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[ Future of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co Boats ]


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Date: January 23, 2003 at 09:10:45
From: R. Dale Flick, [nr12-66-161-190-77.fuse.net]
Subject: Re: Steamboat/Ship fuels: Oil & Coal.


Hi, Pete:
'Bunker fuel' is an interesting topic. For data on fuel, click on Part IV of the Capt. Mary B. Greene history as posted earlier.

Alan Bates could tell us plenty if he were E=Mail receptive. He told me of an incident on the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE years back when her fuel injectors didn't work right and fuel combustion wasn't complete with resultant heavy smoke. Seems he talked to somebody (Jess Cohen ?) and they said to take the part to a machine shop and ever so carefully 'mill' a little metal to increase the openings--just shaved a bit off. They installed them and all was fine. No doubt Keith could add more info on this.

Big ocean steamship boilers were somethin' to behold while firing. I recall the flame being almost white hot--no yellow or orange. Engineers would patrol the boiler rooms and peer in with a kind of dark goggles to monitor the combustion and clean burning factor. Oil on those big babies was also preheated before injection. When you entered the boiler rooms on the old QUEEN ELIZABETH & QUEEN MARY, you were issued an orange jump suit. You descended down below in an elevator and stepped through a kind of 'pressure lock' as the boiler spaces were heavy forced draft. When you tried to speak your voice was high and squeeky--like breathing the gas out of a circus balloon when we were kids.

I never saw a coal fired ship on the ocean, but my late dad remembered years back seeing some ships with the traditional 'black gang' working in the boiler rooms. Most progressive lines converted to oil by then. I do remember the big steam towboats ORCO, GEORGE M. VERITY and the SEBALD around here when they burned coal. They also had those 'wild cat whistles.' Well, what do I know?
Cheers,
R. Dale Flick
PS> I vaguely recall the AVALON when she was coal fired but never rode her until after the conversion to oil [*mid 1950s ?]. Good old fashioned steamboat coal smoke had an unmistakable 'fragrance.' Doc Hawley gave a great talk on that some years back and I wish I had a tape recorder.


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