Tag Archives: tugboat quail

2009 Week 37 in review

Business as Usual

This week, we are back in the shop cleaning, reading the Local Agency Guidelines Manual for the Lightship #83 project, and working on the website some more.

We’re working hard to get pages about all the known remaining Washington Iron Works and Atlas-Imperial diesel engines up on the web. Don’t worry diesel fans – we’ll get to the Fairbanks-Morse and Enterprise sections next.

I didn’t make it to the Tugboat Races in Olympia this year, but I heard the Maris Pearl did very well – it looked like first to me, but we’ll have to review the photo. The Donald R was there in style – we love that Washington.

New tugboat book released

I also got news that Jessica DuLong (owner of the Gowanus Bay) has finished her book and it’s being released this week. She’s been writing it for years and I went out and ordered a copy of it from Elliott Bay Books as soon as I heard. It should be here in a few days – I’ll report back after I read it.

My River Chronicles by Jessica DuLong

Heavy-duties for sale

To all you Tugboat Dreamers: don’t forget that the J S Polhemus, Oswell Foss and Quail are still for sale.

Keep up with what’s for sale and what’s been sold at OTM Inc’s For Sale Listings.

Heavy-duty sounds through the ages

Engine collector Jim Walsh sent us a nice quote about heavy-duties: “I don’t really work on the engine, I just start it up and listen to it like a phonograph.” We at OTM Inc agree: the heavy-duties sure do sound nice – though we may not be getting the authentic symphony.

Dan told me that Dave Updike, his boss in the 1970s and the Godfather of heavy-duties, said the diesels don’t sound like they did way back when. Modern diesel fuel has a higher cetane than the old stuff, and you can’t even get number two diesel anymore. According to Dave, the thicker fuel makes a deeper thump and a lower “chuf chuf chuf” from the stack.

If Dave said it then it must be true, but we think that the heavy-duties sound just great regardless of the fuel.

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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 17 in review

We started Week 17 with a whirlwind tour of Northwest Washington heavy-duty diesels. San Juan Island has at least one engine from each of the major manufacturers that I work on: Washington Iron Works, Atlas-Imperial, Enterprise, and Fairbanks-Morse — and that’s not even counting the boats in nearby Bellingham and Anacortes.

Cannery Tender David B

First up was the David B, one of OTM Inc’s regular clients. Following the party, we hung out with owners Jeffrey and Christine to recuperate in the sun:

hanging out on the David B with Jeffrey and Christine

We also took some pictures of the engine, a 1929 Washington-Estep:


We used to think that the David B’s engine was the oldest remaining Washington, but since then we’ve “discovered” two older engines (the Kodiak Maritime Museum’s and the Waimea Sugar Mill Camp Museum’s). That doesn’t make it any less awesome, though, since it’s still the oldest Washington installed in a vessel.

We would have stayed longer with Christine and Jeffery on the David B, but we had a ferry to catch to San Juan Island.

Tugboat Quail

Before hopping on the ferry, we stopped by the tugboat Quail in Anacortes, just to see how she looks these days (she’s been for sale for a long time) and take a few pictures. We hadn’t called ahead for an appointment, so we had to look through the portholes to see the engine.

While I was taking pictures, an older gentleman strolled up and also started taking pictures – several from the same spots I shot from. I said “It’s a good looking boat huh?”

He looked up at me from the view finder. “Until it sinks,” he said, and went back to taking pictures.

I hope a prospective owner who wants to cruise often finds out what a great boat the Quail is.

Valve problems on the Catalyst

After a long ferry ride, we arrived in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Bill from the Catalyst has been having problems with his air compressor and asked me to come up and take a look before they start their summer season.

The Catalyst’s main engine-driven air compressor hasn’t been pumping air. While the boat (like any other air-controlled boat) carries an auxiliary compressor, it’s much nicer to use the engine-driven compressor while underway, as it’s quieter and uses energy already produced.

I inspected the air compressor and found the problem in the outlet valve. I took the head off and lapped the valve a lot, but couldn’t get the pattern I wanted. There was a spot near the outlet pipe that was not contacting at all. I started to think that corrosion or something like that cut into the seat. It took me a while of messing with the valve before I noticed that one of the flutes that guides the valve and blows air by was rubbing on a little bump in the bore that it rides in. I ground down the bump and touched up the flutes. I got good contact on the seat with just a little more lapping. I pressure-tested the compressor but then had to leave before turning on the engine and really testing it, but Bill later called and said the compressor has never pumped so much air for him.

Valve problems on the Oswell Foss

Our next stop was the retired tugboat Oswell Foss, also moored in Friday Harbor. The Oswell is powered by a “G” Enterprise engine, like the Briana Marin and the J. S. Polhemus:


Captain Jim and his wife Sue use the boat to cruise around Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. Lately, its main start valve has been leaking, so they asked me to come by and take a look.

I thought the valve probably just needed some adjusting, but I needed to lap it a bit, too. The pilot valve will need to be replaced soon, but fortunately the owner has lots of new spares – an important commodity if you’re going to keep an old engine going.

The fishboat Vivian

Next up was the Vivian, also in Friday Harbor, a seine boat that’s been for sale for a while. Last week we got great news while tracking down the current owner to get a tour: the boat just sold to Max from Portland. This is great news for the heavy-duty diesel engine world, since Max intends to cruise in the boat (more on that subject later).

The Vivian is powered by an Atlas Imperial 4HM1125 with a 10 ½ inch bore:

the 1943 fishboat Vivian

The advertisement we saw circulated called it a “P 155” engine. I asked Dan what “P 155” meant, since I’ve never seen that kind of number associated with an Atlas before. Dan said “Any fool knows what a P 155” is. Ha ha, Dan. I waited and eventually he told me that whoever wrote the ad must have taken the information from the manufacturer’s plate. The “H” in the abbreviation for “horsepower” must have been worn off or obscured, making the plate read “P 155” rather than “HP 155.” At least this confirmed that the engine is a 4HM1125, since that model does indeed produce 155 horsepower. Dan also said that its serial number of 12479 dates its manufacture to around 1943.

As a fishboat, the Vivian is a very bare bones vessel. As with most workboats, there isn’t much else aboard other than the equipment needed to do its job: a hull that doesn’t leak (much), an engine that runs, and the rig for fishing. There’s very little else on board, but that’s part of her charm:

the 1943 fishboat Vivian

New owner Max plans on to haul her out for inspection and maintenance, then bring her home to Portland for more work in preparation for a South Seas expedition. We hope to hear more from you, Max, and maybe some pictures of a great old Atlas cruising the Pacific.

Roche Harbor Generators

After finishing up with the Oswell Foss, we headed up to Roche Harbor on the northern end of San Juan Island. The Roche Harbor Resort used to be a company town for the Tacoma & Roche Harbor Lime Company, which produced lime for cement and other applications. Parts of the lime production used to be powered by stationary Y-model Fairbanks-Morse diesel generators. These are still on the site, though they’re showing the age and the weather:


The generators, a two-cylinder and a three-cylinder, haven’t been worked on in years. I’ve contacted the resort’s manager in the past to ask about restoration or programming plans, but he’s been non-committal. I think it might be time to bring that up again, though.

For now, they’re an interesting feature in the middle of a fancy fancy resort and spa:


The Roche Harbor Fairbanks-Morses were the last stop on our heavy-duty tour of Northwest Washington. After that, it was back to work.

An Update on the Maris Pearl

Back in Seattle, I replaced the Maris Pearl‘s block heater element and the oil cooler’s sight gauge. I also drained the oil cooler to tighten the oil line, and picked up the fuel pumps and injectors that I had machined. The project is starting to wrap up — we’re set to leave for Alaska on May 14th. I’ve got lots to do before then, so I’ll wrap this blog entry up and get back to work.

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