So many times we have heard the expression – ‘He was a Gentleman and a Scholar’ – and that was exactly what Gordon Currer was.
A kindly man, very mild mannered and thorough to the extreme in his duties as a dedicated technologist. Always keen to pass on knowledge and learning (with patience) to those students that had an aptitude to learn the mysterious art of Cathodic Protection.
Gordon was a Chartered Engineer and held membership in the Institute of Electrical Engineers; the Institute of Corrosion and Technology as well as the National Association of Corrosion Engineers.
He wrote many papers and gave countless lectures and presentations; both throughout the UK and the rest of the world. With a career spanning over fifty years he once listed all the countries he had visited purely for business purposes – the tally was an impressive thirty seven.
Like many in the enigmatic world of Cathodic Protection he entered that world by accident. In his own words he said, “When I look back over my working life I contrast the relatively dreary (and certainly un-exciting) beginnings of travel by bus and underground into London each day with the subsequent worldwide travel I have experienced with my duties in Cathodic Protection – and generally enjoyed”.
It was thanks to an advertisement in the Hertfordshire Mercury in February 1956 that Gordon was offered his first post by John Gerrard – himself a former employee of the Kuwait Oil Company. From little acorns the Company of MAPEL expanded from Woolmer Green to Tottenham with John Gerrard the then Managing Director and Gordon’s retirement finally being from the Stotfold office.
During his pioneering days with MAPEL a lot of the CP testing techniques (that are practised today) were trialled and refined by him and his colleagues of that time. It was refreshing to hear some of his humorous memories, which revealed that he too, in all his reverence, went through quite difficult practical learning curves as they built up procedures and routines that now form part of the CP standards of today. His favourite was the colleague that never stopped talking but suddenly went quiet on a Current Drainage survey with which they were experimenting with using a heavy duty welding generator. The verbiage apparently restored itself in earnest when the gentleman was released from the test circuit!
He recalled his first overseas trip was to Nigeria in 1958 and encompassed travel to Benin, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Apart from a short spell in a tiger moth with the Air Cadets he had never flown before. He and a colleague left Heathrow in a West African Airways ‘Argonaut Airliner’ having 4 piston engines and propellers giving a cruising speed of 265mph. The passage through Lagos Airport was fast, pleasant and informal as still under British rule, in contrast to difficulties he experienced with entry and exit in the 1990’s – not helped by his passport being stolen.
Having worked many years with MAPEL and as a senior team member he played a great part in building the Company up to become one of the most respected in the NDT/CP industry. An extremely loyal team of stalwarts was the result of his leadership. There were no bosses unless the chips were down and a serious problem needed attendance. Gordon would then deal with the issue with clarity and a quiet firmness respected and appreciated by all.
As a memory and in a lighter vein, the following portrays the deep effect he had on all those within his team. For example, once design values were known it was a case of anode distribution. In truth there were many positions and all would work but some gave better spread than others. Gordon was a stickler for change until it was deemed to be perfect. Nowadays when layout changes to a new design are made, those who worked with him use the familiar quote “You are doing a Gordon on me”.
With the close co-operation MAPEL had built up with British Gas by mutual agreement Gordon moved across, with some selected engineers, to the Gas Council offices in Hinckley. They helped form the corrosion division responsible for the production and implementation of Cathodic Protection systems for all the major high pressure gas feeder mains throughout the UK. Gordon stayed with British Gas for over 13 years before returning to MAPEL as their Chief Engineering Manager. Even now, crews working in the East Midlands have reported back that they are referring to drawings, drawn from the archives signed by GWC.
By reviewing the caricature (opposite) – presented to him upon his departure from British Gas containing one hundred well wisher signatures, it is abundantly clear in itself what a popular and respected person Gordon was.
His true values and courage came to the fore at MAPEL when let down by two senior engineers he took on recovering a very serious project on the Kori Nuclear Power station in South Korea. He worked in the most arduous conditions without complaint; completing the venture for GEC spanning 1978/79. His love of art kept him sane and diverted his mind off home as he worked many hours in the stinking depths of the cooling water pump-house, wearing thigh boots whilst knee deep in dead mussels. His sketch dated 4.12.78 (below) being the evidence of a man devoted to a duty that very few would have endured.
In 1987/88 his time was focussed on a feasibility study for Mobil Oil based around the Yanbu Oil Refinery on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia.
In 1990 he developed a design for the Adnoc Oil Refinery in Abu Dhabi and then in 1993 as a retained consultant for MAPEL he travelled a circuitous route into Libya to work on the Great Man Made River project for Brown and Root and the Turkish company STFA.
These are just snippets of the countless large projects he was involved with over the years.
On retirement he still maintained the interest and took on some private consultancy work representing the writer on project work in Trinidad and Barbados.
Both him and his wife Sheila enjoyed many happy days with Andre Lange and his family at Marine Consultants, based in Port of Spain, Trinidad. This, he always said was the icing on the cake finishing his years of travel in Libya/Saudi Arabia/Abu Dhabi etc etc and the memories remain on the sideboard at his home in Frisby –on-the-Wreake enjoyed by his devoted wife Sheila, two daughters Jill and Deborah and their son Tim.
Rest in Peace Gordon……an Icon of your era.
On behalf of the CURRER FAMILY
We are pleased to announce that the speaker at the January the 10th meeting at Imperial College will be Dr Patricia Conder of Sonomatic. She will be giving a talk on internal corrosion of pipework. as we all know this can be patchy and unpredictable on a small scale and although corrosion predictions for pipework focus on morphology, rate and likelihood, the spatial distribution is not generally considered. Inspection of pipework typically covers a small proportion of overall area, utilising manual ultrasonic inspection and radiography. The effectiveness of the inspection being determined by the “Find It First” challenge.
If and when corrosion is found, a local corrosion rate is generated for an individual location and there is a “Bottom-Up” integrity response. This talk looks at the advantages of taking a fresh look at the results of pipework inspection from a “Top-Down” viewpoint and how this can improve the understanding of corrosion manifestations, and impact on future inspection to make it more effective and efficient.
Come along to the meeting on the 10th of January doors in the Skempton Building open at 6 pm, the evening offers refreshments and great networking opportunities to members and non members alike.
ICORR NE Branch – CUI Test Method Review Thank you to all those who attended the recent CUI test method review that was presented by Neil Wilds, Sherwin Williams Global Director CUI/Testing. It was one of our most successful events with over 30 attendees representing asset owners, engineers, test houses, coatings and insulation manufacturers.
This lead to some excellent discussion after the presentation and this has carried on via email. If you have any questions feel free to contact Neil directly. That’s it for 2018, I’ll share details of any future events planned in the New Year. As always, if you have any topics you would like to cover or present please get in contact!
All the best Icorr NE
The 2018 YEP culminated in the teams presenting their findings on the Case Study at Imperial College on Thursday 8th November.
This was 12 months of work for the delegates who have worked through modules that span the breadth and depth of our industry.
It was a truly fantastic evening with 3 excellent presentations from the teams
There were a good deal of questions from the audience after each presentation following which the Judges went away to deliberate.
Bill Hedges of BP, when making his award speech, said “its been very hard to select a winner as they were all so good. However there has to be a winning team and that is Team Doggett.”
The winning team will be travelling to the USA in April 2019 to attend the NACE Conference in Nashville where a whole programme will be arranged. They will post a blog of their activity and learnings on a daily basis which will be attached to the Institute of Corrosion website. We are grateful to the President and staff of NACE for pledging their support to the winners whilst they are in Nashville by providing conference registrations and access to the student award ceremony.
The teams will also present their conference learning in the 2019 winter lecture series at ICorr London Branch.
The response from the delegates has been incredibly encouraging;
“This programme has altered the way I think about my work and how I carry it out”
“I have found a new job and moved to London living in Kew Gardens and cycling to work each day I love it”
“I hadn’t realised the value of ICorr and I will go back to work on Monday and encourage them to engage”
A comment from one of the senior Engineers in our fraternity gave the programme even more credibility, “This is probably the most important function in the UK Corrosion calendar, it’s truly fantastic”
It’s also interesting to note that Agne Knyter of Team Boran travelled to the U.K. from Poland in 2015 under her own steam to take part in the YEP Case Study presentation and decided then she wanted to be involved in the next YEP programme.
The week before the YEP presentation, Chris Bridge and Simon Bowcock, representing Young ICorr, presented at Oxford University and 32 people signed up as student members of ICorr. We are finally pulling young Engineers into our Institute and showing them the value of being a member.
Thanks go to all those involved in the YEP process; the organising committee, the lecturers, the hosts, the mentors, the Judges, the delegates and of course a big thank you to the sponsors of the event BP.
The second annual Joint Meeting of the Institute of Corrosion, London Branch with the SCI London Group was recently held at their prestigious headquarters in Belgravia Square. This ultra-modern auditorium made for a most comfortable setting and was enjoyed by an attendance of over 60. In the previous two days, eight health-related apologies had been received with many more from younger members on holidays with their children, as this was half-term week.
The Evening Chairman, John T O’Shea, a Past President of ICorr, began the evening procedures by thanking Dr Fred Parrett, currently Hon. Treasurer of the SCI London Section, for all his work in helping to organise this event. This was an excellent venue and was just around the corner from the Star Pub.
John T O’Shea, a Past President of ICorr, open the meeting
There were two separate presentations – “A Fighting Ship” and “Fighting Corrosion”.
The first presentation “A Fighting Ship” was based around the Mary-Rose project at Portsmouth. This was given by Professor Eleanor Schofield, Head of Conservation and Collections Care at the Mary Rose Trust. Eleanor graduated from Imperial College, where she also received her PhD in Material Science. She has recently received an Honorary Chair at the University of Kent, at Canterbury.
Whilst we are all familiar with the story of the recovery of the Mary Rose in 1982, Professor Schofield began her talk by correcting the too often quoted story that she sank in 1545 on her maiden voyage. In fact she was built in 1510 and served for 34 years as the flagship of Henry VIII’s navy in many battles particularly in wars against France.
Professor Eleanor Schofield giving presentation on “Fighting Ship”
Following the lifting of the ship out of the seabed mud, to prevent further deterioration once exposed to air, the timber hull was treated over many years by spraying with water and polyethylene glycol. Perhaps less well known is the work in restoring and maintaining over 19,000 artefacts that had also been recovered. A significant part of the collection were the 1200 plus iron cannonballs. These have been exposed to sea-water since the ship sank, and the chlorine in sea-water which is very damaging to iron when later exposed to air. This corrosion can eat away at the metal and weakening its structure. It was vital that ways were found of preserving the cannonballs. It was recognised that while the cannons were made to last and be used many times, the cannonballs were only needed for a one-off use. Thus they were greatly inferior in their quality and standards of manufacture.
Initially researchers attempted to remove chlorine from the cannonballs, by soaking in water with and without chemical treatment. Chlorine reduction by heating in an atmosphere of hydrogen was also attempted. Unfortunately, this did not successfully prevent disintegration when they were later put on display. To better understand this, Professor Schofield, established a research project with UCL Archaeology and the UK Diamond Light Source, to understand what was going on inside the cannonballs.
Diamond Light Source in Didcot is the UK’s national synchrotron. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce penetrating bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils, to jet engines, to viruses and vaccines.
Diamond’s bright light X-rays combined with absorption spectroscopy, and fluorescence mapping made it possible to visualise the differences in the corrosion profiles. These could be traced to the treatments applied in the 35 years since the cannon balls were recovered with the Mary Rose. The results of the bright X-rays have revealed detailed maps of the elements involved in the corrosive process, an unprecedented insight into conservation on a molecular scale. This crucial information will help protect this and other cultural heritage artefacts for many decades to come.
The second presentation, “Fighting Corrosion” was given by Jim Glynn, a previous Chairman of London Branch and currently the Hon Treasurer. He also runs his own business, Beanny, which is a Coating Distribution Company.
Jim Glynn delivering a presentation on Fighting Corrosion
In his introduction to this presentation, John reminded the audience that the Annual Award of the U R Evans Prize included the presentation of a full-size Sheffield Steel sword, while the H G Cole Award was a mounted poniard (a large dagger). These weapons represent the continued fight against corrosion.
Jim concentrated on the Dynamic Duo, starting with a suitable protective coating as the primary source of defence against corrosion. This should then be supported, where appropriate by a cathodic protection system to prevent any corrosion occurring at holidays or in areas of coating damage. This applies to in-ground and sub-sea structures.
It is often commonly conceived that rusting is a simple, chemical oxidation reaction – but it is not. Aqueous corrosion is however, a complex, multi-stage step process which includes electron transfer at the molecular level. Thus these Electro-Chemical operations during corrosion can be influenced by the external application of electrical potentials. Under the right circumstances, corrosion can be stopped by applying the appropriate level of negative potential using a DC current supply.
Jim presented many examples where the correct conditions of a good coating and a suitable working cathodic potential were present. However, he also described many examples where this was unsuccessful. These included a pipeline coating that had totally disbonded and broken away from the pipeline. This was due to a higher potential than required, which generated hydrogen gas on the surface of the pipeline, causing the damage.
He also described Thermally Sprayed Aluminium (TSA) applications, which are excellent protective coatings when properly applied. The aluminium content can also act as its own in-built cathodic protection anode. However, in the wrong environment, the aluminium can be quickly used up.
Jim expanded his presentation to compare the recent Case Studies of retro-fitting remote anode beds to two similar North Sea rigs. These rigs had exceeded their design life, but it was decided that the sub-sea structure could be further protected using cathodic protection. One had been fully coated with coal tar epoxy, while the legs on the other had been left bare, but with a built-in corrosion factor that should exceed its expected life. The survey confirmed that both could be successfully protected using the methods adopted in the much deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The coated structure required 1,000 Amps, while the bare steel legs needed around 7,500 Amps to produce the correct comprehensive negative potentials. The location of the anode sea-beds were also calculated. These high DC currents were produced by banks of adjustable transformer rectifiers (TRs) connected to an AC mains electrical source.
Jim also interspersed a number of quiz questions, asking the audience to identify some notable Dynamic Duos in life, film and comic books with several bottles of wine as prizes! This was well received and considered a fun way to conclude the presentations.
The Vote of Thanks was given by Dr Parrett and he presented the speakers with ICorr Engraved Cross pens, as a memento of the evening.
John T O’Shea, Jim Glynn, Professor Eleanor Schofield and Dr Parrett