Tag Archives: tugboat night

2009 Week 15 in Review

Back from Mexico!

I got a sunburn, but OTM Inc moved right along.

Calls from Illinois

While I was in Mexico, Dan was fielding a lot of calls from Lamar Construction in Illinois.

They’re coordinating main bearing work on three Fairbanks-Morse diesels that drive water pumps for a drainage system in the middle of corn fields, and of course called Dan to ask how to fit main bearings into engines like these. They also wanted to know if he had anyone available to fit them in, if he would need any helpers, what tools would he need, is it true that we don’t ship the really good salmon to the Midwest, and most importantly, why is this guy still sunning himself in Mexico when we have bearings to fit?

When I got back to Seattle, I had 14 voicemails from Dan. He was very frustrated with me for being in Mexico while there was a job to be done.

So, I started talking to the guys from Lamar about getting out to Illinois to fit the main bearings in, but their business has the same hurry-up-and-wait schedule as shipyard work: it’s all about juggling jobs. I got the “hurry-hurry-hurry,” then the “wait, the bearings aren’t done yet; we’ll call you when they are.” I freed up my schedule to get out to Illinois at their first call, but am now working day to day here in Seattle until they get back to me. At least it sounds like a great job.

More work on the Maris Pearl

The last half of the week, I worked on the Maris Pearl. I mostly just picked up some more stuff for upcoming projects on the boat.

I also took one injector and one injection pump to Martin at Hatch and Kirk. Jay got the parts from Steve at Striegle Supply, but the pump had the wrong barrel and plunger, and the injector needs to be tested. We had Martin make up aworklist and parts price list, then shelved the project for later.

Fisheries Swap Meet

On Saturday, I went to the Fisheries Supply Swap Meet. They hold it a couple of times a year and all the boat people and junk people in the area show up with their trucks to make some deals. I didn’t see as much great stuff as I remember, but I did show up pretty late. I hear all the real deals go down before the sun comes up.

Another Tugboat Night!

That evening, we hosted Tugboat Night for the Northwest Seaport.

We had another light crowd, but we put the show on anyway. It turned out that one of our participants actually worked for Washington Iron Works in the ’70s as an apprentice machinist, and may have machined parts for the Arthur Foss. Wow!

We’ll run the engine for Tugboat Night again on May 9th, so mark your calendars.

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Filed under fairbanks-morse, week in review

2008 Week 25 in Review

An Update on the Duwamish

Progress on the Duwamish air compressor continues. I’ve determined that it is, in fact, a Worthington (despite the “expert” opinions we’ve been receiving). We located an identical air compressor a little south of here and hope to install it in place of the newer air-cooled model. This will help keep the boat true to its 1940s configuration. I hope we can reach a deal soon.

An Update from the Maris Pearl

The Maris Pearl is doing fine and cruising around Southeast Alaska. Jay reports that the poor weather is not keeping them from having great times. We’ve been promised pictures and maybe video, so stay tuned.

An Update from the Arthur Foss

Northwest Seaport held its third Tugboat Night tonight. Usually I’m the Tugboat Night leader, but I was busy elsewhere this time so Diana and Nat the museum folks at NWS cranked up the Washington on the Arthur Foss for the evening. They’ve both been involved in every Tugboat Night I’ve done and have watched countless startups, so with many phone calls they felt confident enough to run it for their students. I’m told that this Tugboat Night featured the history of the boat and its systems far more than when I lead it (since my philosophy is “let’s exercise the systems by turning things on”), but they said it went well and their participants had a good time.

I hope I’m available for the next Tugboat Night, since they really need to run the big towing winch and that’s difficult to explain over the phone.

Heavy-Duties and Fuel Efficiency

The heavy-duty diesel engines that OTM Inc works on and advocates for (the Atlas-Imperials, the Washington diesels, the big old Enterprises, and the classic Fairbanks-Morses) are being replaced by new engines. Many folks think that this increases their fuel efficiency, but I want to know, does it really?

When you consider the entire power train (the entire propulsion system), the heavy-duties may be more fuel-efficient in some applications. Most of our customers don’t tow or do ship-assist work—jobs where high horsepower is really important. If the engine’s job is to get the boat near hull speed and maintain it forever, then it is safe to say there have been no significant fuel efficiency improvements made in the last 80 years of diesel innovation. There for no need to purchase new technology to do the same job.

Here’s five examples of how heavy-duty diesels may be more efficient than new engines:

1) A direct-drive system is more efficient. A reduction gear used to bring the RPM of a high-speed diesel’s crankshaft down to a useable RPM for the propeller takes energy out of the system through friction. Even when coupled with super-efficient computer-controlled fuel injection, the efficiency of the whole power train may be close to that of a comparable heavy-duty. In contrast, the direct-drive setup that most heavy-duties are part of connects the crankshaft directly to the propeller, transferring more power into propulsion.

2) A big cylinder is more efficient. The larger the whirling ball of hot air ready to accept fuel, the better.

3) A long stroke is more efficient. The long stroke can ensure that all of the useable energy in the ball of fire created in the cylinder is transferred to motion, rather than blowing part of the fire ball up the stack.

4) A big, slow-speed propeller is more efficient. This type of propeller wastes less energy in cavitation and slip, delivering more of the energy to the water.

5) Lower horsepower can be more efficient. Boats are often overpowered, and the extra
power is only usable when excelerating, planing, towing, or pushing. If you listen to the marketing department of the engine manufactures, you’ll think that more horsepower automatically equals better. This message is broadcast much louder than the engineers’ message: that the correct horse power is better. If you install that extra power, chances are that much of it is going up the stack for the gain of a big bow wave and 1/2 a knot:


In this time of high fuel costs, do your homework. When replacing one system for the next, don’t make the mistake of basing the decision on the efficiency of one component compared to that of the entire system. Remember that the heavy-duty owners that we talk with rave about the low fuel consumption compared to their newer competitors.

OTM Inc Weekly eBay Auction

This week’s prize from the OTM Inc shop is this Stainless Steel Ball Valve with Pneumatic Actuator:

Stainless Steel Ball Valve with Pneumatic Actuator

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Filed under tugboats, washington iron works, week in review

2008 Week 16 in Review

An Update on the Maris Pearl

I finally finished pipe fitting for the Maris Pearl‘s oil cooler and flushed all the lines in preparation for sea trials! On Wednesday, Jay, Dan, and I cruised the boat around Puget Sound to test systems. Everything went just fine. There are still some small issues to be worked out, but the oil did heat up like we’d hoped. Now I just need to get everything else finished before Jay takes the boat up to Alaska for the summer.

The Nokomis’s engine (and others like it)

I had a nice phone chat with John from Pasidina Maryland about his retired ice breaker Nokomis. The Nokomis is powered by a model (6) 31A6 1/4 (model list here) Farebanks-Morse, a neat engine with a big flapper on the front for a blower. This two-cycle engine runs with a growling sound at about 720 rpm when cranked up to full speed.

The boat was built in 1951 and is 70 feet with a 20 foot beam. John has put in a lot of work to clean it up and fires up many of the systems as often as he can. He reports finding two fuel pumps frozen from rust, which he’s sending out to be overhauled along with a spare. When they get back, he’ll be following the instruction manual closely to re-time them.

John is also looking for other engines like the Nokomis‘s to hear others’ experiences with the A model — plus where any potential spare parts may be obtained from.

Here in Seattle, we have the John N Cobb, a research boat still used by NOAA to conduct fisheries studies in Alaska every summer. The Cobb has a model (8) 31A10 engine – an eight-cylinder model similar to the Nokomis‘s six-cylinder. The other differences include the Cobb‘s larger bore (10 versus 6 1/4), the reed valve plates for each cylinder in addition to the ones at the blower, and a slower running speed. If anyone reading knows of another similar Fairbanks-Morse engine out there, leave a comment or join the discussion.

For extra experience, John also volunteers on the Chesapeake Lightship at the Baltimore Maritime Museum regularly. Good luck with the Nokomis, John — we are all looking forward to hearing a sound clip of her engine running, and hopefully a YouTube video or two.

Cooper-Bessemer for Sale

This week we got an email from Dave Thorson alerting us to the Cooper-Bessemer for sale very cheap in Cle Elum, Washington. It’s another neat old engine that no one I know wants to move. I hope someone eventually takes it on and fixes it up into a runner. Mike Wallaston has the same engine in the Northwest Marine Propulsion Museum, but has not yet turned it into a display. If anyone reading wants this engine, contact me and I’ll forward you to the owners.

Another One Bites the Dust

We heard a rumor that the Oregon’s Enterprise is out and on the beach for sale very cheap. It is so sad to hear that another heavy-duty diesel bites the dust. Once out of a boat, a classic engine like that rarely escapes the scrap yard.

I wish I could report that a fancy new yacht (like the Discovery) intends to install it for the smooth propulsion, great low rumbling sound, the interesting history, the beautiful shape, the fuel economy, and the reliability of an old diesel—not to mention how fun they are.

If anyone does want the engine installed, you can contact me and I’ll forward the message along to the owners.

Life on the Arthur Foss

In brighter news, we ended the week at Northwest Seaport for a work party and the second session of Tugboat Night aboard the Arthur Foss. During the work party, I led a crew that moved all the main engine’s spare parts from the boat and outbuildings at Lake Union Park to Northwest Schooner Society’s warehouse on Northlake Way.

In addition to getting all the parts together in a secure on-land location, this was a great chance to get a full inventory of all the spares. During our last two Diesel Engine Theory programs (this year’s class at Northwest Seaport’s program page), we rebuilt the valve cages and the fuel injectors from spare parts. I knew that there were more components for more injectors in the spare parts collection, but now I (and NWS) know just how many of each there are. Once they compile the list, we’ll try to post a copy here.

Following the work party, I helped run Tugboat Night. Last time (at the end of Week Seven in Review) we ran the generator (just a jimmy) and the main. This time, we turned a lot more things on. Before the class started, we ran the generator to make air, then turned on everything in the Arthur that we could: the interior lights (including all the reading lights over individual bunks), the navigation lights, the radar, and the radios (though something’s busted and I couldn’t get them to stay on). When the participants showed up, we had them light the stove and then we cranked up the main several times.

Then we did something new: we split the participants into two groups. One group stayed in the engine room with me to practice bell drills and starting the main, the other group went up to the wheelhouse with Diana to “steer” the boat. The Arthur Foss has two steering systems: the manual steering that uses the big wooden wheel and the armpower of whoever’s in the bridge, and the power steering that uses a small bronze wheel and a hydraulic-over-pneumatic system. Since the Arthur’s rudder is about 14 feet high and six feet wide, the power steering can really make a difference when handling the boat.

Since the tug’s steering gear really hasn’t been exercised much since she stopped cruising in 2001, and since the goal of Tugboat Night is to turn everything on that we can, we powered up the steering gear and let participants turn the rudder back and forth at the dock. The difference between the two systems is pretty interesting to feel: the manual steering is really stiff but you can yank on the wheel as hard as you want, while the power steering is smoother and needs a light touch to not sheer a delicate pin in the system.

Everyone had a great time at this Tugboat Night, like the last. We didn’t have any repeat participants, but a couple people were out of town or already booked for the evening and swore they’d come next time. The next session is Saturday, June 21. Everyone should come. No excuses.

We didn’t get to linger much after Tugboat Night, though; Diana had to drive out to Port Angeles to help friends move, while Lia and I jumped in the truck and drove to Bellingham for Jeffrey’s (of the David B) birthday party.

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Filed under fairbanks-morse, museums, programs, tugboats, week in review

2008 Week Seven in Review

This has been a busy week for Old Tacoma Marine Inc. In addition to our usual winter maintenance load, the museum program schedule is picking up and we’re getting a lot of interest in old diesels following our increased web presence.

First, a variety of engine and vessel news:

Maris Pearl Updates
Jay, Charlie, and I started the week by moving the Maris Pearl from Lake Union Dry Dock back to Shilshole Marina. It was a pretty uneventful trip.

OTM Inc checked in with Alaska Copper and Brass again about the cooler for the tug’s Enterprise diesel. Wayne reported no progress, so I threatened to go down there and roll the tubes myself. Next Monday, I think I’ll show up at their plant with my work boots and hard hat.

I also talked with Rick Hamborg, new owner of the Red Cloud, about the extra control head that I’d like to purchase for the Maris Pearl. I think we might be able to reach a deal soon.

Arthur Foss’s Bearing

OTM Inc picked up the throw-out bearing for the Washington diesel in the Arthur Foss:

tugboat ARTHUR FOSS's throw-out bearing, re-babbitted and ready for installation

Everett Engineering did a great job, although Dan Martin overrode my request for more fore-and-aft thrust clearance so that the tight fit will hold oil better. I’m afraid that it will be much harder to center the bearing every time the propeller shaft is engaged. The clutch on the Arthur Foss uses a set of links that flop over-center in a way that maintains pressure on the clutch without force from the throw-out bearing. When the throw-out bearing is backed off a little, there is no thrust pressure at all. The centering is sometimes hard, as the big wheel that moves the bearing is touchy. We’ll probably want to engineer a clamp or holder of some type to maintain the bearing position while underway. The collar and bearing were installed on Thursday, but the links need to be cleaned. They’ll be installed early next week.

David B Propeller Work
I talked with Jeffrey on the David B, which is hauled-out in preparation for propeller work. They also want to replace the stern bearing due to the 1/4 inch clearance recorded, but the rudder is in the way of the bearing housing. It looks like Jeffrey will need to remove the short intermediate shaft in order to remove the bearing housing, but the tail shaft will be even harder to remove. I’m wondering if they’ll replace the bearing without cleaning the shaft lining. Jeffrey’s frustration makes me think so.

Update on the Catalyst’s Cylinder Heads
The Catalyst’s owners have reached an agreement with Empire Motors to purchase the three new cylinder heads (previously mentioned here) as well as the patterns. I’m really looking forward to seeing them and I hope they work. I’m also really, really excited to see the patterns. I’ll post lots of pictures when they get here.

Fairbanks-Morse Parts
Steve from Striegel Supply is looking for some Fairbanks-Morse parts for a blower on a 16”-bore engine. I don’t know who would have these parts—does anyone reading this have any ideas? Leave a comment – or better yet, post on our discussion board!

A Fairbanks-Morse in Maryland
I talked with John in Maryland this week. He has a Fairbanks-Morse FM–A—6 engine, like the one on the John N Cobb. He’ll be sending us photographs and information soon. He’s also trying to locate spare parts just in case; I recommended Hatch and Kirk overhaul the injectors and pumps for him.

An Atlas-Imperial in Astoria
OTM Inc received an email from the Columbia River Maritime Museum in response to a letter we sent informing the museum of some small problems with their Atlas-Imperial on display. They don’t want to work on the engine right now (especially since it’s on display in the main lobby – though I think that working on it right there would be very interesting for visitors), but they do want a list of what to do and how to do it for future planning. I’ll come up with a detailed list and maybe make a copy of one of our manuals to hand-deliver in March.

An Enterprise in Astoria
I received an email from John Gillon of Portland, Oregon:

I am a volunteer with the amphibious forces memorial museum. Last October we sailed the Sakarissa from San Francisco to Portland Or. She is moored on the Columbia River next to our Landing Craft Infantry 713.

I was looking on your web site and we have a Enterprise engine on the Sakarissa and it is a beautiful engine. You can visit our web site and see more, or contact them for some good pictures of the engine.

I enjoyed your web site,


The Amphibious Forces Memorial Museum has hidden the pictures of its Enterprise too well for me to find, so I’ll have to see if I can visit the Sakarissa while I’m Astoria for the Columbia River Maritime Museum errand:

the SAKARISSA at dock

The Ballard Maritime Academy Engineer for a Day Program

Preparing for a course like this is a hectic process, as the boats always require some head-scratching and jury-rigging to get them running after a long idle period. The biggest puzzle we faced this time was getting enough air pressure to start the fireboat Duwamish’s diesel-electric system. The fireboat’s air compressors need a little work; one of them really doesn’t pump air at all, and the other one’s efficiency is suffering. It takes a long time for it to fill the tanks up to the minimum level needed to turn the main over, so for past Engineer for a Day programs we’ve run an air hose from the Arthur Foss to the fireboat to fill up the tanks.

This past autumn, though, we moved the boats on the Historic Ships Wharf around so that the Arthur and the Duwamish are separated by a big old Lightship (number 83). If we use a long enough hose to stretch up and over the lightship and down into the fireboat, it doesn’t effectively fill up the tanks. Grant and I spend most of Thursday running the air compressor on auxiliary generator, wondering if we’d get enough pressure to turn on the main. We thought about renting an air compressor, but couldn’t find a large enough one on short-notice.

Finally, late in the day, the Duwamish’s own air compressor filled up the tanks to the needed psi and Grant was able to start up the number one main generator:

We ran it and the generator for a while after that to ensure that we had enough air built up to start the engine several times, since that’s a key part of the Engineer for a Day program.

While Grant was working on the Duwamish, cleaning and oiling and turning over the three big Bessemer generators, I was doing some work on the Arthur Foss. We’d removed the base doors during the autumn 2007 Diesel Engine Theory course (pictures at Northwest Seaport’s Flickr account), and I needed to re-seal them using my own patented “goo” method. Five of these doors are the original aluminum with “Washington Iron Works” cast into them, but one is a replacement made of plywood. Northwest Seaport’s museum specialist is hoping to replace this replacement door with a piece of thick plexiglass so that we can see into the engine while it’s running, but they weren’t able to get it purchased and cut in time for this class. They’re aiming to get it installed in time for the summer tour season, though. I doubt that they’ll be able to see much through all the oil that’ll get splashed against the door while the engine is operating, but it’s a neat idea and no harm in implementing it (at least until I have a new door cast in aluminum).

The Virginia V at least was ready to go — though this is only because we don’t start up her steam plant during the Engineer for a Day program (it would double the cost of the class). Her power plant is currently disassembled for winter maintenance, but that actually makes it even more interesting to observe.

After all that preparation, the Engineer for a Day program went great. John Foster, the instructor for the Ballard Maritime Academy, brought 16 kids down for one of the program’s annual field trips. He spends several classes before the field trip teaching the kids about marine engineering and engine theory so that they have a good understanding of it in their heads before they step aboard. When we have them actually start up an engine – either the Arthur’s Washington or the Duwamish’s Bessemers – they suddenly understand what the diagrams and explanations mean:

more photos of the Engineer for a Day program on Northwest Seaport's Flickr account

Despite this, I’m always a little nervous thinking about a big group of kids storming the boat. Once they arrive and we break them into three groups to cycle through the Arthur, the Duwamish, and the Virginia V, I usually calm down. They may be high schoolers, but they want to be there and are way smarter than I give them credit for — even if they play games and whisper and text message while they’re supposed to be listening. I had a great time leading them through the Arthur’s start-up and shut-down procedures, and both Grant and Gary say the same thing about their sections. I’m looking forward to doing as many of these as we can, and not just for Ballard Maritime Academy.

Inaugural Tugboat Night!
The week finally ended with OTM Inc helping run a new program with Northwest Seaport and the Center for Wooden Boats. Tugboat Night was designed to serve three different purposes: to provide a regular, low-cost program on the Arthur Foss, to exercise all of the tug’s equipment more often, and to get more people onboard and involved with the boat and the organizations.

On Saturday night, twelve people showed up for the program, all really excited. Several had never been onboard before, though they’d seen the tug at the dock. My original plan for the evening had been to lead all the participants through the boat starting in the engine room, turning on everything and then turning off everything. After running the auxiliary generator and the AC generator, though, we ended up getting distracted by the main engine and not going on to the steering equipment and other systems. Everyone loves watching the Washington Iron Works diesels, since they have so many exposed moving parts and ways to see into the engine. We played with the controls, trying to get the engine to idle as slow as possible before stalling, and I answered a lot of questions from both beginners and the professional electrical engineer who had run hydroelectric generators in Montana:

Tugboat Night at Northwest Seaport

This, however, is the great thing about Tugboat Night. Next time, we’ll do it differently; we could have other instructors up in the fo’c’sle or the wheelhouse while I stay in the engine room and let participants choose where they go, or we could spend less time on the pre-start checklists and just turn things on and off. We could have a “plumbing night” or a “wiring night” or a “steering and telegraph night,” as well as a “deck department” or an “engine department” night.

I’m really excited by the turn-out of this first session, since it shows that people are interested in learning about the gritty details of old boats. I think that it’s a great way to start building a volunteer engine crew for the Arthur, both to help keep up with maintenance and repair, and for in the future when the tug starts cruising again (though that’s barely on the horizon). I hope that see all the same people at the next Tugboat Night, plus more who hear about it from them.

NWS and the CWB have scheduled four more sessions of Tugboat Night, on April 19, June 21, August 16, and December 20. Depending on the popularity of the class, they may hold more this year, and they’re planning to hold one every month of 2009. Call the CWB at (206) 382-2628 to register now.

Finally, Tape versus No Tape: A Viewer Poll

Kirtland (a boat guy living aboard the Arthur Foss these days in a work-exchange arrangement with Northwest Seaport) and I had a “discussion” the other day about paint on boats. It went sort of like the Bud Light “great tastes” versus “less filling” commercials.

It is my philosophy that paint is an impermeable barrier that protects the ship from rot, rust, and other elemental damage. It is Kirtland’s philosophy that paint is a cosmetic that keeps the boat looking sharp and shipshape. Of course, what we actually said was something like “Next time, use tape, [censored]!” “You want tape? Beat me to it, [censored]!” and back and forth several times.

Now, I’m a big proponent of keeping the boats looking sharp so that the maritime groups have good “dock presence,” but before worrying about making them look good we should worry about keeping them protected from the rain and other agents of deterioration. If Kirtland wants to spend a lot of time fussing over masking and detailing and what should be painted green versus white, then that’s fine – as long as the boat is already protected.

Readers, what do you think? Paint as protective barrier or paint as a cosmetic detail? Please comment with your opinion.


Filed under atlas-imperial, enterprise, museums, programs, washington iron works, week in review

2008 Week Two in Review

Engineer for a Day Program for High Schoolers

Early this week, OTM Inc received a call requesting another Engineer for a Day session for Ballard High School. We put one on in February of last year, which was both successful and mentioned in a Seattle PI article here. John Foster, a teacher in the Maritime Academy program at Ballard High school, asked if OTM and Seattle’s maritime heritage community can host the program on February 15. Coincidentally, this is the day before a big work party and the first session of Tugboat Night on the Arthur Foss. This timing is excellent, as it maximizes the time and money spent preparing for the programs.

The Engineer for a Day programs involve the steamer Virginia V, the fireboat Duwamishand the tugboat Arthur Foss. I’m already signed up to show participants how to start up the Arthur‘s diesel, so next I called Gary Frankel at the Virginia V to get him onboard for his famous steam lecture. Gary is always happy to talk about steam, especially since he’s convinced that this diesel thing is just a passing fad. Then I called Justin Blair, an engineer for the Washington State Ferry system who has helped teach the Engineer for a Day program before. He didn’t answer, which makes me worry since his schedule is hard to change and he is the only person I know who can teach students how to run the Duwamish’s generators.

I’ve been helping run the Engineer for a Day program for three years now. The classes each start by dividing the participants into three groups, which each spend one hour following an engineer through the start-up procedure and then operating the engine. After the hour is up, they shut it down and then switch boats. After every group has been on every boat, we gather again to discuss the similarities and differences of each power plant. The class is very fast-paced and gets people excited about the engine rooms—not just the decks and the bridges. If we’re lucky, we turn out some engineers, too. Northwest Seaport has information about this year’s programs on its website here–including the dates for the open-to-all Engineer for a day program.

The Engineer for a Day program is really amazing for two reasons. First, the students are able to get up close to three very different power plants: a direct-reversing diesel, a diesel electric, and a reciprocating steam engine. I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that a member of the public can see all of these in one day—let alone one where high schoolers can be at the controls of each.

Second, it requires the corporation of many different organizations. A typical Engineer for a Day program involves Northwest Seaport, the Center for Wooden Boats, the Virginia V Foundation, the Puget Sound Fireboat Foundation, the Youth Maritime Training Association, and Old Tacoma Marine Inc—plus other supporters like the Seattle Parks Foundation that owns the Historic Ships Wharf at Lake Union Park where the program is held.

This is really encouraging, since the maritime heritage community that I worked in ten years ago almost never collaborated. Now, people are recognizing that collaboration is essential to preserving the historic ships in Seattle and in other ports. I think that preservation groups and museums need to follow some of the principles of for-profit corporations. Rather than treating some of the groups like a sick friend (high hopes, no demands on performance, and often no action), collaborative programs helps pull them together by holding each accountable and demanding that they pull their own weight. The program also gives the collaboration an attainable goal to drive the weak organizations forward, while the strong organizations receive a new set of resources and a broader audience. I really enjoy watching the Engineer for a Day programs and other collaborative efforts pull the different groups together.

Web Updates

OTM Inc’s new discussion board is awesome, but it doesn’t quite work yet. Early this week, the whole OTM Inc team was very excited by our launch into Web 2.0 with the new discussion board and a presence on many networking sites ( like Flickr and YouTube). We are now web interactive and want to see your posts with questions, answers, pictures, stories, and warnings from the whole heavy-duty diesel community… just as soon as we get the discussion board back online now that the trial session has run out. SO STAY TUNED…

OTM Inc is working very hard to broaden and deepen the heavy-duty diesel engine community and the web is our most important tool. We are committed to keeping these engines running, but unfortunately the world is losing the most valuable information available: that gained from experience. Now is the time for the next generation of heavy duty diesel engine mechanics to make recording the retiring work force’s stories as much a priority as repairing the engines. The web is the best meeting room available for this exchange and OTM Inc wants to be at the table.

And Now a Little “Real” Work

First, OTM Inc put in a call to Bob the foreman at Everest Engineering to check on progress of the throw-out bearing for the Washington Iron Works diesel engine in the Arthur Foss. The bearing failed due to operator error while cruising in 2001. When the clutch needed adjustment and slipped, the engineer on duty leaned on the clutch wheel, thinking this action would engage the propeller shaft. Instead, this maneuver just melted out one side of the babbitted throw-out bearing. While this damage is not necessarily debilitating, the owners want to keep the engine in good condition and sent the bearing to be re-babbitted.

Babbitt is a soft alloy of tin and other metals that serves as a low-friction contact surface when it’s kept properly lubricated and machined. It’s melted and poured into moulds around the bearings, then machined smooth down to the fractions of an inch required by the engine specifications. Here’s a picture of melted babbitt:

and another picture of a mold just after melted babbitt was poured in:

Everett Engineering replied to my call that “we are making progress on it.”

OTM Inc also put in a call to Wayne Dutton at Alaska Copper & Brass to check on progress of the heat exchanger tubing bundle for the Enterprise diesel in the Maris Pearl. Here’s a diagram of heat exchanger tubing like that in the tug:

The company positioned the brass end plates of the tube bundle in the original configuration, slid in about 400 new copper-nickel tubes (a pricey option), and then installed a clamp around the end plates to hold its shape while all the tubes are rolled in using a little tapered mandrill with three rollers. This expands the tube to seal it against the brass end-piece. Here’s a picture of the tube bundle on the factory floor:

Alaska Copper & Brass also replied to my call that “progress is being made.”


Filed under museums, programs, week in review