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  #1  
Old 3rd June 2020, 05:05
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Things that have tried us

in the early 1970's the Lorneville Freezing Works near Invercargill called tenders for a biggest possible capacity coal fired fire tube boiler capable of producing saturated steam at 160 pounds/sq inch when burning their specified locally mine coal.
This steam was required to support a big increase of their meat production for the markets of Europe and delivery time was critical to meet the overall expansion plans.
Such a boiler was beyond the manufacturing capacity of our contractor's boiler making plant so the enquiry was referred to our British subsidiary Edwin Danks of Oldbury Birmingham.

They were quick to come back with a proposal of a large 30,000 lbs/hr unit measuring 16 feet diameter x 18 feet over the tube plates with twin 5 feet - 9 inch diameter furnace tubes to accomodate Oldbury chain grate stokers and with a bare vessel shipping weight of 64 tons.
The price ex works was competitive and a firm price of 10,000.00 was quoted for delivery as deck cargo on a ship with a heavy lift derrick that was capable of offloading at the port of Bluff NZ.
We added all the extraneous equipment from imported or local manufacture to establish a firm hand over steaming price and this was readily accepted .
Next we had to obtain an import licence to import the overseas built vessel so the client's chief Engineer and myself visited the Department of Trade and Industry to present our case.
The official refused to issue any licence until he had enquired from all big fabricators as to their ability and interest to build this pressure vessel claiming that it was more than his life was worth to permit the import without research and mindful there was a newly elected Labour Government in power with a strong bias toward local input.
The exercise took its course and one company claimed that they would build the vessel delivered to the Bluff wharf for our declared cost price and would meet the delivery dates required .
Our hands and the clients were tied , the bidder, a Australian / NZ consortium set up in Auckland to do a lot of heavy engineering fabrication for the various Hydro Electric power schemes, the oil industry and pipeline projects had certain credentials but lacked the specific experience in working to the NZ and British standard boiler codes but while we could anticipate lack of inexperience our arguments were no doubt seen as sour grapes.

So started a saga of delays that stretched the steaming date promised from 12 to 24 months and jeopardised the whole works expansion plan.
The fabrication dramas would take a year to tell but a few of the set backs were such things as boiler quality plate and tube supplies , the thwarted Danks works were not offering their stock after all . Their final test came at stress relieving time , the biggest conventional Dowson- Mason gas fired
furnace was limited to about 15 feet diameter vessels so in came British Expert Cooper Heat ltd who wrapped the whole boiler in heating cables only to find that the electrical load was beyond the capacity of the industrial subdivision and the mains had to be boosted.
Almost each and every week of the construction period we heard of such woes which were soaring their costs well beyond their agreed price but after about 18 months the hydraulic test was complete and the vessel certified.

Next came the transport to Bluff, a difficult job as there was no road route to the city Docks that could handle these dimensions so the plan was to use a low loader platform from the Otahuhu works to Rothery's Landing , a jetty on the upper reaches of the Waitemata harbour with only a few power lines to drop and a few overhead bridges to dodge in order get the load to Rotherys .
The next planned step was to steam the Auckland Harbour board's 100 ton self propelled floating crane from its central Harbour berth up to Rotherys and to lift the boiler on to its deck for transport about five miles down the harbour reach to a suitable ship .
At this stage the Harbour Board authority developed a nervousness about the unwieldy crane getting caught in a cross wind or other hazard while steaming to and from the site that they demanded that the construction company pay a surcharge for one of the large Harbour tugs to be in attendance at all times.
This move was achieved without incident after it was announced that a Port Line ship, the full name I forget, equipped with a 60 Ton heavy duty derrick was arriving in port from Britain to discharge general cargo in Auckland and was due to travel to Bluff to load a full freezer cargo for the homeward voyage .
She was willing to take the boiler South as deck cargo providing the NZ Marine dept and Lloyds surveyors gave dispensation to allow the derrick to lift at 64 ton, say 7% overload.
As the ship was older and built with higher design margins than current they tentatively agreed but asked to see the ship's crane survey certificates.
Embarrassment all round followed as the documentation was well out of date so a full survey was ordered on the spot and all the pigeons came home to roost.
There was deep corrosion in the pulley spindles . Worn eyes, many minor breaks in the lift wire strands plus other deterioration mainly caused by years of ship vibration and the long term effects of sea air and water corrosion .
It took about four days for waterfront marine workshop , Mason Brothers , to carry out the rehabilitation work which included a new reel of lift wire fortunately found in John Shaw's stock.
All this shambles prevented the floating crane dumping the boiler on board so it had to place the load on a nearby wharf and return to its normal duties until the ship's derrick repairs were complete, these being hampered by the need to fully discharge the hatch forward of the bridge .
Eventually the ship sailed for Bluff, I flew down a day or so later and a frustrated but relieved freezing works Chief Engineer met on the wharf to witness the big lift . It was decided to wait until the tide positioned the load at an optimum level for a minimum hoist and slew movement in view of the overload.
We enjoyed an invitation to join the ship's Captain on board for lunch and by 2 pm the boiler was places on the low loader without incident and headed for the Freezing works site about 15 km away.
Our crew had the unit in and steaming within a couple of weeks albeit twelve months late.
The process plant expansion was already in operation and fed by overloaded existing boilers plus two hired retired steam locomotives hooked up to the steam system and there was relief all round when we put the new boiler on line.
The convoluted contract took its toll though, the Works Chief Engineer died later that year, a stressful time indeed for him, and the Auckland Engineering company that demanded the job opportunity to fill a predicted lull in their shop load found that the cost overruns incurred had brought them to their knees and the works shut down.
All created by an eager bureaucrat taking the easy way out perhaps.

Bob
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  #2  
Old 3rd June 2020, 08:15
david freeman david freeman is offline  
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Phew!! were No.10 coaling shovels at the ready, and stronger firemen to shovel the amount of coal per hour into the hungry beast? and what about the ash and cinders, how was that riddled and removed? By Hand??
A true saga, and as an oil man/steam to boot, I do not appreciate or understand the finer points of this human story, except for the 'pen pushers and powers at B''
I found this an enlighteng read. Thank you!
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  #3  
Old 3rd June 2020, 10:08
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Robert Hilton Robert Hilton is offline  
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Thanks again, Spongebob. An enthralling read well written.
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  #4  
Old 3rd June 2020, 10:14
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An interesting read for this RN stoker.
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  #5  
Old 3rd June 2020, 11:05
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I like the title. It is succint and yet literary and open-ended. It is as if Streinbeck's title "The winter of our discondent " and A. A. Hurst's "In durance vile" had been given the Hemingway treatment.

What I really would have liked to introduce here is stoker and Nobel's literature prize winner Harry Martinson recounting of having to make do with German brown-coal during a coal miners strike in Cardiff and Newcastle. But that sort of poetizised misery demand more than a mere translation. Anyway we have a competing piece of literature above.

Last edited by stein; 3rd June 2020 at 11:08..
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  #6  
Old 3rd June 2020, 12:17
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Another interesting story Bob..................

Frank
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  #7  
Old 3rd June 2020, 20:53
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Thanks to all for your comments but Stein surely it's more saucer than Chaucer.

Bob
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  #8  
Old 4th June 2020, 04:58
skilly57 skilly57 is offline
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Thanks Bob - a good tale. I was waiting for the bit where they eventually discovered the local coal was of poor quality, and they needed a second new boiler as well, but it didn't happen!
Skilly
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  #9  
Old 4th June 2020, 06:37
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it was a relatively embarrassing time for me Skilly , I did contless trips down to the freezing works to give first hand progress reports and commiserate with the old Chief engineer Ray Dunne . His management had a go at the government via their local MP but too late the due was cast and he took the brunt of the flack
We got on well and I was always assured of a great steak in the executive dining room where the food technologists knew how to do a rare rump or sirloin or what ever took your fancy.
The blokes I had sympathy for were the firemen hand firing the two old steam train engines parked in the boiler house siding , no let up all shift , one of the Locomotives was the well known 'Kingston Flyer' borrowed from a scenic railway fir the duration and costing an arm and a leg !
We built a lot of boiler plant for the public industries , Hospital Boards, Military bases, Electricity Departments etc and I could write a book about the bad decisions , wastes of money etc created by tugs of war between engineers and been counters and consultants as well .
It is probably the same the world over .

Bob
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Last edited by spongebob; 4th June 2020 at 06:40..
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  #10  
Old 5th June 2020, 00:28
Scotch Boiler Scotch Boiler is offline  
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Good story Bob, you have enough stories and literary talent to publish a book.
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  #11  
Old 6th June 2020, 20:12
Steve Hodges Steve Hodges is offline  
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An jnteresting read for me. After I came ashore I was engineer in a wallboard factory with three big Edwin Danks firetube boilers. They called them thermal storage boilers, dry back with external brick lined combustion return chambers, very large diameter and with something like three feet between high and low water levels. They had to cope with very high peak steam demand when we pressurised sixty-foot-long steam autoclaves. I think they would have been late 50s or early 60s built, massively over engineered and hence never gave a bit of trouble. When we opened up for surveyors inspections you could have had a party in the steam space.
Strangely enough, given Spongebob's tale, I actually looked seriously at converting them to fire pulverised coal, given the then spiralling cost of fuel oil. This was just before Maggie Thatcher gutted the UK coal industry - actually, with hindsight, she probably saved me a lot of grief!
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  #12  
Old 6th June 2020, 21:24
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The MHI steam generators at Petacalco ran on eight corner (diagonal) HFO burners. Coal required sixteen! And the pulverized coal needed "liquidizing" with steam. Then there was the ash........! 6x 360MW as built, unit 7 a 700MW ST!!!
Rgds.
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  #13  
Old 6th June 2020, 21:46
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Steve, we installed two of these boilers in the then Lever Brithers factory in Wellington. As you say, about three feet of workable water level and perhaps four foot long water gauges . During light loads the boiler would continue to fire at a high rate as a high capacity feed pump flooded it up to the top gauge limit. When the peak demand came on, the feed pump switched off and that huge volume of stored water was available as steam by the addition of only enough energy to effect the latent heat of evaporation , the water mass in the shell being right up to the blood.
Come the valley load after a process run , in went the rapid top up of water to be heated for the next peak.
The burners spent most of the time at high fire .
A brilliant idea but it was dependant on the process being cyclic with peaks and valleys that suited boiler capacity range .
In Levers case , the processes changed and when full steam output was called for all day the unit had to operate like a normal fire tube boiler .
This was in the early sixties and the concept lost its gloss as we never found another suitable process load application again.
Re the puverised coal firing , using the adapted Alfred Herbert Attritor ?
You dodged a bullet there Steve, but that's another story

Bob
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  #14  
Old 6th June 2020, 23:15
Andy Duncan Andy Duncan is offline  
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Bob were you involve with the new boilers installed at the Auckland Hospital mid 1960s? ,I was there as an apprentice,a good learning curve for me.
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  #15  
Old 6th June 2020, 23:50
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Andy, the new boiler contract at the main Auckland hospital went to NEI -John Thompson. Babcock did the new ones for Green Lane and Middlemore hospitals then in the early seventies JT did those for the Avondale mental hospital .
It was a bit of a share around in those days

Bob
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  #16  
Old 7th June 2020, 00:31
Somerton Somerton is offline  
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Hi Bob , I really enjoyed the story of the boiler for Bluff . I sailed in the Port Sydney in 1958 . We loaded boiler in the UK for Tasmania . It was 35 or 38 tons . It was great to have the experience of using our jumbo Derrick . It was landed in Bell Bay . I can't remember which one of the 2 Beauty point , or
Inspection head . I think that also we put ashore a lot of timber dunnage .
Happy memories . Alex . R666116 .
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  #17  
Old 7th June 2020, 01:16
skilly57 skilly57 is offline
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Bob, you have really woken my memory up. I did my apprenticeship at William Cables in Kaiwharawhara, where we had a 200-ton Banning press in the Boiler Shop for pressing the new boiler ends. The 1" or 1.5", roughly 10-foot diameter boiler end went into the furnace as a frisbee. Later, when hot enough, the ladle would lift the disc out and bend it in one press through the formers.
From somewhere, we had a new apprentice arrive. He drove everyone nuts with his constant talking and stupid statements - so much so he was eventually called "Yappy". One day he went a bit too far - drove someone to put his full toolbox (the steel, multi-trayed type that folds open) under the Banning press during the smoko break. When we all came back down, that box was only about 1.5 inches high, with all the tools still inside!
We were only manufacturing package-size boilers then (think dry-cleaning shops, etc), plus the pen-stocks for Tokaanu - that sort of thing.
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  #18  
Old 7th June 2020, 02:05
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Skilly, William Cable ltd were the NZ Manufacturing agents for Cochran of Annan packaged fire tube boilers and were a competitor to Babcock and John Thompson in the late fifties to early seventies .
Their sales engineer then was Bill Poteous , once an engineer on the Union Co ship MV Hauraki which was captured by a Japanese raider during WW2 , Bill a good friend of mine was the subject of an old post of mine "Bill, a Marine Engineer" which prompted contacts that allowed me to gather together contributions for my account "MV Hauraki a World War Two story" posted on the Union Steamship threads .
I left Babcock in 1976 to work for Cable Price Corporation Engineering division as Auckland Manager when Bill was Mechanical product manager for CPC in Wellington.
CPC were the NZ agents for Brook Marine of Lowestoff who had supplied the off shore fishery protection Boats that were controversial and I got involved when the Brook Chief Draftsman came to NZ to attend an enquiry into the craft's non performance . Interesting days .
Were you involved with these replacements for the 72 foot HDMLs ?

Bob
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  #19  
Old 7th June 2020, 07:22
Rosels Rosels is offline  
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The Banning press was a German war reparation item, it still had some war wounds on it. Was a great part of the workshop to linger in during cold winter months when they were heating up the dish plates. When dirty dirty old Sir Ron Brierly sold off all the CPD assets the press was left behind in the building and a great engineering company (William Cables) was gone
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  #20  
Old 7th June 2020, 07:58
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The same dirty old Sir Ron did his damage to to many engineer merchants over the years mostly asset stripping to obtain the real estate to build up his treasury .
John Chambers was one of the first , Morris Bkack was another , cables , Cable Price Corp , Andrews and Bevan, and Paykels .

Bob
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  #21  
Old 7th June 2020, 18:38
Steve Hodges Steve Hodges is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spongebob View Post
Steve, we installed two of these boilers in the then Lever Brithers factory in Wellington. As you say, about three feet of workable water level and perhaps four foot long water gauges . During light loads the boiler would continue to fire at a high rate as a high capacity feed pump flooded it up to the top gauge limit. When the peak demand came on, the feed pump switched off and that huge volume of stored water was available as steam by the addition of only enough energy to effect the latent heat of evaporation , the water mass in the shell being right up to the blood.
Come the valley load after a process run , in went the rapid top up of water to be heated for the next peak.
The burners spent most of the time at high fire .
A brilliant idea but it was dependant on the process being cyclic with peaks and valleys that suited boiler capacity range .
In Levers case , the processes changed and when full steam output was called for all day the unit had to operate like a normal fire tube boiler .
This was in the early sixties and the concept lost its gloss as we never found another suitable process load application again.
Re the puverised coal firing , using the adapted Alfred Herbert Attritor ?
You dodged a bullet there Steve, but that's another story

Bob
Yes Bob, I'm pretty sure I did dodge a bullet there, but I am embarrassed to say I was quite keen on the idea at the time.Ignorance is bliss! Pulverised coal would have been supplied by road tanker into a silo, and blown into the boilerhouse. We had replaced the original burners with Hamworthy triple-fuel burners which would run on fuel oil or natural gas or pulverised coal. Gas would have been best but we needed a bigger gas main to the factory, and it never happened. When I left they were still burning medium fuel oil, and I think they did so till the place closed down.
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  #22  
Old 8th June 2020, 17:06
skilly57 skilly57 is offline
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Bob, re your question in Post#18, I went to the Golden Bay Cement ships in 1972, so was long gone when the Paxman-powered Brook Marine boats arrived. Must've done alright on the cement ships as Rosels (Post#19) father (the marine super, AGS) never sacked me!
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