A Very Special (mis)Adventure of Fireman Timmy

Sometimes we get lucky and Timmy arrives as a set of ‘brothers from a different mother’. I was ‘fortunate’ enough to encounter a pair of recent Boiler Technician “A” School graduates on my Bird Farm. These two young sailors had allegedly graduated with honors in their “A” School class. For those not familiar with the Navy education path, an “A” school a course curriculum that prepares the sailors with an advanced technical knowledge of their particular job classification. In some instances, graduation from these schools can result in an accelerated . advancement to Petty Officer Third Class. In the case of our Twin Timmy’s, it merely got them advanced from Fireman Apprentice to Fireman. However, in theory, they had a ‘competitive edge’ on the advancement exam.

But I digress, we’ll assign Timmy 1 to Main Machinery Room 1 (MMR1) and Timmy 2 to Main Machinery Room 2 (MMR2). The Main Machinery Room encloses two 1200 psi superheated Boilers, one 1200 psi superheated steam Main Propulsion Steam Turbine Engine, one 1200 psi superheated steam turbine powered 2500 KW electric generator, and all of the supporting equipment. The boilers are the exact same ones that are installed at the Hot Plant where our young Timmy’s were trained so, in theory, they should be able to slide right into the watch qualification path.

Now, we the seasoned old salts that we were, caught on quickly that our Timmy’s were joined at the hip and pretty much relied upon each other to make it through even the simplest of tasks. This co-dependence was the primer for their separation into the two MMRs. Teamwork is encouraged however, co-dependence can be fatal. We needed to help them find independence. The bonus was the fun we could have fun watching them spin in circles without their little buddy there to help.

On a random Sunday, myself and the BT top watch were rolling into around the 8th or 10th hour of our 12 hour watch when we started talking about the stupidest things that we were able to con someone into doing. After running through some of the funniest, and sometimes grossest, stories we made a bet. We started spinning up the tall tales of the elaborate and clever tricks we played on our smartest of shipwrecks. After one-upping each other a few times, we started thinking. Thinking is a bad idea when you are a bored sailor in a confined space, just sayin. Any-who, we decided to see if we could get one or both of the Timmy’s to do something quite silly. We just weren’t sure just what diabolical scheme to concoct…

So, what do we do…?

Well, I come up with this idea to give them each a PMS tasking to recharge all of the steam traps on the passageways outside of the MPA’s and the Chief Engineer’s staterooms. The system was recently ‘serviced’ and the traps need charged prior to restoring that section of the system. This had a significant probability for failure due to the stupidity of the task. So, in order to make it work, we needed to set it up as a maintenance task with a ‘legitimate’ set of instructions on how to complete the task using a PMS (Preventive Maintenance System) tasking card. The PMS card was a detailed forgery that included a diagram of an acceptable ‘low pressure steam transfer vessel’. Timmy 1, working out of my Machinery Room would get the Chief Engineer’s area and Timmy 2 would get the MPA.

This is a diagram of the basic design of our ‘low pressure steam transfer vessel’. We, of course, did not have such an odd little critter in our tool cribs so the Timmy’s were on their own figgering out how to recharge those pesky steam traps.

Steam Transfer Jerry Can

Since our Timmy’s were not well versed in the art of the deployment bartering system, we offered up some ‘help’ in finding the jerry cans. We suggested trying the Enginemen who tend to the small boats since they prubly used jerry cans to fill their fuel and water tanks. After dispatching them to the Small Boat Shop, we called ahead and talked to the shop’s Chief to give him a head’s up and request for the ‘appropriate level of attention’

I’m not sure what exactly happened during the procurement of the jerry cans but after the better part of 5 hours the Timmy’s came back with four of the most beat up and rusty jerry cans that I’d ever seen. I’m pretty sure they were there during the ship’s commissioning in ’65. We later found our that part of their ‘payment’ for the jerry cans was reorganizing the fuel locker, I never did learn what the remainder of the deal was.

Anyhow, after cleaning up all of the surface rust and grime, the next step was internal cleaning to remove all residual fuel residues. After all of the cleaning, the Timmy’s commenced to modifying the jerry cans into steam transfer vessels. They had relatively few problems in the conversions since all of the mods involved used parts and the welding was done by hook-ups from Repair Division friends.

With the jerry can taken care of, they next needed to figure out how to connect into the valve in order to ‘charge’ it with steam. The PMS card provided ‘helpful’ instructions and a diagram similar to the one below:

The basic idea that the PMS card directed them to do was connect into the drain via an external connection to the drain plug and fill the trap. The card did not bother to mention how to determine when the trap was ‘full’ or how long one should continue to fill the trap, just to ‘fill the trap to the ‘appropriate level’.

So, with tools and associated climbing gear in hand, the Timmy’s wander off on their mission to complete their tasking. There was one minor little problem that they may or may not encounter – we had no clue if there were any steam traps in that particular passageway and if, by chance they were to find any steam traps, there was Zero chance of them being the design found on the PMS card.

So, Timmy 1 & Timmy 2 decide to team up on the tasking and start with the passageway outside of the Chief Engineer’s stateroom. Apparently it went fairly uneventful for about 10-15 minutes as they started their search for the traps. However, their searching was apparently disrupting the inmates in the adjacent staterooms. They ‘splained themselves and their tasking every five minutes or so before the Chief Engineer woke up and kicked them back to the Machinery Room. Oh by the way, he weren’t a happy camper – but he did appreciate the simple elegance of the little misadventure we sent the Timmy’s on. Unfortunately, the gig was up and they never did get to the MPA.

On a side note, we found out that you can pressurize a jerry can with steam but it is not an efficient, practical, or even logical method of transfer. However, that did not stop the Chief Engineer from ‘borrowing’ our custom jerry cans for use in “training Midshipmen, Fly-Boys, and Junior Officers that bugged him”.

Until next time,

Fair winds and Following Seas …

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