Thread: What is it?
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Old 08-15-2008, 03:00 PM
Alan Bates Alan Bates is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 841

You got that one right, Travis.
When the Belle was restored by Jefferson County the pilotwheel circles were worn paper thin by those brake pads. We were obliged to replace the circle. A fine old African-American cabinet-maker did a perfect job. I took him to the pilothouse, gave him a stack of Rock Maple boards from the Tell City Chair Company (courtesy of Bert Fenn) and left him alone in the pilothouse. Two or three days later the pilotwheel was rebuilt and tightened. Those worn wheel segments are collectors' items today. There were only sixteen of them.
The brakes are designed to clamp when the tiller bars are centered. One pilot didn't like that system, preferring to tramp on the brake and ordered the rig slacked off. Since then all who steer the Belle are obliged to step on the pedals to hold the wheel, where is was automatic. I regard it as a pain in the patoot!
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