This is a letter to my technical superintendent, that I wrote the other day. He did not ask for it, but I assumed he would have, after seeing the bill for three laundry dryers. It exemplifies how the simple things ashore, like doing laundry, are just so much more complicated on a ship.
|Graphic from Kenmore (internet)|
" Like all things on board this vessel, a seemingly simple, straightforward task, turned out to be a very labour intensive, costly, painful and thoroughly unsatisfying experience. The task was to replace a very noisy and worn out dryer in the officer bathroom, the only one on board.
The day started at about 8 am, with the complete dismantling of the old dryer and removal of it, from the space; no easy feat considering the maximum door and bulkhead clearance of only 22 inches wide by 22 inches long. By the time the space was cleared, Dave, our friendly ship chandler showed up with the dryer the previous crew had ordered. I proceeded to unpack it, and take it apart completely.
Once the components were all apart, they were hauled up to the officer deck, where the welded construction of the basic frame proved problematic. So, chisel in hand, the welds were broken, and the base finally squeezed into the officer bathroom. As I was putting it together, it occurred to me that the dryer appeared bigger than the one that came out. With measuring tape in hand, and many colourful expletive, the awful truth was plain to see, the dryer width was 2 inches too wide, to fit into the tight space available.
So, everything was then taken back down the main deck, the frame was refastened with rivets, the dryer rebuild to its original shape, and a call to our chandler, requesting a smaller 27 inch wide max dryer, was made.
In the mean time, the smaller "high efficiency" washer, ordered for the crew bathroom to replace the broken one there, was also on deck; so we started on that project.. Like the upper deck, the door sizes are maximum 22 inches wide (with the door removed), so the old unit was dismantled in the bathroom, and cart off through the engine room piece by piece and out onto the deck. The new washer was, thankfully, slightly "thinner" and gave us about one inch of play, with only taking the front off and several assemblies; a very fortunate state because these machine are very complicated inside.
Once inside the bathroom, we felt somewhat prideful, "eh! something going our way", relatively easy... for once. Well, that feeling was short lived. After putting the unit back together, and placing it in its proper spot, we spent over one hours trouble shooting why the machine would not work. It would appear that the water temperature sensor would be buggered, and giving an out of range reading, the controls does not allow the machine to work without it.
So with another, "failure to launch" under our belt, we started tackling the second dryer that had, by that time, arrived on the dock. With tape measure in hand, double checking the sizes of the new unit, we felt pretty good that this might actually work.
The new dryer was almost identical in the construction and shape of the one that had come out. So we proceeded to take that dryer apart on the back deck, this dryer was obviously very cheaply built, and after quite a few cuts from the paper thin sheet metal, and many colourful descriptions of Chinese craftsman skills, we finally got the base of the dryer into the officer bathroom upstairs, and rebuilding was underway.
The largest component of the dryer is the drum, and as it turns out, this drum, although being nearly identical to the previous one, was slightly bigger, by about one inch in diameter, and about one inch in length. Try as we might, that piece would not fit through the main door, so the bearing assembly was taken out, then the door, but alas once we got it in the accommodations, it would not fit through the bathroom door. So once again, all the piece were taken back down, and the machine reassembled on the back deck, with the ship chandler already called to pick up to return it. At this point, 8 pm, I am pretty exhausted and thoroughly defeated by this dryer and washer, and much worst off then when we started the day.
I cannot see any way to order a new dryer via normal purchasing channels, all the factors to gauge are, obviously, difficult to communicate - no welded construction, max widths (I thought that was standard at 26-27 inches) and a max drum size, depending on its appendages.
My hope, is to go in person, tape measure in hand, looking for one at our next port, and try to find something that will fit. In the mean time, the ship chandler has two new dryers which look good, and have never been used, but unfortunately have had every piece inside taken apart and moved around, and a bit of blood left on them. How to deal with the monetary aspect, I think is best left to your judgment.
The new washer, I kept on board, because I was burnt out and did not want to take it apart to move again, since we have another washer. I followed up with the Whirlpool people the next day, on their 1 800 customer service phone number, and the chap on the other end vehemently told me that machine does not have a Water Temperature Sensor. The machine though, tells me otherwise, and I can plainly see the sensor, and its failed Ohm reading. I have followed up with another parts supplier, and he assures me a new part is available, actually, 13 in all of North America. I have placed a rush requisition for one of these in our purchasing system.
When this saga ends with a properly working dryer on board, the cost will have probably rivalled a NASA dryer, but be that as it may, it is very difficult to deal with the ship's welded structures. However, with 11 men working aboard and one working washing machine, I doubt NASA will be able to match our ship's interesting interior decor. "