More info from Garry

I know you want to know more about what Garry told us about ships.

Garry wrote me another message.

Hi Pierre

The attached picture is of the Kootenay’s wheelhouse (post war Kootenay)

WHEELHOUSE KOOTENAY On the right of the picture you will see a engine room telegraph repeater. 

WHEELHOUSE KOOTENAY information 3You will see the brass wheel with the handle.  That is what they crank up or down to tell the engine room what revolutions to put the shafts at.

At the top of the picture you will see two voice pipes.  One goes to the bridge, one goes to the flag deck.

WHEELHOUSE KOOTENAY information 2 Also, above the voice pipe on the left, you will see what was called an Ika Box. 


This was for voice comms as well between bridge / flag deck and wheelhouse (as well as all other departments).

I’m not sure what was used most often as I saw both being used for comms.

Because the steamers has two shafts, which could operate independently, there were two telegraphs for the Ahead, Astern indication and two for the revolutions.

The reason for this is you could have the command, half ahead starboard and half astern port (or visa versa) … used for manoeuvring the ship off the jetty, and various other reasons I’m sure.

In order for this to happen quickly, you had a helmsman and the wheel and one guy at each set of repeaters.


All fires punched – max revolutions rung on!!

This is a message sent by Garry Weir who has a section on his Website about the Royal Canadian Navy.

I had asked Garry for information about stokers since my wife’s uncle told us he was in the engine room on that faithful night of April 29, 1944.

Pictures I took in 2011 when I visited HMCS Haida in Hamilton

Garry used this expression in one of his e-mails…

All fires punched – max revolutions rung on!!

I had asked him the meaning.

This is his reply.

Being a sparker, I did not work in the engine room but knew the basics of how it worked on our old steamers.

It’s a interesting way how the steamers were run.

The officers on the bridge were in charge of navigation, but there was no wheel on the bridge.  The wheel house was below decks, totally isolated in the centre of the ship with no way to see outside.  The wheel house was the hub of the communications for the ships speed.

The bridge would notify the wheel house what speed what required in terms of shaft revolutions …. ie 100 rpm, etc.

I’ve attached a pic of en engine room telegraph … it’s similar to the ones we had on the steamers.  You will notice its ahead or astern, with slow, half for full – these were generalities and for the most part, except in emergencies, the telegraph read “half”.  There is a revolutions repeater, but I can’t find a pic of it.  it is in the wheel house as well, and both the telegraph and the repeater and in the engine room.

The boiler room had its own communications with the engine room. (side note) in the event of an emergency the bridge could via voice comms (seperate from the wheel house circuit) communicate directly with the engine/boiler room but for the most part orders were relayed through the wheel house).

So the officer on the bridge would tell the wheel house something to the effect of “all ahead half – One Zero Zero revolutions rung on”

The wheel house in turn would first use the telegraph as in the pic and set it on ahead, half – and then with the revolutions repeater dial it up to 100.  The engine room would confirm it received the order and the wheel house would relay it to the bridge.  A rather archaic system but it worked.

The other pic is of the face of a boiler. the discs with the rods coming out are the fuel control to the boiler.

Here is where you have official and then between department speak ….

If there was an emergency and full speed was required, the bridge would order the wheel house to all ahead full (or astern) and 300 revolutions (or whatever the max number was for that class of ship).  The engine room would acknowledge and the wheel house would report to the bridge and say All ahead full, 300 revolutions rung on.

Now the engine room would be in charge of the boiler room in the chain of command and would receive its directions for the chief of the watch in the engineroom.  The would be told “all ahead full” (which means max steam in the boilers) and to open the throttles fully.

The boiler room would then report back words to the effect of “all fires punched, max revolutions rung on” – that was between departments and not used in the commincation with the bridge.

I may be off a little on how the whole system worked but that’s the just of it.  A stoker would be able to provide some more clarity.  I’m going by what my stoker friends told me years ago.

I hope it all makes sense.



Garry Weir’s collection

HMCS_MACKENZIE_261_BELOW_DECKS-3Garry Weir’s collection