3rd Class EK Steam exam help from Martin's Marine Engineering Page

Certification Assistance for Marine Engineers

Canadian Third Class ME 
Engineering Knowledge - Steam

In Canada, Transport Canada administers the Marine Engineering examination process; visit the Training Page for details on the process. The actual exam consist of nine (9) questions randomly drawn from a question bank of the various subject. Six (only) must be answered in a 3.5hrs time frame. The exam questions are similar to these, presented below, and are drawn heavily from similar question in the Reed's Marine Engineering series of books. 
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Transport Canada has ask us to advise users of this webpage to keep in mind that these questions are not the exact questions found in their exams. Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net is not affiliated with Transport Canada and these questions have been gathered from various sources.

In August 2007, we received the following email from a visitor. Thanks SL - Martin

"I wrote my 3rd class steam ticket yesterday. There was none of the "old" technology,  which I had really concentrated on....No triple expansion engines, no lead or steam laps and no shell riveting questions.  This is what I got.

1. Describe a fuel oil system as fitted in a steam ship, explaining the various components, how they work and how the fuel flows.

2.  Describe what is a hydrostatic test performed on a boiler and why and when do we do it.  What safety precautions are associated with this test.

3.  Sketch and describe boiler water circulation in a water tube boiler showing the flow of water and steam with arrows.

4.  Describe various remote reading instruments to monitor boiler water level.

5.  What is forced draft in a boiler.  Why are trunkings fitted with heaters and what is set in place to protect them.

6.  Explain how a labyrinths seal works.

7.  How is a bridge gauge used to measure wear down on a turbine and what are the effects of excessive wear.

8.  Explain the start up procedure for a water tube boiler fitted with a super heater.  How long does it take and what provisions are made to protect the super heater. 

9.  Explain a regenerative condenser and why should a water level be maintained in this condenser."


These question are from the syllabus and not really the exact ones you will see on the exam. Nonetheless, they will give you an idea of what to prepare for while sitting the exam. The written exam consist of nine questions to which you will be graded on the first six you answer. You will have 3.5 hrs to complete. 

As I come across more questions, I will post them - if you have some, submit here.



1. Explain the advantages of a compound or triple expansion steam reciprocating engine when compared to a single cylinder engine. What is a uniflow engine? Describe briefly the path of the steam through the cylinders to the condenser in this type of engine.

2. Describe how you would ascertain the mechanical clearance between the piston and the cylinder cover and also between the piston and the bottom of the cylinder. Why are these clearances important and what wear or adjustments to the engine would affect them? Explain why the clearance at the bottom is greater than that at the top.

3. Define the following terms and state how they affect the running of a steam reciprocating engine:
(a) lead (b) steam lap c) exhaust lap (d) valve travel. How may the lead of a slide valve be chocked and adjusted?

4. Explain how you would prepare a set of main steam turbines and its auxiliary equipment for sea. Describe the warm up procedure and state the precautions to be taken before turning the turbines by steam.

5. What action would you take if, while steaming a water tube boiler, one of the tubes ruptured? Describe how the tube may be plugged and the boiler put back into service.

6. What is meant by 'priming' of a marine boiler? State the possible reasons for a boiler priming. What serious damage to main and auxiliary machinery may be caused by a boiler priming and what precautions are taken to avoid this damage?

7. Describe a steam driven duplex water pump suitable for fire mains or general service. State the materials of which the various parts are made and explain the action of the steam valve gear.

8. If all the fires in an oil burning boiler suddenly went out, what causes would you look for and what action would you take? What precautions would you take before lighting up the fires again?

9. Why it is necessary to have an auxiliary feed arrangement incorporated with the main boiler feed system of a steamship? Under what conditions is the auxiliary feed system used and what procedure would you adopt to ensure it is always maintained in good condition?

I found these exams and digitized them in April 2002. The format and the questions suggest they are not current. Nonetheless, you may find them handy in jogging loose a few ideas to study. 


Test 1

1. Describe a water-tube boiler you are familiar with. What mountings and fittings are attached to this boiler and what metals are the various parts made of? 
2. Describe all the methods of staying a Scotch Marine Boiler. State where the various stays are used and why they are used.
3. Describe a governor au used on a triple expansion marine engine.
4. Describe the procedure used in taking indicator cards from a steam engine. How is the mean effective pressure found from the diagrams?
5. What is the function of an air vessel? Sketch two air vessels, showing one in good condition, and the other as never having been efficient, or, by negligence, allowed to become defective.

Test 2

1. What is scale? How is it formed, where does it deposit, and how is it removed? If oil were allowed to enter the boiler, what would happen? How is oil prevented from entering the boiler?
2. Describe a turbine you are familiar with, How is it reversed?
3. What is an eccentric? What similarity is there between an eccentric and a crank? What difference is there? If the size of an eccentric is increased, how will it be affected?
4. What is meant by circulation in a boiler? What would happen if the circulation were poor? When lighting up from cold, what is done to promote circulation?
5. What type of riveting is employed in the seams of a cylindrical boiler? Give reasons for any differences, and illustrate your answer with sketches.

Test 3

1. Describe how you would close up a Scotch boiler and raise steam What precautions are taken when doing so? How would you put the boiler on the line?
2. Describe the function, construction and use of a salinometer.
3. Describe the construction and operation of twin safety valves. Describe tha various attachments and provisions for emergencies. Name the materials used.
4. What is the effect of loss of vacuum on the operation of an engine? Describe an air pump, naming the materials of which it is made.
5. What would be the causes of the collapse of a crown sheet in a Scotch boiler? How would you determine if a furnace were distorted, and how would you record this data for future reference?

Test 4

1. Describe any type of feed water heater. What are it�s advantages ?
2. Give a brief description of a Scotch, boiler and a water-tube boiler. Compare them from a point of view of safety and ease of operation. How long would it take to raise steam in each case?
3. Describe an injector. What is it used for and what may cause it to got out of order? What are it�s advantages and disadvantages compared to a feed pump?
4. What is the cause of galvanic action in a boiler? What are the results of this action, and how may it be prevented?
5. Describe an oil burning system as used on board an oil fired steamer.

Test 5

1. How would you check the valve settings of a triple expansion engine and how would you balance the engine so that each cylinder was developing approximately equal horsepower? How would you determine cut-off?
2. Describe the construction and operation of an auxiliary boiler feed pump.
3. Describe the fitting of boiler tubes in a Scotch marine boiler.
4. If an astern eccentric strap were badly wom, what would be the effect on the engine? How could it be remedied?
5. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of coal and oil firing on board ship.

Test 6

1. What is the purpose of the feed stop valve and the feed check valve. What provision is made should they become defective?
2. Describe how you would take over the watch on a vessel having a triple expansion engine, two Scotch boilers and the usual auxiliaries.
3. Sketch and describe a reducing valve with all it�s attachments. Where and why is it fitted? How is it adjusted? 
4. Describe an evaporator with all it�s fittings. How is it started and shut down?
5. What is meant by cushioning and compression in a steam engine? What causes cushioning?

Test 7

1. Describe a filter for boiler feed water. Where is it placed and when is it used?
2. Describe in detail the procedure of emptying a boiler by blowing down, so that a person can enter the boiler the following day. The remaining boilers in the battery are to be left under steam.
3. Describe the function, construction and operation of a surface condenser. How would you know if the condenser were leaking and how could this be remedied?
4. Why is an observation tank fitted? What drains are lead into it? What would you do if traces of oil were seen?
5. Describe how you would set the slide valve on a steam winch.

Test 8

1. In the operation of boilers, what precautions are taken in the following case: (a) when blowing down, (b) when relighting an oil fired furnace, (c) when connecting a boiler to another boiler, (d) to prevent the contents of a boiler escaping into another boiler through the blow down valve or scum valve.
2. Describe how Scotch boilers and water tube boiler are secured in a steam ship. How is movement prevented and expansion allowed for?
3. Define the following and state their purpose: steam lap, head, exhaust lap. In a vertical steam engine, explain why there should be a difference in the head and exhaust lap at each end of the slide valve.
4. What are the constituent of salt water? Why is sea water unsuitable for boiler water? If forced to resort to salt water feed, describe in detail how you would operate the boiler? 
5. Describe how steam pipes are anchored and supported. What methods are used to allow for expansion?

Test 9

1. Describe a system of forced draft. What are it�s advantages over natural draft?
2. What types of slide valves are used in a triple expansion engine and how are they driven? What is the position of the eccentric pulley for these valves and how is it found?
3. The main bearings of an engine have been re-lined with white metal. Describe in detail how you would replace the crankshaft.
4. Describe in detail how a triple expansion engine is reversed.
5. Describe a governor for a dynamo engine. 

Brought to you by www.dieselduck.net comments to [email protected]
Transport Canada has ask us to advise users of this webpage to keep in mind that these questions are not the exact questions found in their exams. Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net is not affiliated with Transport Canada and these questions have been gathered from various sources.