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Pictures of Delta Queen in Holma, LA: March 2016

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    I'll take anyone's name that may be willing to do a article. If they're interested someone who hasn't done one in a while might get interested.
    Name, email address, fax number would be most helpful but I'll take anything


      Frank.....Here's a story told me by Bob McCann...when the DQ first arrived from Calif. they immediately put her up on drydock in NOLA. At the time there wasn't a big enough dock available so the shipyard put two docks together length wise. The break between the two docks was about where the "droop" begins today. When boats passed the shipyards they would set the two drydocks to rocking, one would rock more than the other. When to boat came off the docks, she had a "hump", not visible in pictures but you could tell it when you walked down the guard on the boiler deckjust past the aft stairs to the engineroom.
      In 1957 when the boat had to go on drydock for inspection (back then it was every 10 years, not 5 as it is today), the people at Dravo tried to get the hump out. Bob said as they were hauling her up the hill they let the cradle under that section down a little bit. Bob McCann said the boat creaked and groaned and the "hump" pretty much disappeared.
      I wonder if all that could have weakened the hull at that point?


        *DQ's hull 'hump'/Metal 'tensile' strength etc.*
        Morning, Steamboating colleagues:
        Jim, thanks for your Purser Bob McCann story about the DQ's hull 'hump' and Frank's observations. Jim, I hadn't heard that account in years until you refreshed the few minds of us who heard it. Sagging or 'hogging' of sterns/paddlewheels nothing new in steamboat history. I also recall the incident with the late, lamented MISSISSIPPI QUEEN also developing a 'droop' in her stern section reputed to being caused by improper support of her hull when raised in a drydock for work. Many kept it rather hush hush but any naked eye could see it clearly and in photographs. Why try to deny or hide the obvious?

        I'm no metallurgist but know the 'tensile' factors in metals and hulls. "Resistance to lenghtwise stress, measured by the greatest load in weight per unit area pulling in the direction of length that a given substantce can bear without tearing apart." Capt. Bill Judd no doubt would know more from his survey work. Years ago there was with ocean ships called the "hull rebound tendancy" with a hull 'bouncing' back from striking a permanent obstruction like a dock, rock, other vessel. "Rebound tendency" can only go so far until there is a crack, bowing or other damage. Some metals and components will 'return to shape' but if stress too pronounced the 'hump, bend or bow' will often return in time.

        A few here recall the near disastrous incident the DQ had on the upper Mississippi River years back when 'something' caused engine signals to be misunderstood with the boat striking a lock wall nearly full force. The port side, aft of the engineroom door was seriously caved in and damaged. Letha C. Greene was aboard later relating to me, "I thought the boat was done for then. Panels in the ceiling opened with dust coming down, the boat 'leaned' way over, people, equipment hit the decks." Terry Beckett was working in the engineroom saying, "When I ran to look out she was heeled way over above me." Some passengers were trapped in their cabins when the doors jammed with the superstructure warped. Capt. Wagner took appraisal of all and said, "Let's just steam her down the river and she'll work herself out and settle back in." The big damaged spot caused no lower hull damage being water tight and was there for several years until the next docking when it was cut out, repaired. How many here remember seeing that?

        Years back, when on the old QUEEN ELIZABETH at sea, I noticed a strong shaking, shimming in her port side. The Chief Engineer told me the QUEEN ELIZABETH several years before had been blown on a sandbar in the Solent approaching Southampton. The tide fell with her slighly 'bowing' on the port side. She was floated off, taken to JOHN BROWN with the warped prop shaft taken out for straigntehing. Unfortunately the 'tensile' factor returned with the offending shaft 'returning' to her slight bend causing the ship to vibrate. By then it was too late with CUNARD LINE living with it, not putting her back in the yards as she was retired October of 1968. Again, what do I know?

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


          Well, this is interesting reading, as some years back the official line was that there was no difference in the boat's sheer, yet photographs and even the boat's woodwork shows that there is (the main deck cabin doors don't line up anymore). One well-known employee told me that you can see a 'kink" in the original hull that, according to him, was caused by not supporting the wheel properly when she was hauled out for the new hull fit--and that no one wanted to try to straighten out the "droop" as the engines and wheel were still in line. To my untrained eye, views of the boat in recent years show the wheel dipping too deeply, with the Pittman ends close to, or actually dropping, into the water on each revolution. I suppose this helps cool the bearings though?? :)
          Perhaps with all the work planned once the exemption passes, this could be looked at and attended to? Maybe even look at the stern hull slope too, for improved steering?
          But, really; What do I know? I am NOT a marine engineer, just a really observant layman who tries to absorb everything he reads, sees and hears about.


            *Wheel deep/Cooling the bearings*
            Steamboating colleagues:
            David, interesting thoughts and observations on your part. Your comment "...cooling the bearings" also jolted my memory. I'm sure many familiar with the DQ recall years ago seeing the pitmans and cranks rolling over and over. With those in and out pitmans horizontal motions converted to rolling, rotary engery for the wheel. Above all of that were mounted two water outlets with a small stream of water playing over each rotating crank. This no doubt to 'cool' the bearings. From time to time a man from the engineroom came out to put his all telling bare hand on the rotating crank to detect any heat bulding up. Any good steamboat engineer was trained in the 'touch test' for heat or any subtle sensation or even a sound to his ears. Chief Engineer Charlie Dietz many of us knew also used a medical stethoscope to 'listen' to the cylinders and the moving pistons for audible evidence of what was or wasn't going on properly. Same things done with the walking beam or 'steeple' engines on sidewheel steamers back east. Likewise there was piping on each pitman with a mounted grease tank with a turn or spin handle. This would periodically be turned forcing lubricant out and in the rotating metal work and cams. That and other jobs filling oil cups duty of the boat's 'oiler.' Something going way, way back to virtually the beginning of steamboat and other steam engines.

            'Droop' also possibly caused by more and more vital equipment, fixtures added to the boat as the years advanced. In many cases vessels tend to 'gain weight' as they get older. Again, what do I know?

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


              I think Dave is correct as to the problem being the new hull. I seriously doubt that the drydocking in Harvey in 1948 was the culprit.

              As far as the stern rake goes, Alan Bates was consulted on that well after the fact of the new hull and the move from 4 to 2 rudders ahead of the wheel. The stern thruster was added to try to improve the way the boat handled her stern, which even before the new hull was never very good to begin with, and was not helped at all by the new hull. In my humble opinion, short of a new aft hull section in the proper shape (correcting the hogging) with a new stern rake and the move to 3 rudders ahead of the wheel, the problem(s) will not go away.

              Also, someone (Dave Williamson???) told me that they had 3 or 4 new hull designs to pick from, and they had a "best" and a "worst" from what the model tests showed them. Somehow, the numbers got screwed up, and the "worst" of the 3 or 4 was chosen, built and put on instead of the "best". So, for what that's worth....


                Well, I was a bit "tongue in cheek" when I said cool the bearings, but water cooling is a common old-time solution. There is a remote oiling station between the engines in a little room on the right side behind the gauge board wall that the oiler tends to frequently (besides all the cups on the engines' moving parts).
                The "touch test" has been pretty much replaced by the new "point and shoot" temperature gauges. I still use it on a lot of things, but one must remember that it's a "TOUCH" test--not a hold your hand on it test (you do a very quick touch at first until you know if it's really hot).
                I still remember the March '07 trip with a pretty much "newbie" engine room crew, talking with one of the young men who was telling me he was looking for a knock that he just couldn't figure out by watching the engine. I reached up and grabbed the valve reach rod moving back and forth at about eye level. He looked at me shocked that anyone would touch moving machinery. I said, "It's safe, if you know where to hang on, and the knock will telegraph right through the rod." So he reached up and did the same, and his eyes lit up, AH!! I told him that you have to feel the engine as well as listen to it, and also smell is important--and only grab onto a moving part when you know where and how fast & far your hand will be going. "Let her talk to you, she'll tell you what she needs!"
                I wonder what he would have thought of the oilers riding the connecting rods on the big Liberty engine triples? I've seen it, but even I wouldn't do that though! :)
                We do seem to have wandered about a bit in this thread--oh well, most steamboaters love "trampin' " !


                  I didn't see Bob's posting before I made my posting.
                  Thinking about it, the visual evidence in the main cabin (Betty Blake Lounge) is the doors and walls that were put in during the big refit at Dravo, so the hogging post-dates that. Also, if they are going to correct the hull, which would, I think, make the boat more maneuverable and more efficient; it should be done before they start doing the annual 10% structural improvements as wood flexes more than metal. IMHO, the superstructure wouldn't have survived the hogging if it had been metal. I base this belief on the many wooden buildings I have leveled (My family owns a 1923 resort with 16 period cabins, built without foundations; I've done a lot of leveling! :) ) The wood creaks and groans and settles into the "new location" which is quite often the location when built! :)
                  That's a shame about the hull mistake. You'd think someone would have noticed while it was being built and compensated, but that's water under the bridge (hull?).


                    Originally posted by David Dewey View Post
                    That's a shame about the hull mistake. You'd think someone would have noticed while it was being built and compensated, but that's water under the bridge (hull?).
                    You're right about the shame of the mistake, Dave. However, we've seen or heard of many mistakes of this type, many by the government, that seemed to "slip through the cracks" and got done the wrong way. I used to think, "Oh, no way would anyone let that happen", but it has happened too many times to too many people (entities) for it to not be a distinct possibility.


                      A couple comments regarding the stern droop. The pictures taken recently, or any picture taken since the Queen's departure from Chattanooga is going to be a little bit skewed due to the trim of the boat.

                      The boat is very light in the bow with absolutely no #2 fuel aboard, and very little Bunker Fuel Oil. She also has very little Potable Water on board. Even with taking on ballast in the forward tanks, her bow draft is only 7' 6" while the stern is at exactly 9'. That's a difference of 18" from bow to stern, which may not sound like much, but given her stern draft marker is about 40' ahead of the jockey bar behind the wheel, it would make her overall appearance look like she was squatting in the stern, but its the entire boat on a slant and not just the stern.

                      The resulting optical illusion is that she has an exaggerated sheer in the bow and none or even negative sheer in the stern. When we purchased the boat and also prior to the tow, a marine surveyor and the USCG went through the entire hull, opening and inspecting nearly every single compartment and void space. To their surprise and our satisfaction, the space between the old and new hulls, known as the "void space" looks like a 2 yr old excellent shape. There was no signs of twisting, buckling or distortion.

                      The only stern droop the DQ has today, in my opinion, is a result of the lack of support during the 1990 hull conversion that allowed her stern to drop, and thus removed almost all of her original stern sheer. As others have pointed out in earliest posts, this is clearly seen when looking at the doors in the Aft Cabin Lounge at the very rear where they go out on deck...they don't line up with the frames, or the adjacent door.

                      As for the hull, having spoken at length with the former DQSC Executive who oversaw that project, he assured me the rumors of the multiple designs and tank tests are false. There was only one hull design that was actually modeled and tested. Other concepts were on paper, but never made it to the tank testing stage.

                      The change in her handling going astern has much more to do with the rudders than the stern rake. The stern rake on the boat is fine, she could have used a more curved transition into the transom, but the rake itself is very much adequate for getting water to the wheel. The rudders however are not as large and triangular shaped like a traditional sternwheel rudder. When combined with the fact she only has two of them instead of four like before, there isn't a good solid wall to deflect the wheel wash when backing. As a result, a lot of water can pass between the rudders and go straight forward against the hull rather then deflected towards either side. The best solution, as suggested by Jeff Boat and Alan Bates back in 1991 (the company took the plans for the current rudders to them for suggestions after complaints by pilots), was to put a third rudder between the existing two and change the shape of them all to a more triangular traditional sternwheel rudder.

                      I believe Alan's quote was something a long the lines of "well there's your problem, you have a sternwheel boat, but it doesn't have sternwheel rudders" according to Chief Kenny Howe.

                      Over the years since, pilots have learned how to handle her in the current configuration and she sailed successfully with them for 18 years, so they can't be too bad. The trick I hear is to start backing on a straight rudder and only turn them once you start moving astern. If any changes were to be made going forward, it would be to the shape of the existing two rudders, nothing as drastic as modifying the hull, which is still in excellent condition.


                        Thank you Phillip for the excellent explanation. And also for the good news from the Marine Surveyor and the USCG. All we need now is that dang exemption!!!!!