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Blame Craig!

His thread last year was a welcome distraction that proved a lot more fascinating than I think many of us had anticipated.

Now, I am stuck onboard a tanker with little hope of even a timely repatriation, and the majority of what I see is all about a virus. So, to distract myself I have decided to emulate Craig's thread albeit on a shorter timescale (and probably not daily, I can guarantee I will miss days here and there).

So, a brief synopsis.

My vessel is an Aframax sized tanker, and I am currently onboard as the third engineer. Slightly unusual, as I am in fact a 2/E, however we have a slight shortage of thirds so needs must.

We have just loaded cargo in North West Australia (close to Onslow, for those who know the area), and are headed up to South Korea.

ER Temp/Humidity: 39°C/21%

Today's job was to replace the coupling bolts/rubbers on one of the Main Engine LO pumps after vibrational analysis suggested there might be an issue with the coupling. I'm not the biggest fan of this vibration malarky, however on this occasion it appears it may well have been on the money. Thank god, it was not the most pleasant of places!

IMG_20200408_131144.thumb.jpg.1e93aa9b859ba8559e980c4e82744999.jpg

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Is that the vibration sensor on the fitting below the coupling?

Permananent or temporary (magnetic?)

You may have noticed my ineterest in vibration sensing , for Triumph dampers.

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Vibration analysis can be a useful tool.   Sometimes for the wrong reasons.  While with my previous company I had extensive dealings with sewage pumping station under a carpark in Budleigh Salterton.  Not visits I would look forward to.  They had 5 large PC pumps drawing through macerators and the macerators had a habit of getting clogged with (well, you don't want to think too hard about that!), making the pumps cavitate. 

When first installed I insisted on pressure sensors on both sides of the pump to protect from mishap as a condition of warranty.  They worked, but once out of warranty they got broken, reset and/or bypassed (often so your idle grunt on call could get back to bed without cleaning out the macerator).  This sometimes led to bad things..... The most notable being a blockage leading to one of the pumps (with a bypassed switch) running for an extended period (days to weeks) with severe cavitation.  They are pretty robust things, but in the end it gave up and a joint (think HGV-sized Hardy Spicer running in a rubber sleeve oil bath) let go, leading to some heavy flailing objects inside and a dramatic escape, making a huge hole in the casing.  This is bad, not least because the floor of the pump room is actually below the tank water level...... and while the macerator was blocked it wasn't blocked enough to stop the room (about the size of a badminton court) from flooding to the depth of about a metre.  This didn't stop the remaining pumps as the motors were vertically mounted on right-angle gearboxes and remained dry.  However, what did at least prompt someone to go and look was that  the vibration sensors, drowned by the rising water and the only alarm left other than imminent tank overflow warning actually connected to remote telemetry, were flat-lining.

Would perhaps have been more helpful if someone had taken action when the off-the-scale readings of the cavitating pump first occurred.  They had been spotted - it was just that they were so wild it had been assumed the vibration sensor was faulty!  FFS!  The consequences rumbled on for months as although they were told that all 5 gearboxes would need draining and flushing as a minimum to get the water out, and the bearing housings would need re-greasing as a bare minimum, it wasn't done and alot more expensive shrapnel resulted.  Good spares business - in the short-term - but it's always very hard to make sure that those further up the the chain fully understand that it was murder, not suicide, when those nearer ground zero are frantically covering their lazy arses by any means possible. :mad:

Did also once spend a couple of hours on a rig supply vessel docked at Avonmouth inspecting a large rotary lobe pump that was described as having "severe vibration issues" and "keeps breaking belts".  It had to draw from three different tanks and on two of them it was absolutely fine.  Nevertheless it was clearly the pump at fault and the fact that the third tank required it to suck 60m3/h (viscosity varying from water to HFO) through 30m of 1.5" pipe with a ridiculous number of 90º elbows in it was nothing to do with it.... according to them. The friction loss calculation result with water came out at several Bar and sucking that is firmly contrary to the laws of physics.  Wasn't even worth calculating for the thicker stuff.  Warranty denied.....

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We haven't got a smiley, super-smiley or ROFL-smiley facility here, Nick, but I enjoyed your ironic comment above!

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I have many war stories like this.  The pump is ALWAYS guilty until proven innocent and all too often there are those who would really rather it stayed guilty to keep their behinds covered.  This stance rarely ends well as if a poorly designed system can kill one pump..... it can always kill another - even with a different makers badge on it!

Apologies for thread drift Phil.  My former boss was also an marine engineer in his younger days - with Shell tankers IIRC.  He also has a good fund of war stories on a variety of equipment.  He knows alot about varied systems. You have to be versatile as a marine engineer!

I did once (30 years ago now :ohmy:) interview for a job as a marine insurance inspector.  Small company whose (very likeable) owner was at pains to try to put me off with tales of hardship, discomfort, boredom and deranged/obstructive crew members.  The drill was, you'd join the ship at one port and travel with it to the next (days to weeks) while crawling over over it and inside it, then, if he was managing things right, join another at that port.... and so on.  Could be away for months on end.  He reckoned if you had any troublesome female hangers-on, the job would shake them off!  The money was good though. He didn't appear perturbed at my complete ignorance of all things marine, though, to be fair he didn't offer me the job either.  A year or so later I saw an short piece in the local paper saying he'd been killed.  Fell off a ladder in a large tank and landed on his head.....  I dodged a bullet there I reckon!

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31 minutes ago, JohnD said:

We haven't got a smiley, super-smiley or ROFL-smiley facility here, Nick, but I enjoyed your ironic comment above!

Ditto, having surveyed the grey and black tanks on cruise ships in a past life and delt with shared septic tanks I was glad I had finished breakfast as the smells and sight reminders came flooding back:blink:

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21 hours ago, JohnD said:

Is that the vibration sensor on the fitting below the coupling?

Permananent or temporary (magnetic?)

You may have noticed my ineterest in vibration sensing , for Triumph dampers.

It is indeed John. This pump has permanent sensors fitted due to location. Just the other side of the pump and above is the shaft, spinning away at 90+ rpm (the blur at the bottom left of the photo is the bottom edge of the flywheel!

We have some other equipment also with permanent sensor fitted (these in fact simply go to a remote box that we plug the machine into). Majority of equipment uses a magnetic sensor. Entire lot made by a company called Pruftechnik.

This method is the old one, the newer vessels come with all the sensors hardwired into a server. Even this ship (comparatively small for us) has over 100 pieces of machinery monitored by vibration. The rules state we must survey all machinery every 3 months, and must survey a minimum of 60% every month. As you may imagine, the old handheld manually collected method consumed many man hours, and only captures a snapshot of the machinery. The new system monitors machinery all the time, completely automatically and hence should be far superior.

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14 hours ago, Nick Jones said:

but it's always very hard to make sure that those further up the the chain fully understand that it was murder, not suicide, when those nearer ground zero are frantically covering their lazy arses by any means possible

Hmm, regrettably that sounds rather familiar. Not that I would ever wish to cast aspersions upon my current shipmates, but I was told today to "keep the old coupling bolts/rubbers, in case of emergency". The coupling had a nearly 10mm of play before the other half caught up............

We also probably should not mention the practice of placing the magnetic vibration sensor in an "alternate" location to ensure readings are within limits!

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9th April, 0600 to 1700, 2100 to 2200.

ER Temp & Humidity: 43°C & 18%

An eventful day, as seawater temps rise above 30°C stressing our cooling systems beyond the limit. When in perfect condition the various cooling systems are stretched to capacity in hot climates, currently they are 4 years in service, with another year to go. So we had to knock 3rpm of the main engine, before things went pop.

Aside from that, today's big task was commencing complete major overhaul on one of our small air compressors. Full works, everything open and replace. Got the bulk of the dismantling done (crank left to come out), was slow progress due to the fact that today I am duty engineer, meaning I must also keep an eye on everything else, write the daily log, answer the many phone calls (normally deckies crying for help) etc etc.

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Also, tried to capture the moon, which was looking rather large when it popped up over the horizon. Doesn't look as big in the photo mind you, but I tried.

IMG_20200409_191348_copy_2304x1088.thumb.jpg.6a9daeb3de5da05a2fb8858f6c9f9196.jpg

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33 minutes ago, mpbarrett said:

Thanks all very interesting.

Do you a name for the ship so we can track you :)

https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:131.2/centery:-5.6/zoom:5

cheers

mike

I do, but not directly. I prefer to keep this thread relatively anonymous, just in case anything serious occurs to the ship at any point in the future.

First name starts with a C, and is a type of sugar linked to Greek/Roman mythology.

The second name is a Star Trek ship beginning with the letter V. The same name is also the title of Diana Gabaldon's third novel in the Outlander series.

Feel free to PM if you get stuck.

Phil

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2 hours ago, thebrookster said:

9th April, 0600 to 1700, 2100 to 2200.

ER Temp & Humidity: 43°C & 18%

answer the many phone calls (normally deckies crying for help) etc 

Nice blog, Not so nice hours and working environment, but it's always been that way. Deckies calling the engine room heavens above, thought they should have been gazing longingly out of the window at what was around them:yes:.

nice photos and great one of the moon, 

Good clues Phil, so Inchon next stop? Not in bad condition for a 14 year old the ship that is!

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7 hours ago, John I said:

Not in bad condition for a 14 year old the ship that is!

HAH!

Cosmetically she looks good, however like a good spot if you scratch the surface a nightmare of horrors emerges. No doubt there will be plenty posts on this in the future as I attempt (and I mean attempt) to make some headway.

Basically, very little is actually working correctly, it is all bodge jobs. The result of several years of poor management and maintenance. Gonna be a hard trip mentally I think, because every time I turn round I seem to hit a brick wall, either one created by Cheify or another piece of failed machinery. Then we have the normal failures of a 14 year old vessel to contend on top of that!

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10th April, 0700 to 1700

ER Temp & Humidity: 42°C & 17%

Slightly shorter day, senior management marched into the control room where we were all cooling off at five and announced that in high heat we should be knocking off early. We didn't need told twice!!

Continued stripping the compressor, all I am left with is an almost bare block. Replaced both main bearings on the crank, and made a start on the piston.

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The scientific method of fitting bearings, both of them just spotted into position with no fuss at all. Pity I couldn't say the same for removing the old ones....

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Additionally, I decided to further top up the D3 levels above and beyond the 4000IU tabs I am taking. One very rough repair later, and I have this:

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Downside is despite only being out for 25 mins, I am a not so faint shade of pink! No actual burning though, reckon it should be fine by tomorrow. But it did feel good actually getting out in the sun!

IMG_20200410_180523__01_copy_1432x816.thumb.jpg.4f5d6a26d5a85cd859b206766025e166.jpg

Phil

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11th April, 0800 to 1700

ER Temp & Humidity: 40°C & 20%

A quieter day today, mostly spent measuring things. All within spec, albeit at the upper limits which is not so surprising when you think it has been in service for the last 14 years!

Late entry today, as yesterday a few squalls with accompanying thunder/lightening cam through, which played merry hell with the internet signal!

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IMG_20200411_113406_copy_1843x870_copy_921x434.jpg.b5303451fb7b748f3801fba3b0d7f75d.jpg

Phil

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8 hours ago, thebrookster said:

 

!

 

 

IMG_20200411_113406_copy_1843x870_copy_921x434.jpg.b5303451fb7b748f3801fba3b0d7f75d.jpg

Phil

You'll get some people excited showing boxes of micrometers like that.

Almost engineers porn!

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12th April, 0600 to 1200, 1600 to 1700, 2100 to 2200

ER Temp & Humidity: 40°C & 23%

Today has been a bit of a mixed bag, tbh. Turns out it is Easter Sunday (amazing how you lose track of things at sea), so lunch/dinner was a buffet as this allows us all to eat together and gives the galley guys a bit of a break.

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However, this morning was spent trying to insert the piston back into the compressor. I say trying, we managed to break two sets of rings already, and we are now down to the last new set. Problem is this is a double-acting piston, the "traditional" combustion space is the low pressure side, and the lower section of the piston is the high pressure side (not so high mind, this is only a 7 Bar system). The upper rings are fine (these are composite), however the lower rings are metal, and cannot be easily guided into place. See the picture I posted earlier when I removed the piston, below is the liner. The hole at the angled section is the outlet to the high pressure valve.

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What I suspect is happening (we test this out tomorrow) is that we had the rings with the gaps facing away from the port, and when we push down the corners are simply digging into the angled "guide" section of the liner. Tomorrow we try with the gaps all facing the port, so that we push them in with tools as we try to lower the piston, and hopefully not break any more rings. Anyone with any ideas, please feel free to step forward :tongue:

Happy Easter all!

Phil

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I'm late to the party here Phil, but very please someone has taken up the daily post.  Fascinating job you have.  Keep it up!

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4 hours ago, thebrookster said:

 

 

What I suspect is happening (we test this out tomorrow) is that we had the rings with the gaps facing away from the port, and when we push down the corners are simply digging into the angled "guide" section

 

Phil, do your first pictures when you deconstructed the compressor give you any help. You had shot of the piston hanging, not sure but it might provide you with a clue/some help. Fingers crossed.

Nice lunch spread.

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I was also well impressed with lunch spread - there’s even a pigs head on there!

No more thoughts or you roughing it on salt pork, ships biscuit and the occasional lime..... :tongue:

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7 hours ago, thebrookster said:

12th April, 0600 to 1200, 1600 to 1700, 2100 to 2200

ER Temp & Humidity: 40°C & 23%

Today has been a bit of a mixed bag, tbh. Turns out it is Easter Sunday (amazing how you lose track of things at sea), so lunch/dinner was a buffet as this allows us all to eat together and gives the galley guys a bit of a break.

IMG_20200412_125607__01_copy_1020x442.thumb.jpg.f7564683dfa70ea81fcea38fd0a12238.jpg

 

Happy Easter all!

Phil

I love the idea that a full buffet spread, complete with Whole Hogs Head and table decorations, "gives the galley guys a break"!    I imagine its more fopr thme to enjoy showiig what they can really do, professionally, as a change from the regular dishes!      I say that having had amazing displays from hospital kitchens for special occasions!

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Thanks. What a great thread this is, really enjoying it.

My sister in law's brother is a ship's engineer who, after a long career in the merchant navy,
now works for one of they Russian billionaires.
Alas he is stuck at home for the foreseeable, which is making him :verymad:

 

 

Ian.

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13th April, 0700 to 1730

ER Temp & Humidity: 41°C & 20%

Well, today is definitely a good day. Glad to report that the compressor is re-assembled. My hunch about the rings proved to be correct, and once they were pointing at the port they slid down a lot easier. Well, all except the top two, which had to be maneuvered into a precise position to allow them to contract properly into the groove (only took 3 hours lol), but we got there.

And I mean we! Everyone from C/E down was there, which resulted in myself and the chief shouting at each other as only Europeans can ("up a bit, NO UP, you idiot", "Don't push that b..., Ohh bloody hell, start again" etc etc). The poor 1/E (Indian) and 2/E(Philippine) looked somewhat browbeaten by the end, not quite how they are used to working.

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So tomorrow's job is to perform laser alignment between the motor and compressor, and test it all! Then with a bit of luck we can start filling this wee air bottle up.........

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Other than that, today we have reached the Pacific, which means I can pump out the Bilge Holding Tank. We make a lot of "water" onboard, mostly by condensation, and it is the 3/E' s job to keep this under control. Only clean water allowed to go overboard (legal limit is 15 parts per million of oil, no dilution allowed, company regs are 5ppm), and this involves this not so fancy piece of kit. Simple to use, but the consequences of incorrect use are draconian!! (Fines of 6 digits and above, and/or jail time!!) As you can see though, I have a tank full of clean water.

IMG_20200413_131929_copy_870x1842.thumb.jpg.51bebe0385fa44837aab1c93b0dcfb6f.jpg

Phil

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