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Discussion Starter #1
The first 3 RFA Rover Class Small Fleet Tankers (Green, Grey & Blue) delivered from the former Hawthorn Leslie yard at Hebburn in 1969-70 were engined with twin V16 Ruston AO Medium Speed Diesels of 8,000 bhp each. Following unsatisfactory service with these engines the 3 ships were re-engined in the early 1970s.
I believe there were a number of merchant ships also engined with Ruston AOs amongst which were some for Lyle Shipping Co. Do any SN members have any knowledge of the Lyle ships and their fate?
Cheers
Alex
 

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Not sure about the vessels Alex but I do know about Ruston engines. I have sailed with Ruston RK engines which were a follow on from the AO range. Most Incat fast craft are fitted with either V16 or V20 RK's. They are a complete nightmare and very unreliable. If you were to spend a year with these engines, you'd probably see more failures in that time than you would with any other engine in a lifetime!
 

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A lot of the SD14's built in Sunderland had these engines fitted in the 70's, as generators, they were a nightmare, the aluminium pistons used to melt regularly if i remember right.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Moaf & Les,
I see only this morning from a website dedicated to English Electric Vulcan Works history that AO's were also fitted in the BR ferry St George and Reardon Smith's Welsh City.
There's no doubt lots of horror stories out there! Crankcase explosions were not uncommon; by the time the Graviner alarms came up the crankcase reliefs were lifting!
Cheers
alex
 

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Lyles, Hogarths and Lampberts of London, which made up Scottish Ship Management, all had ships with Ruston AO engines:

Cape Horn, Cape Hawke, Baron Ardrossan, Baron Inchcape, Baron Renfrew, Baron Wemyss, Temple Arch, Temple Bar, Temple Inn.

Huge problems with every ship. Baron Renfrew had a year in Brisbane! My three month projected trip on Baron Ardrossan lasted 11 months. An abiding memory is of the everlasting water restrictions and having to flush toilets with a bucket once a day (toilets were on fresh water and fresh water was manufactured on board if the engine was running (not all that often), there was very little storage capacity.The Engineers had even bigger nightmares!

Eventually, all the engines were replaced with Stork Werkspoors at Amsterdam. I left soon after that but did hear that they weren't that successful either.

John T.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks ever so much John,
That's amazing information. Must have been a feast for some shiprepairers on the re-engine contracts.
Cheers,
Alex
 

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moaf said:
Not sure about the vessels Alex but I do know about Ruston engines. I have sailed with Ruston RK engines which were a follow on from the AO range. Most Incat fast craft are fitted with either V16 or V20 RK's. They are a complete nightmare and very unreliable. If you were to spend a year with these engines, you'd probably see more failures in that time than you would with any other engine in a lifetime!
Hummm, might have to take the wipe to you my boy! how could anyone abuse such a fine mechanical dinosaur, agricultral in construction, and never knowing what will fall off next. The AO's were far worse than any of the RK's in fast craft. I have not heard of a complete demolition of an RK but certainly there plenty of AO's destroyed. I speak with a little authroity in regard to fast craft having spent the last 15 years with large fast craft. Keeps you young! Maybe we need a seperate psoting place for fast craft???
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The AO was probably ahead of it's time and material technology and got government funding at the the time of Tony Benn's white hot technological revolution. This engine had a lot going for it with a good power/weight ratio. From memory the V16 with it's space frame construction weighed 67 tons for 8000bhp. The AOs were going to put the UK into the medium speed market big time against the French and the Pielsticks.
The engines for the Rovers I believe were a consolation prize to Rustons for the Goverment not going ahead with a new diesel electric submarine depot ship which would have had 8 -V16 engine sets.
The load reversers were novel and got mangled. Liner wear was phenomenal and between 1969-72, the price of hard chromed liners went up by a factor of 6. Accompanying lub oil consumption required personal barge. Cracked blower feet.
Exciting days!
Cheers
Alex
 

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We had Rustons on some of Brocklebank ships not sure the type but ships were built just after end of WWII.
They ran OK, only snag was that the whole cylinder head had to be taken off in order to grind any of the inlet and exhaust valves. The later Allen diesels had the valves in cages, and could be easily removed without disturbing the whole head.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Jim,
The AO as a 2 stroke, at least didn't suffer your valve problems. See the quote below from the Vulcan Works website, as you'll see they were much later than your Brocklebank ships:
"The Ruston AO two stroke turbocharged and intercooled engine was introduced in 1968 to bring a new standard of design criteria to shipowners and naval architects. The range was available in 6, 8 and 9-cylinder in-line and 12 and 16 cylinder vee-form units producing from 3000 to 8850 b.h.p.

The first engines went into service in July 1968 and whilst the first engines to be produced were four, nine cylinder versions for the British Rail ferry St. George, the first engines to enter service were two nine cylinder in-line engines fitted into Welsh City"

Regards
Alex
 

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Rustons.

I spent 3 1/2 years a Mate on the CAPE HAWKE in the mid 80's, long after she had been re-engined. The Stork's were not much better. The longest we ever went in that time without a breakdown was the final 14 day voyage from Oz to the scrapyard in Kaohsiung!
 

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Reardon Smiths Welsh City and Cornish City were fitted with 2 inline AOs each and I remember the fearsome reputation these engines had. I was lucky in that I was only on the Welsh in the time it took to go from Calcutta to Aioi and was on board for the engine change to a V16 Pielstick. There were some very happy engineers when they lifted those monsters out and left them on the jetty.
 

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The long malaise in British Engineering is due to the lack of incentive - including staus - to become well qualified in the field. Becoming something in money management - accountancy, stock broking etc. is held in high esteem, and attracts some of the brightest brains, despite (in my humble opinion) them being nothing but parasites. When derogatory terms like "metal bashers" are used and "engineer" now frequently means someone with no proper training who travels around fixing (in both senses) slot machines, what can we expect? It is no coincidence that the expression "beam me up Scottie" (no, not the dog) seemed so plausible - it's because of the more science based education system in Scotland at the relevant time. My secondary school, Kings School Peterborough, housed "6th Classics" in a nice room with a bay window overlooking the quadrangle and sports field, whilst physics and chemistry were taught in prefabs! The poor old woodworkers had a corrugated iron* (an engineer would say steel*) hut... Geoff Cobb, who rose to the dizzy heights of 4th Engineer, mv Antrim.
 

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I've enjoyed reading this thread mainly because my British experience was a departmental closed shop.
The only time I ventured into the engine room was to ask the watchkeeper to cut the main fan increasing generator output to operate our main transmitter. Request not very well received in the Red Sea!
Sometime later I learned what an engine tie bolt was when one went and the ship started to hog and sag like nobody's business.
The bridge likewise out of bounds, except when taking DF bearings.
On Greek flag, everybody mucked in. I learned the basics of navigation, a wee bit of engineering since I was the only one who could read the American manuals and for similar reason quite a success as medic, diagnosing all the usual pimples to severe kidney stones which necessitated a medivac to Port of Spain.
I think Geoff has hit a valid point above why we are no longer flying at the head of the skein.
Regards
Malcolm
My "British Experience" was from the outside in as a teenage sailor on a german coaster. I spent a lot of time in all sorts of British ports and certainly enjoyed the people. But found the work attitudes rather strange and the technology a bit behind the times....
Quaint in a most pleasant way but most likely not very profitable.

I don't know much about Ruston, Doxford always had a good name however.
As far as Stork/Werkspoor is concerned, the Marika had one albeit much smaller for some odd reason it didnt have a heat exchanger and so the sal****er ran straight tru it... It wasn't that reliable either and eventually was replaced with a MaK engine.
Other than that and a crushed bow when the captain decided to broadside a 45 000 tdw tanker on the Elbe river, insisting he had the right of way !!! The Marika had a happy and long life. :)
 

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Hello, Ian.
I was on that scrap trip - 15/12/86. I also did a spell earlier that year, but I don't remember too much main engine trouble. Perhaps they had settled down by then.
Cheers
Neil Brough
 

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Hello, Ian.
I was on that scrap trip - 15/12/86. I also did a spell earlier that year, but I don't remember too much main engine trouble. Perhaps they had settled down by then.
Cheers
Neil Brough
Hello Neil,

Nice to see you on the site. Did you notice the other day someone mentioned that the A. Venture is going to scrap in India.

John T.
 

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Question: When an engine is so obviously a total disaster and a ship is re-engined who pays?

I understand that the six Polar vessels built by Blohm & Voss at Hamburg 1968/9 were to have had 4 Rolls Royce auxiliary engines each but after the first few ships were delivered they experienced major problems. The remaining uncompleted ships were fitted with MAKs at the yard & the first vessels were re-engined with MAKs soon afterwards. 24 engines sounds expensive! Can anyone expand on this please?

Also, the first two UK flagged Geest ships of 1964 built by NDSM at Amsterdam had Werkspoor Sulzer 7RD76 engines which apparently proved to be troublesome. I have heard that these were the first and only Sulzers built by Werkspoor & that Sulzer pulled the license from them. In Geest they were known as "Work's Poor". These ships also had the propeller pitches reduced after a few years which slightly improved performance. Would appreciate any info.
 
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