot for him !! " He was not lasy and would do all the dirty jobs as long as they were on floorplate level ! Needless to say he was nicknamed "The Chocolate Man " ( being afraid he may melt )

william dillon
15th July 2006, 21:50
Hi, Derek. I can empathise with your last post. It took me quite a few years after I swallowed the hook to come to grips with attitudes ashore. At sea it was a case of "work hard and play hard", with the priority given to the work. Somebody said that seamen are the last of the Elizabethans and I believe this is correct. They could be hair-raising if you didn't know them, but when you did, you wouldn't find a more loyal set of men with what I think are a superior set of values. Ashore, in many cases, loyalty to your fellow men seems to be a quality that is laughed at. A case of look out for number 1.
Of course this is a generalisation, but it is too often true. Another thing that still amazes me is the petty beaurocracy which prevails ashore. Any person who can boast his/her own desk is a little tin god. No value seems to be attached to the "goodness" of a person, only what they own or can produce.
Glad I've got that off my chest, now I will wait for the wrath to descend from on high!

Jock,
I totally agree with what you say, ex. ship engineers have a different outlook from our landlubber friends who mostly don't give a F***, (pardon my French)
My mate & me at work always turn to & would never let anyone down, but we are different, we have been to sea as engineers & know that others depend on us performing our duties. (Thumb)

Peter4447
15th July 2006, 22:04
An unusual request perhaps!
I have greatly appreciated reading this thread, never having experienced an engine room myself (other than the occasional invitation to view as a guest). Right through the thread I have been struck my the number of references that have been made to the drinking of copious amounts of water and the use of salt tablets. One of my particular interests in life is collecting crested MN chinaware and I have several large china pint mugs mainly from tanker companys that carry the Company Houseflag. My initial thought was that these would have been for the 'rough upper deck chaps' to drink tea out of when watchkeeping but it now seems far more likely they would have been of far more use to the engine room department for drinking water out of. Can anybody enlighten me please?
Many thanks
Peter4447 (*))

Derek Roger
16th July 2006, 00:12
The engine room water barrel or " Pani Jug " as we called it in Brocks was a wooden container with a galvanized steel liner which held about a gallon and a half . It had a tap on the bottom for drawing off the water . Many just drank from the top and poured some over their heads too cool down . It would be filled by the Oiler :" Tail Wahalla 3 to 4 times a watch when East of Suez.

During day workin port this "Pani Barrel "would be brought to the engineers ( either on the aft deck or engineers mess at " Smoko " ) It often had a few fresh limes in it which had been squeezed which gave a very refreshing flavor.
During a break down when all were working hard " Limes seemed to majically apper in the water !!!" They did help .

We had tea of co**** about 4 times per watch as well as the water . I dont recllect there being any mugs with company logos on them ? ( If there was they would have all been stolen ). I remember the tea mugs as being tins mugs with a porslin finish ? Perhaps some of the other lads can shed some better light .

Derek Roger
16th July 2006, 00:16
My previouse post at the end should have been " course " I mispelled it and the comput system deleted the letters( A.R.S.E ) What wonderfull technology we have now ?

dundalkie
2nd August 2006, 13:09
Looking through a book acquired somewhere came across a photograph which conclusively shows exactly what engineers do. I'll post it in the gallery. Note- not a drop of oil, a spanner or abottle of scotch to be seen.

BarryM
2nd August 2006, 14:44
Hi, Derek. I can empathise with your last post. It took me quite a few years after I swallowed the hook to come to grips with attitudes ashore. At sea it was a case of "work hard and play hard", with the priority given to the work. Somebody said that seamen are the last of the Elizabethans and I believe this is correct. They could be hair-raising if you didn't know them, but when you did, you wouldn't find a more loyal set of men with what I think are a superior set of values. Ashore, in many cases, loyalty to your fellow men seems to be a quality that is laughed at. A case of look out for number 1.
Of course this is a generalisation, but it is too often true. Another thing that still amazes me is the petty beaurocracy which prevails ashore. Any person who can boast his/her own desk is a little tin god. No value seems to be attached to the "goodness" of a person, only what they own or can produce.
Glad I've got that off my chest, now I will wait for the wrath to descend from on high!

I wish I could agree that all Engineers were the salt of the earth but this was not always the case. A certain 3/E sticks in my mind. During a major shut down in which he had done less than everybody else, he told me that he couldn't possibly work on after his watch as the deckies were showing a movie that evening!!! It goes without saying that he was advised of his fortune if even he contemplated stepping out of his boiler suit and that his chances of catching the movie were something less than the square root of bugger-all. He worked on but it was a pointer to the future.

william dillon
2nd August 2006, 21:32
I have followed this thread initiated by Brian(Benjidog) closely and found it both amusing and enlightening. I wonder how on earth the diesel engineers on the mv “British Commodore,” which was an innovative BP tanker built in 1967, managed to cope with the situations which arose in the second half of 1970.

This approximately 68,000d.w.t. motor ship was fitted with the following “steam equipment.”
One 88,000 pounds per hour Babcock and Wilcox integral furnace water tube boiler operating at 285 PSI coupled to an Exhaust Gas Boiler powered by the exhaust gasses from the Main Diesel Engine.
At sea speed the Exhaust Gas Boiler generated sufficient steam to run the Turbo Alternator which produced sufficient electric power to run the engine room plant without the necessity of running a Diesel Alternator or firing the Main Boiler.
The Evaporator used Main Diesel Engine Jacket Water as it’s heating source.
In port the cargo was discharged by Turbine Driven Cargo pumps and obviously in port it was necessary to fire the Main Boiler.
There was also an Auxiliary Package Boiler – 150PSI.
The Butterworth Heater when required used steam from the Main Boiler as did the Cargo Heating System.
In the centre of all this “steam equipment” was an 18,000BHP, 9 cylinder, 840mm bore VT2BF Burmeister and Wain Diesel with three Turbo Chargers.

I had just joined the ship as Chief Engineer prior to her departure from Malta Dry-Dock to pick up a cargo in the Eastern Med. (cannot remember where). The cargo was to be discharged at the Isle of Grain and required heating to a certain temperature to ensure it would not solidify. Shortly after departing Malta we experienced a leaking generating tube in the Main Boiler. This tube was plugged.
Upon leaving the loading port we lost further generating tubes which required “plugging.”
Halfway back down the Med., it became time to commence heating the cargo and the boiler continued having tube failures.
Even with the Evaporator operating at full capacity our distilled water tanks were not holding their own and in fact we had to supplement the boiler feed water with water from the domestic tanks. The problem of the leaking boiler tubes and the necessity to heat the cargo was discussed with Capt. Joe Beattie ( a grand Scotsman ) and he suggested calling at Algeciras (Spain) ( no idea how to spell it ) and take on as much domestic water as possible to enable us to reach the IOG and heat the cargo. I discussed this with Head Office and they agreed and in fact when we arrived in Algiceras, Engineer Superintendent, Stan Symon (now sadly deceased) was on the jetty to greet us. Following discussion, his opinion agreed with my own ref the cause of the boiler tubes failing, namely the result of improper or incomplete internal chemical cleaning during the dry-docking.

On departing the port the tubes were leaking to such an extent that the water could be seen through the inspection window boiling on the furnace floor. It was decided not to attempt any further tube plugging but proceed full speed to IOG.

We arrived at IOG without further incident and proceeded to discharge the heated cargo at a reduced rate so as not to fire the boiler too hard.

The Senior Superintendent fro “A” Fleet, David Gibbons inspected the boiler during the discharge and witnessed the leaking water “boiling” on the furnace floor.

He then made the decision that the Main Boiler, Screen and Generating tubes would be replaced during the passage to the Gulf around the Cape by a Sea Going Maintenance Team from (if I remember – Sweden/Norway) who would join the ship at Las Palmas together with the new tubes.

This would entail passage from Las Palmas to the Gulf with electrical power supplied by the two Paxman Diesel Alternators and steam for domestic and fuel heating from the Aux. Package Boiler. In view of the fact that the Paxman diesels had never been run for a sustained period and that one unit at maximum load could barely sustain the full speed required electrical load the Diesel Engineers were not too happy with this scheduled boiler repair.

We departed the IOG after both Paxman diesels had been serviced by a Manufacturer’s Rep., with the two units operating in parallel.

Except for some boiler tube tool problems and the fact that we were seven generating tubes short, problems which were resolved off Durban with the assistance of the local BP Superintendent Donaldson, the passage was without incident and the boiler repair completed on schedule and tested one week prior to arrival at the Gulf loading port.

The Paxman Diesel Alternators had done their job – had they suffered? – read on.

Several days into the loaded passage towards Cape Town the Main Engine had to be stopped in order to clean the Jacket Water Coolers. Because air was being supplied to the main deck it was necessary to supplement the Turbo Alternator electrical load with the Outboard Paxman Alternator.
There was aloud bang from the Outboard Paxman and two crankcase doors “blew off.” This was noticed by the watch keeping Junior Engineer who had just added one gallon of oil to the Paxman diesel. He informed the Engineers in the Control Room by intercom. Surprisingly the unit continued to run and remained on load in parallel with the Turbo Alternator. On receiving the message the Engineers in the Control Room took the unit of load and shut it down, started the inboard Paxman Alternator remotely and put it on load in parallel with the Turbo Alternator.

No alarms(all of which were operational)sounded in the Control Room. Examination revealed that the number two “A” bank connecting rod had fractured, the top half of which came out through the crankcase door together with the piston gudgeon pin. (Nearly caught by the Electrician, Fred Stewart who was in the area) The cylinder head was removed and exposed the top half of the piston seized at the top of the liner, but bit dropped out when given a light tap. The remainder of this piston was found in the sump. Two “B” connecting rod was found bent but intact. Number two “A” liner was found broken into several small pieces for the lower half of its length and the bottom of number two “B” liner was also broken off. The crankshaft balance weight was found broken off in way of the aft retaining bolt. The Liner Block Casting was found damaged in several areas. It was soon decided that the unit could not be repaired due to lack of all necessary spares and these were immediately ordered by cable and passage was resumed.

Five days later it was once again necessary to stop the Main Engine due to failure of the Exhaust Gas Boiler Circulating Pump. The inboard Paxman Diesel Alternator was immediately started and put in parallel electically with the Turbo Alternator as when the Main Engine is stopped quickly it was necessary to ignite fires in the Main Boiler to prevent loss of steam pressure. The Exhaust Gas Boiler was isolated and drained and passage resumed.

Shortly after this steam vapor was noted issuing from the Inboard Paxman Diesel crankcase breather. The unit was shut down for examination. This examination revealed nothing except a slight trace of water in the sump. This water was drained and the unit restarted. As the electrical load was gradually increased to maximum as a test a copious flow of steam vapor issued from the breather. The unit was again shut down and the fault found to be a leaking lube oil cooler. As we had no spare cooler tube stack on board it was decided to exchange coolers with the defective outboard Paxman Diesel.

24 hours later the Main engine had to be slowed due to a Scavenge Fire. I was called and as the fire was quite fierce stopped the Main Engine and extinguished the fire with the steam smothering system.
During this period the Turbo Alternator began to vibrate seriously and within a very short span of time was vibrating so severely that that it was sufficient to operate the over speed trip mechanism. The unit did NOT over speed.

As work on exchanging the Paxman Lube Oil Coolers was not complete we suffered a total power failure.

Within one hour work exchanging the coolers was completed and the Inboard Paxman Diesel Alternator was started and put on load.
Work also commenced lifting the Turbo Alternator cover in order to examine the turbine rotor and bearings.
Work also commenced cleaning the Main Engine Scavenge spaces.

The situation was now as follows:
We had one serviceable Paxman Diesel Alternator.
We were heading north away from the major South African Ports
We were unsure if the Turbo Alternator could be repaired until a thorough examination was complete.
Head Office was advise of the situation.

The Captain received a cable fro HO requesting us to call Mr. David Gibbons as soon as possible. As there was no answer we finally reached Mr. Gibbons at his home number. Mr. Gibbons advised the Captain to change course and head fro Walvis Bay. He advised myself to endeavor to overhaul the Turbo Alternator and prove it with a full load 12 hour test before the Captain could revert to the original Northern course.

The Captain commenced heading to Walvis Bay at 1230hrs and at 1535hrs the inboard Paxman Diesel Alternator failed resulting in a complete power failure. As the Main Engine was doing full speed at 108rpm at the time I had to “kick” the engine astern on air to stop it dead and thus avoid bearing damage due to lack of lubricating oil.

Examination of the Inboard Paxman Diesel revealed that the Number two “A” bank exhaust valve had broken. The cylinder head was removed revealing that the piston had forced the broken exhaust valve into the head leaving a two inch diam. hole in the head. A spare head was fitted together with a new piston and connecting rod. The liner was satisfactory. Upon completion the engine could not be “barred over” by hand and it was suspected that part of the broken valve had found its way into another cylinder. The other “A” bank head was removed and a piece of broken exhaust valve found on top of number three “A” piston but both piston and head appeared undamaged, Unit was closed up. However nothing ever comes easy!! The unit would not start due to the bendix mechanism sticking in the engaged position putting a severe load on the Air Start Motor holding bracket causing it to fracture. All parts were replaced and unit started without a further problem.

Main boiler was fired and steam admitted to the Jacket Water Heating System and the Lubricating Oil Sump. After a thirty six hour delay passage was resumed to Walvis Bay with a load of 230KW on the Paxman Diesel Alternator. This low load was achieved with the Paxman Diesel running on diesel fuel thus eliminating the requirement for heating steam and therefore no boiler. All non essential lighting was shut off. All vent fans were shut off except one in the Engine Room. The Galley was limited to the absolute minimum.

Approximately 24 hours later the vessel was safely anchored in Walvis Bay.
Paxman and Brotherhood Turbine reps. were waiting to board the vessel (with spares.)
The Paxman Rep. condemned the Outboard engine and it was removed from the Engine Room and stored on the bridge deck. HO advised a replacement engine would be supplied at the discharge port. His reasons for the failure – Malta Dry-Dock had apparently broken off the crankshaft balance weight during repairs, fabricated a new one but refitted it with non standard retaining bolts which threw the crankshaft out of balance. Also the connecting rods and bottom ends (which are matched pairs) had been assembled at random. During the overhaul the pistons were probably put in from the top instead of through the crankcase most likely breaking the rings in the process. A good case for having a Makers Rep. present at overhauls.

The Brotherhood Rep. fitted a spare turbine rotor, renewed the high speed bearings. labyrinths packing and high speed flexible coupling. He found the old rotor to be “throwing .003””. His opinion was that the problem was caused by the rotor not being true between centres.

The ship was out of service for ten days.

The passage from Walvis Bay to Ravenna was completed without incident except Number 6 Main Engine Liner fractured and had to be replaced. Diesel Engineers delight!!

My point with this lengthy tale is that all the Engineers except myself
were Diesel men and I had served on steam and diesel. These so called Diesel Engineers coped extremely well with the steam system problems encountered which is why I prefer the terms Marine Engineer or Ships Engineer. Marine Engineers, no matter what their background can handle any problem with little guidance That’s what makes us unigue!

Roger
(Applause) Too right Roger, engineers are a different breed, "work hard & play hard!!!!!!). (Thumb)

KevinR
3rd August 2006, 01:12
Sadly, only one reply mentioned a "real" steamer - a liberty ship. I never reckoned turbines as "proper" steam engines - just a bloody multi-fan rotator which didn't present real engineering challenges like the old triple expansion jobs!
I also sailed on a Liberty ship, called the "Memling", she was my first steamer. A couple of other steamers I did time on were old cable repair ships owned by Cable & Wireless; they were the CS Edward Wilshaw and the CS Stanley Angwin, both based on foreign locations, and powered by twin triple expansion engines - superb! Unlike diesel vessels, they never required spare parts, all repairs were done aboard and a good supply of whitemetal was carried to reline bearings. The ER. was eerily quiet, just a light swishing, and almost inaudible clicking from the Bellis & Morcambe steam generators. All married officers lived ashore with their families in palatial houses, with gardener and live-in maid paid for by the Company. (Crew was local - Fijjian or St.Lucian on these locations) Tour of duty was 2 years, followed by 9 months leave; no liability to income tax of any kind, and generous living and foreign exchange allowances given by the Company. Quite a life! (*))
Sadly, of course, those old , happy ships are long gone, but not forgotten by those old codgers like me, who will always remember them with affection - they really did have a personality......... (Thumb)

Derek Roger
4th August 2006, 05:59
Happy Days Kevin !!!

I think we all had the best of them ; going to sea today is not quite the same with little time in port ( to explore the joys ) and run from ahore by accountants !

When we left Uk and as soon as in was over the horizon the ship was ours until we came home usually 9 months or thereabouts in the 60s / 70s .


Derek

john strange
4th August 2006, 07:41
Having served as an officers steward for some time I must agree that the engineering officers were much better to deal with than deck officres. The engineers worked and played hard as you say, and they could hold their grog.
But on a trip to Oz with NZSC I was tempted to change my views.
A junior engineer had been sent to fix a problem with some piping we were later told, but had got it all wrong. When it came to pump out the bilge, most of the ships fresh water was pumped over the side instead. We sailed from just south of Aden to Melbourne, about three weeks, on two pints of fresh water per man per day. Worse still we were restricted to two cans of beer per day.
Oh happy days!!!! (Eats)

KIWI
5th August 2006, 22:35
Have just read thru the thread again & can't help feeling that the comment"We worked hard & played hard really sums it up".The working conditions at times were really atrocious & would not be tolerated ashore but it was taken as the norm.I guess there was also pride in keeping things going.Besides it also gave an endless source of I remember one better stories to bring out when the "Play Hard" part of the equation was being attended to. Kiwi

rivet
13th August 2006, 13:00
Hi Brian
While being interviewd on the local radio about my book, "Dockland Apprentice", which was about what engineers did before they went to sea, i was asked by the presenter what did you do when you went to sea. Quote, " It must have been like a luxury cruise, and getting paid for it".Unquote I realized that people today have no idea whatever of working conditions in the engine room fifty years ago. I imediatley set to work planning my next book, which is well underway, on the MN from an engineers angle.
Great Days
Rivet

benjidog
13th August 2006, 14:09
Rivet,

Good luck with your book. I am sure a lot of SN members will be interested so send us the details when you get it published.

Regards,

Brian

gbr16
14th August 2006, 00:38
Y'know
It's sometimes hard to remember what all went on at sea in days at sea, but I do recall that all hands had their duties to perform and they all worked well with little backbiting, c'ept for the few no'useres that exist anywhereyou like to turn. tho' we did not have many at sea in my day 'cos they were usually found out quickly and gotten rid of. But all worked there watches, four on eight off usually. The catering staff were the exception to this since they were on a steady day shift as you might call it today.
Even the "Old Man" as he was known as, stood a watch on the bridge. Altho all hands would keep a quiet eye on the watch for enemy sub's or ships.
We used to argue that the Radio Officer was the only one entitled to be called an "Oficer " since the rest of us were either captain or chief or second Mate or Engineer ect".
All ships In those days generally had tot o' rum or whisky as a reward to any hands who "turned too" to help load stores for the galley and pantry.
Cigarettes were dished out by the chief steward " had to go on your bill of course, to be deducted at end off the trip same with the "usually" two bottles of beer allowed daily. We had NO cans in those days.
In port when ashore one had to be sure to keep an eye out for sailing time as the old man would wait for no one. If you were in the company of someone in danger of missing the boat t'would behoove you to get him aboard with you if possible. Otherwise he would be picked up by the local bobbies, and stands a good chance of being sent home D.B.S.
That of course would show up on your discharge book, which no one wanted.
As for burials at sea they did happen, If it was safe, we would cut back speed for long enough to carry out the ceremony, then speed up to regain proper position in the convoy. If not safe then proper speed was maintained and usually a couple of old firebars were at the foot of the shroud all neatly stitched in.
Man I do go on at times. S'pose I better stop. These are changed days tho I sure would like to go down by the docks and sea an old Liberty boat or an Empire ship...
G.B.R.16

Ships Agent
26th August 2006, 21:03
with Regard to Engineers knowing when something was not quite right just by the sound or lack of. My cabin was above the pump room on the S.T. Kayeson and rember that when the cargo pumps were running i could get to sleep with out any trouble but when they had stopped for whatever reason sleep did not come as easy. On a slightly different note how many dewck officers could tell if a pump bearing was running hot just by placing the back of their hand on it? :sweat:

benjidog
13th February 2007, 22:32
SN Member Ali Bain sent me the attached account of his time as an engineer on steam ships and asked me to review it and post it on the site. I am of course very pleased to do so - many thanks Ali!

1. Watches and Certificates

Firstly, for those who are unfamiliar with the watchkeeping arrangements at sea, on a general cargo ship back in the sixties and seventies:

The twelve to four watch (shift) A.M. and P.M. is covered by the third engineer, plus a junior engineer and a donkeyman.
The four to eight watch (shift) A.M. and P.M. is covered by the second engineer, plus a junior engineer and a donkeyman
The eight to twelve watch (shift) A.M. and P.M. is covered by the fourth engineer, plus a junior engineer and a donkeyman.So far so good. The engine-room also had to be covered by a Board Of Trade certificate at all times and these were the tickets (certificates) carried by the Chief and the Second engineers.

The Chief covered the engine-room from eight to two A.M. and P.M.
The second covered the engine-room from two till eight A.M. and P.M.
The second was actually in the engine-room.
The Chief was responsible for everything and did not keep a watch. He mostly stayed in his cabin and attended to the paperwork side of things and polished his spanners (LOL)Starting just before midnight, you would get a call from the junior on the 8/12 watch at quarter to the hour of midnight and again at ten minutes to the hour to turn to for your watch. In the bad old days you had to go down half an hour beforehand and check the job first. But in the good old days,
Senior engineer, junior engineer and donkeyman down on the plates (manoeuvring platform and stokehold) for five to midnight and do the watch handover from the 8/12.

With Chinese crew, donkeymen, firemen, painters etc you always got a big steaming cup of lemon tea and a thick slice of toast to start the watch. Take the first of approx. twelve salt tablets for the watch to counteract the effects of heavy sweating for the next four hours working in temperatures up to 140 deg. F.

2. Fuel and Water

One of the main jobs on the 12/4 was pumping up the settling tanks, which supplied the boilers with heavy fuel oil to keep them going for the next twelve hours. The first priority was to get the fuel pumped up. The valves were opened and the fuel oil transfer pumps started - this usually took around thirty minutes from start to finish. Once the oil transfer pump had started, the junior engineer then went and “checked the job” which entailed checking on all the equipment in the engine-room which was running.

Almost all the time we were making fresh water from seawater, both for human consumption ( showers) and to keep up with the losses from the closed feed system, which kept the turbines going. If I remember right we needed to make about thirty tons of water a day to keep the show on the road. Anyway that was the junior’s task.

The donkeyman was in charge of the stokehold and changing the burners in each boiler, normally changing two of the four burners (injectors which the fuel was pumped through at approx 190/220 deg F) in each boiler. He also kept an eye on the water levels etc. And made the lemon tea.

The senior of the watch was in charge of the engine-room, but the Chief would insist that he should be able to look down from the top of the engine-room and expect to see an engineer ( senior or junior) on the plates at all times.

There were usually six forced draught fans blowing air down the engine-room all the time, all these fans were on the manoeuvring platform level, one of the only perks of the job of being senior watchkeeper was to be able to stand under the best forced draught fan. So if the Chief looked down he knew exactly where everyone should be at any given time. It was not unknown for someone to lob a bucket full of ice cold water from above the fan blades when they knew their favourite engineer was standing under the fan. This obviously resulted in an ice cold shower for the person standing under the fan and some hilarity for the one above.

3.Blowing the Tubes

So, we are now half way into a four hour watch, the fuel has been pumped up and the job has been checked by both the senior and junior engineers and the evaporator is behaving itself for once, it is two in the morning, time to blow tubes on the Starboard boiler. The 8/12 does the port one and the second engineer stows away the spanners, which the Chief has polished. (LOL)

Blowing tubes is unique to steamships; it is seriously hot and takes about half an hour to do. Average temperature in the back of the boiler would be about 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit., depending where in the world you were. Superheated steam at 450 p.s.i. was used (1,000 p.s.i. on the box boats, ugh) for this process, superheated to the extent that you cannot see it.

If a gland or a tube were to go, you couldn’t see the steam, you can feel the tremendous heat and hear the noise like an express train but you do not know which way to go. Have to depend on the third engineer to get the valve closed pretty dammed quick before you could move an inch. I experienced this as junior and senior engineer.

Without getting too technical, the water being heated goes through the middle of the boiler tubes, the heat (oil fired) is on the outside leaving a deposit of soot which cuts down on the heat transfer. This deposit of soot has to be blown off daily (at night when it was dark) First you phone the bridge and get permission as they may have to alter course so that the soot does not land on the deck or anywhere else on the ship.

You could always tell a steamship in the distance with the black tips to the after masts. Black painted as many an able bodied seaman can testify.
Tubes blown it was now time for another mug of the Lemon tea and then the junior would go and check the steering gear down aft, the senior would check the steering gear again at the end of the watch.

Ali. Bain, ex Professional Third Engineer, Benline 1970-1978

(Part 2 to follow)

benjidog
13th February 2007, 22:54
4. Other Duties

Now time to tidy away all the loose ends and complete all the requisite engine logs. Yes, even forty years ago we were knee deep in paperwork! Main engine log, fridge log, palm oil log if you were carrying latex and even an evaporator log to see who was making all the fresh water.

So that was the end of the watch - at least sometimes it was! Every engineer had an extra two hours a day, A.M. and P.M. when he was expected to cover any extra duties or go on “Standby” down the engine-room if we were entering or leaving port. The senior engineer covered the two hours before the watch and the junior engineer covered the two hours after the watch, so in effect you could be working six hours on and six hours off. The Benline, being the good Scottish company which they were, liked their pound of flesh and I can vouch for the extra duties incurred by the third engineer.

On a Steam Ship the main boilers were shut down in port (unless you were an American ship) and you depended on the diesel engines to supply the power required for heating, lighting, cooking, power to deck machinery etc. These engines could be of just about any make but the ones which I mainly worked on were “Rustons” of about 1,000 H.P. We had four of these engines which would run all the time we were in port, well at least two at a time would be running at any one time depending on the power requirements. These engines had to be maintained, serviced and overhauled, and this was done while at sea, outward and homeward bound. Each overhaul was supervised by the third who also was expected to do a lot of the work ably assisted by the Chinese engine room staff of, two fitters, a painter, the donkey man on watch and the “number one” or engine room bosun. Fortunately I had served my apprentiship working on diesel engines, including Rustons.

Another responsibility of the third was looking after all the fuel and lub oil requirements of the engine room, and with an old steam ship requiring about sixty tons of H.F.O. (heavy fuel oil) a day and the Container ships (ugh) about five or six times that, there was a lot of work involved. It could be quite exciting when you were taking maximum bunkers of red hot fuel oil into about a dozen tanks, with only a sounding tape to tell you how quick the fuel was coming on and no automatic system for opening and closing valves, just the old fashioned way by hand.

So, starting at midnight, as third engineer, you did your watch until four in the morning, washed ate and slept, turned to again at ten for working on the diesel engines, did your watch again from twelve to four (P.M.) Washed, ate and slept until ten and then if there was still work or Stand By duties to do turn to again at ten (P.M.)

At this time overtime was only paid for hours worked in excess of twelve, so, strangely enough we only worked twelve hours a day. We got overtime for each Sunday at sea and also for week end work in port. It would be fair to say that we were kept quite busy while at sea…!!!!

5. Routes and Ports

Sailing from Europe to the Far East as the Benline did usually took about 30 days on a general cargo ship if we were going around the Cape (South Africa) when the Suez Canal was closed. When Suez was opened it was nearer 20 days. Obviously it was about the same for the return, depended on the class of ship, weather etc. If we sailed through the Pacific via the Panama Canal to Japan it was even longer, nearer 40 days as I recall. Once we hit the Far East coast and we were in port, the senior engineers went on to day work while the junior engineers went on to Port watches. These Port watches were looking after the diesel auxiliaries and usually working six hours on and twelve hours off. Twelve hours before sailing we reverted to the normal watches of four on and eight off. By the time you did your Stand By watches you were working six on and six off.

The seniors on the other hand turned to at 7 A.M. and knocked off at four thirty in the afternoon. Normally the workload was very heavy for the first month while you caught up with all the repairs which you could not get to at sea. After that, well was a different story, it was party time for the remainder of the coast which could be anywhere between two and six months time wise and anywhere between Japan and Indonesia geographically.

While alongside, the cargo was either being loaded or discharged - sometimes, but not always, 24 hours a day. This meant that a sober senior engineer and deck officer had to be on call during the night should anything go pear shaped. This was referred to as being “the night onboard man”


As there were only four senior engineers and one of them (the chief) did not do nights on board (too busy polishing his spanners) this obviously left the onus of night call outs on the second engineer, third engineer and fourth engineer. This translated into every third night on board, which obviously means two out of three nights ashore.

6. Payback Time

This was the pay back for all the hard work done at sea. Work hard - Play hard, and now it was time to play hard. Usually had a few beers on the ship after our supper and headed up the road wherever we were to return about six o’ clock the following morning for a seven o’ clock turn to down the engine-room.

Normally the Captain and Chief Engineer (who by this time had finished polishing his spanners for the night) (LOL) would be standing at the top of the gangway to inspect the status of the heroes returning from their visits to the various museums and libraries and other places of nautical interest.

I discovered very early on that if one was to appear in any way “tired and emotional” after their visit to a garden centre or wherever when they came up the gangway that they would surely find themselves with the hottest and dirtiest job in the engine-room that day.

So, after two nights checking out the local Flora and Fauna, a night on board was pleasure. There was always a meal left out for the night on board man so he could get something to eat when he was called out. Usually this consisted of sausage, bacon and eggs which had to be fried up in the messroom. In all the times I was called out I never yet managed to get my breakfast - yes it was left out but there was always some hungry toe-rag beat me to it.

Ali. Bain, ex Professional Third Engineer, Benline 1970-1978

JoK
13th February 2007, 23:54
I started out on a steamer. Scotch marine boilers and Skinner Uniflows, not an electric pump to be seen and the boilers manual firing.
I've started the plant from cold using compressed air on the pumps and FD fan, and the exhaust valve bonnets off so the air could exhaust into the space. Made for some running when it came time to put them togethe when the steam was on and the pumps running.
All of our deck winches were steam recip and we had a steam recip 5 barrel winch.
My laptop is throwing a wobbler, got to shut it down....

Derek Roger
14th February 2007, 00:26
Jok ;
Where did you get the compressed air ??? Hope you were not cheating .
Sailed with Scotch Boilers and Foster Wheelers in Brocks . Could start from cold using a fire in the furnaces on the Scotch Boilers if one had an ample supply of dunnage . Also some had a separate hand pump which the Ag Wallahs ( firemen ) had to man during a cold start up ! Also some sort of fuel heater using wood as a fuel or diesel to heat the fuel oil to a point where combustion was "reasonable " . Use natural draft untill a head of steam availbable to start up feed pumps ; fuel oil pumps heaters etc .

Derek

JoK
14th February 2007, 11:13
Starting from cold meant that the yard had to supply us ccompressed air from ashorse. Hoses would snake thru the engineroom and boiler room supplying air to the fire pump set up to circulate the boiler water as we flashed them, the FO pumps, the FD fan, the engine turning gear, and the list goes on.
When a boiler hit 100 lbs, the engineers would scattered to their assigned jobs. The boiler would be put on line, the FD fan and Fo pump started on steam, the feed pump started and the rest of us would frantically start putting exhaust valves bonnets on, with exhaust steam puffing out with every stoke of the pump. If we missed it, we would have to start over again bringing the boiler pressure up with the pumps on air. In the 4 years I was there, we never missed it. The steam range would exhaust to atmosphere until we got a condensor running, the the back pressure valve would be adjusted to 18 lbs and the atmospheric valve shut.
As each boiler came up to pressure, safetie would be set and the boilers married to the system.

We would leave an ashpit door open for boiler room cleaning. Old brooms, dunnage and wood pieces would be tossed into the furnace.

One night the fireman called me, the fire went out and pumped the furnace full to the depth of the corrogations with HFO. What a mess. I imagine we smoked like a bugger that night until we got it cleaned up.

Our domestic water pump was a duplex. It would be nothing to go to the engineroom in a boilersuit, soaking wet with soap still in your hair, to give the valving a couple of smacks with the hammer to get it running. It used to get 'stuck'


While the boiler were open, the furnace would be checked for dropping, zincs checked and soot pressure washed out. Flashing would start with the smallest burner tip-a 14 or 16, 1 minute every 30 minutes. When steam come out of the air valve on top the boiler it would be closed and the boiler could be flashed a little faster.

billyboy
14th February 2007, 12:05
got to say lads theres a lot of memories comming back with this thread. keep it up.

JoK
14th February 2007, 13:02
After 24 hour steady steam the system would balance. All your valves and pump speeds would be adjusted so that you wouldn't have to touch a thing. Not bad for hand-matic. The only time you would have to do anything, is if you had to pump bilges, which meant the backpressure would be adjusted which meant recirc to the condensor would have to be readjusted.
I have been going on watch and have the 2nd call to me as I went by " turn off the recirc when you get down there, the pumps are banging." Go down and the recircs are wide open to the condensor, extraction pumps going flat out and condensor temperatures bottomed out.
Went down another watch and the engineer said to me, "the gage glass on the port boiler is acting up" Uhh, what do you mean? Does it go empty when you blow it down then fill up over a period of time?
I went out and blew it down and the glass went empty.(EEK) The bottom cock was plugged, they fired the boiler for 4 hours not knowing exactly where the water level was.
Or going down on watch and 10 minutes later the boiler levels going wonky. Turns out the very experienced fireman on the previous watch would balance the water levels before watch change by pulling a fire on the low boiler. The water level rises and he would put the fire back in. Problem was it would drop really fast 15 minutes later.

HENNEGANOL
14th February 2007, 13:11
What on earth did engineers on steam ships do?

This is the very same question that I asked myself whilst sailing, as a “Motorman”, on steam turbine vessels, to gain sea time for the steam endorsement of my Chiefs ticket. The attitude of the engineers, on the two vessels that I sailed on, was totally different to that experienced on motor ships. Although I do feel that there was probably a big difference between those who sailed with steam turbines and those who sailed with reciprocating engines.

The old motor ships that I sailed on all had Scotch boilers, with flaps to enable the exhaust gas from the main engine to be diverted through the boilers when full away at sea. The older ships had all steam auxiliaries, generators, cargo pumps and winches; the only electrical auxiliaries were the fuel separators and refrigeration machinery. The later ships had a mixture of steam and electric auxiliaries, with Diesel generators.

So as engineers on these ships we gained a very broad grounding in maintaining both steam and Diesel machinery. The later Motor Ships were fitted with both water tube boilers and steam turbine alternators and cargo pumps as described in an earlier thread by “Chief Charles”.

It is amazing how over the years you forget a lot of the everyday details of watch keeping and life at sea and reading through the threads on this post has suddenly brought a lot of memories flooding back. Keep them coming chaps.

Can anyone remember using valve sticks to adjust the valve settings on the steam pumps and engines, I can remember using two sticks but cannot remember how to mark them? I was reminded of this whilst watching Fred Dibnah on his travels around the UK on his renovated steam traction engine, when he was having problems climbing hills due to lack of power, which apparently was due to the piston rod being too long.

Gerry Taylor

JoK
14th February 2007, 13:21
Valve sticks, there's a term I haven't heard in awhile!!

jock paul
14th February 2007, 19:32
Hi, Henneganol. Re valvesticks. On steam recips. each cylinder being differently sized and valved, there were valvesticks for each cylinder. These were originally supplied by the engine builders, but over the years in old ships we usually had to make our own. You needed 2 laths of planed wood, say quarter by one inch. You removed the valve of the required cylinder, laid one stick along it and marked off the following points. ( this for a D type slide valve, though piston valves were very similar). The outer (exhaust) edges of the valve and the inner(inlet)edges. The other stick was put into the valve chest and marked as follows, top edge of valve chest, top and bottom edges of inlet and exhaust ports. The valve was then replaced on the spindle and the required cylinder turned to top dead centre. This had to be exact as though it was at the point where the piston was doing it's least travel it was where the valve, being aprox ninety degrees ahead of the piston was doing its fastest travel. Exact t.d.c. was obtained by scribing a mark on top of the crankweb and mounting a trammel with pointer on a convenient part of engine frame. The engine was turned on turning gear just over t.d.c. and scribing a mark on engine slide and crosshead slipper. Engine then turned over t.d.c. till same mark reached. Split difference between marks on crankweb and that was true t.d.c. Measure depth of valve top edge from top edge of valvechest. Transfer this setting to the valvesticks and you could see
the valveport positions on the sticks i.e. valve too high or low.the valve was always set slightly open at t.d.c. This was the valve 'lead' , determined by referrence to indicator cards. This was then adjusted by shims between the foot of the eccentric rod and its sheave.

JoK
14th February 2007, 19:47
Do you remember shuttle valves on the feed pumps and FO pumps, instead of the duplex valves?
Slide valve moves up and down with the crosshead motion and the shuttle slides across. More then once I had those babies apart swearing because the pump had stopped and they were hot and you had to shim the slide valve.
20 years later I still have the multiple burn scars on my arms from touching something between the glove cuff and coverall sleeve..

jimmys
15th February 2007, 12:57
The cold start from dead ship ( by dead ship I mean nothing) on a Foster Wheeler D type water tube boiler entailed. Lift safety Valve complete, add water to level required,refit safety valve. Fit small diesel tip. Use hand pump to light fire.
From 40gall. diesel drum in crew alleyway with hand pump plus hose light second small tip burner. Bring up steam to maximum. Open stop
Run up turbo alternator and close to dead board, run around like a blue ass-d fly and start everything, light heavy fuel fire and you are away.
It works I have done it on numerous occassions. Steam engineering !!!

jimmys

Alan Rae
11th January 2008, 20:12
May I suggest that in the Red Sea you are never more than a few hours away from a Port where medical assistance is available for someone so seriously ill or in the worst case to land a body for autopsy. I believe that the days of burial at sea were long over by then apart from ships having a doctor to determine the cause of a death. If someone had died in the Red Sea probably the body would have been landed care of the British Consul in Aden.

On "Malancha" in 1956 we steamed back 2 days to Capetown to land a Khalasi
who had died.( During the first Suez closure )
------------------------------
Tony cIn the 70's,on a tanker(which shall remain name less)we had the cook die on us from heat exhaustion after leaving the Gulf.Pulled into Muscat,where a doctor boarded and issued a death certificate but they would not allow the body ashore.He was subsequently buried,at sea,off Muscat.As he was despatched to the deep the third engineer was heard to mutter,"ah well that's how the cookie crumbles".Regards,Alan Rae

Anubis
15th March 2008, 21:30
When I first went to sea with the P & O in 1963, the first thing that I learned was not to whistle in the engine or boiler rooom.
The reason was that superheated steam is invisible and a whistling sound may be the only warning that you get of a steam leak. Steam at over 1000 degrees and over 1000 lbs per square inch would cut you in half.
I wonder, now that steam ships are no more, if what was a deadly serious prohibition continues as sort of superstition in motor ship engine rooms.

surfaceblow
16th March 2008, 01:48
It is still said that only two types of people whistle on ships bosun mates and ******.

Philthechill
16th March 2008, 09:21
I was told a yarn about a brand-new first-tripper, on an up-and-downer, standing on the middle-platform and whistling in time to the strokes of the engine (one short blast per stroke I should imagine). Poor old third was going scatty trying to locate which gland was leaking 'til he spotted the erstwhile canary! The records do not say what the third did to him!!!!! (Probably buried him at sea!!) Incidentally I put a couple of accounts of "things happening in t'engine room" under the container ships thread. One was about the superheater safety-valve falling-off the for'd boiler, whilst we were steaming at 25 kts, on "Atlantic Conveyor" (quite interesting!) and t'other was about one of the Weir's TWL feed-pump blowing itself to bits, again on "Conveyor". I was also involved in a couple of burials at sea. The first was a Kiwi QM ("Dusty" Miller) who was on his last trip, before retirement, on "Makrana". He died whilst we were in the Bay of Biscay and was buried there. The second was Captain Walter Couling on "Maipura" (Pete Swift took-over as skipper and I have his signature in my Discharge Book to prove it!!!) He too was on his retirement voyage and had his wife, the wonderful Dorothy (just call me "Mum") with him. Again it was in The Bay and, similarly to "Dusty" Miller, he was buried there. In retrospect the responsibilty put on the Chief Steward, and other Senior Officers, in certifying these people were dead, and not just in a coma, was truly enormous as the only guidance (probably from The Ship Captain's Medical Guide) in judging that they were dead was by the very simplest methods such as holding a mirror near their mouth and nose to see if any condensation formed. Could you imagine THAT being accepted, in this day and age, as proof that the person concerned had passed-away! Toodle-pip! Phil(Hippy)

JoK
16th March 2008, 12:40
Your post just reminded me of the oiler standing on the opposite of the Skinner from me, and hitting the crankcase door with a hammer in time with the engine revs. I was new onboard, it just about gave me the big one, until I walked around the engine and saw him there.

JimC
16th March 2008, 19:39
You never had it so good! I spent the first four years of my life (except for a ten month bit) on old ships driven by triple expansion steam engines. The engineers were fantastic! (I'm a deck man) What they could do with the minimum of bits and pieces was amazing. Try sailing from Vancouver island right down the centre at the incredible speed of 9 knots to Sydney with one day stop for bunkers at Honolulu.
Never saw a single ship or land in the five weeks it took. Learned all about single gear and double gears, bearing shells, oil grooves, clutch drums etc from the 5th. Eng who was on day work the whole time. With me as his labourer, he renewed all the bearings on all the cargo winches and the anchor windlass. That ship had five engineers - Chief in cabin, second 4-8, 3rd 12 -4 and 4th 8-12. We were out on a 2 year trip tramping round the pacific islands - no engine spares there! As far as anyone 'pegging it was concerned; we would have had to do the weighted canvas bag thing. As it was; I had a king beam fall on me and we had to stop a French passenger ship with a doc. he stitched me up and delivered me to a wee island which had a 90 year old priest and two 140 year old nuns as medical staff. No one could speak english. I stayed there for two months until my ship came back to pick me up. After that we headed back to france with me keeping watch from a hammock stretched between the awning spars on the bridge. I was 18 and had been promoted to 3rd mate as the 2nd mate had been payed-off in Sydney with the DTs' Ah, happy days!

Derek Roger
16th March 2008, 22:52
Do you remember shuttle valves on the feed pumps and FO pumps, instead of the duplex valves?
Slide valve moves up and down with the crosshead motion and the shuttle slides across. More then once I had those babies apart swearing because the pump had stopped and they were hot and you had to shim the slide valve.
20 years later I still have the multiple burn scars on my arms from touching something between the glove cuff and coverall sleeve..

I do indeed Jok;
When the pump stopped a well placed tap with a hammer usually did the trick until one had time to do a proper job !!

I swear whoever conceived the idea and did the design was Mad or had been on the Pi-s for a month !

I had the misfortune to " Sketch and describe " the D slide valve for my seconds ticket !Is a wonder I passed at all .
Cheers Derek

Anubis
17th March 2008, 00:27
Talking about hitting things with hammers. I once served as 2nd Electrician on an old DC ship where one of the generators had lost it's excitation. We looked through a well thumbed copy of Newnes Marine Electrical Practice and decided that we needed to flash the shunt windings with a large bank of batteries.
We dragged the batteries into position and were just going to connect them up, when an old 3rd Engineer walked up and asked us what we were doing. He laughed, picked up a lead hammer and knocked hell out of the pole pieces. After that we tried the genny and the voltage rose without any trouble. As he walked away he said," Bloody Electricians, I s**t them."

Derek Roger
17th March 2008, 02:25
Talking about hitting things with hammers. I once served as 2nd Electrician on an old DC ship where one of the generators had lost it's excitation. We looked through a well thumbed copy of Newnes Marine Electrical Practice and decided that we needed to flash the shunt windings with a large bank of batteries.
We dragged the batteries into position and were just going to connect them up, when an old 3rd Engineer walked up and asked us what we were doing. He laughed, picked up a lead hammer and knocked hell out of the pole pieces. After that we tried the genny and the voltage rose without any trouble. As he walked away he said," Bloody Electricians, I s**t them."

You had the right procedure ; I dont think it needed a large bank of batteries ? just a jolt of voltage ( perhaps some of our learned members will comment )

Hitting the poles can often demagnatize the system as happens when people
drop outboard engines and cant get them started ?? An expensive business .


Cheers Derek

surfaceblow
17th March 2008, 06:11
I had flash generators quite often especially on the reserve ships, after repairs and cleaning.

Those little rectangle nine volt battery works very well but it does heat up very fast. On one ship whoever was there before had two test probes installed in the switchboard. The probes were at distance that the nine volt battery terminal ends just fit. So all you had to do was to touch the battery ends to the probes. Just made sure you know where the positive and negative goes and do not drop the battery. The new rules about arc flash analysis and working on live circuits would have the safety people sparking about.

afuel
16th June 2008, 07:22
I good memories of taking shaft turns, fuel oil consumption, SH temps and distance and then calculating our fuel consumption.

We would adjust turbine inlet nozzles, SH outlet temp, drum level, air flow, burner jet sizes, FW Heater level, sea water flow to condenser, etc. to trim out plant to get best effeciency.


Fun times a youngster..


Afuel

chadburn
18th June 2008, 16:50
As a former steam man the contributions made by others has brought tears to my eye's, times of lap and lead, hockey stick bearing scraper's and pig's tail packing extractors which I still have in an old tool box in the shed along with whitworth spanners I bought Army Surplus in the early 50's. What do the people who are still involved with steam engines use, can they still get "Serpant A" and Walkers Golden Walkerite these day's and have they got the steam engineers condition known as asbestos hands?

R58484956
18th June 2008, 18:47
Greetings Afuel and welcome to SN, your comments bought back pleasant memories. Bon voyage.

waldziu
18th June 2008, 22:31
CY, even I as a mere youngster of 58, remember the pigtail packing extractors.
We used them in the RN. We also used the hammer on our reciprocating fuel pps and standby feed pumps. Reading this thread has brought back many memories.

spongebob
18th June 2008, 23:10
Charles Young and Waldziu you rekindle the mind. Lap aqnd lead sticks for setting the triple expansion engine valves, the big bearing scrapers, I still have mine, plus the small flat scrapers for refacing the Weir pump shuttle valves.
Pig tail packing pullers bring back painful memories of the time that I used a large flexible shaft puller on a stern gland and wound it up like a clock spring before letting it slip accidentally and whacking my thumb with the tee bar handle to lose the nail.
Then there was learning to feel the bottom end bearing temperature with the flat of the hand as the steam engine rotated.
All a long time ago.

chadburn
19th June 2008, 09:12
Weirs pumps, how can we forget that distinctive sound. When the main engine/s were shut down the sound of the boiler feed pump was always a comfort and could be heard all over the dock on a quiet night, sometimes pigs to get started with that long lever spanner but once running they would run forever. If you have any idea where there might be some spare shuttle valve boxes the "Shieldhall" would like to know as they are staring to have problems with theirs

spongebob
19th June 2008, 21:37
Charles, these weir pumps were a mainstay of the boiler world both at sea and ashore for many years. In NZ we were still installing Weir vertical direct acting boiler feed pumps on new boilers as late as the 1970's as many an older ex marine plant engineer at a dairy factory or freezing works insisted on same for reliability instead of or to supplement the modern centrifugal replacement.Almost all the RNZN vessels were fitted with Weir feed pumps in the 50's when machining, scraping and re fitting pump shuttle valves was one of the long training curves for apprentices. As you say that distinctive slow click clack sound was reassurance in its self .

John Rogers
19th June 2008, 23:01
Feeling thoes bottom ends help me later in my love life.

John.

PS Got slapped also but not from the bottom ends.

spongebob
20th June 2008, 00:47
Feeling thoes bottom ends help me later in my love life.

John.

PS Got slapped also but not from the bottom ends.

Yes John, it taught you to have a gentle sensitive touch and to quickly learn the difference between hot and cold or ideally warm

chadburn
20th June 2008, 09:38
J. R. wherever did you put your thumb?(Thumb)

pete
20th June 2008, 10:44
Being a Deckie I always thought the most Important thing was to avoid Super-heat Steam leaks (Jester) ................pete

chadburn
20th June 2008, 19:43
It's the "Hot Flushes" with the 2nd that you have to watch out for these days, as with "The Who" song "Who are you?" superheated steam---cut you like a knife.

afuel
29th June 2008, 05:34
Engineering Branch Training. United States Maritime Service Training Manual. War Shipping Administration Training Organization, published for United States Maritime Service by Cornell Maritime Press, 1943, 1944

Located on: http://www.usmm.net/engine.html

If I remember correctly there was a Engineers duties list provided by the MEBA ?

SSD123LL
17th July 2008, 19:59
(==D) Derek Roger is right,sweat and salt tablets were the order of the day,the
one and only steamer I sailed on was american built,everything was metal,
on a 75 day voyage from Liverpool to Sydney,average temp on the
manouvering platform was 115 fah,the space between the boilers and the
bulkhead was 28 inches,thats where the soot blowers were,you went in
did 3 or 4 turns then got out,you had to have a mate watching you.
After 2 days at sea,it was impossible to access the e/r from the eng,s
alley way,you would fry before getting halfway down,lol...but the dhobi
dried in about 5 mins.The boiler feed pumps were an abomination,with 3
vertical pistons that always needed the glands tightened or repacked,
no stopping to do it either !! manouvering was an art,the telegraph was
behind,the eng and fireman on the bailey board was way over the other side
of the m/e,trouble was there was a bloody great big stm pipe in the way,you
had to bend down and signal the boiler boys with your fingers,one finger up
=dead slow ahead...one finger down=dead slow astern..etc..
Ah Doxfords....!!!! This brings back the true memories of working with steam on ships.I remember the heat, finger signals, and the forced draft fans bellowing down your ears.Also the weirs fuel/feed pumps,they were very hypnotic to watch and to listen too. still kept me slim!!!

kewl dude
19th July 2008, 05:13
I began writing a reply but never finished it. Here is what I wrote so far:

What on earth did engineers on steam ships do?

From what I read on

http://listserv.cgc.gc.ca/archives/marine-l.html

I would not want to go to sea today. Sailors honestly doing their jobs, as they have for eternity, are now being criminalized. Officers and crews handcuffed and hauled away and jailed for properly doing their normal every day jobs. The Captain of a tanker that was in severe straits, who got his crew off via helicopter, rather than as ordered by politicians, sail out into the Atlantic and all commit suicide; jailed and prosecuted.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5396/is_200604/ai_n21392125

www.namma.org/wmdny/CriminalizationHigh%20Seas-JimVonDreele.doc

“Seafarers are literally caught in the middle of these pollution problems. Because many ships, new and old, do not have the capability to deal with oily bilge water, the only course of action possible is to dump this toxic mix into the ocean by necessity and by direct command from a ranking officer. Seafarers would rather not do this but they have no choice. This problem is not isolated to the so called “substandard” ships, as a number of well respected ship operators have also been caught dumping oily water over board.”

“Once the initial USCG inspection took place, upwards of 10 crew members have been detained in Philadelphia as material witnesses for 8-10 months. This is a period of great uncertainty for the seafarers. They do not understand the US Federal Court system and how the process works. Prosecution of these cases is a complicated legal process, as we all well know. As part of the agreement to release the ship, the owners are required to provide legal counsel for the material witnesses. However, there is an inherent contradiction in this relationship. The material witnesses simply do not trust their legal counsel because they are perceived to be the ship owner’s agent.”

“These detained crew members are put up in local motels for the duration of the investigation, all at the cost of the offending ship owner. However, they are very helpless and vulnerable in these situations. They suffer the simple indignities of not having their family allotment sent home on time or getting their local allotment or daily food allowance at the specified time each month. There is no standard per diem. They are often located in remote motels where they can not get food of their native country. Think about eating a foreign diet for months on end. Would we put up with that? Locally, we at SCI Philadelphia provide daily services to these crews to keep them connected with their families and deal with these everyday issues. But depression and addictive behaviors have surfaced among the crews. Recently, a defendant in one case tried to commit suicide.”

I believe that the Bean Counters can chalk up another industry that they have brought to its knees. Cost cutting in recent decades has caused our worldwide maritime industry to lose its institutional memory. Perhaps not completely yet, but nearly. The present worldwide sailor shortage is evidence of this.

From the beginning an eternity ago everything sailors learned was passed on to future generations. Youngsters started at the bottom of the ladder, learned by On the Job Training from they’re older shipmates, as they rose through the ratings. As I did, children followed parents into our seagoing profession, often friends and relatives also sailed. Generally maritime nations had no trouble finding new hands, seagoing was a fun romantic exciting well compensated albeit dangerous profession.

I shipped out as a Coalpasser in 1960 on a 520 feet oal Great Lakes ore carrier with the Hanna Mining Company/National Steel Corporation the Edmund W. Mudge, two 3 furnace hand fired coal burning Scotch boilers and a 1750 ihp triple. We made leisurely ten-day round trip passages. The remainder of my time with Hanna I sailed one Great Lakes built – George M. Humphrey and two off shore conversions, a War Two C4 – Joseph H. Thompson ex Marine Robin and a T2 Leon Falk Jr ex Winter Hill. These three were St. Lawrence Seaway Max 730 feet oal x 75 foot beam turbines and made five day round trips. Fifty or more round trips yearly. We were alongside in the loading port three or four hours and six to twenty-four hours at the discharge port.

Based on advice from off shore sailors who occasionally show up on Great Lakes ships, when I shipped off shore I purposely chose to sail tramps. Liners ran on schedules, officers have to wear uniforms and some of the cargo can talk. In ports around the world I would often see Liners arrive at dawn and be gone before dark, while we were there for weeks. Usually tramps were older, former liners and kept the crews busy with maintenance and repairs. Usually everyone on board worked four hours OT daily except Sundays, when we all washed clothes. And because we often visited ports that liners did not.

We wore what we wanted. In cool weather engineers mostly wore natural fabric -- cotton -- boiler suits, for hot weather we would buy the lightest cheapest cotton men’s long sleeve dress shirts and slacks that we could find. Natural fabrics since synthetic fabrics can stick to your skin when you are burned. You will be burned. Someday you will brush up against something really hot, or an open flame, and the burn will be bad enough without cloth stuck in it.

Then cut the sleeves off at the shoulder seams and cut the pants off mid thigh. We wore them without a belt. We bought the men’s dress shirts to get the collar buttonhole, where we wore our Timex strap wristwatches. Timex were inexpensive yet sturdy, they advertised “They can take a licking and keep on ticking”. There typically were clocks in the engine and boiler rooms, but the machinery space may be a hundred feet long by 75 feet wide by 60 or 70 feet high. So working away from the log desk it was nice to know the time. We never wore anything tight against our skin, a belt, a wristwatch, since with all the sweating we did, we would develop a bad rash. We wore high top, lace up, steel toe work boots with heavy-duty white 100% cotton socks.

Union Contracts said we could not work on watch, but MOST of us did. Oh, sure, there were watches where I sat on an upturned empty five gallon pail, seat padded with a pile of rags, under the ventilator at the log desk reading a book. But most of the time I had work to do.

The 12-4 Third Assistant Engineer took care of the Lube Oil. That involved keeping track of several rather large storage tanks with steam heating coils in them for when in cold climates, and some rather large piping. There were pairs, a main and a spare, of lube oil gravity tanks in the upper engine room with an eight-inch oil gravity pipe to feed the main propulsion turbine and reduction gears. Oil was collected in sumps then pumped back up to the storage tanks. He was responsible for the operation, maintenance and repairs to the lube oil centrifuges, lube oil pumps, lube oil piping and tanks.

In the engine room were a pair of cross pipe fittings in the gravity lube oil drop pipe and the pressurized pumped pipe back up to the gravity tanks. On each side was a thick piece of reinforced glass. A light bulb placed on the backside illuminated the oil. At a glance one was assured that all was normal, or not. If lube oil was lost, stopping the main engine and holding it stopped was essential. On an underway ship just shutting off the forward turbine would not do it, it was necessary to operate the astern turbine until the ship lost way to a stop.

There were basically two lube oil centrifuge makers, Sharpless and DeLaVal. DeLaVal and Sharpless also sold the exact same machines as cream separators to dairies. Some perceived that the DeLaVal did a better job, but it was made up of a wide stack of stainless steel plates that had to be completely removed from the machine then each plate removed from the center spindle to clean. They took forever to clean. An engineer I sailed with designed and built many examples of a DeLaVal centrifuge cleaning gadget, so you did not have to take the stack apart. He patented it then sold the patent to DeLaVal then retired from the sea.

I preferred the Sharpless and properly used it was every bit as capable as the DeLaVal. The idea of the centrifuge was to clean the oil of all dirt and water. The Sharpless had a six-inch diameter four foot long stainless steel bowl that spins at high speed, adjustable dams inside decide how much oil will be skimmed. It was simple to lift the bowl out of the machine and put it in a Sharpless provided device to hold it. Spin off the end plate, clean out the inside with a special size brush dipped in diesel oil, dump it, blow it out with compressed air, wipe it off in and out with a rag, spin on the end cap and put the bowl back in service.

Everywhere in the engine spaces were various sizes of metal boxes. They held instruction manuals, lists of spare parts on hand, and spare parts for each piece of equipment. There were custom sized angle steel holders welded to the ship where the boxes were secured. They had hinged metal tops, and a pad lock hasp, usually all keyed alike. The lid of each box held the instruction books and other paper work in pockets. New spare parts usually came sealed in Cosmolene and heavy paper. Lacking that the boxes were just filled with fish oil covering the spare parts.

The 4-8 second assistant engineer was responsible for the boilers. That included bunkering, fuel oil management and transferring, boiler water and condensate testing and chemical dosing, operation, maintenance and repair of related equipment. Fuel oil and feed water pumps, forced draft fans, combustion control systems, direct and remote boiler water level gauges, boiler water level control system.

I sailed 2 A/E more than other ratings. In the unlicensed crew on the Great Lakes, as a Coalpasser, a Wiper, a Fireman WaterTender and an Oiler I sailed on the 2 A/E watch and came to learn a lot about boilers and enjoy the challenge. Well maintained boilers are more economical than not well maintained. It was hot work standing atop an operating boiler at sea removing and replacing a soot blower operator head, replace a worn out element, then replace the operator head.

Soot blowers were used as often as necessary at sea to clean the outside of the water tube boiler tubes. Typically tubes were blown daily, at 4PM at the start of my afternoon watch. Wipers actually pulled the chains to rotate the soot blower elements while I watched our uptakes in the stack periscope. In the uptakes of each boiler, on one side was an electric lamp with a bright blue light bulb and a fresnel focus lens. On the opposite side of the uptakes was a matching tube with a mirror. Looking in the stack periscope at the operating level a series of mirrors changed my view 90 degrees and the blue light bulb simulated daylight. Typically turning each soot blower three complete revolutions was sufficient to clear the stack. Depending upon design boilers would have seven to fourteen soot blowers.

Before blowing tubes I would call the bridge on the sound powered phone and say “Blow Tubes”. Typically the reply was “Go ahead”. But sometimes, for one reason or another, they would tell me to hold off until a specified time. When leaving after a long port stay soon as the pilot was gone, and we were where it was possible we blew tubes, regardless of the hour, often calling out the Wipers at 3 AM, for a four hour call out. Typically this took more than three rotations for each blower. It is a good idea to clean tubes before coming to full sea speed, economy wise. We would run full throttle, 60 prop RPM until done blowing tubes, then come up to full sea speed. Some ships had to slow down from sea speed to blow tubes. The soot blower medium was boiler superheated steam pressure. Boiler pressure may be 250, 450 or 600 (sometimes 900, 1,000 or 1,200) pounds.

A couple chemical companies promoted products called Soot Sticks. Sized to slip into the furnaces through an oil burner barrel, the round cardboard packages held some kind of a chemical that was supposed to loosen the soot from the tubes before blowing tubes. Did they work? Who knows? It was not like you could crawl into the boiler and look before and afterwards.

Some companies refused to buy them, other companies made their use mandatory and supplied them in huge quantities. They were a pain to find dry places to store them. They came in cardboard cases of fifty, two feet on a side by a foot high. Perhaps a dozen would be placed in the furnace of each boiler two hours before blowing tubes. It was necessary to temporarily remove one oil burner from each furnace while doing it and the 1400 job was assigned to the 12-4 F/WT with his Third Engineer charged with making sure it happened.

The 8-12 Third Assistant was responsible for fresh water. This included fresh water tanks, seawater evaporators, taking fresh water from shore, pumps and filters. Often water was less than desirable so there were strainers and filters between pumps and users.

Ships carried up too 600 tons of fresh water in the fore peak, aft peak, and engine room double bottoms. Clean high pressure evaporators may make five to ten tons per 24 hours, usually ships had two. This water was mostly directed to distilled boiler water makeup tanks. The coils in the evap quickly got baked on scale from heating sea water to 350 deg F.

High pressure ‘Vaps were installed with their tops below the light ship draft. As often as necessary, which may mean every four hours, the Evaps are blown down and “cracked”.

Filling the vap with sea water, the steam heating system fully open, condensate outlet shut until the pressure reaches to just beneath the 100 – 150 psig relief valve setting. Then open up the large diameter overboard blow down valve and blow everything in the vap over the side. As the pressure drops and everything has been evacuated sea water will rush in and instantly pull that pressure vessel down to vacuum that will cause the vap to fill up even faster with cold sea water – and “crack” the scale off of the heating coils. To fall on the bottom of the vap to be blown over the side. There also sometimes was a chemical added to feed sea water to reduce scaling.

A step up from high pressure evaps were two stage low pressure “flash” evaps that worked by lowering the heating chambers below atmospheric thus requiring much lower temperature steam and longer periods before needing cleaning.

Regardless of evap cleaning was done by placing thick, large tarpaulins down on the deck and moving in a variety of cleaning tools. Most all Marine Chemical Companies offered dry cleaning chemicals that were mixed up with fresh water in steam heated 55 gallon drums then circulated through the vap and back to another drum. Drums were in series and pumped one to another by small electric motor driven pumps. The reason for the tarps was that the area would be wet and messy for a couple days and to protect the nicely painted decks. When first mixed up the chemical would be gold color, after passing through the vap it would come out green color. Adding more chemical turned green back to gold and it was pumped through again. We were done when the chemical stayed gold, after using as much as 180 gallons of chemical.

And this is as far as I got.

Greg Hayden

albert.s.i
19th July 2008, 10:17
very interesting !!!! i sailed on many ships of all types cargo, passenger, tankers and other deep sea ships in the engine room as fireman and donkeyman and as pumpman i never once took a salt tablet at sea i took a glsss of water from the water on deck hydrant and it served me well albert.s.i

chadburn
19th July 2008, 12:08
Albert, ah, one of the "old school" most of the Fireman I came across always seem to have a "Guzunder" size mug of cold tea, a Woodbine and they were built like racing snakes but seemed to suffer from bad stomach's (ulcers) as they got older, I learnt a lot from an old coal burner Fireman about how to lay the firebed on both natural draft and then forced draught Scotch Boiler's in my early day's, lessons well worth taking notice of.

albert.s.i
23rd July 2008, 11:59
well chadburn, i was of the old school but was more of a mussle man with all the coal i shuveled into both naturel draft and forced draft along with a few ships that were coal fired with foster wheeler water tube boilers and at 83 still have arms like a wieght lifter but the rest of me isnt so healthy!!! cheers albert.s.i.

d.r.wing
23rd July 2008, 16:08
I remember as an apprentice in the 1950,s working on a Falmouth tug called the Caldicot Scot I think she was German built with oil fired boilers and a steam engine, the engineroom was spotless, brass and copper gleaming, piston rods and crank were exposed,it was hot but the engine moved with a gentle swishing sound the quietest engineroom I worked in.

spongebob
24th July 2008, 08:24
Yes d.r.wing,the mid 50's was the last era that I sailed on a steam ship with reciprocating engines. I went on trials aboard the RNZN ship "Lachlan" a Loch class frigate converted to survey vessel duty which spent a lot of her time actually up dating the original coastal charts mapped by Captain James Cook.
We did full power trials in the Hauraki Gulf for several hours and we senior apprentices had the job of taking indicator cards off the engines for the Dockyard engineers to adjust the valve settings.
With two triple expansion engines flat out at about 120 rpm and steaming at 22knots the engine room noise was minor, rather like a loud asthmatic wheeze sound as crank shafts spun and piston and valve rods flashed up and down in full view. you could even hear the squelch of the soluble oil in the valve rod pans. A great but bygone sight and sound, nothing like the bang and clatter of a diesel engine.

albert.s.i
24th July 2008, 11:32
yes, i must agree steam engines are the quietist and most reliable if a knock did develop on the main bearings the big hammer and spanner was soon put into action to make it run smooth again. yes1!! those were the days albert.s.i.

Philthechill
24th July 2008, 15:06
Brocklebank's "Maskeliya", "Maturata", "Makrana" and "Mawana" had quite large Ashworth & Parker recips driving the alternators, these being mid to late 1950's builds.

I was told that these engines were used by trawler owners, as main-engines, so they were a fairish size, revving at 375 rpm. Beautifully quiet with only the occasional wisp of steam escaping from their US Packing glands letting you know that they were, indeed, a running steam engine!!

The governors could be a bit problematical however. When an alternator was being brought "on line", the small electric-motor which "drove" the governor-spindle up/down which was, in turn, "driven" by the "leccy" from the switchboard to try bring the frequency up/down to the point where it matched the running alternator (60 cps?) wasn't always able to carry-out its function (for reasons I can't remember--------maybe the governor spindle was a little tight?) so one of the engineers would try delicately persuading the governor, with a judicious application of a hammer, to increase/decrease the revs so the "leccy" could push the breaker in at the crucial "all-three lights-steady", or the needle, on the synchroscope, was slowly, slowly approaching the "twelve o'clock" position! (Any outsider listening to the frantic bellowed instructions from the "leccy", during this operation, would hear a constant stream of profanity directed at the hapless engineer with his hammer such as, "Faster! No! Faster you dumb f****r! Christ Almighty! That's TOO fast! Slow it down! NO! SLOW IT F*****G DOWN! Right that's---------------Oh God give me strength!!! Faster!" etc. etc. until the frquency was right!!!). Failure to input the breaker at the exact moment was REALLY crucial too!!

I recall, on "Makrana", the synchroscope "plug" was left in (contrary to the instruction-plate, under the plug housing, having, "IMPORTANT!! REMOVE PLUG AS SOON AS IT HAS BEEN USED! Or words to that effect) position and consequently burnt-out the synchroscope. Luckily the "three lights" still worked so we were able to synchronise "incoming" alternators! Fortunately we were just going "round-the-land" and were able to get the synchroscope repaired before we went deep-sea, because using the three lights was a pain!

Incidentally the US Packing was probably the Achilles heel of the Ashworth's as they were an absolute nightmare to adjust as I'm sure anyone who worked on them will affirm! Salaams Phil(Hippy)

JoK
25th July 2008, 11:08
LOL Phil.
I am surprised it wasn't a DC ship. The old steamer I was on was DC, which is a whole other tale.

Philthechill
26th July 2008, 07:18
"Maskeliya" (The name is taken from a tea-growing valley in Ceylon) was, (or so I was told) the first AC powered ship in the British Merchant Navy.

If this fact were true it probably represented a quite advanced step for a British ship-owner, in 1954, as "the norm" was 110V DC.

Whilst having quite a lot of electric-motored pumps (bizarrely some were "doubled-up" with steam-powered pumps!) she didn't have a full complement of electric winches, having only two on No.4 hatch, the rest being the fully-enclosed Clarke-Chapman machines. (What a beauty of a winch they were too having experienced the "joys" of the old "open" Clarke-Chapman winches! Field-days became, virtually, a thing-of-the-past!).

I digress!!

There were certain precautions needed observing when starting equipment on "Maskeliya" one example being the fridge-compressors.

Obviously a "stood" compressor, whilst having a suction-side at a negative-pressure because of the low-temperatures in the fridge-chambers, would have a quite high discharge-side pressure (especially in The Tropics). Attempting to start a compressor, under those pressure conditions, would instantly have blown the alternators off the board because of the high torque/amps needed to get the compressor turning.

Sterne's (compressor manufacturers) had come-up with a very simple solution to alleviate this problem!!

A combination of cross-over valves which, when opened, commoned-up both high and low sides of the system so there was no high gas-pressure "block" for the motor to try overcome on start-up. Once the motor was up-to-speed the X-over valves were shut and away you went!

One of the other advantages of this idea (which I wished had been incorporated in shore-side installations when I was working in the Industrial Fridge industry) was that it enabled a "pump-down" of either side to the other side i.e. you could pump-down the high-side into the low-side and (normal practice) vice-versa!

However, having been thinking about this X-over system, (as I've been reminiscing about it), and its possible application shore-side, I've come to the conclusion that you would probably need a dedicated pump-down receiver, for the low-side, to hold the massive refrigerant charges which are quite common in large freezer-factories!

Anyway be-that-as-it-may "Maskeliya" was quite an advanced ship for her era and the fact she was AC powered made her even more "modern"! Amazing what one can recall from a period of near fifty years ago!!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

Three-oh
10th August 2008, 18:50
G'day Benjidog,

WHAT ON EARTH DID ENGINEERS ON STEAMSHIPS DO?

This is almost, but not quite 'a when did you stop beating your wife question'. It all depends on your wife, or in this case the type of vessel and machinery.
I am relying on my memory going back 52 years, when serving as Third Engineer on a moderate sized fully refrigerated steamer with a superheated triple expansion plus Bauer-Wach turbine installation fed by a pair of oil fired (Todd-Howden) forced draught Scotch boilers. We carried no Freezer Engineer or Sparky, the amps, volts and ohms were within the remit of the Third Engineer.
I don't recall ever being short of things to do on watch. We were fortunate in having British crews who stayed signed-on for a long time and were extremely reliable. Typically there were only three on watch, a donkey-greaser with me in the engine room and a fireman in the stokehold.
Sometimes there would be off duty firemen soojying up top earning a bit of overtime, but they were under the control of the donkeyman, similarly earning a bit extra and could be left to get on with it.
Of the watch keepers, given due warning of changes in demand, the fireman on watch could be relied on not to allow the safety-valves to lift, to keep the tips regularly cleaned, the spare burners cleaned and ready for use and keep the stokehold tidy and the deck plates free of oil. Similarly, the donkey-greaser could be relied on to keep the lubricators full, swab the rods and keep the deck plates clean and free of oil etc. and of course to make the tea for all of us, the fireman not being permitted to leave the stokehold during the watch. So what did I do? The watch started about 10 minutes before twelve with a walk aft to check that all was well with the steering engine and in daytime to observe the colour of the funnel smoke. Then below to take over from the Fourth Engineer and on occasion to have a word with the donkeyman on watch with the Fourth Engineer, who frequently knew more about things than the Fourth. (In the 50s, sadly there were a lot of youngsters at sea avoiding National Service, whose interest was not really in the job.) Then followed a quick check of the water gauges and settings of the boiled feed check valves, a squint at the engine room log and a feel round the top and bottom ends, mains and eccentrics, the first "round", which would be repeated at 30 minute intervals. It might sound dangerous in our present "Nanny State" society, but we thought nothing of pressing the back of the hand on the bottom ends to check their temperature as they came round at about 70 rpm or feeling the top ends with our finger tips.
Then it was out to the stokehold to check up that the fireman was OK and the furnaces burning cleanly. It sounds a bit 'over the top', but if it was the first 12 to 4 outbound after a 'heavy' final night in port, it was necessary for safety's sake to make sure that the fireman on watch alone in the stokehold was checked up on and given a bit of 'reassurance'. The next job was to check the operation of refrigeration CO2 compressors. Grabbing hold of the delivery pipe was a good test and one very quickly became adept at estimating the gas temperature quite accurately. The gland lubrication was always critical on the old J & E Hall's single cylinder steam driven compressors and that was the one area that I always used to make doubly sure that the donkey-greaser had attended to.
Next it was aft to check the tunnel bearings and stern gland. On the way aft one would glance at the vapour escaping from the turbine's shaft glands and also to see if the Chief had not surreptitously adjusted the expansion cut-off on the turbine lubricating oil circulation pumps. Most Chiefs I sailed with on steamers had a thing about reducing the steam consumption of Weirs pumps, forever fiddling with the expansion adjusters to the extent that the pumps would often stop unexpectedly. Next the turbine oil De-Laval centrifugal separators were changed over before entering the tunnel. In the tunnel, each shaft bearing would be felt as a matter of course, although the Michell types were ultra reliable if the cooling water was flowing and the outflow of cooling water at the stern end was checked as well as making sure that the bilge was being pumped.
Back to the engine room where the donkey-greaser would already have the out of service De-Laval opened up and would be cleaning the cones.
If it was the first watch after leaving port, the Bosun would have dumped all of the damaged cargo clusters on the top platform for repair and these were brought down to the bottom platform. Mending them would occupy the rest of the watch in between routinely feeling the bearings, checking the gland steam, the water gauges, running extra feed, "nursing" the accursed refrigeration machines and visiting the stokehold. I guess that at any given moment in addition to the main engines and main engine driven pumps, which were pumping the bilges, emptying the hotwell and transferring the feed water, the following machines were also in continuous operation : a Weir's fuel pump, a Weir's feed pump, a Weir's turbine oil circulating pump, a Gwynne of course, a Hall's CO2 compressor, a 'two-legged push me pull you' brine circulating pump, a reciprocating dynamo engine, a reciprocating Wallsend-Howden fan engine, the steering engine and an electric De-Laval separator. Steam machinery was eminently reliable, (when Chief Engineers could be persuaded not to fiddle with things) and I guess that when walking around the engine room and stokehold, one would take it all in as a matter of course. Once a watch the gauge glass cocks were tested and the boiler water salinity was checked with a 'Twaddels' densitometer. One unpleasant job which was always the perquisite of the Third and always done at night for the benefit of the passengers, was operating the Clyde soot blowers, the only really hot and dirty job in the engine department.
The Third Engineer's usual chum aboard, the Second Mate, was always involved and given advanced warning, and would change course to put the wind abeam when the positions of all other ships in the vicinity allowed. After blowing tubes, we would go back on course and the pair of us usually had a quick chat on the telephone about the weather, the grub, especially if we had signed-on a new 'doc' and any young lady passengers of interest !!! They say that oil and water don't mix, but I always found that the mate I was on watch with was always the officer with whom I chummed up, (I used the term officer reservedly, in my day the only person signed on as an officer was the Marconi). We were by definition off watch at the same time and were usually of the same age group and went ashore together. Second Mates also seemed to usually own clapped-out old cars and were always requesting advice about keeping them going ! In return, I learned solar navigation, coastal navigation, chart work and the names and how to recognise most of the important navigational stars. There was no satellite position finding in those days and Loran was OK for 'men in big hats' in aeroplanes but of limited use for accurate position finding at sea. Decca was OK, but a bit of a luxury. it was virtually restricted to 'home trade' limits when one was nearly always in sight of land or sea-marks and could take bearings.
That just about sums up what was involved with watch keeping, but off watch there were always odd electrical duties to perform, maintaining the emergency batteries, keeping the lifeboat engines in good nick and forever replacing light bulbs. There was only a limited amount of electrical equipment on a steamer, but one item which was left to the Marconi to maintain was the small motor-generator for the radio equipment. If we hadn't let him retain this little piece of kit to play with, he would have nothing to do at all to combat the boredom of looking at life through the bottom of a glass !!!
I've gone on a bit I guess, but it was a pretty good life in a pleasant, relatively quiet, cool and clean environment, (apart from when blowing tubes). There are other threads concerning noise levels on steamers and I suppose that on triple expansion and Bayer-Wach installations, the turbine reduction gearing probably generated the most noise, but had the highly desirable side effect of preventing the engine from racing in rough weather. This was followed in noise generation by the De-Laval separators. These machines were based on shore-side farmers milk separators geared up to run at the usual domestic single phase synch. speed of 1,500 rpm, less about 10% slip. On a DC ship they created a bit of commutator noise. I have no doubt that one wouldn't hear them on a motor ship or a turbine vessel with diesel jennies, but they made themselves heard on a steamer, which says much about the general noise level.
I once visited the engine room of the old "Queen of Bermuda", (Palmers of Hepburn-on-Tyne, 1929) I think. She had three Fraser and Chalmers (GEC Erith) steam turbo-generators and four GEC Witton directly coupled propulsion motors. I was travelling on her as a passenger in unaccustomed luxury to join a ship, courtesy of a 25 hour delayed BOAC flight to New York. (More men in big hats, some things never change !) The Chief invited me to tour the engine room and I don't remember having to raise my voice to converse. I think that commutator whine was probably the most prominent background sound. If there are any guys left around who served on turbo-electric DC vessels, they may be able to confirm or correct this impression.
By one of those strange coincidences, when I came ashore I worked at Fraser and Chalmers for the next 27 years, initially in the Steam Turbine Division, before it was sold off to C A Parsons. The only marine units we built at Erith were small turbo-generators for the last RN steam driven frigates and they were fairly noisy machines. I think that they operated at 3,000 rpm. In contrast the big 500MW and 660MW nuclear power station turbine sets driving alternators although running at the same speed, were surprisingly quiet. The loudest sound came from the exciters. One could stand alongside them on full load and converse in a normal tone. They are of course equipped with slip-rings, are cooled by hydrogen and thus fully sealed which helps to keep the noise down.
Before I close this rather long note, just a quick observation about the difficulties or otherwise of manoeuvring triple expansion machinery. It literally was a piece of cake. On one voyage, all of the engine movements on arrival were made under my supervision and with the Chief's agreement by a petite 19 year old student nurse, sailing alone as a passenger. Now I agree that nurses are intelligent girls educated to serious degree standard, (not BAs given away in Xmas crackers for studying the Beatles !), but are not the first people you would expect to have an interest in marine engineering. This particular girl asked me if she could visit the engine-room on voyage, then asked after being shown around, "was it very difficult to 'drive' the engines ?". I explained the function of the main stop, how to operate the reversing engine and pull it by hand off top or bottom dead centre if necessary, how to de-clutch the turbine, before going down to slow or reverse, what the cylinder drains were for and when to use them and finally the use of the 'impulse' steam valves if the HP engine came to rest on top or bottom dead centre. She took it all in, so I said I would fix it with the Chief for her to take over when we slowed to pick up the pilot. I checked with the Second Mate the anticipated time, 02-00 am, told her that she should set her alarm clock for about 01-15, to wear slacks, (I had a very 'excitable' donkey-greaser) and to put on an overall kindly loaned by our one stewardess (also a state registered nurse). She duly appeared at about 01-30 and after I had re-checked with the Second Mate, I sent her out to the stokehold to the surprise of the fireman to let him know roughly when we would be reducing speed. We soon received 'stand-by' and she stood to the controls, while I answered the telegraph and entered the movements in the log. She made the required adjustments to the main stop and when 'slow' was indicated, tripped the turbine without me reminding her. After a short spell of 'dead slow' we resumed 'full ahead' and she spun the main stop to fully open, blew the LP drains and reinstated the turbine. She was so competent and confident, I said she could keep the controls when we reached our berth if she wished, it would be in about an hours time. She was keen to have a go and made all of the manoeuvres up to 'finished with engines'. She mastered the reversing engine without difficulty and used the 'impulse' steam and blew the drains as required. The Chief appeared at one point on the top grating and called down "who is manoeuvring ?" On being told, he said "don't leave her alone Threeo" and then went back to bed.
As I said, "a piece of cake". I expect at dinner parties in the years which followed she regaled guests with "how I drove a big ship's engines when I was a teenager !"
I hope that I have given an impression of what it was like to be an engineer in the days of steam ships.
Three-oh.

Ghost
14th August 2008, 01:06
The main thing an engineer watch keeper did was make sure he had more water in the tanks at the end of his watch, then at the beginning. To this end he nursed the evaps. And as Big Norman would say with regards to water consumption " this is a slack ship 4th, get it tight".

CEYLON220
2nd September 2008, 00:11
The engineers in navy ships that I served in did very little, in the frigates and destroyers the only time that I saw them doing anything was to standby the throttles when leaving and coming into harbour, chat a bit with the watch and then disappear and only coming back to the engine room when the stoker came down withe the kye(chocolate drink), most of them spent their watch in the engineers office except for the cruiser which I joined in 58, the engineer on my watch,a Lt.Commander spent the full time of the watch either assisting on the throttles or checking machinery compartments with the watch stoker etc.The RN engineroom/boilerroom staff were never allowed to wear shorts on watch always boiler suits, and those deck plates were spotless after each watch,in fact I would go to say that the engine / boiler rooms were the cleanest compartments on any of the RN ships in them days.

waldziu
2nd September 2008, 10:22
Ceylon220, nothing had changed up to 90 when I came out, sorry left the RN. Although, those who came up from the ranks did appreciate more what us steamies did. That said sitting in an air conditioned MCR was not too much of a hardship for any of us. I only had one of they tho. The rest I was on the plates. from JM(E) to POMEM(M).

Burntisland Ship Yard
2nd September 2008, 18:34
Hey Ghost ! I assume "Big Norman" was none other than Norman Staines !

benjidog
2nd September 2008, 23:18
Three-oh,

Thank you very much for your interesting contribution to this thread.

orcades
5th September 2008, 21:18
Re... Up and downers, yes they really did have a personallity of their own the poem ;MacAndrews Hymn; decribes them perfectly. While on long hot watches I used to make them play any tune I wished, you either loved them or they scared the hell out of you. oh happy days

benjidog
5th September 2008, 23:45
Thank you Orcades - never heard of this before.

Rudyard Kipling's poem is well outside copyright so here is a copy of it. The source I got if from had very few breaks between lines which makes it difficult to read so I have put some line breaks in where I thought about right - maybe incorrectly though. Anyone interested in the background to this poem will find it here: http://www.kipling.org.uk/rg_mcandrew1.htm

Lord, Thou hast made this world below the shadow of a dream,
An', taught by time, I tak' it so - exceptin' always Steam.
From coupler-flange to spindle-guide I see Thy Hand, O God -
Predestination in the stride o' yon connectin'-rod.
John Calvin might ha' forged the same - enorrmous, certain, slow -
Ay, wrought it in the furnace-flame - my "Institutio."

I cannot get my sleep to-night; old bones are hard to please;
I'll stand the middle watch up here - alone wi' God an' these
My engines, after ninety days o' race an' rack an' strain
Through all the seas of all Thy world, slam-bangin' home again.
Slam-bang too much - they knock a wee - the crosshead-gibs are loose;
But thirty thousand mile o' sea has gied them fair excuse....

Fine, clear an' dark - a full-draught breeze, wi' Ushant out o' sight,
An' Ferguson relievin' Hay. Old girl, ye'll walk to-night!
His wife's at Plymouth.... Seventy-One-Two-Three since he began -
Three turns for Mistress Ferguson.... an' who's to blame the man?
There's none at any port for me, by drivin' fast or slow,
Since Elsie Campbell went to Thee, Lord, thirty years ago.

(The year the 'Sarah Sands' was burned. Oh roads we used to tread,
Fra' Maryhill to Pollokshaws - fra' Govan to Parkhead!)
Not but they're ceevil on the Board. Ye'll hear Sir Kenneth say:
"Good morrn, McAndrew! Back again? An' how's your bilge to-day?"
Miscallin' technicalities but handin' me my chair
To drink Madeira wi' three Earls - the auld Fleet Engineer,
That started as a boiler-whelp - when steam and he were low.

I mind the time we used to serve a broken pipe wi' tow.
Ten pound was all the pressure then - Eh! Eh! - a man wad drive;
An' here, our workin' gauges give one hunder' fifty-five!
We're creepin' on wi' each new rig - less weight an' larger power:
There'll be the loco-boiler next an' thirty mile an hour!
Thirty an' more. What I ha' seen since ocean-steam began

Leaves me no doot for the machine: but what about the man?
The man that counts, wi' all his runs, one million mile o' sea:
Four time the span from earth to moon.... How far, O Lord, from Thee?
That wast beside him night an' day. Ye mind my first typhoon?
It scoughed the skipper on his way to jock wi' the saloon.
Three feet were on the stokehold floor - just slappin' to an' fro -
An' cast me on a furnace-door. I have the marks to show.

Marks! I ha' marks o' more than burns - deep in my soul an' black,
An' times like this, when things go smooth, my wickudness comes back.
The sins o' four and forty years, all up an' down the seas,
Clack an' repeat like valves half-fed.... Forgie's our trespasses.
Nights when I'd come on deck to mark, wi' envy in my gaze,

The couples kittlin' in the dark between the funnel stays;
Years when I raked the ports wi' pride to fill my cup o' wrong-
Judge not, O Lord, my steps aside at Gay Street in Hong-Kong!
Blot out the wastrel hours of mine in sin when I abode -
Jane Harrigan's an' Number Nine, The Reddick an' Grant Road!
An' waur than all - my crownin' sin - rank blasphemy an' wild.

I was not four and twenty then - Ye wadna judge a child?
I'd seen the Tropics first that run - new fruit, new smells, new air -
How could I tell-blind-fou wi' sun-the Deil was lurkin' there?
By day like playhouse-scenes the shore slid past our sleepy eyes;
By night those soft, lasceevious stars leered from those velvet skies,
In port (we used no cargo-steam) I'd daunder down the streets -
An ijjit grinnin' in a dream - for shells an' parrakeets,
An' walkin'-sticks o' carved Bamboo an' blowfish stuffed an' dried -
Fillin' my bunk wi' rubbishry the Chief put overside.

Till, off Sumbawa Head, Ye mind, I heard a landbreeze ca'
Milk-warm wi' breath o' spice an' bloom: "McAndrews, come awa'!"
Firm, clear an' low - no haste, no hate - the ghostly whisper went,
Just statin' eevidential facts beyon' all argument:
"Your mither's God's a graspin' deil, the shadow o' yoursel',
"Got out o' books by meenisters clean daft on Heaven an' Hell.

"They mak' him in the Broomielaw, o' Glasgie cold an' dirt,
"A jealous, pridefu' fetich, lad, that's only strong to hurt,
"Ye'll not go back to Him again an' kiss His red-hot rod,
"But come wi' Us" (Now, who were 'They'?) "an' know the Leevin' God,
"That does not kipper souls for sport or break a life in jest,
"But swells the ripenin' cocoanuts an' ripes the woman's breast."

An' there it stopped: cut off: no more; that quiet, certain voice -
For me, six months o' twenty-four, to leave or take at choice.
'Twas on me like a thunderclap - it racked me through an' through-
Temptation past the show o' speech, unnamable an' new -
The Sin against the Holy Ghost? . . . An - under all, our screw.
That storm blew by but left behind her anchor-shiftin' swell,
Thou knowest all my heart an' mind, Thou knowest, Lord, I fell -
Third on the 'Mary Gloster' then, and first that night in Hell!

Yet was Thy hand beneath my head: about my feet Thy care-
Fra' Deli clear to Torres Strait, the trial o' despair,
But when we touched the Barrier Reef Thy answer to my prayer...
We dared na run that sea by night but lay an' held our fire,
An' I was drowzin' on the hatch - sick-sick wi' doubt an' tire:
"Better the sight of eyes that see than wanderin' o' desire!

Ye mind that word? Clear as our gongs-again, an' once again,
When rippin' down through coral-trash ran out our moorin'chain;
An' by Thy Grace I had the Light to see my duty plain.
Light on the engine-room - no more - bright as our carbons burn.
I've lost it since a thousand times, but never past return.

Obsairve! Per annum we'll have here two thousand souls aboard -
Think not I dare to justify myself before the Lord,
But-average fifteen hunder' souls safe-borne fra port to port-
I am o' service to my kind. Ye wadna' blame the thought?
Maybe they steam from grace to wrath - to sin by folly led -

It isna mine to judge their path - their lives are on my head.
Mine at the last - when all is done it all comes back to me,
The fault that leaves six thousand ton a log upon the sea.
We'll tak' one stretch - three weeks an' odd by any road ye steer -
Fra' Cape Town east to Wellington - ye need an engineer.
Fail there - ye've time to weld your shaft - ay, eat it, ere ye're spoke,
Or make Kerguelen under sail - three jiggers burned wi' smoke!

An' home again, the Rio run: it's no child's play to go
Steamin' to bell for fourteen days o' snow an' floe an' blow -
The bergs like kelpies overside that girn an' turn an' shift
Whaur, grindin' like the Mills o' God, goes by the big South drift.
(Hail, snow an' ice that praise the Lord: I've met them at their work,
An' wished we had anither route or they anither kirk.)

Yon's strain, hard strain, o' head an' hand, for though Thy Power brings
All skill to naught, Ye'll understand a man must think o' things.
Then, at the last, we'll get to port an' hoist their baggage clear -
The passengers, wi' gloves an' canes - an' this is what I'll hear:
"Well, thank ye for a pleasant voyage. The tender's comin' now."
While I go testin' follower-bolts an' watch the skipper bow.
They've words for everyone but me - shake hands wi' half the crew,

Except the dour Scots engineer, the man they never knew.
An' yet I like the wark for all we've dam' few pickin's here -
No pension, an' the most we earn's four hunder' pound a year.
Better myself abroad? Maybe. I'd sooner starve than sail
Wi' such as call a snifter-rod ross .... French for nightingale.

Commeesion on my stores? Some do; but I can not afford
To lie like stewards wi' patty-pans. I'm older than the Board.
A bonus on the coal I save? Ou ay, the Scots are close,
But when I grudge the strength Ye gave I'll grudge their food to those.
(There's bricks that I might recommend - an' clink the fire-bars cruel.
No! Welsh-Wangarti at the worst - an' damn all patent fuel!)
Inventions? Ye must stay in port to mak' a patent pay.

My Deeferential Valve-Gear taught me how that business lay,
I blame no chaps wi' clearer head for aught they make or sell.
I found that I could not invent an' look to these - as well.
So, wrestled wi' Apollyon - Nah! - fretted like a bairn -
But burned the workin'-plans last run wi' all I hoped to earn.
Ye know how hard an Idol dies, an' what that meant to me -
E'en tak' it for a sacrifice acceptable to Thee....

Below there! Oiler! What's your wark? Ye find her runnin' hard?
Ye needn't swill the cap wi' oil - this isn't the Cunard.
Ye thought? Ye are not paid to think. Go, sweat that off again!

Tck! Tck! It's deeficult to sweer nor tak' The Name in vain!
Men, ay an' women, call me stern. Wi' these to oversee
Ye'll note I've little time to burn on social repartee.
The bairns see what their elders miss; they'll hunt me to an' fro,
Till for the sake of - well, a kiss - I tak' 'em down below.
That minds me of our Viscount loon - Sir Kenneth's kin - the chap
Wi' russia leather tennis-shoon an' spar-decked yachtin'-cap.

I showed him round last week, o'er all - an' at the last says he:
"Mister McAndrew, don't you think steam spoils romance at sea?"
Damned ijjit! I'd been doon that morn to see what ailed the throws,
Manholin', on my back - the cranks three inches off my nose.
Romance! Those first-class passengers they like it very well,
Printed an' bound in little books; but why don't poets tell?

I'm sick of all their quirks an' turns - the loves an' doves they dream -
Lord, send a man like Robbie Burns to sing the Song o' Steam!
To match wi' Scotia's noblest speech yon orchestra sublime
Whaurto - uplifted like the Just - the tail-rods mark the time.
The Crank-throws give the double-bass; the feed-pump sobs an' heaves:
An' now the main eccentrics start their quarrel on the sheaves.
Her time, her own appointed time, the rocking link-head bides,
Till - hear that note?-the rod's return whings glimmerin' through the guides.

They're all awa! True beat, full power, the clangin' chorus goes
Clear to the tunnel where they sit, my purrin' dynamoes.
Interdependence absolute, foreseen, ordained, decreed,
To work, Ye'll note, at any tilt an' every rate o' speed.
Fra skylight-lift to furnace-bars, backed, bolted, braced an' stayed,
An' singin' like the Mornin' Stars for joy that they are made;
While, out o' touch o' vanity, the sweatin' thrust-block says:
"Not unto us the praise, or man - not unto us the praise!"

Now, a' together, hear them lift their lesson - theirs an' mine:
"Law, Order, Duty an' Restraint, Obedience, Discipline!"
Mill, forge an' try-pit taught them that when roarin' they arose,
An' whiles I wonder if a soul was gied them wi' the blows.
Oh for a man to weld it then, in one trip-hammer strain,
Till even first-class passengers could tell the meanin' plain!
But no one cares except mysel' that serve an' understand

My seven thousand horse-power here. Eh, Lord! They're grand - they're grand!
Uplift am I? When first in store the new-made beasties stood,
Were Ye cast down that breathed the Word declarin' all things good?
Not so! O' that warld-liftin' joy no after-fall could vex,
Ye've left a glimmer still to cheer the Man - the Arrtifex!
That holds, in spite o' knock and scale, o' friction, waste an' slip,
An' by that light - now, mark my word - we'll build the Perfect Ship.

I'll never last to judge her lines or take her curve - not I.
But I ha' lived an' I ha' worked. All thanks to Thee, Most High!
An' I ha' done what I ha' done - judge Thou if ill or well -
Always Thy Grace preventin' me.... Losh! Yon's the "Stand by" bell.
Pilot so soon? His flare it is. The mornin'-watch is set.
Well, God be thanked, as I was sayin', I'm no Pelagian yet.
Now I'll tak' on.... 'Morrn, Ferguson. Man, have ye ever thought
What your good leddy costs in coal? ...I'll burn em down to port.

ULCC_Man
28th September 2008, 15:29
Forgive me for asking but I don't understand the DID in the question?

Some of us are still working on steam ships! believe it or not.
A couple of HDW boilers, coffin feedpumps, Peter brotherhood TA's, steam FD fans, Steam IG fans, steam cargo pumps, still get the odd salinity alarm from the main conderser to plug a tube , still have to blow down the boiler every few days, etc etc..

Its 32 years old, built in '76 still in good condition and opperational.
Infact I have ABS out tomorrow to do the annuals.

If anybody wants to know about the maintenance, its all been computerised into a CMMS system and at last count there are around 6000 PM's Planned maintenance Items for the engineroom,Not including the CMs (Corrective maintenance) Everything is Permit to work.

It's now an FPSO as are several steam ships I have worked on in the last few years.

The only difference is that the steam for the HP turbine has been piped in to a TA instead of the HP turbine, and there is a chain connected to the rudder for extra locking. The prop is turned once a day to try and keep the turbines from sagging, but thats it, same same. The log book is still the same, still run watchkeeping , still get the junior to test the lifeboat engines once a week.
Still can't make enough water from the evaps.


ULCC_man

Ghost
30th September 2008, 00:14
Yep, Norman Staines, excellent Chief.

JohnBP
30th September 2008, 02:43
Come on Jim share the "memory" I am a motor man but did sail on steam, we need to keep the memories alive.

JohnBP

JohnBP
30th September 2008, 02:45
U are the man



QUOTE=ULCC_Man;250575]Forgive me for asking but I don't understand the DID in the question?

Some of us are still working on steam ships! believe it or not.
A couple of HDW boilers, coffin feedpumps, Peter brotherhood TA's, steam FD fans, Steam IG fans, steam cargo pumps, still get the odd salinity alarm from the main conderser to plug a tube , still have to blow down the boiler every few days, etc etc..

Its 32 years old, built in '76 still in good condition and opperational.
Infact I have ABS out tomorrow to do the annuals.

If anybody wants to know about the maintenance, its all been computerised into a CMMS system and at last count there are around 6000 PM's Planned maintenance Items for the engineroom,Not including the CMs (Corrective maintenance) Everything is Permit to work.

It's now an FPSO as are several steam ships I have worked on in the last few years.

The only difference is that the steam for the HP turbine has been piped in to a TA instead of the HP turbine, and there is a chain connected to the rudder for extra locking. The prop is turned once a day to try and keep the turbines from sagging, but thats it, same same. The log book is still the same, still run watchkeeping , still get the junior to test the lifeboat engines once a week.
Still can't make enough water from the evaps.


ULCC_man[/QUOTE]

Duncan112
30th September 2008, 20:42
Just had Walkers Jointing rep on the phone asking if there was anything they could help me with (ie sell me) as I run a couple of CHP plants. My reply was get rid of the asbestos police and reintroduce "Golden Walkerite" as I've found nothing to match it. She replied that all their reps had the same problem - everyone wants it. The carbon fibre stuff was good but not that good. Anyone found an adequate substitute?

Duncan

chadburn
1st October 2008, 10:22
Walkers Golden Walkerite as you say great stuff, I don't suppose you can get hold of "Serpant A" these days either. What do the modern day steam plant runners use for packing the glands. Carbon Fibre is dangerous stuff, if you get cut with a shard it will "grow" an infection unless immediatly treated, in future hopefully somebody will realise that it is worse than Asbestos. When the R.A.F. attend a Harrier crash site the go fully suited and booted with "Hans & Lottie Hass face masks on because of the dangers from splintered/burnt Carbon Fibre.

jimmys
3rd October 2008, 13:38
A very good jointing for steam is klingerit 1000 or if you want a longer lasting steam joint go to metaflex.

Valcor was the choice for high pressure high temperature steam valves and Supeta for medium work.

Super Golden Walkerite was about as well.

regards
jimmy

JoK
3rd October 2008, 16:10
Serpant A, klingerettes, graphite.
Reading that, sure brings back memories.

NINJA
3rd October 2008, 16:43
Metaflex with graphite filling for joints and graphite tape for glands, installed correctly and you have no steam leaks to worry about.

gordy
7th November 2008, 19:52
Absolutely brilliant 3 0h!

Mike Griffiths
22nd December 2008, 20:15
"The trimmer is a pretty bird, it flys from stringer to stringer, looking for cobs and feeds on bilge water and ashes, " and the fireman is a voracious animal . As told to me by Little Bobby Jones firebar on the Luxor and La Loma when I was a callow youth.

sidsal
23rd December 2008, 16:50
Brocklebank ship - built 1917 - up and down job - brilliant sound as she thumped her way across the seas.
Red Sea - ultra hot below. Lascar fireman goes mad with the heat and rushes up the fiddley ladder and throws himself overboard - closely followed to the rail by the 2nd Engineer who says - " you might have left me the b****y shovel "

orcades
7th January 2009, 04:30
Jock Paul, Your description of taking over the watch on an old up and downer was so accurate, I sailed on a couple and knew what you were going to say before you said it, I used to follow almost the same proceedure. I never realised at the time how lucky I was to get a little sea time on such great steam engines before they passed into history. Little did I know how quickly they got forgotten .

tunatownshipwreck
7th January 2009, 05:33
Jock Paul, Your description of taking over the watch on an old up and downer was so accurate, I sailed on a couple and knew what you were going to say before you said it, I used to follow almost the same proceedure. I never realised at the time how lucky I was to get a little sea time on such great steam engines before they passed into history. Little did I know how quickly they got forgotten .

Sadly, Jock passed away a little while back, but his contributions here are still noticed.

spongebob
7th January 2009, 06:53
Jimmys, JoK, NINJA and Gordy, asbestos might have been a health hazard but it sure did the job in jointing, packings and manhole joints etc.
Remember the old red lead and varnish mix for joint facings.


Bob

K urgess
7th January 2009, 11:33
For all of Jock Paul's contributions
http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=15109&highlight=poetry+jock+paul

chadburn
8th January 2009, 19:26
And the White lead paste Bob for those screw in monal metal valve seats.

SailingAndy
15th January 2009, 21:43
This is an interesting thread for a young 'un like me. But I have to ask:

Steam can't be that long ago. Wasn't the Royal Yacht Britannia steam powered? I can remember that being retired while I was at school, so 90's or early noughties, it can't be that long ago.

Is anyone still building steam engines these days or have they been completely replaced with diesels? Shame they must be fascinating to watch, I may feel differently if I had to keep 'em running.

Andy

spongebob
15th January 2009, 22:08
Don't worry Andy, steam boilers and turbines will be around for a long time yet although their use for ship propulsion is getting thin on the ground. Even when gas fired aero engine type turbines are used for land based power generation their efficiency demands a waste heat boiler and a steam turbine to get the overall performance up to scratch.
If nuclear energy is ever considered again for marine propulsion there will be boilers/ heat exchangers and steam turbines involved.

Never say die.

Bob

alan eccleston
17th March 2009, 09:41
Hi Wakeman (sweat)

I agree with your story--I sailed in Rhodesia Star, no doubt a sister ship to yours, American C2 X Aircraft Escort Carriers The Feed Pumps were shockers
as you say "Three Cylinders" variable stroke .We couldn't keep gland packing
for than a couple of weeks.

Our boilers were Foster Wheeler and yes , soot blowing was curse, first job on 12 to 4.

The boiler control board was under a form of"Tick-Tack" from the control platform and the noise level rendered all verbal comunication quite a test!

How-ever good days and experience Regards Alan ecc

Satanic Mechanic
18th March 2009, 00:55
The best running ships I was ever on were steamers also the worst running vessels were steamers.

At best it was a lovely clean job with very little to do apart from planned maintenance at worst............in line with everything else that has been said

Sweat - my god the amount of sweat that can come out of a body - try walking about in a sauna and you are half way there. Sometimes it was so hot you could only work for a couple of minutes at a time before drinking a couple of pints of water. The famous steam engineers toolbox - a bucket of water you kept the spanners in to cool them down. We would sootblow with a bucket on our heads as protection - Ned Kelly style.

Burns - A good collection on the forearms were compulsory

Vomit - sometimes the heat and work got to you and up came your dinner


As a chief said in a telex - wanted 2 heroes - must be expendable

Satanic Mechanic
18th March 2009, 01:12
Oh yes and prickly heat - horrible horrible affliction. Got to be one of the most uncomfortable things ever.

jim garnett
9th October 2009, 11:58
I was unfotunate to having a c/e die on my first trip as second.We were in mid atlantic. The ship was built for 150 passengers and as we had none on board there was lots of empty refrigerated rooms,so in the middle of the night, skipper mate chief steward an I carried the body down into the tween decks.We cleared by wireless with owners who said it would be OK as long as there was no food in room.Very helpful I must say. An inquest was held in Lisbon but after we sailed.It was not a nice experience.I was c/e for five days my only time in that exalted position.(I never got paid either.)
The chief died in agony from a massive heart attack.I felt deeply about it and still do to this day 56 years later.Packing his effects to send to his wife was also very upsetting.I was undecided about what to do with his dentures,and being rather immature I packed them with his effects,what a shock for his poor wife,a stupid act i've always regretted.
Jim Garnett

Satanic Mechanic
9th October 2009, 12:15
I was unfotunate to having a c/e die on my first trip as second.We were in mid atlantic. The ship was built for 150 passengers and as we had none on board there was lots of empty refrigerated rooms,so in the middle of the night, skipper mate chief steward an I carried the body down into the tween decks.We cleared by wireless with owners who said it would be OK as long as there was no food in room.Very helpful I must say. An inquest was held in Lisbon but after we sailed.It was not a nice experience.I was c/e for five days my only time in that exalted position.(I never got paid either.)
The chief died in agony from a massive heart attack.I felt deeply about it and still do to this day 56 years later.Packing his effects to send to his wife was also very upsetting.I was undecided about what to do with his dentures,and being rather immature I packed them with his effects,what a shock for his poor wife,a stupid act i've always regretted.
Jim Garnett

Not stupid at all - you were quite right to do this - it is quite a normal if a rather odd feeling thing to do. It is entirely possible they were later passed to the undertaker so better they were packed safely given the circumstances. Not sure what the professionals do but we have always done this - no problem at all

JoK
9th October 2009, 13:59
Burns - A good collection on the forearms were compulsory

I thought it was just me!! And 25 years on I still have to watch the sun and slather the suntan lotion on the steam burn scars on my leg.

Billieboy
9th October 2009, 14:30
Jimmys, JoK, NINJA and Gordy, asbestos might have been a health hazard but it sure did the job in jointing, packings and manhole joints etc.
Remember the old red lead and varnish mix for joint facings.


Bob

Don't forget the mercurial ointment, (crab fat), until Molykote, the best anti seize compound ever invented. Any high pressure steam stud bolt HAD to be painted with it before running the nuts on. Taylor's Rings for LP steam joints, (up to 250psi), made of thin brass and coated on both sides with Foliac black gunge jointing compound, never get a leak as long as the bolts were pulled up properly and then tightened a bit more; when hot! (Thumb)

chadburn
10th October 2009, 12:43
Red lead, white lead, red and white lead mixed, Serpant A, Serpant C, greasy hemp, Walkers Golden Walkerite (and as mentioned Taylor's corrugated rings) rubber insertion jointing, asbestos jointing on boiler doors and burnt forearms knocking the doors in, but mostly asbestos fingers which I (and others no doubt) still have today.

ROBERT HENDERSON
10th October 2009, 13:13
I was AB at the time on the SS Vienna, at troopship from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. The ship had been in layup for six weeks for general maintenance, repairs and boiler survey.
On the first trip back in service, we arrived on board for sailing at 2300hrs, only to be told sailing had been cancelled.
The Junior engineer and donkey man who were responsible for preparing the boilers and engines ready for sailing had been killed, actually boiled alive due to the nuts on the stay tubes giving way. Army medics got them from the stokehold where they died and laid them in our messroom waiting for a doctor to certify them dead before moving the bodies ashore. For a long time afterwards it was an eerie feeling going into the messroom.
Maybe one of our engineer members will be kind enough to explain exactly the function of stay tubes.

Regards Robert

surfaceblow
10th October 2009, 14:16
Stay Tubes are threaded and thicker than the normal tubes hold the tube sheet and boiler shell in their relative positions.

http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/mechanics/Mechanical-Processes/388-Methods-Of-Holding-Boiler-Tubes-In-Place.html

Klaatu83
10th October 2009, 15:08
One routine operation peculiar to steam ships was "blowing tubes". At least once a day the engineers cleaned the soot out of the boilers with a jet of high-pressure steam, blowing it out the stack. They always informed the bridge before they did it, so that the ship's course could be altered in such a way the the majority of the soot blew overboard and didn't land on deck. That was particularly important on passenger ships, because the captain didn't want the passengers' promenade decks covered with a lot of filthy black soot. The ability to calculate the optimum course to steer, based on the ship's speed and the wind velocity, was regarded as one of the tests of the mates' professionalism.

Cleaning out the condenser intake was another operation peculiar to steam ships. The engineers used to find all sorts of sea-life in them. After finishing that job on one ship the engineers came up on deck carrying several buckets full of what looked like Bouillabaisse. On another occasion, when we happened to be docked in a port plagued by a bumper crop of large jellyfish, the engineers had to shut down the plant after the condenser intake became completely blocked with the loathsome creatures. We had hire a hard-hat diver to clear them from the outside of the hull.

Satanic Mechanic
10th October 2009, 15:20
Jellyfish - ye gods anything but jellyfish. 5 x 200 ltr drums full of the damn things after 12 hours of continuously changing sea suctions in Brisbane. The weren't stingy but all our arms were covered in blood afterwards an absolute nightmare. We ended up putting firehoses over the side in an attempt to push the gits away from the intakes - actually worked pretty well.

surfaceblow
10th October 2009, 16:06
While I was on a Keystone Tanker we wandered into a missile test range. While I was returning from my sounding the Fwd Bunker Tanks I witnessed a missile flying over the house followed by a few jets chasing the missile. After the jets a helicopter took position just aft of the stack. Since it was just after one o'clock the Second Assistant Engineer and wipers just started blowing tubes. The helicopter hanging out by the stack got a blast of fresh boiler soot into its jet turbine and started to lose power luckily the helicopter regained power before hitting the water and left its position behind the stack. By the time I dropped off my sounding bucket and got to the Bridge the Captain was just hanging up the mike so I missed the shouting match.

Some of the crew called the local news channel to complain of the fly by. Just before getting to the Pilot Station the Company and Agent send messages stating that if any one talked to the press or TV reporters where going to be fired. It turned out that none of the Deck types read the Navaids that had the exclusion zones for the missile tests.

ROBERT HENDERSON
10th October 2009, 16:08
Stay Tubes are threaded and thicker than the normal tubes hold the tube sheet and boiler shell in their relative positions.

http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/mechanics/Mechanical-Processes/388-Methods-Of-Holding-Boiler-Tubes-In-Place.html

Thak you very much Surfaceblow, all the years I spent at aea and was never quite sure of what they were

Regards Robert

Steve Hodges
10th October 2009, 22:44
Just read all through this thread from the beginning - as an old steam engineer I had assumed the title was justa piss-take from the motor men!
One duty that no-one has mentioned was daily boiler water chemical testing and treatment - on BP steamers the 3/E did them. With high pressure boilers at 950psi the feed water purity was critical, and the chemical treatment had to be kept within very tight limits. I seem to recall about six or seven separate chemical tests undertaken daily in the "lab", a little compartment with all the testing gear, took about thirty minutes to do them properly. Doing them day after day for months on end, you could damn near do them in your sleep! And "dosing" the boilers was pretty unpleasant when you had to decant concentrated amines and hydrazine from drums into buckets - I think current Elfin Safety inspectors would have had a pink fit.
Perhaps someone can tell me, did chemical testing and dosing on big steamers ever get properly automated? I left the sea in '78 and it was still all manual on new VLCCs then.

spongebob
11th October 2009, 07:40
Steve, as with land boilers I am sure that the water treatment of marine boilers has become pretty sophisticated compared with the old days. Ashore we used micro adjustable continuous dosing pumps that metered the chemicals into the boiler relative to the feed supply and make up.
Micro adjustable continuos blow down valves also ensure that this function is not left to chance.
I would suggest that all modern marine boilers are now of water tube design and requiring a higher standard of treatment than the old two pass wet back Scotch marine fire tube boilers of yesteryear.
There used to be a permanent question in the marine examinations that asked you to calculate the percentage of blow down required to safely steam a boiler home in an emergency using salt water feed.

Robert, as Surface blow advises the stay tubes were heavy wall fire tubes that were screwed and bolted though each tube plate and these are strategically spaced through the tube nest to support the flat tube plates from the pressure within.
Solid stay bars are used to support the tube or end plates in the steam space.
Today modern fire tube boilers have welded stay tubes and in fact with natural gas firing it is normal to expand and recess seal weld all tubes.


Bob

Billieboy
11th October 2009, 09:03
Answer to the salt feed is 5/32 on the twaddle!

chadburn
11th October 2009, 13:02
Jellyfish - ye gods anything but jellyfish. 5 x 200 ltr drums full of the damn things after 12 hours of continuously changing sea suctions in Brisbane. The weren't stingy but all our arms were covered in blood afterwards an absolute nightmare. We ended up putting firehoses over the side in an attempt to push the gits away from the intakes - actually worked pretty well.

Whatever happened to steam "blowjacks"/(Thumb) SM? they cleared the Rose Plate in no time.

surfaceblow
11th October 2009, 15:41
One duty that no-one has mentioned was daily boiler water chemical testing and treatment - on BP steamers the 3/E did them. With high pressure boilers at 950psi the feed water purity was critical, and the chemical treatment had to be kept within very tight limits. I seem to recall about six or seven separate chemical tests undertaken daily in the "lab", a little compartment with all the testing gear, took about thirty minutes to do them properly. Doing them day after day for months on end, you could damn near do them in your sleep! And "dosing" the boilers was pretty unpleasant when you had to decant concentrated amines and hydrazine from drums into buckets - I think current Elfin Safety inspectors would have had a pink fit.
Perhaps someone can tell me, did chemical testing and dosing on big steamers ever get properly automated? I left the sea in '78 and it was still all manual on new VLCCs then.

On American Ships the Second Assistant Engineer takes care of the boilers. The only automation of testing and compounding the boilers of the modern steam plants that I have sailed on has been the recording of the test results. The test results are entered to a computer program that automatically charts the results and at the end of the month sends the report to the chemical company and company office.

There was a slight improvement in the use of electronics for the pH Meter and O2 Meter. Most of the tests results rely on color comparators. In later years the use of hydrazine as an oxygen scavenger was been discontinued due to safety issues. I have never seen an automatic blow down valves on the marine plants that I have sailed on.

Most of the American Steam Ships I sailed on use the coordinate phosphate treatment system. Which means opening the kegs of dry chemicals and mixing with hot boiler water then adding the mixture to the dosing pot.

Joe

JoK
11th October 2009, 15:56
I was AB at the time on the SS Vienna, at troopship from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. The ship had been in layup for six weeks for general maintenance, repairs and boiler survey.
On the first trip back in service, we arrived on board for sailing at 2300hrs, only to be told sailing had been cancelled.
The Junior engineer and donkey man who were responsible for preparing the boilers and engines ready for sailing had been killed, actually boiled alive due to the nuts on the stay tubes giving way. Army medics got them from the stokehold where they died and laid them in our messroom waiting for a doctor to certify them dead before moving the bodies ashore. For a long time afterwards it was an eerie feeling going into the messroom.
Maybe one of our engineer members will be kind enough to explain exactly the function of stay tubes.

Regards Robert

Sweet Jesus.
The oilers on my first ship with the scotch boilers opened an HP boiler water filter after improperly isolating it. That filled the entire ER with steam as the water flashed off.' Til this day, I can't understand why they weren't burnt at all, never mind seriously.
I was working on the deck winches and missed everything (and was I glad).

I was overseas and got a letter from a friend on the steamer with the HP boilers, I had been there for a couple of months (and hated every millisecond of the experience ). Inside was a sketch of his ship with a big cloud coming out of the stack and assorted bits and pieces of the boiler.
The boiler fire had not ignited and someone had tried to re-ignite without sufficient purge. There was a furnace explosion which bulged the casing out a foot in places and bent the superheat safety over 90* on the pipe. Another miracle that no one was killed.
The part I laughed about was the ship I was on, had met the steamer and fueled them a month earlier. The steamer had not taken all of the FO and my ship had been forced to move the remnants into their bunkers. They were having main engine trouble and were blaming the steamer for not taking all of the FO; on the steamer they were blaming the FO they had received from my ship as the source of their problems.
A year later the same two ships rendezvoused to transfer fuel. I was on another ship by then. When I met the 2nd from the steamer, he was telling me about having to change manifolds several times while they were fueling. It was all I could do to keep a straight face. A couple of months later I got a letter from the 2nd on the motor ship telling me about transferring fuels, their slops tank, their WO tanks and probably their bilges to the steamer.

greektoon
13th October 2009, 10:51
When I was a deck cadet on a tanker with 2 Scotch boilers, the chief engineer was killed whilst we were drifting off the Azores. If my memory serves me right, he was trying to repair a steam leak by hammering a tapered plug into a fire tube with the boiler still under pressure. The tube was pushed inside blasting the chief with a jet of steam.

spongebob
13th October 2009, 13:30
Taper bungs were a common mode of repair for a leaking fire tube on scotch type boilers but a crude and hazardous one at any time.
The most satisfactory repair was to fit a threaded tie rod through the leaking tube and fitting a sealing cap on each end tube plate.
One of the worst ever jobs on a steam ship was that of crawling up the furnace tube, after the fires had been drawn, to fit the cap and nut on the rod end in the combustion chamber.
I remember old hands telling me about it, thick insulating clothing, sacks on the hot firebars and a rope arouned your feet so you could be pulled out if you passed out!.

Bob

JoK
13th October 2009, 19:31
I have rolled tubes on a hot boiler, but we had dumped the steam pressure through the safeties. I can't even imagine being trapped in a furnace in the situation described.
However, I can tell you about the exact opposite. We had the salinometer cock fail the boiler hydrostatic test. The yard found a riveter that was about 102 years old, he rivetted the flange on and we blanked off where the cock fitted. We refilled the boiler (with cold water) and put the squeeze on. After the usual engineers cursing of the Inspector who did not understand density of cold water and the general theory of expansion of boilers when heated and the plugging abilities of boiler chemicals on small drips on cocks, the boiler was passed.
The 2nd passed onto myself and the Jr to start to get the boiler flashed PDQ.
We didn't want to completely empty the boiler as of course that cost money to refill, so we decided to finish the installation with a full boiler. I can't remember the details, other then the fact there were two of us squeezed behind the boiler doing a 5 handed job. Everytime the fellow with me, rotated his hand as he threaded the cock in, I would get sprayed with this ice-cold water that would take my breath away. When we finally got it on and tight we were both soaked and blue.

chadburn
14th October 2009, 19:10
Agree with Jok, I have been involved in blanking a tube off although fortunatly my name did not come out of the Chiefs cap to go up the back, the 2nd was the lucky man with a Fireman as his No2. It was a long time ago but as I remember it we carried spare tubes and the tie bars and the blanks on a rack alongside the boilers. The fire doors were opened as well as the smoke box doors, both the 2nd and the Fireman were dressed up like "Old Mother Riley" with headscarfs (mutton cloths), and plenty of other bits of clothing added for protection. We blew the boiler down to below the leaking tube and then as JoK indicates we dumped the steam by means of the Safety V/V's overide and in they went with a blank a nut, checknut and spanner. We pushed the "tie bar" through the tube from the Stokehold end with the other blank and nuts already on, the 2nd put the blank on and we tightened the whole thing up and then got them out. Then brought the boiler water level up into the bottom of the glass, checked for leaks, everything ok, and then we fired her up to working pressure, checked again, handshakes all round and drinks for the 2nd and Fireman concerned(Thumb) . I have a feeling that the Engineer concerned who was killed most probably went back in again after the boiler was brought back up to pressure for some reason. Doing the salinometer checks was always a concern (if this cock snaps off or fails to close I am in the brown stuff)(Cloud)

spongebob
15th October 2009, 03:20
Doing it in the hot

Not a marine boiler but a land based oil fired fire tube boiler in a Dairy factory under full flush of season load.
I received a late afternoon phone call from the factory manager 100 miles away to say that the top section of the burner’s refractory quarl had collapsed and the furnace to front tube plate weld was exposed to flame.
We asked for an immediate shut down but with millions of litres of milk still to process and more to arrive in the early morning it called for an emergency repair. Our service engineers were well out of town so I asked the factory engineer to take the burner off the boiler front and arranged to meet our refractory contractor on site as soon as we could make it.
Less than two hours later Pat the brickie summed up the situation and while we left the boiler to lose a bit more pressure we went up the road to the local pub where he downed a couple of jugs of ale and bought half a dozen quart bottles as well.
Back to the job, Pat wrapped up in padded clothing, lined the floor of the 1 metre diameter furnace with a thick layer of sacking and climbed in. With natural draught induced through the opening by the high stack providing some relief but with 60 psig still on the gauge our brickie endured an hour in the furnace as I handed in damp lumps of malleable plastic refractory to mould and hammer into place to effect a temporary repair and the anxious factory manager handed him regular mugs of cold beer though the hole to keep his hydration up as the sweat poured out of him and evaporated in a flash.
Job done and the boiler back on line it was back to the manager’s house for a few whiskies and a late meal before dossing down in the local motel.
I remember saying to Pat afterward that wouldn’t it be safer and better to drink lots of water and his reply was

“You need to be half shot to do a job like that and anyway I would rather go out happy than waterlogged”.

Bob

jim garnett
16th October 2009, 11:02
Strange nobody has mentioned the worst job on old triple expansion engines:checking the bottom end
bearing temperatures.
With the side of hand you sliced it down between the crank and the con rod until you touched the
bearing to feel its temperature.Supposedly once a watch at least.It took me about a month to pluck up
the courage to do it.I left the ship with all my fingers vowing never to return.

Jim Garnett

spongebob
16th October 2009, 12:51
Jim, we were shown how to do that as senior dockyard apprentices, not that scary once you learnt the rhythm.
I once saw a naval engineer officer do it with a gloved hand!

Bob

jim garnett
17th October 2009, 01:28
Jim, we were shown how to do that as senior dockyard apprentices, not that scary one you learnt the rhythm.
I once saw a naval engineer officer do it with a gloved hand!

Bob

Shows how stupud we were in those days,if you didn't have the rhythm.you didn't have the fingers.
jim garnett

JoK
17th October 2009, 06:10
I worked on Skinner Uniflow engines. Closed crankcase, pressure lubricated. Beautiful engines.
Then a couple of months on a turbo-electric, the ship of hell.

Billieboy
17th October 2009, 11:10
Strange nobody has mentioned the worst job on old triple expansion engines:checking the bottom end
bearing temperatures.
With the side of hand you sliced it down between the crank and the con rod until you touched the
bearing to feel its temperature.Supposedly once a watch at least.It took me about a month to pluck up
the courage to do it.I left the ship with all my fingers vowing never to return.

Jim Garnett

Learned to do this as an apprentice aged 18, never had a problem, after I had my ears boxed by my fitter, when I cut some bottom end shims to size, instead of undercutting by one eighth all the way round; when I asked why he showed me where the top of his little finger was missing! I can understand your trepidation Jim, but the Sulzer rotary exhaust valve was a thousand times more dangerous.
Oiling the eccentrics was the trickiest bit to learn, I always used to lift the lid with the oil can spout then press the valve until the box was filled. A slack wrist was essential for a Triple, just like playing a piano!(Thumb)

Steve Hodges
28th October 2009, 12:08
Just reading some of the responses about Scotch boilers.
BP's "Bird"-class tankers had two, and there was a cautionary tale running around the company that a fireman had been killed on one. One of the furnace tubes had started to collapse , but the bulge had been mistaken for carbon build up from a crappy burner. The engineer on watch left the fireman trying to knock it off with a slice - the furnace ruptured, dumped the boiler into the boilerroom and scalded him to death.
The upshot of this was that most of us were quite nervous about knocking carbon off the furnace tubes. My Indian fireman had realised that this was the ideal way of getting rid of the 2/E - every time he appeared in the boilerroom, the fireman got the slice out and started battering away with gusto whether or not there was any carbon there. Usually had the desired effect!

chadburn
28th October 2009, 13:34
Knocking the top and bottom doors in for a boiler clean was alway's provided "interesting" moments.

waldziu
31st October 2009, 16:50
It certainly was Chadburn. Especially on an Admiralty three drum.

Billieboy
1st November 2009, 10:01
It certainly was Chadburn. Especially on an Admiralty three drum.

Always knock in the top drum door first, then work down, do it any other way could get one hopping a bit quck!(==D)

chadburn
2nd November 2009, 12:35
Always knock in the top drum door first, then work down, do it any other way could get one hopping a bit quck!(==D)

Billieboy, that's why I wrote it in that order(Thumb)

Billieboy
2nd November 2009, 15:35
As an apprentice we had six double drum straight tube boilers; knocking the doors in was great fun, we used a wooden monkey, usually a railway sleeper hanging off one of the boiler house roof stays. Could still be hairy though, if the blowdown valve had been shut too early.

chadburn
3rd November 2009, 14:53
It use to be the unwritten understanding that whoever blew the boiler down "tupped" the doors in.

Billieboy
3rd November 2009, 15:41
It use to be the unwritten understanding that whoever blew the boiler down "tupped" the doors in.

There wasn't much H&S in the late fifties Chief, this was shoreside, where the fitter was the boss and the apps did the work! The boilers were fitted with deadweight safety valves, setting them was interesting, first lift was always with clean weights, when needed, new weights were added, finishing off with a 1/2, 3/4, or 7/8, BSW nut welded to the top weight. Best bit of this was the 7/6d per valve setting allowance, it made up for all the dirty work of the survey. Part of the finishing off was nipping the doors on the waterwall at the back under steam, this was OK, as the damper was open and a gale came in through the access door.(Thumb)

Succour
16th December 2009, 04:02
I always took my own 9/16" ring spanner on every trip, as I found it the most commonly used spanner in the engine room. No 1 fitter would invariably have one locked away somewhere and would guard it with his life. It was pointless to ask him to loan it you, and he would say "go look in bilge", shake his head and walk away.
Happy days.
Succour.

John Devenish
2nd March 2010, 03:19
Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is an ever-decreasing number of people alive that served as engineers on steam ships. It occurred to me when reading some recent threads that I have never seen an account describing the duties of ships engineers and that, unless someone writes one, this information will be lost forever.

By this I mean an account describing in enough detail that someone who has never been on a steam ship would understand them, things like the following:

(a) What did ships engineers do just to keep the ship moving along - e.g. from stoking to responding to bridge commands
(b) What standard maintenance tasks had to be performed on a daily/weekly/monthly or whatever basis
(c) What kind of running repairs were undertaken when things went wrong
(d) Risks and dangers

The key point in all this is to bring alive for future generations what it was like to work as an engineer on a steam ship.

Is anyone aware of a work that does this already? If not is there someone out there who is interested in writing it all down before it is too late? I am not necessarily talking about publishing a book, but maybe a personal account that could be made available to interested parties. I would be pleased to help anyone wishing to take this on in terms of editing, formatting, and generally tarting the final product up but only a real engineer could provide the raw materials.

What do you think - is anyone interested?

Regards,

Brian

As far as I am concerned engineers on steam turbine watch did not do very much except enter their readings of various pieces of machinery in the log - some, from memory, wore white gloves down on watch and never took them off except when the fireman came down with their expected mug of char!
Being an ex fireman I have written all about what firemen did on watch and in port when boilers had to be stripped, tubes punched and furnaces had to be rebricked also what the cleaners and main greasers were expected to do on diesel ships right down to scavenger cleans. This information may be found in my book "Sailors in Civies".

Beat Regards Brian

John F DEVENISH

BarryM
2nd March 2010, 09:04
I assume either the above is written tongue in cheek or you spent very, very, little time on steamships?

Barry M

PS. I wore civvies ashore.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
2nd March 2010, 11:17
I have learned a lot from this thread.

My experience being confined to one mid seventies "one and a half boiler" turbine VLCC, I regarded steam engineers as superior beings, who worshipped in the Temple of Steam down below, carying out mysterious rituals. I would have said, "Steam engineers wore white boiler suits, tested boiler water and worried a lot about the condenser".

But I notice that one Chief off that very ship is a member here and I've sent him a PM!

david freeman
4th March 2010, 19:31
With sunglasses on looking at all the brillantly polished chrome and brass by the oiler, cucumber sandwiches by the night fireman. Watch time was excillerating. We saw no burials, but we did note the occasion engineer sweating cobs off in the furnace plugging tubes, or the condenser tubes, and those infernal low to medium pressure steam leaks required many a deft touch to repair them. Most engineers boiler suits where black with white spots from the soot from repairing boilers and sootblowers especially those watertube type boilers. But I must say tiffin and cucumber sandwiches where for gentlemen engineers of the steamship brigade. I still have my sun glasses, but the rose tints have long disaappeared. God Bless all steam engineers including the up and down brigade. Memory is wonderful And I do not even have to sweat in time with the Gulf and Red Sea Climates without air conditioning. Can you tell a good story?

orcades
11th March 2010, 03:33
That book you were writing rivert on the MN from an engineers angle,Did you finish it?if you did I,d like to buy one, would you supply the publishing details so I could purchase one.

geokap
28th September 2011, 20:38
In the beggining of my carrer at sea i have served as app.engineer my first ship steam turbine year 1964. All the dirty jobs me and another app. for 10 months descaling the evaporator coils with spanners or cleaning the main condenser from barnicals over time evenings shoot out the blowers in the back of the boilers.No comforts like today .

R58484956
29th September 2011, 19:00
Greetings geocap and welcome to SN. On P&O descaling evap coils from shut down to start up all done on the same 4 hour watch. On Cunard same job spread over 3 watches, No comments pse on Cunard. Bon voyage.

david freeman
30th September 2011, 19:34
Time spent on a steam turbine ship with all steam auxilaies could be a dream: However if the period before was one of lack of understanding, changing over auxilaries on a regular basis, or being capable of shutting the total plant in and down apart from Drydock, then one could spend a lot of time not with the main turbines but on the maintenance of auxilaries and the upkeep of both watertube boilers, and the feed water quality. There was a lot to do as in motor ships in basic routine duties. When things went wrong it could be a sod!

chadburn
1st October 2011, 16:10
ART6 give's a good write up on early steam on another forum.

LouisB
1st October 2011, 18:24
Time spent on a steam turbine ship with all steam auxilaies could be a dream: However if the period before was one of lack of understanding, changing over auxilaries on a regular basis, or being capable of shutting the total plant in and down apart from Drydock, then one could spend a lot of time not with the main turbines but on the maintenance of auxilaries and the upkeep of both watertube boilers, and the feed water quality. There was a lot to do as in motor ships in basic routine duties. When things went wrong it could be a sod!

As an elec/eng I normally had little to do with the white hissing stuff. I was appointed to one ship however (On charter from LOF to the MOD) that not only had a 110v dc electrical system but most auxiliaries including the steering engine were steam. Apart from the M.E. (DOXFORD) there where various sized steam recip' engines all over the place - 110v generators, cw pumps, boiler feeds etc etc. I had very little to do on daywork and nobody seemed keen on finding a job for me so I learned how to stuff glands and maintain the centrifugal governors on the steam up and downers fitted to the gennies et al.

To say the ship was easy going was an understatement - any major work being carried out by shoreside labour - I say major with tongue in cheek. We chuffed our way across the ocean at around 13 knots with never a breakdown and apart from blowing through the deck steam lines before arriving at our destination, everything worked with few or no leaks. We had Chinese fitters on the ship and if anything that could be serious was noticed they were canny enough to let you know, however everything hissed and spluttered as normal and they went about their business nipping up glands etc as required. Possibly a good appointment for the more mature engineer prior to retirement?? (Pint)

Hugh Ferguson
1st October 2011, 20:30
Interesting thread this! From a deck point of view my memories of steam triple expansion engines was of being stuck in Le Havre for a week whilst they unshipped one of the pistons for it to be taken ashore for straightening!
The 2nd engineer had neglected to open the draincocks during a stop movement.

geokap
1st October 2011, 20:54
when i was on my apprentiship my second vessel was small cargo 4000 gt .was build in Germany during the 2nd world war .
I managed on board about 8 months .8 months4-8 watch with the second engineermy watch have to blow the tubes take sample water from port and starboard boils and the hot well tank. every hour fil the crank shaft with my hand and to keep pace i was singing song in the same tempo.
Make sure the oil tanks were top up for the next watch and the rest of the day,the chief was complaining were using too much oil and the miserable use to reduse the dose in the lubricators.
After watch some breakfast and down in the engine room to change the terry towels of the hot well wash them and from the previous day with the palm deedle sew the dry ones . No force draft fans just turn against the wind the wind tybes.
Good all days and on top of that to do electrical repairs.110 volt dc with negative on the ship .

Chillytoes
5th October 2011, 10:52
All the talk about packings and he like reminded me of when I was a dockyard apprentice working on turbines. What a tedious job checking the clearances with the top cover lifted on Parsons end-tightened units!
But there was one thing I never found out and that was a process on the turbine bolts called, I am sure, "aqua-dagging". What was that all about? All I remember was that these bolts were covered with what looked like graphite after their return from the above treatment.
Any answers, anyone?

wterdbeard
6th October 2011, 15:29
According to my father and grandfather, now no doubt feeling Satan's bottom ends,in a place where all marine engineers eventually sign on. Fighting battles with firemen and kicking lazy donkeymen on the backside

Bob gibson
19th October 2011, 19:29
A lot of memories here, a lot I forgot about, was on a ship with a parsons three stage turbine, Mirrellees diesels, and a turbine generator, this ship was DC power, when starting the bilge pumps we had to slowly rank up the power,
we would pump out the water to an acceptable level , then switch pumps to the separators to reclaim the oil in the bilges, we always carried a wheel spanner, the diesel engines were used in port to supply power and a donkey engine ran to supply hot water to the ship. As soon as the main engine was stopped, it was the juniors job to turn the the turbines over with a cranking motor every ten minutes till it cooled down. It was amazing , once under way, you could go around the engine room, and take a hundred temperatures/ pressures return back , and enter everything into the main engine log. There was always a senior engineer and a junior on watch, along with a donkey man, during maneuvers the sparky filled in the movements book. I to remember the white cross's on the valve chest of the weir feed pumps, and I'm sure in those days we used to lip read, it was no good shouting above the noise of the gear box, the worse job was taking the temps of the super heaters, 900 degrees c comes to mind,
quite took your breath away. salt tablets as big as horse pills, 16 a day would be the norm in the tropics, and that prickly heat, coldish showers, laying on your bunk with a rash on all your extremities, covered in calamine lotion, not nice! I'm sure our hands had built in thermometers, 55 c was the max you could stand for five seconds. In the early seventies we still got our weekly tot of rum,. it was Four Bells rum from memory, my only failing was I could not understand the chiefs (Glasgow accent) so the engine telephone was always handed over to someone who could

Hugh Ferguson
19th October 2011, 19:48
What I would dearly like to know is what engineers in steamships are doing on Earth!!!???

chadburn
19th October 2011, 19:58
It's all that oil, grease and graphite that has preserved us.

Bob gibson
20th October 2011, 17:38
Ah could do with a bit of gland packing meself at the moment!

sparks69
24th October 2011, 21:51
Remember "Whitfields Ointment" as a treatment for P - Heat ? Well I can assure you it does not work especially when applied to ones privates. As the man said Happy Daze.

submarine
25th October 2011, 02:56
On the Benvrackie the chief steward kept a supply of Pears soap bars to help sooth the itch, and it was safe all over. It seemed to help.

chadburn
25th October 2011, 16:01
Ah could do with a bit of gland packing meself at the moment!

Greasy Hemp?(*))

alan ward
28th October 2011, 15:52
In a former post i referred to '*****ley heat ' but the system removes some letters as being sear words so I shall try to spell it another way so we can get a response . " Pr1kly Heat " Anyone who was in the Red Sea Gulf area knows of this . Not all got it but when you did it was not Fun .
Derek

Despite 10 years away and numerous holidays to seriously hot places like Malta,I got prickly heat in Greece a couple of years ago,that heatwave where people were dying,it was not a pleasant experience at all.

Jocko
2nd November 2011, 12:02
Being a deisel engineer I somehow did a trip from Greenock to Durban etc on the SS Baron Inverclyde. The old Up and Downers were real primitive. No gauges on the open crankcase. You had to feel the bottom ends by slapping them as they were on the down stroke and hope that there wasn`t a piece of shim sticking out. The main bearings had a pile of cotton waste on top and you had to keep pouring the crankcase coolant on them. It`s true about the superheated steam. Very dodgy. When you climbed up to check a sight glass you always stuck a spanner up first or you would lose a hand. This was in 1959 and I don`t recall it being any hotter than a deisel, we still had to take those huge salt tablets. The Pr***ly Heat was a real pain, even when home on leave when you walked from a cold street into a warm pub you were scratching all over and people probably thought that you had fleas. The Inverclyde was dead slow, I think she only did 8 knots and they used to say that the Portugese-men-o-war passed us. Three cheers for the deisels!

Ian J. Huckin
9th November 2011, 17:30
Embroidery?

Bob gibson
9th November 2011, 18:07
There was not a lot to do ! I spent the time making all my own frocks(Thumb)

BlythSpirit
9th November 2011, 18:11
What I would dearly like to know is what engineers in steamships are doing on Earth!!!???


Hugh you must know we were sent down to take good care of you mere mortals!

Ian J. Huckin
9th November 2011, 18:16
There was not a lot to do ! I spent the time making all my own frocks(Thumb)

Then there was the flower arranging, and learning new make-up techniques....

Engineers descendant
11th January 2012, 21:55
My great grandfather was a Ship's Engineer, and my great-great grandfather was a Ship's Chief Engineer. They both lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland and did frequent runs to England and Dublin, as far as I know.

I am trying to find out the answer to the question that Brian posted on here in 2004. I am attempting to keep the memory of what these men did alive within my family by compiling stories and histories about their lives. Brian did anyone ever write an account, explaining in detail the answer to your post? I'd love to see it if they did. I've read the responses here on this forum, and checked out the Stokers and Trimmers forum, but the language is often "over my head" so to speak and it's difficult to understand it enough to piece it all together. I am not a seafaring person so I need layman's terms!

Thanks for any help I can get on this,

Julie

Chillytoes
6th February 2012, 05:31
Julie,
Apart from the many posts here on what Engineers on steamships did as part of their normal (and not so normal) duties, here are a couple of textbooks that cover the subject and which a local library might have on it's shelves.
"Marine Steam Engines And Turbines", Fox & McBurnie - there is a brief description in Ch.1 on 'Setting Watches', 'Engine Room Procedure', etc.
"The Running And Maintenance Of Marine Machinery", Inst. of Mar Eng. - the third Chapter has 14 pages relating to reciprocating engines and the various auxiliaries.
"The Marine Steam Engine" , Sennett & Oran - at the end of this book is a rather extensive section on 'Raising Steam and Getting Under Way', Management Of Engines Under Way', etc. This last book is rather older, my edition is 1918. The first edition was 1882.
In the late 1890's and early 1900's there were a number of books published under titles such as "Breakdowns At Sea and How To Repair Them". Some of the stories are absolutely amazing.

murrayis
6th February 2012, 07:31
For those of you that might not be aware, there are still Engineers (and the rest of the crew) sweating it out on a couple of coal fired steamers in the Australian tropics. These 51035GRT ships are due for disposal this year. It would be good if any of their Engineers could pen a current day log of their duties to compare with that of the olden day steamers.

teop
6th February 2012, 13:03
Hi,
no besserwisser but
the steam temperature 900gr F more likely ,some 480grC and 70 plus bar.
Old wrench as well,
regards
teop

alan eccleston
7th February 2012, 09:31
Great stuff Three-oh I so recall the systems we also followed. you gave me great pleasure just picturing the various steps as from the ten minute start.

I also found the firemen & donkeymen very enlightening from earlier days as I was a junior with BSL 1948 ....Steam of course Thanks AE

jamesgpobog
18th February 2012, 06:35
I steamed 4 Babcock & Wilcox 450lb sectional header boilers with superheat. This was USN and our division (B) was always short staffed. This allowed us to be creative with our watch/duty sections. We NEVER stood 4/4, sometimes 4/8, most often 6/6.

The boiler room on Mispillion was rather cool as boiler rooms go. There were 4 large (3 ft?) fresh air vents and several smaller diameter (18 inch?) ones. It got warm on the check level up between the steam drums, but down on the boiler flat it was a very very consistent 100*F.

Here is a story from one night off the coast of North Vietnam in 1972. My sea stories are written for the non-seafaring readers among my family and friends.

--------------------------------

The Late Night Bells

One of the interesting effects of being at sea for long periods of time was that it was easy to lose track of what day it was. The repeated routine day after day led you to doing things on sort of an autopilot, never expecting variation.

At one of these times I was on watch in the fire room in the middle of the night. We were just station keeping, sailing in those big lazy circles, back and forth up and down the coast of North Vietnam.

Quite suddenly the engine-order telegraph rang. The engine-order telegraph is the thing you see in movies, the large dial that indicates what speed the Officer of The Deck wants the ship to go. We were cruising along at Ahead 1/3, then… RIIIING!!!! RIIIIING!!!, and it shows All Back Emergency.

Now that is a thrill, having those bells come out of nowhere in the middle of the night.

The engine room got the same signal and spun their throttles open to the reverse turbines. The props slowed rapidly, stopped for a moment and then started their run up to emergency reverse speed. The entire ship shook as the 18 foot propellers pounded the water against its forward momentum, and as we watched, the steam pressure in the boilers started to drop noticeably. This jolted us to action, a frantic rush to light off all burners and then start swapping out single burners in turn to replace the orifice plates with larger ones so the boilers would produce more steam.

Then, just as suddenly….RIIIIIING!!!! RIIIING!!! Another speed change! ALL STOP, then, AHEAD 1/3. Now as we started to make too much steam, we did our dance in reverse, cutting out burners in the hope that we were quick enough to prevent the safeties from lifting.

Another minute or two and things had quieted down. We all looked at each other in shock. "What the hell was that????" There was no call from the bridge that might explain the situation, no call from Main Control (the engine room) either.

As is my nature, that bothered me, and I was curious as to what had happened. I started asking around and finally got most of the story.

The forward part of Mispillion below the helo deck is the Aviation Gas tank. This was almost never used, although we did carry AvGas on one trip to the line. It is very dangerous stuff, and just not used much anymore, so the tank is kept empty.

There is, however, a pump that must be maintained and kept in operating condition. It is located forward far below the waterline, and is accessed by a steep stairway down a long, narrow tunnel that runs through the AvGas tank. The pump room is probably no bigger than 8'X8', cold and clammy, and houses a small 4 cylinder diesel engine that drives the pump.

The diesel was in need of repair or maintenance and two men had been assigned to the task. The workday ended, but the two decided that rather than quit and have to resume the job the next day, they would just continue to work until the job was done.

The men finally got the pump back together and started it to make sure it ran. This was the cause of all our excitement in the fire room.

Remember, this is during the time we were all on high alert and running blacked out at night because of the Eastertide Offensive of North Vietnam.

The exhaust for the diesel came out of the port bow about 20 feet above the water line and approximately 150 feet forward of the bridge. The bridge watch could not hear the diesel, but the port lookout caught a whiff of diesel exhaust and called out "Collision!", and the watch officer rang up Emergency Back.

The bridge watch did exactly what they should have done. The error was by the two mechanics. They should have called the bridge and asked permission to start the pump. I never found out who it was on the repair job, and to the best of my knowledge they didn't get much heat, just an admonition to request permission next time.

alaric
27th February 2012, 17:08
Amazing how this link went from what engineers did on steam ships to burials at sea - with that in mind with your indulgence I will continue in similar vein.
I served on Elders & Fyffes CAMITO between 1969 to 1971 as 2nd Engineer.
She carried up to 100 passengers that could be categorised into two distinct groups 1- individuals, couples, families travelling out to Trinidad, Jamaica or Bermuda to start a new life. 2- round trip passengers, the latter as couples or individuals, invariably elderly people. Sometimes one of this latter group would not make it. In my 25 trips there were three occasions when we had a natural causes death on board and a "stop at sea". Always a great ceremony highlight of the voyage - for the surviving passengers that is. It is certainly true that the sale of film and cameras from the ship's shop would increase when the word got out that there would be a burial at sea in the offing.
The service would be held by the Master on the 4 to 8 afternoon watch and those off duty were expected to attend. Reverting to engineers mode now - with a ceremony set for 16.30 hrs, shortly after taking over the watch at 16.00hrs preparations would be taken to stop.CAMITO was a twin screw turbine steamer and speed would be gradually reduced until approaching the alloted time the propeller revs had been reduced from the normal 110 rpm to manoeuvring speed of 80 rpm. Astern guarding valves and turbine drains would be opened, bled steam shut off and live steam opened up to plant such as feed water heaters and distillation plant that might require it.
Normally the 3rd Engineer would return to assist and the daywork Donkeyman and Storekeeper would go to the boiler room to assist the watchkeeping fireman deal with the firing of the 3 Babcock boilers - each with 4 oil burners.
The telegraph would ring STOP and the engineers would bring the turbines to a stop using Astern steam and maintaining the use of astern steam to ensure that both propellers did not rotate (to prevent any unpleasant accident).
The Master would say a few words and the bosun and his AB's would lift the board containing the body to the ship's side and on the order tilt the board and let the body slide out from under the Red Ensign to the deep.
Soon Full Ahead would be rung - the bosun would receive the traditional bottle of rum, the spectating passengers would head to the bar to compare notes and toast the dear departed shipmate. The 2nd Eng. and his assistant would start restoring the plant to normal sea conditions and in the case of one of the 3rd Eng that I sailed with - depart the engine room to get showered into his uniform and see if there were any young females that might have been traumatised by the afternoon's events so that he might afford comfort.
I always kept a stock of diesel generator bottom end bolts (used), and some blank flanges to be used as weights by the bosun when doing his sewing up of the canvas shroud. I should add that CAMITO carried a doctor.
Have just signed up to Ships Nostalgia and this post brought back memories. In the 1960's I sailed as 2nd Engineer on Corinthic, which carried 85 passengers, usually elderly, and some didn't make the long haul across the Pacific!
Shaw Savill's procedure for these events was similar to that described, but as I remember it we stopped in the early morning rather than the afternoon.
The ballast for the canvas coffin was in the form of 'fire bars', these had to be re-ordered as required from the shore stores. They seemed to have a large stock of these items, left over from pre-war coal fired Scotch boilers. I wonder if they ever exhausted the stock of these otherwise useless lumps of cast iron?
Just in case our Doctor got it wrong, the Bosun put the final stitch through the deceased nose when sewing up the canvas!

chadburn
27th February 2012, 17:34
Have just signed up to Ships Nostalgia and this post brought back memories. In the 1960's I sailed as 2nd Engineer on Corinthic, which carried 85 passengers, usually elderly, and some didn't make the long haul across the Pacific!
Shaw Savill's procedure for these events was similar to that described, but as I remember it we stopped in the early morning rather than the afternoon.
The ballast for the canvas coffin was in the form of 'fire bars', these had to be re-ordered as required from the shore stores. They seemed to have a large stock of these items, left over from pre-war coal fired Scotch boilers. I wonder if they ever exhausted the stock of these otherwise useless lumps of cast iron?
Just in case our Doctor got it wrong, the Bosun put the final stitch through the deceased nose when sewing up the canvas!

"Firebar's useless lumps of Cast Iron", not on your Nelly(Jester), Scrapmen alway's gave a good price for them used or unused, they were sometime's used as the Fireman's bonus.

spongebob
27th February 2012, 18:46
"Firebar's useless lumps of Cast Iron", not on your Nelly(Jester), Scrapmen alway's gave a good price for them used or unused, they were sometime's used as the Fireman's bonus.

You are right Chadburn, the "recipe" for these castings was usually a 'metallurgical mix' formulated by the maker to give longest possible service under extreme temperatures from the fire bed. Years ago the 'true' formula was as elusive as Grandma's recipe for her plum sauce and as with others there were many imitations but only one "Lea and Perrins".
We used to import Babcock chain grate stoker links, Proctor and Hodgkinson fire bars and Babcock PF coal E-mill grinding balls from the maker's foundries in the UK at a price that tempted local foundries to attempt to undercut us with their 'brew' of iron for the duty but often with adverse results as bars bent under firing conditions and balls wore away like dissolving black ball lollies.
They were not any old iron.

Bob

Howard Dean
27th February 2012, 20:42
Amazing how this link went from what engineers did on steam ships to burials at sea - with that in mind with your indulgence I will continue in similar vein.
I served on Elders & Fyffes CAMITO between 1969 to 1971 as 2nd Engineer.
She carried up to 100 passengers that could be categorised into two distinct groups 1- individuals, couples, families travelling out to Trinidad, Jamaica or Bermuda to start a new life. 2- round trip passengers, the latter as couples or individuals, invariably elderly people. Sometimes one of this latter group would not make it. In my 25 trips there were three occasions when we had a natural causes death on board and a "stop at sea". Always a great ceremony highlight of the voyage - for the surviving passengers that is. It is certainly true that the sale of film and cameras from the ship's shop would increase when the word got out that there would be a burial at sea in the offing.
The service would be held by the Master on the 4 to 8 afternoon watch and those off duty were expected to attend. Reverting to engineers mode now - with a ceremony set for 16.30 hrs, shortly after taking over the watch at 16.00hrs preparations would be taken to stop.CAMITO was a twin screw turbine steamer and speed would be gradually reduced until approaching the alloted time the propeller revs had been reduced from the normal 110 rpm to manoeuvring speed of 80 rpm. Astern guarding valves and turbine drains would be opened, bled steam shut off and live steam opened up to plant such as feed water heaters and distillation plant that might require it.
Normally the 3rd Engineer would return to assist and the daywork Donkeyman and Storekeeper would go to the boiler room to assist the watchkeeping fireman deal with the firing of the 3 Babcock boilers - each with 4 oil burners.
The telegraph would ring STOP and the engineers would bring the turbines to a stop using Astern steam and maintaining the use of astern steam to ensure that both propellers did not rotate (to prevent any unpleasant accident).
The Master would say a few words and the bosun and his AB's would lift the board containing the body to the ship's side and on the order tilt the board and let the body slide out from under the Red Ensign to the deep.
Soon Full Ahead would be rung - the bosun would receive the traditional bottle of rum, the spectating passengers would head to the bar to compare notes and toast the dear departed shipmate. The 2nd Eng. and his assistant would start restoring the plant to normal sea conditions and in the case of one of the 3rd Eng that I sailed with - depart the engine room to get showered into his uniform and see if there were any young females that might have been traumatised by the afternoon's events so that he might afford comfort.
I always kept a stock of diesel generator bottom end bolts (used), and some blank flanges to be used as weights by the bosun when doing his sewing up of the canvas shroud. I should add that CAMITO carried a doctor.

Hi There,

I served on the Camito 1963/64 and went through the situation of burial at sea, we had a passenger who had served on coal burning ships many years earlier and he knew he was dying. He had to leave the ship at Jamaica but returned to it and died after a few days. I believe that was the trip that one of the fuel oil lines ruptured and was repaired with turbine vent pipes, the repair got us home to Avonmouth where we changed the line and replaced the vent pipes. Having been covered in fuel oil I was taken topside and given a parafin
wipe down followed by a shower. I was so exausted I could not stand and I was put on my bunk. Some hours later I assisted Dusty Miller the donkeyman to land a shark which had been circling the ship. I still have one of it's teeth somewhere.

alaric
27th February 2012, 23:30
You are right Chadburn, the "recipe" for these castings was usually a 'metallurgical mix' formulated by the maker to give longest possible service under extreme temperatures from the fire bed. Years ago the 'true' formula was as elusive as Grandma's recipe for her plum sauce and as with others there were many imitations but only one "Lea and Perrins".
We used to import Babcock chain grate stoker links, Proctor and Hodgkinson fire bars and Babcock PF coal E-mill grinding balls from the maker's foundries in the UK at a price that tempted local foundries to attempt to undercut us with their 'brew' of iron for the duty but often with adverse results as bars bent under firing conditions and balls wore away like dissolving black ball lollies.
They were not any old iron.

Bob
You and Chadburn have a point. But, in context, I stand by my original statement.
The fire-bars on Corinthic were ONLY on board because they were good ballast for the canvas coffins. The Yarrow 5 drum boilers were oil fired and did not require fire-bars.

spongebob
28th February 2012, 00:08
Sure Alaric, the bars were past their use by date anyway and besides there is something to say about being held down by good quality heat resistant iron, especially if you were headed for the heat of Hades!!

Bob

chadburn
28th February 2012, 18:38
alaric, I have no doubt that what you say is correct, as you may be aware some boiler's could be adapted to burn either oil or coal but the boiler's you have now described could not. There was an invention (known as the turbine furnace) that sprayed steam under the firebar's to extend their life and improve combustion, that proved too expensive and it was changed to sprayed salt water, but like air lubricated Hull's (tried over 50 year's ago) the effort required did not meet expectation's and the project was abandoned.

Varley
29th February 2012, 00:27
Your tip about dual fuel boilers reminds me of a channel pilot we often took on to do European coast and sometimes on, round to Greenock. Ted Iles, an old timer even in mid 70s. One of his non 'bedroom' reminiscences (and there were plenty of the other sort) was having sailed on a tween deck tanker. She burned coal out to the Gulf and oil back (in his time onboard) there was also a suit of sails and necessaries to sail her (not used in his time). Not sure I have spelled him correctly - if not apologies to what must now be his memory.

jim garnett
3rd March 2012, 06:01
I spent 4 months on an oldwartime Empire ship.Three oil fired Scotchn boilers ,converted from coal burner.I could never get the hang of controlling the water level with the ship rolling .The feed vales were situated near the gauge glasses and no extended spindles so it was up and down like a Whores drawers.
The trip from Jarrow to Norfolk VA.started off as the trip continued not very expeditiously.The auxiliary feed line ruptured so we had to stop at Cherbourg for repair.Three days later we lost the Steering with a large following sea.The quadrant was lashing from side to side and made a mess of the stops.The problem was the bolts securing the worm drive to the quadrant pinion gear.It had been worked on in Jarrow and the bolts renewed but they were not fitted bolts and had been inserted from below without lock nuts and apparently not properly tightened and so they all fell out with the vibbration.After much hard work by the deck crew trying to set up a jury rig to steer using the aft winches we took a chance and popped a bolt in as the pinion and worm wwheel passed each and it worked.Mechanical advantage is a great thing.
When we arrived at Norfolk we discovered that our Ballast pump couldn't keep up with the rate of coal coming in so the Chief decided to lengthen the stoke of the pump(Wiers).he was a bit too successful;the water piston went past the end of the cylinder and was unable to come back as the rings jammed under the cylinder.The chief got the shore gang and we engineers said nothing and kept well clear of the chief for the rest of the day.
It was verywarm in the cabins which we put down tothe hot weather,however we found the isolating valve to the accommodation had been left open.
After leaving Norfolk there was a request for steam on deck a certain engineer instead of routing the steam return to the aux condenser left in on the main condenser.(mea culpa).The second engineer came flying own the ladder and started opening drain cocks at a rapid rate.I think he had been alerted by the rather large knocking noise.I was sternly admonished and eventually forgiven as it was my first trip on a steamer.
We had an all Arab stokehold crew from Aden.They had been on the ship for 5 years and not been home.They were virtually sold with the ship and could only be discharged in Aden.They were a good crew who drank large quantities of this brew they made.It was a type of coffee made not from coffee beans but the husks of the beans which were discarded after roasting.It was very thirst quenching and I drank a lot of it.I've never seen or heard it since.Starbucks certainly don't stock it.
Manoeuvering was a nightmare after coming from Diesels;the control valve was above head high and parallel to the deck;You had to open and shut this bloody thing with your right hand above your head while controlling the reversing engine with your left hand.I was very glad I wasn't a southpaw.
After all this I swore off steamers and went to diesels and when I left the sea spent the next 30 years in steam power stations.
JIM GARNETT

Steve G
3rd March 2012, 11:44
[Quite a good discription of being on stand bye on a steam ship. I remember it well having served on the Patonga as Junior Eng in 1974. I think the only thing you have forgotten to mention was the manual control of the oil temperature. Oh, and if the senior Eng on duty wanted to bee a b------ he would spin open the steam manouvering valve to tru and bugger up your careful balancing of all the processes that you mentioned, to try and encourage that case of beer.]On Maipura we had 3 Scotch Boilers supplying the steam Turbine . On ' Stand Bye and maouvering we had one e/r rating on each bolier watching the Gauge glass and adjusting the boiler feed valve which was manual additionaly we had the Tail Wahlla ( Oiler ) who stood handy to do any other chores as required by the engineeer who was on the control wheels . One for ahead and one for astern . On Maipura the contol wheels were about 3 to 4 ft in diameter and could be easily swung ( spunn ) I think it was about 20 turns from open to closed and of course we contoled the turbine / shaft revs by adjusting the number of turns open .
At the same time in the stokehold there was a fireman or Tidal at each boiler furnace front and he was resonsible for lighting or pulling ( shutting down ) the 4 separate fires in the boiler Maipuras boilers each had 4 furnaces .
The engineer would watch the telegraph and respond to orders at the same time as checking the water level in all boilers and watching the steam pressure ; trying to keep it as close to 250 PIS without lifting the saftey valves ( That cost a case of beer and a lot of ribbing by the rest of the crew )
The steam pressure was controlled by the engineer who who had three light panels ( one for each boiler )each with 4 switches ( one for each furnace in the boiler.)
In the stokehold each boiler had its panel with 4 lights ( each one a different color ) and the engineer would switch on which fires / furnaces he wanted lit and which shut off /Pulled .
At the same time the fireman had to watch his smoke and adjust the air supply to give good combustion and no smoke .
As apprentice I was on the telegraph and movemnt book as well as watching and adjusting the gland steam on the turbine. Also My duty was to ensure the feedwater heaters had about 6 " of water in the glass and also adjust the amount of extra feed to keep the main condenser glass at the correct level .
Everytime we were given a movement change all these parameters had to be adjusted .
After about 6 months on Maipura the 3rd Eng put me on the controls and I became quite adept . One had to be a bit of an octopus but after a while we could antisipate what was going to happen and all the adjustments became automatic without thinking exactly why we were making them .
While all this was going on we would be having a smoke / coffeee and talking about the last / next "run ashore "
Talk about Muti Tasking We had absolutly no automation at all with the exception of the steering gear telemotor.[/QUOTE]

jamesgpobog
3rd March 2012, 23:28
(#232) I could never get the hang of controlling the water level with the ship rolling .The feed vales were situated near the gauge glasses and no extended spindles so it was up and down like a Whores drawers.

My ship (a jumboized USN T3-S2-A3) steamed and road very well when full, with the caveat that the steam drums ran athwartships. The roll in heavy weather might be a bit sometimes, but it was slow with no surprises.

What this did though was make checking water next to impossible. Because of the roll, water cycled constantly out of sight high and out of sight low. You had to sort of take a mental snapshot when your body told you it was level. Kinda freaky, but we never had a casualty or had any carryover to the turbines.

Bernie Grant
6th March 2012, 18:29
Guys, guys, guys, you all speak as though its something that is long gone. Take heart !!, I'm still doing steam ( since 1972 ). I have always told myself "when its no longer fun, I'll stop".
It is still fun, times change of course and most folk still wonder what we do......... ( unless you live on the coast, or in Newcastle, those people actually understand what it is like at sea ).

rodfair
20th April 2012, 23:34
I am not going to name the ship, for obvious reasons, but i'll tell the story. in the mid 1960's the master of a ship that I sailed on was murdered by the steward (knifed) whilst in his home port, Durban. His family had the body cremated and wanted the ashes scattered at sea. The company agreed and after discharging our cargo and before loading we put out from the dock with his wife, the minister and mourners. It was decided the burial service would be a short one held at the aft end of the bridge deck. We steamed to about 2 miles off shore, engines were stopped and the service read. the widow asked the minister to open the urn and scatter the ashes. He went to the bridge wing and held the urn over the side, then there was a backdraught and they all came floating back, settling over mourners, crew and minister. The old man had got his revenge! I realise this tale may be in questionable taste, but it did happen.

I too will not name the ship involved, or the deceased, or the Captain.But a marine reporter from a very well known Brit daily newspaper asked that his ashes be scattered at sea from our ship. They were happy to oblige, the reporter had been very kind to the ship and the company through many unhappy incidents.
All off duty Officers were instructed to attend. It was decided to do the scattering from a shell door on 2 deck, about 40 feet over the waterline. Ship changed direction to get the wind in the right place, Capt read the service...we now commit the ashes of our dear departed brother to the deep.....Wind changed...same effect!

jamesgpobog
21st April 2012, 03:30
I too will not name the ship involved, or the deceased, or the Captain.But a marine reporter from a very well known Brit daily newspaper asked that his ashes be scattered at sea from our ship. They were happy to oblige, the reporter had been very kind to the ship and the company through many unhappy incidents.
All off duty Officers were instructed to attend. It was decided to do the scattering from a shell door on 2 deck, about 40 feet over the waterline. Ship changed direction to get the wind in the right place, Capt read the service...we now commit the ashes of our dear departed brother to the deep.....Wind changed...same effect!

And I too have seen that happen. Mid 1973, and we're the duty USN ship. We took aboard an old chief's ashes and went out for the service. The officer actually took the box to the windward side. Got a face full...

Howard Dean
2nd July 2012, 20:44
Thank you Jim for your details of burial at sea when aboard the "Camito", I served on the "Camito" some years before you did under Chief Engineer Jock Burns. A perfect gentleman who could be strict but always very fair. On one New Years day celebration Mr. Burns went below to bring up the third engineer (another Scot) for a wee tot, He returned on his own in a fairly tetchy mood, he told us he had found the third in the fridge flat fast asleep. When the third came up to the chiefs cabin he told the chief that it could not possibly have been him. The chief responded by saying "I kicked you, with my foot", not me chief said the third, well were where you sleeping asked the chief, in the boiler room chief was the answer. Just a question of location I presume. We also had a burial at sea, a former seaman who knew he was dying and had booked a round trip as his last wish. There is a picture of the juniors on the Camito somewhere in this site, I am the one on the left.

Best wishes.

Howard.

SteamBloke
18th July 2012, 09:08
In the early 70s I was a Junior Engineer on ships running thru the Pacific. I suffered from PH until my first home leave and my grandfather (also an ex marine engineer) advised me to caerfully rinse my boiler suits after washing. He said that any soap left on the boiler suit would exacerbate the PH. I followed his advice and problem solved.

johnar
18th July 2012, 10:27
In a former post i referred to '*****ley heat ' but the system removes some letters as being sear words so I shall try to spell it another way so we can get a response . " Pr1kly Heat " Anyone who was in the Red Sea Gulf area knows of this . Not all got it but when you did it was not Fun .
Derek

Hi derek, in response to the above, I first experienced the "heat" problem on my first trip to the w.African coast and thereafter at various times,as you say it definitely wasn't fun. The only way to relieve it was a cold shower but it used to return straight away and seemed worse! A return to temperate climes was the only real cure. Curiously when the weather here, very rarely at the moment, gets reasonably hot I get a minor recurrence, this after some sixty years !!regards,roger--(Pint)

Varley
18th July 2012, 12:05
Well rinsed skidies to prevent. Whifields ointment to cure. Tinea Cruris should avoid the censor (Latin for Crutch Rot - don't know if that will)!

Uricanejack
26th September 2012, 10:09
Every so offten someone request a dumping of ashes at sea. After one result much like those above our cutomer sevice manager with the help of one of our chiefs. came up with a special fit for purpose rig. A lenth of white PVC sewer pipe tide to the rail we call it the s!"/ pipe of death.

marinemec2004
7th October 2012, 12:27
My first ship -HMS Lowestoft was steam. I started off "punching" burners on the starboard boiler.(Stoker) Did many a steam ship whilst in the Merch. Some as old as 30 years old! Stinking hot down below. Also, as a crew member, we did 8 hours down below not 4 like the engineers ( watchkeeping) The steam supertankers were the best, as they had good ventilation systems -compared to the older tankers. Old or young, Big or Small steam ships were hard graft down below for everyone!

actingjunior
18th November 2012, 18:55
I was on the British Honour in 1969 ? as an apprentice then made up to acting junior during our 6 month trip.
The time I will always remember was the daily soot blowing, the port boiler was the 8-12 responsibility and the starboard boiler 12-4.
It took ten minutes to get kitted up with gloves, sweat rags, at least 2 wheel keys and always a shifting spanner (just in case) ! This was always done in the cool of the 100oF engine room. Then you entered the boiler room where the temperature rose by about 30oF on the boiler flat and increased steadily the higher up you went towards the steam drum and beyond.
Everthing on that ship was done manually, no sitting in a control room and pressing buttons !
The two main isolating valves sat on top of the steam drum and had to be opened to supply the soot blowers and closed when finished.
Then you ran the soot blowers into the furnace and opened other steam valves to blow out the soot. This also had to be carried out for the soot blowers in the furnace roof and the superheaters. The escape route out when you had finished was at the top of the boiler room where a door exited onto the deck behind the funnel.
The whole operation took about 20-30 minutes and by the time you had escaped you were in no fit state to do much more.
My final escape was going on the 4-8 watch but thats another story.
I could go on writing a lot more about what went on, but I'll wait for some replies to this and see what interest there is.

Acting Junior

tunatownshipwreck
19th November 2012, 01:10
I was on the British Honour in 1969 ? as an apprentice then made up to acting junior during our 6 month trip.
The time I will always remember was the daily soot blowing, the port boiler was the 8-12 responsibility and the starboard boiler 12-4.
It took ten minutes to get kitted up with gloves, sweat rags, at least 2 wheel keys and always a shifting spanner (just in case) ! This was always done in the cool of the 100oF engine room. Then you entered the boiler room where the temperature rose by about 30oF on the boiler flat and increased steadily the higher up you went towards the steam drum and beyond.
Everthing on that ship was done manually, no sitting in a control room and pressing buttons !
The two main isolating valves sat on top of the steam drum and had to be opened to supply the soot blowers and closed when finished.
Then you ran the soot blowers into the furnace and opened other steam valves to blow out the soot. This also had to be carried out for the soot blowers in the furnace roof and the superheaters. The escape route out when you had finished was at the top of the boiler room where a door exited onto the deck behind the funnel.
The whole operation took about 20-30 minutes and by the time you had escaped you were in no fit state to do much more.
My final escape was going on the 4-8 watch but thats another story.
I could go on writing a lot more about what went on, but I'll wait for some replies to this and see what interest there is.

Acting Junior

Great account.

Please, sir, more?

ART6
19th November 2012, 13:10
I was on the British Honour in 1969 ? as an apprentice then made up to acting junior during our 6 month trip.
The time I will always remember was the daily soot blowing, the port boiler was the 8-12 responsibility and the starboard boiler 12-4.
It took ten minutes to get kitted up with gloves, sweat rags, at least 2 wheel keys and always a shifting spanner (just in case) ! This was always done in the cool of the 100oF engine room. Then you entered the boiler room where the temperature rose by about 30oF on the boiler flat and increased steadily the higher up you went towards the steam drum and beyond.
Everthing on that ship was done manually, no sitting in a control room and pressing buttons !
The two main isolating valves sat on top of the steam drum and had to be opened to supply the soot blowers and closed when finished.
Then you ran the soot blowers into the furnace and opened other steam valves to blow out the soot. This also had to be carried out for the soot blowers in the furnace roof and the superheaters. The escape route out when you had finished was at the top of the boiler room where a door exited onto the deck behind the funnel.
The whole operation took about 20-30 minutes and by the time you had escaped you were in no fit state to do much more.
My final escape was going on the 4-8 watch but thats another story.
I could go on writing a lot more about what went on, but I'll wait for some replies to this and see what interest there is.

Acting Junior

That is all so very familiar! My first ship was the tanker Stanvac Horizon, operating around the Indian ocean. The sootblowers were all operated by chains that had to be pulled round to rotate the tubes, and there were (it seemed then) a hell of a lot of them. The space behind the boilers to the bulkhead was about ten feet from memory, and Boy, did it get hot there! The sootblower chains would burn your hand if you touched them with bare skin, and gloves were not plentiful, so we had to pull the chains with our hands protected with rags.

We had a Pakistani crew, and strangely, they simply couldn't take the heat. By the time the sootblowing was done they would all have dropped out and left it to the white man, who by then would be completely cream crackered and half a stone lighter!

chadburn
19th November 2012, 15:05
Looking back at Steam I wonder how many Engineer's like myself went to sea on a Triple Expansion with or without an LP Turbine are still around and on this Site. Might be a few job's coming up in China!!

ART6
20th November 2012, 08:40
Looking back at Steam I wonder how many Engineer's like myself went to sea on a Triple Expansion with or without an LP Turbine are still around and on this Site. Might be a few job's coming up in China!!

I sailed on two, neither having LP turbines (or much else for that matter!).

surfaceblow
20th November 2012, 22:59
I crewed on a steam up and down tug and a moved a few MSC triple expansion engine ships around the Port of Bayonne. I never left the port area, the very first bell on the laid up ship was a fifty fifty chance of going in the wrong direction.

Joe

John Briggs
20th November 2012, 23:15
Not an engineer but sailed on a triple expansion job which I found fascinating.
We could only make around 9 knots and in anything over a force 8 went backwards.
Underpowered was an understatement!