Tag Archives: museums

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 49 in Review

New corporate vehicle

OTM Inc got a new truck this week after the old Ford Courier exploded. The new OTM-mobile, a Chevy S-10, has more power and big wheels to fix your heavy-duty faster. It also has working lights, windshield wipers, a heater, and tire tread, all unlike the Courier.

More work on the Maris Pearl

Spent more time cleaning and painting cleaning and painting on the Maris Pearl.

Engineer on the Thea for a night

Every year the Thea Foss‘s crew gets a night out on the lake as guests on their own boat. They put together a relief crew for this night, which provides the dual benefit of ensuring that the Thea has a relief crew that’s “Always Ready.”

It was a great night out on the lake and I can never get enough of the twin Atlas-Imperials – even with their 200 oil points each.

Jensen Motor Boat Party

Jensen Motor Boat Company is an institution of great carpentry and ridiculous sea stories. Once again, I’m very pleased to be invited to the holiday party where there is no end to the wine or food.

I got there a little late but made it in plenty of time for a great party. Thanks, guys!

Museums are not a public service

I know they look like libraries, but most museums are private institutions. They receive tax benefits because they provide community benefits, but this does not mean that they must provide specific services or that individuals are entitled to make demands of a museum. This seems to be a frequent cause of misunderstanding, especially in the old boat community, and I believe it’s important to make some distinctions and clear up those misunderstandings.

Museums benefit communities in many specific ways, one example being by providing educational opportunities, and this grants them tax benefits to support the services they provide. Individuals supposedly benefit the community by getting married and having kids and so they receive tax benefits to support that service. Now, while both institutions are exempt from taxes, this money is essentially being taken from those of us who are not entitled to tax breaks and use the community services. It’s therefore just as unreasonable to demand that a museum “save” your crappy old boat as it is for me to demand that your kid mow my lawn.

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2009 Week 27 in Review

This week, we put the Arthur Foss all back together. All the parts are cleaned and many painted, the head is down, the piston is in, and the rod bearing is in, and I tightened everything down and painted the cylinder and deck plates just in time for class on Saturday.  But first:

More Enterprises

Doug reminded us via email to include the Alaska Ferries Malaspina and Columbia to the list of Enterprise-powered boats. Will do, Doug – does anyone know what model they are? The Golden Bear is powered by two big R5-V16 diesels – do the ferries have that same model?

New owners for the Kaluah Maru?

I’ve heard a rumor that the Kaluah Maru, a boat in Hawaii with two Superiors, has new owners. Anyone hear anything concrete? OTM Inc is investigating.

The Dunlin moves to Seattle

I got an email from Keith in which he said that the Dunlin has moved to Seattle. I can’t wait to meet the new owner and see the boat!

Diesel Engine Theory Session Five!

With all the parts ready and all the tools laid out, the class attacked the engine early Saturday morning. We wanted to get a good start on the work left – bumping the bearings, timing the valves and injectors, and getting it ready to run –since Saturday also started the 34th Annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival! Since 2005, OTM Inc has been a part of the show by running the Arthur‘s engine throughout the festival as a demonstration. The public loves it, and this year the students were going to help us keep it going.

the final session of the 2009 diesel engine theory workshop in the Arthur Foss

While the engineers were in the engine room, chef Kim was in the smoking hot galley. She baked bread all morning, turning the galley into a roasting pit of despair, but the bread was very tasty. Here’s the instructions and recipe, tailored for baking on the Arthur Foss:

At 7 or 8 am, turn on the stove; first, remove the firebox cover and vacuum or scrape the bits of carbon out of the firebox and the diesel cup. Next, open the valve from the day tank, open the valve to the meter, open the valve on the meter, and turn the meter up to full. Look down into the firebox; when you see a little diesel trickle out of the hole, light it with the blow torch that’s kept in the galley drawer. You’ll probably have to fire it for a while with the torch to get it alight.

Once it’s on, let it get hot and smoky and fiery, then turn on the fan. Open the fan damper until it doesn’t smoke any more – but not too much, or the fire will start to flicker like a strobe. Adjust it until you find the happy medium between strobe and smoke, and continue to check it for the next several hours.

Have some coffee, run the generator, clean the counter, have some more coffee. At 10 or 11, when stove is nearing 300°, dissolve 2tsp yeast in 2 cups warm water, then add:

5 ½ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 to 2 tsp salt

Mix, not knead, all this together and fold dough into a rounded lump. Cover lightly with cloth and put in a warm, not hot, place. The dish rack over the sink is perfect, and keeps it out of the way. Let rise to double its size.

Divide dough in half, form into two lumps, and place in the big glass pan. Cover lightly and let rise to double its size and the oven is between 350° and 400°.

Place in center of oven and bake 10-15 min, or until top is VERY golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven, wait no more and no less than five minutes before removing from pan. Eat it hot with butter.

bread baked in the Arthur Foss's diesel oven

The original recipe is featured in Lin Pardey’s awesome seacook’s book: The Care and Feeding of the Offshore Crew. Kim sliced most of this loaf and left it out on the counter with butter, and it was gone within an hour.

Back to the engine. We had everything buttoned up by one and we all held our breaths as we blew down the engine, then started it up. It started right up – but the new head gasket didn’t fully seat and a little air hissed out between the head and the cylinder on every compression stroke. We shut it down quick because it was making sounds like a dying goose.

After we cleaned up, the students had the next two hours to check out the Wooden Boat Festival and all the great old boats at South Lake Union for the weekend. Sadly, no other boats with heavy-duty diesels came, but it was still a great show. Meanwhile, tons of kids mobbed the boat for Pirate Story Hour:

pirate story hour on the arthur foss

At four, we all headed over to Buca di Beppo for a very tasty celebration dinner.

At six, the show closed and the class ended. Everyone filled out course evaluations at the restaurant, and they gave us rave reviews. Here’s a sample:

I think the program was coo. I really liked it and learned a lot. It would be better if we had a couple of days in the week instead of one. MoB MoB MoB L*fe L*fe L*fe.”

We think that’s a complement.

I know that I had a good time this session. It’s too bad that the head gasket didn’t fully seat, but it wasn’t anyone’s fault; the engine is old and sometimes these things happen. Despite not running the engine all afternoon Saturday, I would still say that this was one of the best classes and we addressed many issues with the engine, so the class was definitely a success.

dirty hands on the arthur foss

Next year, we’ll do Cylinder One.

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2009 Week 26 in Review

20Work continues on the Arthur Foss

This week, I continued to work on the Arthur Foss‘s Washington, working with OTM’s mechanic Crystal. We started the week with two big challenges to work on 1) make a tool to drive out the very stuck air-start valve, and 2) put the very heavy cylinder head back onto the engine.

I had to make a tool to get the air-start valve out. Back in 2005, during the very first session of Diesel Engine Theory, we pulled all the intake and exhaust valve cages out of the Arthur‘s engine. I wanted to pull all the air start valves in the head at that time, too, but they were really, really stuck. I decided that it would be best to take them out when we had the heads off, but I’ve been really antsy to start getting them out.

The day to get them out came on Thursday of this week, when I got to South Lake Union with the tool I’d made. It’s basically a cylindrical steel punch that I put up against the air start valve on the underside of the cylinder, and then wailed on with a ten-pound sledge hammer. It didn’t budge for a while – long enough that I thought “crap, I’m going to have to cut this [censored] out in pieces,” which I had to do with one of the exhaust valves back in 2005. But then I hit it some more and it finally came loose and popped out of the head, and I brought it back to the shop to clean it up. Whew.

hole for the air start valve in the Arthur Foss's number four cylinder head

Later in the week, we used a borrowed three-ton come-along to winch the piston back up into the cylinder, then set the head back on the cylinder. The come-along was a really great tool – I want one. I’ll have to put it on the Arthur Foss‘s wish-list, too.

I picked up a bunch more supplies, including water grommet material in two thicknesses. Then, I had to make a lot of calls and fuss over the head gasket because the manufacturer didn’t have the right material, but I finally got it.

There was also a lot of cleaning and painting all the individual parts. We painted the rockers and valve parts the usual Arthur white and painted the exhaust manifold with high-temperature paint. The TAP guys helped out a bunch this week with the painting – thanks, guys!

With all that accomplished, we were all ready for the next class on Saturday! But first…

South Lake Union party

The Friday Lake Union Park Working Group is still doing great things. On Thursday, they had a big party to “roll out” a new planning document that they all worked on. Lots of people showed up to see representatives from every group (like 20!) speak and everyone was really excited. I’m excited too – ten years ago, none of the different boat factions would even have been in the same room together, and now applauding for each other and finding ways to work together. Way to go, everyone!

Atlas-Imperials are not dead

The Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society just published an article in their quarterly rag the Sea Chest titled “The Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine, an Innovative Engine Built in the 1920s”. While this article gives the Atlas-Imperial diesels credit for being innovating and durable machines, the overarching theme suggests that the engines are gone for good.

I disagree.

Old Tacoma Marine Inc is here to show the next generation that heavy-duty diesels like the Atlas-Imperials are alive and well and still working as they were designed to do almost a century ago. The 500 or so heavy-duties from the four manufactures that I like the most are near-evenly grouped into four active categories by use: commercial, pleasure with a purpose, museums, and collectors. In all categories, the engines must function to fulfill specific duties, and these keep a small but diligent group of mechanics, engineers, operators, parts suppliers, curators, grant writers, museum program managers, and grey-haired guys who know everything all gainfully employed year-round. We’re a tight bunch who meet often and share stories and get their own tables at the tugboat parties or tractor shows.

This network of support and the great need for the engines to run is the reason this article is premature in writing of the death of these innovative engines, built to last from the 1920s and far into the future.

Underwater Surveys surveys the Lightship #83

A diver from Underwater Surveys did an underwater video survey of the Lightship #83 this week. He found that the hull is in about the condition we expected, with lots of aquatic growth – so much that it looks like a coral reef. I can’t wait to haul it out and clean all that off.

If anyone needs an underwater survey of their boat, let us through and we’ll patch you through to Underwater Surveys.

Indian Grave #3 running!

This week, I also got word that the Indian Grave Drainage District’s engine #3 successfully ran for about five minutes. I can’t wait to see them all working!

Diesel Engine Theory Session Four

Saturday morning, we all met on the Arthur for part four of the Diesel Engine Theory class. The first task was to move all the parts from my truck back onto the boat. We brought them all to the back deck to sort them out:

parts from the Arthur Foss's Washington Iron Works diesel engine

We did some more painting and cleaning and sanding, and cut grommets for the exhaust manifold:

cutting gaskets for the exhaust manifold

We also did some old Diesel Engine Theory standbys, such as the Washington Valve Dance (putting spring retainers on the valve stem), the Kerplunk Test (fitting the valve cages into the cylinder head; a “kerplunk!” sound is good, a “squish…” sound means more sanding), and annealing copper gaskets with heat and then cold water:

annealing a head gasket for the Arthur foss's Washington Iron Works diesel engine.

Then we had another amazing lunch cooked in the Arthur‘s frying hot galley with the fabulous Chef Kim, who made cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, and cayenne brownies. She also baked lots more of the amazing bread she made last week, and we all had tons of it.

Fresh-baked bread on the Arthur Foss!

After lunch, we did some more cleaning, then got the rod bearing back in. This was an excruciating job because the rod bearing is two big heavy pieces of metal that fit around the crankshaft. It’s tricky because you have to suspend the lower half while you get the upper half in place and the bolts through. I rigged up some braces to keep the pieces in place, then got into the crankpit while all the students maneuvered the pieces into place.

re-installing the rod bearing on the Arthur Foss's Washington Iron Works diesel engine.

It was hard work (especially since the boat was hot and the crankpit full of solvent), but we got it done just a little after five. Next week is the last week of Diesel Engine Theory 2009; let’s hope we get it all back together in time!

Seattle Power Tool Races

The power-tool races were Saturday evening. I wish I could have attended. Hopefully next year.

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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 24 in Review

OTM Inc spent most of this week working on the Arthur Foss‘s Washington, but first:

Update on the Lightship #83

Following our successful preparation of a Preliminary Engineering Report two years ago, Northwest Seaport has asked OTM Inc to submit a bid to serve as project manager for the Lightship Rehabilitation. We assembled our project management team and had our first meeting at the Northlake Pizza Tavern to discuss how to effectively perform the duties outlined by the Seaport. The meeting went well (and it was $2/pitcher PBR night!) and we’ll have the bid in early next week.

More Restoration Workshops?

Brian, the Ocean Bay Marine Inc shipwright and OTM Inc shop partner, has been working with the Seaport on assorted projects since 2007, and he’s really interested in doing public classes like Diesel Engine Theory, only with wood stuff rather than engines. I met with him this week to talk about I got the engine programs up and running. Trouble is, it takes a lot of time and effort to develop programs like this. I told him to be patient and persistent, and offered to talk more any time. I hope he gets something going – the Arthur is a great boat for people to learn on.

Work on the Arthur Foss‘s Washington

The Shop is now plugged with Washington parts from the Arthur Foss. After last week’s exciting Session One of the 2009 Diesel Engine Theory Workshop, I loaded all the parts we took off Cylinder Four into my truck and brought them to Ballard to be cleaned, tested, painted, oiled, lapped, and set as needed. This includes the fuel injector, the intake and exhaust valves and valve cages, about half the intake manifold, some couplings from the exhaust manifold, the rockers and rocker arms, the push rods, and pieces of the water cooling system. Pretty much all of my work space is covered with Arthur parts, but it’s great.

Valve cages from the Arthur Foss

We spent most of the week getting all these parts stripped down and ready for the class to work on. Crystal, OTM’s mechanic, worked with me to clean engine parts, and she also serviced the Arthur‘s generator. I also hired on Sterling the future towboat captain to get ahead a little, since I’ll be heading out to Qunicy again next week.

We also spent a lot of time getting the cylinder head off. Following last week’s class, one of the head nuts just would not come off. We tried oil, fast heat, slow heat, paraffin, and hammers, but it wouldn’t budge – it destroyed two of the output drives for our big torque multiplier (don’t worry Brian, we ordered new ones). Then I talked with Dan, who said to get a slugging wrench from Pacific Industrial Supply (they’re in South Park now). I went and got the wrench and we strapped a comealong to it real tight, then wailed on the wrench with a really big hammer. It finally did the trick – the head nut came loose in about three blows.

using a slugging wrench to remove a stubborn head nut from the Arthur Foss's Washington

Even with all the head nuts off and a serious strain on the lifting straps, the head was not going anywhere. The engine is more than eighty years old and all the minor leaks and corrosion over that time had caused the head to become one with the cylinder and studs. Crystal and I had to use sawzall blades to cut through all the corrosion in the seam, then we hammered dozens of little wedges in to pry it loose.

freeing the cylinder head on the Arthur foss

After a lot of hammering, it finally came off with a little tiny “pop,” and we winched it up. The Arthur has the biggest size of cylinder that Washington Iron Works ever produced. Its cylinders have an 18-inch bore and are really, really big. We estimate the heads as weighing about 2,200 pounds. As we lifted the head off cylinder four, I pictured it as a wrecking ball until we had it secured it to the deck.

After that excitement, we spent the rest of the week cleaning more parts, until…

Diesel Engine Theory Session Two

Early Saturday, the Diesel Engine Theory class all met at the Shop.
We spent the morning cleaning parts using wire wheels, sandblasters, hot lye, needle guns, flapper wheels, belt sanders, hammers and chisels, acid baths, solvent, 409, rags, and fingernails.

cleaning the exhaust system with a needle gun

At lunch time, we all headed down to the Arthur for hamburgers and salad prepared by chef Kim in the sizzling-hot galley.

We spent the afternoon cleaning the bigger pieces still on the boat. We cleaned the piston with scrapers and flapper wheels, then cleaned out the piston ring grooves using a broken ring with a handle duct-taped to the other end. This gave us a tool exactly the right size and shape to scrape out all the gunk clogging up the ring grooves, and there were plenty to go around.

We also cleaned the threads on the studs that protrude from the cylinder. I decided that the best way to do this was to run the nut up and down the stud using lots of valve-lapping compound. This gritty mixture machines off the rust and dirt and makes sure to keep the threads the right shape. The downside to this process is that it’s painfully slow, but the students all did a great job – especially the TAP guys.

We also pulled out the rod bearing. The babbitt is cracked up, but not too bad considering that it’s been at least 40 years since it was last re-poured (and probably a lot longer than that).

rod bearing on the Arthur foss

We’re not going to have it re-done this time; a full chapter in one of my diesel repair books is dedicated to running on cracked bearings. It says that as long as there aren’t any holes in the babbitt larger than a dime, you should be okay. The number four rod bearing babbitt is mostly just cracked, with only one little hole that’s way smaller than a dime, so I’ve decided that it’s okay for now – especially since we run the engine so lightly these days We’ll plan on re-doing the rod bearings after we service all six cylinders.

Last and most tiring, we used the ball hone to clean up the liner. It was agony because our ball hone is 16″ and the Arthur‘s cylinders are 18″, so we had to swirl it around to get the liner cleaned and patterned correctly.

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2009 Week 23 in Review

Still scraping bearings

OTM Inc spent most of this week scraping and fitting rod bearings for the Indian Grave Drainage Pumphouse‘s Fairbanks-Morse diesels, and making some fine adjustments to the main bearings. I did this with much relief, after getting satisfactory results when testing the main bearings.

Report on the MV Tuhoe

Old Tacoma Marine Inc’s intrepid investigative reporter Jacoba took a field trip to see the Atlas boat MV Tuhoe in Kaiapoi, New Zealand. This neat old boat (the only Atlas boat we know of in the Southern Hemisphere) is an old cargo auxiliary schooner, powered by twin 6EM327 Atlas-Imperial diesel engines.

Atlas-Imperial diesel engine on the MV Tuhoe

Interestingly, the association that owns her (the MV Tuhoe Preservation Society) has a third identical engine that they use for parts. It sounds like they’ve put a lot of love into the boat and they have a lot of community support. Jacoba wrote up a great article about the boat that talks more about that:

The twin Atlas-Imperial engines of the M.V. Tuhoe rattle in well-tuned percussion as John Thompson, one of the ship’s chief engineers, eases on the throttle. The engine room is tidy, and the fixtures are color-coded with bright, glossy layers of paint to help newly-trained volunteers.

Read the full article

Arthur Foss Cylinder Four Overhaul begins!

I flew back to Seattle on Thursday night, just in time for the Diesel Engine Theory workshop on the Arthur Foss. OTM Inc runs this in partnership with Northwest Seaport and the Center for Wooden Boats at South Lake Union. We’ve been planning this session – overhauling cylinder four – for years, and getting ready for the class was stressful since I was in Illinois most of the month. I really wanted everything to go well despite only preparing over the phone, but I shouldn’t have worried too much.

The first session went very well. We had eight participants (a full boat!), including four guys from The Anchor Program (known as TAP) who’ve been doing a bunch of work on the Arthur. After coffee and introductions, we took a tour of the boat, oiled and greased everything, and ran the engine and both generators for a while. I got a lot of good questions and everyone was really interested in the boat and the engine and diesel engines in general.

Exercising the Arthur Foss's AC generator

Part of any workshop we do with Northwest Seaport is the Galley Program, where we use the boat’s galley and especially the diesel stove to make lunches for everyone. Chef Lia prepared the best and possibly the most tacos ever cooked in the Arthur‘s muy caliantá galley:

After lunch, Dan gave his Diesel Engine Theory lecture, which was even better than last time. He brought along a lot of parts to illustrate his points, along with dire warnings to not damage the injector tips!

Crystal examines an injector tip

After the lecture, it was time for the big moment: taking the engine apart and fixing it. I’d gone and gotten a lot of tools while preparing for the class, so I divided the students into two groups. I set one group to taking all the jewelry off the head, and the other group to taking the access panels off the bottom of the engine and getting ready to take the rod off the crankshaft.

George takes apart the cooling system

Now, I bet a bunch of you reading this are thinking “holy cow, he just let a bunch of students start taking stuff apart and he wasn’t watching them like a vulture watches a dying horse?” Well, heavy-duties like the Arthur‘s Washington come all apart pretty easily with socket wrenches and screwdrivers, but there’s a lot of hardware that has to be taken off. All the students were really doing was turning wrenches, but if you’ve never taken apart an engine before, you learn tons from just turning the wrench and seeing how it’s all put together.

By the end of the day, we had cylinder four nearly all stripped down. We got stuck on one head nut just as five o’ clock rolled around, so we left it like that for the night. I’ll have a lot more to report about the class next week, so stay tuned!

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