The Ross Revenge into the new MillenniumA brief summary of work on the Ross Revenge from 1999 to 2004
In Early 1999, the heart of Radio Caroline was once more massaged back to life by her stalwart supporters. At that time airtime was restricted to just 8am to 9pm Saturday, and 8am to 9pm Sunday every weekend using capcity which had been vacated by European Klassik Rock. However from small seeds big things grow, and within a year the listener funded programmes were running 7 days a week.
Meanwhile, the Ross Revenge had undergone a major paint job, and was to be proudly displayed on the end of Southend Peir for the summer season. Volunteers from Carolines large circle of friends and supporters were called upon and pressed into service as tour guides, cooks, painters and toilet repairers!
The ship was towed across the Thames to the peir in the evening on 22 June and within a few days a gangplank had been installed, shoreside electricty connected and was officially declared open to visitors.
The Ross on her last weekend in Queenborough looks fine in her new coat of paint, ready for public display in Southend.
A few days later, and the Ross is firmly attached to Southend pier, where she was open to the public to give a taste of what life was like onboard the worlds most famous radio ship.
Above (L-R): The Ross is an impressive sight from the end of the pier; Bright and fresh paintwork makes the lady look well cared for; Even at quiet moments on the pier, members of the public wait on the rear deck for the next tour.
Onboard the Ross life goes on, even though several hundred people a day are visiting the ship.
Above (L-R): With a power supply from the pier, the Perkins generator receives attention from Peter Clayton, following five years of almost continuous service; Just a small part of the all-volunteer crew who give up a little of their life to see that the Lady is looked after;
However, you can never be too sure what will happen when the Ross Revenge is around...... During the Ross's stay on the pier, the main 11kv feeder cable feeding the pierhead substation was severed during some construction work, blacking out all the shops and facilities on the pier, as well as all the navigation lighting and lifeboat station. As it would take several days to repair the damage, one of the ships 250Kva 6 cylinder M.A.N. generators was fired up, and for the duration of the damage, much of the pier head infrastructure was powered courtesy of Radio Caroline and the Ross Revenge.
On Monday 9th August, the Mayor of Southend, Cllr Tony North paid an official visit to the Ross Revenge where he was shown round by station manager, Peter Moore, then spent a while meeting the volunteer crew.
Above (L-R): The Mayor is welcomed aboard by Sieste and "Peter the Plank"; The Mayor is welcomed into the on-air studio by Dave Foster; Radio Caroline, conducting of its few and rare on air interviews.
Above (L-R): Peter Moore demonstrates the ships main engine; The Mayor sees the generators which powered the pier for nearly 48 hours during the power cut.; The Mayor is presented with a framed picture of the Ross by Dave Francis.
Into the new Millenium, the Ross Revenge returned to her moorings at Queenborough on Sheppy, and 2000 was declared to be the year of the generator! A new economical 4-cyl Perkins with brand new 20Kva alternator was finally brought into life over the Easter weekend, and since then has been the ships main power source and proven to be 100% dependable. This has taken much pressure off the well used "deck" Perkins, which is now used only when its extra power is required, eg. for the electric welder or various pumps and motors. Down in the hold, the port side broadcast MAN 6 cyl has been brought back into life for the first time since the early 90's, although it still requires a few minor adjustments to its fuel supply system. The injection pump, starter and water pumps for this unit were cannibalised from the starboard MAN, which having flawlessly powered Southend pier during the power cut in 1999 subsequently failed in a shower of sparks and flames when fired up during the winter. The failure is thought to be due to a major collapse of the rear alternator bearing which deposited metal fragments into the windings thus causing a short circuit. This 250Kva alternator will need rebuilding before this generator can be used again.
Left: The new Perkins Diesel awaiting install; Right: The old Combine Harvester genny.
The new Perkins is located in the position in the hold vacated by the former "combine harvester" generator which expired earlier. The Monster V12 MAN which was put onboard before the mast collapse in 1987 but never used in earnest has also been brought back into life. This unit was disconnected and isolated in the mid 90's when a potential buyer came forward, however, this plan fell through and the set has lain unused since then. It's electrics were overhauled and reconnected, 10 gallons of fresh oil were poured into it, and it was fired up for a few brief minutes. At that time for technical reasons it could not power the ship, but this problem has since been rectified and if required in an extreme emergency this generator could supply the ship with power. However, witha fuel consumption of over 10 gallons of diesel an hour we don't intend to use it except in the most extreme circumstances.
A new set of lighting batteries, rescued from a defunct fork-lift truck now enables the DC emergency lighting system to be operated throughout the night, thus saving fuel on the generators. The emergency lighting system had fallen into disrepair for a few years, but in 2000 and 2001 it has been thoroughly rebuilt, and extended into parts of the ship it previously did not extend to, such as the trasnsmitter and generator rooms, and the bridge and upstairs cabins.
Meanwhile in the engine room, the ships 30KW DC 3 cylinder MWN "harbour" generator has been fitted with new pipework with a view to using this as an emergency standby lighting generator. This set is not thought to have run for perhaps 15 years. An added advantage of this generator is that its cooling water can be pumped through the ships central heating system.
Above: Two views of the new pipework being fitted into the tight cramped space under the engine rooms plates. The grey and green pipes are new - imagine what the old ones looked like.
And speaking of the engine room...... Whilst the ship has spent a few quiet summers in Queenborough, the engineering crew have been spending their weekends down in the bowels of the engine room. The lack of visitors on the scale of Southend, and the availability of the crew have prompted some much overdue work in the engine room. Under the floor plates are a multitude of pipes: fresh water, salt water, fuel, lubrication, hydraulics, and trawling functions such as Cod liver oil, refrigeration, etc. Although some of these are now surplus, many are still essential for the ship. The crew were busy identifying and removing the unused ones, cleaning up and restoring the valves on the essential ones, and where necessary, replacing these with brand new lines. Many of these pipes date back 40 years and have received no attention at all for the last 18 years. It sounds like a simple job, but steel pipes, 150mm (6 inch) in diameter, several metres long are not easy to work on. Especially when they have to be cut and welded to size on the deck, then manhandled into the bottom of the engine room to fit into an exact space. Many knuckles were scraped, fingers squashed, and welding rods burnt, but after 18 months of work, the ship once more contains solid top quality marine grade pipework for the essential services. With this completed, the main engine will have clean and reliable feeds of water, oil and hydraulics - just one more step along the road of making her run again.
During the pipework period, the crew took a few weekends out to install the new galley, which was kindly donated by our friends in the Dutch support group. The old galley, which, after many years of damp and neglect was in very poor condition and was pulled out in one evening. The remainder of that weekend was spent installing the basics of the new galley. Further weekends were spent finishing off the fitting, and paying attention to the detail. The ship now has a first class galley, with a new oven and hob, as well as the original cooker and about 4 times as much work surface to make catering for large numbers of hungry people much easier.
Whilst all this work has been going on around the ship, the electrical team have been busy re-wiring large parts of the ships AC electrical system. A number of new lights have been donated to us, and many of these have been fitted in areas which were previously poorly lit. Adequate lighting in the port and starboard forepeak areas means these can be efficiently used as storage and work areas and not just junk rooms. The portside has been fitted out as a pipe fitting workshop, with a threading and cutting machine, ventilation system and welding plant. Power point circuits have been completely rewired in the forepeaks, generator room, transmitter room and engine room. All these areas are now fitted with UK three pin plugs, correctly fused, and safety is ensured through the use of earth leakage reisdual current breakers on all sockets.
During the latter half of 2002, work has started on overhauling the main engine, and attending to some of the minor faults it has known to suffer from for the past decade. A full description of the engine works will appear on the engine page shortly.
Thanks to the genorosity of supporters, both long term and new members, and the enthusiasm shown by visitors to the ship, the restoration and rennovation work will continue at good pace. We are always pleased to welcome visitors on board, and show how our supporters money is being spent. For further details of the next public viewing times on the ship, please contact the email addresses shown at the bottom of this page, or make contact with the head office in London, as detailed on the Radio Caroline Official website, www.radiocaroline.co.uk. Thank you for your continuing support.