After checking out our blog one of my friends asked if I was actually doing any engineering. So here is a selection of tasks I have undertaken over the first two months onboard.
When we first sailed I was watchkeeping as a doubled up Engineering Officer of the Watch. After about a week I was left to watchkeep solo, albeit with a very senior Motorman – Ebenezer. During the sail we were losing a fair bit of oil from the steering system. The seals are quite worn in the rotary actuators and the previous owners (Danish State Railway company) had fitted an oil recovery system to capture and re-use the leaking oil. However we were still losing 20 litres per day. Whilst looking for possible leaks I discovered the top rudder stock garter seal had torn and extruded out of the packing box. The Chief Engineer asked me to further investigate and produce a report on this. Challenging as the limited drawings we have are all in Danish.
The mechanical seal failed in Number 1 Black Water (sewage) transfer pump. The pump is designed to bayonet out but I had to remove the complete pump, motor and volute as it would not bayonet apart in-situ. Then the retaining bolt was seized and finally the impeller did not want to come off the shaft. Anyway, with some help from Oebele de Haan and Chris MacCaffrey I got it apart and rebuilt with a new seal. In the course of rebuilding both the black and grey water pumps, I found that the stores for each were mixed up and incorrectly identified.
The transition piece supplying sea water cooling to the generator plate cooler failed and I and the Fourth Engineer – Steve Henderson – were tasked with replacing it. The plate cooler end had studs that were seized in solid and took us three hours to remove – an hour each for the last two, half a flat at a time due to the very restricted access. Although we had a new transition piece that had been manufactured before the holes were slightly out of alignment and at 5 pm after three hours of trying to get it bolted up without crossthreading we pulled it out, drilled the holes oversize and re-fitted it in less than 30 minutes.
I have conducted annual services on both Number 1 and 2 Life Boats. These are an open lifeboat with a 2 cylinder SABB diesel. In addition to the service, I identified one of the exhaust hoses was cooked and ordered a replacement, both throttle cables were in poor condition and ordered new ones and the stern tube grease nipples needed replacing. Also reviewed the stores holdings to ensure we hold spares for the consumables and the parts liable to perish due to age, sun, fuel, oil or moisture.
This week I am back working on the STPs. In the process of desludging them – a monthly routine – I found that many of the studs securing the access and inspection ports have snapped off and that the tank has wasted (corroded) so much around the access holes that drilling and tapping is not an option. Resolved to make new access covers and drill and tap new holes and fit new studs.
The tank top around the chlorinator is even worse with the chlorine having accelerated the corrosion. It looks like metal putty (Belzona or Devcon) has been used to build it back up but this is all crumbling now so I plan to manufacture a new doubler plate for the chlorinator.
I also need to get back inside the Port STP to replace one of the air lines that has broken off. Hopefully the parts will arrive for this soon but unfortunately I can’t change it working through the access ports and will need to get inside. Nasty work but someone has to do it. The boys now call me the “turd” engineer rather than the third engineer.
Next job I have to do is work out how to safely clean the grease traps. I found that both forward and aft grease traps were bypassed and not in service. Anyway I cracked the lid of the first one and got 25 ppm Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) so resecured it and aligned it to flush. Anyway tried again three days later and got 44 ppm H2S when I cracked it so I know I have some nasty anerobic bugs in there. Just have to work out how to safely get the top off and the contents cleaned out. I think I will be doing it in breathing apparatus.
Meanwhile, I hear that one of the aft sewage vacuum pumps is not running correctly so I am off to clear out the ejector which is no doubt blocked with non human waste…