Tag Archives: friday harbor

2009 Week 40 in Review

Field Trip to Friday Harbor and Lopez Island

This week, I drove and ferried up to Friday Harbor to pull the valves and injectors from the Catalyst to bring back to The Shop for servicing. Bill and I pulled them all in about three hours, and the next morning I headed for home – with a few stops.

Ferrying between islands is free, so I stopped off at Lopez Island to visit Keith and Stewart, who are busy rebuilding steam engines. They have an impressive foundry setup, and are working on some neat projects for boss Alex in Louisiana.

They’ve got a Type-G used in a 33-foot Navy boat, a Type E-2 from 1901 with a new crankshaft, and a Type-N that replaced the E-2 in 1907. It makes 48hp at 320 rpm.

The most amazing project, though, was the Ward three-cylinder radial engine:

I really like the interesting, compact design, the neat shifting mechanism, and the floating bronze shims in the thrust bearing. West Virginia University has lots of Ward Stuff, including many boiler designs and the first water tube boiler design.

Arcturus didn’t make it

The Atlas yacht Arcturus made it only 15 miles before the fuel filters plugged and their trip to San Francisco Bay was canceled. Instead, the crew was treated to a ride back to Eureka via Coast Guard tow.

Discovery for sale

The most beautifully modernized yacht out there, the Discovery is for sale. While the owners love the boat, they have another one and since they can’t ride on both at the same time, one must go.

Newt stuck!

Our friends on the tug Newt spent a scary tide exchange on the bottom of the Duwamish River. Everything turned out okay, but it was very scary at the time. See, it’s easy to get caught by the tide — be careful!

Looking for a G Enterprise head

Our friend Sean is looking for a cylinder head for the G Enterprise on the tug Mighty. Drop me a line if you have one, and I’ll forward it along to Sean.

Another Washington!

We found out the Timber Heritage Association in Eureka, California has a Washington-Estep!! Stay tuned for some pictures, and we hope to visit soon.

Another two bite the dust

The guys at the Fabius River Drainage Pumphouse are breaking up their two great 32E14 Fairbanks-Morse engines that we saw back in May:

Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines, formerly at the Fabius River Drainage Pumphouse

They got a government grant that was intended to reduce global warming, but instead of overhauling the old fuel-efficient heavy-duties, they’re pulling them out and replacing them with big gas-guzzling Caterpillars.

If you need spare Fairbanks parts, contact B & W Truck & Auto Specialists in West Quincy, Missouri. Their phone number is 1-800-338-9797; ask for AJ.

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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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2008 Week One In Review

I began the new year by reassembling the fuel injectors and valves for the Catalyst. The Catalyst is a 1932 research vessel built for the University of Washington–the first purpose-built oceanographic vessel built in the region. It still uses its original 1932 Washington-Estep diesel engine, manufactured just before engineer Adrian Estep’s ten-year contract at Washington Iron works expired.

The Catalyst‘s 2007-2008 yearly winter maintenance activities include servicing the fuel injectors and valves. I first disassembled the six main injectors and two spares and cleaned all the component parts. Here’s a picture of seven injectors disassembled, cleaned, and laid out on my workbench:

Fuel </p> <p>Injectors from the CATALYST, disassembled at Old Tacoma Marine Inc's workshop

After cleaning them, I checked all the parts for fit and interchangeability, meaning that the injector parts from cylinder number six can work just as well in any other injector. This is not crucial, but I do this often to make the work easier next time. The process includes fitting every part to every other mating part, which can be time-consuming. If a part is close but not quite right, I use lapping compound to work the parts in, like threaded parts or packing nuts.

This is also a way to learn a lot about the parts, since they have to be carefully inspected. Some parts of the injectors did not fit well into other parts and needed some work. I found that two packing nuts are much shorter than the others, necessitating that each one get one more packing ring. I also found one injector has a different upper body style. I do not know the reason for this; it may be a spare part ordered at a later time, but that’s only a guess. This inspection also revealed some parts that were most likely made recently.

I should note the Catalyst‘s injectors have all been modified to use injector tips and stems of the Atlas-Imperial style–very different than the original Washington Iron Works tips and stems. The original stems fit very tightly into the tip, using grooves and threaded ridges to deliver the fuel. The tight fit added more lateral guiding and the ridges provided a final level of fuel filtration. Atlas-Imperial injectors follow a much simpler design, using just a hardened rod with a 30 degree bevel that seats in the tip with a loose fit for fuel to go between. This change was made last year, as eliminating the hours of precision machining make fabricating the Atlas-Imperial style much cheaper than the Washington style.

After testing all the parts for fit, I cleaned all the parts for one injector at a time and lapped the stem to the tip using the original WIW tip-lapping guide–just briefly, since all the injectors sealed well. This was just to show the pattern and polish a little. I then assembled the injectors and set them following the original procedures described in the Washington Iron Works manual. Then I set each spring about a quarter turn more and used the Grimy Stein torque method to set each injector to exactly 32 foot pounds using a bolt in place of the rocker pin and fuel at 4,000 pounds per square inch.

While I was setting the injectors, Dan Grinstead was grinding valves. I cleaned all the valves and cages previously, before working on the injectors. Dan ground the valves on his specialized valve-grinding machine pictured below, then placed each cage in the cage-squishing tool built for 8 inch-bore Washington cages (incidentally, the cage squisher tool for the 8 inch-bore Washington cages was modified to the 10 1/4 inch cages last year, so Bob Keeny made an adapter so the tool can be used for both). Then Dan installed a tapered mandril in each valve guide and used three different stones to get the seat he is trying for.

A specialized valve-grinding machine.

Once satisfied with the seat, Dan called me in to lap the valve to the cage and inspect the pattern. We know the Catalyst‘s parts very well. Dan has serviced them regularly for 30 years, and several years ago he replaced all the seats in the cages (we refer to the seat part of the cage as the “nose”). Two years ago we replaced the guides (after someone accidently replaced the cast iron guides with brass) and the valves (with the original look of two-piece valves even though they are one-piece valves).

By Friday night, I had eight injectors and twelve valves reassembled packed them into my just in time to catch the last ferry to Friday Harbor.

Once on the Catalyst, I cleaned all the valve cage holes and performed the “kerplunk” test:

I tested each cage in both the intake and exhaust bores on each cylinder head. Some are much tighter than others–usually just because I missed some carbon or rust on the cage, so I continued cleaning and testing until they all fit. I then installed all the valves and injectors, then timed them all and ran the engine for a while. I stopped it a few times to tighten the valve nuts, since it is sometimes hard to get them tight enough.

I left the Catalyst Monday night, but number three cylinder head is leaking and the propeller is still overpowered, so I’ll be visiting Friday Harbor again soon.

In other news:

* OTM Inc finished a draft of the Preliminary Engineering Assessment for the Lighship No. 83 rehabilitation project for Northwest Seaport. We met with the Vice President of Northwest Seaport for lunch to deliver the report and discuss our recommendations

* Parts of the OTM Inc website were updated and rebuilt, especially the Washington Iron Works section

* Irv from the Velero IV came by with his son Mike to oil wrap and take the spare valve cages and valves for its 600 hp 6 cyl Atlas imperial

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