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This would probably never work.
I actually came up with this idea while thinking about WWII
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
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
Instead of a solid striking face, there is a cone- or dish-shaped
'percussion chamber' to focus the energy released by the
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
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
the deck via powerful magnets and release using a simple cam-
(extension cord powering electromagnet + sea spray = bad time
everyone). It would use a blank 12ga shell or even an M80 to
accomplish much the same effect, only it would involve some
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
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
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
limited use on railings, deck equipment, and topside cargo, but
they might prove a good alternative to the traditional method
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!
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. [+]
||"This would probably never work."
||"Like a dildo on steroids"
||The waste heat from the engine is typically dumped via a hull
||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.
||"Well, I guess you're gonna have to go wake him up now, won't
||[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,
impacting at a lower frequency to allow time for a return
||[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!
||[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...
||[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.
||[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] 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.
||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.
||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!
||[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.
||[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
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,
||//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.
||//I envision this device as being portable by at most 2
||You see, here's the problem. There are tens of thousands of
sailors out there.
||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.
||//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?
||[bigsleep], that was the first thing my wife said.
||I think I'd prefer to see a flock of steam-powered
woodpeckers, hammering away at the deck in
||Better get this idea baked quickly or it will be