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Megger helps keep SS Shieldhall shipshape

10 November 2010

A new MFT1552 multifunction installation tester from Megger is now playing a key role in the maintenance of the electrical systems aboard SS Shieldhall, the UK’s largest working steamship.

Although primarily designed for use on ac electrical installations in domestic and commercial properties, this versatile test set is also proving its worth for work on the vessel’s extensive dc systems.

Originally built in 1955 to carry sludge down the River Clyde and dump it out to sea, the SS Shieldhall has been extensively refurbished and is now in regular use as a passenger-carrying vessel. It is operated by The Solent Steam Packet Limited, a charitable organisation.

Reliability is essential for the vessel to fulfil it demanding present-day role, which means that the electrical systems – many of which are now over half a century old – must be tested regularly and kept in tip-top condition. The responsibility for this falls to Maurice Dibsdall, Senior Electrical Officer of the SS Shieldhall, who has spent more than five decades working on ships’ electrical systems, including those of the P&O flagship vessel, TE Canberra.

“Throughout my career, I’ve used Megger test kit,” said Maurice Dibsdall, “and I have absolutely no doubt that it’s the best there is. So when it came to replacing Shieldhall’s test equipment, I knew it had to be Megger.”

Having received its new instrument from Megger Sales Manager, Simon Wood, the SS Shieldhall team wasted no time in putting it to good use for tasks that including checking the insulation resistance of the ship’s main dc switchboard and faultfinding on the dc faceplate starters used by the vessel’s oil pumps.

“The MFT1552 certainly carries on the Megger traditions of versatility and ease of use,” said Maurice Dibsdall. “It’s compact, convenient and lightweight, yet it’s very robust, which is important as it will have a tough life aboard Shieldhall. We’ve already found it to be exceptionally useful, and we’re continuing to find new applications for it almost daily.”

SS Shieldhall is based at Southampton Docks, where it is berthed courtesy of Associated British Ports. The 1,792 tonne vessel is 268 feet long and has two triple-expansion main engines, fed from two single-ended three-furnace oil fired Scotch boilers. When in passenger carrying service, SS Shieldhall has a crew of 32, and can accommodate a maximum of 150 passengers.

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