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From the first time I set foot in the ER I remember the 3rd Engineer's voice saying the biggest sin of a engineer was to 'Black The Ship Out''

After a couple a day watches learning the ropes I was put on my first generator watch. We were alongside Wellington on the Corinthic. She had 4 x 6cylinder British Polar Gensets.

There was only one running so temperatures were running near the top. All night every 30 minutes I would check them. Knowing that anything over 840 degF was to high. One cylinder crept over this magic number and I alerted the 'Night Aboard"

Gees was he grumpy. No doubt suffering from the party earlier on. He came down looked at the temperature and commented that the temperature gauge was faulty.

Some years later and I had joined BP Tankers and was on British Osprey heading out through the 'Straits of Hormaz. We had trouble with diesel generator carbonizing up. I had earlier rebuilt one and during the night 12-4 watch went to lower the chain block from above a running generator.

Suddenly the rope broke and the falling chain block broke the fuel supply to the diesel. The ER lights dimmed and and by the time they had gone out I had stopped the main engine and headed for the next generator. Bugger it was not not barred over to the start position. The emergency ER Lights were pathetic and after finding the bar was able to move the diesel into start position.

All this time the captain was at the top of the engine room giving us the hard word.

With ten minutes of losing power we were back under way but the **** I received about "Blacking the Ship Out " took sometime to live down.
 

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Hello Ray,
Although I had long forgotten saying them, I am pleased you remember my wise words. I am proud to say that I never had a blackout in a Shaw Savill ship. Those old Polars had their faults, but they were reliable plodders. Who was grumpy? The chap who still lives nearby Wellington?
Your other post today, on the subject of boilersuits brought a smile to my face.
"grundies." How long ago was it that I last heard that word? 1965?
To celebrate I have posted a photo of Corinthic in her prime, just before the axe fell. Keep well.
 

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Homeward bound from West Africa in 1959, on the North Cornwall.
4 cylinder Doxford, steam auxiliaries and engine driven pumps.......

One evening not long after I’d come on watch, the main switchboard breaker tripped, and everything blacked out.
After an hour or so, we got everything back to normal and pressed on, but the following evening the same thing happened, and after much head scratching the Old Man and the Chief decided the power failure coincided with switching on the radar at dusk, and as there was nobody aboard experienced to repair the radar fault, came up with this solution.

When the Third Mate was about to switch on the radar he’d telephone me. I’d go to the main switchboard and physically hold the main breaker in. Once the radar was up and running, he’d give a swift tinkle on the engine-room telegraph to say all was well.
 

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On port watches as J/E the only saving grace was to get the Genny back on line before any other engineer got to the Bottom Plates. I usually made it.

On one of the UASC K class at about 10pm in port I had just done a few small jobs (Pulled a ME Cylinder head or some such) and sat down on the bottom plates with a cup of coffee.
Suddenly the Turbo on the only running Genny screamed, and with a clunk from the switchboard we were plunged into total darkness. - After hours of not working cargo, hence only one Genny, the 2/O had decided to fire up the Stulken Derrick to do a heavy lift, with out warning the engine room.
I immediately jumped out of the chair - causing my yellow torch with the 90deg head to fly out of my leg pocket and with a splosh it flew into the bilges. Oh Bol****! And that's how I stood in absolute blackness until one of the other engineers came down (with a torch) to see what was going on and why I hadn't got the power back on.
 

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Oh so long ago

Reading about the Corinthic and her Polar generators I was on genny watch and was told to shut down the Port aft genr. when cargo was completed for the night. Up to the switch board (DC) took the genny off load wandered back onto the bottom plates und up to the generator and shut down the engine. Oh dear it was the Port Forward a big Kiwi 2nd joined me on the plates in the dark and(Cloud) sorted things out cost me a few beers that night :mad:(Cloud)
 

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As a second trip junior on The MV Arabic I was on the 8-12 with the 4/E After the Bridge rang full away and the standby crowd left, the Fourth after writing something in the log book said i'm heading up to shut down the donkey boiler and i will take the Starboard aft genny off the board i'll bang on the plates twice then you can shut it down as the Third needs to do some work on it on his watch, okay said I. I heard the double bang and stopped the Stb Aft generator and a few seconds later i was in total darkness.The Standby engineers were still in the changing room and we got everything sorted fairly quickly, Then the blame game began you shut down the wrong Genny said the 4/E I told you the Starboard Forward no you didnt said I, yes I did said he. The second who was filling in the Log Book happened to notice the last entry before the blackout and said hey L****(name withheld to protect the guilty) you have entered the STBd AFt Generator off @2100 Hrs and on the blackboard was a reminder from the 3/E that the Port Fwd was to be the Standby genny after full away, as he had work to do on the STBd Aft.You beauty vindication by 2
 

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Continuing the nostalgic cruise in Corinthic. Ray's post#1 related to the penultimate passenger voyage. For the final passenger voyage I was promoted to 2nd and about a week out of London remember having a curious conversation with the 5th who was on his first voyage with Shaw Savill having transferred from Shell Tankers.
We were having a Smoko chat towards the end of the watch when the 5th asked me when we were going to have a blackout, as we had already been at sea for a week! I replied with a lecture along the lines set out by Ray in post #1 . However, it didn't have the desired effect as no sooner had we finished our tea the 5th climbed the twin ladders up to the top of the ER trunk where the diesel service tanks were located. Fortunately I had watched him making his way up and knew that he was changing tanks when the Polars slowed and the lights started dimming. I got up those long ladders just in time to get one of tank outlet valves open again before the generators stalled.
The 5th was standing there oblivious to what he had just done/not done. I had to repeat my lecture a little more forcibly and carried out some intensive on the job re-training. Got through to him this time and managed to continue my blackout free career, but it had been a very close call.
 

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I had to black out the Companion . A Stena Bulk U.L.C.C (ex Sea Song ) intentionally, when the AVR failed on the turbo alternator and the voltage had gone " off the clock" took me a while to work out, what the hell was going on ! I couldn't parallel one of the Hedamora diesel generators. Motors were tripping left ,right and centre. the instrumentation system was electro\pneumatic and was going berserk ! I finally twigged what was going on and blacked the ship out so I could put the diesel on the board ! Our problems didn't end there ! a couple of motors had burnt out on the vent fans and fuses blown on the instrumentation system. As to the Hedamora diesel generators. I soon learnt to hate them, as we had to run the 2 of them to continue on passage. Because we soon discovered that one had some faulty gearing and kept operating the overspeed trip, even tho it wasn't overspeeding ! Once it tripped the other generator couldn't take full load as it would trip on high cooling water temp. This generator had been scheduled to have it's coolers cleaned, Before the trip went to hell on a handcart !(EEK)
We limped into the Bahamas after numerous blackouts on the way there. Much to my relief as the repair squad with much needed spares were waiting for us!
 

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Blacked ship out while in London docks explaining to new 2nd lecky how things worked some spoke to me not realising I had moved on a step old D.C. switchboard open board and tripped genny back on in a minute. Always made sure in future never move.
 

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Cross-Channel ferry 4th Eng set the purifier to the wrong day tank , generator ran out of fuel , lights went out , everything stopped , changed day tank over all restarted , lots of egg on lots of faces
 

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First trip on Shell tanker Valvata I was on watch on the 12-4.3/E instructed me to cut back drain lines on fwd T/A that was supplying power to the main switchboard.The only tool available at the time was a haxesaw,Unfortunately on the upward stroke the haxesaw blade broke and my arm shot up and tripped the T/A.Ran over and initiated the engineer's alarm.All the engineers were soon present rather bleary eyed as it was 0230hrs in the morning.I had to admit it was all my fault and the C/E was relieved that it was human error and not mechanical breakdown.In the end cost me a case of beer,still vividly remember the incident 45 years ago
 

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Cross-Channel ferry 4th Eng set the purifier to the wrong day tank , generator ran out of fuel , lights went out , everything stopped , changed day tank over all restarted , lots of egg on lots of faces
Also on a cross channel ferry, 4th Engineer put some air into the fuel system buffer tank. When back in the control room he was asked to assure the questioner that he hadn’t put too much air in. “Of course not, do you think I’m from the planet Zog? “ came the reply, just as the generators stopped, thus proving that they wouldn’t run on air. Naturally said 4th was known as Zog thereafter.
 

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British Light had a regular knack of loosing the electrics around tea time. TA's would trip with no apparent cause and the Ansaldo diesel was a pain to start but with "easy start" usually/eventually did the trick.
 

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It was once explained to me by a very patient Chief Engineer that there was no such thing as a 'blackout' on a ship.

There was either a 'browndown'

or

'A temporary withdrawal of electrical power in order to provide maintenance for an unpredictable event.'

(Smoke)
 

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Not actually blacking out but stopping the job. As a first trip apprentice I was tasked with removing a boiler fuel pump from it’s bedplate to take to the workshop for overhaul. This involved standing over the running pump which didn’t have a guard over the coupling. (This was Texaco Overseas Tankship, a pretty crap company that ran some pretty crap, run down ships in the early sixties). Inevitably the left leg of my boilersuit was ripped off and became wrapped round the coupling. It became necessary to stop the turbine so that we could shut all the burners off, stop the pump, removed the boilersuit leg, start the pump, and reignite the burners while we still had enough steam pressure to keep the 220 volt dynamo running. Afterwards I was asked by the Chief what I would do differently next time. Apparently ‘Not go anywhere near a pump without a coupling guard’ was the wrong answer! Caltex Perth, about 1963.
 

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I once got bollocked by the Chief on a jack-up rig for 'not looking serious enough' as we were about to black out :) (Influx of mussel shells had blocked everything!)
 

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Norvegia Team. Earth on tacho generator line (as it turned out) was causing an infrequent false run signal to the NEBB 'Startomat'. A quirk in its logic meant that this emulated a start command.

This generator therefore was sometimes found running without anyone having pressed the button.

I was busy tracking this down before lunch and had zeroed in on the logic fault and the implications of the tacho signal and had been pulling out and in the speed input card. With the generator stopped of course.

After lunch I continued where I had left off, stupidly not noticing the subject generator was now running and on load. By itself. When I pulled out the card with the tacho input again. The logic behaved more logically and opened the main breaker.

Case of beer. And friendly education from Rab Houston on thermal shock and that liners and heads had been known to crack due to such events.
 

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Sister Ship

First trip on Shell tanker Valvata I was on watch on the 12-4.3/E instructed me to cut back drain lines on fwd T/A that was supplying power to the main switchboard.The only tool available at the time was a haxesaw,Unfortunately on the upward stroke the haxesaw blade broke and my arm shot up and tripped the T/A.Ran over and initiated the engineer's alarm.All the engineers were soon present rather bleary eyed as it was 0230hrs in the morning.I had to admit it was all my fault and the C/E was relieved that it was human error and not mechanical breakdown.In the end cost me a case of beer,still vividly remember the incident 45 years ago
Jim was the Valvata a sister ship to the Vermetus Ex Eagle Oil ? If so the Vermetus had many Black outs due to the Gear driven extraction pumps, on the TA's Eventually they wetre replaced with Electric driven units.
 

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Norvegia Team. Earth on tacho generator line (as it turned out) was causing an infrequent false run signal to the NEBB 'Startomat'. A quirk in its logic meant that this emulated a start command.

This generator therefore was sometimes found running without anyone having pressed the button.

I was busy tracking this down before lunch and had zeroed in on the logic fault and the implications of the tacho signal and had been pulling out and in the speed input card. With the generator stopped of course.

After lunch I continued where I had left off, stupidly not noticing the subject generator was now running and on load. By itself. When I pulled out the card with the tacho input again. The logic behaved more logically and opened the main breaker.

Case of beer. And friendly education from Rab Houston on thermal shock and that liners and heads had been known to crack due to such events.
If the Norwegia Team was the same as the Scandia Team and the Sevonia Team then a standby Generator could start up take over full load and the original on load Generator shut Down without giving an alarm. This happened several times, the Office (Denholm Ship Management) would not believe it. Until it happened while a Supt was in the Engine Control Room with a first trip Apprentice. At the time the rest of the Engineers were working on the Main Engine Gotaverken on them all the time. The Supt sent the Apprentice out to ask the 2/E why the Generators changed over. The 2/E replied it can't happen the Office told us so. The Supt came storming up to my Cabin I was C/E at the time and stsrted to berate me and the Engineers. He was politely requested to call the Captain in. The Capt came in and I asked him to fetch the Official log book. I asked him to make the following entry. "After numerous reports about Generators changing over without giving alarms the Head Office has dictated this cannot happen It has again happened today with the Supt on board. Instead of trying to get to the bottom of the problem the Supt (and name ) has reprimanded the Engineers. This shows a lack of professionalism and as such I feel the Vessel is unseaworthy and refuse to sail until the fault is rectified" The Captain made the entry and sent a Telex to Head Office. two hours later we had four Electricians on board. They spent all night removing the PCB one by one. It turned out that the Switch board would overheat and upset the control settings. Extra ventilation was fitted and the issue rectified. At the end of the trip I was invited to the head Office and given a "Slap on the Wrist" It coincidently was my last trip with the Diamond D.
 

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P&O Bulk carrier Pytchley had a one-off power management system, with a mind of its own. you would notice the diesel gen off loading leaving turbo alone but never enough steam, and no matter what you tried it would end up with a blackout.
So called Chief and bridge and said we will be blacking out in a few minutes, switch on kettle. After shutdown all restarted ok and back to normal for a few days.
Dannic.
 
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