Daily Archives: June 14, 2009

2009 Week 24 in Review

OTM Inc spent most of this week working on the Arthur Foss‘s Washington, but first:

Update on the Lightship #83

Following our successful preparation of a Preliminary Engineering Report two years ago, Northwest Seaport has asked OTM Inc to submit a bid to serve as project manager for the Lightship Rehabilitation. We assembled our project management team and had our first meeting at the Northlake Pizza Tavern to discuss how to effectively perform the duties outlined by the Seaport. The meeting went well (and it was $2/pitcher PBR night!) and we’ll have the bid in early next week.

More Restoration Workshops?

Brian, the Ocean Bay Marine Inc shipwright and OTM Inc shop partner, has been working with the Seaport on assorted projects since 2007, and he’s really interested in doing public classes like Diesel Engine Theory, only with wood stuff rather than engines. I met with him this week to talk about I got the engine programs up and running. Trouble is, it takes a lot of time and effort to develop programs like this. I told him to be patient and persistent, and offered to talk more any time. I hope he gets something going – the Arthur is a great boat for people to learn on.

Work on the Arthur Foss‘s Washington

The Shop is now plugged with Washington parts from the Arthur Foss. After last week’s exciting Session One of the 2009 Diesel Engine Theory Workshop, I loaded all the parts we took off Cylinder Four into my truck and brought them to Ballard to be cleaned, tested, painted, oiled, lapped, and set as needed. This includes the fuel injector, the intake and exhaust valves and valve cages, about half the intake manifold, some couplings from the exhaust manifold, the rockers and rocker arms, the push rods, and pieces of the water cooling system. Pretty much all of my work space is covered with Arthur parts, but it’s great.

Valve cages from the Arthur Foss

We spent most of the week getting all these parts stripped down and ready for the class to work on. Crystal, OTM’s mechanic, worked with me to clean engine parts, and she also serviced the Arthur‘s generator. I also hired on Sterling the future towboat captain to get ahead a little, since I’ll be heading out to Qunicy again next week.

We also spent a lot of time getting the cylinder head off. Following last week’s class, one of the head nuts just would not come off. We tried oil, fast heat, slow heat, paraffin, and hammers, but it wouldn’t budge – it destroyed two of the output drives for our big torque multiplier (don’t worry Brian, we ordered new ones). Then I talked with Dan, who said to get a slugging wrench from Pacific Industrial Supply (they’re in South Park now). I went and got the wrench and we strapped a comealong to it real tight, then wailed on the wrench with a really big hammer. It finally did the trick – the head nut came loose in about three blows.

using a slugging wrench to remove a stubborn head nut from the Arthur Foss's Washington

Even with all the head nuts off and a serious strain on the lifting straps, the head was not going anywhere. The engine is more than eighty years old and all the minor leaks and corrosion over that time had caused the head to become one with the cylinder and studs. Crystal and I had to use sawzall blades to cut through all the corrosion in the seam, then we hammered dozens of little wedges in to pry it loose.

freeing the cylinder head on the Arthur foss

After a lot of hammering, it finally came off with a little tiny “pop,” and we winched it up. The Arthur has the biggest size of cylinder that Washington Iron Works ever produced. Its cylinders have an 18-inch bore and are really, really big. We estimate the heads as weighing about 2,200 pounds. As we lifted the head off cylinder four, I pictured it as a wrecking ball until we had it secured it to the deck.

After that excitement, we spent the rest of the week cleaning more parts, until…

Diesel Engine Theory Session Two

Early Saturday, the Diesel Engine Theory class all met at the Shop.
We spent the morning cleaning parts using wire wheels, sandblasters, hot lye, needle guns, flapper wheels, belt sanders, hammers and chisels, acid baths, solvent, 409, rags, and fingernails.

cleaning the exhaust system with a needle gun

At lunch time, we all headed down to the Arthur for hamburgers and salad prepared by chef Kim in the sizzling-hot galley.

We spent the afternoon cleaning the bigger pieces still on the boat. We cleaned the piston with scrapers and flapper wheels, then cleaned out the piston ring grooves using a broken ring with a handle duct-taped to the other end. This gave us a tool exactly the right size and shape to scrape out all the gunk clogging up the ring grooves, and there were plenty to go around.

We also cleaned the threads on the studs that protrude from the cylinder. I decided that the best way to do this was to run the nut up and down the stud using lots of valve-lapping compound. This gritty mixture machines off the rust and dirt and makes sure to keep the threads the right shape. The downside to this process is that it’s painfully slow, but the students all did a great job – especially the TAP guys.

We also pulled out the rod bearing. The babbitt is cracked up, but not too bad considering that it’s been at least 40 years since it was last re-poured (and probably a lot longer than that).

rod bearing on the Arthur foss

We’re not going to have it re-done this time; a full chapter in one of my diesel repair books is dedicated to running on cracked bearings. It says that as long as there aren’t any holes in the babbitt larger than a dime, you should be okay. The number four rod bearing babbitt is mostly just cracked, with only one little hole that’s way smaller than a dime, so I’ve decided that it’s okay for now – especially since we run the engine so lightly these days We’ll plan on re-doing the rod bearings after we service all six cylinders.

Last and most tiring, we used the ball hone to clean up the liner. It was agony because our ball hone is 16″ and the Arthur‘s cylinders are 18″, so we had to swirl it around to get the liner cleaned and patterned correctly.

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