Alan belongs to: Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade
Alan works as an Instrument Technician offshore. He joined the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade at the age of 18. His family have been involved with the Brigade since it began in 1864. Alan's main job is looking after the searchlight.
Alan was interviewed by Carl Greenwood on 30 November 2005. The interview took place at Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade watch house and lasted 22 minutes and 18 seconds.
How the searchlight works
"The searchlight itself is run by carbon arc"
The searchlight itself is run by carbon arc. Itís likened to a welders, a welderís spark- when heís arc welding. Itís basically two carbons which come together with an electric charge between them. When itís, when it actually, it links across, shorts across, you get a very high intensity and a very, very high intensity light which is reflected from a reflector at the back and thereís a focusing mechanism on it which the generator itself- the actual searchlight itself is run from a rotary, rotary set downstairs which converts AC to DC, to DC arc. That is set up first of all and once thatís running, we come up, we actually put the fan on the top, we switch that on first because that causes a draft and sucks air through a vent in the bottom of the searchlight which channels the cold air in front of the mirror because itís very, very hot and if you didnít have this fan sucking the air across the mirror, the actual mirror would crack, which has happened in the past. So itís one of the first things you do, you switch on the fan, and make sure itís running and getting the air through and then you can switch on the searchlight itself. And then once you do switch off the searchlight, you must leave the fan running for at least ten minutes until everything is cool and then you can switch it off and then your reflecting mirror is safe.
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