Tag Archives: stickers

2008 Week 47 in Review

Maritime networking at Brunch

I occasionally host brunch for 200 or so of my closest friends. Lots of maritime folks came to last Sunday’s brunch. Brian the shipwright, Grant the captain of the Thea Foss, Diana the maritime museum specialist, Kim of Jack Tar Magazine, Jake from the CWB, and many more showed up for hash browns, bloody marys, and the bonfire out back. It was a lot of work, but it was good to see so many folks having a good time.

Moving the Skillful

Later in the week, we moved the Skillful, the little tug that I bought back in Week 44. It’s been moored at Pacific Fishermen, but we don’t want to wear out our welcome anywhere so we’re going to move it around occasionally.

We took it for a cruise through the ship canal and into Lake Union. The throttle control in the wheelhouse is busted, so we cruised at idle the entire way (except when I manually throttled it up for some quick donuts in the canal), but it’s a great little boat:

tugboat Skillful, underway on Lake Union

We rafted it up to the Arthur Foss, in a short-term agreement with Northwest Seaport. I love it – it looks so tiny!

tugboat Skillful, moored between the museum ships ARTHUR FOSS and Lightship #83 at Lake Union Park in Seattle, Washington

Continuing work on the Catalyst

I wrote last week about how three of the main bearings are bad and need to be re-babbitted; one of them is ripple-y and two of them are all cracked up, including one of the small ones that sits beside the air compressor bay. I brought these up to Everett Engineering Inc last week, but they’re still too swamped to get them done when I need them! They were going to send them to Utah again, but I sent them to St. Louis Bearing in Wilmington, California. I’ve worked with them before and want to throw work their way whenever possible.

We’re asking St. Louis Bearing for an extra step in this work. Since all of the main bearings are worn down a bit, we are going to have the three newly-poured bearings machined down a little, to keep the crank sitting straight and in the same place. If we had the newly-poured bearings machined to the original specifications, the crankshaft would get lifted up at those places and bend slightly, since the bearings that haven’t been newly poured would be a little lower. The extra machining will get us close to the shape we need, and then we’ll fit them exactly with a little hand-scraping. This will hopefully save me the hours and hours of hand-scraping that I did back in Week 36. Stay tuned to see how well it works.

After getting the bearings sent out, I started cleaning pistons. It’s a dirty job: first, I put them into a custom cradle that I built at the shop, which supports it while I push out the wrist pin. One side of the wrist pin is bigger than the other, so I have to push it out just so with a lot of pressure. I want the piston really well-supported while I do this, since the pressure could crack it otherwise. Once the piston is all disassembled, I put all the parts into the hot tank for a few hours, then washed them in the sink. I removed the piston rings by prying the ends out slightly, wrapping the ends with rags, and pulling on the rags to open the ring just enough to slide it up and off the piston. I broke one ring that was stuck pretty bad, and noticed lots of wear on a few others, so I ordered 12 new rings from Safety Seal in Texas. I’ll replace the top two compression rings on each piston with a new ring, which should get here in about two weeks.

Later in the week, I measured the ring gap of each ring by pushing them into a cylinder one at a time. I jammed feeler gauges, pieces of metal that are a determined thickness, into the ring gap. If it was loose in the gap, I went the next size up, until I got a light drag when I jammed it in. Then, I read the thickness of that gauge, marked it in the book, and marked it onto the ring:

measuring the ring gap on the MV Catalyst's Washington Iron Works diesel engine

The ring gap tells me two things: how big the gap is, since too much can give you blow-by and make the engine run inefficiently, and how worn the ring is. As a ring wears down, it expands against the cylinder wall and the gap gets bigger. I can compare the ring gap of the used ring to that of a new ring and determine how much the used ring has worn.

Then, I started checking the sizes of the cylinders relative to each other by putting one ring into each one and measuring its ring gap. I found that there’s a seventeen-thousandths variation between the cylinders. This is sort of medium for variance between cylinders; I’ll have to pick the biggest rings for the biggest cylinder and so on, but it’s not that big a deal.

The last spare pressure-balanced Washington injector?

We’ve got a pressure-balanced injector for a Washington Iron Works engine here in the shop:

pressure-balanced fuel injector for a Washington Iron Works diesel engine, at the shop

Ed Ehler (local maritime guy with a finger in every pot) found it while going through his junk pile and gave it to Dan. Washington stopped manufacturing the pressure-balanced injector type around 1928, after they started making the far-superior spring-balanced injectors, and the only engine that we know of that still has the pressure-balanced type is at the Kodiak Maritime Museum.

Dan’s talking about how he’s going to strip it for parts, but I’m trying to convince him to keep it intact because it’s the only spare pressure-balanced injector left that we know of. It’ll probably end up cannibalized to make a spare injector for the David B or the San Juan, since many of the parts used in the pressure-balanced injectors are the same as in the spring-balanced ones. The David B already has two spare injectors and we haven’t heard from the San Juan for a while, so maybe I can still convince Dan to keep the pressure-balanced one. We’ll see.

Pacific Marine Expo and Winners of the OTM Inc Sticker Contest!

I went to the Pacific Marine Expo on Friday to check in with the greater maritime industry. I saw some folks who I don’t see anywhere else, handed out cards for Jack Tar Magazine’s Sexy Women of Maritime Calendar (coming this December; ordering details on the website soon), and decided that I need a booth there next year.

After the show, we headed to the Central Saloon to judge entries in the 2008 Old Tacoma Marine Inc Sticker Contest:

judging the Old Tacoma Marine Inc 2008 Sticker Contest at the Central Saloon in Seattle

The competition was stiff, the pictures were great, and the nachos were many, but we finally selected our winners.

Thanks to all those who contributed! The winners have been notified – congratulations to those who won! Stay tuned for details about the 2009 OTM Inc Sticker Contest!

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2008 Week 37 in Review

This week on Catalyst, we continued our cruise down the Canadian Inside Passage, heading for home:

Sunday, September 7 – Bishop Bay to Mussel Inlet: skiff into Mussel River, watch Brown Bears (sunny with fog patches)
Monday, September 8 – Mussel Inlet to Hochstader Cove: kayak paddle at Hochstader, wander through islands (overcast then sunny)
Tuesday, September 9 – Hochstader Cove to Schooner Cove: engine problems (repaired), beach walk at Schooner Cove (sunny)
Wednesday, September 10 – Schooner Cove to Village Island: Cross Queen Charolette Strait, explore old village on Village Island (sunny)
Thursday, September 11 – Village Island to Shoal Bay: Through Greene Point Rapids, forest walk at Blind Channel Resort,(sunny)
Friday, September 12 – Shoal Bay to Copeland Islands: Through Dent and Yaculta Rapids, kayak Squirrel Cove, Sunset at anchor (sunny)
Saturday, September 13 – Copeland Islands to Montague Harbour: early start, cross Georgia Strait, enter Gulf Islands, slide show (sunny)

We had the same passengers and crew as last week, since it’s an extra-long 12-day cruise.

We did a lot of running this week. The boat had to be slowed down more and more, and we’re sort of crawling to the finish. It’s embarrassing, and I know the engine would continue to run if we were going faster, but slowing down when there are problems is one of the easiest things to do to save the expensive parts of the engine. Sometimes it’s hard being responsible.

We also stopped to bowl at Butedale again:

bowling at Butedale, off the MV Catalyst

A squeak?!?

While underway, I started to hear a squeak coming from number six. I’m already worried about the bearing, but I couldn’t locate the sound. I had looked for about three minutes when the RPM started to drop. I immediately called the captain to alert him to an emergency shutdown, then went on deck to help get the boat to a safe anchorage, since we were in a cluster of islands – not a good position to just drift. I jumped into the skiff and pushed the boat about 75 yards down the passage, where we anchored for an hour while I worked on the engine.

I let things cool for a bit, then removed the covers. I used our infrared temperature gauge to check number six’s bearings. It was fine – I even bumped it and found no change from the last time. I did find that the piston was hot and dry, with some scoring in the liner. I immediately looked at the Manzell and found that the clamp that goes to the pushrod had slipped, which meant the Manzell wasn’t pumping. After heavily oiling and cranking the engine over, we started up and continued on our way at an even more reduced speed, always checking on the Manzell.

Visiting the Teal

We saw a pretty boat: the 1927 research boat Teal:

former research boat Teal, formerly powered by a Washington Iron Works diesel engine

It was powered by a Washington until the late nineties. I’ve heard that it was damaged beyond repair, so they replaced it. Bummer.

New Washington Line

Speaking of Washingtons, I have a challenge. The Washington Iron Works diesel engine is in my opinion the most beautiful diesel engine in the world. They are efficient, elegant, reliable, and provide a smooth, steady power source for all kinds of boats. They’re also just neat. My clients who have Washingtons love them, and I know there’re several people in the old boat community who would repower their tug or yacht with a Washington if it were available.

These are just some of the reasons behind one of my crazy ideas: I want to start building Washington diesels again. That’s right: I want to build brand-new diesels following a 1920s design. Everything else has gone through a retro-revival (cars, clothes, houses… even avocado-colored blenders), so let’s celebrate the past with new retro diesels.

It sounds complicated, but like any job it just needs to be broken into manageable pieces. First, we’d pick an engine to replicate and reverse-engineer how it was made. This would be a lot of measuring and scratching our heads and looking at original plans and blueprints. We’d get up close with a magnifying glass to figure out where the different parts are, call in experts, and look at old pictures of the Washington Iron Works assembly floor. After that, it’s pretty easy: we’d make the patterns we need for the castings (literally, the cast-iron parts), cast the parts and machine them to spec, assemble them, oil everything, and then run the brand-new engine.

As for choosing an engine, we should start small. Replicating the Arthur Foss‘s big cylinders first off would be too much of a project to start with, even if hearing an eight-cylinder 18″x24″ Washington is one of my dreams. Washington Iron Works made a lot of different engine models, but their smallest size were the “10” models. The Catalyst‘s engine is the only one we know of left of that size. It’s a 6-10 , with six cylinders, an eight-inch bore, and a ten-inch stroke. It’s a good candidate to start the new line with for a couple of reasons. First, owner Bill has several of the patterns needed to cast new parts (including the cylinder head patterns, which are one of the most complicated to make). Second, it’s a beauty of an engine, reliable and comfortable and kept in near-perfect condition:

Washington Iron Works diesel engine aboard the MV Catalyst

How much would creating an all-new Washington cost? Here’s my estimate:

Reverse engineering: $10,000
Patterns for head: $0 *
Other patterns: ** $170,000
Casting parts from the patterns: $80,000
machining the parts: $150,000
babbitting the bearings: $35,000
fitting and assembling everything: $50,000
running and testing $5,000
total: $500,000

* Bill already has the patterns for the cylinder heads, so we don’t need to make them (please Bill, please can we use them, please please please?)
** Other patterns: cylinder block, bed plate, rod, piston, rod bearing, main bearing, cap, rocker, shaft mount, injector rocker, valve rocker, thrust bearing, gear drum, oil pump body, fuel pump body, oil pump rocker compressor, cylinder compressor, head compressor, rod compressor, piston compressor, strap… plus maybe a few more

I think that it’d be pretty reasonable for someone or some organization to put $500,000 into creating a new Washington line. Museums, collectors, and people with tugboat yachts would all be interested in replica heavy-duty engines to power their classic boats – just look at how much people are willing to pay for a new replica kitchen stoves.

Bear in mind, too, that after the first new Washington is put together, costs will go way down for each individual engine. You can use the same patterns, you won’t have to reverse-engineer the construction, and the rest of the figures will have less “trial and error” time included. I can’t speculate too much on the economies of scale that would be involved with such an undertaking, but the single biggest cost is the reusable patterns.

I want to get the first of the new Washingtons online by the Catalyst‘s centennial – 2032. We can easily beat that deadline, though, if the funding comes up sooner, so contact Old Tacoma Marine Inc if you’re interested in helping fund the new line. All contributions will be tax-deductible once we find a non-profit partner.

What do you think? I’ve been sitting on this idea for a long time, and I’m going to keep figuring out how to make it happen.

Heavy-duties at Olympia Harbor Days

I wasn’t able to make it to Olympia for Harbor Days and the tugboat races this year, but one of Old Tacoma Marine Inc’s investigative reporters attended and took this great video of the Newt‘s Atlas-Imperial diesel engine:

That’s Eric, who’s also just known as “Newt” sometimes, showing off the Atlas-Imperial to Dirk and Andy. Newt and her owners came in fourth at the races – not too bad.

Photo contest delayed

Speaking of Harbor Days, readers paying close attention will notice that we haven’t announced a winner for the Old Tacoma Marine Inc Summer Sticker Contest yet.

We’ve postponed the contest deadline until November 21st, and will be announcing a winner at the Central Saloon right after checking out the Pacific Marine Expo (register now to avoid exorbitant ticket prices). Remember to Contact me for your own Old Tacoma Marine Inc propeller stickers so you can participate!

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2008 Summer Sticker Contest!

Old Tacoma Marine Inc is pleased to announce its 2008 Summer Sticker Contest!

submission to the 2008 Old Tacoma Marine Inc Summer Sticker Contest

We have thousands of vinyl OTM Inc stickers free for the asking and we want to see what you do with them! As incentive, we’re offering cash prizes to the best submissions, which will be awarded at the 2008 Olympia Harbor Days.

The First Prize is $100, the two Second Prizes are $50, and Runners-Up will receive OTM Inc T-shirts. Prizes can be accepted in absentia (though everyone should go to Harbor Days).

To participate:
1) Get OTM Inc stickers by sending us your mailing address
2) Take pictures of your OTM Inc stickers used in creative ways or stuck in interesting places.
3) Upload your submission to the 2008 Summer Sticker Contest Photo Pool on Flickr (preferred), or email digital photographs to OTM Inc, or send photographs to:

Old Tacoma Marine Inc
902 NW Leary Way
Seattle, WA 98107

The rules are simple:
1) Submissions must include the OTM Inc stickers in the composition
2) Do not violate any laws in your nation or municipality while creating your submission(s)

Remember: OTM Inc’s panel of judges have a diverse range of tastes and interests–submissions should be visually appealing, creative, and engaging to a wide audience.

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2008 Week 14 In Review

An Update from the Maris Pearl

We are still cleaning up the Maris Pearl’s tool room and parts container. It’s a really big job, but I can totally see that I’m making progress. I also found the pipe fittings I removed from the jacket heat exchanger three years ago when I started the project. I finally need them again and I’m really glad that they were still around.

OTM Inc Summer Sticker Photo Competition

Old Tacoma Marine Inc. is holding a sticker photo competition this summer, using the stickers we ordered and your own creativity. We posted the details over here. Now go request your stickers and start taking photographs.

Visit to the Red Cloud
On Saturday morning we visited the Red Cloud, a neat ex-Navy tug powered by an Enterprise diesel:

This is neat enough on its own (as you’ve probably noticed), but it also is the exact same class vessel as the Maris Pearl (ex-Sea Fox, for those of you paying attention). The Red Cloud looks just like the Pearl did ten years ago, before an extensive conversion to cruising tugboat yacht.

Rick Hamborg, the proud new owner, is very excited about converting the Red Cloud into a comfortable cruising tug as well:

He showed us the plans he’s drawn up to remodel the main deck into a swanky lounge space surrounding the galley and even has the furniture picked out. We’re looking forward to seeing the process unfold in the future. More importantly, though, the engine:

The Red Cloud‘s engine and engine rooms look almost exactly like the Maris Pearl‘s, too. Walking around as Rick showed us through the boat was like walking through a ghost-twin of the Pearl – all of the major equipment was in the same place, the rooms were the same shape, and it “felt” the same, minus ten years of conversion. The main difference is the color and the round cam windows (rather than the Pearl‘s square windows) — and how the Red Cloud really isn’t ready for cruising yet:

Nothing a little clean-up won’t fix, though.

There is one big barrier to getting the engine going again, though: Cosmoline.

Cosmoline is the trade name for a specific petroleum distillate that’s used as a rust-preventer. It’s sort of like vasoline, except that it has long-chain hydrocarbons that make it waxy as well as greasy. The military and plenty of other people smear it on metal things – guns, jeeps, engines – to keep them preserved for years or even decades. It works really well to keep the rust from eating a mothballed engine long before the boat is activated again.

The problem is that cosmoline is very hard to remove when the boat is reactivated — and it’s hard to know where it is and where it isn’t on an engine. It’s hard to remove from any engine, but the Red Cloud‘s engine is covered in cosmoline. I think that the Navy workers on cosmoline duty hated their jobs and they sprayed it everywhere out of spite while they were mothballing the boat (here‘s a dark blurry picture of the cylinder heads; the dark yellow greasy stuff is the cosmoline). It’s going to be really, really hard to get it out of the engine, since every little bit has to be removed before starting up the engine. I know of cases of cosmoline-filled oil lines that prevented oil from getting to the bearings that in turn destroyed the engine.

The only way to recondition the engine safely is to completely disassemble the engine, clean out all the cosmoline, and reassemble it once you’re sure it’s all out. The stuff doesn’t disolve in oil, so it’s really easy for chunks of it to come off, circulate through the engine, get stuck in the oil lines, and destroy the bearings. One of the only chemicals it’s soluable in is laquer thinner, which makes it hard to clean out of a system. There’s a few tricks to make it a little faster (I might circulate laquer thinner through the engine using the prelube pump), but it’ll still be a nightmare and you have to ventilate the entire engine room with explosion-proof pumps.

Bringing the Red Cloud‘s engine room back to life is going to be a big job what with all that cleaning up after the Navy, but just think how great it’ll be to hear that DMQ-8 rumble back to life. Make sure to invite us to the party, Rick!

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Filed under enterprise, sticker contest, week in review

2008 Week Thirteen in Review

An Update from the Maris Pearl
This week, Old Tacoma Marine Inc continued organizing the Maris
’s storage container and tool room. We also replaced the bilge pumps and some plumbing, and started to install pipes for the oil cooler.

Atlas-Powered Crane Barges Still Survive

I got a call from a mechanic in Pago Pago, Samoa, who works on an Atlas-Imperial 668 that powers a crane barge. He’s been having some problems with water in the oil and found me through the internet. I told him that it could just be rainwater, since the engine sat outside unused for a while, but he should look in the crank pit as well. There’s also a chance of rainwater coming down the stack, so he’s going to check that out, too.

There are a few other Atlas-Imperial crane barges around that we know of, including ones in Honolulu, Bellingham, Virginia, and Amsterdam, as well as the one in Pago Pago. The ones in the Pacific Rim area are probably ones that were surplused from the Navy shipyards in Honolulu during the 1980s, since they had a bunch of them at that time.

I think that they’re really neat, though, especially since they’re such a different application of heavy-duty power than I’m used to. With boats, the engine will be at idle for an hour or two while pulling up anchor or untying, then the engineer will ramp them up to full as the boat gets under way. With a crane, though, the engine will suddenly race and all the pyrometers will jump up to 700 and the heat sinks will get really hot and the crane will make booming and whining sounds, then it will all stop just as suddenly. It’s a sort of surreal display of horsepower.

An update from Big Swan Drainage

The engineer at Big Swan Drainage in Illinois, called me again (last conversation here). He said that he pulled out the exhaust cage from the cylinder that was giving him trouble, cleaned it out, replaced the gaskets and the sealing ring, and put it back together and back into the engine. This fixed the leak, and the engine seems to be running fine now.

The real test will be when the next big rain sweeps through the Winchester area and the pumps run fast, which will put a heavy load on the engine. If it still doesn’t leak, then the problem may well be solved. A heavy load will also allow the engineer to get the temperature readings I asked about last time, so if there is a problem we can keep trouble-shooting it.

We need help to grow

OTM Inc applied for a business development grant from the National Association of the Self-Employed for the second year. We applied late in the granting cycle last year and didn’t receive it, but we’ll keep trying. We need this grant to help boost the company’s involvement in the museum field. We believe that OTM Inc can become an invaluable resource for museums around the world that have antique diesels in their collections. To become that resource, we need to do lots more research and publishing, create more public programs, and keep finding new old engines – plus whatever other cool things I dream up.

OTM Inc also needs to provide these services if we want to continue as a viable corporation. As I’ve said before, a lot of these old engines are ending up in museum collections and if we don’t have the expertise to work with the museums then we won’t be able to increase our customer base. Plus, it’s fun to work with museums, since they have a huge interest in creating public programs.

Old Tacoma Marine Inc Stickers!

OTM Inc just ordered a bunch of stickers from the Sticker Guy. Here’s the design:

Old Tacoma Marine Inc Sticker Design

We ordered a lot of them and we’re going to make them available to any of you who want them. Just send us your address and we’ll mail a bunch out to you. More on that later.

More scanning

We are still scanning engine manuals like crazy, so keep checking for your engine manual or email us an engine model to scan next.

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Filed under atlas-imperial, museums, repairs, week in review