Tag Archives: fireboat duwamish

2010 Week 9 in Review

Work continues on the Arthur Foss

This week, we finished resealing the Arthur Foss‘s number four cylinder head, with lots of help from The Anchor Program.

Every year the Arthur‘s engine gets better and easier to work on. The last five years of classes and some very involved maintenance has gotten all the parts freed up and we’ve acquired more of the tools required to easily accomplish repairs and maintenance. The engine sounds great, too – when running unloaded and slow we still have every cylinder firing.

Preparing for Engineer for a Day

Nothing focuses a group like urgency.

I began work with the Anchor Program on Tuesday to prepare the Arthur Foss the fireboat Duwamish and the Historic Ships Wharf at Lake Union Park for the annual high school Engineer for a Day class on Friday. The class teaches kids from the Ballard Maritime Academy about marine engineering and goes from the Arthur to the Duwamish to the steamer Virginia V to learn about each system. Like Arthur, the class gets a better every year.

With TAP’s help, we got all the engines running on both the fireboat and the Arthur, despite dead batteries, broken fuel lines, and dirt and grime everywhere. We had the main and both generators going on Arthur and both generators and the three mains on the Duwamish all going. It was great!

TAP also helped us get the wharf cleaned up and the fireboat pressure-washed and the tug scrubbed. Thanks for all your help, guys – we’ll have more work days like that soon.

High school on the wharf

On Friday morning, three engineers stood on the Historic Ship Wharf next to three historic ships open and inviting with eight diesel engines warming up for class. We were more prepared to day than the previous 3 high school classes down here.

For the fourth year, our Ballard High School class got to experience a marine engineer’s work and realize that the is the same even when the engine room is wildly different. They visited a reciprocating steam plant, a direct-reversing diesel plant, and a diesel electric plant all in the same day visit. They prepped and started up many engines throughout the day to give them the full experience and demonstrate how to operate the engines.

We did have one setback: the starter in the fireboat’s main generator went out, so the class exercise was a little limited, but part of why we hold the class is to exercise the equipment and try to find problems before they become larger issues. I would call the class a great success and we’ll fix that starter soon.

Work continues on the yarder’s injectors

We kept working on the fuel injectors diesel yarder in Eureka. This is the part of the job that is hard on the hands and fairly boring, since I insist that all the parts thread together interchangeably and entirely. It’s common for parts of these antique diesel engines to distort: the threads stretch, they rust, and tips flare the mating surface. Also, years of using pipe wrenches instead of spanner wrenches and hammers instead of heat beats the parts up further. I machine and lap everything and test every part against every other part to get them all fitting right. The process is tedious but it increases confidence when assembling, since every part fits the way it should.

Work begins on the Lightship No. 83

We dove into the Lightship No. 83 project this week: OTM Inc’s first task as Project Manager is to assemble a plan and supporting documents (like charts and tables) and prepare specifications for when we request bids for the work. It’s not like hammering on the hull or tracing leaks in the plumbing, but it’s really important work and it’s great to finally start on it.

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2009 Week 9 in Review

OTM Inc did a lot of work with the Northwest Seaport this week – both hammering and teaching. But first:

Control head for the Maris Pearl!

I did a little bit of getting ready for working on the Maris Pearl next week. Jay’s got a laundry list of little things that need to be checked up on in the engine room. He is super-organized and has it all in an online database.

I didn’t start hammering this week, but I did finally purchase the “new” control head for the main. As you may recall, Rick on the Red Cloud had a spare control head that’s perfect for the Maris Pearl. This week I picked it up and brought it to the shop, but I didn’t get a close look at it yet (just close enough to see that it’s missing some parts). I’ll take it apart and clean it and figure out what work it needs, but it isn’t going on the boat this year, anyway.

Reinstalling the Arthur Foss‘s throw-out bearing

I’ve started getting stuff together to reinstall the Arthur Foss‘s throw-out bearing. I would have gotten more done this week, except that I had to get ready for the Engineer for a Day program:

High School Engineer for a Day

Every February, I run a session of Engineer for a Day for the Ballard Maritime Academy. It’s a four-hour field trip that gives the kids a chance to start the Arthur Foss and the Duwamish, and learn about steam on the Virginia V. I wrote about it last year here and here. It’s a really neat class that I look forward to, even though getting ready for it is a lot of work.

I checked in with the instructors at the end of last week. Gary said that he was all ready for the Virginia V steam lecture, but Grant had a potential hot date on Friday and backed out of teaching on the Duwamish. Instead, he volunteered our friend Dave, who Grant and I went to diesel school with a bunch of years ago. Dave has spent decades on the water and has done a fair amount of teaching, but he was hard-pressed to learn the admittedly crusty systems on the Duwamish well enough to teach them to high-schoolers – plus, it was his vacation. He helped me get the boat ready for the class, including the first start-ups since last year’s air-compressor rebuild, but backed out of the actual teaching part.

After some negotiation, we got Grant back and the class went smoothly. We got all the preparation done just on time, with the latest version of the startup checklists finished minutes before the kids arrived. They all seemed like they had a good time and learned a lot.

When the class was over and the kids heading back to Ballard, we all met up with Dave at the Zoo to share a pitcher or two.

Grant writing with the Virginia V

While I was getting the boats ready for the Engineer for a Day class, Doug from the Virginia V saw the lights on and came over to talk. We don’t currently do engine demonstrations on the V-5, since getting up live steam would double the cost of the course, but both Doug and I want to change that. It happened that the V-5 was in the process of applying for a grant to get live steam up, and they asked for OTM Inc’s help. We met up with a couple of the board and staff members and talked about ways to make the grant work, and helped out with the writing. Now, it’s the usual waiting game to find out if they got the grant, but I think they’ve got a good chance.

A rant about safety

While working on the Duwamish with Dave, I found that old crusty boats don’t easily gain people’s confidence. Safety is always a factor, all around us, in everything we do, but one man’s safe is another’s hazard. Some people dismiss the old boats, saying “that’s old and unsafe; we should replace it,” while at the same time other people say “they don’t build them like they used too.” I think that both statements are flawed, since not many of the enforcers bother to understand the systems on old boats and therefore overlook things or crack down on something much lower on the list. Many inspectors have their pet issues, like writing up the hydraulic leak next to a pile of asbestos on the deck. Meanwhile, people don’t think about how they’re a bazillion times more likely to get maimed or die in a car accident than they are to get hurt in an old boat, but that’s another rant.

Where is the line between maintaining safety and preserving a boat more-or-less “as-is”? This is an issue that we must deal with every day on the old boats. It’s a judgment call that owners, insurance inspectors, and local agencies – not to mention the engineers – have a hard time making. Nothing is entirely safe, not even doing the best you can do with the resources you have is enough to ensure some old systems are relatively safe.

What is relatively safe, and who can make that call? Many organizations are out there to help with safety, including OSHA, WISHA, the USCG, Underwriters Laboratory, and your parents – but no one wants to invite them over because of the fines and nagging that accompany their recommendations.

That often leaves it up to the engineers, who do what they can. I can’t help but think that there must be a better way, so I’ve come up with a few recommendations. I can’t guarantee these as ensuring safety on the old boats but it’s a start:

  • keep the boat clean
  • keep as many systems operational as possible, and exercise all functioning systems regularly
  • retain engineers who have many years of experience on that particular boat
  • constantly work to keep communication open between owners, captains, and engineers

If all that is working, then I recommend carefully inviting regulatory agencies to the boat to help find ways to up the safety, but without ending programs or breaking the bank. Then make a timeline to accomplish these tasks, get them done, and invite the agencies back to make more recommendations. I know it’s scary for those on the line, but another set of eyes can really help increase safety on these old boats

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2008 Week 43 in review

The Duwamish, completed!

Last week I finished rebuilding the Duwamish‘s air compressor, but didn’t have time to test it. This week, I ran it for a few hours while I cleaned up the engine room a bit. It worked great! Before the rebuild, it basically didn’t work at all because the air compressor’s valves didn’t get a seal and therefore didn’t compress any air. When I turned it on after the rebuild, I had one tank at 450 psi in about half an hour – way better.

This will also make our next Engineer for a Day class much easier to set up for, since it won’t take so much effort to get enough air pressure to start the engines. For one class, we had to run an air hose from the Arthur Foss over to the fireboat so we could start the mains.

Tire-kicking with Brian

Occasionally, Old Tacoma Marine leads a tour of old boats with old engines in Seattle. This week, after Brian brought three drums of oil down to the Arthur Foss (thanks, Brian!), we drove all around Ballard on the grand tour. We visited the Northwest Marine Propulsion Museum to see Mike’s little three-cylinder Atlas-Imperial and the Washington that was never installed in a boat, as well as the Ruby XIV and its Washington. We then visited Dan Grinstead’s tug Lorna Foss with its direct reversing Atlas-Imperial (the only model with a sliding cam), and then went over to the Angeles, a project tug with a DMG-6 Enterprise.

Jason, who owns the Angeles, hopes to sell the boat to someone unafraid of woodwork. I hope he finds someone, since the tug would make a great cruiser.

After this whirlwind tour, it was back to work – mostly in the office this week, as we’re getting ready for the Catalyst to arrive for her winter engine project.

“New” tugs and engines on the website

Old Tacoma Marine Inc has located another few heavy-duty diesel engines: an Enterprise in the CN Tugboat #6, another Enterprise in the tugboat Lake Superior, another enterprise in the tugboat Edward H, and an Atlas-Imperial on display at Antique Powerland in Brooks, Oregon.

The CN Tugboat #6 (“CN” stands for “Canadian National”) has a DMG6 Enterprise rated for 575 horsepower and is owned by the S S Sicamous Restoration Society, which operates the Okanagon Inland Maritime Heritage Park. Until 2006, it was owned by the City of Kelowna, but it sounds like they had no idea what to do with an old tug and finally donated it to people who know boats. The Society has three other old boats, so I hope that they know what they’ve gotten into:

Tugboat #6, owned b the SS Sicamous Restoration Society in Kelowna, British Columbia

We couldn’t find as much information about the Lake Superior or the Edward H, but according to the Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News, they’re both WWII tugs of the same class as the Maris Pearl and the Red Cloud and all the rest, powered by the big Q Enterprises. They’ve both been based in the Great Lakes for several years, have been bought by new owners, re-located to the Duluth area, and are being put back to work. If anyone has any more information – or engine pictures – about either of these tugs, please let us know.

Finally, the Antique Powerland folks have a four-cylinder Atlas-Imperial on display at their grounds in Brooks, Oregon:

Atlas-Imperial diesel engine on display at Antique Powerland in Brooks, Oregon.  Photo by Wikipedia user Bluedisk

According to user Bluedisk, who took this picture and uploaded it to Wikipedia, this engine came out of a tugboat. If anyone reading this knows more about the engine, please let us know!

As always, send us any updates, corrections, or other heavy-duty diesels that we haven’t “found” yet.

On the subject of preserving old stuff

Last week and this week got me thinking about old engines in museum collections again. Mostly, I’m very happy to see museums accepting engines into their permanent collections, but I see some downsides to it. The biggest problem is that museums don’t necessarily understand how to care for a diesel engine. They’re used to preserving artifacts by making storage mounts and keeping them in a climate-controlled space and not letting anything damage them – which works great if the artifact is a hat or a map or a sea chest or something like that:

Part of the Burke Museum's collection of ethnographic arrows

Engines are different, though – they have to be exercised and maintained in order to preserve them. If you let an engine just sit, even if in a climate-controlled room, it will slowly destroy itself. The oils and lubricants degrade over time, which then allows rust into the unpainted parts of an engine. Even worse, if it was ever seawater cooled then the cast iron pieces have salt permanently stuck in them, which will rust an engine from the inside out. If you just let the engine sit, then the interior parts of the cooling system will fill up with rust and then start pushing out. Eventually, the engine will literally explode – very slowly, but the rust will push its way out and break the castings.

The way to prevent this from happening is to exercise the engine as often as possible. This means lubricating everything and running it if it still runs, or barring it over if it doesn’t. Doing all this will also let you inspect the engine, clean it up, and hopefully notice any problems that need more attention. I know that actually using an artifact like this flies in the face of a lot of museum theory about conserving the original fabric of the object, but since it’s impossible to preserve it without exercising it, I think that museums need to widen their definition of collections care if they have engines in their collection.

Exercising an engine also creates more opportunities to involve the public with the artifacts. A static engine quickly gets boring to all but the most ardent enthusiasts, but a working engine that the public can watch and listen to is interesting for a lot longer to more people. Running an engine also means that a museum can hold repair workshops and engineering classes, which provides yet another layer of “interpretation.”

With all this in mind, I propose that all museums that own an old diesel at least occasionally run the engine, to both preserve the moving parts and also to give members of the public more opportunity to understand 1920s diesel technology.

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2008 Week 42 in review

A visit to the Sakarissa

I finished my trip to Portland by visiting the Sakarissa, which is tied up in the Columbia River:

tugboat Sakarissa, powered by an Enterprise diesel engine

It’s a World War II tug (YTM-269), powered by a DMQ 8 Enterprise (serial number 41119). It has a new governor, a new seawater pump, and a Sperry steering system (with a few problems). Jerry gave us a great tour all throughout the boat.

Back to business

After I got back from Portland, I did some cleaning at the shop and found some interesting links to share. Here’s an old but interesting article about my friend Rick Boggs (and yes, two of the photo captions are mixed up), and here’s the website for the Tugboat Enthusiasts Society. Check out their article on Enterprise diesels.

I also got a long email from Doug Leen about his experience with Mercs. He’s also posted it to his blog, so you can read about it all here.

Lead ballast for the Catalyst

On Friday, I picked up about 2,000 pounds of lead to help ballast the Catalyst a little better. I had to borrow Dan’s truck to haul it up to Port Townsend in one load.

While in Port Townsend, I stopped by Sirens for a drink with Crystal. We ran into Lee Ehrheart, the marine surveyor who works on the Adventuress and other local historic ships. I guess it’s hard to go to PT without running into boat people.

The Duwamish… Finished?!?

I finally finished the work on the fireboat Duwamish‘s air compressor and got it all put back together. I was planning on test-running it, but I had to transfer fuel by hand and ran out of time for the day. I’ll run it for a while next week and see what kind of pressure we can get out of it now.

A visit to Seattle’s sewage pumps

Nick took me on a tour of the sewer pump facility in Interbay, where all of downtown Seattle’s waste water and rain water is pumped out to the treatment plant. They use three big 48-inch pumps, one electric, one Waukesha natural gas engine, and one Chicago Pneumatic natural gas engine:

Chicago Pnuematic diesel generator powering some of Seattle's municipal sewage pumps

The city’s planning to replace them all with electric motors, with a diesel generator on standby. Nick loves the old diesels and wanted to show off the Chicago Pneumatic a bit before it goes.

Community dinner

Everywhere I go, I run in to folks who are connected to heavy-duty diesel engines.

On Thursday Lia (naturalist on the Catalyst) and I (relief engineer on the Catalyst) attended one of the communal dinners that Chef Anne Catherine (cook on the Catalyst) holds. We arrived, and there were Eric (former engineer on the Catalyst) and Laura (with Eric, owner of the Atlas-Imperial-powered Newt). We were joined a little later joined by Hugh and Teresa (owners of the Atlas-powered Westward).

We all sat with fifteen others for an amazing dinner of fresh, local ingredients prepared by Chef Anne Catherine, who told about how each had been acquired from a local farmers’ market. After dinner, we went for a nightcap at the Ballard Smoke Shop and ran into Harry (engineer on the Atlas-powered Velero IV).

Small world.

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2008 Week 41 in review

An update on the Duwamish

The air compressor rebuild on the Duwamish is finally nearing completion. This week, I made two valves, and I hope to finish up the work next week.

An update on the Shenandoah

The Harbor History Museum that now owns the Atlas-Imperial I used to work on at Bates also owns the Shenandoah, a local purse seiner. They just moved it into its new display building and the News Tribune reported on it here.

A few months ago, they were considering putting the Atlas into the Shenndoah, since it’s an appropriate engine for that time and purpose, but the news article didn’t talk about that. Maybe it’s time for a visit to Gig Harbor…

A visit to Commercial Sales in Fife

On Wednesday, we stopped by Commercial Sales. Owner Paul Jensen collects all manner of marine and industrial stuff, from engines and machinery to books and memorabilia. They’ve got a showroom that looks like my favorite kind of museum, with all sorts of old neat stuff set up. I didn’t have my camera with me, but the (incomplete) inventory lists on their website may give you an idea of how much stuff they have.

I also know that Paul has an Enterprise or three in the back lot, which I want to get a look at on a day when I have more time.

A visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum

On Thursday, I headed down to Astoria and the Columbia River Maritime Museum. They have two Atlas-Imperial diesel engines: one on display in the museum’s entrance, and one in the lightship Columbia, tied up outside.

The engine in the entrance is a classic three-cylinder, 75 horsepower Atlas from the fishboat (maybe a seiner?) Argo, which was built in 1928:

Atlas-Imperial Diesel Engine at the Columbia River Maritime Museum

It was donated to the museum by a James Scarborough, and is all painted up and prominently displayed for everyone who walks inside. I really like the way it’s front and center in the museum, but the display has a few problems.

First, there’s some stuff that is inaccurate about how it would have looked as a working engine. The things that I’ve noticed are that the governor handle, the water jumpers on the air compressor and the trust bearing, and the cooling water circulator pump are gone; and the hinge on the sector gear side of the handle is broken off. There’re also a few parts that are painted instead of being left bare and lubricated, specifically the spare injector tip and the pump plungers, like in this photo:

Painted pump plunger on an Atlas-Imperial diesel engine at the Columbia River Maritime Museum

Now, I know I’m one of about five people who notices things like this, but museums strive towards accurately representing the objects they collect and exhibit, and to me it’s the details that make accuracy.

Second, as I was looking at the display I heard an old guy tell his wife that he thought it was a steam engine. There was a little sign at the corner of the display that had two sentences about how it was a diesel engine removed from a fishboat, but I saw a lot of people just stop to look at the engine and not notice the sign. Now, I don’t need a big sign that says “DIESEL,” but I think that the difference between steam and diesel engines is pretty important for explaining how maritime industry changed in the 1920s and ’30s.

Third, the engine is currently displayed in front of a blank wall in classic white-box gallery style:

Atlas-Imperial Diesel Engine at the Columbia River Maritime Museum

It even has a little tombstone label off to the right side. This kind of a display is great to show off paintings or sculpture, but engines are part of a much larger system. I would really like to see the Atlas put into more of a thematic display, maybe using a life-sized picture of an engine room or something to put it in context. Maybe it should even have a statue of an engineer with an oil can, just to show some of the differences between the old heavy-duties and the modern high-speeds.

Now, to be fair, I’ve been corresponding with curator David at the museum, and he’s interested in talking about some of the things I’ve brought up here. My trips to Astoria keep happening when he’s out of the office, though, so we haven’t had an in-person meeting yet. Next time, maybe.

The museum also has the Lightship WAL 604 Columbia:

Lightship WAL 604 COLUMBIA, at the Columbia River Maritime Museum

It’s powered with a 550 horsepower direct-reversible Atlas-Imperial. I was really disappointed that the engine room is completely inaccessible, though. If I stood on my tip-toes and leaned over, I could just see a corner of the Atlas through an engine room window, but it was locked up tight and I couldn’t find anyone with a key (I asked the guy taking tickets and then called a few people). This is unfortunate, since it’s one of only a couple hundred Atlas-Imperials in the world and no one can see it. I hope at some point the museum will have the chance to incorporate the engine room into their lightship tour, because it represents a large part of the job of any ship.

Overall, though, I had a great time at the museum. This is the second time I’ve visited and I really think they are doing well (they have lots of visitors). I only point out this picky stuff because it’s my job and I think that they will benefit from the suggestions.

A cameo by the Ready

Also in Astoria, I saw the movie Get Smart at the Colombian (they serve beer upstairs!). In the middle of the movie, the characters are suddenly on the Ready, the tug in Long Beach (it’s for sale). It was great, and I hope to see more old tugs in the movies.

The Tugboat Bar

When we got to Portland, we went to the Tugboat Brewing Company, just because it had a tugboat on its sign. When we inside, though, we found that they brew OTM beer!

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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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2008 Week 39 in Review

Back to business-as-usual

This week, I’ve gotten back in the shop. I worked on cleaning up an engine control station that I picked up recently. It’s a neat find, perfect for a direct-reversing twin-screw boat. After I finish cleaning it up, I’ll post pictures and put it up on eBay – hopefully by next week.

I also worked on the Duwamish a bit – I checked the cylinder height with a standard gasket and it is too low. The piston goes up past the liner slightly, so next week I’ll put a thicker gasket under it. I’ve got to get this project wrapped up soon, though.

I also cleaned up the shop a bit, and caught up on news from the shop partners. Brian and his shipwright partners are all settled in, John moved out, Grant is moving into John’s old space, and we’re going to be looking for another shop partner soon. My space is right in the center of the shop, so I spend quite a lot of time BSing with everyone who works there. I call this an investment, rather than a waste of time. We may not talk about anything important, but this business requires a lot of social interaction. When I have a question, I can get answer much faster if I am all caught up on the news.

I also worked on taxes and other “business” things. Lame. Stuff like this takes the fun out of running a small business.

Sakarissa moves

We received the following email from Jerry, who works with the Amphibious Forces Memorial Museum, which is thinking about buying the Sakarissa (a WWII “Yard Tug,” sister ship to the Maris Pearl and the Red Cloud):

YTB-269 was built in Tacoma and commissioned 12 April 1944. She served in the Pacific assisting in the operation and transport of ABSD-1 (advance base sectional dry-dock). These large docks were capable of lifting a battleship and were used to repair ships in Eniwetok and Guam during and after the war. The ship returned home to San Francisco on August 22, 1946. She was used for assist duty for the USN until 1974 and was then transferred to MARAD at Suisan Bay tending to the needs of the mothball fleet there. The Sakarissa will join the growing fleet of historic vessels in the Portland/Vancouver WA area. She will become an educational resource attesting to the era when maritime services played a major role in the economy of the Northwest and of the labor that built ships and those few still working to preserve that history.

Jerry also sent a bunch of pictures of the tug, including this engine room shot:

Enterprise DMQ-8 diesel engine powering the ex-Navy tug SAKARISSA

This is the same engine built on the same contract as the Red Cloud and the Maris Pearl, but unlike those two it doesn’t have the clear camshaft view ports on the starboard side. Interesting.

Thanks for the update and the photos, Jerry – I hope that I can make it to the Sakarissa when I’m down in Oregon next month.

Footage from the Quail

Dirk and his friend were treated to a demonstration of the tugboat Quail‘s Atlas-Imperial diesel. Here’s a video of starting her up:

Thanks, Dirk!

What is “original?”

When you’re taking care of engines for which spare parts haven’t been manufactured for 50 years, things tend to get changed around a lot. While I try to stick to the original manufactures’ parts and process, I have had to stray sometimes. If I can’t keep the engine “original”, then the next most important thing is to document the changes that do happen. I’ve been keeping track of the changes I’ve made, but I need to start making better records of the process. I’m going to start a list of variances to the OEM (Original Engine Manufacturer) designs here and on the website. Over time, I hope to document all of the changes I’ve made – and all of the changes that other people have made and told me about.

Here’s a few to start off with:

On the Arthur Foss‘s Washington:

  • the fuel pressure regulator is an Atlas-Imperial fuel pressure regulator
  • numbers two through six cylinder heads are a newer style with two studs and a collar to hold the valve cages, instead of one big castellated nut around the cage
  • the new set of tappet guides have a zerk fitting or 1/8-inch pipe tapped hole in each

On the Catalyst‘s Washington:

  • the injector tips, while Washington-style on the outside, are Atlas-Imperial-style on the inside
  • the fuel pressure regulator has an atlas imperial seat and stem – inferior to the reversible Washington design
  • the new valves are one-piece (this is forgivable)
  • the valve cages have new noses and are not one piece any more
  • the guides are off the shelf (from MAN or something)
  • the rod bearing nuts are nylock and not “large profile”
  • the clutch guide pins are two piece
  • the pneumatic shifting has been replaced with hydraulic

On the Westward‘s Atlas-Imperial:

  • no Manzell

On the Thea Foss‘s Atlas-Imperials:

  • much of the engine room controls have been replaced or altered to allow better remote operation

On the Briana Marin‘s Enterprise:

  • the thrust bearing and carrying portion of the bed plate has been removed to make room for the gear

That’s it for now. Mechanics, owners, enthusiasts: do you know of any other changes to any other heavy-duty boat? Comment here and we’ll start putting together this record.

Autumn Programs at Northwest Seaport

Old Tacoma Marine Inc has a very good relationship with the Northwest Seaport and I try to help them out when I can. I’m of course most interested in the programs involving the Arthur Foss. I teach all the engine classes held aboard, and last year I not only directed (instigated) the Classic Workboat Show, but I was also the largest sponsor of time and money. Autumn is planning season for Northwest Seaport, so I’ve gotten more involved again by helping them plan next year’s programming and raise funds to make it all happen.

As a start, I went the Lake Union Park Working Group meeting, held every other Friday. All the groups with a stake at South Lake Union send representatives to discuss everything going on, from individual projects to giant joint programs. A major item on the agenda this week was planning joint programs for 2009, but we ended up pushing that back to the next meeting to give all the groups a little more time to recover from the summer. I’m going to meet with Northwest Seaport before that next meeting to commit to expanding the programming schedule just a little more, like we’ve done for the past few years.

I have a few programs that I try to put on every year with the Seaport and the Center for Wooden Boats: Engineer for a Day, Diesel Engine Theory, and the new Tugboat night. These are each engine-centric, mostly on the Arthur, but Engineer for a Day uses all four boats on the wharf (I wrote about it way way back in February). The biggest (and most expensive) single class is Diesel Engine Theory, which is our take-it-apart-and-fix-it class that we’re using to restore the Arthur‘s big Washington:

Diesel Engine Theory 2006 aboard the tugboat Arthur Foss

We’re planning out next year’s programs and finishing this year’s, and finding (as usual) that the main need for each class is participants and funding. For this year’s Diesel Engine Theory class (the only remaining 2008 program), we’ve already got two or three people signed up, and Northwest Seaport is already a third of the way towards raising the total cost of the program (thanks to a 4Culture Special Projects grant), but we really need to fill the class and get the other two-thirds of the money in hand before we start this year’s work.

Northwest Seaport’s staff and board are very busy, so I usually take on a lot of the behind-the-scenes program management. This includes advertising the class and fundraising, on top of the mechanic stuff I need to do to get ready (we really need to order rings soon). This work is essential, since without the organizing, advertising, fundraising, and paper trail, we are spinning our wheels as opposed to building something solid and sustainable that transcends the boat itself.

This gets back to one of my major philosophies. To lift up a boat (or a maritime organization) you need something bigger than that boat (or maritime organization). I think that the best “something bigger” is education. Engine room education is important (the YMTA can tell you why better than I can) and the Arthur Foss just happens to be the best platform for this type of training. She’s a really neat boat, owned by a museum that’s dedicated to keeping her around to teach the public about boats, and she’s moored in the middle of Seattle. The classes and programs we run aboard her for the benefit of the general public can lift the Arthur Foss up and make something more of her than just an old boat.

Of course, last year a program literally lifted the Arthur Foss right out of the water:

the tugboat Arthur Foss in dry-dock, October 2007

That was a great feeling.

Getting back to the upcoming Diesel Engine Theory course, we need behind-the-scenes funding to get it off the ground. If you can help out, contact me now.

The wish list as it stands for the upcoming Arthur Foss programming includes:

  • cash
  • diesel fuel and lubricating oils
  • program participants
  • time on a dry dock
  • (1) 18-to-one torque multiplier
  • volunteers to do behind the scenes work (advertising, fundraising, setup, etc) – sign up for one or more positions now!


Filed under museums, programs, tugboats, week in review