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A couple DQ tidbits..

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    A couple DQ tidbits..

    Reading Capt. Way's book published in 1951 is always a joy and I recently picked it up again. Just the perspective makes it so enjoyable because the vast majority of the ole gal's history had yet to occur when that book came out. Anyhow looking at the photos I come up with some questions...

    1. What happened to her wheel? When was it removed infavor of the current hydraulic steering levers? Did she original have steam assisted steering such as that on the Belle with vertical levers and foot brakes slowed or stopped the wheel?

    2. What was her rudder arrangement when she entered Green Line service, did she have her original four main rudders? At which point in time did she loose two of her mains for two larger ones and the monkey rudders?

    3. When did she get her steam bow thruster installed?

    4. Is her current whistle the original whistle to the boat from 1925? Interesting note, in a conversation with Stan Garvey some years ago, the King's original stack still exists, being used as a small tool shed in someone's yard/field in CA, that was as of almost a decade ago, it may no longer exists sadly.

    5. Since we're talking about original equipment now...what happened to the lifeboats from the DQ as they were removed over the years? Did any survive and end up in private hands? Any exist today?

    Just some little facts I have been wondering it, and thought it could generate some interesting conversation. Please anyone and everyone contribute!

    Long live the Delta Queen!

    Phillip Johnson

    Hi, Phillip! I will try to answer a few of the questions you posed, but we'll have to wait for others to get some of them!
    (1) The pilotwheel was removed sometime in the late 50's, I think. It did have a steam assist and had the vertical levers you mention, similar to the BELLE. Mrs. Letha Greene tells about this in her book "Long Live the DELTA QUEEN!"
    (2) Yes, she had her original 4 main rudders up until the new hull was put on late 1980's. The monkey rudders (two rudders aft of the wheel) were added in the late 50's or early 60's, and were in addition to the four original main rudders. The 2 and 2 combo was fitted when the new hull was put on. The boat never had a long stern rake, and after the new hull, it is even bluffer. The boat never backed very well, and that was made worse after the new hull.
    (3) The bow thruster is diesel, and was installed in 1971, I believe. I was powered by a GM V-8/71 diesel, and I assume it still is.
    (4) Yes, that is the original whistle. Capt. Greene toyed with the idea of replacing it early on (and maybe did it), but the one she blows now and has for the majority of her career is the original, a 3-chime Lunkenheimer.

    Hopefully someone else with more info. can chime in and embellish this.


      I've seen pictures, mostly in old Reflectors, of the wheel being carted off. Always wondered how they got it out of the pilothouse, without cutting out walls, it's a big mother, 10 feet in diameter...the pilotwheel was donated to The Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Riverman in September 1980, but it was replaced with hydraulic many years before that. The wheel had been in storage in New Orleans up to then.

      The bow thruster is still diesel, and I can hear it and smell it in my head. I love that smell though I'm not fond of the smell of semi's, go figure...

      There is also a stern thruster which I believe is electric and rarely used.

      Bob, in a truly ignorant question, does "three chime" mean three separate whistles manifolded and operated together? If not, what does three chime mean? I ask 'cause the present DQ whistle is now just one whistle body. Best whistle on the rivers, but I'm a bit biased...

      And I'm gonna add a question or five (I'm counting, Judy)...Was it a good luck thing that there was a star on each end of the paddlewheel shaft? And why/who removed them and when? And why does the MQ and AQ have deck stars and the DQ does not?

      Same with all the acorns...somebody explained this to me, but I guess I forgot...what was the symbolic significance of all the turned wood acorns. I suspect it was again for luck, but what is the connection, luck to acorns?
      Last edited by Bruno Krause; 07-18-2008, 09:26 PM.


        Bruno, I'll answer my part as best I can and leave the rest to others (though I think I know about the acorns, but not sure!).
        Yes, the Three chime whistle is divided inside to 3 chambers of different lengths. 3-chime, single-barrel is what I would call it, but am ready to stand corrected. A normal 3-chime whistle would be 3 separate whistle barrels (each one sounding only one note) on a manifold.

        And I agree, it is the prettiest whistle there is!
        Last edited by Bob Reynolds; 07-18-2008, 09:20 PM. Reason: forgot to clarify something...


          Bob, thanks...Damn, I love this forum...


            Bob neglected to mention that he was the star painter on the DQ...when he went over to towboats, we spotted his right away - stars on the deck. And acorns: good luck, decorations, and supposedly caught the lightning strikes. Each line had its own acorn color scheme, although red and gold was very popular. The NATCHEZ has been blessed from the beginning with acorns made by Larry Walker of Cincinnati, in his home workshop...pix later
            Attached Files


              And I'll add a bit 'cause I can't stop. Phillip, I suspect you're interested in the original steam aspects of the DQ...

              True story, about two summers ago the boat lost her house water system, this system supplies all the drinking water, basically all water except toilet flushing water. Anyways, the fancy schmancy Grundfos house water pump decided to go south (a great, high quality pump that Grundfos, spec 'em all the time, but even great stuff breaks over time). Anyways a little head scratching occured until engineering remembered the original steam powered water pump was available for reconnection to any of the boat's water systems...some wrenching later, and away we go...


                and don't forget the steampowered capstan...


                  Yeah, Judy, I'll plead guilty to some stars, but Dave Tschiggfrie was first!

                  Bruno, we old-timers remember when the water in the toilets was river water. It was not flushed overboard in my time, but went to a treatment system; however the supply water was filtered and was the color of the river -- you could tell which river you were on by looking at the water in the commode: muddy for the Mississippi below St. Louis, clearer on the Ohio and the Upper, and clearest of all was the Tennessee!



                    Ok Judy may have answered a new question that arose. Someone told me long ago the thruster was steam...which was difficult for me to beleive b/c knowing a little about engineering I couldn't imagine the propulsion type..turbine would use so much steam and another steam engine would require more space and crew when it was in use. I always assumed it was diesel but the steam claim did explain the steam always seen blowing out of her hull when landing or departing. Now with the fact the capstan is steam powered is brought to my THIS the source of the steam exhaust blowing out of the bow as she is docking? The capstan would be in use at that point. It was nice to see the same capstan still adorned the bow of the King when i visited her, not sure if the bollards are original or recreations. I knew I'd come to the right place!


                      Phillip that is exactly what you see from the bow when docking...steam exhaust from the capstan. Makes a pretty neat sound too, much quieter than you'd expect..


                        That steam capstan IS a neat piece of equipment. Also steam operated (and exhausting outboard on the port bow) is the stage hoist engine. It has a lever to "put it in gear" so to speak, to ship it up for up or down direction. One of the first things to do when getting ready to operate either the capstan or stage hoist is to crack the steam supply valve a bit, in "neutral", and blow the condensate out of the line -- keeps condensate out of the cylinders which could cause a cracked head.

                        Another source of steam from hull outlets used to be the steam syphons used for ******* out the bilge water. These were replaced with electric pumps upon installation of the new hull. Once at Cincinnati, there was a photographer taking publicity photos of the boat. There was a syphon blowing steam (all water had been sucked out and the syphon was "blowing"). I was on the bow, and she came down wanting to know if we could "stop that smoke coming from the side of the boat". Needless to say, I became alarmed at the thought of smoke coming out the side of the boat! When I discovered it was a syphon blowing, I explained what it was, and offered to let it blow a little while longer, thinking that would add a "steamy" look to her pics of a steamboat. "That's not the effect I'm looking for" was the reply.


                          I guess Phillip has semi-raised a question that I've always had...What equipment on the Delta Queen still uses steam? I believe I've got a bit of it, thanks to some one on ones with Chief Shenk, though some may be on the wrong list:

                          Stuff that uses steam and returns the condensate back to the boilers:
                          1. the paddlewheel engines
                          2. the fuel oil tank preheats
                          3. boiler water preheating
                          4. domestic water heating
                          5. house/cabin heating

                          Stuff that uses steam but wastes the condensate, requiring boiler water make up:

                          1. the capstan
                          2. the calliope
                          3. the whistle
                          4. the fuel oil steam injectors (big source of lost condensate)
                          5. the boiler blowdowns
                          6. the boiler soot blowers

                          From what I have gathered all pumping and all airconditioning is done with electricity now and no cooking is done with steam, correct? But, I gotta believe the lists above are not complete, please embelish.


                            Wildcat and Ed Smith

                            The capstan engine can also be shipped-up to power the "wildcat", or anchor hoist. Sometime ago, I wrote about the time, in 1970, when the DELTA QUEEN had lost steam and was hanging on the hook just below Memphis with a traveling USCG Inspector aboard from the Commandant’s office in Washington. When steam was raised, again, and we started raising the anchor, the capstan engine ran through itself. Subsequent investigations pointed to the engine room and a lack of proper maintenance on the cute little steam engines. With Chief Cal's approval, the care of greasing and oiling went to YT and my deckhands, and we delighting in indulging that set of capstan engines in special, loving care.

                            The stage hoist is not original, of course, as the DELTA QUEEN did not carry a stage in its California days. Those twin-cylinder engines came off a steam-powered digger boat, and were used to hoist a clamshell sand bucket. Captain Hawley could probably pin down exactly where the hoist engines originated.

                            All those engines used huge amounts of steam. Ed Smith, Legendary Steamboat Fireman, would leave the sanctity of his firebox and come out on deck and scold anyone foolish enough to allow too much of his precious vapor to carelessly escape into the atmosphere without doing any useful work. Ed got his start on the Streckfus Steamers and fired on several of those legendary steamboats that Judy often mentions.


                              Just add the aforementioned bilge siphons and stage hoist engine to the second list, at least as part of the past. More on the cursed siphons. Steam siphons are great when they work, but are picky as to what the conditions have to be for them to perform. The siphons on the DQ always seemed to work, but did not have to work against pressure like boiler siphons. Here's my siphon story. Was siphoning a forward bilge when it ran out of water and started to pick up the oil that was floating on top of the water. So we have atomized oil blowing out under pressure and blowing right back on the foredeck. Before I could shut the thing off, deck hands and foredeck was covered with a layer of super slick slick. It was horrible and took a lot of mopping and degreasering to remove and in the meantime the chief engineer came to check on things and went flying when he hit that slick. The rest of us were in a sense ice skating. I kept an eagle eye on those bilges after that.