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As promised a story about a Doxford, they wouldn't believe today.

My 2nd trip as a Junior Engineer was with a 22 year old reefer ship with twin 67LBD6 Doxfords outward bound from King George V dock London fully loaded with general bound for New Zealand, to load frozen lamb for the UK. I was on the 8/12 with a ‘pool’ 4th and was the Junior Watchkeeper on the first leg to Panama.


We had just entered the Caribbean on the 8 -12 pm watch with 4th and was checking the bearings down the shaft tunnels (in those days one used the senses of touch, smell, sight and experience instead of electronics) when I heard a dull Clunk!! transmitted through the ship’s structure and amplified in the relative quietness of the tunnel. On reporting the sound to the 4th, was told he didn’t hear it, so not to worry.

Whilst turned in and having nightmares about scavenge fires, top and bottom piston cooling hoses letting go and fuel valves seizing up (we’d had our fair share of minor disasters to add to my experience since leaving the UK), the E.R. panic bell woke me. On arriving on the top plates bleary eyed there was No 4 Port top piston trying to squash its Exhaust Belt. (I never saw anything like that last trip with a H&W B&W four poster, nor was it covered in Pre-Sea Marine Course at Hull Technical College).

Following inspection in the crankcase of No 4 Port, it was found that the aft side rod palm bolts were missing, thus allowing the top piston to leave the cylinder.
The watches were changed to 6 on 6 off with 2 Electricians and 2 Refrigeration Engineers helping out during the day.

During dismantling, one of the Exhaust piston side rod bearing nuts could not be slackened with the supplied flogging spanner due to its position within the yoke and had to be chain drilled (Using the electricians aluminium cased Wolf pistol drill. With the high ambient and continuous use the electricians had to wear asbestos gloves) and split with a cold set and Monday morning hammer.

The top piston and main pistons were removed, everything else was blanked off that was required (cooling water, fuel, starting air, exhaust and scavenge air). Telegrams from the office suggested leaving as much running gear connected in the crankcase as possible, so both side and main connecting rods and crossheads were left in.

At Panama the promised help arrived, but most of the work had been done. Class carried out an inspection and dockside trials took place, following bunkers we set off again through the canal and back to normal watches. It was my turn to be day work Junior so helped the 2 mechanics scrape bearings for two of the Ruston generators.


Passing through the Caribbean No. 4 port top piston popped out of its liner. Ted the Bed was 2/E and he got us on 6 on 6 off to remove the wreckage, blanking off the unit but leaving all the cross heads in play. We had almost finished it when we arrived in Panama and they got shoreside on to complete it. We were back to twin screw but reduced power. Nine weeks on the Kiwi coast, six of them in Wellington in the winter. Class gave the unit a cursory look in Kiwi, probably never seen an engine like this before.

Passing through the Caribbean again No. 4 port, side rod crosshead came through the crankcase door, landing on one of the on load generators the mechanics and I had rebuilt outward bound, scraping in all the white metal bearings.
Ted had us remove the crosshead, rod, guides and blank off the side rod pin. We made a new crankcase door from timber and sheets of gasket material and started her up again, but not the generator, that was beyond hope and it had been the sweetest sounding generator we had.

It was an oil bath down the port side of that engine, the upper crankcase inspection ports (about 5” dia) had been opened to relieve some of the crankcase pressure to prevent the temporary door blowing out. Crankcase explosions did not come into the picture. Elf & Safety had not been invented.
We got back to the UK without blowing for a tug or sailing round in circles on one engine. The Port engine was a bit temperamental on going Astern dependant on where it stopped.
After discharge the company had us take it to Antwerp where they rebuilt the unit but not the generator.
The ship was sold to the Greeks to carry live sheep rather than frozen for a few years. It was recognised up the Gulf and the smell was disgusting if you was downwind.

Cause:

During the crankcase inspection prior to the voyage the loose top piston side rod palm bolt nut was not picked up (or could have been a unit that shoreside had done). The CLUNK must have been the nut or the bolt falling. Overnight the other bolt took all the strain and eventually let go.

One piston side rod was like a banana. There should be a photo if the system worked.

As the piston came out of the liner it changed the forces on the side rod crosshead guide starting a crack in the guides which eventually let go 2nd time in the Caribbean.


Considering everything that happened, there were no injuries. I was on watch when the side rod came out and had just been taking a genny log on that engine, one of the electricians had just passed by also. I was over on the Stbd side on another genny log when I heard or saw the flashing light for the ER Telegraph, a bit unusual middle of nowhere. There was Ted and the 3rd pulling back on the controls on both engines. Ted said to me ‘ rig a fire hose’ just in case. It was one of those early mornings that Ted the Bed happened to come down below before 9 am. A very rare occurrence.

The 4th liked his sauce too much, and one night watch he spent it lying on the ER plates drunk and asleep, so it was down to me to look after the job. Another afternoon he set his bunk on fire falling asleep drunk whilst smoking. Whilst bunkering in Panama opposite the yacht club at night his junior opened a valve to the overflow tank, went to get a beer and the tank overflowed. There was oil from front end of the bridge round aft of the accommodation to the other bridge front door, over the side and across to make a brown design on the white yacht hulls.

Many years later as a 2nd I sailed on another twin 6 Doxford but with the cav fuel valves, she ran like a top, apart from a bucket full of piston rings removed from the exhaust trunking at terminal ports. She went to scrap after that voyage and yet she performed well for an old ship whilst I was on there.
 

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Quick question - what ship & what year? It wasn't the Wharenui was it?
Something here rings a bell (but not the telegraph)
 

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Hi Sternchallis-Did her last two voyages under the "Big Blue Star". Although not without incident the M.E.s pretty much behaved, it was those nasty Rustons that caused us major problems! The one moment that did make an impression happened berthing in Cristobal, in ballast for Bluff, when the tug got under the counter and stopped the Port engine dead. As this was the one that threw a 'wobbly' the previous year telegraph was put to FWE from our end. A piece of the propeller was found on the tug rubbing strake which eventually led to all blades being cropped before we entered the canal and great peace of mind to all engineering staff! The "wellyboot" was sold in Sydney the following voyage and was handed over to the new owners early Dec. 1975
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Mvada, Yes those Rustons were a mess, particularly the crankshafts, they had a high point cir***ferential round the oil inlet, the rest of the pins were 10-15 thou smaller and I suppose once you get below the case hardening the wear increases quickly. The only good Ruston was Port Fwd and that took the brunt of 4 Port side rod. She'd had the crankshaft skimmed and undersize bearings supplied, they were all sizes. Whilst wewere working on Port Aft Ruston one of the oil union stubs broke off the main lube oil pipe, so Ted the Bed stuck it back on with Belzona or some type of steel cement out of a tin, and it worked. So when we were running it up for the first time after attempting to improve the bearing clearances, we had a hot bottom end and a really cool one. So Ted said swop the bearings between the pins. The mechanics and I looked at each other, and said yes Ted, and just gave the hot one another set of leads and a scrape and she ran ok after that.

The combined O/F Exh gas boiler burnt a hole through the combustion chamber casing as the fire bricks had fallen down, so in the coast Ted did his Bob the Builder act, sat in the combuston chamber and rebuilt the wall.
In 5 months I only saw him in uniform once, in whites with Empire builder shorts, wrinkled shirt that was rust stained, not a pretty sight. Even on the America Star I had the misfortune to sail with him again he never came into the saloon to eat. His stories were something else, claimed he courted Ava Gardner, and was also at Her Majesties Pleasure for GBH, because somebody asked him if he had been inside. Strange I had the same C/Eng each time I sailed with Ted, perhaps nobody would have him.
When I paid off the Brasilia Star as 2/E (a P type Doxford) who should relieve me but Ted, who took her to scrap.
Happy days. You don't learn enginering sat in a control room pushing buttons.
 

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sternchallis-Ah those Rustons-through the fog of age I seem to remember the remaining 3 all had at least one odd sized crankpin. The spares were clearly marked with size and where they were for. I heard much later that the Indian engineers who took her out for the new owners promptly mixed them up and had to call into Fremantle for a shore squad to sort it out! Just a thought but maybe the theme song her should be Meat Loafs "Two out of Three ain't bad" !
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ted took her sister ship Adelaide Star to scrap as well. Perhaps he became the permanent scrap voyage 2nd, as he took the Brasilia Star to scrap another Doxford and I am not sure about the Townsville Star (MAN), she must have been near her last sail by date as well when he was on it.

To see that the last of BSL Reefers built in Belfast go to scrap recently just because of low frieght rates rather than age, hull condition or failing insulation was quite sad. Yet there are still a few ships older than them around.
 

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As promised a story about a Doxford, they wouldn't believe today.

My 2nd trip as a Junior Engineer was with a 22 year old reefer ship with twin 67LBD6 Doxfords outward bound from King George V dock London fully loaded with general bound for New Zealand, to load frozen lamb for the UK. I was on the 8/12 with a ‘pool’ 4th and was the Junior Watchkeeper on the first leg to Panama.


We had just entered the Caribbean on the 8 -12 pm watch with 4th and was checking the bearings down the shaft tunnels (in those days one used the senses of touch, smell, sight and experience instead of electronics) when I heard a dull Clunk!! transmitted through the ship’s structure and amplified in the relative quietness of the tunnel. On reporting the sound to the 4th, was told he didn’t hear it, so not to worry.

Whilst turned in and having nightmares about scavenge fires, top and bottom piston cooling hoses letting go and fuel valves seizing up (we’d had our fair share of minor disasters to add to my experience since leaving the UK), the E.R. panic bell woke me. On arriving on the top plates bleary eyed there was No 4 Port top piston trying to squash its Exhaust Belt. (I never saw anything like that last trip with a H&W B&W four poster, nor was it covered in Pre-Sea Marine Course at Hull Technical College).

Following inspection in the crankcase of No 4 Port, it was found that the aft side rod palm bolts were missing, thus allowing the top piston to leave the cylinder.
The watches were changed to 6 on 6 off with 2 Electricians and 2 Refrigeration Engineers helping out during the day.

During dismantling, one of the Exhaust piston side rod bearing nuts could not be slackened with the supplied flogging spanner due to its position within the yoke and had to be chain drilled (Using the electricians aluminium cased Wolf pistol drill. With the high ambient and continuous use the electricians had to wear asbestos gloves) and split with a cold set and Monday morning hammer.

The top piston and main pistons were removed, everything else was blanked off that was required (cooling water, fuel, starting air, exhaust and scavenge air). Telegrams from the office suggested leaving as much running gear connected in the crankcase as possible, so both side and main connecting rods and crossheads were left in.

At Panama the promised help arrived, but most of the work had been done. Class carried out an inspection and dockside trials took place, following bunkers we set off again through the canal and back to normal watches. It was my turn to be day work Junior so helped the 2 mechanics scrape bearings for two of the Ruston generators.


Passing through the Caribbean No. 4 port top piston popped out of its liner. Ted the Bed was 2/E and he got us on 6 on 6 off to remove the wreckage, blanking off the unit but leaving all the cross heads in play. We had almost finished it when we arrived in Panama and they got shoreside on to complete it. We were back to twin screw but reduced power. Nine weeks on the Kiwi coast, six of them in Wellington in the winter. Class gave the unit a cursory look in Kiwi, probably never seen an engine like this before.

Passing through the Caribbean again No. 4 port, side rod crosshead came through the crankcase door, landing on one of the on load generators the mechanics and I had rebuilt outward bound, scraping in all the white metal bearings.
Ted had us remove the crosshead, rod, guides and blank off the side rod pin. We made a new crankcase door from timber and sheets of gasket material and started her up again, but not the generator, that was beyond hope and it had been the sweetest sounding generator we had.

It was an oil bath down the port side of that engine, the upper crankcase inspection ports (about 5” dia) had been opened to relieve some of the crankcase pressure to prevent the temporary door blowing out. Crankcase explosions did not come into the picture. Elf & Safety had not been invented.
We got back to the UK without blowing for a tug or sailing round in circles on one engine. The Port engine was a bit temperamental on going Astern dependant on where it stopped.
After discharge the company had us take it to Antwerp where they rebuilt the unit but not the generator.
The ship was sold to the Greeks to carry live sheep rather than frozen for a few years. It was recognised up the Gulf and the smell was disgusting if you was downwind.

Cause:

During the crankcase inspection prior to the voyage the loose top piston side rod palm bolt nut was not picked up (or could have been a unit that shoreside had done). The CLUNK must have been the nut or the bolt falling. Overnight the other bolt took all the strain and eventually let go.

One piston side rod was like a banana. There should be a photo if the system worked.

As the piston came out of the liner it changed the forces on the side rod crosshead guide starting a crack in the guides which eventually let go 2nd time in the Caribbean.


Considering everything that happened, there were no injuries. I was on watch when the side rod came out and had just been taking a genny log on that engine, one of the electricians had just passed by also. I was over on the Stbd side on another genny log when I heard or saw the flashing light for the ER Telegraph, a bit unusual middle of nowhere. There was Ted and the 3rd pulling back on the controls on both engines. Ted said to me ‘ rig a fire hose’ just in case. It was one of those early mornings that Ted the Bed happened to come down below before 9 am. A very rare occurrence.

The 4th liked his sauce too much, and one night watch he spent it lying on the ER plates drunk and asleep, so it was down to me to look after the job. Another afternoon he set his bunk on fire falling asleep drunk whilst smoking. Whilst bunkering in Panama opposite the yacht club at night his junior opened a valve to the overflow tank, went to get a beer and the tank overflowed. There was oil from front end of the bridge round aft of the accommodation to the other bridge front door, over the side and across to make a brown design on the white yacht hulls.

Many years later as a 2nd I sailed on another twin 6 Doxford but with the cav fuel valves, she ran like a top, apart from a bucket full of piston rings removed from the exhaust trunking at terminal ports. She went to scrap after that voyage and yet she performed well for an old ship whilst I was on there.
An amazing, character-forming story made the more remarkable by the fact that there were no injuries. You touched on the possibility of it being a unit done by shore squad. This always seemed to be a risk. I was 2/E on a twin 67LB6 job where a lot of work was done by LGD whilst were were in KG V. We were not allowed to oversee their work for fear of them walking off and ,as usual, it was a scramble to get boxed up before sailing time. We ran a 20 minute dock trial and about 22.00 hours sailed down the Thames for South Africa via Rotterdam and Las Palmas but it was wasn't too long before two units were making sounds that quickly caught our attention and no amount of extra cylinder oil improved things so we anchored off Southend. We quickly established that the shore quad had managed to transpose the pistons in two units and because of the strange shape the liners and pistons worn themselves into that didn't make for pair of smooth running units. We also found that the bottom piston spherical washers were locked. In the morning I went up on deck for a breather when a couple of passengers shouted down from the boat deck that we must had a good passage to arrive in Rotterdam so early. They look very bemused when I had to explain that the lights they could see weren't Rotterdam but Southend.
 
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