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Percussive deck de-icers

A variety of percussive devices to remove ice build-up from ship decks.
  [vote for,

This would probably never work.

I actually came up with this idea while thinking about WWII shipping convoys on the "Murmansk Run," but fans of the show Deadliest Catch will also be aware of the threat posed to ships sailing in arctic (or Antarctic) waters when thick layers of ice build up on the deck and other exposed surfaces; the ship becomes topheavy, threatening capsize. The solution? A team of unlucky sailors are chosen to go pound away at it with big hammers and shovel the broken pieces over the side.

So my first idea was to combine a dead-blow hammer like those used for this purpose today with a .22 nailgun. The head would contain a blank-firing semi-auto or pump-action impact-fired gun. Instead of a solid striking face, there is a cone- or dish-shaped 'percussion chamber' to focus the energy released by the cartridge into a percussive shockwave that would shatter the ice where it struck. The user would only have to swing hard enough to trigger the firing mechanism, which would be set at the proper tension to negate the device's recoil. In the handle of the hammer is the magazine, which could easily hold sixty or seventy cartridges.

Next, I came up with a larger unit, something that would attach to the deck via powerful magnets and release using a simple cam- lever (extension cord powering electromagnet + sea spray = bad time for everyone). It would use a blank 12ga shell or even an M80 to accomplish much the same effect, only it would involve some sort of high-strength diaphram to create the percussion in order to avoid causing metal fatigue/deformation in the steel surface it is attached to. Obviously, a small hole would have to be broken in the ice in order to attach it flush to the deck.

Finally, I arrived at this notion: since all of these ships have powerful onboard compressors, why not replace the firing mechanism on this larger unit with something like the guts of a pneumatic jackhammer? This wouldn't need to be reloaded, and could be used to fire a rapid series of percussions, increasing effectivity? 

I envision this device as being portable by at most 2 sailors, and fairly simple in construction. It might need to have a replacable diaphragm, as I imagine they would probably wear out. 

Obviously, these tools, if they could be made effective, would be of limited use on railings, deck equipment, and topside cargo, but they might prove a good alternative to the traditional method when breaking up ice several inches thick on decks and bulkheads.

Now all that remains is for the engineering and math vultures to pick it apart. I eagerly await your findings, ladies and gentlemen!

Alterother, May 10 2011

Concrete Vibrator http://www.google.c...Q&ved=0CJcBEPMCMAk#
Like a dildo on steroids... [Klaatu, May 10 2011]


       You could use a concrete vibrator. <link> It runs off compressed air and beats the snot out of whatever it touches. I had to use one on a job, clearing the pipes at the Brooks Incinerator, some years back. [+]
Klaatu, May 10 2011

       Now there's a tagline:   

       "This would probably never work."   


       "Like a dildo on steroids"
normzone, May 10 2011

       The waste heat from the engine is typically dumped via a hull cooler.   

       If instead this heat were used to heat glycol, circulated under the decks at 1 - 2 C, the ice would come free easily as a layer of meltwater would form between the deck and the overlaying ice.
8th of 7, May 10 2011

       Hire a Kraken?
infidel, May 10 2011

       <pulp fiction>   

       "Bring out the Kraken"   

       "Kraken's sleeping"   

       "Well, I guess you're gonna have to go wake him up now, won't you?"   

       </pulp fiction>
8th of 7, May 10 2011

       [8th], some ships, esp. icebreakers, have systems like you're describing. I ran across them in my obligatory "is-it- already-baked" research. Problem is, they are very expensive, best installed when the ship is built since they are hard to retrofit, and they (seem to) break down a lot.   

       [Klaatu], I thought of that, too, but I've used one of those, and the flat-bottomed kind that I assume you're thinking of tend to rove all over the place if you don't keep a firm hand on them-and that's on a flat surface. Imagine trying to control one on a pitching, rolling deck; the phrase "loose cannon" comes to mind.   

       Still, what I eventually arrived at is very much the same idea, only a little smaller, magnetic for secure attachment, and probably impacting at a lower frequency to allow time for a return shockwave.   

       [norm], thanks for the compliment. I have taken to prefacing my ideas/annos with such disclaimers because, unlike many halfbakers, I'm not an engineer or a math guy. I'm a harebrained schemer. I'm a welder and metal fabricator non-par, half-decent machinist, self-taught mechanic, and aspiring professional fiction writer. I have the skills to build a lot of this stuff, but I really don't know how or even if it would work. Thus, the Halfbakery!
Alterother, May 10 2011

       [Klaatu]; oh yeah, there's the 'pneumatic dildo' kind of concrete vibe as well, maybe that's what you meant. I tend to read people's annos, respond, and then realize what they were actually talking about.   

       I can just picture some hapless crab fisherman out there in the gale waling away at the ice with a four-foot industrial- strength marital aid...
Alterother, May 10 2011

       [8th] mentions hull coolers, which are new to me. The marine engines that I am familiar with used seawater for cooling, sucking it in, running it through the engines and pumping it back out.   

       I figured ships should send that hot water up to the deck, add an high-pressure pump, and a waterjet nozzle, and cut through the ice, making chunks to be washed overboard.   

       The operator would need his foul-weather gear, and there maybe should two different hoses, and good luck with the paint.   

       I was on a Coast Guard ship that had a washdown system built in, in case of contamination. Send hot water through that and keep ice from ever forming.
baconbrain, May 10 2011

       [bacon] wouldn't spraying the deck with a hot-water nozzle still leave a layer of water on the surface to then freeze and start the process all over again? I've never been on a ship in freezing waters before, but I have played hockey for much of my life; a Zamboni uses hot water to resurface the rink and make it nice and smooth. Of course, crab fishermen on skates would certainly liven things up a bit for the cameras.
Alterother, May 10 2011

       [Alterother] that's a very good point that I hadn't considered. I'm going to say that in icy weather at sea, a thin layer of water/ice left behind is trivial. I know the usual goals of removing ice are to allow machinery to operate, and to keep the ship from getting top-heavy.   

       I will also say that if it is no longer precipitating/spray coming aboard-ing, the deck could be heated enough to evaporate the remaining water by using sufficiently hot water, or even steam. Maybe.
baconbrain, May 10 2011

       Years ago, I saw an idea of wrapping tough bags on exposed surfaces, connected to a compressor. Cycling inflation and deflation denied the ice a grip.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 10 2011

       Rather than bashing the ice from on top, couldn't you install a grid of mini hammers on the deck, hooked up to the ship's compressed air supply? Fire them off in order every half-hour or whatever, and split the ice into managable pieces to brush/shovel off the deck.   

       No working your way around the deck for ages splitting manually, just call everyone inside, hit the button and tidy up!
Skrewloose, May 10 2011

       [Absinthe] I like that. That is a really cool idea (npi). It almost makes me wish I owned an arctic-worthy ship so we could try 'em out side-by-side.
Alterother, May 10 2011

       [Skrew] I considered something like that, but I guess my idea was more something that wouldn't require a great deal of expense and drydock time to install. Permanently installing resonators or percussive devices inside the ship's structure might be very effective, but I'd think it would take a fair amount of engineering to tailor the system to each ship's individual design- no two are truly alike. Also, as a welder, I tend to think about the long-term effects of undue stress applied repeatedly to the structure- metal fatigue, deformation, e/c cycles, etc. Good notion, though.
Alterother, May 10 2011

       //I can just picture some hapless crab fisherman out there in the gale waling away at the ice with a four-foot industrial- strength marital aid...//   

       Actually, you just need to touch it to the surface and the vibrations break up whatever it touches. When I worked in the incinerator, we would just hold it against the pipes, and the glass-like material would turn to dust and fall away. Quite effective, actually.
Klaatu, May 10 2011

       //I envision this device as being portable by at most 2 sailors,//   

       You see, here's the problem. There are tens of thousands of sailors out there.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 10 2011

       Interesting... Serendipity at work: I have a similar job coming up, an incinerator with a cracked stack manifold that I've been contracted to repair. The guy from the company that builds the unit told me to remove all the old ceramic insulation from the inside with a drilling hammer (which, for those who don't know, is just a short-handled 2lb. sledgehammer. Sometimes when I use the term people think it's a power tool). Maybe I'll go rent a concrete vibe instead. [Klaatu], my friend, you may have just saved me a bunch of time.
Alterother, May 10 2011

       //fisherman out there in the gale waling away at the ice with a four-foot industrial- strength marital aid//   

       You mean they don't do that already?
not_morrison_rm, May 10 2011

       [bigsleep], that was the first thing my wife said.
Alterother, May 10 2011

       I think I'd prefer to see a flock of steam-powered woodpeckers, hammering away at the deck in unison.
infidel, May 10 2011

       Better get this idea baked quickly or it will be obsolete.
pashute, Aug 15 2011

       How so?
Alterother, Aug 15 2011


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