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Jim Reising 06-30-2017 02:54 PM

Painted or Not Painted...That's the Question
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Several times we have discussed whether or not paddlewheels on sidewheel boats were painted when new coming out of the shipyard. To my eye the attached photo may hold the answer.
When Howards built the J.M.WHITE, before the boat was completed they took it to the New Albany city front to get it's finishing touches (I'm not sure what time of the year it was,but they may have been afraid of having the boat caught above the falls in low water, she was too big for the lock).
Look at the attached picture taken at New looks to me like the wheel, eventhough it's in the shadow of the paddle box, is a little darker than the white painted hull. Unpainted new oak is not as bright as white painted wood. Keep in mind that in black and white photography, red comes out black, so it definitely wasn't painted red.
So I conclude that they did not paint the wheels...or at least not on the WHITE. What are your thoughts?

Jim Blum 07-01-2017 09:19 AM

Would, in this case, the Howard yard have their own sawmill on site? Would they possibly contract for a local mill to cut, in this case, wheel arms and bucket planks and use them "green" or would either Howard or contractor let the wood "cure" in their sheds or use wood that had been allowed to naturally "cure"? with a local sawmill.

If used "green" would the oak have enough sap to reject red lead or linseed oil?

If the wood was used "green" I would expect it to show a lighter color than if "cured" (I know that is not the correct word, but can't think of the correct term).

I do know that, at least at the end of their respective (Steam) careers, the Str Admiral and Str President did not have painted wheel arms or bucket planks.

R. Dale Flick 07-01-2017 10:03 AM

*RE: WHITE's wheels painted?*
Morning, steamboating colleagues,
WOW! Jim, good posting question and great photo of the then new J.M. WHITE all sparkling, clean and fresh. That didn't last long once she entered her trade, river smoke, dirt etc. Crews then worked constantly washing, sweeping, painting, polishing inside and out. Capt. Fred Way recalled steamboat crews in his young years walking around constantly with a scraper, sandpaper, paint bucket and brush tending to needs here and there. He recalled an old near 'deep sea' term for them called "sailormen." Later writers and commentators in the glory days of the great cotton packets often burst the image of the boats appearance inside and out after several years operating as a "myth...dull...dusty...dingy...dirty." It depended from company to company and captain to captain keeping their boats sharp looking.

I haven't a clew RE: the WHITE's wheels painted or not from visual evidence above. Howard, and other boat builders, 'could' have painted the wheels fresh when construction was finishing but I'd wager later repaired/rebuilt wheels may have been
left raw wood. Model builder John Fryant has written about "steamboating painting colors etc" and may have an insight on the above. Frank Prudent remembered his dad, Bill, commenting I 'think' that the sidewheels on the last ISLAND QUEEN were not painted. Am I right on this Frank? I have color photos here of the last OMAR, ORCO, VERITY, SEBALD etc. running but with rather dirty, dark sternwheels.

Those boats in their time were constantly on the move in their trade with wheels stern and side not painted the bright red with white trim we've come to know in later years [i.e. AVALON/BELLE OF LOUISVILLE, DELTA QUEEN ETC.]. The old U.S. Corps of Engineers kept the wheels on their boats pristine painted with that unmistakable yellowish/ochre tone. *Jim, you have there other photos of sidewheel boats at Howard Yards either on the ways or in the water. What do the sidewheels look like on them before launching? Our late Capt. Alan Bates talked/wrote about the use of "red lead" paint then. Heck, I don't know.

Summer: R. Dale Flick on the northern shores of mighty Lake Michigan.

John Fryant 07-03-2017 01:37 PM

I JUST SPENT THE BETTER PART OF HALF AN HOUR WRITING A RESPONSE TO JIM'S POST ABOUT PAINTING PADDLEWHEELS. SUDDENLY THE SCREEN FLICKERED AND IT ALL WENT AWAY!!! &%#$@^&*!! (each of those symbols represent swear words) Maybe sometime when I feel like it i"ll do it over.

Jim Reising 07-04-2017 09:13 AM

Jim...Oh, yes, the shipyard had its own saw mill, in fact the shipyard would sell lumber to anyone. Many houses in Jeffersonville were built with lumber bought from Howards. There was a shipyard strike in 1903 with the main complaint being the shipyard was not modernizing and still relied on brute muscle power....they still used oxen to move heavy timbers, etc. and the sawmill was still the original 1848 one.
Not only did they need to be experts in building boats, but also they had to be experts on how to cure, saw, steam, and store lumber.
The lumber came from the hills of W. Va. and eastern Ky. They stored the log rafts behind 6 Mile Island and towed the logs down to the shipyard on a as needed basis where they would pull the logs up the bank and saw them up according to the specs of the vessel they were building. The logs were in the river for at least a year before they were used.
By about 1905 the hills of Eastern Ky. were denuded of trees and acceptable lumber became very expensive and almost impossible to the point where steel hulls became price competitive. In fact, to get lumber for the last wood hull boats the yard had to bring lumber in by train from Michigan and Georgia. This was cost prohibitive.
The rough cut mill was in the shipyard, the finishing mill was across Market St. where the service station and Night Owl is now.
I used to wonder why there was no mention of swelling hulls by putting water in them until I read and explanation from Jim Howard. They would check to moisture of the lumber they would saw up for hull planking and with the exact "wetness" they could plank and chalk the hull and it wouldn't need swelling. But, they needed to get the hull launched pretty quickly before the planking dried out.

Jim Blum 07-04-2017 02:16 PM

I am anxious to read John Fryant's report as soon as it appears here. The more thought I give to the question [paint/no paint] I suspect no "paint" due to the fact that it would take time to apply and dry before handling the wheel arms and bucket planks, time even then being money plus the, I am supposing, rather short life of bucket planks due to drift.

Judy Patsch 07-05-2017 12:07 PM

Thanks for that detailed account of the Howard's lumber works!

Frank X. Prudent 07-07-2017 11:49 AM

[QUOTE=R. Dale Flick;36586] Frank Prudent remembered his dad, Bill, commenting I 'think' that the sidewheels on the last ISLAND QUEEN were not painted. Am I right on this Frank? I have color photos here of the last OMAR, ORCO, VERITY, SEBALD etc. running but with rather dirty, dark sternwheels.

You got me, Dale. I don't remember Dad mentioning about the IQ's wheels being painted or not. Honestly, I would be surprised if they were painted. I remember watching the PRESIDENT make a landing at the Canal Street Wharf back in 1978 and watching her port wheel roll. It was unpainted.

Dad would tell the story of Chief Engineer Frank Heath on the GORDON C. GREENE standing back on the hurricane roof looking at the wheel while it wasn't rolling. Two ladies walked up to him and commented what a nice looking wheel it was. The Chief agreed, but told them that he was after Captain Tom Greene to build a shed over it as it keeps getting wet!

R. Dale Flick 07-08-2017 09:26 AM

Morning, Steamboating colleagues:
Thanks, Bob, for help on clicking in here when the thread shows blank and I hope this message appears after composition.

Jim Reising spot on RE: the Howard Yards use of wood in steamboat construction with it then a lot more detailed than many think today. The Howard papers also contain a detailed account of how the yards sent "wood expeditions" up to the hills and mountains of West Virginia, Kentucky to locate, purchase, mark, fell and drag desired trees to the rivers for rafting down to Louisville/Jeffersonville. These 'expeditions' done with horses, chuck wagons etc. The Howards mention also purchase of good wood from the "sunny side of the slopes...avoid wood that has been wind shaken." Our own late Alan Bates also discussed all of this in detail years back with Jim Howard.

Jim also correct RE: the eventual depletion of forests for wood; shipment by rail from the south, Michigan, Wisconsin etc. Even by 1890 or so leading journals to the trade on ship/boat building commented on the "lack of modernization, failure to use iron/steel in hulls, primitive work practices by more than a few yards" on our inland rivers they visited. Yet they often didn't understand the needs/economy of inland river steamboating on then still shallow rivers part of the year before channel work, locks and dams were built.

Tom Dunn read this thread but didn't post directly here. He E=Mailed me privately mentioning that "sidewheels on the ADMIRAL were never painted with the buckets repaired each year by 1/4th." Hope John Fryant is able to write and post here. I'll click 'Submit Reply' on mine and see what happens. Again, what do I know?

Summer: R. Dale Flick on the northern shores of mighty Lake Michigan.

Bob Reynolds 07-08-2017 11:23 AM

Thanks for chiming in for Tom Dunn, Dale. I knew someone had to know for sure, but was just staying quiet for some reason.

R. Dale Flick 07-12-2017 10:12 AM

*Unpainted sidewheels/wood/toilet facilities*
Morning, Steamboating colleagues,
I hoped, alas, Tom Dunn would have responded to this continuing thread on "painted or unpainted." Tom did E=Mail to me about the sidewheels on the ADMIRAL "not painted...wood replaced by 1/4th each year."

Tom also added that one time it was considered they cut a window in the bulkhead so passengers could look in, see the wheels rolling. Then he was shown eight pipes above the sidewheel which were outfall pipes from the ladies lavatory just above. The last ISLAND QUEEN also had outfall lavatory facility pipes that dropped directly down in the river just forward of the sidewheels. As a kid my dad yanked me in the lavatory with me terrified looking down, seeing bright light and the water rolling along. And THAT was a long time ago now. Who here now remembers the white porcelain chamber pots with lid put under the bunks of the smaller cabins on the DELTA QUEEN that had no toilet facilities? That's the way it was back then.

Summer: R. Dale Flick from the northern shores of mighty Lake Michigan.

Jim Reising 07-13-2017 10:10 AM

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Outfall pipe from the ladies room on the CAPE GIRARDEAU is clearly seen on this photo. What is more mysterious to me are the buckets on the wheel.....look closely... are they on backwards????

R. Dale Flick 07-13-2017 10:58 AM

*CAPE's wheel buckets/'Outfall' pipes*
Morning, Steamboating colleagues,
Jim, thanks for the dandy photo of the crew men on the fantail of the CAPE GIRARDEAU showing the 'outfall' lavatory pipes. Any evidence when this photos was taken? As for her wheel buckets on on in reverse, I haven't the slightest notion not being versed in wheel assembly. HELP! Capts. Bill Judd, Jim Blum, Bob Reynolds and others. Steamboat lavatory outfall pipes directly into the river was they way it was until nearly to the last packet boats and steam tows running. Everything went in the river then with nobody knowing any differently. Remember when the DELTA QUEEN got a big citation, coverage in the national media with photos when she got caught dumping garbage into the river? Was Paul Underwood captain at the time? There survives old B/W photos of a big ANCHOR LINE sidewheeler on the Mississippi showing the galley crew outside the cook house on deck slaughtering, plucking chickens, ducks, cutting up beef and pork outside on deck dumping all the refuse and offal in the river.

I do know that when Capt. John Beatty had the W.P. SNYDER down at his yard for her first big renovation in 1987, he showed me also that her buckets and wheel rings were in reverse. Keith Norrington one really interested in the CAPE and may have some ideas of his own if he clicks in here. *I did try to look closely at other buckets on the CAPE in your picture not sure if the buckets were mounted on 'both sides.' Heck, I don't know.

Summer: R. Dale Flick on the northern shores of mighty Lake Michigan.

Jim Blum 07-13-2017 12:18 PM

Very, very interesting photograph indeed. The more one looks at it more questions surface after looking at other on line photos of the Cape G.

To give my opinion on the 'outfall' pipe(s) I don't believe the pipe shown is from the one or all 'lavatories'. Why: 1 it appears to be iron pipe by looking at the connector piece---probably filled with hot lead when fitted together. 2-the bracket holding the pipe to bulkhead appears to wrap around a large piece of pipe and if iron pipe it would be---in my opinion--the approximate size of iron pipe used in homes. 3-if my opinion is correct about size and composition why would the company use such a heavy item on the stern (other photos of the port side do not seem to show such a pipe. 4-with the 'lavatories' overhanging the stern bulkhead no pipes necessary to carry the outfall. Straight into the river via the wheel.

As to bucket planks. Wonder if what we see were "an experiment" at balance buckets. One side having been removed---however it does seem peculiar that the underside would remain. Other photos seem to show the buckets going all the way to the outer ring. It does not appear so here.

And last of all---for now----when did the crank break or a crack appear as there is a strap around the crank? A repair at some time apparently.

Frank X. Prudent 07-13-2017 04:01 PM

All good questions. I just wish Dad was around to answer them!

My question is did the CG/GCG have flush toilets? If so my guess is that all waste matter would have found its way into the river but not quite in plain site of everyone and at much less danger to anyone working in the wheel.

Bob Reynolds 07-13-2017 06:47 PM

All good questions, Jim and Frank. I wondered if that pipe may have been for other uses as well -- galley gray water, waste water from sinks in staterooms, etc. I don't know enough about the CG/GCG to say how those (and the bathrooms) were configured to say. Jim, might the wheel crank have been built that way originally? If the wheel and its buckets were being experimented with, might they have added the straps we see to beef up the whole operation? Questions, questions!

R. Dale Flick 07-14-2017 10:47 AM

*CAPE's wheel/Outfall pipes/Lavatories*
Morning, Streamboating colleagues,
Just as I hit 'Send' something went POOF! and I'm starting all over. "Questions, questions, questions" correct above RE: the CAPE's 'outfall pipes,' straps on the crank etc. and I have several plans of the CAPE--later GORDON C. GREENE--at home with one detailed plans by Capt. Alan Bates. Alas, all is sleeping quietly in Cincinnati until I return home next week for a week on business; then return up north here until Labor Day. The one who would know for sure would be the late GL Purser Bob McCann. Where IS Bob when we need him now?

Steamboat/ship spaces etc. changed through the years with additions, modernizations as we've seen aplenty on the DELTA QUEEN. Previously the lavatories were no more than privies on sternwheelers with gravity fall in the river to be thrashed, mixed by the wheel. That's the way it was then with nobody giving it a second thought. Sidewheelers dumped, as we know, ahead, in or behind the big wheel housings. No doubt the Greenes did modernization with flush lavatories, shower rooms on the GORDON as we see in plans. The GORDON's lack of cabin facilities, baths--among other features--part of what killed her after the DQ came into service. People in the old days had a different definition of 'privacy' or personal hygiene. Again and again in old letters and commentaries we hear, "Glad to be off the boat and home [Or in a hotel] for a nice hot bath, clean linen and clothes." Charles Dickens even groused during his American tour about "Sleeping on a shelf" meaning steamboat cabins with narrow bunks. Capt. Bill Judd, some of you and me, remember the days when boats, cities, towns dumped all lavatory/waste water/refuse directly into the rivers and tributaries. Streams were nothing more than open sewers. Believe it or not Typhoid Fever was still a threat well into the 1950s.

When ORSANCO [Ohio River Sanitation Commission] came along in the 1950s things changed rapidly for the better. The same issues for the Great Lakes are being addressed now. Some may complain all they want RE: regulations, controls, U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Public Health, EPA but without them think where we would be. Some people never like hearing the word "No." Again, I DO remember those days.

Summer: R. Dale Flick on the northern shores of mighty Lake Michigan.

Jim Blum 07-14-2017 10:52 AM

a little bit more e-sleuthing shows a photo of the St Louis Riverfront prior to any land clearing for the park development with the Cape Girardeau and several other stern wheel boats and what appears to be the St Paul.

This photo shows two sets of buckets one set below the wheel arms the other on top of the wheel arms, daylight clearly visible between the two. The other sets of bucket planks mounted in the conventional manner on top of wheel arms. Was she built with balance buckets like that? Maybe Keith can shed some light from the Howard archives/

Starboard crank not clearly visible, however the two sets of double buckets are on the aft side of the wheel close to the water. The photo in question shows the stbd. crank in the down position.

Another photo shows the port side of the stern with the crank banded as in the photo in question. Can one draw the conclusion that she was built that way---quite possibly.

As to the very original question: paint vs no paint. The photo Jim Reising posted which started this discussion seems to show that the metal ring visible is of a lighter color that the wood wheel arms and bucket plank. The fantail decking is appears lighter color also----however this could be just an issue with exposure to the negative as the day appears very bright with deep shadows.

R. Dale Flick 07-14-2017 12:49 PM

*Those wheel planks/'Balanced?*
Steamboating colleagues,
Thank you, Jim Blum, for your "sleuthing" RE: these elusive sternwheel buckets and other related bric a brac. IF and WHEN our John Fryant can click in and chime in he can enlighten us more with his research on paint schemes, colors, tones applied to steamboats--with the astounding revelations that not all steamboats were painted totally white. Some steamboats [stern and sidewheel] for the deep southern trade at times had upperworks painted an off white or buff color. But I'll not spoil John's good story and shut up here.

When a kid on/around 10 or so (c. 1952/'53), there was a veteran painting contractor in our old neighborhood on/around late 80s or 90 himself. He talked with my dad one day with me listening telling how he started his painting career with his dad and uncles as a kid at the old 'Cincinnarti Marine Ways' boat yards at Rookwood Crossing at old Eastern Ave. in Cincinnati. He mentioned painting the boats with a crew inside and out, fine lettering, signs etc. So he had to have started his work well before 1900 and earlier. I also vividly recall him mentioning the steamboat crews/cabin boys and chambermaids--usually all Black or some Irish and German--that served, cleaned, maintained the interior of the boats scrubbing, dusting, waxing constantly. "They washed the chandeliers and side light fixtures with vinegar and water," he mentioned. As mentioned, later letters, documents record statements that many of the streamboats not as clean, fresh, pristine as we think due to river smoke, dust, dirt, passenger wear and tear above and below on deck often termed an "illusion." Yet, old photos of packet cabins pretty impressive with white paint, carpeting, light fixtures, furnishings.

Summer: R. Dale Flick on the northern shores of mighty Lake Michigan.

Jim Reising 07-15-2017 07:41 AM question is why would a sternwheel boat need balance buckets? With the cranks set at 90 deg. and the engine valves set correctly there would be an even amount of power throughout a revolution of the wheel unlike a sidewheel boat with only one engine per wheel.
I know Jim Howard spent a lot of effort trying to reduce vibrations coming from the wheel. This strange bucket arrangement might have been some experiment to reduce vibration. Who knows? I sure don't.

Bob Reynolds 07-15-2017 08:46 AM

Jim, the DQ certainly had/has balance buckets. When stopped, the wheel has a tendency to roll to where the cranks (even set at 90 degrees) will cause the wheel to rotate to the point where the cranks are at their lowest position. There is also the sheer weight factor of the cranks even when the wheel is rolling, causing the wheel speed to be uneven as the cranks are in different positions of the revolution (i.e., power being used to lift the cranks vs rolling the wheel). Balance buckets offset SOME of that weight differential and make the revolutions smoother, and I would assume make less work for the engines.

R. Dale Flick 07-15-2017 08:58 AM

*Wheel buckets/Counterweight*
Morning, Steaboating colleagues,
Jim Reising asks Jim Blum good questions with technical factors I know nothing about. Yet, I always thought that both 'side' and 'stern' wheels had double planks added serving as a kind of 'counterbalance' when the wheels rolled around. Some of us old enough to remember the big steam locomotives with their huge wheels showing the side counterweights. When those big locomotives came down the line you could hear the pounding sound of the counterweights when the wheel hit the rails at that spot.

Anybody watching the DELTA QUEEN's wheel backing or coming ahead remember seeing how the wheel itself just for an instant seemed to slow or pause and the roll over--almost with a subtle surge. Question: Didn't this counterweight compensate the engines just at the right moment? Heck, I don't know.

Summer: R. Dale Flick on the northern shores of mighty Lake Michigan.

Jim Blum 07-15-2017 09:22 AM

At this point I will unabashedly admit I am in way over my head. An apology to Jim R for my misspelling of his name in an earlier post.

We know there are real live steam engineers both steamboat, railroad & stationary, out there who have access to this forum: so please stand up and put us on a path of knowledge.

Both the Str Admiral & Str President had large wooden "pry bars" hanging up in the engine room to use should a wheel get hung up on "dead center"

I remember seeing one such pry bar on the big Sidewheel Ferry Eureka in the Maritime Museum in San Francisco some years back.

Our engineers out there need to tell us where about the balance buckets would have been placed within the 90 degree or 270 degree area between crank position.

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