Pepe Yorick

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May 5, 2020
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Hello all, I have some questions about the coaling process. I tried the search function, but failed to find something even close.
Some information on the internet can be found, but most of the times this is not more than one close up photo or not more than a few words.
I have always been wondering about the coaling process of of passenger liners.
I can find information about the shutes and the process onboard, but not about the location and what was going on on the outside.
Some recourses talk about the use of coaling ships, barges or in case of military ships, coaling stations, but since this is quite a time consuming job I would image in the case of passenger ships this would happen right at the passenger piers. But then again, since this is a dirty job you want to keep this away from the passenger too. How was this done?
Does someone have ony more information about this subject. In particular about the location of the coaling in the New York port? Did they do this at the passenger piers whilst loading and unloading, or did the ship move to a dedicated refueling dock in between (seems unlogical and too time consuming).
Another related question, what if it was raining? The coal would have been soaking wet, would this cause a problem later on (weight, water in bunkers, flammablity of coal).

Thanks in advance,

Pepe Yorick
 

Tim Aldrich

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Jan 26, 2018
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Mr. Read's website has a good article (among many others as well) that may answer some of your questions.
http://www.titanic-cad-plans.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Coaling-Outriggers.pdf

In general terms the ship was coaled when there were no passengers aboard. Coal barges would tie up alongside the ship, the coaling ports opened and then the coal went in one bucket at a time. It was all manual labor. Google is your friend, just search generic terms such as "coaling a ship", "ship coaling ports" etc. Plenty of images showing the process can be found.
 
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Pepe Yorick

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May 5, 2020
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Thanks for the answer. I did find that document in another thread as well It gives some interesting insight. But more about the process near the ship rather than aqround. I tried google earlier and found some images and documents, but my questions, quite specific, remained.
As I understand from your answer nearly all ships (ocean liners at least) were supplied by barges, from the docks was quite rare? Someone else has some insight on the other question about the rain, would wet coal cuase some issues later on?
 

Stephen Carey

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Apr 25, 2016
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Coaling was carried out off the passenger piers, which would otherwise be in a pretty black state as it was a filthy job. If there was no coaling pier, the ship would anchor to buoys out in the roads/harbour, with the coaling barges coming alongside on either or both sides. It was a "whole ship effort" where everyone turned to. The coal was emptied in bags through the coaling ports (sometimes using an elevator) and into the bunker galleries (areas at the top of the actual bunkers) where it was shovelled over the edge into the bunkers themselves. Dreadful job. After coaling ship, the whole ship was covered in dust and had to be washed down. What happened with the ship's ventilation I don't know - I would assume the stokehold and FD fans would be kept running as the boilers would still be lit, but I would imagine the accommodation vent fans would be either off or the vents covered in muslin or some other extra filter. Either that or they just put up with the Air Handling Unit filters getting blocked and washed them as the ship was washed down on completion of coaling.
If the coal got wet, c'est la vie... Damp coal can result in a spontaneous fire breaking out, and this was by no means uncommon, it was dealt with in the usual way. As the coal was loaded in bags, it wouldn't get that wet anyway, and the heat from the boiler rooms would soon dry it out. At least it would damp down the dust a bit...

I was on iron ore carriers which loaded and discharged alongside the iron ore berth in the various countries where we loaded and discharged. The red dust was everywhere and I once likened it to coaling ship. On getting to sea the whole ship was washed down externally, leaving a red trail in the water. We had a lazy fireman on one trip who, once there was no one watching, would sit under a fresh air vent and idle the watch away. We decided to play a trick on him from one of the upper levels by banging on the side of the vent trunking higher up to give him a light dusting or iron ore... The resultant thundering crash of iron ore, rust and other filth in the trunking knocked him off his perch and nearly sent him into the bilge... He was a bit more alert after that... My wife said that I would have to buy new white shirts as she couldn't get them clean after being on those ships, not even with bleach.
 
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Nov 14, 2005
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I'm sure they had their reasons but I never understood why more systems weren't designed with ID fans instead of force draft. All the systems that I had seen that used induced draft were so much cleaner.
 

Pepe Yorick

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May 5, 2020
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Coaling ...

Exactly the answer I was looking for. Thanks for the detailed story man.
I can only image what a dirty job that must have been, but since moving the ship to another dock would cost time, money and coal I thought maybe they did do it on the passenger piers. Thanks for clarifying that. Must have been such a releive converting to oil burners.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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I don't know if this has been posted before. I ran across it. It has some interesting info and his site has other good video's too. Some of you might like it. Cheers.
 
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If you look into the history of Liverpool docks you will find that one of the wooden 'moles' (mooring points) across from the Liver Building is called The Lusitania Mole and was used as the coaling point for that ship. The ship would then return to the Lusitania Dock (currently the IOM Steam Packet loading ramp) to take on passengers. And it's still there for all to see!
 
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Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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Coaling was carried out off the passenger piers, which would otherwise be in a pretty black state as it was a filthy job. If there was no coaling pier, the ship would anchor to buoys out in the roads/harbour, with the coaling barges coming alongside on either or both sides. It was a "whole ship effort" where everyone turned to. The coal was emptied in bags through the coaling ports (sometimes using an elevator) and into the bunker galleries (areas at the top of the actual bunkers) where it was shovelled over the edge into the bunkers themselves. Dreadful job. After coaling ship, the whole ship was covered in dust and had to be washed down. What happened with the ship's ventilation I don't know - I would assume the stokehold and FD fans would be kept running as the boilers would still be lit, but I would imagine the accommodation vent fans would be either off or the vents covered in muslin or some other extra filter. Either that or they just put up with the Air Handling Unit filters getting blocked and washed them as the ship was washed down on completion of coaling.
If the coal got wet, c'est la vie... Damp coal can result in a spontaneous fire breaking out, and this was by no means uncommon, it was dealt with in the usual way. As the coal was loaded in bags, it wouldn't get that wet anyway, and the heat from the boiler rooms would soon dry it out. At least it would damp down the dust a bit...

I was on iron ore carriers which loaded and discharged alongside the iron ore berth in the various countries where we loaded and discharged. The red dust was everywhere and I once likened it to coaling ship. On getting to sea the whole ship was washed down externally, leaving a red trail in the water. We had a lazy fireman on one trip who, once there was no one watching, would sit under a fresh air vent and idle the watch away. We decided to play a trick on him from one of the upper levels by banging on the side of the vent trunking higher up to give him a light dusting or iron ore... The resultant thundering crash of iron ore, rust and other filth in the trunking knocked him off his perch and nearly sent him into the bilge... He was a bit more alert after that... My wife said that I would have to buy new white shirts as she couldn't get them clean after being on those ships, not even with bleach.
Serves on Ormsary, Gleddoch, Dunnad, Dunkyle, Naess Trader etc. First one as an Apprentice. I know exactly what you are writing about. Thanks for the memories, Stephen. I can still taste the bloody stuff. I remember, greasing the door edges of the Master Gyro Room to keep it out of the room...and thas was indoors.
 

Mike Spooner

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Sep 21, 2017
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If you want to read a good book on coaling I would recommend Richard P. de Kerbrech book: DOWN AMONGST THE BLACK GANG
 

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