Colin Williamson

Government Property

Many of you may remember the halcyon days of taking a plip plop at Her Majesty’s convenience. The end of this evolution was of course completing the necessary paperwork without which no job is complete.  For reasons unknown, the paper supplied to government establishments in 1950s and 60s and pictured below was fittingly excremental. This

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Sea Changes Play

Sea Changes Produced by the Citadel Arts Club in the Leith Docker’s Club, the play was written by Jim Brown and directed by Mark Kidd. The cast are: Sean Docherty, Charlie West, Wullie Gardner, David Magowan, Tommy Keir, Charles Donnelly, Hamish Munro, Chris Alexander, Aaron Presley and Gregor Davidson.   Video by Calum Gundry  The play

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Brass thingys

A wee quiz

A wee quiz with no prize and at the moment no answers. On the SS Explorer sometimes things turn up and sometimes they disappear. The brass devices pictured recently appeared. I don’t know where from and having been volunteering on the ship for ten years and been over every inch of her I should have

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Tall Ships 1995

n July 1995, the picturesque port of Leith played host to a magnificent fleet of tall ships that brought a sense of wonder and admiration to all who witnessed their majestic presence. This gathering of graceful vessels from around the world created an atmosphere of excitement as sailors, tourists, and locals eagerly flocked to the waterfront to witness this extraordinary spectacle.

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Leith Festival

Today on a sunny but sometimes chilly Leith Links we set out our stall at the Leith Festival stall extravaganza. Amongst other stalls were  Greenpeace who gave up rather early, extinction rebellion (believe it or not) and many local organisations and charities.  We had a reasonable footfall with a few people showing a healthy interest. 

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I presume the people accessing the log in page of my website are hackers. No idea what they hope to gain but my password is not Password. Good luck with wasting your time and driving up my views. Thank you. I’m so proud. 

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Myford Lathe

I recently came into possession of this Myford lathe. It is on loan to the SS Explorer.  It came with a DC motor which is unfortunate as we don’t want to be running the harbour generator to use it.  I have therefore invested in a VFD motor and controller which I fitted today and successfully

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The Lathe

As well as volunteering on the SS Explorer, I also volunteer as an engineer on the Royal Yacht Britannia. As a result I have been gifted this lathe. It is a Myford ML7-R. The Royal Yacht  disposed of it because it was surplus to requirements as another better lathe is on board and also the

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The Log

The ship’s log. What is it?  There are a few logs on a ship. A navigation log on the bridge would record the ship’s position, weather, sea temperature among other things.  In the engine room, temperatures, pressures and machinery status would be recorded.  A movement log would be kept on the bridge and in the

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Derek Learmont

It is with a heavy heart that I have to pass on the following message from David Darling, Derek’s Stepson.  He has contacted me to say that Derek has passed away. “Can you please pass on to the members that Derek Learmont, passed away on 11th Feb due to cancer.There will be a service held

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Seafarers have long been able to determine their latitude (that is the angle in degrees, minutes and seconds north or south of the equator. This is called declination) by measuring the angle between stars and the horizon. The easiest example of this is  the pole star, Polaris which is  located less than one degree from

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Live front

The Main Switchboard

Continuing the blog on an electrical theme, ladies and gentlemen I give you the main switchboard.  It is a live front switchboard with live knife type breakers.  Dinnae touch them. Explorer is (was) powered by three diesel powered dynamos. Two 80kw units and one 24kw harbour dynamo. The centre circuit breaker is the harbour dynamo’s

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The Megger

Continuing on the geekery of electrical test instruments, Pictured here is the Megger. So named because it measures megohms.  Ohms is the unit of electrical resistance. If one volt is applied to a one ohm resistor a current of one amp will flow and one watt of heat will be generated The Megger can measure

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210 metres eh?

One of our members donated this device to Explorer. It consists of a frame attached to a Venturi containing an impeller connected to two worm drives.  The worm drive is attached what presumably was a recording device. A bourdon tube is attached for reasons yet to be gleaned.  It seems to have a depth limit

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The Avometer

Avometer The Explorer didn’t carry a dedicated electrician.  The ship’s engineers and radio officer would have been responsible for electrical maintenance and repairs. A multimeter is an essential tool for diagnosing electrical faults. Nowadays multimeters tend to be small digital devices. In Explorer’s service days, the rather bulky Avometer would have been used.   The

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Wear and tear

Around October 2018 a project was commenced to shelter the monkey island with a tent to allow for more permanent renovation of the corroded deck.  After two and a half years of service the fabric of the tent requires renovation itself.   Some sections of the plastic sheeting require replacement. The damage above occurred during

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Website upgrade

I’ve had the website in the workshop for a few days up on ramps to try and squeeze some more speed out of it.  The graphic below shows the readings before tune up. Before So after stiffening up the suspension and shaving the cylinder heads to up the compression ratio, fitting low profile alloys and

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Rookies error?

It would appear that Alexander Hall & Co. Ltd planned to install two lavatories on the starboard side of the ship next to the officer’s pantry. What they don’t appear to have taken account of is the rather relevant fact that the outlet from these shunkies is about three feet below the waterline.  A fact

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In February 2017 we installed zinc sacrificial anodes on steel wire to help protect the hull against corrosion. These work because oxidants, which corrode metals, will oxidize the zinc anode rather than the protected metal structure, thus preventing the structure from being corroded. Every now and again we have to land the anodes to remove

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This is a Marconi Lodestar HF/DF (High Frequency/Direction Finder) system

The huffduff

Todays bit of of geekery is the High Frequency Direction Finder, abbreviated HFDF and often referred to as the hufffduff. It’s function was to determine the bearing of a radio transmitter on the high frequency band which is in the range of 3 to 30 megahertz. This is the range that ship’s medium and long

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The term "megger" is often used generically to refer to any insulation resistance testing instrument.

The Megger

Another bit of historical geekery, the Megger. In these days of practically anything and everything being “Mega”, the Megger was eponymously named as it’s purpose was to measure electrical resistance in the range of “megohms”, a megohm being one million ohms, which is a lot. It was often used as a practical joke device whereby

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Avometer is a brand name associated with electrical multimeters, which are versatile testing and measuring tools used various electrical applications. The term "Avometer" is often used to describe analog multimeters, particularly those produced by the British company AVO (Ampere-Volt-Ohm) Ltd.

The Avometer

Today’s geekfest is the Avometer. Although this one was donated by our late friend Brian Murdoch, it is a racing certainty that a similar instrument would have been used by the engineers and radio officer on board the Explorer. The AVO in the name stands for Amps, Volts and Ohms which is precisely the electrical

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A Dreich Day

After some appalling weather, both wind and rain, the big top seems to be doing its job. There is dampness due to blowing rain and slight leaks but nothing is penetrating to the interior. More progress made today and we now have around a third of the deck up. It’s a slog. And rain and

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Diesel tank

Diesel Tanks

Port and Starboard Diesel Tanks Both these tanks were inspected visually through the manhole doors on 260119.  The starboard tank is in relatively good condition and the port tank has light surface corrosion.  The port tank is not currently considered suitable for fuel storage.

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Big top

The Big Top

The big top pretty much complete except at the aft end. Will have to consider if we have enough Monarflex to do the remaining unshielded parts. Should keep most of the water off the deck and out of the accommodation. Turns out it consumed many more man hours than I had imagined. Hoping to start

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The Monkey Island (If anyone has expertise in aluminium corrosion control, can you get in touch please)

A bit of a windy one today and testing the mettle of the Big Top. It is standing up so far but requires tweaking and maintenance. Also we have still to shield the forward and after ends, but we are awaiting delivery of further anchors and clamps. When we had run out of tent tweaks,

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Arctic Corsair

Continuing my adventures in the lookshoory superyacht Síbín, I find myself in Kingston upon Hull, or ‘ull as the locals say. ‘ull is home to the Arctic Corsair, a motor trawler built in 1960 in Beverley. She is now a visitor attraction on the River ‘ull, and she is about to receive a massive cash

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Today the society set out its stall at the Ship Ahoy event on board the tall ship Glenlee in Glasgow. Various exhibitors partook including model makers, Skylark IX, Falls of Clyde, Caledonian MacBrayne to name a few. Jim Charlie and I fielded a lot of enquiries. Time will tell if we get any new members

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Sir Andrew Cubie

We are delighted and honoured to announce that Sir Andrew Cubie CBE has agreed to become a Patron of the SS Explorer Preservation Society. The list of Andrew’s past achievements and positions is too long to list here so I will ask the Scottish Cancer Foundation to help out. Sir Andrew Cubie CBE Welcome aboard

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The Radar

The original radar equipment as fitted to the Explorer when new is long gone having been updated probably more than once during her long career. Phil Harley has done some research for us and he believes that the Marconi Mk IV equipment shown was the original fit.

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Why Steam?

Why was the Explorer powered by a triple expansion steam engine when contemporary trawlers were being powered by diesel engines? This is a question which has vexed us here at the SSEPS for years. A couple of bits of information have revealed themselves over the past few days which give rise to a theory. First

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George Wood

Yesterday we welcomed George Wood who came all the way from Aberdeen by bus to visit the Explorer. His father was a Chief Engineer on-board. George tells us that when the ship was doing research on currents and tides the Explorer used to deploy buoys with tags on them. When they were subsequently gathered in

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Jim and Maggie busy cleaning the labs today.  I laid a bit more anti slip netting before skiving off for a tour of the Apache II pipe-laying vessel, one of our neighbours.  I think Explorer could pretty much fit in Apache’s navigating bridge.     After that back to help Charlie fit a lamp in

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A modest turn out for the society’s Annual General Meeting. Attending were: front row left to right Charlie Blyth, Bob Harley, Andy Marjoribanks, Colin Williamson, Derek Learmont. Back row, Alan Hush, Jim Duff, Cron Mackay, Simon Sawers, Brian Murdoch, Alastair Goodman, Emma Fraser and Bill Fallon.

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Water damage.

A quiet Saturday on the Explorer.  Mooring lines a bit slack so tensioned up.     Inspection of the ship after this revealed serious water ingress from the recent rain into the mate’s cabin through the decklight.  The decklight has been removed along with the rotten wood in it’s cofferdam.  Covered up but fairly urgent

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A shorter gap

A bit of time has passed since the last blog but things are progressing. The AC generator has been problematic with AVR issues eventually solved and then a persistent over speeding issue which is hopefully now solved. A lot of internal cosmetic work has been carried out by various members, including repairing the mess room

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A long blog gap

Most of the decklights have been refurbished and refitted making the ship a bit more weatherproof. AC generator has been behaving itself over the last four weeks so fingers crossed it is now reliable.  It was also recently serviced. Work is in progress to get the saloon up to standard with various bits of joinery

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Our thanks to Technip and the crew of the MV Orelia. Orelia is currently de-equipping in Leith prior to her last voyage to be dismantled. The Company and the Chief Engineer have been kind enough to allow the SS Explorer to repurpose and recycle some of their stores. Among other things, our engine room will

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Port fresh water tank partially filled to improve list and trim of vessel. Ballast tank vented and inspected. Galley floor cooker base screeded. Still to complete. Work on tidying quayside continues. Work on hatch dogs continues.

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