22nd Dec. 05

When I was a Chief Engineer on board a ship with SEMT PIEL STICK PCV18, I once encountered a major breakdown.

The ship was sailing from Kakinada in India to Liverpool. We had transited the Suez Canal and we were in the Mediterranean. At about 1600 hrs the 4th eng called me up and said the clutch air was leaking badly. I went down and checked the entire Pneumatic system of the clutch for leaks, finding none.

But there was a big loss of air from the clutch pneumatic tube. Nothing could be done except keep running the air compressor continuously to maintain the clutch pressure (10 bar).

As we had 10 days of voyage left, I couldn't leave the air compressor working continuously, so I took a decision of stopping the engine and used permanent coupling bolts available in case of clutch failure.

After using the coupling bolts we proceeded and maintained a shaft rpm of 55. After a couple of days, during the 2000 to 2400 hrs watch there was a big noise & sparks emanated from the fly wheel side of the main engine. The engine was immediately stopped and investigated.

On inspecting we found that the thrust bearing was seized (End Brg.). As we couldn't dismantle the bottom half, the whole hosing was taken out which is bolted to the bed plate. The housing was boxed back and a new brg. shell was tried, but to our dismay the bottom shell was not going in.

I suspected flywheel sag and used whatever chain blocks we had to slightly lift the flywheel, so that there could be a clearance for the bottom shell to go in. But all efforts were futile. Finally we managed the shell on non load bearing side and reduced it by 0.2 mm.

Subsequently brg. shells were put back and engine was started. We proceeded with the leak up to the next port getting necessary spares there.