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New Interactive Display at the Howard Steamboat Museum

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Old 04-02-2007, 11:25 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 772
Default New Interactive Display at the Howard Steamboat Museum

The Howard Steamboat Museum now has a dispaly you can literally get your hands on.....a pilot wheel and working engine room bells. Last Saturday a crew of volunteers worked all day getting the display up and running; and what a crew it was...Capt. Alan Bates, Capt. Pete O'Connell, Capt. Billy Ray, Chief Engineer Kenny Howe, Machinist and Steam Engine Hobbiest Bruce Babcock, and myself, Chief Flunky. We started at 8:00 first by carting the 7ft. pilot wheel from the STR. CHICKAMAUGA (towboat built at Muscle Shoals, Al. in 1915, 115 x 22"5", after sinking in 1926 it was bought by Capt.Jim Howard who rebuilt her into a pool style towboat named ED.J HOWARD which lasted until 1934) from the second floor of the museum to the back porch.
A slot was cut in the floor of the porch and the wheel was placed in the slot typical pilothouse style with about three feet of the wheel extending below the floor. The wheel is mounted on stands which Alan Bates made. The stands are exact steamboat pilot wheel stands and the bearings for the wheel shaft to rotate in are made from Lignum Vitae wood. Lignum Vitae is an oily wood used for bearings; in fact, even up to and past WWII most propeller shaft bearings were made from Lignum Vitae.
After the wheel was installed, another slot was cut in the floor in front of the wheel into which the bell pull stand was placed. Bruce Babcock built the bell pull stand patterned after the one on display in the museum. Bruce had the cranks and quadrants cast at an Amish foundry in Ohio using patterns which he had made from wood.
Bells were installed under the floor and attached to the bell pulls. Only two bells arrived in time for the work Saturday. The gong is supposed to be shipped from the manufacturer this week. Also a wheel break was installed under the floor, the break is to keep school kids and over zealous adults from spinning the wheel too quickly.
Now when you visit the museum you will be able to turn a real steamboat pilot wheel and ring authentic engineroom bells.
Remember the museums' CHAUTAUQUA weekend is coming up on May 19th & 20th. It's well worth attending.
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