Tag Archives: big swan drainage

2008 Week 40 in review

A reader question about Enterprises

Reader Saúl emailed me for some Enterprise information:

Would you know where I can find an image of the logo placed by Enterprise Engines & Foundry on the armor parts they created during WWII? I am trying to update this list.

I won’t be taking an Enterprise apart until January, so if any of you know the answer, jump right in! Comment here, email Saúl, or contact me. It’s a great project, so I hope that a fellow reader can help Saúl out.

A Big Thank-you to Brian for helping the Arthur Foss program

This week, a reader responded to the wish list I posted for the class I’ll be leading on the Arthur Foss. Brian brought us an 18-to-1 torque multiplier on a long-term loan, and will bring by some lubricating oil soon. This is a huge help to me and to Northwest Seaport – plus, Brian signed up to take the Diesel Engine Theory class.

We still need participants and funding for the class, so please be like Brian and get involved and help where you can!

An update on the Duwamish

I’ve mostly finished re-assembling the air compressor, and now I just have some valve work left. I hope to wrap up this project soon — and maybe post some pictures next week.

An update from the David B

I met with Jeffrey and Christine of the David B (the last boat with a Washington-Estep diesel). I gave them a framed color copy of the “engine card” that Washington Iron Works kept records on for their engine:

David B's manufacturer card from Washington Iron Works

Every Washington engine produced has a card, so we can send you a copy of one that interests you for $25 each. We need the engine number or other identifying information and a few months to make the copy. Comment here or contact us to order your engine card today.

Back to Jeffrey and Christine and the David B. They, like many others, have lugging problems due to the wrong-sized propeller and parasitic load. They’re planning to flatten out their wheel this year, and also have me work on perfecting the power train to get the rated engine RPM and 600 degrees on the pyrometers. That is as fast as you can go (remember my discussion of optimizing running speed from a couple months ago?). I’ll also be helping them with some bearing issues this January.

Gaskets for Big Swan

We sent two annealed copper head gaskets and a complete set of rubber grommets to the Big Swan Drainage in Winchester, Illinois. Engineer Kenny manages the drainage company, which uses two giant engines to pump the water out of corn fields and up in to a river that is higher than the fields. The Atlas-Imperial drives a big pump that moves up to 60,000 gallons of water per minute. The other engine, a Cat, can move about 70,000 gallons.

The Atlas, one of my favorite engines in the world, runs great, but there are some water leaks coming from the heads. A water leak is not a terrible thing, but, if left to leak, more problems develop. Changing the grommets is not too tough a job, so it’s a good idea to take things apart to clean and reseal often. This helps prevent small problems from becoming big problems, and removes some of the mystery that can build up if the engine is just left alone. So, as all the old-timers often remind me, “take it apart and fix it!” It sounds like Kenny is planning to do just that.

Boat for sale: Cape Scott

We found another neat boat for sale on the Internet: the Cape Scott, a WWII Navy transport built by Fulton Shipyard in California, which is now a fish packer in Vancouver BC. It’s powered by an Enterprise DMG-6 (like the Briana Marin) and all the gear for fish packing:

fish packer Cape Scott, powered by an Enterprise DMG-6 diesel engine, for sale in Vancouver, BC

I hope a business-minded person buys the boat, since a boat earning a living keeps an engine in good condition. While the operating budget may get cut down in response to economic pressures, engine maintenance rarely gets cut on a working boat, since the engine is the most important thing on it. If the Cape Scott becomes a pleasure boat, I worry that the engine won’t get as much attention as it would if it kept fishing (unless a heavy-duty enthusiast buys it).

The broker is asking $95,000 and has put some basic information on their website, but I have some questions that brokers usually don’t answer: how does it run? How is the hull? How much fish can it haul? What condition are the tanks in? How well does the RSW system operate? When was its last contract for fish packing? If anyone reading knows anything about the Cape Scott, comment here and let us know!

Heavy-duty “for sale” listings

Speaking of which, we’ve launched a new feature of the Old Tacoma Marine Inc website: a Boats for Sale listing. I have a lot of people interested in buying a boat powered by a heavy-duty diesel who call to ask which ones are for sale, so this will be a comprehensive list that will help us get the information out to help the boats change hands quicker. This will be a free service for now, because unwanted boats are bad for my business.

Up now are the Briana Marin (Enterprise DMG-6), the Cape Scott (Enterprise DMG-6), the Oswell Foss (Enterprise DMG-6), the Portola (Winton), the Quail (Atlas 6HM763), and the Ready (Atlas 6HM2124). If you know of other heavy-duty boats for sale, let me know and I’ll get it up.

Off-topic reminder

To all of Old Tacoma Marine Inc’s American readers, remember to vote this November 4th. This is a crucial time for America, and we need to choose the best team to lead our nation.

OTM Inc Weekly eBay Auction

This week’s prize from the OTM Inc shop is a set of two air-powered engine controls manufactured by Westinghouse:

 set of two air-powered engine controls manufactured by Westinghouse, for a direct-reversing diesel engine

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Filed under enterprise, museums, washington iron works, week in review

2008 Week Thirteen in Review

An Update from the Maris Pearl
This week, Old Tacoma Marine Inc continued organizing the Maris
Pearl
’s storage container and tool room. We also replaced the bilge pumps and some plumbing, and started to install pipes for the oil cooler.

Atlas-Powered Crane Barges Still Survive

I got a call from a mechanic in Pago Pago, Samoa, who works on an Atlas-Imperial 668 that powers a crane barge. He’s been having some problems with water in the oil and found me through the internet. I told him that it could just be rainwater, since the engine sat outside unused for a while, but he should look in the crank pit as well. There’s also a chance of rainwater coming down the stack, so he’s going to check that out, too.

There are a few other Atlas-Imperial crane barges around that we know of, including ones in Honolulu, Bellingham, Virginia, and Amsterdam, as well as the one in Pago Pago. The ones in the Pacific Rim area are probably ones that were surplused from the Navy shipyards in Honolulu during the 1980s, since they had a bunch of them at that time.

I think that they’re really neat, though, especially since they’re such a different application of heavy-duty power than I’m used to. With boats, the engine will be at idle for an hour or two while pulling up anchor or untying, then the engineer will ramp them up to full as the boat gets under way. With a crane, though, the engine will suddenly race and all the pyrometers will jump up to 700 and the heat sinks will get really hot and the crane will make booming and whining sounds, then it will all stop just as suddenly. It’s a sort of surreal display of horsepower.

An update from Big Swan Drainage

The engineer at Big Swan Drainage in Illinois, called me again (last conversation here). He said that he pulled out the exhaust cage from the cylinder that was giving him trouble, cleaned it out, replaced the gaskets and the sealing ring, and put it back together and back into the engine. This fixed the leak, and the engine seems to be running fine now.

The real test will be when the next big rain sweeps through the Winchester area and the pumps run fast, which will put a heavy load on the engine. If it still doesn’t leak, then the problem may well be solved. A heavy load will also allow the engineer to get the temperature readings I asked about last time, so if there is a problem we can keep trouble-shooting it.

We need help to grow

OTM Inc applied for a business development grant from the National Association of the Self-Employed for the second year. We applied late in the granting cycle last year and didn’t receive it, but we’ll keep trying. We need this grant to help boost the company’s involvement in the museum field. We believe that OTM Inc can become an invaluable resource for museums around the world that have antique diesels in their collections. To become that resource, we need to do lots more research and publishing, create more public programs, and keep finding new old engines – plus whatever other cool things I dream up.

OTM Inc also needs to provide these services if we want to continue as a viable corporation. As I’ve said before, a lot of these old engines are ending up in museum collections and if we don’t have the expertise to work with the museums then we won’t be able to increase our customer base. Plus, it’s fun to work with museums, since they have a huge interest in creating public programs.

Old Tacoma Marine Inc Stickers!

OTM Inc just ordered a bunch of stickers from the Sticker Guy. Here’s the design:

Old Tacoma Marine Inc Sticker Design

We ordered a lot of them and we’re going to make them available to any of you who want them. Just send us your address and we’ll mail a bunch out to you. More on that later.

More scanning

We are still scanning engine manuals like crazy, so keep checking for your engine manual or email us an engine model to scan next.

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Filed under atlas-imperial, museums, repairs, week in review

2008 Week Ten in Review

Maris Pearl Update

This week, Old Tacoma Marine Inc finally installed the Maris Pearl’s jacket-water cooler. It wasn’t quite as smooth a process as I’d liked; after I put it in the first time, I had to pull it out and turn it around. Some of the pipe runs that I welded will need to be modified later, but it is in place and holding the jacket-water just fine.

This job is just about over, but it looks like the owner has plenty more for me to do on the Pearl before taking the boat up to Ketchikan in a few weeks.

Big Swan Drainage Problems

We got a call this week from the Big Swan Drainage & Levee District in Winchester, Illinois about their 400 horsepower Atlas-Imperial diesel. This engine is still coupled to a pump and used to move rain water from a ditch over the levee and into the river. This is one of my favorite engines because it’s still doing exactly what the district bought it to do more than fifty years ago, and they’re invested in keeping it running.

The Big Swan Drainage’s engineer called because he thinks that one of the cylinders isn’t firing, as it’s running cold, making hissing noises, and the exhaust valve cage is smoking a little. He asked me about what it would take to install a new cylinder. I said “Whoa, wait a minute!” Replacing an entire cylinder is the very last step for a problem like this – it’s a little like saying that because you have a cough and a fever you need a lung transplant. There are so many different little problems that could lead to an engine making weird noises, smoke, and giving low temperature readings that it’s best to work through symptom by symptom to fix problems and rule out causes.

The very first step is to double- and triple-check all the readings, using the built-in pyrometer and a hand-held infrared meter to determine the actual exhaust temperature. It can also be really useful to just put your hand on the exhaust manifold elbows, too. Using these different sources of information about the exhaust temperature is important to nail down exactly what the cylinder is doing.

I know of one guy who noticed a really cold temperature on the number six cylinder’s pyrometer during a routine check, so he boosted the amount of fuel going into the cylinder. It takes a while for any adjustments to make a significant change in engine temperature, so he went back up to the bridge until it was time for the next check. When he got to the engine room, number six cylinder was belching out smoke. He limped in to port and called a mechanic to come take a look at it as soon as he could. The mechanic found that the cylinder head was cracked – the increased fuel had increased the heat in the cylinder and expanded the casting enough to crack. While messing around with the cylinder head, figuring out how to fix it (it is not easy), the mechanic found the pyrometer wire laying slack behind the engine, unattached to the cylinder. The low temperature reading that led to the fuel adjustment was because the pyrometer wasn’t hooked up.

If the exhaust temperature on the Big Swan engine really is too low, then there’s still several more things to rule out before replacing a cylinder. I’ve found that it’s not very common for a cylinder to suddenly not get enough air or compression and fire incorrectly, but it’s very common for it to suddenly not get enough fuel. The next step is to check the fuel system, starting with the adjusting nut at the top of the fuel injector. This should be moved in very small increments, with the original position marked with a paint pen. If there’s still a problem, then I’d service or replace the injector. Once I was really sure that the cylinder was getting fuel and air, I might consider compression issues.

Since the Big Swan engineer also mentioned a leaky valve cage (which could be caused by a wrinkled copper gasket; easy to replace), I think that systematic testing like this will identify the problem before he gets to the “replace the cylinder” step. I hope it’s an easy fix; it’s a neat engine and I want it to keep running with minimum fuss for a long time.

Starting problems with the Oswell Foss

Later in the week, Captain Jim called us from the retired tugboat Oswell Foss about start valve problems on its G-series Enterprise diesel engine. I’m planning a trip to the San Juan Islands in a few weeks anyway, so I’ll look at the controls and air starts then. The symptoms he listed include air bleeding down fairly quickly if the handle is not in just the right spot, when earlier the handle had a little more forgiveness.

Field trip at the Northwest Marine Propulsion Museum

I finished off the week with coffee at the Northwest Marine Propulsion Museum next to Ewing Street Mooring. I thought Dan, Mike, and I would just talk shop, but it turned into an event. About eight members of the Puget Sounders chapter of the Antique Outboard Motor Club Inc showed up to take a look at old engines. Harold from the club told stories of working for Washington Iron Works for many years, which was quite a treat. We also ran the museum’s three-cylinder Atlas-Imperial diesel and talked shop for about an hour. It was a nice way to relax a little before heading back to the Pearl.

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Filed under enterprise, museums, week in review