Tag Archives: mv westward

2009 Week 12 in Review

This week, OTM stopped by the old ferry Skansonia to photograph its Fairbanks-Morse diesels. Maintenance guy John was happy to show us the engine room and let us poke around two great old mains:

Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines on the retired ferry Skansonia

Steven at the Evergreen Fleet has a nice history of the Skansonia that he’s posted here. Here’s a summary:

The Skansonia was built in 1929 by the Skansie Brother shipyard for the Washington Navigation Company. She and sister ship Defiance transported passengers and automobiles on the Tacoma to Gig Harbor route. In 1940, when the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened, the Skansonia took over a Tacoma to Vashon Island Route – until “Galloping Gertie” crashed into Puget Sound a few months later!

The Skansonia went back to work on the Tacoma to Gig Harbor Route until 1950, when the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened. The new Washington State Ferry system bought her in 1951 and put her on the Vashon Island to Point Defiance run until 1967, when the Hiyu took over the route. The ferry system used her as an overflow boat in the summer of 1969, then tied her up in Eagle Harbor. They sold her in 1971, and in the mid-1980s she was turned in to a banquet facility and moored at the north end of Lake Union for years.

John led us down into the engine room and just like on the Olympic (back in 2008 Week 48), I felt like I went back in time, with the last engineer’s coffee cup still sitting by the dangling remains of the telegraph. Except for being used for storage, the belowdecks space had been hardly touched since the boat was retired. Someone had removed most of the access panels from the two main Fairbanks-Morse diesels, but other than that they looked completely untouched — right down to spare parts on the shelf:

Fairbanks-Morse diesel engine in the ferry Skansonia

We took a lot more pictures of the boat that are uploaded to the Flickr site here. They’re definitely worth browsing through.

Now normally, I am a hopeful engine restorer. I see running potential in any engine that is mostly complete, and the Skansonia‘s engines are great examples of “mostly complete.” With a lot of work, they could run again, but I don’t advocate for it in this particular situation. The banquet-ferry business works and the boat won’t run again, so parting out the mains would be okay. The boat is beautiful and I have actually attended a few weddings there. It works really well as a venue, and the owners have showcased a lot of the boat’s history in the main galleries. Plus, the Skansonia has the one most important thing for anything in the world to survive: it provides a service that is valued enough to support itself. It’s a shame that this service doesn’t include running the engines, but having a business that supports it is a wonderful thing for the old gal.

Thanks for the tour, John!

The Arthur Foss turns again!

I finished putting Arthur Foss‘s clutch together. After I reinstalled the linkages on the throw-out bearing, I spend some time adjusting the clutch to get the right snap. This is the final motion that the clutch makes as the linkages go over center with some tension and the crowder collar runs into the clutch housing. If it’s well-adjusted, the linkages retain the tension and keep the clutch “in.” I spent a few hours adjusting it, then turned the engine over on compressed air to test it.

Here’s a video of it:

After it looked really good, we tightened up the dock lines and ran the propeller for the first time in about eight years. It was great! I can’t wait until we get under way again, but there’s still some work that needs doing before then.

World premier of the Westward movie

Right after running the Arthur, I went around the corner the see the John Sabella documentary about the Westward. Hugh and Teresa brought the boat down and moored it at Lake Union Park for the event, and tons of people came – including three generations of owners.

They showed the movie itself on a big projection screen in the Armory. My favorite part was, of course, the part about Westward‘s Atlas-Imperial. They have a great segment of engineer John oiling in high speed. Check it out:

The boat has had the best career any vessel could ask for and she’s not finished yet. The website has more information on the documentary, including how to order it for yourself.

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2009 Week One in Review

Work continues on the Catalyst

The New Year finds me still working on the Catalyst‘s big winter maintenance project. I spent most of my time this week continuing to fit in the main bearings. I started to describe this process last week, but here’s a picture of the strain test:

measuring the flex of the MV CATALYST's crankshaft with a strain gauge

That’s the strain gauge stuck between the throws of the crankshaft, which shows how much the crankshaft is flexing, which in turn tells me how high the main bearings are and which are holding up the crankshaft. One at a time, I rolled each main bearing out, did a strain gauge on the bearings to either side of it, then rolled it back in and went on to the next. I was looking for changes made by its absence, like whether it had been lifting the crankshaft more than the other bearings.

I found some sticking up a little far, which is to be expected when some of them have been re-babbitted, so I scraped them down or used Timesaver Lapping Compound, which is made especially for bearings:

Timesaver Lapping Compound

Newman Tools has a good description of the stuff on their website:

“Timesaver first acts as an abrasive, then the particles diminish to a polish, and finally to inert material. It is unconditionally guaranteed not to imbed into any metal surface. Prepared in powder form, to be mixed with oil as used. Timesaver Lapping Compound does not contain emery, aluminum oxide, silicon-carbide or similar charging abrasives.”

Lapping really doesn’t take much material off, since barring the engine over is so slow, so I did some scraping, too. They took a while to do, since I had to do so much barring, but I eventually got them to the specs outlined within the Washington manual.

The Westward‘s thrust bearing

I heard recently that the cooling system for the Westward‘s thrust bearing has been disabled. I understand the reasoning: thrust bearings typically have a water jacket to cool them, but it’s a small casting that’s easy to damage. I’ve seen them cracked up from rusting, freezing, and for no reason that I could see. My guess is that the Westward‘s thrust bearing started leaking and the owners got concerned and decided not to run coolant through it any more.

I hear that they’re monitoring it’s temperature closely while cruising to make sure that it doesn’t overheat, so it’s probably fine. Heck, it just made it around the ocean that way, so it’s definitely fine. Just don’t try this at home: the Westward folks are experts and know their boat really well. Unless you are that good, don’t disable your thrust bearing’s cooling system!

Information about a little Atlas-Imperial?

We received an email from Gary asking for information about his 3.3hp single cylinder 1LN29 Atlas-Imperial engine:

Neat, but I don’t know anything about this kind of engine. Readers, can anyone provide information about the little ones like this?

Washington-Estep photos from Nick

Nick sent us some great photos of the Washington-Estep in Hawaii at the Waimea Sugar Mill Camp Museum:

Washington Iron Works diesel engine in Waimea, Hawaii, at the Sugar Mill Camp Museum

What a great old engine. I can’t wait to get out there to see it myself. Until then, I’ll just have to look through all the shots here.

Thanks, Nick!

Kahlenberg photos from Bob:

Bob sent us some neat photos of the Kahlenberg factory floor:

Kahlenberg diesel factory floor

They’re so beautiful – all clean and shiny and brand new. There’s several other views here.

Thanks, Bob!

Newest Old OTM Inc Employee

OTM Inc officially hired a new employee this week: Diana the museologist!

Diana the Museologist

Her services have been available by contract for the last year, but now she’s officially part of the Old Tacoma Marine Inc team. She’s taking on some of the curatorial components of Old Tacoma Marine Inc’s business.

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2008 Week 44 in review

I had a long day on Sunday, since the Catalyst was scheduled to come in at the beginning of the week – and we took two days off to sail the schooner Zodiac from Bellingham to Seattle.

Sailing on the Zodiac

I first sailed on the Zodiac in 1997, after helping during a winter yard work period. I still remember shackling blocks to the mast while hanging from the spreaders by my knees, looking down at the Fremontians waiting for the bridge to close. Since then, I’ve gone aboard often to visit but not to sail – until this week. The folks who run the Zodiac put out an all-hands call to maritime heritage people in the Seattle area to help bring the boat from Bellingham (her summer port) to Seattle (her winter port). With diesel prices so high, they try to sail as much of that trip as possible, and to sail they need a lot of extra hands, since the Zodiac is the largest working sailboat on the West Coast, with the largest single sail on the West Coast, which is raised by hand:

schooner Zodiac, during an October 2008 cruise from Bellingham to Seattle

Our trip this week was much less work than when I sailed in 1997, since we were guests. It’s been a while since I’ve gone boating without responsibilities, and it was very nice. Lia and I stood mini watches at the helm and bow, then just hung around on deck or in the salon. When it was time to hoist a sail or something, a crew member would give us direction and we’d pitch in with the other passengers. The crew has been chartering all summer so they treat us freeloaders with the same velvet gloves as the summer’s paying guests, but with a relaxed end-of-the-season style.

Monday started as a perfect day for sailing, with clear skies and a cold, stiff breeze. We sailed for about 8 hours until the wind died, and I must admit that the quiet sounds of the boat creaking under sail sounds nicer than even the rumble of an Atlas-Imperial. We anchored at port Townsend for the night and a few of us passengers went ashore to get a spectacular view of the schooner as the sun set:

Schooner Zodiac at anchor off Port Townsend, as seen from Sirens' deck

Tuesday, in contrast, was foggy, cold, and windless. We got underway at about 9am, but since there was no wind and the current was against us, and we wanted to make it through Seattle’s drawbridges before they closed at 4 pm, we motoring the rest of the way. The tireless crew took the opportunity to start un-bending the sails and folding them up for the winter. We got to Seattle and made it through the locks in time to fuel up at Ballard Oil before the bridges closed. Spencer, who is owner Warren’s grandson, was working the dock. Spencer took the Engineer for a Day class that the Ballard Maritime Academy kids attended last year, so it was good to see him and ask how it was going. After we fueled up, we went the last stretch through the ship canal and Fremont to the Metro docks right next to Northlake Shipyard, where the boat stays for the winter.

The Zodiac was built in 1924 for the Johnson family (of the Johnson & Johnson Company fame) as a heavy-duty sailing yacht. She originally had a six-cylinder Atlas-Imperial with a 10 ½ inch bore, and competed in some of the grand trans-Atlantic sailing races of the 1920s. After the Depression, the boat was sold to the San Francisco Bay Bar Pilots, who used her to pick up and drop off pilots until the early 1970s (she was actually the last schooner working as a pilot boat, since she was very fast and maneuverable and stable). After a few years at the dock, Karl Mehrer, captain of another former-bar-pilot-schooner, the Adventuress, acquired the boat and brought her up to Seattle. She’s been cruising the San Juans as a charter boat and a platform for educational programs since the early 1990s, while being continually “restored” during winter maintenance seasons.

Like many of the boats I enjoy cruising on, the thing that comes to mind when I step aboard the Zodiac is the comfort, which comes from an amazing attention to detail on the part of the crew. I wrote about this back in Week 28, and then later in Week 31 how it’s impossible to create that kind of comfort without running the boat a lot. The Zodiac has decades of people working her, all tinkering and making adjustments and repairs. Sure, this means that there are some scratches in the sole and the doorways have some dings in them, but when I need to look behind the rudder quadrant there’s a working flashlight hanging up next to the hatch, the key to the ship’s clock is hanging next to it, the frying pan is over the stove, the silverware is next to the fridge, and the light switch next to the door. The Zodiac is full of these kind of efficiencies that can only be developed over time, but are what make a boat run smoothly and feel like home. Even thought her original engine (an Atlas-Imperial) was removed long ago, I still think she’s one of the most comfortable boats around. I encourage everyone to take a trip on board next summer.

Work begins on the Catalyst

I stepped off the Zodiac and went straight to the Catalyst, which arrived in Seattle Monday night for some major winter engine work. I got to the boat and removed all the jewelry (the push rods and rocker arms and things that stick out of the cylinder), and loosened the nuts for the exhaust manifold:

The Catalyst's Washington diesel engine, with jewelry, valves, and injectors removed

Then I took off the heavy exhaust manifold (which almost squashed me), the cylinder heads, the pistons, and the rod bearings:

The Catalyst's Washington diesel engine, with cylinder heads removed

During this process, I noticed that all the rod bearings were cracked up and will need to be re-poured. This isn’t really a surprise, since we already knew that number six bearing was pretty cracked up (remember back in Week 36, when I took apart number six rod bearing and found that it was just intact enough to get us home?). I also suspected that number two would be bad, since I got inconsistent readings when I bumped it back in September (also Week 36), and it’s not uncommon for several bearings to be bad if one is.

Cracked up rod bearings are usually caused by one or a combination of three things:

Badly poured bearing, in which the babbitt alloy didn’t adhere to the bearing shell (typically cast iron, or sometimes forged steel). A badly-poured bearing might look good, but if you put any kind of load on it the babbitt move around and crack up quickly, since it’s not actually attached to the shell. Since bearings are easy to pour correctly using improved modern techniques, it’s pretty unlikely that this is what happened.

Overloading and lugging, in which the engine is operated too hard at a lower RPM. This creates higher firing pressures and puts much more stress on the rod bearings than normal.

Out-of-round journal, in which the journal (the shiny part of the crankshaft that the bearing grabs onto) gets worn down and oval or egg-shaped. The journal is supposed to be perfectly round with a fillet (a “concave easing of an interior corner of a part used to reduce stress concentration”) on either side, so that the rod bearing moves smoothly around it. If the journal is old and has been hammered on for a long time, it can flatten out on top and develop uneven wear. If you put a newly-poured bearing onto a worn-down journal, they don’t fit together smoothly and the friction can break the oil film between them. Once the oil film is broken, the babbitt gets damaged really quickly.

This is what happened with the Westward several years ago. She was cracking bearings every year, and someone finally realized that the crankshaft was worn down and egg-shaped. When the owner decided to fix it, he hired Dan, who worked with Wilson Machine Works to machine the crankshaft in place. Wilson developed a fancy tool that is bolted onto the rod foot while the piston rides in the cylinder with no rings, which aligns everything in the right place relative to the cylinder. The engine is then barred forward so that the journal moves through the cutting surface, taking a thin shaving off with each rotation. Dan actually saved some of the shavings:

shavings from the Westward's journals, courtesy Dan Grinstead

They would get the tool set up and in place, bar the engine forward to take a bit off, then measure the shape of the journal, then take another bit off, then measure it, and so on, until each journal was round again. Since they had to bar the engine over so much, they hooked up a five-horse air motor onto the same belt-drive system that the alternator and the hydraulic pump use. This moved the crankshaft around without having to crank on it with a lever every time they needed it to move. Even then, Dan says that it took a full week of work (although half of that was spent cleaning up barely-measurable tapers with emery cloth). The hardest part of the whole process was making each journal the same size, so that the rod bearings are interchangeable, but they managed it and the Westward has stopped cracking up bearings.

There’s one other factor that affects older diesels like Washingtons and Atlases: the babbitt is poured thicker. According to Dan, this is a holdover from the steam days. Babbitt is a very soft alloy, and a thick layer of it will move around a bit under a big shock load. A steam engine doesn’t create a big shock load, so when they started building diesel engines they didn’t really think about the difference. The shock load on a diesel is much higher, though, and the force moves thick babbitt around enough that it cracks easier. Incidentally, bearings on “modern” diesels use a very, very thin layer of babbitt on a much harder shell (usually steel or brass) to prevent the cracking.

With the Catalyst, the bearings are probably cracked up mostly due to the overloading, with maybe some out-of-round journals (the old-style thick babbitt just means that they’re more prone to cracking up than modern bearings, rather than being a single cause).

Whatever the cause, fixing the bearings is pretty straightforward. I brought them all up to Everett Engineering Inc, the shop that did the Arthur Foss‘s throw-out bearing way back in Week Seven.

An owner?!?

I know that I am one of the worst critics of boat owners and am very cynical in my recommendations for how owners should take care of their boats. Now, I need to brace myself for the same abuse – most likely from more than my conscience. That’s right – I bought a tugboat and have become an Owner! I’m trying to do so in a responsible way and within my means. This means that: a) the boat is small, b) I have two other partners in on it, and c) we plan to work the boat to pay for its expenses. Hopefully, we’ll make it work out.

It’s a neat little wooden tug, except that it has a 671 Jimmy. I hate Jimmies, but I will try to make the best of this one (until we start producing new Washingtons, at least…). I’m going to paint the engine white just out of spite and add more sound-proofing as a start.

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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

2008 Week 34 in Review

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

Sunday, August 17 – Juneau to Limestone Inlet: kayak paddle in river, salmon in river and along shore (rainy)
Monday, August 18 – Limestone Inlet to Ford’s Terror: meet Ranger Tim, Kayak Ford’s Terror, brown bear in creek (foggy)
Tuesday, August 19 – Ford’s Terror to Wood Spit: hike Ford’s Terror highlands, Dawes Glacier, seals, whales (hazy sun)
Wednesday, August 20 Wood Spit to Donkey Bay: great whale show, paddle Donkey Bay, 1000’s of salmon in creek (sunny)
Thursday, August 21 – Donkey Bay to Brothers Islands: forest walk, kayak paddle w/ eagle, sea lions & whales, meet Westward & Fred
Friday, August 22 – Brothers Islands to Scenery Cove: see lighthouse, visit Norio, glacier walk, slide show (windy night and rough water)
Saturday, August 23 – Scenery Cove to Petersburg: last run, pack and prepare to return to what passes for civilization (but isn’t)

Here’s the crew:

And here’re the passengers:

This week, I saw Ranger Tim. I first met him in 2000 while on the Westward. We picked him up on the way to Fords Terror and chatted for a few hours. I love seeing all the Southeast Alaska people I worked with nine years ago, especially since they’ve now taken on a cartoonish personality in my mind.

I paddled up Fords Terror again (the glacier was great), picked up more crabs, and met up with whale researcher Fred Sharpe. I also took some video of the Catalyst, which I’ll post once I figure out how to get it out of my camera. For now, here’s a picture of Bairds Glacier:

Westward Rendezvous

We rafted up with the Westward on Thursday, on its return from a 20,483-mile journey around the Pacific:


We’ve been getting updates on their progress for the past year or two that they’ve been out, so it was great to see them all again. They anchored at the Brothers Islands to rendezvous with us for a potluck dinner. The Westward looks great after all those miles, and owner Hugh was still the life of the party. I’ll write a much more detailed account of the meet-up once I have a few minutes to myself, since it was a highlight of the trip. Stay tuned!

Business as usual
I removed the exhaust valve from cylinders one and two, just to continue cleaning them up. Of course they were bad, so I put in spares. I also noticed the oil psi going down over time, and it’s time for an oil change if we continue changing based on time and not on sample results. The oil smells a little diesel-y and with all the overloading fuel, it could be soaking down past the piston or an external leak, and making its way into the crankpit. I will change it in Petersburg for sure and take a sample for the lab.

A good home for the Ready?

Word is spreading about the neat old tug Ready, which is for sale only to a good owner. The boat needs to be hauled out for some hull repair, and the new owner needs the guts to maintain, insure and operate a tug with a direct reversing Atlas-Imperial diesel.

Problems on the Velero IV?

I’ve heard that the Velero is having some timing problems these days. She’s a fish packer and research boat that’s powered by the biggest Atlas diesel still running. Owner Irv does a great job not only keeping the boat looking good, but also finding jobs to keep her employed full time. As I always say, the best way to maintain and preserve an engine is to give it some real work to do.

The Velero‘s engine was extensively modified in the 1950s with a second camshaft, Bosch fuel pumps, and injectors to increase its horsepower and efficiency. The work was done by the same guy who added the Bosch fuel pump to the Portola down in Seal Beach. The new port-side camshaft has something like a dog clutch with a precise gap, so when going into reverse, the second camshaft’s timing changes. The bolts holding the spring-loaded detent for the “gaped dog clutch” and the timing sprocket both broke. Fatigue, maybe, but the system is a one-of-a-kind. Irv may not be able to do much more than replace them and watch them more closely. I really wish I could do more than troubleshoot over the phone right now, but hopefully I’ll be there during winter maintenance for a closer look.

Lost Heavy-duties

Dirk sent us some pictures from his own collection of the Broughton Straits, a 100-foot tug that he piloted to Port Townsend in 1978:


Dirk recalled that the Broughton Straits was powered by a six- or eight-cylinder Washington diesel that made about 300 horsepower, and he remembered that “it had a large turbo but I was told the turbo had be ‘deactivated’ and wasn’t spinning any more.” He also remembered that it had a Fairbanks-Morse gen set. He sent several pictures that he’d taken in 1978, including this one:

We’ve gone through the Washington Iron Works records that we have, and found the engine card. Engine 7624 was ordered on October 17th, 1947 by the Straits Towing & Salvage Co of Vancouver, BC through the Vancouver Machinery Depot.

According to the card, the engine was a model 6-160 (same as the Donald R) with six cylinders at 12 ¾” by 16″. These models got between 375 and 400 horsepower at 327 to 360 rpm. The Broughton Straits‘ record shows it rated at 375 horsepower, with direct reverse and no clutch.

The card also shows the tug’s original name as Stan Point, but as with many of the records, that name was crossed out and the new name written beside. The folks at Washington Iron Works made a lot of notes on this record card as they did maintenance and repairs through the years. We’ve uploaded a copy of it here, and the reverse side with some testing notations here. Dan also marked an “O” for “operational” on his master list of Washington engines, so he’s clearly familiar with the tug and I’ll ask him about it when I get back to Seattle.

Dirk heard that the Broughton Straits was later taken down to San Francisco a few years after he brought it to Port Townsend. He visited the Bay Area in 1994 and saw a mostly-sunken derelict that folks told him was the same tug. Another great old boat with a great old engine lost.

California readers, has anyone seen this derelict tug? We’ll send an Old Tacoma Marine Inc t-shirt to anyone who sends us good photos.

Dirk also sent us an interesting picture of an old Atlas-Imperial diesel:

This was taken in 1978 at the north end of Lake Union, probably in one of those lots off Northlake facing the I-5 bridge, just after it was “bulldozed off to the side of the property.” Dirk says he still has its control station.

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