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The dreaded examiner of engineers

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  #1  
Old 15th February 2017, 17:05
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The dreaded examiner of engineers

It's so long ago now that I can't recall much of the dreaded orals before the examiner of engineers, and in later years having faced it before I was better prepared. But when being examined for my second's steam ticket the frowning figure behind the desk posed two questions that I do remember. The first was:
"One of the gauge glasses on your boiler appears to be blocked and not registering. What will you do?"
Ah! I had looked that up in Southern's. "I take a clearing rod, close the steam and water cocks, allow the gauge to cool, then remove the plug in the bottom front. Then I screw in the rod until it encounters the cock, open the cock, and screw it all the way in, then withdraw it until I can close the cock."
"Correct. Have you seen such a tool?"
"Er....Well no Sir!"
"So then, what do you do?"
"Get a welding rod and a pair of pliers and stick the rod through the water cock while keeping well clear."
I was expecting censure, but the ogre said "Then why the hell didn't you say so? Now; you have been called to a fire in the radio room and it is filled with smoke. How will you deal with that"
"Isolate the power supplies and use CO2 Sir."
"But the radio officer is in there somewhere. If you do what you say, and if you can't immediately see him, you might kill him. Will you proceed, and if so why?"
"Because the equipment of the ship is more important than any member of the crew. My priority would be to preserve the radio equipment because if the fire was not contained we might need to call for outside help Sir."
I was cowed and convinced that another year of sea time was about to be awarded, but then he said "Alright. You've passed!"

So, what other recollections of the torture of the orals by members who served in those days?
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  #2  
Old 15th February 2017, 18:39
howardws howardws is online now  
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I remember talking to a Surveyor / Examiner who was taking passage in Normandy Ferries Dragon so that he could look into the problems of a ship in Le Havre that had arrived with 25% water in it's main engine sump and whose entire crew had been replaced by a band of ruffians on arrival - probably 1976. I told him about the hard time I'd been given by a certain Mr Ch*****n and suggested that he wanted to make sure that I could stand up to bolshie junior engineers if necessary. His reply was "No, he's just a nasty old bastard!"
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Old 15th February 2017, 18:59
howardws howardws is online now  
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I remember now - it was Globtik Venus and the Surveyor was a lovely man called Geoff Dicker.
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  #4  
Old 15th February 2017, 21:58
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Just like you, Art, one about boiler level glasses. I too was chased and got a little flustered until I got both feed pumps on! It made me fully wake up and focused. I love Oral Exams, nothing like it to get the brain in gear and show just what you really do know.
Rgds.
Dave
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Old 16th February 2017, 07:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by makko View Post
Just like you, Art, one about boiler level glasses. I too was chased and got a little flustered until I got both feed pumps on! It made me fully wake up and focused. I love Oral Exams, nothing like it to get the brain in gear and show just what you really do know.
Rgds.
Dave
Don't know what it's like at sea these days, but in my industry (Rail) so many exams (both written and oral) are conducted by so called professionals who have Micky Mouse degrees in goodness knows what and little knowledge and certainly no experience of the realities of the subjects they are teaching or examining.

On more than one occasion I have had to consciously sink my knowledge and experience and concentrate on providing the answers that they want to hear.

Last edited by YM-Mundrabilla; 16th February 2017 at 09:08..
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  #6  
Old 16th February 2017, 15:36
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I did my tickets in Aberdeen and the most feared examiner was a Mr. Jensen ; his assistant was a Mr Blacklaws .When I was doing my 2nd Eng ticket Mr. Jensen was seconded for a time to Sunderland and a lot of the lads took their orals from Mr Blacklaws and all were passing first time ( unusual for Aberdeen )
The story goes that Mr Jensen while on a visit gave Blacklaws a bollicking for passing so many .
My turn came and Mr Blacklaws gave me my orals ; he said my papers were good so I was feeling chuffed however he failed me on the Orals ; when I asked on what I failed on he gave no indication .
My resit was done after Mr. Jensen had returned and I feared the worst .
At my Orals he was nearly an hour late giving me more time to worry about what I may be asked .
When he arrived he was apologetic as to being late but explained he had been to the Habour Masters funeral ;asked me if I had met him to which I replied no . He then spent the next half hour telling me about his great friend . This was good I thought time was going by and he would soon want to be leaving the office . He said my papers were good and asked why I had failed before and I was unable to tell him . He then noticed I had spent a lot of time on UMS vessels and asked generally things worked re being duty Eng and then on day work for a couple of days etc. He did not ask any questions ; I think he was just getting a briefing from myself to be able to question some other poor sole in the future .
That was more or less the extent of the oral and he proceeded to write out my pass certificate having said I had passed . Then he said " I forgot to have you blow the gauge glass one of which was mounted on the wall . I proceeded slowly and he said "you seem unsure ? " To which I replied I was sure but didn't want to risk making a mistake ( A mistake was automatic failure ) He didn't watch me blow the glass but went on filling out my paperwork .
He then got back to chatting about the Harbour Master and UMS protocol then gave me my paperwork and I was never so happy in my life to get out and hit the streets of Aberdeen the up to the college to give the lecturers a brif of then oral which was the norm which allowed them to update their list of typical questions the examiners were most likely to ask in the future .

Derek
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  #7  
Old 16th February 2017, 16:26
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I remember being interviewed for a job by a panel of no less than 12 people. They all had a chip, until the man at the far end's turn came. He seemed to have been asleep and had to be prompted, did he have a question?

What was the last book I had read?

"Ten Nights in a Bar Room and What I Saw There", says I. "Fine" he said and we passed on.
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"The kitten and the snail got off the bus!"
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  #8  
Old 16th February 2017, 16:31
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When up for chiefs in Aberdeen I got Mr Blacklaws again . Said my papers were good and asked a few standard questions about CO 2 release systems ; indicator diagrams and the like . Then he got into Naval Architecture which was one of my favorites ; all seemed to be going well then he got on to Submarines !!! and what kept then stable when on the surface and when submerged and when diving . I rambled on about ballast and the fins etc. The he interjected and gave me a detailed account of how it all works re Cof G Righting moments etc. etc. little of which I now remember .
I said he seemed very well versed in Subs and that I had not expected such questions . He then told be he built model working subs as a hobby and went into more depth . That was the end of the oral and I passed after he had done most of the talking .
That early evening I took the lads for a few pints to the "Snug " off Mearns Street around from the Sailors Home where I had ben staying ( impossible to get a flat in Aberdeen in those days due to the oil boom )
There was a public phone in the bar and it rang and someone answered and said it was for me ???
It was Johnny Bain ; on of Brocks supers who said he had been talking to the examiners office and found I had passed my Chiefs Motor and wanted me to join a tanker next day . That was impossible as all my kit was in Inverness . However I left Aberdeen next day and up to Inverness for a quick pack and the overnight train to London and flew out to join the Luminous in Ras Tanura and take over as Chief Promotion was quick in those days if one had a Motor ticket
I had only just turned 28 .

Happy Days Derek
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  #9  
Old 16th February 2017, 17:14
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One of our class mates in Aberdeen had failed his 2 nd Eng ticket on a number of occasions including being sent back to sea for 12 months before re sitting .

He tried again and got Mr Jensen . His orals were in the morning and after some time he was questioned on refilling different types fire extinguishers ; he said he was stumbling a bit ; more in fear of Jensen the actual lack of knowledge . Mr Jensen then said "Its time for lunch be back at 2 pm and I recommend you go up to the fire station and ask for the Fire Chief and ask him about extinguishers "
The lad did just that and returned to the oral and was able to give all the answeres ; he got his ticket .
Mr. Jensen was as it turned out after all human . Derek

From what I understand now the examiners are not as strict as the were in those days and in fact many have not been to sea and have little practical knowledge .
Derek
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  #10  
Old 16th February 2017, 19:41
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The dreaded examiner of engineers

I am sure some of our older members will remember Mr Slater an Examiner in Glasgow - He was a legendary figure with many stories of his Oral Exam questioning. I only had him for pre-sea grading. By the time I was up for 2nd Steam he had retired So consider myself lucky.
I recall at 2nd's being asked my views on automatic bilge pumps.
I tried to stall while looking for an answer with "There is a school of thought" Only to be interrupted with "I am not interested in a school of thought, I want to hear your views" I answered that high levels in bilges should be alarm only and requiring manual intervention" - By then I was waffling but the Examiner did not say that I was right or wrong.
I passed so I am guessing I was not wrong. As his been said on this piece on Examiners I agree that Examiners kept up to date by questioning candidates on recent developments.
Re the Glasgow Examination Centre that used to be in an upper floor of the NAAFI building in the Parliamentary Road area.
There was an old fashioned gated lift I am told that many disgruntled exam candidates on leaving the centre would deliberately leave the gates open forcing the Examiners to use the stairs.
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  #11  
Old 16th February 2017, 20:37
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I only spent three years at sea and, as an apprentice, had worked in light and medium engineering. I passed my 2nd Class Part A but never had the sea time to be permitted to take the Part B.

In aviation there are two professional licences, The Commercial Pilot's Licence (CPL) and the Airline Transport Pilot's Licence (ATPL), the latter being the senior.
Some years ago the CAA introduced a system whereby a student could sit the ATPL exam and be awarded a CPL which, upon gaining the requisite hours in their log book would be upgraded to an ATPL without further examination.* It was known as a 'Frozen ATPL'.
I wish that had been the system at the time because I'd like to have, at least, passed the 2nd Class.

When S1 was studying Materials Engineering at Imperial, I was quite chuffed when he asked to use my boiler corrosion and water treatment notes for an elective paper.

*Apart from an annual four days in the simulator, a route check, a technical questionnaire and a medical.
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  #12  
Old 17th February 2017, 20:00
sternchallis sternchallis is offline  
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Perhaps old chestnut

It appears that at Hull BOT office with old Barr, he used to ask a Motor 2nd to turn on a kettle on his way out of the room.
If you just turned it on he would shout, "I you think I'm going to pass you and let you light a fire under the boiler without checking if there is any water in, you must be joking".
If you checked for water then nothing was said.

When I was up for Pt B Chiefs, my writing was so bad in the EK's that he failed me as couldn't read it.
So the lecturers said use a fountain pen next time, it would slow me down , but it would be readable, and it worked.
Thank goodness for pc's now.
Now I have spelling problems especially with a strange font . Must be the big A.
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  #13  
Old 18th February 2017, 11:07
MWD MWD is offline  
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Originally Posted by howardws View Post
I remember talking to a Surveyor / Examiner who was taking passage in Normandy Ferries Dragon so that he could look into the problems of a ship in Le Havre that had arrived with 25% water in it's main engine sump and whose entire crew had been replaced by a band of ruffians on arrival - probably 1976. I told him about the hard time I'd been given by a certain Mr Ch*****n and suggested that he wanted to make sure that I could stand up to bolshie junior engineers if necessary. His reply was "No, he's just a nasty old bastard!"
Ch*****n! would that have been Southampton by any chance? Possibly the same gentleman I managed to get my Seconds steam from.

Later when standing by Pretoria Castle in Southampton he turned up to conduct the extended spindles survey for the Passenger Certificate renewal. It was my task to take him round, became in my opinion a second Oral and I felt my Ticket was at risk.

However I later had him for Chiefs and found his oral examination to be an interesting discussion on the changes occuring in marine engineering.

MWD.
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Old 18th February 2017, 12:37
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Ch*****n! would that have been Southampton by any chance? Possibly the same gentleman I managed to get my Seconds steam from.
MWD.
That's the man! At one point he kept on and on asking if I was sure that the top and bottom manhole doors on a Marshal Anderson boiler were the same size. In the end I told him I was sure because a few days before I'd been inside a Marshall Anderson boiler and afterwards I used two identical joints on the doors!
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  #15  
Old 19th February 2017, 07:50
david freeman david freeman is offline  
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They the examineers are all pussy cats curled up in front of the fire, drinking tea and just talking. The 3 legged/maybe 4 ? up and downer, the double ended scotch boiler, and if lucky abauw wauk attached.
Takes me back to Middlesbrough Docks and that or those ships of Brocklebanks , or where they all parsons turbines?? Memory plays tricks.!!!

Last edited by david freeman; 19th February 2017 at 07:57.. Reason: rememembering shipping lines
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Old 19th February 2017, 08:56
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I was asked what I new about electrics (my weakest subject) as I began to sweat he said switch the lights on.
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Old 19th February 2017, 09:36
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I was asked what I new about electrics (my weakest subject) as I began to sweat he said switch the lights on.
I got the same when I did my Chiefs at Gosforth.

Tony
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Old 19th February 2017, 11:57
sternchallis sternchallis is offline  
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I was asked what I new about electrics (my weakest subject) as I began to sweat he said switch the lights on.
Well, I know where the Chief Leckies cabin and workshop is!
If it has got a piece of wire going to it call the lecky, if its a piece of pipe call an engineer, if its a piece of rope call the mate, if its in a cabin call the chief stewerd.
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Old 19th February 2017, 12:10
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I got the same when I did my Chiefs at Gosforth.

Tony
must have been the same examiner.,he also had one for combined steam,switch the kettle on.
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Old 19th February 2017, 13:26
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Examiner was J.J. Witts when I sat mine.

Tony
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Old 19th February 2017, 15:39
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Originally Posted by sternchallis View Post
Well, I know where the Chief Leckies cabin and workshop is!
If it has got a piece of wire going to it call the lecky, if its a piece of pipe call an engineer, if its a piece of rope call the mate, if its in a cabin call the chief stewerd.
I found for certain that both the Chief (one R. Houston) and the Second (one 'swimming' McSkimming) knew where mine was. Innocently about my business when a shower of sparks under the door alerted me to them trying to weld me in there.
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Old 19th February 2017, 15:52
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Welding in was the punishment for stealing someone's coldies from the bar fridge. Always deserved.
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Old 19th February 2017, 16:09
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I thought it was something to do with putting the Chief's boots in the Fishroom.
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  #24  
Old 19th February 2017, 21:15
george e mitchell george e mitchell is offline  
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this is an experiment, I have spent two nights typing in various items about engineer examiners, and when I press send it says I'm not logged on which I am, here goes this has worked, wonder if I'm being timed out as the were longish stories and I'm a one finger typist GEORGE

Last edited by george e mitchell; 19th February 2017 at 21:19..
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  #25  
Old 19th February 2017, 22:52
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this is an experiment, I have spent two nights typing in various items about engineer examiners, and when I press send it says I'm not logged on which I am, here goes this has worked, wonder if I'm being timed out as the were longish stories and I'm a one finger typist GEORGE
You could type out the items as a document, say in Word, and then copy and paste it/them. This will save a lot of time and possibly avoid any time out issues.

Howard
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