Work continues on the Catalyst
This week at Old Tacoma Marine Inc, I spent most of my time on the Catalyst, continuing this year’s big winter maintenance project. I did a lot of cleaning this week, mostly on the cylinder heads and pistons. Washington engines like Catalyst‘s have a lot of very elaborately shaped parts on them that makes the engine interesting to look at and beautiful, but also makes cleaning the heads pretty labor-intensive. I have several cleaning tools to get into all the curves and surfaces to take the carbon chunks off and polish it all up.
3M pads, which are scratchy like a dish scrubber, come in soft, medium and hard pads that attach to a die grinder at the shop. I use the hard ones for the combustion chamber parts and the soft ones to polish the tops of the head. Flapper wheels are pieces of sandpaper glued together in a wheel shape, which also attaches to a die grinder. I use different-sized flapper wheels to clean up the cylindrical parts, like the valve cage holes and the water passages. Wire cup brushes, which are a wire brush shaped like a cup, are good to get into little curved places that are hard to reach.
I got through all of the pistons and most of the heads, and also started filing the oil hole ridge off of the crankshaft journals on the bearings that we’re replacing – all of the rod bearings and half of the mains. The oil hole ridge is a ridge on the center of the crank journal, which is created by the crank wearing down everywhere except for the places where the bearing doesn’t contact the crank:
This happens because the bearings are recessed to allow oil to continually flow around the crankshaft and up the rods. Since we’ve re-babbitted so many of the bearings, all of these ridges need to be filed off to make the journals fit smoothly against the newly babbitted surfaces.
I spent a lot of time filing off these ridges. I used a regular metal file to take the ridge off, then sand it, and polish it with an emery cloth to get all of the scratches out. I stopped and measured the journals for roundness a couple of times during the process and shaped them as close to round as I could. This is a very, very slow process, but it makes fitting the new bearings easier.
Part of why it’s taking so long is because I’m a little inexperienced with this kind of work and I’m being really careful – too careful, if you ask Dan. He says that I’m “gilding the lily,” but agrees that the complexity of this process is worth the caution.
Waterfront credit reports?
When I apply for a loan, the bank gathers a lot of information about who I am and how I plan to pay back the loan. They have me fill out questionnaires and pull three separate credit reports. Since I plan to borrow and pay back banks for the rest of my life, I work hard to pay on time and be completely honest with the bank. This is a relationship that I value very much, since it helps me do business and make a living. There’s a similar credit report on the waterfront. It’s called gossip.
Sometimes I see sloppy financial decisions and practices that affect people’s waterfront credit report. For example (hypothetically, of course), I might get asked to start another job before I’m paid for the last one, or get complaints about the quality or speed of a project that’s getting done at a reduced rate in between real jobs as a favor. Commonly, someone may be just slow to pay their bills, which doesn’t sound like a big deal until you realize that I’ve had to take out a loan to cover the expense of a job until I get paid for it.
I’m often surprised that people who do this seem to think that no one else notices these sloppy practices. The waterfront gossip amazing: everyone knows everything about everyone else, and often about their family. I know lots of people on the waterfront who hold grudges from decades ago, people who still follow boycotts that originated in the sixties, and some people who won’t work with someone else because their father had a reputation as a jerk. Like any gossip, this kind of stuff goes around and stays around, and people love to add new stories that reinforce the old ones.
This is not to say that all of these waterfront credit reports are negative, though. There are plenty good owners with good waterfront relationships that get a lot of attention. People follow success stories and want updates on their favorite boats that have gone to good new owners. I have a lot of people ask me “So how’s [name] doing?” because they’re genuinely interested in a project or a boat with a good reputation.
If after reading this you’re worried that your waterfront credit report isn’t as good as it could be, don’t worry; there are things that you can do to improve your score. In fact, I urge everyone to do all they can to improve their score, since waterfront relationships directly influence the buoyancy of individual and organizational operations. Here’s just a few ways:
Get in the game. Get to know other boaters and owners; ask for opinions and advice – even if it goes unused it can help guide you in other projects. This is a community that everyone should participate in.
Pay on time. At least act like you know what you got yourself into, and minimize the whining (though we all know some is necessary).
Educate yourself. Read and take classes so that when you do call on people for help, it’s help that you appreciate and can use.
Take care of your boat. No one likes to help a lost cause or give someone advice that they’ll ignore. Your boat may be your most visible contribution to the community, so it should reflect your sincerity. This doesn’t mean that it has to be perfect and the brightwork all sanded every year – it means that you need to demonstrate that any work that goes into your boat is valued and maintained, whether you do it yourself or have someone else do it.
Help others with their boats. This can be as simple as sharing any new tricks that you discover.
Bonus points: call in with a report and some gossip on other boats, stop by the shop with some coffee, maybe take some classes or donate money to local maritime museums and heritage groups. These all get you involved in the community and show that you care about other boaters and other projects. You’ll meet people, word will get around that you’re a neat person, and people will be happy to work with you.
Above all, everyone needs to realize that even though our unique waterfront community is made up of individualistic and self-sufficient people, we all need to get to know and respect each other more.
Open position at OTM Inc
We at OTM Inc are very interested in creating 3-D computer models of old engines. If you’re a graphic artist with experience in Vector Works or similar rendering programs and are interested in a neat project, we want you!
We have a limited budget and we don’t know much about 3-D renderings, but we think it’d be neat to do engine fly-bys and add heavy-duty diesels to some online communities. Something like this would be awesome:
Contact us if you’re interested.