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MQ and AQ Engines

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    MQ and AQ Engines

    A new question from the SB 201 class. Are engines on both AQ and MQ vintage from other boats? I thought the MQ might be built news? And what is the provenance of the Natchez engines?



    Origins of engines

    The MQ's were made for her from plans from a previous set used elsewhere. The AQ steam machinery is from the Corps dredge KENNEDY. When the DQ Company was shopping for engines for the AQ, they looked at the MISSISSIPPI's which are owned by New Orleans Steamboat, but opted for the KENNEDY's. The NATCHEZ' engines were bought and removed from the Ohio River towboat CLAIRTON. They were built in 1925, the NATCHEZ in 1975.


      The MQ's machinery was manufactured for her by the Pine Tree Manufacturing Co. in Maine. They are what old river engineers called Marietta Piston-poppet Valve engines which were originally designed and made mechanically correct by the Marietta Manufacturing Co. This type of engine was used on the OMAR, the towboat JOHN W. HUBBARD, CHARLES T. CAMPBELL, JASON, and the Corp's dredges BLACK and MITCHELL, amongst others.

      Dad said that the engines' valves would, "carbon up," and could give an engineer problems at inopportune times such as when being handled.

      The AQ's machinery, as Judy said, is from the KENNEDY. They are Nordberg engines and the ne plus ultra of horizontal marine steam engines. The GEO. M. VERITY and her sisters had Norberg machinery. It was expensive, so most boats with Nordbergs were government built.

      The NATCHEZ's machinery was built at Carnegie Steel's Coal Valley, PA. ship yard for the towboat YOUGHIOGHENY which was eventually renamed CLAIRTON. The style was known as Hamilton-Corliss engines. With their Walschert Valve-gear they can be shipped-up without stopping the engines in an emergency. Other styles of engines tend to stall if this is tried.

      Reese Variable Cutoff engines have been serving the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE well for lo these many years. On the CHAUTAUQUA BELLE her engines were made just for her, and perhaps Mat can fill us in on those.


        The engines on the CHAUTAUQUA BELLE were built at Fulton, IL, across the river from Clinton, IA. I don't know the name of the manufacturer or if those were the only steam engines they built.

        Wesley, if you do not have it, I recommend Alan Bates' book "The Engineroom Cyclopaedium", a companion to the "Steamboat Cyclopaedium". Alan goes into great detail about different styles of straight and compound engines, condensing and non-condensing engines, various types of valve gear and cut-offs, etc., as well as types of boilers and steam generators and the operation of all the above-mentioned stuff. I daresay there is more info. there than you will be interested in.


          That's correct. The MQ was actually supposed to use the HERBERT E. JONES' engines (formerly the JASON). The JONES had been dismantled into a nightclub called the Thunderbird near Pittsburgh, and the owner was agreeable to sell the engines for use on the MQ. But it took too long to get the MQ off the drawing board, and by the time they were building her, the Thunderbird had been totally scrapped, engines and all. But meanwhile the MQ was being built, expecting to use those engines.. So they had to go back and get the plans Marietta Mfg engine plans and build from scratch.


            The CHAUTAQUA BELLE engines were made for her by Harry McBride in 1975. They have Stevenson valve gear.