We had a steady amount of back and forth with Amtech and the Chinese in the months after the SPE show. Most of our interaction with the Offshore Branch in Tanggu concerned the boiler. The Chinese had some difficulty with sorting out things on the boiler set-up.
But all was not just about spare parts and technical specifications. On 11 August 1982 we sent Ian Stones a hammer quotation for CNOOC South Sea Branch. We quoted them basically the same package as we had sold their northern counterparts the year before.
On 7 October 1982, we received the following telex from Amtech:
VULCAN – ENDUSERS ARE NOW INSTALLING BOILERS AND PIPELINE FOR BOILER AND EXPECT TO BE READY ABOUT NOV. 8TH. WE NEED TECHNICIANS FROM VULCAN HERE ABOUT 6-7 NOVEMBER. FIRST STEP IS STARTUP OF BOILER/HAMMER/ON BARGE AND CHECK PIPELINE. IF ALL WORKS DO SOME TRAINING ON SIGHT. EXPECT 7 – 10 DAYS IN TANGGU. PLATFORM ONE NOT READY – PROBABLY WILL DO ACTUAL WORK APRIL – MAY 1983. THEY CAN DISCUSS WITH YOU ABOUT RETURNING NEXT SPRING WHEN YOU ARRIVE HERE. PLS SEND NAMES/BIO DATA OF VULCAN/JOHNSON PERSONNEL. THEY HAVE COME UP WITH A COUPLE OF PROBLEMS WHICH THEY HAVE WRITTEN TO DON ABOUT YESTERDAY – INCLUDES SKETCH OF QUESTIONS ABOUT PIPE HOOKUPS FOR INLETS/OUTLETS. SO HE PING ASKS VULCAN TO SHOW WHEN THEY ARRIVE (HEATER HOOKUP) OR SEND DRAWINGS ASAP.
—- STEAM HOSE —- SOME LEAKAGE ON CONNECTIONS.
—- REPLACEMENT PARTS —- AS DISCOVERED WHEN PEM WAS HERE – THESE ITEMS HAVE NOT BEEN REPLACED/RECEIVED YET. VULCAN CAN SEND TO TANGGU OR BY AIR FREIGHT TO BEIJING C/O AMTECH.
Part of my response was as follows:
CONCERNING NEW PROPOSALS FOR TIANJTN BRANCH, WF PLAN TO SEND WITH JESSE QUOTATIONS FOR 560 AND 5100 PILE HAMMERS, ACCESSORIES AND PARTS. WE ALSO PLAN TO SEND A QUOTATION FOR AN ADDITIONAL 750 HP B0ILER SINCE THIS WILL BE REQUIRED IF THE CHINESE WISH TO USE A 5100 HAMMER. MR. PERRY WRLL BRING THESE WTTH HIM WHEN HE COMES TO CHINA.
CONCERNING EXPENSES ONLY TRIP TO TANGGU IN APRIL 1983 – WE HAVE NO OBJECTIONS TO THIS FOR OUR PEOPLE. I WILL COME ALSO IF CNOOC PEOPLE WISH TO NEGOTIATE CONTRACT. I DOUBT IF JOHNSTON WILL WISH TO DO LIKEWISE. PERHAPS AFTER THTS TRIP BOILER TECHNICIAN WILL BE UNNECESSARY — THUS WE SHOULD LIKE TO DEFFR DECISION ON BOILER TECHNICIAN TRIP UNTIL AFTER THIS ONE IS COMPLETE.
By the early 1980’s, it had become standard procedure for oil companies to require a backup hammer on the construction barge. This was not only to provide a substitute in case of breakdown, but to enable the barge to continue pile driving with one hammer while required maintenance could be done with the other. With the high hourly rate for barges and narrow weather windows in places such as the North Sea and the Bo Hai, this was an entirely sensible approach, but it also gave us an incentive for good follow up, since the sale of one hammer was almost guaranteed to invite the sale of another.
Quotation in hand, Jesse Perry proceeded to China, and we pick up his trip report as follows: (Note: many of the hammer details he refers to can be better understood by going here.)
MONDAY, NOVEMBER…8, 1982
…Flew Hong Kong to Peking from 1:00 p.m. To 4:00 p.m. Monday. Checked into the hotel at 6:00 p.m. I had dinner with Lloyd Berwald. We have to stay here a couple of days waiting to get some parts through customs. Lloyd had hand carried these parts. Customs requires a C.N.O.O.C. (representative) present before they will release them.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1982
Lloyd and I spent the day back and forth between the hotel and Amtech’s office.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 1982
Four offshore people from Tanggu arrived this afternoon. By the time we got back from the airport it was too late to drive to Tanggu.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1982
Lloyd and I were driven to Tanggu in an old van with the parts and four (4) offshore people. A 4-1/2 hour ride that seemed like 8-1/2 hours. We spent the rest of the day in meetings and checking over what had been done with the hammer and boiler. Nothing had been done to the hammer. They had done a nice job of building a steel house for the boiler, installing it and had it pretty well piped and wired up. We were checked into the Seaman’s hotel at about 5:30 p.m.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1982
We spent the morning meeting with the department leaders. We had to lay out a schedule of work for them. All of this was so that they could make up a chart that we were supposed to adhere to. After lunch I got them to open the spare parts and to start cleaning the columns. Lloyd laid out a few things to be done on the boiler before we were called into another meeting on the barge. This one called by the barge people to let them know what was to be done.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 1982
We got one column greased before I had to hold a technical meeting to explain the operation of the hammer. I did not want to disassemble the valve, HydraNut or Vari-cycle because of the time involved and the fact that the only tools available was a small crescent wrench and a large bolt that was used as a hammer.
I had them install the manual jack and showed them how to bleed off and pump up the Hydra-Nut. I used the drawings in the book to show them the inside of the Hydra-Nut and Vari-cycle cylinder. I used the spare parts, valve liner, valve, valve stem and trip to show them how the valve worked. I assembled them as they would be in the hammer. None of this was easy because there was only one interpreter and Lloyd was using him. Two of my men knew a few words of English. With them and a lot of…sign language, I made it. He Ping showed up near the end of my show. I talked with him about not having an interpreter. I told him that I was not sure that the men really understood. He talked with the men and then told me that I had done a good job.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 1982
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1982
Greased the columns and leads, oiled the Vari-cycle and worked it with a bar to make sure it was free. I had them take some kinks out of the hoses from the boom. No operators for the crane or winches. No tools, no water, oil or power for the boiler. I ran my own technical meetings and assisted Lloyd with his.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1982
Put the hammer into the leads. Put the lifting bale in place and hooked up the suspension cables. I spent some time helping Lloyd hold technical meetings. Still no water, oil or power.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1982
We set the pipe cap upright and I showed them how to put the cushion material into the pot. They had not cut the steel plates, so I did not fill it. The captain would not move the ram up for me. I got Mr. Woo, Pile Engineer in Charge. Captain told him that he would do it with the winch. I told him that he would score the columns. Mr. Woo finally had to go to the office and bring back his leader before the captain would boom up the crane and move the ram. At 2:00 p.m. they started to fill the boiler, water & oil. We spent the rest of the day in meetings checking out the schedule chart as to what was done. I spent some time explaining that they were not to slide the ram on the columns in the horizontal position without first lifting it with the crane to lighten up on the columns. I told them that I had explained this to their leaders when they said that I would have to test the hammer on deck in the horizontal position and they had agreed with me. While we were meeting the men cleaned and greased the lower end of the columns.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1982
I helped Lloyd testing the boiler. A 4″ check valve in the feed waterline was making a funny noise when it closed and was leaking a little. We shut down and while Lloyd checked out some other things, I took the valve apart and checked it. I found a small burr on the valve seat. I dressed the seat and reassembled the valve. We fired up the boiler and everything worked fine.
The line lubricator for the hammer is mounted on a catwalk outside the crane. I found Mr. Woo and a couple of men trying to pump steam lub oil from a 50 gallon drum on deck up to the lubricator. The drums had been on deck for a week in this weather (during the day 5-15 mile winds, 25º-33º). The oil was so thick that it was difficult to pour it from the drum. I told them to put a couple of 5 gallon buckets of the oil inside by the boiler overnight.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1982
The Government Marine Inspector arrived to check the boiler. He seemed satisfied except that he would like a greater variance between high and low water cut in. Lloyd said that this was no problem and would make the adjustment. The hoses were plugged and the steam line was tested for leaks. I found that they had filled the line lubricator with 30′ oil by carrying it up in buckets. They were concerned that it would not pump good, another meeting where I explained, as I had when I first got here, that the oil should be heated. I showed them in the Manzel literature the immersion heater that is recommended. I told them that they would need something like this or put the pump inside over the steam line the way most people do. I poured some oil into the valve and top cylinder ports. I had warmed this oil myself in the boiler room. We hooked up the hoses and moved the ram back down with the crane. I had the crane just lighten up on the ram, opened the quick shut-off valve and cracked the gate valve enough for the ram to move up and exhaust the valve. Moved the ram back down with the crane and repeated this operation a couple of times on long and short stroke. Everyone was happy. I told them to drain the oil from the lubricator and to heat some by the boiler tonight. Lloyd and I took Mr. Woo and four others to dinner. We split the tab.
Evidently Jesse was working on loosening up the Chinese protocol on entertainment!
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1982
We put the warm oil in the lubricator and it worked better. Before we could get it to flow oil into the main line, the power was shut off. While we were doing this, Lloyd was testing the safety valves. There would be no more power today so we went into another meeting till 3:00 p.m.
They want an A.B.S. certificate on the boiler. The gold seal on our letter head saying that the boiler was built to Coast Guard and ABS specs means nothing to them, as we are not the manufacturer. They asked me if the Lub oil had to be 100º. 1 told them 100º would be about right until I found that they were talking centigrade. When I said the 100ºC was not necessary, they showed me our lubrication chart where it said 212ºF/100ºC. I told them that this high temperature was not necessary but I would check it out with our Engineering Department.
The certification of the boiler was a running issue from this point forward.
The original contract called for “a certification to prove the boiler was builded [sic] under the inspection of a U.S.C.G. inspector and guarantee the boiler to be suitable for marine usage.” Unfortunately the Coast Guard declined to inspect this particular boiler, as it was not to be used in U.S. waters. I had informed the Chinese of this the previous year. This is the origin of the gold seal. Johnston produced many boilers to both of these specifications, so the issue wasn’t the quality of the boiler but the paperwork that went with it. But we promised to try to make things better.
The lubrication issue was based on the fact that lubricant specifications such as viscosity are stated at a certain temperature. As temperature rises, oil thins, and thickens as the temperature drops. I wasn’t related to the temperature at which the oil is expected to operate (that relates to the flash point) and I explained this to the Chinese after Jesse’s return.
We took the 5:00 p.m. train from Tanggu to Peking and checked into the hotel.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 1982
We met with Paul (Speltz) for breakfast. He took our tickets to make our flight reservations. We met Caroline (Chen) at about 4:30 p.m. She asked us to come to the office in the morning.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1982
Spent the morning at Amtech’s office. Had to go back at 4:00 p.m. to pick up tickets. When you go to this office you have to have your cab wait for you.
The same situation I found myself in earlier in the year.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 1982
Took cab to airport at 8:00 a.m. Lloyd left at 6:00 a.m. I flew from Peking, Shanghai to Tokyo from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Checked into hotel at 7:30 p.m.
The first service trip was over. But there was more to come on both the sales and service end.
One thought on “A Fistful of Yuan 7: Starting Up, At Last”