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Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Ask the engineer!
« on: Feb 04, 2012, 02:21 PM »
Ask the engineer!

Following our recent newsletter, and our request to crew members to host a month of questions and answers from the Forum, Rod very kindly volunteered to host an "Ask the Engineer" session.

Rod will introduce himself to us once more, tell us what he did on board, and from when to when, and he will invite our questions.

If other ex-QE2 engineers wish to contribute in answering the questions, you too are very welcome.

And now, thank you Rod, and over to you  :) .

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #1 on: Feb 04, 2012, 08:13 PM »
Thank you for the trust you have placed in me!
I first joined QE2 as an Indentured Engineer Apprentice, in 1971, btw Cunard SteamShip Lines last Engineer Apprentice with John Chillingworth who later became Chief Engineer.
After 7 months we went back to college for our final year in Liverpool, and then back to QE2. I retired from QE2 December 23rd 1988.
I served as Boiler Room Engineer, Engine Room Engineer, Maintenance Engineer, Kitchen Engineer, Laundry Engineer, Deck Engineer and Hotel Service Engineer. I did no service down below after it converted to Diesel Electric apart from on the Hotel Systems. So I know very little about that plant apart from the basics. Big, noisy and horrible. (I was brought up on steam!)
I will endeavor to answer any and all questions, but, I will not incriminate myself or any of my former colleagues or even Cunard Line.
I look forward to this opportunity.
Don't forget while my memory is pretty good, I did leave 23 years ago.
Rod

Offline Louis De Sousa

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Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #2 on: Feb 04, 2012, 08:55 PM »
Thanks Rod for been next in line, its nice to see other crewmembers coming forward with their stories.

Quote
I served as Boiler Room Engineer, Engine Room Engineer, Maintenance Engineer, Kitchen Engineer, Laundry Engineer, Deck Engineer and Hotel Service Engineer

From those above jobs which one do you lke most? And please tell us how would your daily routine at sea be in that job?

Cheers.

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #3 on: Feb 04, 2012, 09:47 PM »
Louis, as I am sure you know. EVERY job on QE2 had its ups and downs, its goods and bads.
The one I really liked was Hotel Service Engineer which was basically in charge of most of the jobs that I mentioned. It was the Senior Engineer position, until they created the Ships Service Manager. for all Engineering to do with the "Hotel" plumbing water fridge hospital boats kitchens etc.
My day would start at around 0630 with coffee on the helicopter deck then down to the Main Control Room to see if there were any problems I should know about from their side. Then to the plumbers shop, my HQ, to read the logs, see if there was anything from overnight etc Get the work tasked out etc. Then a walk around the ship which would usually take around an hour or so to check on various projects. In my day we carried both a radio and a pager. You stopped off in all the area that we covered. Sometimes you would be caught up in an idea from a Chef who wanted to move this to there etc....you would have to give an opinion as to weather it could be done and where it could be done. While a lot of people came up with a LOT of great ideas to improve their dept.... to move say an oven could cost over $20,000. Its a ship, everything is permanently mounted to the deck. Ships staff did not always have the technology or the ability to do that. One of our biggest problems was the Aluminum deck. We had no capability to weld there. Also because of fire risks, whatever was below had to be stripped.
The day would generally end around 1800.
As all Officers, we were on call 24/7. Then you had the dreaded "Niagara, Niagara, Niagara" calls!

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #4 on: Feb 06, 2012, 02:08 PM »
Hello Rod, How many crew worked in your team when you were Hotel Service Engineer?  Did the team require to have different skills to carry out the various day to day maintenance onboard ship?
« Last Edit: Feb 06, 2012, 11:05 PM by Lynda »
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
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Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #5 on: Feb 06, 2012, 10:57 PM »
Lynda, its Rod, btw.
As HSE i usually had 2 Engineer Officers and 12  Mechanics, Asst Mechanics working under me. After the re-engining they changed the Engineering Dept all around, Brought in a position of Ships Service Manager that also had Carpenters, who used to work for the Chief Officer. They also did away with some of the positions I held...basically thinking...well he's in charge let him do it. For electrical work if I could not do it myself then I would grab whoever was willing, ranging from the Chief Electrician on down. It was easy to do when you were the Kitchen Engineer as everybody liked the "Chefs specials"
The Hotel Service Dept, later Ships Service, looked after ALL of the machinery and equipment that had nothing to do with the Main Engine room. Obviously we assisted "the down below crowd" as needed as we had the welders etc.
We also looked after things like the Hospital equipment, mechanical side of the radars, bridge windscreen wipers, fuelling boats...not many people know that QE2 had 2 gas stations on board.. If you didn't know who to call,,,HSE!

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #6 on: Feb 06, 2012, 11:16 PM »
Thanks Rod, I have always thought of the role of engineers as versatile and challenging and from what you have said it certainly sounds like a challenging job.  My Dad's qualifications were in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.  He always said that the engineers were the problem solvers and from what you have said so far it sounds like you were faced with more than a few problems on a daily basis. 

 
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
www.qe2event.com

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #7 on: Feb 07, 2012, 12:07 AM »
Rod, thank you for this opportunity to ask you even more questions than we have already done!

Were the engineers all one team under the Chief Engineer, or were they several teams under various chiefs of various departments?

Did the engineers mix with one another during their off-duty hours, or did they mix more with the other crew with whom they were most in contact (e.g. kitchen, hotel, etc.)? No doubt of course there is no general reply to this...

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #8 on: Feb 07, 2012, 12:43 AM »
Thanks Rod, I have always thought of the role of engineers as versatile and challenging and from what you have said it certainly sounds like a challenging job.  My Dad's qualifications were in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.  He always said that the engineers were the problem solvers and from what you have said so far it sounds like you were faced with more than a few problems on a daily basis. 

 

That is very true. Especially on a ship in the middle of the ocean. You were frequently tasked to fix something that you had no idea what it did nevermind what was wrong. Like the bedpan washer in the hospital!

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #9 on: Feb 07, 2012, 12:48 AM »
Rod, thank you for this opportunity to ask you even more questions than we have already done!

Were the engineers all one team under the Chief Engineer, or were they several teams under various chiefs of various departments?

Did the engineers mix with one another during their off-duty hours, or did they mix more with the other crew with whom they were most in contact (e.g. kitchen, hotel, etc.)? No doubt of course there is no general reply to this...
You are more than welcome.
Yes the Chief Engineer was in overall command of the Engine Dept. Hotel Service was a sub dept.
We did get together frequently in the Wardroom, basically every day! Like all other places, if someone shared your interests then you met and socialized,. Working hours also came into it. A lot of Hotel Officers were on duty when we were off duty.

Online Twynkle

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #10 on: Feb 07, 2012, 05:28 PM »
Hi Rod,

About (weekly?) safety drills, training and the Engineering Dept.
At a guess, as far as dangerous surroundings/ working conditions go,
not a lot of passengers would have been aware that this department was almost certainly the most vulnerable.
For the drills, did these happen more frequently, and where did they take place?
And training on the job - did this require a great deal of supervisory time too?
(We saw the deckies doing lifeboat drills etc - but there were few blue and white overalled crew amongst them)

(PS You'll be interested to know that the book 'We Couldn't have Done it Without Them' : The MN in the Falklands - the Admiral i/c is full of praise for the legendary 'Can do' approach of the MN on both the Atlantic Conveyor and the liners  :)  )
QE2 had been waiting alongside in Dubai for what seemed like ages...Please don't leave her looking more like a Hotel-with-a-Hull than the greatest Liner afloat - Please restore her Lifeboats and Tenders to where they truly belong - she looks naked without them - please spare her this ignominy.

Offline Jeff Taylor

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #11 on: Feb 07, 2012, 07:53 PM »
As hotel service engineer, I assume you oversaw the cinema operations as well.  Curious if QE2 went until the end with carbon arc changeover operation, or did they switch her over to xenon and platters?  Also, I assume she had alternators with the steam plant, although in 1969 I guess she still could have been DC with MG's for the electronics until the changeover to diesels.  Could you clarify?  Thanks, Rod.

Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #12 on: Feb 07, 2012, 08:03 PM »
A couple of questions, which I can't remember if I've asked you before !

(1) do you remember my Dad David?  A turbine specialist who flew in from John Browns Engineering to provide expert assistance and advice as necessary... John Chillingsworth says he remembers him, but thats the only person I've found so far!

(2) Were you sad when re-engining time came?  Did you think it was a good idea (before they did it) - and was it unexpected how it turned out in the end?  As an engineer, are you amazed it was possible at all on a complex 20yr old ship?  (I am!).

(3) are you surprised that a crew of people who had never set foot on QE2 as a Cunarder, have managed to keep "her lights on" and her lum reeking for 3 years?  As an engineer, for her future, do you hope the engine rooms can be kept intact for her future static role?
Passionate about QE2's service life for 35 years and creator of this website.

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #13 on: Feb 07, 2012, 10:19 PM »
Hi Rod,

About (weekly?) safety drills, training and the Engineering Dept.
At a guess, as far as dangerous surroundings/ working conditions go,
not a lot of passengers would have been aware that this department was almost certainly the most vulnerable.
For the drills, did these happen more frequently, and where did they take place?
And training on the job - did this require a great deal of supervisory time too?
(We saw the deckies doing lifeboat drills etc - but there were few blue and white overalled crew amongst them)

(PS You'll be interested to know that the book 'We Couldn't have Done it Without Them' : The MN in the Falklands - the Admiral i/c is full of praise for the legendary 'Can do' approach of the MN on both the Atlantic Conveyor and the liners  :)  )

Weekly safety drills were held. They were announced to passengers but did not affect them. All of the Engine Dept were qualified firefighters, as this was obviously our biggest worry. The drills for the most part took place in the machinery spaces or working spaces, and there were simulations towards the latter part of my time. Most involved just getting people used to the equipment, knowing how to set it up and use it.
On the job training was commonplace for everything. Officers as well as crew. Sometimes you would come across a never happened before situation and you had to do it. It did take quite a bit of time up but fortunately most of the Engine Staff were a quick learn
Had not heard of that book...will try and get a hold of it...Thanks!

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #14 on: Feb 07, 2012, 10:33 PM »
As hotel service engineer, I assume you oversaw the cinema operations as well.  Curious if QE2 went until the end with carbon arc changeover operation, or did they switch her over to xenon and platters?  Also, I assume she had alternators with the steam plant, although in 1969 I guess she still could have been DC with MG's for the electronics until the changeover to diesels.  Could you clarify?  Thanks, Rod.
No Jeff I did not. That came under the Electrical side of things. An Electrical PO was employed as the projectionist. Never had anything to do with it sorry.
As a steam ship she had 3 turbo alternators generating at 3.3kV which was then stepped down in  most cases. The biggest electric motors were the boiler fan motors that weighed about 3 tons each. Not much electronics were used to begin with except where you would expect to see them ie bridge etc. Most of the engine room controls were compressed air to operate valves etc. A Ferranti Argus computer was the first computer  ever fitted on a UK merchant ship and it was used for data logging in the machinery spaces, could be used for hotel stores control and weather routing. First time it was used for weather routing it ran the ship into a storm. Hotel Dept didn't like their stores being controlled by the ER so data loging it was! Computer and equipment took up a 20' x 20' room. After re-engining it was all done by a destop!
Another thing the comp did was if you pushed the alarm bell in one of the elevators it printed out in the control room. A Chief Engineer, Jack Marland was showing off to pax who asked" well what if we get stuck". well you just push this button like this and in a couple of seconds this phone will ring....well the phone didn't ring ....Chief was not impressed withj the MCR watch!

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #15 on: Feb 07, 2012, 11:02 PM »
A couple of questions, which I can't remember if I've asked you before !

(1) do you remember my Dad David?  A turbine specialist who flew in from John Browns Engineering to provide expert assistance and advice as necessary... John Chillingsworth says he remembers him, but thats the only person I've found so far!

(2) Were you sad when re-engining time came?  Did you think it was a good idea (before they did it) - and was it unexpected how it turned out in the end?  As an engineer, are you amazed it was possible at all on a complex 20yr old ship?  (I am!).

(3) are you surprised that a crew of people who had never set foot on QE2 as a Cunarder, have managed to keep "her lights on" and her lum reeking for 3 years?  As an engineer, for her future, do you hope the engine rooms can be kept intact for her future static role?
1) I remember the name. But most of my time as a Junior was spent in the Boiler Room, so was not very involved in turbine work. When I was in the Engine room, fortunately not a whole lot went wrong. I hasten to add that was more by the grace of God than my doing.
2) YES!. I had done a cruise on the Cunard Princess, and while it was great fun. (Well apart from being stuck in a bed for 3 hours, but thats another story!) The one thing that struck me was the vibration! It was annoying and irritating. You had to be careful what you left on the desktop or it would end on the floor. I also noticed the smell. I suspect that that was more a design problem though.
As an Engineer  I tend to be practical so therefore, I realized that if Cunard were to be able to keep QE2 going, the "Greyhound of the Seas" then something had to be done. To keep her going on steam with something like a 20% efficiency was totally impractical. The Navigators and route planners definately did all they could do...mad dash to Everglades then slow cruising. But we were still being undercut by more modern ships. Cunard was also very slow to modernize. Personally I also think that they were too slow to bring out QE2. Would QE2's technical problems have been greater if it had come out earlier? Probably. But, so much of QE2's equipment was revolutionary and that caused some of the problems. Think your Dad will agree with that. Was I amazed? You betcha! Some of the things we saw at Bremmerhaven were unbelievable. The fact that it all came together basically on time is unbelievable. To see one of those engines being lowered into place..IT AIN'T going to fit...well it did..and guess what a few more too!
3) NO! QE2 is a much easier plant now than it ever was as steam. If you have the basics on a diesel plant and are shown the ropes..you should be OK. Yes I hope the ER's are kept intact. But again the economics come into play. Say she goes to Soton as a hotel. What would be the price of shoreside power over ships power. Environment, would she be able to meet any existing laws regarding a permanent powerstation, because esentially that is what she would become. To remove the engines though I think would be cost prohibitive. I would just like to see her running around the ocean somewhere. Preferably under the British flag, but I do not think that is going to happen.

Offline Jeff Taylor

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #16 on: Feb 08, 2012, 12:51 AM »
Thanks, Rod.  Great Info!  I know the old Queens were basically DC ships with a few functions supplied with AC from motor generator sets (electronics, radar, radios, cinema amps, etc), while the QE2 we now know had turbo alternators which supplied AC current which undoubtedly had to be rectified for lift motors, etc.  Moral, you can't win!  I do recall on the original QE you couldn't even plug in an electric razor if it was AC no matter the voltage.  Nothing but those funky lumiline style incandescent lamps running on DC.

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #17 on: Feb 13, 2012, 10:09 PM »
I first joined QE2 as an Indentured Engineer Apprentice, in 1971, btw Cunard SteamShip Lines last Engineer Apprentice with John Chillingworth who later became Chief Engineer.

What does an Indentured Engineer Apprentice do?

Did you choose QE2 or were you offered the apprenticeship there?

What were your first impressions when you stepped on board and knew this would be your workplace for the foreseeable future?

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #18 on: Feb 13, 2012, 11:10 PM »
Isabelle, An Indentured Apprentice was an old fashioned way of getting a training.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apprenticeship.
When I was at school and shall we say...causing a bit of trouble, I applied to join the Royal Marines as an Officer and after as selection course was accepted. But they required more exams than I was prepared to take. So I went to the Careers advisor and told him I wanted to work with my hands, travel and didn't want a 9-5 job. Here just got some literature from the Merchant Navy. He set me up an interview with a local company, Salvesens of Leith, nr Edinburgh. They offered me a job as an Apprentice. Problem was Salvesens was a whaling company and I didn't really want that! SO....I had travelled on Cunard and at that time Cunard  was still the first name in shipping. I applied and was interviewed and accepted.
Basically they would train me to become one of their Engineers. 2 years at college, they paid..and paid me, 6 week vacation course during the summer holidays. Then a year at sea an an apprentice engineer, now called Cadet, then a year back at college and at the end I would be commissioned as a Junior 5th Engineer.
My Father, myself and a Master at school had to sign the indentures, basically a contract, that laid out the terms of employment. And salary I was to be paid. Total time of the Apprenticeship was 4 1/2 years. Salary for the final 6 months was 406 pounds sterling, about $ $800 at the time.This was 1973, my final year. If I decided that I wished to drop out there was a penalty laid down that I had to repay Cunard. My apprenticeship was with the Cunard Steamship Company which operated the passenger liners. Cunard Line at the time was just a holding company. At that time, the "Cunard" fleet was one of the largest in the world.

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #19 on: Feb 13, 2012, 11:14 PM »
But because I had signed on to Cunard Steamship basically I was destined for QE2. John Chillingworth and I were Cunard Steam Ships last apprentices. They stopped taking them for quite some time after that.

Chillingworth and I as the first part of our segoing, were flown out to RMS Franconia that was on the NY Bermuda run. Old ship, built in 1954 I believe. When you went from the Engineers change room on the top deck, to the Engine room, temp outside the elevator was 186!!  I kid you not.
We did the final 3 months on the Franc, which BTW Cunard sold to the Russians who operated her  as the Fedoyr Shalyapin, for many years. Then got a months leave and joined the QE2 in Soton. When I first walked into the control room...it was WOW!!!!
Scotty did beam me up to the Enterprise! So modern, so high tech...I was GOBSTRUCK!
« Last Edit: Feb 13, 2012, 11:21 PM by Rod »