R/O to ETO - Ships Nostalgia
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R/O to ETO

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  #1  
Old 22nd December 2019, 14:44
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J. Davies J. Davies is online now  
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R/O to ETO

It has been very quiet lately on here .

I was wondering how many of us took the leap from R/O to ETO when the writing was on the wall thirty or more years ago, and what kind of experiences you had if so. Here I have not sent a commercial Morse message since 1987, but been employed ever since. There must be other survivors Shirley?

John
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  #2  
Old 22nd December 2019, 16:31
Engine Serang Engine Serang is offline  
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Oh there's plenty of them but they all hanker to be out of the boiler suit and back with a shirt and epaulettes.
And don't call me Surely.
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  #3  
Old 22nd December 2019, 17:07
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Varley Varley is offline   SN Supporter
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An opportunity to replace the nearly always trade based E/O with a technician with a base education in electrical technicianship was largely wasted (and do not for a moment think that I am looking down on the hard working E/Os of old - or of complaining that they were all without the further education that made the job a doddle). Murphy rejected the idea although some other, more forward thinking Union reps., in particular George Mochrie must have honourable mentions. I claim that I invented the term ETO. A claim made also by George. He, unfortunately is dead, which gives him little chance to argue the point.

The interim - between the limited turning out of ECOs and the idea taking traction - was an odd place. Owners had no idea what we were for but hoped for an R/O who would not start drinking until dinner time rather than before breakfast (how disappointed they must have been in that aspect of my service). College gave us a good few extra tools (particularly in the realm of reactive power) but we had nowhere to preen our new feathers unless Leckie invited assistance (certainly not more than half, and clearly there was no room for both on most tonnage. Where such tonnage did exist it would have been far more sensible to satisfy the workload with an assistant rank with further schooling/experience to gain before sailing singly).

Then there was the selection of those going back to college. Teaching and demonstrating how and why a main breaker operated or how current and power changed when the college alternator was paralleled to the grid and reacted differently to changes in excitation and fuel was wasted on those who had no intention of working on anything where the AVO read above 24 V or 1000 mA.

I had a very satisfactory result when recruiting youngsters still in the R/O college years/ Promising and interesting job with genuine prospects of achieving 2.5 rings and salary (perhaps that last was optimistic but certainly 2 rings).The key being that they had not learned any bad habits by a couple of years sitting on their backsides and getting relatively well paid and well relieved for their pains.

With few but honourable exceptions recruiting from the then existing R/O stock was disappointing (not to mention depressing). Whether E-S wrote that tongue in check, so to speak, it is not altogether unfair.

What rankles still is that when Eurofreighter went to be re-engine, on the recommendations of the Chief and Old Man I applied for and got an E/O's position. Zero seniority. Nick Dunbar (one of the few others successfully then to "cross the plates") was approached by Denholm to do the same. The bugger was offered a year's seniority.

I will now retire with my tin hut to the wine cellar.

Last edited by Varley; 23rd December 2019 at 00:30..
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  #4  
Old 22nd December 2019, 20:19
Engine Serang Engine Serang is offline  
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I have never sailed on a ship which had an ETO, that's why I can talk so knowledgeably about them.
I have employed many of them and found very few of them to be resentful of their new employment indeed many relished working in a team. This naturally included the camaraderie of the pour-out after a breakdown or Field Day.
As control systems moved towards electronics rather than pneumatics and became more sophisticated and complicated (difficult), having an ETO was a godsend.
STCW can be discussed early in the New Year.
John keeping in employment is the name of the game, congrats.

ps I don't have a wine cellar but there's space in the Utility between the washing machine and the deep freeze for a few bottles.

Last edited by Engine Serang; 22nd December 2019 at 20:24..
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  #5  
Old 22nd December 2019, 21:44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Varley
I will now retire with my tin hut to the wine cellar.
Recollect going to dinner in Rosebank outside Jo'burg.
Waiter arrives at the table with red wine in an ice bucket.
The obvious was asked.
Came the reply:
"Our wine cellar is a tin hut out the back. The a/c has failed so the wine is about the temperature of tea!"

Agreeing nods all round
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  #6  
Old 22nd December 2019, 23:10
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Post GMDSS in 92(?) BP tankers proposed to merge the R/O and E/O ranks into the new position of ETO. I seem to recall this meant a loss in seniority for both sets hence why it was resisted.
Latterly we had ETO(R) and ETO(E) ranks which reflected the background of the individual, and indeed some ships carried one of each until circa 1999 when they all simply became ETO.
All BP ETOs - regardless of background - did however have a GMDSS ticket as per company policy, this being because their muster position was on the bridge handling external communications.
In an unusual display of clear thinking, head office realised that in an emergency it was naive in the extreme to think that the Master and 3rd mate could possibly cope with dealing with the actual emergency as well as having to play 20 questions with every Tom, Dick and Harry ashore by RT or satellite telephone, as is sadly the way of the modern world.
Just a pity so many other companies were not as sensible.
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  #7  
Old 22nd December 2019, 23:55
duncs duncs is offline  
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I never applied for an ETOs job and was happy as an RO. However, I was working for an agency and was pushed into it. I did have suitable qualifications.
I had to give up around '92, due to health problems. I worked in a number of jobs after that, house wiring, repairing washing machines, TVs, computers, night vision equipment and much more.
About 15 years ago I got the chance of a job as a nightwatchman/pierhand, I jumped at it. Happy to be back on ships, though not on articles, but as a shoresider. My RO/ETO days seem like a previous lifetime.
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  #8  
Old 23rd December 2019, 11:27
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MRGC was a suitable qualification. In the kingdom of the uncertificated a grudging pass is king. Not that a year back at school did not help (A month with Mr. Innes however would have been adequate for solving the problems of a ship rather than of the examination room). It was rarely the certificated level of learning that was at issue. Just the enthusiasm to use it. A month at East Ham Depot taught me that that lack of enthusiasm could often be seen glowing brightly in the radio room without any wider expectation.

The essential underpinning knowledge is modest. The key however is "essential".

(One or two youngsters occasionally ask "How do you DO that?" my response is that "If it wasn't easy then I couldn't do it").
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  #9  
Old 23rd December 2019, 13:41
Gordon L Smeaton Gordon L Smeaton is offline  
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Served at sea from 1966 through to 2012 firstly as R/O then REO to ERO to ETO, served on tankers, to emergency support vessel, saturation dive tech, dp Tech, cable layer, LNG and construction vessel.
Was sent on a marine electronics course in Plymouth early 70's and went back mid 70's to complete the MNTB electonics. Attended various courses over the intervening years mainly HV protection and HV Isolation. I enjoyed the transition from the radio room/nav equipment to looking after the ships electronics irrespective of where it was fitted, suppose I enjoyed the challenge of something new, was always confident if I had a decent manual then I could figure out how it worked and therefore repair it or identify the required part. Also was fairly competent in hydraulic systems, looking after gangways and offshore cranes assisting engineers in fault location. Would not however relished the necessity to do a 4th engs ticket as most of the ships I was on the ETO was a full time job anyway.
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  #10  
Old 23rd December 2019, 17:00
P.Arnold P.Arnold is offline
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Eco

In 73/74 at Plymouth Tech
There were several R/Os from BP who did a 3 month course and us from Marconi on the 6 month course which ended with C & G exams and the MNTB cert. To be honest, very little in that 6 months course prepared me for what I was to do 12 months later.
In the meantime I joined Mobil, were the ‘cert was regarded as PMG plus, for a choice R/O. (No derogatory comments E S!!)
I then joined Globtik Tokyo, were once again it felt as if the ‘cert was an enhancement of my existing qualification, rather than a new one.
On both vessels I do not recall attending to anything outside of my R/O duties.
However, joining Denholms GTVs, in 75, changed that. I had a junior R/O whose duty was in the Radio room, and me on day work with the other engineers. I did enjoy it, as has been said before, being part of a team.
What did disappoint me was that with a rare exception none of the ‘juniors’ showed any interest in being an ECO, as it was then.
I left 18 months later, another story.
The following 10 years in servicing, I was in daily contact with R/Os, very few showing any interest in anther career, despite the writing on the bulkhead.
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  #11  
Old 23rd December 2019, 18:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Davies View Post
It has been very quiet lately on here .

I was wondering how many of us took the leap from R/O to ETO when the writing was on the wall thirty or more years ago, and what kind of experiences you had if so. Here I have not sent a commercial Morse message since 1987, but been employed ever since. There must be other survivors Shirley?

John
I'm not an R/O, but I am a John Davies! Pleased to meet you
Not many of us around---you are the first I've met as far as I can remember.

John
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  #12  
Old 25th December 2019, 07:40
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Troppo2 Troppo2 is offline
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Originally Posted by James_C View Post
In an unusual display of clear thinking, head office realised that in an emergency it was naive in the extreme to think that the Master and 3rd mate could possibly cope with dealing with the actual emergency as well as having to play 20 questions with every Tom, Dick and Harry ashore by RT or satellite telephone, as is sadly the way of the modern world.
Just a pity so many other companies were not as sensible.
EXACTLY!

This is where the whole GMDSS concept and execution falls flat....but the GMDSS was always about getting rid of people.
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  #13  
Old 26th December 2019, 00:02
Baulkham Hills Baulkham Hills is offline  
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I made the transition in the late 80's but it was some crazy system of 4 hours engine room and 4 hours radio room, but I did learn a lot. Then in the early 90's I went back to an r/o job with a different company because the money was fantastic, I did not enjoy it and the writing was on the wall as so many Deck officers having a GMDSS cert took pleasure in telling me. I finally went full ETO after a few years and obtained a combined 4th class eng cert. (big deal some would say) but my subsequent employers were quite impressed, I knew the systems very well (being on ships before the internet or sat tv I used to read all the equipment manuals) and I enjoyed fault finding and keeping equipment working well. I was never more than two weeks between jobs until I retired. I certainly wish I could have transitioned earlier.

Last edited by Baulkham Hills; 26th December 2019 at 01:20..
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  #14  
Old 27th December 2019, 07:23
gordonarfur gordonarfur is offline
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Thanks for all this info about eto whatever that is but not really of interest to me as it sounds like black gang work. Of far more interest to me is what were the requirements for R/O,s to transition to 4th mate when w/t finished, where was it done how long was the process etc? and did many take up this option?
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  #15  
Old 27th December 2019, 07:29
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Originally Posted by gordonarfur View Post
Thanks for all this info about eto whatever that is but not really of interest to me as it sounds like black gang work. Of far more interest to me is what were the requirements for R/O,s to transition to 4th mate when w/t finished, where was it done how long was the process etc? and did many take up this option?
In Oz, we were offered the options of a golden handshake or retraining for 2nd mate's cert (i.e. 3rd mate's job).

I took the money and ran, but I had done the 100 hrs of bridge understudy, etc, as I was very interested in retraining.

A friend took the deck option, and he eventually got command. He came ashore and became a harbour pilot.

I sometimes wonder if I should have stayed at sea, as I quite liked being a makey learnie mate....but I had a young family and had been at sea for 11 years already.

Last edited by Troppo2; 27th December 2019 at 07:32..
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  #16  
Old 27th December 2019, 11:44
Baulkham Hills Baulkham Hills is offline  
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Originally Posted by gordonarfur View Post
Thanks for all this info about eto whatever that is but not really of interest to me as it sounds like black gang work. Of far more interest to me is what were the requirements for R/O,s to transition to 4th mate when w/t finished, where was it done how long was the process etc? and did many take up this option?
There was a conversion course at South Shields (I think) and twice I was given the option to change but it never appealed to me, having done some watches I found it was like watching paint dry. No comradeship just putting the hours in before my relief came up. I knew an r/o on the ferries who did it and then went with the RFA, so it suited some people.

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  #17  
Old 27th December 2019, 12:00
spaarks spaarks is offline  
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After 6 years in BP, I worked as R/O in Cable & Wireless Marine from 1971 to 1975 - a great job with lots of electronics such as hydrographic survey equipment like sidescan fish and sub bottom profilers. Great Conditions of Service, and the repair ships spent half the time in port!

In 1985 I transferred kicking and screaming from the Radio Department to the Subsea Department, as 'Assistant ROV Pilot' on SCARAB, which was based in a shed in Vigo. I was promised it would only be for three months. After a few weeks I phoned HR and said I'd like to stay! Great team atmosphere and I learnt a lot in that shed and read the manuals from cover to cover!

The ROVs were operated mostly by Cable Engineers at the time, but they were in short supply! In the '80's we took on quite a few trainees straight out of Marine Radio School, there not being a lot of R/O jobs going.

After less than a year I was promoted to 'Deputy Pilot' (seond-in-command) for my first operational job, on the Leon Thevenin. Half way through the job the 'Chief Pilot' baled out due to problems at home, and I got bumped up to 'Acting Chief Pilot'. Thanks Jeff!

For the next job I was confirmed as Chief Pilot, which came with three stripes and a big pay increase. Trainee to top in about two years! I guess I happened to be in the right place at the right time.
I stayed in the Subsea Department until I took 'Voluntary' redundancy in 2003 when the Company downsized due to the bursting of the dot com bubble. I got out at the right time, as by then the job had started to go downhill a bit. I imagine it is still a great job though.

PS - SCARAB is on display in the Maritime Museum.
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  #18  
Old 27th December 2019, 15:48
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Who was in charge of the young lady's controls Denis?
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Old 29th December 2019, 09:44
Sparkie_Fung Sparkie_Fung is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Davies View Post
It has been very quiet lately on here .

I was wondering how many of us took the leap from R/O to ETO when the writing was on the wall thirty or more years ago, and what kind of experiences you had if so. Here I have not sent a commercial Morse message since 1987, but been employed ever since. There must be other survivors Shirley?

John
Thanks for the many posts and sharing. I must say the closest touch I had with EO was over 40 years ago!

I was trained with MRGC in 1974 and then got Maritime Electronics Dip, High Dip and Radar Cert from Brunnel TC, Bristol in 1976 after one year at sea. Indo-China SN didn't have an official job title for EO so I was considered as REO doing mainly RO jobs plus "helping" the Leaky after my Dip (plus C&G). For two years, my involvement was mainly out of interest and out of boredom while in port, and the company wanted to try how REO can fit into the system. I went back to a undergraduate course in Maritime Technology at UWIST, Cardiff from 1978-1981; follow by a Master Degree in 1981-82. Indo-China took me on for three months in 1979 but I was let go after that (was it a recession at that time?). I then got another three months over the holiday with Marconi in the summer of 1980 and that was the last of my sea days. I also worked as a shore based technician for Marconi in HK for three months before went to study in UWIST in 1978. I must say I did see "writing on wall" for the role of RO to be phased out, although it took 20 years for it to happen. I took on a teaching job in Department of Nautical Studies, Singapore Polytechnic in 1982 and tried to launch a Marine EO program but it never got through. Subsequently, I was transferred to the Electronic and Communication Engineering Department, and then migrated to AUS for a PhD. I then changed my career to become a faculty member for thirty years...

I now spend my time on cruises and I hope to clock up more sea days on cruises than my former working sea-days. All in all, i must say electronics and computers have changed the ships forever and I am glad I made the switch. Some of my ex classmates or colleagues stayed and made as much money as possible before retirement. Some have gone into technical field, mainly telecommunication, radio and wireless (some were in high demand when mobile phone industry was first launched...)

In summary, I may only have experienced a short glimpse of sea life and the early REO days, I must say it has been a rewarding experience and mother ocean has treated me well... I now spend more time to study my next cruises and the dining venues plus entertainment features on the ships.... Ahoy!

Happy New Year!

Lance
Perth, WA, Australia
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Old 29th December 2019, 09:47
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Who was in charge of the young lady's controls Denis?
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  #21  
Old 29th December 2019, 10:02
Engine Serang Engine Serang is offline  
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Haven't seen a Shirley like that for years.
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  #22  
Old 30th December 2019, 08:38
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I qualified with 2nd class in 1960, and went to sea in early 61. First Class in 1962, and Radar in 1968. Then walked out of the Advanced Marine Electronic Course at Southampton College of Technology in 1973 after the first three months of the course. I realised that it didn't matter how much I applied myself to my studies, it was completely and utterly beyond me. At that time, I was 2nd R/O in Pendennis Castle, and had never had any problems in servicing any of the equipment in our care, transmitters, receivers, radar and PA systems. I was just no good academically, and 1st Class and Radar were the absolute limit of my scholastic capabilities. Also, I was very happy being a passenger ship R/O with short voyages, excellent food, and good company. On walking out of the course, I decided that never again would I go to college, or study any form of electronic theory, and would fudge along with practical ability, and go for "results" rather than academic qualifications. I was told by the principal that I had thrown my career away, and would become a failure. After I announced this to head office, they made me relieving Electronics Inspector in Southampton where I dealt with the mailships and cargo ships in Southampton and the Bristol Channel area. After three months of it, during which time I had had no trouble with the job, I asked to return to sea. I was sent to Bilbao to stand by the radio/radar refit of Good Hope Castle that had been burned out a year before, and then sailed in her for about two years as senior R/O (Two of them). During this time, I began to make plans for leaving the sea, making sure that it would have nothing whatsoever to do with modern electronics, but would be maritime-based. The initial plan was to build model ships, and start writing. When the company decided they were getting out of shipping in 1977, I left for Silver Line who showed no interest in sending me to college, and were a very good company to work for. The only thing I really disliked was they flying. My three Silver Line ships were one four-year-old bulker, followed by a newbuild at Cammell Lairds, and finally a brand new cargo liner fresh out from Hiroshima. My next big break came in 1979 when I was asked to join Curnow Shipping in the RMS St Helena that had taken over the Union-Castle Cape Mail contract. Two R/Os did one trip on, one trip off, and whoever was on leave took the place of a "radio consultant" in the complete absence of a radio department ashore in "Head Office." This was fantastic, and we both had a more-or-less free hand in the shipboard communications and servicing, ordering of new equipment etc, and even jointly installed a teleprinter system on the company's 400 ton tanker Bosun Bird, merely on our suggestion. This fantastic situation carried on for 11 years until the old ship wore out, and was replaced by the brand new RMS St Helena, in 1990, that only went out of service last year. By that time, the writing was very much on the wall, and feeling fully prepared, I was able to take voluntary redundancy at the end of 1992. So the predications that I had "thrown away" my career in 1973, were wrong, as I survived almost 20 years after that, ending up on what was to become a very famous passenger liner with all the very latest electronics aboard. By that time, I was putting more hours work in per day than in all my previous sea time. 8 hours a day in the radio room, and between that, sorting out electronic systems all over the ship (Video machines, fire alarms, computers, PA system, Satcoms etc etc). Over 260 model ships have been built and sold since then, and Shelterdeck Publishing registered in 2014 with printed books and e-books on maritime matters .shipmodelling, and vintage radio, being published continually. This has proved to be the best of both worlds, because I am still connected with the sea, but have none of the disadvantages of being there. I was never cursed by ambition, and was quite happy as an R/O, but I now enjoy the freedom of being my own boss to the extent that I am still working, and enjoying it at the age of 75. I seldom earn even the minimum wage, but as Stan Rogers says in the song "But I am free, and that makes me, an idiot, I suppose" https://youtu.be/_LhkW4Rcbiw
Bob
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  #23  
Old 30th December 2019, 09:33
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Shipbuilder, sounds good to me. Beautiful models and chassis (MF superhet?).
I only had enough sea time to sit Part A of my 2nd Class before leaving.
I was looking at a LOT of study in either IBM or a power station when the idea of military flying was planted. Plus point was they supplied all the training.
My Flt Cdr didn't share my belief that I was OK at officer and aviation techy things and we had a one-sided interview.
Bas: "But some of the others have degrees, Sir."
FC: "Yes, Basil, and you should hear the bollockings THEY get!"
Bas: "Yes Sir."

Until this thread started, I was unaware of the RO>ETO step and imagined that things had continued roughly as before.

Last edited by Basil; 30th December 2019 at 09:35..
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  #24  
Old 30th December 2019, 16:18
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Thanks,
Not a superhet. 3 valve TRF. The screening cans (stainless steel saltsellers), contain the RF coils and the detector/reaction coils.
Bob
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  #25  
Old 31st December 2019, 10:18
Riccarton Riccarton is offline  
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An interesting discussion. In 1964, having been since 1957 a 2R/O and 1R/O with Brocklebank, I decided things were changing and further education was a possible route. That year I started an HND in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at PaisleyCT. Interesing a fellow student had been a seagoing Electrical Officer.
During the second year ofmy course I had two articles published in the ROU magazine setting out a propsed syllabus for an HND E&E course that would also satisfy PMG requirements.
An HND route did eventually appear for which I was an SQA External Assessor at what was Jewel & Esk Valley College, having subsumed Leith Nautical College.
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