Tag Archives: tugboat arro

2008 Week 23 in Review

Searching for an Atlas-Imperial

We received an email from California last week about the possibility of finding an old heavy-duty for an old boat. Cary from Vallejo California recently bought a 1928 fishboat, “in pretty good original shape.” As a diesel mechanic and boat guy, Cary’s fixing her up for cruising and family fishing and wants to replace her modern Detroit with a period engine, maybe an Atlas-Imperial diesel. We’ve posted his full story on the Discussion Board here.

I think an Atlas-Imperial would be perfect, and recommend a 65 to 85 horsepower, three or four cylinder, maybe just like the Arro’s. Does anyone know of one out there that could re-power Cary’s boat? Comment here, or contact me.

A Spare Injector for the David B

Early this week, I threw together a spare injector for the David B. The boat doesn’t currently have any spare injectors, so we’d been planning to make several spares when we overhauled the three existing injectors this fall. Jeffrey just decided he wanted one onboard for the summer cruising season (good call).

I pulled out the spare injector parts for a Washington of that size, which were from an engine with the early pressure-balanced injectors, rather than the spring-balanced or Bosch injectors that later engines used (incidentally, the only remaining engine that I know of with pressure-balanced injectors is in the Kodiak Maritime Museum).

Anyway, I got out all the spare parts we had and put together the best injector I could without machine work. I can put two more together with some machining, but that will have to wait until fall. Here’s an in-progress shot of injector parts on my workbench:


After I got it together, I set up the injector to barely hold at 4,000 psi, then made two full compressing turns on the spring adjusting screw per the Washington Iron Works instruction manual. By now, I have set up all the injectors for three of the four boats that use the spring-balanced injectors (the Arthur Foss and Catalyst are the two others; I haven’t yet seen the San Juan) and can set spring tension in my sleep. I shipped the injector up to Juneau and went back to work on the fireboat’s air compressors (they’re coming along; more next week).

Update on the Lightship #83

We finished up a draft lumber bid request for Northwest Seaport and its lightship, and now we’re just waiting for comments.

It’s exciting to see how much thought and effort is going into laying the lightship’s deck right. I’m looking forward to walking around on it in a few years.

Enterprise in the Basement?

We recently got a call about someone pulling an Enterprise that used to power a gen set out of a building. We’re definitely wondering how they’re going to get it out – and what they’re going to do with it next.

If anyone knows more about this, contact us.

Songhee Sale?

We’ve heard that the Songhee (powered by an Atlas-Imperial) was sold to a new owner — but then the deal fell through. What happened? Comment here if you can add to the story.

Minor Catastrophe on the Union Jack

The charter boat Union Jack experienced a calamity this week: one of their pistons seized while the boat was underway, forcing them to a screeching halt. The cause is unknown, and they don’t have a lot of time to figure it out since every moment they spend at the dock is eating away at their charter time. They need to get it fixed ASAP, and many folks are recommending that they pull the liner to have it honed.

This is such a huge job that we at The Shop think that they should attempt to do some of that honing in place. Unlike most heavy-duties, Union engines have overhead cams, which make pulling the liners really, really messy (which is a messy job even without the overhead cam).

We hope that they manage to fix it soon, and that we hear about how they fixed it.

Major Catastrophe on the John Cobb

We heard this week that the NOAA research boat John N Cobb suffered a catastrophic engine failure.

According to the crew, they were cruising along doing their research when the boat suddenly started jumping up and down and making a lot of noise and losing RPM, the way it does when a gillnet or a line gets wrapped around the propeller. We’ve heard that the engineer then ran down to the engine room and realized that most of the noise was coming from the engine. He shut it down, the noises stopped, and they were towed into port.

Inspection later revealed this:

a broken crankshaft

Non-engine folks, see that ragged gray crack on the lower left side? That is a clean break through the crankshaft under number one cylinder, and that is about the worst thing that could happen to an engine.

Without knowing more than what we’ve heard through the old engine grapevine, this is probably it for the John Cobb’s Fairbanks. If we were still in the middle of World War II, the folks over at NOAA could just call up the factory, order a new crank, get a guaranteed install, and call it as good as new. It’s about sixty years too late for that, though, and even if you could get a perfect new crank it’d be foolish to install it in the engine without knowing what caused the break in the first place.

Why did it happen? We at Old Tacoma Marine Inc can’t even begin to tell without seeing the engine for ourselves and doing a lot of detailed inspection. We do know that both NOAA and the Cobb’s contracted mechanics have taken good care of the boat throughout its lifetime, as shown by engine logs and service records.

Until we hear more from NOAA and other folks in the know, all we can do is speculate. We’ve set up a thread on our discussion board for you all to share your theories here.

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Filed under atlas-imperial, fairbanks-morse, lightship 83, week in review