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    Delta Queen wheel.

    Does anyone know what color the DQ's sternwheel was when it had the cover on it? I recently heard that it might have been painted black.

    #2
    I have always been under the impression it was black also. All of the very early photos of the boat in CA and during construction imply it was a dark color, but being B&W one can't be 100%. My guess would be black though as it wouldn't show as much. Back then they weren't trying to show the wheel off, and whatever color was the least maintenance is probably what they chose.

    This is all assumptions, so I would be happy if someone had the facts to prove me wrong or right! :)

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      #3
      color

      In all the pictures I have seen it looks unpainted.

      Comment


        #4
        *RE: DQ's wheel paint--if any.*
        Hi, Mike, Phillip and Ed:
        Good question RE: DQ wheel paint--if any. That's a 'toughie' for sure and no doubt there may be others out there from California, or those with more extensive photo collections here, who could nail it. If you have a copy of Capt. Fred Way's 'The Saga of the DELTA QUEEN,' Young & Klein, Cincinnati, 1951, you see the boat's wheel at different times. Fred doesn't mention any painting of the wheel. Some wheels in side or stern housings weren't painted at all. No doubt during her World War II Navy days I'd imagine the swabbies were put to work applying paint and more paint. During the daily night runs of the DK/DQ up the Sacramento I wonder how they would have had time to keep it painted. John Burns, son of old Jim Burns who built the two boats, looked at me with a puzzled look when I asked him that question years ago. "Sometimes painted--sometimes not," he replied somewhat uncertain. The DQ's wheel was dismantled and stored inside for her long towing from San Francisco via Panama Canal to New Orleans where the wheel was put together. Pg. 105 of Way's book shows the DQ in Louisville-Portland Canal on her first trip up here and the wheel doesn't look painted to me. Again, hard to tell from those old B/W photos. The wheel housing was removed at DRAVO during her refurbishing with the wheel looking somewhat like it had been painted. Can you imagine the work for the paint crew up under that wood/copper wheel cover on a warm day in Sacramento? 'Takes a village to tell a story.' Well, what do I know?

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

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          #5
          Having just scanned 42 photo's of Upper Miss. boats today as part of my work with the Howard collection, I can assure you that there was not a single painted wheel in the whole bunch. Painting the wheel on a real working boat was a waste of time and money. Back in the day, paint technology was not what it is today and paints that would stick on a wheel did not exist. If anything I would think they might coat the wheel with creosote or oil as a preservative. These were working boats and when the wheel wasn't turning, they weren't making money. It was poor business to stop the wheel long enough to paint it and let the paint dry. Like Dale said when the DQ and DK were running daily between San Francisco and Sacremento, when did they have time to paint the paddlewheel and for what use?
          Hey, Shipyard Sam when you were on the DQ how long would it take to paint the paddlewheel...I mean the whole wheel from beginning to end and how many people would it take? And was the boat generating any revenue while the wheel was stopped?

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            #6
            Jim I remember doing more painting on the MQ's wheel when I was a deckhand and later a mate than on the DQ. but on either boat I seem to remember keeping pre painted boards and wheel arms. Other than that it was hit and miss during cruising season. I remember a lot of scrubbing with algecide and bleach.

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              #7
              Right you are, Mel. The key to a pretty wheel was to have the pieces painted prior to installation. We always had bucket boards and arms (pre-cut) on the roof, primed, painted and ready. We kept circle pieces, keys and cocked hats ready in the carpenter shop, also pre-painted.

              We would start the season with the wheel in pretty good shape -- all repairs made and painted up pretty well. As the season progressed and we had to replace parts, they were pre-painted so as not to stand out too bad. Painting in the wheel was done on an "as needed" or "as possible" basis throughout the season. Treating the wheel for algae was more common than painting; we would spray chlorine on the algae and sometimes scrub that with a scrub brush, other times just "spray and kill" and let the motion of the wheel underway do the removal. When we did paint, it was more likely the white (shaft, rings and cranks) than the red.

              Jim is right about keeping working boats' wheels painted. First of all, no one cared what the wheel looked like. Steamboats were so common they did not attract the attention they would nowadays. To put the crew in the wheel while stopped was something they only did when repairs were needed. On packet boats, if they were stopped, the crew was loading/unloading freight, doing some other work or were "up the hill". Dale, what, if anything, do you know about the GORDON C. GREENE's wheel and what they did with it?

              I would venture to say that it was only in fairly recent times (late 1960's on) when the appearance of the wheel began to take on any significance. By this time, Greene Line and her successors were engaged in a P.R. campaign and the look of the wheel became important, especially with the advent of color photography.

              Comment


                #8
                I also remember how well you kept up the Stars on the cranks Bob. They always seemed to be in good shape. It was a shame when we rode back in '97 and they were gone. Little things like that, personal touch's, made all the difference in the world.

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                  #9
                  postcard

                  There is a DQ postcard with the heading "Greetings from Memphis Tenn." that shows the boat with a white stern nameboard, no calliope, and a black wheel.

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                    #10
                    Herewith is a photograph, taken in the fall of 1970, of the crew of the ADMIRAL removing some bucket planks from one of her sidewheels to prevent drift and debris from collecting during winter layup. Capt. Don Summmers is second from left in the photo.

                    I once asked Capt. Bill Carroll, longtime master of the ADMIRAL, about the sidewheels being painted. He chuckled and said there was no need to paint what the passengers couldn't see!
                    Attached Files

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                      #11
                      *RE: Wheels on GCG/ADMIRAL*
                      Steamboating colleagues:
                      Keith's above photo of the ADMIRAL's wheel is a real 'winner.' These behind-the-scenes photos show all and more beyond the usual shots we view. I recall Frank Prudent posting a long time ago memories his dad, Engineer Bill Prudent, had of the unpainted sidewheels on the last ISLAND QUEEN including an 'incident' when the wheels were suddenly started up with workers still in the housing. Am I right on this? Who here recalls the red/white signal board that was mounted on the DQ's throttle warning 'MAN IN WHEEL?'

                      Other old photos here of the California Transportation Co. steamers FOR SUTTER etc. do show sternwheels appearing to have been either painted or treated when new being very dark to almost black as mentioned above. Dark cresote, as mentioned, is a real possibility. When the Str. QUEEN CITY [Way's DIRECTORY No. 4615] was built here in Cincinnati, 1897, her sternwheel is pictured as being painted YIKES! a snow white! This didn't last long for sure.

                      Bob's question RE: fate of the GORDON C. GREENE's wheel is a good one and I don't know the answer. Keith, Cap'n Bill Judd, Jim Reising, Alan Bates etc. may know more on its fate. I do recall eons ago seeing the smaller landing stage for the GCG stowed aboard the GREENE LINE STEAMERS big wharfboat here in Cincinnati. Seems to me the DQ used that stage for short time until the new, bigger one was assembled and mounted with the help of Marion Frommel. I heard it was quite a welding job at the time.

                      The GREENE LINE here for years favored that 'certain' green tinted oil based paint. Now, whether it was custom mixed or just off the supplier's paint stock a good question. My late uncle Vincent Tynan was the paint supplier for the boats and I 'think' it may have been PORTER PAINT--but don't quote me here. Doc Hawley would probably remember in an instant. I DO recall the year when the crew added a hint of 'blue' to the white paint for the DQ to give it a whiter tone similar to blue in laundry detergent. The DQ steamed out for her Mardi Gras cruise that year with everybody on the wharfboat noting the new tint/tone of the paint.

                      John Fryant's intensive research on steamboat paint indicated that not all steamboats were painted the usual snowy white as assumed. Some may have been slightly 'buff' in color above. This a good question with current digital/computer analysis of old B/W photos giving some hints. Well, what do I know?

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

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I remember reader Way's Packet Directory and it listing a boat with a lime green wheel. I have spent all morning thumbing through it trying to find it to no avail. Anyone have a clue which boat this is?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Dale is undoubtedly one of the few on this forum who saw the GORDON C. GREENE in her operating days. I can't say for certain, but in most color photos the wheel appears very dark -- perhaps a deep red but not at all the bright red we are accustomed to seeing on the DELTA QUEEN, BELLE OF LOUISVILLE, NATCHEZ, JULIA BELLE SWAIN and MISSISSIPPI QUEEN. As far as I know it was not until the GORDON was retired (1952) and became a restaurant boat that her wheel was painted the fire engine red, as it shows in slides and post cards of her at New Orleans, Hannibal and St. Louis.

                          Here is a color photo of the GORDON, taken at Hannibal, Missouri with a portion of the wheel in view. I'm also including images of the IDLEWILD (today's BELLE OF LOUISVILLE) at St. Louis and the MISSISSIPPI (later the BECKY THATCHER) with WHITE paddlewheels. That didn't last long!
                          Attached Files

                          Comment


                            #14
                            *RE: Seeing GORDON C. GREENE*
                            Hi, Keith & steamboating colleagues:
                            Keith, I'd say Bill Judd is another here locally with possibly better memories of the GCG than me. I certainly remember her living at Coal Haven Landing along with her docked at the GL wharfboat. Virginia Bennett another with vidid memories beyond all of us next to the present Greene children. Woody Rutter was aboard and also has clear memories.

                            I never was on the GCG for a trip. My late dad hauled me down to the wharf when I was a kid relating to his position with the City of Cincinnati in the Fire Prevention Bureau. The Public Landing came with his duties along with the big fireboat they had. The GCG was laid up and quiet as I recall. There were lights aboard and I rememember looking in and down her long cabin. The high black stacks made an impression with me then. Don't recall the engineroom but recall the sound of the boilers fired up. That was a L-O-N-G time ago.

                            On my den wall here is a fine B/W photo of the GCG docked at Cave In Rock the first year under GL ownership. The photographer was the late renowned Paul Briol and the photo quite artistic with great atmosphere. At her stage is a figure in uniform possibly either Capt. Chris Greene or Purser Bob McCann. Hard to tell as the figure is facing away from the camera but I'd wager it was Bob. Now-and-then I run into locals around town who tripped on the GORDON and they share memories. A dwindling number now but for the very young at the time. Cheers!

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

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Gorden C. Greene

                              Some of the color photos seem to suggest that the GCG had a red hull. Is this the case or have I been searching for lime green sternwheels too long?

                              Comment

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