Working Under Unusual Conditions During World War II, many men who had worked in this industry served their country in the armed forces or other related industries. While it’s possible that some in hvacr served as a typical soldier or sailor, certainly others plied their trade while serving their country.
One such person shared his experiences and what he learned about refrigeration aboard ships in a December 4, 1944 article.
Before the war, Robert Myre worked for eight years at Automatic Refrigeration Company, Seattle, WA.
He joined the Maritime Commission and served aboard the hospital ship Marigold and the troopship Imperial.
Lt. jg Myre had to contend with high condensing water temperatures in the tropics. He found that when condensing water inlet temperatures rose to 90 degrees F or higher, the speed of a steam-driven compressor rated for 500 rpm had to be increased to 575 rpm to maintain design conditions within the box.
He said that when the box holds medical supplies such as serums, vaccines, and blood plasma, the box temperatures must be maintained at all times. Therefore, there was no choice but to run the equipment at an accelerated speed.
An additional challenge Myre pointed out was running refrigeration units when ambient temperatures reached 115 degrees or higher, which tends to decrease the overall capacity of the units.
He also found that under extreme tropical conditions, difficulties with service valves, suction valves, and seals were multiplied to a greater degree. He thought this was due to the fact that prior to placing these components aboard ship, these items were rarely tested for use in the tropics.
In one case, it was discovered that a service valve casting was porous, which caused the system to lose gas rapidly. To remedy the situation, the valve was tinned with silver solder while it was on the ship.
Myre found that problems abounded if the original installation was not performed correctly, and repairs were difficult to execute while the ship was at sea.
“When refrigerating machines are not set in perfect alignment, this may cause us no end of trouble, and is not always easy to change the alignment of heavy machines while the boat is at sea,” commented Lt. Myre.
While on duty, Lt. Myre and other refrigeration men were pressed into service in other capacities.
For example, during the invasion of the south of France, he and his men helped to load wounded from landing ship tanks (LSTs) as they came aboard the Marigold. He said that that it was dangerous work because the waves were very high; one minute the gangplank would slant sharply one way, and the next minute it would slant at an equally sharp angle the other way.
Publication date: 12/03/2001