Friday, July 1, 2016

‘More Electronic Tales’

This one is from an ET from years ago in the ol’ Canoe Club…

On my last cruise we had and Electronics Tech Chief Warrant Officer named Mr. VanLeuveny… no idea if I spelled it right so we’ll refer to him as Mr. Van! He was on his last cruise after Twenty-Seven years active duty and due to retire four days after getting back stateside!! Mr. Van knew more about the Spruance Can electronics than anyone else in the Navy… I’m sure of it!!!

Now, our ship had a problem keeping the ETs fully manned so anyone with any gauddamned experience trouble shooting whatsoever ended up in ‘Repair 8!’ Needless to say the SPS-40 air search radar console in CIC was a piece of shit!! It died on the hour about every three days underway and no one but Mr. Van could figure out how to fix it!!!

When CIC called a tech would go to CIC, examine the exterior of the console for a couple of minutes play with switches, move the trackball then call Mr. Van! Mr. Van would come up, give the side of the console a couple of whacks with his size 12 brogan and the damn thing would start back up working fine for another week before it would crap out again! All the techs tried to work on it replacing every fuse, circuit card and that & the other electronic component they could think of except for the CRT and the chassis!! We damned near rebuilt the son-of-a-bitch blowing the entire ET budget for parts!! We spent ‘121’ days on radar picket without an air search radar … that’s military logic for you!!!

Needless to say, we’d been busier than a one armed bandit in a circle jerk contest trying to figure out why it wouldn’t stay up and running!!!

Finally about four days out from homeport, Mr. Van calls everyone into Repair 8! He glares at us and says…

"There's not a one of you I trust for anything when it comes to troubleshooting! All you sons-a-bitches are fired! The only thing you’re allowed to do until I leave is change a light bulb! Now follow me!"

So we all trooped after him to CIC as he led us over the 40 console! He took a screwdriver from his pocket and removed the access cover from the side, then he removed a small flat nut holding it high explaining how if it was a snake it would’a bit us kind’a thing and that it was the nut that held the grounding strap on the console completing the circuit!!  By kicking the side, all we were doing was restoring the contact to complete the circuit with the chassis until it vibrated loose again!!!

The rule at the time required all removed electronic parts be returned to Supply so they could turn it back in for warranty! Mr. Van kept the used parts in his cabin, and thank god he had a single cabin since none of the boards were bad!! The total cost of our trouble shooting efforts was somewhere in the neighborhood of over $100,000 for something a 90 cent tube of Loctite could have fixed!!!

We loved Mr. Van but man was he pissed…

“I feel like I’m surrounded by a bunch’a retards in a short bus outside a ‘Chucky Cheese’ parking lot!”

… He got over it, but we sure looked like a bunch of dummies!! Boy the memories… like the smell of coffee brewing in the early morning!!!


  1. An ETCM I knew was on a mobile T/S, repair team for a sub group. He was called to a sub that couldn't get underway because of some piece of gear would not work. He went on-board looked at the tech manual for the gear. On page 1 of the troubleshooting/maint section it said to check the fan filter unit. Which he found to be clogged with a whole civilization of dust bunnies. After performing what was supposed to be a weekly clean and inspect on it, the unit began to work perfectly. Needless to say the whole ET division and Captain were made to look like dumbasses.

  2. Did he forget that he came up to look at it,too. He could have fix it then. But that is Navy for you. Shit rolls down hill. Cheif's are not guilty of anything.

  3. As an ET-1 in Uncle Sam's Coast Guard, I have run into similar problems many a time. Often something as simple as a switch that was in the wrong position and several people before me had overlooked. Sometimes I just fixed it, sometimes I would let the junior tech wrestle with it for a while longer to see if he could figure it out.

  4. When freaky shit like that happens ALWAYS ALWAY ALWAYS check your grounds. I lost track of the number of previously "unfixable" pieces of equipment I fixed one the course of my 10 years as an ET by following that simple rule.

  5. "When all else fails, read the directions" has always been a good bit of advice to follow - whether it is the tech manual, PMS procedures or instruction manual.