Author Topic: Ask the engineer!  (Read 40886 times)

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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 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.
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 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 »

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #20 on: Feb 16, 2012, 08:38 PM »
Thank you, Rod! Sounds just incredible...

In your work, I suppose, you did not normally have anything directly to do with the passengers. Did you think this was an advantage or a disadvantage? Did you meet passengers quite a bit in your leisure time?

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #21 on: Feb 16, 2012, 10:58 PM »
Thank you, Rod! Sounds just incredible...

In your work, I suppose, you did not normally have anything directly to do with the passengers. Did you think this was an advantage or a disadvantage? Did you meet passengers quite a bit in your leisure time?
In my down below work I had nothing to do with the pax apart from keeping the lights on for them. Didn't Motel 6 steal that?
They occasionally saw us in our boilersuits running down all 14 flights of stairs "E" was favorite, when the Engineers alarm sounded and occasionally saw us during the "panic", depending what it was. These interactions were usually short.
We met with pax in the public rooms, at the Captains Cocktail Parties, if we went, there was no order to go...but it was free booze.
When I went over to the Hotel Service side, there was a lot of interaction with pax. If there was a job on deck they all wanted to know what was going on. My uniform as HSE was blue trousers, white shirt, with epaulettes, and alot of time was spent in pax accom. There were always questions.

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #22 on: Feb 16, 2012, 11:10 PM »
Was this an advantage or disadvantage?
You have to remember that ...OH say from 70- 80 Cruise lines were evolving. Passengers wanted something different, they wanted to talk to the people that kept the lights on....This was a whole new ballgame for a lot of folks> Pax and crew. My "Blue Book", my rules and regs as an Officer as issued to me dated 1969, IN BOLD CAPS stated that: " If in the course of their duties, an Officer is engaged in conversation by a passenger, they are to break off the conversation as quickly and as politely as possible."
But times were changing, but when I first joined QE2, we were encouraged to go to Captains Cocktails. But there was always that rule in the back of our heads. I never agreed with it. But it was difficult.
When I came back as a Junior Engineer, it had all changed...we got a discount in the public rooms, some Chiefs "encouraged" us to go to Cocktail parties. My thought was...If somebody is going to pay my wages...I am going to try and be nice to them!

Offline Twynkle

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #23 on: Mar 03, 2012, 11:18 PM »
Hi Rod
Thinking about things from your/ an engineer's perspective, it would be fascinating to know more about QE2 with regards to refits, port days and perhaps most of all - the time of her being fitted out for her 'trip' to the Falklands.
Taking the latter first - maybe you aren't able to say much about what your work involved then (during the fitting out period)...
On the other hand, it would be really interesting to know just how the fitting out for the change of service (as STUFT) was accomplished in such a short time.
The refits too, I guess these were done under the same type of orders / requirements as well - did all these need to be completed all to exceptionally tight deadlines - and if there were hold ups, what happened next?
On port days - were you always required to be on board and working?
(I've always felt so guilty, just sort of swanning off to enjoy the 'local scenery' on what almost certainly might have been the busiest day for you guys!)
Very many thanks to you.
« Last Edit: Mar 03, 2012, 11:42 PM by Twynkle »

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #24 on: Mar 04, 2012, 11:18 AM »
Rosie, As far as the Falklands conversion goes there  is nothing secret. The only secrets about that time would be the thoughts of the Admiralty etc. Those we will eventually find out. MAYBE!.
Before the ship arrived in Soton, the RN had decided what they wanted, naval architects had decided what they could have and plans were already in the works. Costs were not an issue so work went on 24/7 and the Vospers unions shelved any demarcation issues. A Royal Navy working party, RN 1701 if I remember correctly, that would stay with the ship, worked with the Hotel Dept on berthing and messing arrangements etc some of the 1 deck cabins had 14 people sleeping in them!  I had to work with "Mad Mike" the Marine major who was in charge of getting all the troops ashore in San Carlos Water.They cut the Q4 bar off and installed things like landing lights etc and of course the 2 helo decks. At the pointy end they put another helo deck but it was not much use with the ship doing 30 knots. Behind the bridge, in the "Barn" the installed their secret satellite comms gear. Don't forget, in those days satellite was only used by the military. Frequent meetings were held with ships staff to keep us updated. Racks of big bulky timbers were placed in the 6 deck alleyway for damage control in case of torpedo attack. We installed over 30 washing machines and dryers in the room service pantries for the troops. Ships staff had to complete various forms etc, were issued with POW cards, and explained that when announced, we would fall under military rules and regs, instead of Cunard rules and regs. That included the death penalty for certain offences! We helped the military set up various offices and classrooms and away we went.
I later met up with one of the permanent RN party, whom I had last seen painting the aft helo deck. He was my sons High School Florida!

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #25 on: Mar 04, 2012, 11:40 AM »
For Rosie continued:
Regarding time off. If you were on the 4 on 8 off watches then you obviously could go ashore during your off duty hours, or you could come to an arrangement with another Engineer to do your shift and and you would do a shift of his in his port of choice. Some of the seniors would try and make arrangements, on longer cruises for each member of the watch to get a "watch off"
My bosses would always give me Nassau because they loved seeing me being picked up by a huge cabin cruiser. For most of my time on board Nassau was an anchor port after this nasty reef attacked the hull. (I was born in Nassau and had a lot of friends there. On one occasion the Governor, Sir Roland Symonette, sent his limo to come and pick me up for lunch. My bosses loved that.
The worst place for me for refit work was Hong Kong. Most of the passengers would depart on tours and we would go in for a heavy session of pipe replacement. We still managed some time off though even if only to go ashore for a walk and a meal. Hong Kong was essentialy a mini refit. There were always time constraints in everything you did on board repairwise, especially when pax were on board. You were aware that some were paying $1000/day so really they should have water for 24hrs of that day.
Major refits were always governed by time. Work usually had to be done in a particular order and of course the ship had to sail on time. Did they try and go too far sometimes???? Probably! By the way the major cause of floods after a refit was not because of work not being done, but by major leakage of pipework. This would happen after a refit where the ship was completely dead. Pipes would cool. Especially if the refit was in winter. Put water through the pipes then heat it up a bit and bingo! Niagara, Niagara, Niagara!

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #26 on: Mar 04, 2012, 11:43 AM »
Still for Rosie:
Pax would tell the newspapers that the ship sailed when it wasn't ready...not the whole truth. With over 30 miles of copper pipe, all covered in insulation, was impossible to examine it all.
Believe it or not I used to enjoy refits.
Sorry about the long winded reply.

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #27 on: Mar 09, 2012, 01:23 PM »
Rod, what sort of "domestic" work did you have to do? I imagine that much was done for you -- cleaning your cabin, washing and ironing your uniform, cooking your meals and washing your dishes.

Were there other domestic chores that you would be expected to do for yourself?

Did you have a cabin steward? If so, was the cabin steward responsible only for crew, or did s/he also work in passenger cabins?

Offline riskygizmo

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #28 on: Mar 09, 2012, 04:50 PM »
      given that the British Merchant Navy (when we had one) required vast quantities of three types of liquid to function (sea water
to float in, bunker fuel to keep the engines running and cold beer to keep the engineers going) was it not a huge and traumatic
culture shock when you became part of the (in)famously dry USN family? ;)
Full Away on Passage.

Offline Rod

Re: Ask the engineer!
« Reply #29 on: Mar 09, 2012, 11:14 PM »
Did you have a cabin steward? If so, was the cabin steward responsible only for crew, or did s/he also work in passenger cabins?
Yes we had a cabin Steward that made the bed cleaned the shower vacuumed the carpet etc. The standards varied considerably and most of the time you ended up by doing some of the work yourself. You could ask for a morning wakeup call and tea/coffee etc.
When I was a Cadet/Apprentice the Engineers steward was a man? named "Jane" He/she would bring you your cup of tea and say 7:30 Mr Fair....ten minutes later head in the door...7:40 Mr Fair....ten minutes later...MR FAIR...IF YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THAT BED IN 1 MINUTE I AM COMING IN THERE WITH YOU!. Got you moving.
You did tip the Stewards if they did extra like keep your fridge stocked etc. The PO in charge while I was there was Joe Yexley who also ran the Wardroom bar. He did the barbills etc ordered supplies. When the NUS went we took it on ourselves.
As far as laundry went we did our own boilersuits/coveralls, uniforms went to the laundry and personal gear most people washed themselves. All meals were in the Wardroom. Basically a reduced TOW pax meal sent up and reheated...some things do not reheat well!