Year 1983: V/L Lala Lajpatrai fire Pump. A long standing problem steam driven reciprocating fire pump (main) could not develop not more than 2 kg/cm2. This situation continued for more than six months,

I joined the vessel as 3/E and after 20 days got by promoted as 2/E . As per record and according to serving staff on board including C/E the pump was o’hauled including the bucket, steam cylinder and valve chests many times over the steam cylinder rings have a tendency to break, every time it was being replaced, hence very large quantity of rings were kept on board.

The pump runs normally immediately after overhaul and then stops and or slows down intermittently.

When I decided to overhaul, I was discouraged strongly by all, C/E, Fitter, 3/E, etc because they had finished o’hauling just a couple of days before I joined. Still with the help of the fitter, I opened the steam cylinder and found the rings broken and the broken piece was getting caught in the steam inlet and outlet parts. Surprised at finding the rings broken at such a short span I decided to spend sometime on investigation.

The ring seemed to be a little harder and brittle. According to the fitter there was another set of better looking spare rings kept in a corner. (Fitter’s suggestion on spares was very valuable as the store was in a mess resembling more of a scrap yard). The spares seemed original with Japanese tags on them. The spare rings were used and the pump worked beautifully with enough pressure at all times. There were 3 other scantily similar pumps used for stripping having the same problem. These pumps too were overhauled and rings replaced with the original ones. There was no more problem faced and found pump working much better with simultaneous stripping.

The ship was using rings fabricated by Bombay workshop and one set of original spare was kept aside. I was questioned for using up the original spare and not appreciated for solving the long standing problem. (1 ½ yrs after I left the vessel the p/p room caught fire with couple of casualties and V/L was scrapped).

Another incident :

Purifier started overflowing immediately after o’haul and commissioning. The bowl sealing ring had been replaced during o’haul. On opening, the ring was found broken. It was replaced again but without any success this went on for a couple of times more. Frustration was setting in all of us when I accidentally found that in the bunch of spare rubber rings only some had the ‘Mitsubishi’ star mark where as the rest were without them. The broken rings were all without the mark. On replacing with the original Mitsubishi rings purifier worked without problem.
Lesson Learnt from the above problems :

Use the manufacturer’s recommended spares. As the original spares alone can meet with required material characteristics for the intended operation. Workshops and local bodies may not be able to supply the same quality as they do not have proper testing standards. This should be emphasized to the superintendent by the C/E and he should insist on original spare parts only.
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