Tag Archives: m4 party

2010 Week 19 in Review

OTM Inc started this week cleaning up after M4. What a great show.

More fitting parts

We’re also still working on fitting parts on the Timber Heritage Association fuel injectors. I actually got an email from the machinist we use to have Washington tips made. He said:

“I’ve been working on the numbers pretty hard, I didn’t think you’d like a $300 price for tips. Our biggest hurdle has been fixturing, keeping the concentricity of the sac within .0015″ at that depth isn’t easy. The best I can do is $150.00 each in 12 pc lots with six drilled & six not, 6 drilled comes in at $214. If you have the fixture to hold these while drilling the spray holes (that we can use) knock off $50.00 each.”

Seattle Tug Boat Races

This year’s Seattle Tugboat Races were this Saturday, and although the race results were anticlimactic for the heavy duties, the Maris Pearl won the Tugboat Annie Award. Yay! The Chief finished the race under its own power. Another yay!

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2010 Week 18 in Review

Cleaning parts for the yarder

OTM Inc spent some time this week cleaning parts for the Timber Heritage Association’s diesel yarder injectors. Fitting all the parts is a huge task, but it really makes a huge difference when they go together smoothly.

M4 Event

OTM Inc spent most of its time this week working on M4, an event it sponsors every year. This year’s M4, on May 1, was themed “The Revolution” – very appropriate given the state of the union, economy and the date of the event being May Day.

M4 this year featured art, music and pageantry throughout the entire six hours of the show.

Check out more photos at m4show.com

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2010 Week 3 in Review

More work on the Maris Pearl

I’m still working on the Maris Pearl‘s reversing mechanism, trying to track down parts for it. I’ve been working with suppliers and calling collectors and engine owners I know who have spares. The Westinghouse controls rarely need attention, so there’s not a lot of information available on these units. It’s taken some extra time to search it out.

Winter Work on the Thea Foss

The Thea Foss‘s twin Atlas-Imperials are getting some attention this winter. The boat’s engineer worked with Dan to remove all the valves, start valves, and injectors out of both engines, then I spent a lot of time this week disassembling and cleaning everything.

As you remember, this process involves disassembling them each, putting them in a solvent bath, flushing the water jackets, sand blasting and another solvent bath, flapper the guide, and wire-wheel the stems.

2010 M4 Party

The big annual art and music event that OTM helps sponsor now has a not-for-profit fiscal sponsor, so make your donations out to Shunpike, with M4 mentioned as the program.

This year’s show will be the 10th annual, on May 1st. The steering committee is planning furiously, and it’ll be even bigger and better than last year (always our goal).

Working on the bow thruster

We got the new parts and tools to fix my good customer’s bow thruster, but still got caught inadequately prepared. I had to run out in the middle of the job to get more parts.

I also had a problem with my dry suit: the neck seal was too tight. Apparently, this can cause Carotid Sinus Reflex, when your neck seal presses against the carotid artery and makes your brain think your blood pressure is too high and lower your pulse rate to compensate.

The symptoms can include nervousness and a shortness of breath, which at the time I attributed to being out of practice from not diving enough. While it is true I am a little out of practice, the nervousness and shortness of breath were actually due to the neck seal. I’ll replace this before next week, in time to dive next Saturday at the CWB.

Despite all this, we still got the bow thruster fixed right up.

Boats for sale

The Pacific Sunrise is for sale. It’s a sweet boat with an Atlas-Imperial 6HM1125 diesel, and is going for $75,000.

The Island Champion is also for sale. She’s a great boat with a Fairbanks-Morse 35F14 diesel.

Bonus! Mention this ad and get a free OTM Inc T-shirt with your purchase!

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2009 Week 19 in Review

Breaking down the party

I spent the first part of the week finishing the big M4 Party. Volunteers and I worked around the clock to clean up and return all the stuff, following the amazing show. Thanks to all those who helped this year!

If you want to be involved in the next M4 party, please contact me and I’ll put you in touch with the crew.

M4 Factory Party

Preparing for Illinois

I talked two weeks ago about how I’d been talking with the Indian Grave Pump House in Illinois about installing re-babbitted main bearings in their Fairbanks-Morse engines. I ended Week 17 hearing “we’re waiting for the bearings to come back from the shop,” and by this week they were back to “hurry hurry hurry,” so I’m getting ready to go to Illinois again.

I picked up more lapping compound (a big 5lb bucket this time), and cleaned up the shop. This time, the trip is indefinitely long, so I had to be sure the bills are paid and the chickens have feed. It’ll probably be two or three weeks, so stay tuned for blogs from the Midwest.

Business as usual

OTM Inc got audited by the insurance company. Lame.

Elliott Bay Tugboat Races

On Saturday, OTM Inc went to the tugboat races on Elliott Bay aboard the Maris Pearl. It was a great day for racing, and we had a blast:

Tugboat Races on the Maris Pearl

We also saw the Fearless out in fine form:

Western Towboat tug Fearless at the Elliott Bay Tugboat Races

Tugboat Night!

We had another session of Tugboat Night aboard the Arthur Foss. The next session is June 13, so we’ll see you there!

Labor versus Capital

There’s been lots of talk about our ideas of labor changing these days, but I want to know if our ideas of efficiency will change. I think it might have to.

Let’s say we give billions to the auto industry so that they can keep people employed. We as tax payers will pay them to make cars, but then no one wants to buy them. Did it work? No but if we give billions to an auto industry that makes cars by hand, using hand tools. And turn out less cars people keep their jobs.

By the same token, if we give billions to highway improvement, it will be under the banner of creating jobs and employing people. It sounds like a good idea, but I’m worried that what will happen when the government starts awarding contracts. If the lowest bidder is the company that wants to buy a big automatic highway re-paving machine that was made in China and can be driven by one person, then did the plan work? I say that it didn’t, if the original plan was to create jobs (unless we’re counting off-shore manufacturing jobs).

I’m worried that billions will go to replace old diesels for no reason except to keep the Chinese who build Caterpillars employed for another day. Ultimately the money earmarked for a cleaner and better running fleet should be spent to have engineers and mechanics replace the rings and injectors. A billion dollars can service a lot of engines and keep people employed right here – plus it will help protect the environment by both cutting emissions and preventing new engines to be shipped around the world and old engines to be shipped to the scrappers.

Really, if we clean up the engines that are already in use, the benefits will be compounded. We’ll have cleaner air, more work with less capital investment, a better life for mid-level educated folks, and no artificially-created demand for the new products. All the equipment serviced will already be in demand due to the fact that someone owns it.

So, government folks, please stop creating meaningless capital investment and buy labor, instead. There are millions of ways to improve the world with out making anything.

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2009 Week 18 in Review

M4 Factory Party

Every year, OTM Inc drops everything to help with the annual M4 party. This year, it was held in the loading dock of the Big Building in South Seattle.

I spent most of the week preparing for the party. I even borrowed a bucket truck to hang lights, projectors, and rig the aerialist rope:

setting up for the M4 Factory party

The party itself went great: we had a big crowd and it was a lot of fun. We took tons of pictures that are slowly getting uploaded to the party’s Flickr pool here. Here’s a quick preview:

band Titanium Sporkestra at the M4 Factory Party

All the performers were great, from the graffiti artists to the burlesque dancers, and OTM Inc wants to thank everyone for being a part of it.

dancer Fuscia Foxx at the M4 Factory Party

No Smoking

OTM Inc has heard a rumor that the EPA will start to fine noncompliant diesel exhaust-emitting boat operators. To verify, we made some calls.

The EPA said existing diesels are not required to comply with the new requirements – except in some cases, such as when the engines are large, polluting way more than others, and have a certified technology that will significantly reduce emissions available for the type of engines.

This means the there are only a few engines that are effected, but the most notable is the Washington State Ferry System. They’re still running some EMD two cycle engines that can be modified to run cleaner. If they can be modified, then the requirement may be in effect.

Most of the changes to the rules are for new engines, so this is a battle for the manufactures.

Voluntary compliance is a nice thing though. There are a few things to consider for owners trying to reduce their emissions.

First, how does the EPA test exhaust? Apparently, there are lots of ways to figure out the exact chemical breakdown of an engine’s exhaust, but the most important test to pass in the one that measures Particulate Material Density by opacity. This is a scientific visual test, where the engine runs at full rated speed to produce 100% rated horsepower. Then, without much relative wind, the inspector (engineer) looks at the exhaust and determines the percentage of light that passes through the plume. Black as night is 100%, dark haze is 50%, and a vapor trail is 0%. Most trucks on the road are allowed a score of 40%.

Second, smoke can signal that something is wrong with your engine. The concerned owner and engineer should take immediate action if they see smoke, as it is more than just a signal. Smoke will carbon up the valves, causing more leaking, and then more smoke, and so on until the power is reduced to nothing and the engine stops. This is why one of the ten diesel commandments for engineers is “Never let thy engine smoke, else thou shalt suffer thine owner’s wrath.”

Third, the best way to prevent smoke is to physically clean your engine inside and out, replace the piston rings regularly, and service the injectors regularly. A diesel is a diesel, and the only thing that can be done to clean up its emissions in any circumstance is to add more clean air, squish the air better, and mist in the fuel better. Servicing rings valves and injectors regularly will get any engine closer to the sought-after vapor trail.

The EPA requires some engines to do more: specifically implement something that the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act calls “Certified technology,” which is available at a relatively low cost through government programs. Certified Technology (CT) is some product that the EPA has tested and can prove creates a significant reduction in emissions. CT is hard to create and no company is going to attempt it unless it is profitable. It helps that the technology is required and a large number of the engines are in use, but if designing the technology will not be profitable, then there are grants available to help an “emerging technology” becomes a “certified technology”.

OTM Inc is currently preparing its own application for a grant to pay for the R & D to design a Certified Technology kit for the remaining Washingtons. This kit will include step-by-step instructions on how to service the rings, valves and injectors. We hope that this emerging technology (about to begin clinical trials this June on the Arthur Foss) will be quickly recognized by the EPA as a certified technology.

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2008 Week 20 in Review

I began the week by spending two days breaking down the party equipment from Old Tacoma Marine’s co-sponsored event over the weekend, then went straight back to the Maris Pearl.

The Maris Pearl, Finished and Cruising

This year’s maintenance and projects are done and Jay asked me to help bring the boat up to Ketchikan for some early summer cruising. It was me, Jay, Jay’s best friend from high school, and two of Jay’s fraternity brothers.

I had one long day to get ready to help bring the Maris Pearl for the trip up the Inside Passage, and it was a real workout schlepping oil, tools, spares, and supplies down the 800-foot dock. I got everything on-board by midnight and then got up at 4 am to get underway.

We had a great first day, making about 110 miles – which was actually too fast because we had to wait at Dodd Narrows for two hours before we could go through. That was a good time for a steak dinner while drifting. After making the narrows, we put into Nanaimo and picked up a box of Canada beer (Molson’s). After a few of those I was done:

Kicking back on the Maris Pearl en route to Ketchikan

This trip has really been a chance to learn about the Pearl’s Enterprise diesel. This is the first time I’ve traveled any distance on the Pearl. Usually, I just help take it out into the lake and back. Now, I’ve been getting to know all the little noises it makes and other little quirks of an individual engine operating for a while. I’m also able to record the temperatures over time and chase the leaks.

One early morning while raising the anchor, I was reminded of the million times I’ve raised chain in the middle of nowhere. The fog, the salty smell, the cold coffee, and the clunk clunk of the chain are all so familiar but it’s been a while since I’ve been out on a boat. I really love mornings like that.

Another day, Brian, Craig, Roger, and I took the skiff to explore Butedale, an old outpost of the Canada Fishing Company that canned salmon and produced fertilizer. There’s not much left but awesome derelict wooden buildings. In one big empty building up on pilings, I found bowling pins and balls. I immediately set them up and started to bowl.

Craig and Roger were talking with the old man who lives there when they heard a crash. They looked up to the big building and said “What the heck?” They thought that Brian and I fell or got squashed. The old man shrugged and said “Oh, they’re bowling”. Craig and Roger Thought the old man had lost it and they ran up to see what happened:


After Butedale, we did a little exploring in the skiff. I drove the bow of the skiff in to a water fall to get Craig, a smartass, soaked. He is still pissed.

That night we bought some jumbo shrimp from a fishboat sharing our anchorage. I boiled half of them, and butterflied the other half and sautéed them in butter and cayenne pepper. Yum. We finished the night in style by drinking too much and telling stories and lies, all while smoking cigars in the hot tub on the tug in the middle-of-nowhere Canada.

Stay tuned for the rest of the Alaska trip in Old Tacoma Marine Inc Week 21.

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2008 Week 18 in Review

This week was sort of boring compared to last week’s whirlwind tour of Northwest Washington’s heavy-duties.

An Update on the Maris Pearl

On Tuesday afternoon, we moved the Maris Pearl to pick up the new cover for the aft end of the boat deck. I call it the “wing.” I’ll try to post pictures later. Then we moved to Charlie’s tug, the Sea Devil, to pick up some fuel. We ended up spending all day there because they miscalculated the delivery rate. After griping a bit, Charlie and I called up some friends to come hang out on the tugs while we waited, so we had a nice night anyway.

This week, I also tried to seal some persistent water and oil leaks in the engine with little success. It’s a low priority for now, but hopefully next winter I can take the time to make sure the connections are all tight.

Business as Usual

This week was quarterly tax time. Ouch.

I also visited Striegel Supply again, where Steve is doing all kinds of interesting things (like having bearings made) and making deals with owners of awesome engines. I finally traded some of the Maris Pearl’s unuseable spare parts for a store credit. I hope he finds a customer for all those R model parts.

Party Planning

We got the word that the big party that OTM Inc co-hosts has been bumped back a week. It was very difficult to get the word out and we lost some of our performers. We worked day and night to find new performers and get the word out to the partners and guests, so hopefully the party will be a success anyway.

Helping out the neighbors

South Lake Union had its grand opening celebration this week. Several of the big historic boats in Seattle are moored there, including the Arthur Foss with the big old Washington. Northwest Seaport, the group that owns the Arthur, was invited to blow the tug’s horn (which is very, very loud) for the opening ceremony.

Usually, when Northwest Seaport wants the horn blown or the engine run or whatever, they ask me to come down and set things up. Since this usually coincides with the classes and demonstrations that I run on the Arthur, it’s usually not a big deal. This time I was just too busy to help out, so I talked Diana the Museum Specialist through starting up the AC generator (a modern Jimmy, not very interesting) to run the air compressors and fill up the tanks. She’s watched me start the generator plenty of times before but is really nervous about breaking parts of “the artifact.” I say that the worst thing that a museum can do with its ships is treat them like glass and that it’s actually better for the boat and its systems to just turn things on, but I guess I’d rather have the museums ask how to do it right than just think that they can treat it like an old photograph or a set of tools.

Anyway, since I couldn’t come down to Arthur, I had to describe the process over the phone. This was challenging, because the DC generator is located between the aft fuel tanks, which block cell phone reception. Diana had already gone through the first part of the generator’s pre-start checklist I wrote for Northwest Seaport (check water level in the main expansion tank, check oil level, check fuel level, open fuel valves), but called when it came time to push buttons. She would confirm what the next step was, put her phone down, go back and fuss with the generator, then come back and go through the next step. She was doing great on her own until we realized that the battery was dead (another reason that the generator should be run more often). Luckily, the Vice President of Northwest Seaport’s board had his truck right there on the dock, so they pulled its battery out, brought it down to the engine room, jumped the generator, and made it all work beautifully. Diana sounded like she was going to pass out from the stress (museum people are weird), but I told her that the next step after starting the generator was to go get a cup of coffee while it warmed up for a few minutes.

Compared to starting the generator, turning on the air compressors was uneventful (though apparently she turned on the big tow winch instead of the compressor for a few seconds) and the tanks didn’t need that much air anyway. When it came time to blow the horn for the big celebration (the Virginia V had steam up for her whistles and everything), though, the valve stuck after just one short honk. Lame. Diana called me back to ask how to fix it, but when I got to “climb up on top of the wheelhouse with a pair of needlenose pliers,” she decided to save that for a different day and welcome visitors aboard instead.

What I thought was neat about this process is that Diana said she was able to figure out some parts of the DC generator by comparing them to Arthur‘s Washington, which she’s very familiar with:

The checklist just says “hold governor in while cranking.” At first, I just went “shoot, don’t know anything about modern diesels,” but then I started looking and thinking about how the main is put together, and figured out that the knob sticking out of the horizontal bar must be the governor, since the main’s governor is the lever sticking out of the horizontal bar. I know, I know: obvious to mechanics, but this was the first time that I really understood how the parts connect in a modern engine.

This really reinforces my point that working on the big old heavy-duties is a great way to learn about diesel engines in general, because you can see everything that’s hidden or tiny on a modern engine. I can’t think of any diagram or lecture that would explain how pushrods work half as effectively than coming down to the Arthur or any of the other boats or stationary engines and just looking at how they sit on the camshaft and connect to the rockers. If folks actually start the engine, they learn that much more from the heavy-duties by watching how the parts interact.

I’m also glad that Northwest Seaport has people interested in learning how to run Arthur‘s engine again. We need more heavy-duty engineers if we want to keep these engines running.

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