Gyro compass

14th January 2007, 17:50
Like all things nautical the improvements of ship board equipment (Navigational aids) has improved dramatically.
I remember the old Sperry gyro that was a massive piece of machinery down in the bowels of the ship.
Took for ages to get the correct heading when started up (unless you had knowledge how to speed that up.)
When you had a blackout you had to rush down and apply the clamps before it tumbled. Seemed that the only person that could do that was the 2nd mate!!! Guess the thinking was if it was at or about the ships CG it was less inclined to violent movement.
When in Palm Line I was sent on a course to the Sperry factory and was taught how to service the big Sperry that had a flywheel that as big as a small bike wheel.
Had moving parts for transferring the current and they had to be polished regularly.
One of the components was mercury pots and in West Africa you could sell that spare stuff for a good price. (Used in illict gold mining I was told)
Also went on a course for Browns gyro and they were more compact and you had a correction gadget to apply to the gyro heading to get the true heading.
Later gyros were very easy to use. Just switch on and leave on and in fact we had two units.
Are there better ones out there now??

14th January 2007, 19:18
Sailed only with Brown's gyros when I had the job of looking after them. Did a course at Glasgow Nautical. Brown's people always said their compass was an instrument, Sperry's a washing machine. Brown's weighed just over two pounds. On longer passages stopped the compass every three weeks to clean the contacts with carbon tet. and change the mercury. not forgetting to adjust the latitude rider.As the second mate got called out if the gyro failed it paid to look after it. Later Arma Brown gyro was less hassle. I suppose they have all singing all dancing compasses now. On one ship the third mate kept getting the sailors to shift the masthouse cargo vents until he discovered the wind wasn't shifting but the compass. To cover his embarrassment he reckoned I was to blame for the repeaters going for a wander.


14th January 2007, 19:50
Ah, the Brown "B" known as the "Bouncing Betty". Just don't put the wheel over too hard Quartermaster or....................SECOND MATE!!!. go and fix the B****y thing again. Liked 'em though................pete

14th January 2007, 22:12
They make fibre-optic gyros now with no moving parts at all!

Keith Adams
15th January 2007, 00:52
My first ship (7 month voyage) only had magnetic compasses and no radar,but
did have a single loop DF and an electric fathometer. Old-man Lyle prefered a
hand-lead going into an anchorage, and I seem to recall that all PSNC (Pacific
Steam Navigation Company) ships used the Deep Sea lead to confirm crossing
on or off the Continental Shelf as a mandatory Log Book entry.Never even tested the Deep Sea Lead with the other four Companies I sailed with. Snowy