Author Topic: Engine Room memories  (Read 47772 times)

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Offline Beardy Rich

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Engine Room memories
« on: Sep 10, 2009, 10:58 PM »
I thought I'd start a thread on my experiences in the machinery spaces of the QE2. Other members should feel free to add theirs also.

There were several jobs that the Asst Mechs used to have to do which involved working in a lot of heat. Among these were 'swinging the valves' (opening or closing the large steam valves) which fed superheated steam from the boilers to the turbines. Boiler cleaning, which entailed donning waterproof suits, heavy gloves and goggles for eye protection. Force Draught (FD) Fan cleaning, a messy dirty job using a high pressure water jet to blast the fan blades clean.

Standard working gear was a pair of bright orange overalls worn over just a pair of underpants (anything else would be too hot to wear), steel toe-capped boots, ear muffs and finally a pair of chrome leather gloves.

Swinging the valves in the boiler room was particularly hot work, the physical exertion required sometimes making this quite an arduous task. The metal stud fasteners on your overalls would burn your skin, sweat would run into your eyes making them sting, the steel toe-capped boots would make your feet sweat profusely. You also had to be aware of the very hot air that would scorch your sinuses if you inhaled directly over a very very hot valve.
The 'valve gang' would make frequent dashes to the water fountain situated at the fwd end of the boiler room floor and salt tablets were available to replace lost salt through excess sweat loss. Some of the valves would be quite stiff to turn and the use of a "wheel key' would be necessary to open/close the valves. The whole sequence of opening or closing valves would be overseen by the Engineering Officer on watch but the more experienced of us knew which valves to open in the proper sequence. The last three big valves to be opened would be the 'bulkhead stops'. These were massive steam valves which fed the superheated steam from the boiler room through (the bulkhead) to the engine room proper in which the Pamatrada turbines were situated. These would be opened in stages, firstly just 'cracking open' then opening with an eighth of a turn for one full rotation, then quarter turns, half turns and so on until they were fully open. After the job was done, it would have been a common sight for the valve gang to be seen either lying or sitting totally exhausted on the floor of 6 deck, overalls soaked in sweat, smoking cigarettes and sipping cups of water.

More later. Rich Drayson.
Rich Drayson. Ex Snr Mechanic QE2 1984-1988.

Offline Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #1 on: Sep 10, 2009, 11:05 PM »
What a vivid picture. Thank you for having started this thread! Looking forward to more... and hoping to learn something about the engines as you write for us.

Did health and safety improve after the re-engining? Do you know of any serious accidents?

And presumably no cigarettes in the Engine Room itself?

Offline Beardy Rich

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Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #2 on: Sep 10, 2009, 11:30 PM »
Quote
Did health and safety improve after the re-engining? Do you know of any serious accidents?

And presumably no cigarettes in the Engine Room itself?

Hi Isabelle, yes health & safety did improve I think. I cannot remember any serious accidents whilst I was onboard but there have been some since I believe.
Quite a few of us were smokers in those days and I think the officers used to turn a 'blind eye' to it. A favourite place to have a sneaky ciggy was in the aft tunnel near the propellors but after the big refit in Bremerhaven CCTV was installed and our every move was monitored. I used to look forward to 'smoko' (tea break) and often went up to two deck aft for a breath of fresh air. It was also good to see daylight as we lived and worked in artificial light for most of the time.

Rich Drayson.
« Last Edit: Sep 10, 2009, 11:32 PM by Isabelle Prondzynski »
Rich Drayson. Ex Snr Mechanic QE2 1984-1988.

Offline Chris

Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #3 on: Sep 11, 2009, 05:39 AM »
Thanks Rich for the topic and the information.

Here's a sight you will recall (taken during the 2008 World Cruise).

🎥 Check out my QE2 & Cruise Ship Videos: https://www.youtube.com/chrisframeofficial/

Offline Louis De Sousa

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Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #4 on: Sep 11, 2009, 06:07 AM »
Quote
Do you know of any serious accidents?

Yes there has been a few acidents at least during my time onboard.

Louis

Offline Beardy Rich

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Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #5 on: Sep 11, 2009, 09:36 AM »
Thanks for the pic Chris. Amazing engines aren't they? Each weighing around 120 tons and the size of a double-decker bus.
Louis, yes you're right. I remember reading a newspaper story regarding two Filipino crew members seriously burnt or scalded. I'll try and find some more details.


Details of fatal accident...http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/qe2-fatality%20synopsis.pdf

« Last Edit: Apr 27, 2014, 11:36 AM by Lynda Bradford »
Rich Drayson. Ex Snr Mechanic QE2 1984-1988.

Offline Chris

Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #6 on: Sep 11, 2009, 05:50 PM »
Rich - I had seen photos of the Engines for years, however nothing really prepared me for the feeling of standing there among the engines as they powered QE2 through the ocean at a magnificent speed. It was one of the most fantastic days spent aboard that great liner.

Chris.

🎥 Check out my QE2 & Cruise Ship Videos: https://www.youtube.com/chrisframeofficial/

Offline Louis De Sousa

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Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #7 on: Sep 11, 2009, 05:58 PM »

During Boat Drills and when i was on the Fire Party we made trips into the engine.It was a fantastic looking and hearing that powerful engine pumping away and knowing that at that moment you are one the fastest and most powerfull Cruise Ship in the World

Louis

Offline Twynkle

Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #8 on: Sep 11, 2009, 06:13 PM »
Hello Rich!

Thank you - this is simply brilliant - although I'm sure the work can't have been at all easy or brilliant, for that matter!

Your description and Chris' photo are really interesting.
The work sounds terrifyingly risky -obviously hot, very noisy, cramped and probably smelly too.
How often did each one of the 9 engines get a rest or service, even
(sorry - as I definitely haven't a clue when it comes to engines and how they work!!)
I wonder how long did you have between breaks and watches
did you have to do 4 hours at a stretch?

You guy(s) kept QE2 going, and safe -
I feel very fortunate and particularly grateful

Rosie
« Last Edit: Sep 15, 2009, 03:32 PM by Twynkle »

Offline Beardy Rich

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Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #9 on: Sep 11, 2009, 07:58 PM »
Chris, Louis I know exactly what you mean... it's the feeling of sheer raw power that can only be appreciated by actually being there when the engines are running. There's a certain feeling of invincibility I think... that nothing would get in the way of QE2 reaching her destination. Maybe gilding the lily a little so to speak but you get the gist.

Rosie, yes, it was hot, noisy, usually smelly and sometimes cramped but really, the risks were minimal. There were lots of very experienced Engineering Officers onboard who would ensure that safe working practices were followed. The risks come from unexpected things happening that no-one can foresee.
Initially, the engines were looked after by M.A.N if memory serves me correctly. The engines were rested as required, in fact, only 7 of the 9 needed to run to produce enough power allowing the ship to maintain her service speed.

Some Engineering Crew worked days, some nights and some were on watch. Each watch consisted of 4 hours so there would be a 12-4, 4-8 and 8-12 watch, non-stop round the clock. The watchkeepers also had to work an extra 2 hours a day as the normal working week was a 70 hour week. Basically, it was all about running a power station at sea!

Rich Drayson.
Rich Drayson. Ex Snr Mechanic QE2 1984-1988.

Online skilly56

Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #10 on: Sep 12, 2009, 07:39 AM »
Another view, taken in Aft E/R looking fwd in July 2008. Use the rubbish bin for comparison. These engines sound totally understressed when rumbling along at 400 rpm. The generators are coupled on the front of each engine and produce 10,500 kW each.

Also shown is prop shaft tunnel looking aft - probably to aforementioned 'smokers corner'


 


Online skilly56

Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #11 on: Sep 12, 2009, 07:51 AM »
Sorry, in those photos the paint job look terrible, when it actually isn't!

I downsized the kb too much from the originals (first photo post) - the actual paintwork on nearly all the machinery and machinery spaces was immaculate for a 40-year-old. I have worked on ten-year-old ships that looked like forty-year-olds down below, but QE2 was just the opposite.
Skilly

Offline Twynkle

Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #12 on: Sep 12, 2009, 02:16 PM »
Hi Skilly, and Rich

Thank you for posting those pics of the great engines
They do look hot, noisy and almost smell-able!
Like everything aboard QE2, they doubtless were maintained in the best possible condition.
Did QE2 have  'waste' disposal facilities too, (driven by engine power) for trash, water and other 'stuff'?

I'm wondering about the ratios of crew numbers 'below' the passenger areas, in the technical and deck departments
to those working in the service areas. 
Does anyone know - could it be considerably less?
If it is, then  - is this the same on all passenger ships - or are the Cunarders different,
perhaps due to the need to maintain five star hotel status?

Rosie
« Last Edit: Sep 15, 2009, 03:33 PM by Twynkle »

Offline Louis De Sousa

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Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #13 on: Sep 12, 2009, 02:38 PM »

More from the Engine Room.

http://www.qe2.org.uk/engine.html

Louis

Offline Louis De Sousa

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Re: Engine Room memories
« Reply #14 on: Sep 12, 2009, 02:41 PM »

 

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