Date added: 5 Oct 2017
Queen Mary had three Tyfon steam whistles, two on the forward funnel and a third on the centre funnel. The Tyfons on the Queen Mary were made to be blown using a solenoid operated valve. The solenoid valves were a recurring problem. The ship carried a stock of its own parts and the valves could be repaired in their workshop.
In the De Witt Journal it states “The port forward horn that blew its diaphragm in Southampton has been repaired”. With all the triple whistle blasts it was the solenoid valve that had malfunctioned and needed to be repaired. (The replacement of a diaphragm would have needed a crane.)
Since the valves were a recurring problem and the whistles were getting more than normal use, it had been decided that they needed to be checked before each port. After Rio, with the calmer conditions on the trip south, it was a good time to carry out the checks before Valparaiso.
Being the job for ‘Deck Engineering’ the work was carried out by the First Senior 6th Engineer, Roger F Jones and his pal the Third Junior 5th Engineer, Mike Binnie. These two had also concluded that it would be a good viewpoint to experience rounding the Horn. However, they had to climb up the ladder on the front of the funnel up to a small gantry located between the whistles. The job would only take about half-an-hour. Not only was the air temperature cold, there was also the wind-chill factor and they only had on their overalls over teeshirts.
This is the photograph taken on the gantry, of Roger Jones leaning on the rail. In the lower left of the photo is the horn of the starboard whistle. Spectacularly in the background are the snow-capped mountains of the Tierra del Fuego.