Tag Archives: engine manuals

2009 Week 25 in Review

This June is a very busy month for Old Tacoma Marine Inc. Right after last week’s great Diesel Engine Theory class, I got back on an airplane for Illinois.

Back to Quincy

I got back in to Quincy and the Indian Grave Pumphouse to pick up where I left off two weeks ago: setting up the rod bearings on engine three. As always, I spent some time at the beginning cleaning and finding a workspace in all the piles of parts and tools. Once we actually started putting pistons in, though, we got into a good rhythm. I cleaned the bearing, fit the felt and felt springs, and put it onto the journal. Then Keith and Nathan put the piston in on the piston holder tools, then bolted down the head. Then I set the piston height by stacking about ¾ of an inch of shims between the bearing halves and pistons, using a jack to push the piston into the bottom of the head while measuring its travel with a dial indicator. The Fairbanks-Morse manual calls for .125 to .188 of an inch piston-to-head clearance. Using the above method, I could easily set them all at exactly .125.

After that, I set the rod bearing clearance. I pulled out the big stack of shims and guessed at the required shim pack, then I bumped the bearings and adjusted them. The manual calls for zero clearance and good fore-and-aft motion. This is much tighter than on pressure-lubricated bearings like those on Washingtons. The bearings on these Fairbanks only receive a few drips per minute while running, so the bearing needs to be much tighter to create the hydraulic wedge action necessary for it to work.

Now, with this in mind, I did set up the bearings much tighter than the pressure-lubricated rule-of-thumb, but I was afraid to set it all the way to zero. I know that when the book states “zero clearance” they mean “zero with a good film of oil” and probably not with a heavy-duty hydraulic jack pushing up on the bearing and maybe not using a dial indicator measuring to within ten thousandths of an inch.

So, I set everything at .004 of an inch. I see this as fair and might go to .003 if I could be there for the first 100 hours of running.

Once all the rod bearings were finished, we set up the turning tool again to see how smoothly the crank turns. It turns great! Then, we started shooting soda bottles out of the injector holes.

Also, on Wednesday, I had a nice dinner with Indian Graves Drainage District Commissioner Duke and his family. Duke really likes these old engines; he’s telling the folks at Fabius River Drainage District to keep their two 32E14 (6)s. I’m going to keep badgering them as well, and I hope to get a grant to go down and refurbish them, rather than replacing them with new high-speed diesels.

I’m scheduling another trip for July 5th to finish the next two engines.

Diesel Engine Theory Session Three

On Friday night, I flew back to Seattle just in time for the third session of Diesel Engine Theory aboard the Arthur Foss. The next morning, I got up even before the chickens – which is really impressive because Saturday was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year.

I stopped by the shop to get it ready for the class, then got coffee, then went to the Arthur to start up the diesel stove for Chef Kim. Then, I went back to the shop just in time. Everyone but Sterling and the three TAP guys (who canceled) were there waiting. We spent the morning cleaning more parts, testing and setting the spring pressure in the injector, and lapping the intake and exhaust valves to their seats.

lapping valves

Just as we were getting ready to head out, 200 naked bicycle riders went screaming by the Shop down Leary. For those of you not from Seattle, the naked bicyclists are a nationally-known tradition that opens the Fremont Solstice Parade (you should Google it). Of course, Diana the museologist and class photographer was in back photographing engine parts or something at the time, so we didn’t get any OTM Inc photos of the bicyclists. Maybe next year.

Just before lunch, we took the air intake manifold to the car wash. I’ve found this is an efficient way to clean large engine parts – it gets all the big chunks of stuff out of the parts, and car washes are all set up to handle diesel gunk, anyway.

Cleaning the intake manifold at the car wash

With that done, we got to the boat where Kim had the galley baking hot and French onion soup, salad, fruit, and fresh bread, all made on the Arthur‘s diesel oven waiting for us.

lunch cooked on the Arthur Foss's diesel stove

It was great – maybe the best lunch ever because of the bread:

bread baked on the Arthur Foss's diesel stove

We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning the piston ring grooves and measuring them, then measuring the piston ring gap. I think that many of the students would say that measuring the ring gap was a favorite part of the class because to do so one must get completely inside the crankpit. Wow. Standing in the crankpit, leaning on the crankshaft, and reaching overhead to place a ring in the liner to check the gap is an amazing task for those who do not regularly get into engines.

measuring the ring gap on the Arthur Foss

Then we lowered the piston into the cylinder and set it on the crank to get it ready for installing the rings. That job will need to wait for next week, though.

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2009 Week 13 in Review

More work on the Maris Pearl

This week, OTM Inc started work on the Maris Pearl‘s bilge system. Not too much to report there.

Update on the Lightship #83

Northwest Seaport is getting ready to start the big deck replacement project on the Lightship #83, and they asked OTM Inc to research and compile a list of basic essential tools to stock the boat.

Last year’s Preliminary Engineering Assessment budgeted $3K for this step, which will buy a good selection of wrenches, screw-drivers, scrapers, and other essential hand tools to keep aboard for general work. Specialists and contractors working on the boat will bring their own tools along, but it’s important to have a full set to stay aboard.

Updates on the OTM Inc website

Check out the re-networked Old Tacoma Marine Inc website! We consolidated all of our social networking clients at the bottom of the main page, so now you can follow OTM all over the web.

Stay tuned for more exciting changes to the front page!

The Ready Sold!

The tug Ready is a 65 foot ST tug from 1945 powered by a 6HM2124 Atlas-Imperial diesel engine. It’s been sitting for a long time in Long Beach, California, unused (its former owner was aware of the liability involved in running it).

Atlas-Imperial Diesel Engine in the tug Ready, at Old Tacoma Marine Inc

Last year, the boat was given to local wharfrat Steffen, who parted out or scrapped all the electronics and brass, then sold what was left on eBay. Proud new owners Carla’s and Tim are powering their way through the steep learning curve of old tugboat ownership as they prepare the boat for a trip up to San Francisco Bay.

Tim has read through the Atlas-Imperial manual on the OTM website (view it yourself here), and has been working with John, our trusted OTM representative, to make enough repairs to run the engine for a short time.

It is very exciting to add another engine to the list of the living. It sounds like I’ll be heading down there soon, so stay tuned!

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2009 Week 5 in Review

Work continues on the Catalyst

This week at OTM Inc, we cleaned all the cylinder heads and installed them on the Catalyst‘s engine. We used compressed graphite head gaskets, which is what they were running on for the past 10 years. I haven’t seen these used on any other engines, but they sure sealed well, so we made replacements and bolted them down. The good side is that they are easy to make and they seal really well. The bad side is they are not reusable, since they compress a lot. Copper may still be cheaper, since copper head gaskets are reusable.

Once the heads were torqued down, I checked piston height by placing a little lead ball on the highest point of the piston. Then I cranked the engine around to smash it, then mic’d the ball to get the piston-to-head clearance. I did this without any shims under the rod foot, then subtracted the .125 from the results to get the required shim thickness for each.

Then, I installed the valves. Beforehand, I performed the kerplunk test with every valve in every hole and found some needed adjusting to pass. In the end, there was only one that would not pass the test, but in only one hole. All the cages and holes have little variances that are hard to spot, so nothing substitutes the kerplunk test.

Parts for the Pago Pago crane barge

Dan got a call from the folks who run the Atlas-Imperial-powered crane barge in Pago Pago, Samoa. They needed some spare parts, so Dan cleaned up some of our spare injectors and head gaskets and sent them off. I hope we get some pictures of the engine soon.

Scanning away

OTM Inc has been receiving lots of request for digital copies of vintage diesel manuals and catalogs for the Atlases, Washingtons, Enterprises, Fairbanks-Morses, and other old engines. We’re working furiously to fill these requests, and have set Katrina up with our new scanner. We’ll start getting them up to the web soon!

New things on the web!

We’ve launched the first upgrade to the website: a sortable table to browse old engines with! If you’ve visited the Old Tacoma Marine Inc website to look at old engines before, you probably noticed that you could view engines by size & specification, by region, or by use. This system was sort of clunky, and we’re doing away with it and using a fully dynamic sorting table instead.

What does that mean, you ask? That means that when viewing the master engine list, you can have it sort by size, owner, original use, current use, name, model, serial number, location, and more. Check it out here — click on the grey boxes at the top to sort by that column heading.

Right now, it’s only live on the Washington Iron Works index, but stay tuned for sorting tables for all the engine manufacturers. We at Old Tacoma Marine Inc are committed to bringing you the most up-to-date and easily accessible information about the antique diesel engine world.

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2008 Week 33 in Review

Here’s this week’s cruising schedule aboard Catalyst, from Petersburg to Juneau:

Sunday, Aug. 10 – Petersburg to Scenery Cove: Depart Petersburg, Hike Baird glacier (cloudy)
Monday, Aug. 11 – Scenery Cove to Donkey Bay: Bubble netting whales, Kayak Donkey Bay Estuary, meet Norio (rain)
Tuesday, Aug. 12 – Donkey Bay to Windham Bay: Brother’s Beach walk, explore Windham Bay gold mine, find gold (rain)
Wednesday, Aug. 13 – Windham Bay to Ford’s Terror: Fishing and Kayaking at Windham, Orcas, Set crab pots (rain)
Thursday, Aug. 14 – Ford’s Terror to Ford’s Terror: incredible glacier day, narrows paddle, uplands walk, skiff rides (no rain!?)
Friday, Aug. 15 – Ford’s Terror to Limestone Inlet: whales, crab vortex, salmon in river, beach walk, slide show (sunny & calm)
Saturday, Aug. 16 – Limestone Inlet to Juneau: pack and return to what passes for civilization (but is really a hollow illusion)

Here’s the crew:

And here’re the passengers:

We explored a mine, watched whales bubble-net feeding, played some good pranks, and “ate Alaska.” Good times.

MV Catalyst from shore

Eating Alaska

Like a lot of the charter boats in southeast Alaska, food is a big part of cruising on the Catalyst. Chef Anne Catherine and others whip up amazing meals for passengers and crew. It would be easy to sit back and let Anne Catherine do all the work, but I like to encourage the passengers to do some good collecting and foraging, too. I call this “eating Alaska.”

There is a lot of wild food in Alaska there for the taking (with the appropriate permits, of course), from blueberries to halibut to Dungeness crab. We get passengers with all different experience levels, so some of them I just hand a trap, and others I really teach how to fish. We eat some of it right off the beach or grill it on the fantail, but sometimes it’s fun to make something a little fancier, like sushi.

On this trip, we had a big sushi party in the Catalyst‘s mess:

making sushi from fresh-caught Alaska seafood, aboard the MV Catalyst

We had Sakhalin sole and smoked salmon and limpets and shrimp, veggies and bull kelp, plus wasabi and nori and omelet and tofu and seasoned rice. We made lots of different kinds and had a lot of fun. We made miso, too, for the full experience:

fresh sushi from fresh-caught Alaskan seafood, aboard the MV Catalyst

Eating Alaska is definitely one of my favorite parts about shipping out.

Business as usual

I got some good work in on the engine this week: I adjusted the clutch, changed all the pyrometers for better gages, and worked on the valves in cylinder three. While underway, I kept hearing an intermittent sticking-valve sound coming from number three cylinder head. When I pulled its valve cages, the exhaust valve was in bad shape so I pulled it out. I’ve been looking at it, and the part that worries me is the stem damage:

closeup of one of the CATALYST's exhaust valves

The face can be cleaned up, but the stem damage might condemn the valve. After I pulled out the valve, I cleaned everything, installed a spare valve in the cage, performed the kerplunk test, ran it a few minutes, and then tightened it a little more.

We’re also still overloading the engine a bit. The Catalyst‘s propeller is oversized for her engine, making the engine work too hard. The new pyrometers are showing that the exhaust temperatures are well over 700 degrees at cruising speed (Dan recommends 600 degrees for a caged un-cooled valve). I started reining in the running practices and am making a list for Bill of the options for making the engine run better:

  • re-pitch the prop
  • add a keel cooler, which would eliminate the need for the seawater pump
  • reduce electrical load and add a 12-volt charger to replace the 12-volt alternator
  • remove hydraulic controls and steering, which would remove a large parasitic load
  • re-ring pistons, grind valves, service injectors, a tune-up that would increase the power available

The Washington manual states in several places not to overload the engine, but acknowledges the tendency to do so since a heavy-duty is very forgiving and can easily carry large loads. This is often difficult to explain to captains because the size of the engine compared to the available horsepower dose not equate to those used to size modern engines. It’s easy to assume that parasitic loads on the engine don’t make a difference, but, in fact, parasitic loads (using the engine’s power to run more than just the propeller) can drain lots of power and make the engine overload pretty easily.

On Catalyst, there’s six parasitic loads that draw 1 to 3 horsepower each: the fresh water pump, the seawater pump, the 12-volt alternator, the 24-volt alternator, the hydraulic pump, and the clutch-in hydraulic pump, which all run on a jack shaft and belts. All together, these take a big bite out of the 120 horsepower that the engine produces when it runs at 450 rpm. Now that we’ve reduced the cruising speed down to 350 rpm, we’ve gotten the average pyro reading down to 600 degrees, which is much better for the engine.

A lesson in applied physics

Confused by all that? Let us consider the power produced by a diesel engine curve and the power required for hull-speed curve.

Diesel engines are designed to run at a certain speed. Re-engineering them by machining or by imagination is never a good idea. The recommended running speed that allows the engine to produce the most horsepower with the least engine wear is the speed at which:

  • the pistons reach their designed feet-per-minute
  • the firing pressures are just below the limit
  • the exhaust temperatures are just below their limit

If you try to cruise at above or below that recommended speed, you will probably “lug” or overload the engine, because you’ll be trying to get it to run faster or with a heavier load than it’s designed to. This causes high firing pressure, soot build-up, burned valves, and actually wears all parts on the engine much more quickly than at recommended running speed.

One of the easiest ways to overload an engine is to try to make the boat go faster than it’s designed to. Boats are designed to cruise at a designated speed at which the boat goes as fast as it can without pushing too much water with the bow. This follows a specific formula, in which hull speed is equal to the square root of the length of the hull at the water line. A displacement hull can’t exceed the speed determined by that equation without severely straining the engine and getting really, really inefficient. There are a lot of other factors involved in the potential speed of a boat, but the two main ones are hull and engine and until those are properly balanced the other ones aren’t a big deal.

Anyway, as a boat accelerates, it needs more and more power to maintain its speed. Let’s say our boat uses 65 horsepower to go 7 knots per hour, 80 horsepower to go 7.5 knots, 100 horsepower to go 8 knots, 125 horsepower to go 8.5 knots, and 175 horsepower to go 9 knots, and hull speed is 9.5 using 250+ horsepower to maintain that speed. The horsepower required keeps going up because it has to push more water in front of it.

Now, it’s important (except for tugs – we’ll talk about that later) to have the engine operating at peak performance at the speed the boat is designed for. This is not necessarily hull speed, although it can be. I recommend cruising at a speed less than hull speed to save fuel, ideally just before the horsepower-required curve starts to climb quickly. In our example boat, I would say that 8.5 is a good cruising speed, because to go just one knot faster you need to burn twice as much fuel and use twice as much horsepower.

Why are tugs excluded from this? They are designed differently than cruising vessels – they’re built to tow much more than their own weight, which changes the relationship between hull and engine. For those of you with tugs, you may never reach your engine’s full power even cruising at hull speed. Some tugs used as yachts re-pitch their wheels to get a little more speed, but it’s pretty scary to idle at 6 knots. Tugs should be opened up often to warm up the engine a bit, but you don’t need to worry about overloading. Once in a while, just for fun, you can put the bow against a sturdy pier and rev it up to so that the engine actually works for a while.

OTM Inc Weekly eBay Auction

We’re open for business even while I’m in Alaska! The Old Tacoma Marine Inc inventory has been moved to a remote off-site location for easier shipping and processing:

This week’s object for sale is a Cleveland Air Shifter:

Cleveland air shifter, on sale at Old Tacoma Marine Inc's eBay store

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2008 Week Thirteen in Review

An Update from the Maris Pearl
This week, Old Tacoma Marine Inc continued organizing the Maris
’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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2008 Week Twelve in Review

An Update on the Maris Pearl

This week I cleaned up and organized the Maris Pearl’s tools and spare parts:


Jay recently bought a new storage container and had me lead the move from the old container to the new. Changing storage areas like this is a good time to inventory and organize the stuff you’re keeping with your boat and make sure that you’re holding onto the right things. Every time I do this for a client I find tons of parts that don’t fit the engine they are intended for. Since holding onto the wrong parts is a waste of space and effort, I try to arrange trades or sales of the wrong parts and get the right parts instead.

The Maris Pearl has a Q Enterprise, but many of its “spare parts” that Jay has been storing are for a G or R Enterprise. I’m working on trading them in to Striegel Supply for store credit, but if anyone reading needs parts for a G or R Enterprise, or has parts for a Q Enterprise, maybe we can arrange something.

Despite the clutter, Jay has some really neat spare parts, including a brand new cylinder head still in its original factory crate:


Classic Workboat Show 2008

On Saturday, OTM Inc met with representatives from the Northwest Seaport and the Center for Wooden Boats about holding another Classic Workboat Show. After some discussion, we decided that it was too soon to hold another show featuring tugboats, but holding a Classic Fishboat Show is doable for this fall.

The Classic Fishboat Show this fall will be great, but Old Tacoma Marine Inc won’t be as heavily involved. The 2009 Classic Workboat Show, though, will be epic, with even more heavy-duties, more events, and hopefully a big crane barge demonstration. We’re already looking for sponsors and donors, so give us an email if you’re interested or know someone who’s interested.

For those of you who missed the party, the first-ever Classic Workboat Show was last October. It was by far the best boat show I’ve ever been to – and I’ve been to a lot of boat shows. I may be biased, though, as OTM Inc was a major sponsor of the show and I helped put a lot of it together with Northwest Seaport and the Center for Wooden Boats. The best thing about the show was getting together six of the eight remaining boats powered by Washington Iron Works Diesel Engines all lined up at the Historic Ships Wharf at Lake Union Park. The restored tugboat Donald R, the research boat turned charter boat Catalyst, the monkey boat David B, the tugboat Ruby XIV, and the hard-working Western Towboat tug Fearless (formerly the Ruby II and the Discovery) joined the museum tugboat Arthur Foss for one awesome lineup of Washington power:

Visiting Workboats at the Historic Ships Wharf during the Classic Workboat Show; from left to right VIRGINIA V, ARTHUR FOSS, DONALD R, FEARLESS, CATALYST, DAVID B, RUBY XIV, LORNA FOSS, NEWT; photo courtesy Northwest Seaport and Wayne Palsson

We also had the tugs Lorna Foss and Newt on “Atlas Row,” and the Joe, Teal, Propeller, and a couple other boats in the non-heavy-duty section (but we thought they were great anyway). A Sea Scout troop did a scuttlebutt demonstration on the wharf and we held line-toss and bollard-lasso competitions for all ages:

Bollard Lasso on the Historic Ships Wharf during the Classic Workboat Show; photo courtesy Northwest Seaport and Wayne Palsson

To complete the festive atmosphere, Ballard Brothers Seafood & Burgers set up a booth selling their famous blackened salmon burgers and the jazz trio Bar Tabac played old-timey music on the docks and the boats. We even set up a pub, sponsored by Pacific Maritime Brewery.

The best moment was at five o’clock, closing time for the show. All the workboats sounded their horns, whistles, sirens, and bells at once. It was totally unplanned except for me telling everyone to blow their noisemakers at five, and it became this amazing workboat symphony. I can’t even describe how awesome it is, you’ll just have to listen to it yourself. It was an amazing day and I think it will be tough to beat. The fishboat show this fall will be great, but I think that the 2009 Classic Workboat Show will be even better. I hope to see everyone there.

If anyone reading can help with the 2009 Classic Workboat Show, we need sponsors, visiting workboats, volunteers, and cash (and see if your employer has a program for matching funds, since it’s a great opportunity for sponsors to get their names out there). Donations can be earmarked for the show or for other programs. Email me or Northwest Seaport to help.

A Unique Two-Cycle Atlas-Imperial

Finally, this week Chris from Utah sent pictures of the only two-cycle single-cylinder Atlas-Imperial diesel engine I have ever heard of. If anyone reading this knows of another, please let me know.

We borrowed the two-cycle Atlas-Imperial manual from Dan and scanned it for you to read. I read through it as well, and it seems like Atlas stole the idea straight from Fairbanks-Morse.

What do you think? Read it and let us know on the Discussion Board.

More Scans Coming Soon

Speaking of scanning original diesel manuals, Old Tacoma Marine Inc scanned a whole bunch of original heavy-duty manuals and catalogs this week to post on the website as a resource to enthusiasts, operators, and history geeks. We’re still getting them formatted for the web, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, what manuals do you want to see scanned and posted on the web? Make a request and we’ll track it down and get it up–as long it isn’t about lawnmower or washing machine engines. Heavy-duties only.

Tours for Guy

Guy [formerly] from Kodiak, who sent us the great photographs and information about the Kodiak Maritime Museum’s Washington Iron Works engine, visited Seattle on Saturday and called to ask if he could see some old engines. We were happy to help – we sent him to the Northwest Marine Propulsion Museum to see their Washington and to Northwest Seaport to see the Arthur Foss’s Washington. It’s too bad that he didn’t get to see them run, but he’ll just have to visit again during a demonstration.

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Filed under atlas-imperial, enterprise, museums, programs, tugboats, washington iron works, week in review