287 large bore engines on order

The hot topic in the November 1963 issue of The Motor Ship continued to be large bore engines. The fact that these were now firmly established in the ship propulsion universe was borne out by a five-page list of such engines in service and on order, grouped by engine type.

The list was dominated by B&W, closely followed by Sulzer, with other names including MAN, Fiat, Stork, Götaverken and Mitsubishi. ‘Large bore’ appeared to refer to cylinder bore of 84cm to 90cm –MAN had just announced the first order for a new 93cm bore engine. Power outputs ranged, mostly, from 10,300 to 25,000bhp, from units of six to 12 cylinders, while the typical crank speed of 110-125pm seems somewhat higher than today’s equivalent low-speed two-strokes. The MAN 93cm-bore unit, on order in 12-cylinder format from HDW in Hamburg, stood in a class of its own at an anticipated 30,000bhp. The list was accompanied by a fold-out diagram showing cross-sections of examples of the seven various engine designs. These, like the lists and tables of statistics, are something that we know were much appreciated by readers 50 years ago but unfortunately the economics of present-day publishing rule them out, much as we would like to revive them.

The other subject that was, to borrow a phrase from 21st century social media, ‘trending’, was remote control and automation of ships’ machinery. In this respect, Sulzer seemed to be taking the lead, perhaps appropriately given the investments made by the company’s successor in the marine engine field, Wärtsilä, in present-day machinery automation and control systems. But back in 1963 it was not Sulzer itself which was developing these control systems, rather its subsidiaries, licensees and associated companies. There had been previous coverage of Westinghouse-based remote systems for Sulzer engines; this time it was the turn of UK group Richardson, Westgarth, of which Sulzer licensee George Clark (Sunderland) was a member, to present its version. The system was principally electric, with the provision for the ‘safer’ pneumatic control of vital systems, and as such bore a somewhat closer resemblance to current practice than some other contemporary arrangements. It was still a long way away from today’s electronic engine management systems, but 50 years ago it must have looked like a major step forward.

Lastly, among the ships described was the Danish ship Arveprins Knud, “Europe’s biggest car ferry”. At 130m long with capacity for 1,500 passengers and 400 cars, it is not remarkable by current standards. However, it was presented as an entirely new design to meet the demands of routes where passengers travel by car, rather than the more usual train ferries of the time. Those who, like your editor, frequently use vehicle ferries, would feel at home onboard. Unlike most of its contemporaries the ferry featured a bow door, connecting with a two-deck linkspan on shore, as well as a stern ramp. Its three decks included a middle deck that could be lifted to allow higher vehicles to be carried on the lower deck, much like current ro-ro practice. However, rather than the current folding ramps, this middle deck was loaded via a side door and a third shore ramp. Power for the Arveprins Knud was provided by two 11,200bhp B&W two-stroke engines. Safety was a prime consideration in the design, which was to BV class, incorporating a two-compartment layout in accordance with the 1960 version of the SOLAS convention, all hydrostatic stability and flooding calculations having been carried out by computer.

Finally, the issue included an article on gas turbine propulsion – this time focusing on the ‘troubles’ rather than the possibilities. Despite all this, it still concluded that gas turbines showed much promise.


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