Old Tacoma Marine, Inc.

2009 Week 7 in Review

February 8 to February 14, 2009

Work continues on the Catalyst

This week at OTM Inc, we double-checked the Catalyst's main caps, just to make sure they weren't too tight. The main caps are the top half of the main bearing, and on Washington Iron Works engines, they sit right on top of the crankshaft. During normal operation, the caps never actually touch the crankshaft, since all the weight is going down. They still need to be cranked down tightly to hold the lubricating oil in; if the main caps are too loose, oil will squirt out. Since low oil pressure was one of the things we were hoping to resolve during this year's winter maintenance project, we tightened the main caps down to the manufacturer's specs, which are a lot tighter than they were at the start of the project. I had to add a shim in one and scrape two others, but then they were all perfect.

I also installed the shims I made last week under the foot of the rods, which raise the pistons right to where they're supposed to be. I used the measurements I got last week from squishing the lead balls, and shimmed each one.

That really completed this year's winter maintenance. We ran the engine at the dock for a day, then took the Catalyst for a quick sea trial around Portage Bay. Everything worked really well, so I helped deliver it to Friday Harbor. I spent the entire trip in the engine room, checking settings and tinkering. We varied the load on the engine as much as we could while underway, revving it up and slowing it down to help seat the piston rings. They really don't seat well at an idle or throttled up; you have to vary it to get them seated right.

We're still working to resolve the low oil pressure, but the engine is running way better overall. It has noticeably more power underway, and the exhaust temperatures were easy to even out. Catalyst is looking good and Bill's taking great care of her.

A little work on the Velero IV

Irv from the Velero IV stopped by the shop this week. He doesn't want to do any overhauls on its Atlas this year, but he did want Dan to service the air valves. Going through the air valves is a bare minimum job, but it's really important to do it yearly for a boat that gets that much usage as the Velero IV.

Why? Well, you'll learn why real quick if you miss a start and plow right through a dock. You rely a lot on those little valves.

A visit to the Washington State History Archives

This week, we also went down to Tacoma to view portions of the Washington Iron Works collection at the Washington State History Research Center:

researching at the Washington State History Research Center in Tacoma

They hold most of the company's records, including the original engine cards and several hundred photographs. About half of the photos are of old logging equipment, but there are a lot of pictures of the diesel line, too - in the boats, on the factory floor, in pieces, all sorts of pictures.

We had been hoping to get copies of some of the key photographs in the collection, but they haven't been sorted or organized since they came into the museum and the archivist couldn't find them in a reasonable amount of time. So, OTM Inc volunteered its time to the public benefit and agreed to come down and organize the photo collection sometime in March. Stay tuned!

Rebuilding an Atlas-Imperial-Lanova Generator?

While we were in Tacoma, we met with Eric, who recently purchased an old genset powered by a one-cylinder Atlas-Imperial-Lanova engine. It needs some work before it'll run, but the castings on the head are classically Atlas:

cylinder head from an Atlas-Lanova generator set

Eric bought the genset from someone with a garage full of old generators. He's hoping to get it into running condition and use it as auxiliary power for his house. I think this is a great goal, but I made sure he knew that it was going to be a lot of work and if he just wanted a generator, he should really just go buy one. He seemed pretty interested in the novelty of using a historic generator, though, and I can't really argue with that.

I told him that the best way to start working on it would be to disassemble the unit, start cleaning it, and make an inventory of what's missing. It definitely needs a new piston and rod, and I'll look through our spare parts inventory to see if we have anything suitable. I don't know much about the Lanova line, though.

Readers, anyone out there with experience with the Atlas-Imperial-Lanovas? Anyone have parts? Eric's genset is a five-horsepower engine coupled to a 1LN29 generator that gets 1800 rpm. Its serial number is 100357. Contact me with information, and I'll pass it along to Eric.

Update on the John N Cobb

The Lake Union Park Working Group got an update on the John N Cobb this week. As you remember, the Cobb broke the crankshaft in its Fairbanks-Morse diesel engine this past June (back in Week 23). NOAA towed the boat back in July (Week 27) and decommissioned her in August, and has been deciding what to do with her since.

The working group had Larry Johnson the surveyor come down and talk about the boat, which just got added to the National Register of Historic Places. They also had her last CO speak to the group about what NOAA's planning on doing with the boat. According to Lieutenant Chad Cary, they're giving the Cobb to the Seattle Maritime Academy, my old alma matter.

They're still deciding how to deal with the broken crank, though. Lt Cary said they were going to look at installing a new crankshaft, and then look into replacement engines. He says they're seriously considering putting in a high-power engine with a big reduction gear, so that the academy kids can get their 1000 hp+ time in on the boat, but I think that'd be a big mistake.

An old Enterprise, though... well, that'd be a good engine for the Cobb. I'll get in touch with Dick the SMA instructor and see if he has any other news.

Incidentally, the presentation ended with a video of the Cobb underway and in the engine room... courtesy OTM Inc! The video is here and we're delighted to see that it's helping get the word out.

New on the Web

Speaking of Enterprise, we just re-built the Enterprise section of the website to use the sorting tables debuted on the Washington Iron Works section a few weeks ago. View the new page here, and tell us what you think! Next up: Atlas.

Posted February 8, 2009 on WordPress