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Gordon C. Greene remains

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    Gordon C. Greene remains

    Upon a recent visit to the Gordon's remains something caught my eye I hadn't really paid attention to before. Namely, it was the wood planking bolted to her steel decks. Why would they go through the trouble of installing a wood deck on top of steel? Nostalgia?

    *RE: GORDON C. GREENE wood decks*
    Hi, Dan & steamboating colleagues:
    The GORDON [Built by Howard in 1923] in particular, steamboats in general, down to the bitter end of packet boat building were fitted with wood decks. What the GORDON had in/around her boiler fireboxes I can't recall now from my one visit aboard her as a kid years ago. I'd assume metal decks there with, possibly, hob nailing pattern for better traction under foot, preventing coal ashes/sparks those those days from catching fire. Wood cargo decks also somewhat softened the sound of cargo being trundled on and off at landings. The DELTA KING/DELTA QUEEN also finished with fine wood decking when they were completed. In packet days most cargo decks were never painted with wood grain visible. Laying a steamboat deck no simple job with builders making certain the 'grain' was up and facing correctly. Splintering, gouging did occur but could be repaired. Caulking between the wood planks a laborious job with either oakum and tar. Painted steel decks in heavy working areas a real pain. You know what I mean if you've ever painted the cement foor of a work room, garage or laundry room. Alan Bates used to say, "Paint it once and you're painting it constantly." Selection of wood decking was a particular thing as to hardness and durability. Howard Yards once had a complaint from an owner grousing that the deck wood was "too soft, laid wrong...prone to splintering." Probably sour apples more than truth.

    Big 'blue water' ocean ships have also returned to installing fine teak decks in outside passenger areas. U.S. Naval ships following World War II eschewed wood on any decks even over thick steel armor. Again cost and not practical. In sea wars more crew were injured by flying splinters of decking during bombarment along with steel fragments. Well, what do I know?

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