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Thread: The Nine Cylinder Oil Engine?

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    Default The Nine Cylinder Oil Engine?

    It was a cold overcast day with a moderate swell. Our ship the Canberra Star was making good headway with a cargo of frozen lamb from New Zealand.
    It was December, mid Atlantic and heading for home, Hull in the UK. We were all looking forward to Christmas and in high spirits with about a week to go before berthing.

    It had been a normal working day and the light was beginning to fade as we went about our business after the evening meal. The lights were on and the constant hiss of the air ducts and roar of the engine were all constant reminders that the ship was alive and was slicing through the Ocean carrying our small community homeward bound.

    Suddenly and without any warning, the ship went quiet, no power nothing. She rapidly lost headway and began to roll even more than whilst under power.
    We looked at each other knowing that something was wrong. "Chief Engineer to the engine room, Chief Engineer to the engine room!" over the loudspeakers confirmed that the problem was a serious one.

    It wasn't long before word got out that of the ten large pistons of the giant oil engine, one had failed in some way and could not for some reason be replaced. Nonetheless, it was going to be a big job for the engineers whatever they did.

    The Canberra Star was helpless in a dark and inhospitable ocean, out of sight of land and in total darkness. She just wallowed in the deep sea and growing swell. It was all at once an exciting and yet frightening experience. All thoughts of making it home for Christmas 1969 seemed to be dashed. If it was not possible to fix the engine, then what could be done? We were at the mercy of the weather so would an SOS have to be sent? The hairs on the back of my neck began to stand on end.

    Just when we were all in the depths of depression, word got around the ship that the Chief engineer had an idea. Just what this was we had no idea until we were told. It was an audacious plan to remove the offending giant piston and run the engine on just nine cylinders! This seemed quite absurd even to us deck hands. The engineers worked throughout the night on the heart of the now silent ship. Some of us made our way down to the engine room just to stand in awe of the operation taking place and just wonder how this could work.

    The next day, the seas were increasing, the swell annoying and after breakfast we sat huddled in small groups in anticipation of what the outcome would be. Then the intercom crackled into life and the Captain began to speak. He spoke of the heroic effort that had been made by the Engineers throughout the night and was confident that some headway could be made and the engine was about to be flashed up.

    We held our breath as we heard the great engine roar back into life. How could this work we would wonder and look at each other as propeller shaft began to rotate. At first nothing seemed to happen but slowly, gradually the ship began to make headway. Just how much headway could be made, we did not know. It was then that we became aware of a strange sort of movement throughout the ship. It was not a vibration but more of a bounce and as the revolutions were increased the bounce became much more pronounced. Could the engine take this sort of punishment; could the ship take it? The speed was gradually increased yet more as confidence grew but the manic bounce got worse.

    At first, this bouncing sensation was a novelty and many jokes did the rounds. The Canberra Star was capable of 18 knots in normal cruising speed but with the engine in this very odd configuration, it was not going to be possible. As far as I can remember though, we managed about 14 knots which was plenty for us. The course was recalculated the heading restored and it was announced to a great cheer that maybe, just maybe we would enter Hull on the 23rd December.

    It was good to see the Dockers of Hull that night, in the freezing cold as we worked the greasy awkward wires and the wet ropes, the heaving line finding its target and signalling the end of an eventful voyage. The ship, silent once more, the surreal bounce at rest, this was Christmas 1969.

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    Thank you for this it was very interesting to read!
    More should post their stories,like this and of course our Capt Kong,who is a master at this!
    A very interesting Man is he,with loads of good tell!
    Cheers
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default

    A very interesting story

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    Default Seven cylinders and a sick engine

    Like Wagga I had a similar experience on the Clan Ranald.
    A bit of background first. The Ranald had a seven cylinder Kincaid B&W engine, with four cylinders forward and three aft. The forward and aft sections were separated by a chaincase, the scavenge belt was common to all cylinders.
    We sailed after dinner from Durban heading towards Beira, it was beautiful sunlit evening the sea was calm like a mill pond. Standby over the telegraph was rung for full ahead, all was peaceful except for the dull thump of the big diesel engine.
    As we were sailing close to the coast watches were worked instead of daywork.
    In the changing room there was the usual banter, as we removed our boiler suits heading for the showers before we went to the lounge for a well-earned beer.
    The engineering staff hadn’t even made to their cabins before the peace was shattered by whoop-whoop of the fire alarm. We all turned round no doubt bloody zone 4, alternator flat (that’s another story). First to the fire alarm pane said nope it’s the main engine tops.
    We (the engineering staff) all donned our boiler suits in preparation for entering the engine room.
    A slight digression here, as you enter the engine room from the changing room, you step on to a platform which is approximately three foot wide, immediately in front of you is a lub oil tank. Turn left and about six feet away was the main engine exhaust.
    Turn right at the exhaust and you are on a walkway which extends over the main engine tops.
    As we entered the area above the tops the air was black and thick, so thick that it felt that you could slice it and peel it back.
    Meanwhile over the clamour of the fire alarm we could hear the engine room control alarm klaxon adding to the unhealthy din.
    Entering the control room number seven cylinder scavenge space alarm indicate that there was a fir in the space, whilst space number six was flickering indicating potential problems.
    The BMS system on detecting the fault slowed the engine down to 50rpm, which played havoc with the exhaust gas turbine, which shut down.
    To say there panic would be an overstatement we went about our business in a controlled manner.
    After the electrical power was stabilised by starting another genie our effort were now concentrated on the main engine, which sounded really sick. Instead of the dull thump it was more a glump-glump.
    By now number six scavenge space alarm was indicating a fire in its scavenge space, whilst number five alarm was now beginning to flicker.
    Meanwhile the chief had been in discussion with the old man regarding tides etc as were only 5 miles from the coast. No problems we had until about 4AM before the tide changed.
    Number five scavenge space now also showed that it was on fire with number four space beginning to flicker.
    CO2 was pumped into the scavenge belt, but it made no difference, the main deck bottles were put online to the engine room as a precaution.
    After about three hours the chief, instructed the second, me and the fourth to hit the sack, whilst he and the J2 and the third would remain down below. If any other major problems occurred we would be called.
    Daylight arrived and we were proceeding at maximum speed of 50rpm, we couldn’t get the engine to do anymore, the engine sounded as though it had seen better days whilst the noise from the funnel sounded like something from a carry on film.
    We arrived at Beira, and were berthed immediately, which was very unusual, as normal practice was outer anchorage, inner anchorage then berth.
    Number seven piston was removed, all its rings were shot to pieces.
    The scavenge spaces were cleaned out, then I had to enter to replace the burnt out fire wires.
    Donning the scavenge suit for protection, I spent a few hours changing the burnt out wires.
    No matter how many showers you have for about three days after entering a scavenge space you still can smell the oil in your pours.
    Was I scared initially yes, seeing that wall of black smoke yes, but after a period of time your training takes over.
    Yes and adrenalin is brown!!!

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    Default Re: The Nine Cylinder Oil Engine?

    London Spirit 1963 jA few days out of Djibouti and fully laden. I was Second and just before midnight I got a call from the Fourth. We had snapped a conrod bolt. We removed the offending bits and resumed our trip now bound for Singapore for repairs. We resumed as a three legged Doxford as opposed to the normal four. The Chief had to give a guestimate as to the time before we got going. I was spot on in saying 36 hours although I cheated as I had sailed with a Chief who had experienced a similar situation with a three cylinder Doxford in the Bay of Biscay. They managed on two cylinders. Interestingly in Singapore at the inquest the Lloyds surveyor, the Company Super, the chief and myself had all sailed on this Ship at some previous time.

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    Default Re: The Nine Cylinder Oil Engine? When the Canberra Star was renamed Buenos Aires Star I sailed on

    Quote Originally Posted by Wagga View Post
    It was a cold overcast day with a moderate swell. Our ship the Canberra Star was making good headway with a cargo of frozen lamb from New Zealand.
    It was December, mid Atlantic and heading for home, Hull in the UK. We were all looking forward to Christmas and in high spirits with about a week to go before berthing....................

    It was good to see the Dockers of Hull that night, in the freezing cold as we worked the greasy awkward wires and the wet ropes, the heaving line finding its target and signalling the end of an eventful voyage. The ship, silent once more, the surreal bounce at rest, this was Christmas 1969.

    When the Canberra Star was renamed Buenos Aires Star for the South America run I sailed on her and remember the 10 cylinders of the main engine. Due to various reasons causing scavenge fires it was fairly normal to toddle back to the UK on 9 out of 10 units. I don't remember extended running with a missing piston during that time so can't recall the bounce. Many other things come to mind as the mental hard drive grinds on, they were some of the best times in many ways.
    Last edited by Chris Allman; 10th April 2019 at 05:52 PM.

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    Default Re: The Nine Cylinder Oil Engine? When the Canberra Star was renamed Buenos Aires Star I sailed on

    I was sailing as 2nd Mate on Trident's tanker "Megna", and at the end of 1966 I was freezing on the foredeck as we berthed in Hamburg. when our fortunes changed, and we headed east of Suez again. I think we were on charter to BP, because we loaded at the major Iran port of Kharg Island, and discharged at the Mediterranean port of Lavorno. We then had an unusual cargo of fuel oil, as opposed to crude, with destination New Jersey. On the way to Milazzo, to load however, we had to clean the cargo tanks. This consisted of steaming the tanks with very hot water, so that residues from our previous cargo of Crude Oil, could be collected into a Slops tank. Early hours in the morning, one of the jets got stuck somewhere, and an obliging Pakistani crew member climbed down the long ladders – about 50ft – to free it. Unfortunately he was overcome by gas and collapsed. The danger was apparent to the Chief Officer, who was on deck and he went down after the seaman. By this time the alarm had been raised, and the Captain burst on to the Bridge, to order me on deck to assist the Chief Officer. I was on deck within thirty seconds, and by the time I reached the tank that was being cleaned, the seaman had been pulled up in a harness. The Chief Officer shouted at me to carry out mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

    Malik Said was a tall man with a long scraggy beard. He was the crew’s self-appointed Iman, and much revered. I looked at him, quietly gagged, and went mouth-to-mouth. By some miracle he started to cough and splutter after about three minutes, and soon came to. There was no ‘thanks’, the crew got on with their job, and Malik Said never spoke to me again. I guess in his ****** view I should have left him to expire!

    P.29

    Arriving in New Jersey I didn’t go ashore, even though this was my first visit to the U.S. east coast, but the discharge of the Fuel Oil was memorable for other reasons.

    I was the officer on deck at the time, and it was late in the evening/dark, when a ship went past, maybe a tad too fast, and it’s wake caused the ‘Megna’ to surge against her mooring lines. I was standing by the cargo manifolds, to which the 16’’ hoses were attached to a shoreside crane. The surge was clearly visible to me, although there was little I could do to prevent the chain of events. Firstly the hoses bore the surge, but then one of them simply tore apart – while it was pumping oil at the rate of about 500 tons/hour through it. There were four hoses, and all but one broke adrift.

    Mesmerized though I was, I realized very quickly that the only way to prevent a huge spill, would be to trip the cargo pumps. These were in a Pump Room about 200ft aft of the manifolds, with the Emergency ‘stops’ at the deck entrance to the Pump Room. I ran as fast as I could, followed by a small wave of oil, that was coursing aft and over the ship’s side. I tripped all four pump ‘stops’, and three of the pumps reacted by closing down. One was still pumping however, and it took several attempts to shut it off. Eventually it did so, and I was able to sound the alarm and get back to the cargo manifolds, to survey the damage.

    The damage turned out to be quite considerable, but fortunately the Terminal staff had seen and been aware of our plight. It wasn’t long before we had fresh mooring lines ashore, and we were soon secured. Then we had to muster the crew and start our own clean up. I wasn’t paying attention to the waters around us or to the Terminal itself. After about half an hour, we were boarded by Coast Guard officials, and they wanted to interview me. As luck would have it, the ship’s Agent appeared at this time, and the first thing he said to me was ‘‘Take the 5th amendment”. I had no idea what he was talking about, but in a country of limiting liabilities, I did what I was told, and after that I was able to resume my duties. I heard later that the ship that caused our plight, and it’s Pilot, were all fined.
    Last edited by david smiley; 11th April 2019 at 02:04 AM.

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