Tag Archives: research

2010 Week 5 in Review

Of course everyone heard how committed our president is to saving the antique diesels engines in his State of the Union address, right? Okay, I guess I didn’t, either – but keep sending those notes to him reminding him that good maintenance programs employ more people and for a longer period of time than issuing free engines to replace the heavy duties.

Needed: piston shaft and hub!

This week at OTM Inc, we pulled our hair out trying to find the piston shaft and hub for the Enterprise DMQ reversing mechanism. We’ve been calling everyone desperately, searching and going through miles of microfilm for drawings, but keep coming up empty.

Anyone reading have any information on a Westinghouse reversing mechanism? Please let us know!

Another research trip to Ederer

We went back to Ederer Crane Company (first time was back in Week 52) to look through their records from the Washington Iron Works, and spent a long afternoon looking at even more microfilm of technical drawings and blueprints.

We had a mission, thought: the Catalyst wants to fine-tune their fuel-valve motion and some of the inconsistencies are due to the cam nose so OTM Inc hit the books – or at least the research databases – to find the original specifications.

Washington Iron Works has a simple but hard-to-decipher way of keeping track of their records. Each engine has hundreds of components, each of which has a separate technical drawing or drawings to illustrate its specifications. In order to find the drawings of the cam nose, we looked at the Catalyst‘s original manufacturer card, which gave us a Key List number: 21649-AF. All the key lists are recorded in the microfilm now kept by Ederer, so we looked through the rolls of microfilm to find Key List 21649-AF, which is for 8-1/2″ x 10″ diesels. Each Key List is a list of all the technical drawing numbers for the parts used in that kind of engine, so among all the other drawings it listed, it had Fuel Pump valve motion Drawing #22525-AO, so I pulled that up and took a look. Drawing #22525-AO then said to look at Fuel Cam Nose part number DV-759 on Drawing #8892-AE. Unfortunately, we had to call it a day before I found Drawing #8892-AE.

Incidentally, owner Bill said that the part number on the fuel cam nose on the boat is #DV-2974. Huh. Another head-scratcher is that Drawing #22525-AO is dated June 7, 1933 – but the Catalyst‘s engine was delivered in May 1932. Well, part of research is finding more questions than you answer, so we’ll just keep working on it.

While searching, though, I found a fuel cam nose part #DV-3948 on Drawing number 19754-AH, dated 1930. This drawing also states that the cam nose is for a 10″ stroke diesel, sooo this might be close enough to work from. Also, let the record show I said the cam nose had two angles and the drawing clearly shows two angles.

The Pennsy Barge Collective

A friend in New York is planning on fixing up an antique barge out in New York. He and some friends have started the Pennsy Barge Collective to salvage and restore the old Pennsylvania Railroad barge #399. The group has managed to purchase this last and lovely specimen at its present location in the New York State Canal system dry dock on the Erie Canal, and according to them it’s the last wood-and-steel railroad barge.

If you dare contribute, send your monies to:

Pennsy Barge Collective, Inc.
PO Box 1055
Port Ewen, NY 12466-1055

The Ever

I talk about the Ready all the time here, but this week I was introduced to her sister ship Ever over the phone this week.

I was looking through the Boats and Harbors and saw a tugboat for sale that look just like the Ready, so I called. The tugs were built in 1941 for Gulf Marine, then both tugs were sold to a Bollenger company called Ever-Ready Towing, who did not like how tippy they were, so they got wing tanks welded on.

Ever-Ready Towing used the Ever and the Ready until the seventies, when the current owner bought the Ever. He gutted the whole boat to make a cruiser out of it, and the original Atlas-Imperial went to the Smithsonian in the early 80s.

Sounds like the Ever is a nice tugboat-turned-cruiser like the Ready, but sadly without the heavy duty. If you’re interested, call Fred at (252) 338-1001.

A visit from Ms. Jack Tar

Kim from Jack Tar Magazine stopped by this week. She’s cooking on the Lady Washington during their winter engine refit and was in town for a bit. It was great to see Kim and catch up on some of the waterfront gossip that doesn’t make it to the various blogs.

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2009 Week 53 in Review

“I’ll see U in B-U-N-A”

Well, the Viton packing we used in the Catalyst‘s injectors failed: it kept creeping in-between the stem and the packing follower, which made the stem and packing follower stick together like they were one solid piece. This in turn held the stem up and allowed fuel to pour out of the injector, which can lead to problems.

We might have been able to solve this by water-jet cutting the Viton to make a better fit, but there are too many other factors (the Viton might be squishier than Buna, it doesn’t use cloth like Buna does, etc) to really pin down the problem. So, it’s back to the drawing board, and Buna seals for now.

Enterprise for Sale

Nick wanted to remind everyone that there is an Enterprise for sale for those of you who need real power. The listing is here.

A WIW Re-Discovered!

I got a call this week from an engine collector who had been recently contacted by a fisherman with a Washington Iron Works diesel that had to move. Wow, what a find!

Washington Iron Works diesel engine from the fishboat NEW ZORA

The engine is from 1935 and was removed in 1965 and put in a Bellingham net shed where it sat until last week. The fisherman’s family was helping to clean out the locker and thought that before scrapping the engine, they should spend some time finding out what it is.

Back at Old Tacoma Marine, we were able to pull the Washington Iron Works engine card and learn more about the engine: it’s from a fishboat called the New Zora, owned by Anton Zorich and later the Burke Canning Co.

Washington Iron Works index card for the NEW ZORA

This is all very exciting, since there are so few Washingtons left: this makes sixteen, according to our list. The family and the collector are still deciding on its fate, but for now it’s dodged the scrapper once again.

Please email me with suggestions on interesting ways to use this Washington, or if you want to give it a good home.

Cleaning up shop

Yup – it’s all tidied up to start ’10 with a clean slate.

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2009 Week 52 in Review

A little work on the Maris Pearl

I did a little bit of clean-up on the Maris Pearl this week and got it all wrapped up for the year. We’re done for now and the boat will be in use for the next little while. The next project is the control head, yeah!

More parties, oh my God

First up this week was the Shop Party. Past shop parties have been passing a bottle of scotch around after the workday on Christmas in a defiant, Bah-Humbug way that I have always been partial to, because as much as I like to go to all the holiday parties, I like to work on Christmas Day.

Not this year, though – Brian the shipwright decided to throw a real holiday party. It was a cute gathering of our people and their friends and drinks. The highlight was the player piano. Many of you may be surprised to know that two of the four pianos in our shop are player pianos, where the pianist pumps pedals to make it play. I learned about ten years ago how much fun pumping the player piano while drinking can be, so I led the charge on that front (even if the scroll had to be taped onto the reel).

A piano shop?!? I thought it was a boat and engine repair shop…

Next up was Pacific Fisherman Shipyard, of which I am a share holder. Their holiday party true to form had more king crab than we could eat, but we tried. Thanks for the crown, Doug!

And next, the Maris Pearl‘s wonderful owners hosted a holiday party in Portage Bay, via the locks and Lake Union. It was a great trip, featuring Christmas carols from the Argosy boats, but those still couldn’t compare to the rhythm and melody from the big DMQ-8.

New research partner!

We meet with Neal from Ederer Llc, a crane manufacturing company that bought the Washington Iron Works crane division. It turns out that Neal has a few filing cabinets full of Washington Iron Works stuff he’s held onto for years, and he wanted to compare notes. This is really exciting for us at OTM Inc, because Washington Iron Works of course manufactured our favorite diesel engine line.

It turns out that not only does Neal have a lot of microfilm with blueprints of engine parts, but he has deciphered the pattern of the reference numbers that makes the collection useful. This is really exciting, because the engineers at WIW labeled everything, from photographs to technical drawings, but it’s like a secret code unless you know the key.

Our first trip to Ederer was short and sweet so we didn’t have time to find out how many diesel engine drawings are on the microfilms, but we plan on getting together again soon.

Annual Board Meeting

OTM Inc’s annual board of directors meeting was held Christmas Day, as it has been since incorporation.

Annual OTM Inc Shareholder Meeting

Highlights this year included: a switch to sapphire gin (no JD), a decision to not produce a year-in-review publication (it’s too much work), and a slight increase in health coverage for officers. Other items of business included affirming that employee salaries remain the same, other insurance policies will be renewed, the shop lease will be renewed, beer backs ordered, and the advertising department will be pressing more size-small girly tank tops.

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2009 Week 11 in Review

Work continues on the Maris Pearl

We started this week at Old Tacoma Marine Inc by finishing up the service on the Maris Pearl‘s generators. Jay’s got more work lined up for me next week, though.

Field trip to the Washington State History Research Center

Later in the week, OTM Inc went to Tacoma to sort through the Washington Iron Works company collection at the Washington State History Research Center (remember back in Week 7 that we volunteered to put the collection in order). Diana and I put in two whole days organizing glass plate negatives from 1890 to 1924 or so. We took each negative out of its original paper file folder, found its original number, wrote its unique sequential catalog number on an acid-free paper sleeve, looked up the information in the original company catalog and wrote that on the sleeve, looked at the negative to make sure that the information matched the image, entered the number and the information into the computer, put the negative in the sleeve, and put it in order with the rest. This ensures eternal safe keeping and makes sure that the right information stays with each negative.

Diana as the museologist set up a system and continually streamlined the operation to process as many negatives as possible during our allotted time in Tacoma. She’s done a lot of museum cataloging and set up a whole system of sorted piles so that each negative passed back and forth across the work table three or four times. By the end of the day, we could both tell a skidder engine from a loader engine (which are apparently easier to tell apart than embroidery motifs from Golden Triangle cultures):

sorting glass-plate negatives at the Washington State History Research Center

The most fascinating discoveries were plans and photos of the first Washington-Estep diesel, which went into the tug Elmore. It was beautiful and had interesting parts that I haven’t seen on any other engine, like two injectors set at an angle in each cylinder head. It also had an intermediate head that gave the firing chamber a very round shape, which maximized the fuel combustion. Designer Adrian Estep was clearly a fanatic about efficiency and had the drafting department, the pattern shop, the foundry and the machine shop all at his disposal. It seems to me he intended to build “the perfect engine,” and no one was going to stop him. None of the later Washingtons that I’m familiar with have those two angled injectors or the intermediate head, though, so I wonder what happened. Maybe we’ll find out next time.

Unfortunately, we had to stop just as we were getting to 1924, just before Washington Iron Works started putting out its diesel line. We probably processed about a third of the collection over those two days, but the good stuff will have to wait until next time, which will be when we find funding to continue.

Programs on the Arthur Foss

On Saturday, I helped Northwest Seaport run a session of Tugboat Night on the Arthur Foss. Sadly, we had to cancel the earlier Engineer for a Day program because of low participation, but next time I’ll advertise more to make sure we can run it.

Tugboat Night went really well, though, and I feel like we caught up on a few maintenance items. We serviced the batteries and the air compressor, and did a little cleaning – not to mention exercising all the equipment. We ran both generators and the main engine, and turned the rudder back and forth to work the steering system.

Make sure you come to the next Tugboat Night, on April 11!

Limited-availability Winton parts

I’ve heard rumors that the Circle Line 11 and the Circle Line 15 are slated for demo, and their Winton diesels will likely be scrapped… unless folks from the tug Luna or the lightship Ambrose can use them. I hear through the waterfront telephone that neither organization can find the resources to get the parts. This is the sad truth about owning and old diesel engine: it actually takes a lot of effort (both time and money) to get spare parts even if they are selling at scrap value.

Keeping the past relevant

Historians have an up-hill battle to keep the past relevant to the masses. People and culture are growing at a rate too fast to look back, but looking back to see where we came from is as important as looking forward to see where we’re going.

Looking back is my business. I spend a lot of my time hammering on old engines, but I have to spend an equal amount of time trying to explain why it’s worth keeping the old heavy-duty diesels running. With records broken every day, new ideas shot down by newer ideas, and innovation trumping tradition, it’s easy to ask “why bother?” Why spend a lifetime taking care of a dwindling handful of old junk that society says are worth more as scrap than as artifacts? These are questions that I share with museums and other institutions that are struggling to reach out to six billion people to try to make some kind of difference in the world.

When I was working in Alaska on the Mist Cove, I went with Ted the Chef to the Sitka Historical Society and Museum, which had a native “halibut hook” on display:

a Tlingit halibut hook from the Burke Museum's ethnology collection

I had seen them in tourist shops and museums and never cared, but Ted the Chef pointed to it and said that these hooks are designed to catch the perfect-sized halibut. He said that the Tlingits and Haida traditionally targeted the 30-pounders because they taste better, are easier to manage, and were most likely males. These folks realized that fewer male fish were required to keep a healthy fishery alive, so they let the females grow old and hatch more fish every year.

All through that summer, Ted the Chef and I had constantly tasted and judged fish caught on the Mist Cove. We agreed that a 30-pound halibut tastes better than any other size, even though everyone wants to catch a 300-pound fish and get their picture taken with it. Well, the next week Ted and I made a halibut hook (though I used a nail instead of a piece of bone) and tried it out. It took a few tries, but I did land a nice twelve-pounder and it was delicious.

Now, I do like museums, but my fishing trip with Ted the Chef taught me more about halibut hooks than looking at a hundred hooks in a museum. Using an artifact (or at least a replica) really helps you understand its significance, especially if it’s something as finely and carefully designed as a halibut hook or a heavy-duty diesel. I think that experiences like this are really the best way to interact with historic artifacts, but not everyone can go fishing with Ted or turn over a heavy-duty with me. What can I do, and what can museums do, to reach out to everyone else and share how significant history is?

It takes a personal connection like this to make any kind of artifact relevant and interesting, but there are so many distractions that get in the way of making that attachment. I wish fewer kids and adults were content sitting in their basement playing Grand Theft Auto and more were interested in venturing outside to a museum or an old boat. I’m finding that the internet is a good way to reach some of these people with some of this connection. A video on YouTube, a picture on Flickr, a paragraph on this blog – they all help bring some of the relevance to the “general public” out there living their lives without looking back. Still, it’s hard to make a real connection over the internet, just like it’s hard to make a real connection through a glass display case.

Readers, what are your thoughts? This is a big topic to take on, and this won’t be the last you hear of it.

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