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  • Bruno Krause
    replied
    Capt Lexie, you wanna know what is the nuts for starting our woodburner?

    Try empty 3 and 5 Liter wine boxes...

    Rock and Roll!

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  • Lexie Palmore
    replied
    Graceful Ghost: Being lazy, I prescribe to the KISS method of steaming up, which one can do on a small wood burner. No worries about fuel pumps, generators, condensers, refrigeration, and such as there ain't none.

    First you cleans out the ashes from the previous day. By this time they are no longer red hot, but one must find a safe place to dump them as they may still have fire starting properties. We save wax paper cups, milk cartons, cardboard cartons, and also use narrow strips of wood to start the fire. Wax paper cups make a good fire starter, and on hot days, people drink lots of lemonade out of said cups. Notice no flammable liquids enter the picture, although we keep some charcoal starter fluid on hand in case it is a damp day or we are in a hurry. Once things get going we start to add the larger boards and then, while that cooks, do things like fill the water tanks, compute how much chemical to go in with the water, which is added with a measuring bottle and poured into the same hole that the hose goes in. The water is softened by a water softener. There is usually enough water in the boiler to show in the gage glass, but if not, it can be put in with an electric pump or there may be enough vacuum in the boiler to suck it in by opening the boiler feed valves. We usually hold off on adding a lot of water until there is a good head of steam because we don't want to destroy our weak pressure with a huge slug of cold water. We can also add water with a steam pump, a crosshead pump (while under way), or a hand pump (God forbid). We have automatic oilers, so the reservoirs are checked and topped off. During the raising of steam, one usually has to load a few wheelbarrows of firewood, which consists of scrap lumber from a very handy cable reel factory. It is already cut and dried and just the right size. Slides are hand oiled and wheel bearings are greased using a grease gun. Before warming up, we make sure oiler valves and boiler feed valves are opened. Drain valves are usually kept open a little all the time as the steam is pretty wet. The main steam valve is cracked and steam goes back, pushing water ahead of it, and when all of the H2O is spewed out, the wheel starts to turn.

    No one else does this: Before we leave, enough water is added to the boiler to enable us to use the steam as a bow thruster to turn the boat around, and still have some water in the boiler after several seconds of blowing steam out a nozzle on the port bow. This also doubles as a blow down, part of boiler maintenance.

    Now wasn't that easy. Took a lot of words, so I hope I didn't lull anyone to sleep. I should have put it all in past tense as we don't do tours any more, but someone else is, and they better be doing the same thing. It takes about 2 hours, assuming you had steam the day before. We lose all our pressure, but that water is very hot. We like to warm up the engines at least a half hour, usually 45 minutes.

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  • Dan Lewis
    replied
    Sorry for the lag time on my response. As one of our engineers would say to his striker when going through his duties while under way, WATCH THE (insert desired explicative) BOILER WATER! Also, answer the bells. I like to tell passengers it's not a good sign to see engineers scrambling around the engine room. After we turn around to head back to the barn, one of us will step out on the fantails to check the main and crank pin bearings. We'll walk around the engine room glancing at gauges, checking the chemical tank, and making sure the pumps are chugging away.
    As far as what Hank mentioned about the boilers holding heat, we've made an effort to insulate, especially in recent years. The only down side I've seen to this is lengthening the amount of time we take to cool the boilers down before opening them up to wash ("boiler day"), but we schedule these days far ahead, allowing for needed time to cool down.

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  • Hank Bloomer
    replied
    No chance of sleeping here! Sounds like the auxiliary systems take more time than the propulsion machinery. Still, ya gotta have them all. I assume that starting from cold, you have to fire the boilers and raise some steam before any of the process can begin. Nice to have a system that holds heat and steam over night. From what I have read, the early systems wouldn't do either and you had to start by filling the boiler with the hand pumps.

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  • Tom Schiffer
    replied
    Dab: OK, this is warm-up. Now, what do you do when under way?? Cap'n Walnut.

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  • Dan Lewis
    replied
    At the risk of putting many of you to sleep; I’ll see if I can give a condensed version of what the striker typically does to get the engine room ready for a trip. I say “condensed” because when we wrote a start up list for the striker it ended up being about four pages. This list was assuming the striker already had the basic training to do these tasks and simply needed a reminder written down for reference. Keep in mind the engineer will often team up with the striker to do these tasks.
    When going on watch, the first things we all check (sometimes in the dead of winter out of shear habit) is the boiler pressure as we walk by the boiler room and the boiler water level as we walk into the engine room. When I go through some of these tasks I like to prioritize them to give some order and sense, along with combating my absent-mindedness. This will start with whether we do a bottom blow, so the fireman can get a good start on raising steam. Sometimes the fireman will handle this task once the engineer has decided if it is necessary. If we have enough steam for it, we’ll get the house pump warming up. This little pump, dubbed “Iron Mike” (so christened for Chief Mike Pfleider), will send river water to toilets and heat potable water. The next set of tasks will be to check all fluids. This will start with checking the water level in the chemical feed tank. The tank is near our gauges for the potable water tanks, so I like to take a glance at those while I’m there. Also in that vicinity is the line we use to get our boiler sample water, so I’ll get that out of the way and give the water time to cool for the test. Next, I’ll go through the generators, checking fuel, oil, and coolant levels. Topping off these tanks can take some time because the fuel is gravity fed from a tank in the boiler room. This is a good exercise in patience and not getting distracted by an errant deckhand trying to bum a tool from us.
    Once the generators check out, I’ll head for the sacred grease can. Packing grease into the main bearings can be a SLOW task if that grease has sat after a cold night, so I like to throw the can on top of the house pump to limber it up some. After the main bearings are packed, we’ll turn down all the grease cups (one set on the crank bearings and one set on the crossheads). At this point, depending on how the time looks, it may be a good time to catch a breath, a drink of water (especially on a warm day), or a bite to eat. This may be a good point to any housekeeping (sweeping, mopping, shining brass, or wiping down equipment). This could also be a chance to grease any other equipment that is due (pumps, steering, and capstan). There is also the matter of checking safety equipment and communications. This includes emergency lights (in the engine room), all alarms, fire extinguishers, fire stations, and the phone.
    We also have the ice machine on the wharf boat to check. This can be especially important during those dog days of summer. This can often mean cleaning the condenser coils when they get gummed up from all of the highway dirt thrown at us. No ice machine can mean a hefty bill for buying SEVERAL bags of ice at the last minute. Anyway, I’m starting to wander off the main trail here. Back in the engine room we still have our boiler test to do. Once those numbers are written down, the chief on watch can ponder these results to determine the best treatment and draw the prescription out in the log book.
    Now we’ve reached a point that’s likely to be when we start warming up the steering, ship-up jack, feed water pump, and the main engines. Once we start cracking steam valves open, though, our fireman will likely light the burners soon after. To save our firemen the hassle of shutting the burners down again to switch to our generator, we’ll go ahead and switch to our generator once we start warming up. This is also a good time to head over to our potable pumps, close the shore water valve, open the discharge valves for our two pumps, and close their breakers to get them on-line. How long we take to warm up generally depends on the weather and how long it’s been since the last trip. On average, though, a good 30 minutes of letting steam blow through will do. This 30 minute window is a good time to grab the oil can and start climbing the engines. Even after all the times I’ve oiled these engines, I still use the same routine I was taught from my first season to keep track of this.
    By the time the engines have been oiled, all oilers filled, and the crosshead slide cups (sardine cans?) topped off, it’s probably time to get the wheel rollin’. Let’s saunter over to the throttle and ship-up jack. Now we can make sure our steering and ship-up jack valves are completely open and the safety chain is off the top of the jack. We’ll work our valves on the jack to limber it up. Once we’re satisfied with that and we’ve made sure the wheel is clear, we’ll GINGERLY get the engines working and open up the drip oilers.
    We still have the feed water pump to cajole into service and the chemical feed pump to start. The feed water pump (“Big Bertha”) limbered up with a bypass valve that allows the pump to stretch its legs before it begins pumping into the boiler. By the time we get the wheel rollin’, though, we can close her condensate drains and bypass valve and make sure she can get the stop/check opened and water going to the boiler. Now we walk back behind the boilers, open our stop valves on the chemical pump discharge, flip the switch, watch the blue indicator light come on, and listen to a healthy chemical pump. Barring the unforeseen, with passengers finding their way up the main stairs, the Belle’s engine room is ready for another trip. If you managed to read this far and not fall asleep, then give yourself a pat on the back. Remember, though, you only suffered through the “condensed” version.
    Last edited by Dan Lewis; 05-31-2009, 11:34 AM. Reason: structure improvements

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  • Keith Baylor
    replied
    Some mighty fine stuff in this thread, for certain! Thanks much to Cap'n Bates, Chief Lewis, Cap'n Walnut.....and to Hank for kicking it off!

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  • Judy Patsch
    replied
    Yes, the NATCHEZ has condensing systems. Someone (not a crew member) got the idea in the late '80s to add phony scape pipes. Not only did the needed steam take away from the whistle, but they were just too much with all the flagpoles on the roof too. Unfortunately, they mysteriously 'disappeared' one winter layup down in the canal away from the office...
    Here's a picture of one of the phony scapes. This is the only postcard I've ever had published. That's Vic Tooker in his calliope/banjo playing duds. And before you say something doesn't look right - it doesn't and isn't. The publisher took artistic license and reversed the picture for the 'golden mean' ideal, even if it made the picture wrong. So that picture was taken at the Toulouse St. wharf and that is the Gov. Nicholls wharf over the calliope console. And of course the whistles are reversed, etc. etc.
    Attached Files

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  • Hank Bloomer
    replied
    NATCHEZ also has a condenser plant, does she not? The JBS seems to have 'scape pipes. Does anyone know what operating peculariaties her flash boiler has? How about the CHATAUQUA BELLE?

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  • Tom Schiffer
    replied
    To those of you who do not know...or have not guessed by now, Dan Lewis is a licensed steamboat engineer and as far as I am concerned he can spin away on the things needed to start the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE as long as he wants. In contrast to your operation, Dan, we, with a large Cincinnati industrial boiler (over six stories high and capable of vaporizing over a half million pounds...200 tons of water in an hour) put well water across a hot lime softener to get it down to about 25 parts per million hardness. We then put it across an ion exchange resin bed and the water was at ZERO hardness when it was fed into the boiler. We too used sulfite, plus hydrazine as an oxygen scavenger to protect against corrosion of the steel tubes...made of common A-36 carbon steel. A steamer cannot afford the space for all the equipment we had, even if they had the resources to acquire it. An advantage the the DQ has over the BOL is that she condenses her steam and puts it back in the boiler after removing the lubricating oil (oil is a no-no in boiler tubes). That means that the DQ feedwater is already partially heated, distilled and free of contamination compared to the river water that BOL (and MISSIE) use for makeup. Cap'n Walnut

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  • Judy Patsch
    replied
    Turning the key on a steamboat!

    Originally posted by Dan Lewis View Post
    Tom,

    On our shifts, we run the Belle with a fireman, striker, and a licensed engineer. As a general rule, we try to give ourselves two hours before boarding to get steam up, get things in order, and make sure all the equipment is carefully and thoroughly warmed up. This can be a long laundry list sometimes, and our schedule will dictate how easily this is done. I could spin a long thread on just what the striker and engineer have to do to get ready for a trip. As Alan so aptly stated, it’s so much more than just turning the key.
    .
    Here is an example of the 'disconnect' (ignorance or lack of info) on the part of office people working for a steamboat company: back when I was working summers on the NATCHEZ, Doc came aboard 'all steamed up' - he had just taken a phone call from a gal in the office. It was 8 AM and she wanted the NATCHEZ out in Algiers Bend for some photo ops at 8:30 - she didn't have a clue that it "is so much more than just turning the key"!
    On the NATCHEZ an additional task for the Chief early in the day is to turn the air conditioning on for the dining room crew in the sweltering summer heat! I don't know how it is now, but back in the 1980s-90s we could tell who the Chief was that day by when the a/c came on!

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  • Hank Bloomer
    replied
    Given the amount of caustic chemicals in the boiler, how do you handle the blow down water? Does EPA make you retain and dispose of that water in some particular manner? As far as I'm concerned, go ahead and spin that long thread on the engineer & striker's check list.

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  • Dan Lewis
    replied
    Tom,
    The No. 6 was quite a bit cheaper than No.2 when we were buying it. However, we had to get it shipped from Cincy, which added more to the price. We also had a fee for cleaning the truck. There was no doubt No.6 had more BTUs, as was shown in the amount of maintenance we had to do to the furnace this winter, which can also be factored into the price we paid for it. Fortunately, we decided to blend a load of No.2 with our No. 6 at the end of last season to save us the aggravation of trying to heat a COLD boiler with a COLD and THICK No. 6.
    On our shifts, we run the Belle with a fireman, striker, and a licensed engineer. As a general rule, we try to give ourselves two hours before boarding to get steam up, get things in order, and make sure all the equipment is carefully and thoroughly warmed up. This can be a long laundry list sometimes, and our schedule will dictate how easily this is done. I could spin a long thread on just what the striker and engineer have to do to get ready for a trip. As Alan so aptly stated, it’s so much more than just turning the key. How often we blow down will depend what our chemical tests tell us from previous trips and what sort of reaction the boiler has to our treatments. This time of year, with the rains keeping the river muddy, we’ll do a blow down before every trip.
    As far as the treatment goes, we look at the pH level, oxygen level, and how many solids are in the water. We use caustic soda, soda ash, sodium sulfite, and a polymer. We also have our surface skimmer to control solids. The powder chemicals are fed directly into each drum, whereas the liquid polymer goes in just before the feedwater stop-check valve in order to condition the valve as well. We do have a certain range from our chemical tests in which we like to keep the boiler. The only time we really use city water is when we have plenty of time to fill the boiler after washing it. Otherwise, we like to exercise our main fire pump to fill up. It’s nice to start the boiler up with clean city water, but, considering the amount of water we cycle through while underway, that will last for, possibly, one trip. Let me know if my rambling made any sense—easy for me to carried away on different tangents with this.

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  • Tom Schiffer
    replied
    Hank and David: MISSIE is simpler than that in that if I heat the valve boxes with their drains open (simpling valve and throttle cracked open), I can start her and water (condensate) in the cylinders will simply push its way past (unseat) the "D" valves and no harm is done. But MISSIE does have cylinder cocks that can be used to warm the cylinders in the conventional manner. With all the inertia of the wheel and pittman, water in the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE's cylinder could deadhead against the poppet valves and might well blow a head off the cylinder...the drains not big enough to vent the pressure fast enough or if left closed. Thus the caution used with warm-up there. It is a tribute to all those generations of engineers that this has evidently never happened. Don't know if we can say the same for the DQ as she has had a cylinder replaced (low pressure, I think) and ran through her self another time methinks. The former could have been from inexperienced navy personnel in the engine room. That is why it is said that old-time engineers would not walk in front of a cylinder head when under steam. Cap'n Walnut.

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  • David Dewey
    replied
    Hank,
    Typically you "roll 'er back and forth" to warm up the cylinders, a little throttle, and forward, then reverse, then forward until she rolls over. Also, usually leave the drain cocks open in case any water carries over, or condenses because the cylinders are so cold.Close the simpling valve (if there is one) and let her warm up at a low throttle setting, and close the cocks when they show just steam. At least that's what I did with the Mikahala (steeple compound). It does take a bit of "feel" and "listen."
    S'
    David D.
    Last edited by David Dewey; 05-27-2009, 12:53 AM. Reason: Forgot an important detail

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