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Dan Lewis 01-31-2018 12:23 PM

Turbine Maintenance
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Since we're deep into winter mode on the Belle, I figured I'd snap a few shots of something we don't do very often anymore--change the carbon rings on our turbine. Since getting our "new" (I still think of them as new, even though they're 20 years old) diesel gen-sets, the turbine is seldom used and considered a "stand-by" unit. As a result, this is the first replacement since the sinking (1997). These rings act as packing with a spring surrounding them to hold them against the shaft. The sets you see are on the intake side of the rotor, and there is an identical set on the exhaust side. Even though it is more work to manage it, compared to the diesels, the turbine still allows us to do what no other riverboat can anymore--run completely on steam!

R. Dale Flick 02-01-2018 05:43 AM

*Turbine maintenance/Run on steam*
Thank you Dan for the photos and introductory class 101 "carbon rings on turbine" aboard the BELLE from somebody who barely graduated from basic lawn mower and paint brush. Glad to know the BELLE can do what "no other river boat can anymore--run completely on steam." That something remarkable in this day and age. Keep us posted on other 'jobs' around the boat.

R. Dale Flick
Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati

Bob Reynolds 02-02-2018 10:02 PM

Yes, Dan, thanks for these! Now a question: does the BELLE use those diesel gen sets as a Coast Guard requirement, or is there an operational reason to use them regularly? Iím sure the USCG wanted a standby or emergency diesel generator (understandable), but why would you not use the turbine as a matter of course otherwise?

Dan Lewis 02-03-2018 09:56 AM

Bob, there's a few reasons for running the diesels instead of the turbine. First, fuel usage is a big reason. The diesels burn an average of 3 gal./hour, where as the turbine will burn an average of 12 gal./hour. Second, the turbine is a smaller unit than the diesels. Technically, the turbine can't really be called an "emergency" generator, so we loosely call it a stand-by unit. It is physically difficult for us to have an emergency generator on board. There's been rumblings over the years to take the turbine off, but I think as long as we can maintain it we should keep it. It's become a novelty like many of the other equipment we run and is another example of what steam can do.

Bob Reynolds 02-03-2018 01:04 PM

Thanks for this info., Dan. I guess I didnít realize that the fuel usage of the steam turbine could be quantified that well, and it surprises me that itís that high! We both know well the efficiencies of diesel vs steam in general. Some of the purists just donít get it, but then, theyíre not the ones paying the bills and trying to make a ďgoĒ of it in a niche market.

Dan Lewis 02-03-2018 06:22 PM

The other thing I didn't mention is that the turbine takes a third of the steam the boiler can produce, so not running it gives us more steam for handling the main engines when we really need it. The first Chief I worked for, Mike Pfleider, loved running the turbine so much more than the diesel we had (the turbine was much quieter). When we had situations, though, with swift current going upriver, he would run the diesel until we got safely above the bridges and, then, switch back to the turbine.

Bob Reynolds 02-03-2018 08:36 PM

I remember Alan Bates talking about the turbine on the CHAUTAUQUA BELLE using more steam than the main engines (which are tiny). But youíre right, the quietness is everything! Does the C.B. Still have/use her steam turbine?

Dan Lewis 02-05-2018 07:52 PM

I haven't talked to Captain Stage in a while, but I think the CB still has hers.

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