Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 91.djvu/246

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Death-Traps on German Liners

The harrowing task of investigating an interned German liner with the possibility of setting off a bomb or plunging into a pitfall at every turn

���A corner flange on one of the circulat- ing pumps and another on a steam chest were broken off with a sledge hammer

��tomless chasm, and that, if you value your life, you must not touch a thing — wood, met- al, or cloth — without first investigating it. How would you like to explore such a ship with only a flashlight to guide you through the abysmal blackness, and with no means of communicating with friends on the top deck once you start on your perilous journey? This was the task assigned to a certain engineer in New York shortly after the Government seized the interned German ships in this country. It was a task fraught with the greatest danger, requiring an extraordinary degree of caution and patience, and calling for a rare display of courage. But so fearless was this young engineer and so successful Holes drilled ready was he in his undertaking to Knock out piece that thirty-six hours

after the ship in ques- tion reached the Navy Yard, the main boilers were generating steam. Among the many interesting things revealed by the intrepid in- Cylinder walls were vestigator^ were

ruined by drilling holes the location of

and knocking out the missing parts of

portion within the holes

���THINK of a great deserted ship, five hundred and forty-five feet long, seven- ty feet wide and over fifty feet deep — as black and forbidding as a Siberian copper mine, with not a ray of light from the up- permost deckhouse to the cav- erns of the lowest holds, in the damp and slimy bilges, or in the rooms filled with engines, pumps, dynamos, pipes and valves without number.

Think of exploring it, single- handed, with the warning fresh in your ears that it is full of pit- falls, bombs and death-traps; that every door you touch will set off an explosive which will blow you into eternity; that every ladder you step on will send you sprawling down a bot-

���The steel wedge was driven in the cylinder head to break the piston and the stuffing box at one stroke. The engine was cranked over to cause the damage

230

��On one of the main en- gines a jackscrew was placed in the low pressure slide-valve chamber and a portion of the cover was broken out as shown above

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