Home' Ausmarine : February 2010 Contents So the Copenhagen Climate Gabfest was a flop... you seriously
didn't expect to see any decision from 9,000 bureaucrats and
around 500 "leaders" from 120 countries, did you?
No matter what they were discussing, any decision from that
crowd would have been as unlikely as a Pope pole dancing in a
Even our very own Elmer Fudd could not strut his stuff on the
ETS as planned. Thank goodness, as the rest of the world would
have seriously doubted our nation's sanity.
The popular press now assures us we are safe from imminent
global warming doom as celebrities scramble to hit the spotlight in
their claims for glory. Arnold Schwarzenegger has accepted
accolades by changing his Hummer to bio-diesel, now generating
the equivalent emissions of four other vehicles instead of six. What
Leonardo Di Caprio has taken a bow by being seen in
daylight driving a Prius hybrid, no doubt keeping his V8 Porsche
for night cruising.
Every magazine is lauding the new green mantra and it would
seem the humble diesel engine is destined for serious emasculation
as Tier 3 emissions and new unreasonable standards are thrust
upon their manufacturers. No doubt engine company shareholders
are screaming for dividends in these tough times.
In an extensive report in the September 2008 issue of Motor
Ship, John Lillie, the President of the Consulting Marine
Engineers and Ships Surveyors Group, highlighted the drive
for lower capital cost in engine parts causing low quality
materials to be utilised in some engines. That was before a
Locally, a regional operator confirmed this was indeed the case
in some well-known engines that his group had purchased last
year. After failure of the engines' raw water pipes in only ten
weeks, it became clear that mild steel had been used, instead of
Tests highlighted that the pipes were indeed mild steel, either a
huge QA oversight by the manufacturer, or was it that those
particular engines were destined for domestic river work in Asia,
where raw water pipes can be mild steel? This was aggravated by
failures of starter motors and alternators. What else could be
expected when fine sprays of salt water are fountained around an
These engines were running, according to the operator, at
1,500rpm for eight hours a day, fairly tame stuff for such an
engine. Within 1,200 hours, internal leaks became apparent on
one engine as the cooling header tank required filling every two
hours, and no sign of any external leaks. The manufacturer came
to fix it on warranty, but then charged an unjustified amount of
overtime "not covered by warranty." As other failures occurred,
the manufacturer refused to attend until their unjustified
invoices were paid. Stuff of ransom indeed, and as a shareholder
in that little vessel I have issued an edict that the manufacturer
will not darken my doorstep until 2020.
The manufacturer's local manager, passing me in the Qantas
Club, confided to me that they could not find good competent
engineers. As if it was a secret! Good engineers have been
swallowed by the mining companies paying huge salaries.
The manufacturer's sales chief had openly advised the industry
for years, including me, never to buy cheap domestic Asian-built
engines as they have sub-standard bolt-on equipment. Now they
appear to be selling through the front door a much more expensive
version of the same type of engine!
But all operators of commercial vessels have their own horror
stories about engines, so that particular manufacturer is not
alone in losing customers and friends in the pursuit of the
bottom line. Operators will just keep seeking a company that
will "honour" their warranty, and in lean times the reports of
engine manufacturers running from warranty commitments
seems to be prevalent.
Personally I am sticking to Yanmar engines as this is a company
that actually designs marine engines, not marinised truck engines.
Yes, they are expensive, but good, and even the raw water lines are
cupro nickel. I am very happy with my Japanese car, my Japanese
laptop and these Japanese marine engines, and thankfully never
have had to chase warranty on any of these products. They
Saving the best 'til last, better than any humble diesel is, of
course, wind propulsion, as the wind is free! This explains the large
noses on Jews and Scotsmen.
Harnessing wind power you can have sails, kites, Flettner rotors,
or a combination. Flettner rotors were used in the 1920s for trans-
Atlantic crossings but were still reliant on wind -- hence cheap
steam and diesel power saw the demise of rotor propulsion.
Nowadays, the Flettner system is arousing interest in many
countries on many different sizes and types of vessel
A bipod mast with a huge lightweight gennaker is a highly
effective, quiet, environmentally friendly solution for vessel
propulsion. This solution doesn't cause vibration problems, is not
smelly, doesn't require a 200-page instruction manual, nor does it
void the warranty, like an engine, if you touch it yourself.
Actually you don't even have to touch it yourself, just haul down
the sock over it, or if it is on roller furling, just winch it in.
Better still, get the deckhands to do it, preferably shapely
deckhands in bikinis. Let the mining industry keep the engineers,
they have already been made obsolete by the electric and
sustainable energy solutions.
With STUART BALLANTYNE
THE EDUCATION OF AN
Saving the best 'til last
February 2010 AUSMARINE
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