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Ross Revenge
Engine Room
Main Engine
DC Power
Fuel & Water

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Thank you for stepping into the Engine Room, and welcome.

On first sight the main engine of the Ross Revenge is an impressive beast. It is a ten cylinder 2400 horsepower Werkspoor made in Amsterdam. The engine room, more correctly known as the machine room, however, houses almost all of the ships original power, propulsion, and pumping systems in addition to the main engine. There are in this area four electrical generators, five primary water pumps, seven auxiliary water pumps, six oil/hydraulic pumps, three oil separation plants, five heat exchanger systems, steam processing boilers, refrigeration systems, a complete DC power distribution system, and numerous other systems too plenty to mention. So as you can see, it is more than just an engine room. All of the ships original electrical power came from the generator sets within here: Two six cylinder Deutz sets each capable of 120,000 watts of power, a three cylinder 35,000 watt MWM and a shaft generator coupled to the main engine to produce nearly a megawatt of power. To put these systems into perspective with other radio ships, compare for example the Mi Amigo, whose MAIN engine was a 200 hp six cylinder Deutz - more or less the same as one of the Ross Revenge's auxiliary generators! Even the Mebo II only had about 300HP on its main engine a little over a tenth of the power of the Ross for a ship about 2/3rds the size. It was the immense power of the Ross Revenge coupled to its Escher-Weisss vari-pitch propeller and Vulcan fluid coupling drive which made it such a formidable and successful trawler.

The Main engine is actually comprised of two five cylinder blocks built back to back driving onto a common crankshaft. When the ship was designed, the best systems and materials available were used - thus although German built with German generators, a Dutch engine was employed, the crankshaft of which was forged in Sheffield from the finest steel around. Once the keel of a ship has been laid and the lower part of the engine installed there is no going back. It is prohibitively expensive and nigh-on impossible to dismantle a ship or engine of this size to replace a damaged crankshaft. A major failing on this part of the construction, whilst being built or during later service will see the ship written off. Even in modern times, luxury liners may have to be scrapped due to major crank problems shortly after commissioning. If you consider the size of parts of the engine, and the size of the access to and from the engine room, you will realise that to remove or replace these parts would mean either cutting a huge hole in the side of the ship, or removing the upper levels so that the parts can be craned out. This would necessitate removing the bridge and upper decks, along with all the furniture, fixtures, fittings, electrics, plumbing and structural work. Clearly this is in effect a complete dismantling of the ship and could not be seriously contemplated in an economic sense.

Big End bearing and Con-rod
The nut holding the bearing together
is approx 100mm (4 inch) diameter
Apart from the crankshaft and lower engine block, engines of this specfication are designed to be dismantled to a great degree and almost every part can be "easily" replaced in a short time. In many situations parts can be replaced or repaired whilst the engine is actually running! All of the auxiliary systems around the engine such as cooling, lubrication, hydraulics, etc, are duplicated such that in the event of a failure full service can be continued without interruption whilst repairs are effected. The ship carries an almost complete set of spare parts for every piece of essential equipment, many of which are fixed in every nook, cranny and recess of the engine room. Con-rods, cylinder liners, pistons, pumps, etc are all immediately available. In the middle of Atlantic fishing grounds there is no AA or RAC to call out when things go wrong. Having to rely on a sister ship to tow you home is even worse, meaning their catch is also delayed and no longer fresh. With the equivalent of, in todays terms, millions of pounds of freshly caught fish onboard any breakdown or delay in returning to port would have disasterous financial consequnces for all.

When converted for use as a radio ship, the engine room equipment was initially immaculately looked after, frequently run and serviced to ensure it was in full working order at all times. However, as the years progressed and money and skilled personnel became harder to spare, neglect started to set in. One of the early casualties was the port side Deutz generator, of which you can read by following the "DC Power" link on the left menu. As fuel supplies became harder to source, it became harder to justify running the main engine. As the main engine was not used, slowly bits of it started to deteriate, or parts were cannibalised to keep other more essential systems running. In one incident, failure of the saltwater cooling pumps for the heat exchangers on the AC generators would mean loss of AC power and broadcast time. A work-round was effected by running the fire pumps 24 hours a day, with the fire hose coupled to the heat exchanger in place of the failed pump! Slowly the engine became inoperable, and one of the tasks facing the early days of the support group when she was in Dover in 1992 was to determine whether the engine was in a servicable condition. Fortunately it was, and after much hard work, it was made to run again, much to everyones delight. However, it was plainly obvious that everything was not as it should be and many auxiliary systems were in need of attention. Further, it was believed there was a problem with water ingress into at least one of the cylinders. Throughout the 90's the engine was either turned on compressed air from time to time, or started for just a few tens of seconds, but further work was required. Finally, when an attempt was made to turn the engine in early 2001 it was found to have seized and the "further work" could not be avoided. For more information on the main engine, and the work involved in fixing the problems, please follow the "main engine" link on the left hand menu on this page. A video, available from radio Caroline sales (see the link from the top title menu) shows in graphic detail the work of the crew involved in repair of the engine.

One of the Hansa Air compressors.
All the diesel equipment in the engine room, ie, the main engine, the two Deutz generators and the MWM "Harbour generator" is all started by compressed air. Two compressors and associated receiver tanks provide the air supply. To start the main engine, a complicated and time consuming procedure must be followed. If the ship is "cold", firstly a hand pump must be operated for approx one hour to build enough air pressure to start the three cylinder MWM generator. To assist in starting this machine, small explosive charges can be fitted into it's cylinders! Once the MWM is running, basic power is available and one of the compressors can be run, and after approx 30 minutes enough air will be available to start one of the Deutz generators. The Deutz will provide ample power for the ship, and then both compressors can be run to pump enough pressure to start the main engine. This process takes around 4 hours. Whilst the air is being pumped up, the cooling water from the Deutz generator is pumped around the main engine to preheat the cylinders and block. Failure to do this, and firing up such a large engine without preheating will lead to severe thermal shock and expansion and catastrophic damage. Whilst the pumping and pre-heating is under way, the electric lubricating oil pumps can be run, thus pre-heating the oil, and ensuring everything is well lubricated prior to starting. Finally, the cylinder drain valves and be opened, and with enough air available, the engine can be spun over. With the valves thus opened, and no compression on the cylinders, any water or other liquid in the cylinders will be expelled, allowing the engineer to detect any potential problems before starting. This turning over process will also allow the valve gear to be freed off. If all is well, and sufficient air is still available, it may now be possible to close the drain valves, and turn on the fuel supply. Perhaps the engine will start, if not the air supply will be quickly exhausted. If the air supply has already been exhausted during the turning over process, then you have no option than to wait another four hours for the compressors to charge the receivers once more and attempt the process again. In real life, it would be a very rare, if ever occasion that the ship was allowed to become "cold". Whilst in port maintenance teams and caretaker crews would ensure that the fuel-efficient harbour generator was running, and that enough air was available to start the main generators when required. The link from the left menu to "Auxiliary Systems" gives more detail on items such as the air compressors, etc.

Down the Prop shaft to the stern glands.
At the rear of the engine is the prop shaft tunnel, through which the 2400 horse power is transferred out through the stern glands to the propellor. Between the engine and the prop shaft is the Vulcan Coupling - a variable hydraulic coupling allowing the drive power to be continuously varied. This, coupled with the vari-pitch propeller resulted in a very manouverable and agile ship. For a quick getaway, the engine can be powered up and then drive engaged - a process which became invaluable when the Ross Revenge was involved in the "Cod Wars" with the Icelandic Navy during the early 1970's. On a conventional ship without a Vari-Pitch, the only means to go from forward to reverse or vice versa is to stop the main engine and start it in the opposite rotational sense, but with the vari-pitch the propulsion can be smoothly and almost instantly reversed, thus adding immensely to the already incredible agility. More information on the Vulcan coupling and Vari-Pitch can be found by following the "Propulsion" link on the left hand menu.

Valves and pipes under the floor plates
Although you may think the floor of the engine room is the bottom, this is not true. The floor is simply a set of raised "plates" in many places about 60 cm above the base, below which runs a labyrinth of pipework and valves. Below this are the main fuel and water storage tanks which run all the way to the keel of the ship. There are probably in excess of 20 tanks, many with capacity in excess of 20 tonnes (20,000 litres) each. Fuel, oil and water can be pumped between tanks to ballast the ship and balance her correctly. When operating as a trawler she would leave port laden down with vast quantities of fuel and water. As this was used up during the fishing process, the lost weight would be replaced with freshly caught fish. Thus she would return to port also fully laden. Over the years much of the pipework under the floor plates became encased with dirt, grime, and not infrequently submersed under saltwater. This led to major problems with corrosion, especially to the pipes carrying saltwater from the "sea chests" to the various cooling systems, and to the pump feeds from the bilges. It was this pipework which was replaced by the ships engineering crew during 2001-2003. See the links on the left hand meny to "Fuel and Water" to learn more about this aspect of the engine room.

Halfway up the funnel looking down...
High up in the engine room, above the engine is the funnel. This houses the water header tanks for the freshwater cooling for the engine room machinary as well as the exhaust silencers for the main engine and auxiliary generators. It also houses various other tanks and systems such as the expansion tank for the ships central heating boiler and the air extract ductwork for the ventilation fans. There are three catwalk levels up the funnel, and right at the top is the fog-horn mechanism. On the adjacent picture you can see two of the catwalks, and on the main deck level of the engine room you can see part of crew member Tommy in the blue shirt. There is another catwalk below Tommy to allow access to the top of the engine and below that the floor level plates of the engine room. Below the floor plates is the pipework, followed by the bulk storage tanks and eventually the keel of the ship.