Daily Archives: June 28, 2009

2009 Week 26 in Review

20Work continues on the Arthur Foss

This week, I continued to work on the Arthur Foss‘s Washington, working with OTM’s mechanic Crystal. We started the week with two big challenges to work on 1) make a tool to drive out the very stuck air-start valve, and 2) put the very heavy cylinder head back onto the engine.

I had to make a tool to get the air-start valve out. Back in 2005, during the very first session of Diesel Engine Theory, we pulled all the intake and exhaust valve cages out of the Arthur‘s engine. I wanted to pull all the air start valves in the head at that time, too, but they were really, really stuck. I decided that it would be best to take them out when we had the heads off, but I’ve been really antsy to start getting them out.

The day to get them out came on Thursday of this week, when I got to South Lake Union with the tool I’d made. It’s basically a cylindrical steel punch that I put up against the air start valve on the underside of the cylinder, and then wailed on with a ten-pound sledge hammer. It didn’t budge for a while – long enough that I thought “crap, I’m going to have to cut this [censored] out in pieces,” which I had to do with one of the exhaust valves back in 2005. But then I hit it some more and it finally came loose and popped out of the head, and I brought it back to the shop to clean it up. Whew.

hole for the air start valve in the Arthur Foss's number four cylinder head

Later in the week, we used a borrowed three-ton come-along to winch the piston back up into the cylinder, then set the head back on the cylinder. The come-along was a really great tool – I want one. I’ll have to put it on the Arthur Foss‘s wish-list, too.

I picked up a bunch more supplies, including water grommet material in two thicknesses. Then, I had to make a lot of calls and fuss over the head gasket because the manufacturer didn’t have the right material, but I finally got it.

There was also a lot of cleaning and painting all the individual parts. We painted the rockers and valve parts the usual Arthur white and painted the exhaust manifold with high-temperature paint. The TAP guys helped out a bunch this week with the painting – thanks, guys!

With all that accomplished, we were all ready for the next class on Saturday! But first…

South Lake Union party

The Friday Lake Union Park Working Group is still doing great things. On Thursday, they had a big party to “roll out” a new planning document that they all worked on. Lots of people showed up to see representatives from every group (like 20!) speak and everyone was really excited. I’m excited too – ten years ago, none of the different boat factions would even have been in the same room together, and now applauding for each other and finding ways to work together. Way to go, everyone!

Atlas-Imperials are not dead

The Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society just published an article in their quarterly rag the Sea Chest titled “The Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine, an Innovative Engine Built in the 1920s”. While this article gives the Atlas-Imperial diesels credit for being innovating and durable machines, the overarching theme suggests that the engines are gone for good.

I disagree.

Old Tacoma Marine Inc is here to show the next generation that heavy-duty diesels like the Atlas-Imperials are alive and well and still working as they were designed to do almost a century ago. The 500 or so heavy-duties from the four manufactures that I like the most are near-evenly grouped into four active categories by use: commercial, pleasure with a purpose, museums, and collectors. In all categories, the engines must function to fulfill specific duties, and these keep a small but diligent group of mechanics, engineers, operators, parts suppliers, curators, grant writers, museum program managers, and grey-haired guys who know everything all gainfully employed year-round. We’re a tight bunch who meet often and share stories and get their own tables at the tugboat parties or tractor shows.

This network of support and the great need for the engines to run is the reason this article is premature in writing of the death of these innovative engines, built to last from the 1920s and far into the future.

Underwater Surveys surveys the Lightship #83

A diver from Underwater Surveys did an underwater video survey of the Lightship #83 this week. He found that the hull is in about the condition we expected, with lots of aquatic growth – so much that it looks like a coral reef. I can’t wait to haul it out and clean all that off.

If anyone needs an underwater survey of their boat, let us through and we’ll patch you through to Underwater Surveys.

Indian Grave #3 running!

This week, I also got word that the Indian Grave Drainage District’s engine #3 successfully ran for about five minutes. I can’t wait to see them all working!

Diesel Engine Theory Session Four

Saturday morning, we all met on the Arthur for part four of the Diesel Engine Theory class. The first task was to move all the parts from my truck back onto the boat. We brought them all to the back deck to sort them out:

parts from the Arthur Foss's Washington Iron Works diesel engine

We did some more painting and cleaning and sanding, and cut grommets for the exhaust manifold:

cutting gaskets for the exhaust manifold

We also did some old Diesel Engine Theory standbys, such as the Washington Valve Dance (putting spring retainers on the valve stem), the Kerplunk Test (fitting the valve cages into the cylinder head; a “kerplunk!” sound is good, a “squish…” sound means more sanding), and annealing copper gaskets with heat and then cold water:

annealing a head gasket for the Arthur foss's Washington Iron Works diesel engine.

Then we had another amazing lunch cooked in the Arthur‘s frying hot galley with the fabulous Chef Kim, who made cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, and cayenne brownies. She also baked lots more of the amazing bread she made last week, and we all had tons of it.

Fresh-baked bread on the Arthur Foss!

After lunch, we did some more cleaning, then got the rod bearing back in. This was an excruciating job because the rod bearing is two big heavy pieces of metal that fit around the crankshaft. It’s tricky because you have to suspend the lower half while you get the upper half in place and the bolts through. I rigged up some braces to keep the pieces in place, then got into the crankpit while all the students maneuvered the pieces into place.

re-installing the rod bearing on the Arthur Foss's Washington Iron Works diesel engine.

It was hard work (especially since the boat was hot and the crankpit full of solvent), but we got it done just a little after five. Next week is the last week of Diesel Engine Theory 2009; let’s hope we get it all back together in time!

Seattle Power Tool Races

The power-tool races were Saturday evening. I wish I could have attended. Hopefully next year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized