Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 837
Topic starter  

On another web site there was a discussion about the DQ when she "ran through herself" at Rock Island in the fall of 1954. I raised the question "how close does the piston come to the cylinder head when the stroke is at "top dead center?" No one on that site offered an answer so I went to the expert, Chief Kenneth P. Howe, who said the distance is a mere 3/8ths of and inch!
That tells me that when the pitman strap broke it didn't take much of a distortion to drive the piston into the cylinder head.
Just thought you may want to know.....who knows that maybe the final answer on JEOPARDY one of these days and you might win a bunch of money.

Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1453

Thanks for this, Jim. I didn’t realize the tolerances were quite that close. Easy to see now how this could happen.

Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1667

*DELTA QUEEN at Rock Island, 1954*
Morning, Steamboating colleagues:
Thanks, Jim, for the data above as related by Kenny Howe. Very interesting. The incident of the DQ 'running through' herself, Rock Island, 1954 got big press here in Cincinnati at the time. Mrs. Letha Greene wrote about it in her book 'Long Live The DELTA QUEEN' and spoke about it years after with, "I thought that was the end of the boat then and there." What saved them was the DELTA KING's parts were still in existence and available. The parts were packed and flown to Rock Island by FLYING TIGERS. Judy Patsch probably the only one here who personally saw, remembered the boat there during the repair process. Mrs. Greene was at a dinner party the night she received word by phone and promptly packed up the next day with Horace Lyle to drive direct to Rock Island. "I didn't get much sleep that night," she mentioned later with a smile.

Terry Beckett was working in the DQ engine room and told of it with great animation for years. They worked around the clock loosening, breaking the piston apart using every trick they could think of. And there were lots of cut and banged fingers and knuckles. Pieces of the metal were collected and given as souvenirs to Mrs. Greene and others on the boat for paper weights. One Cincinnati friend of ours here was a nurse at Cincinnati General Hospital and on vacation. She volunteered to serve for minor medical issues, cuts etc. with others being sent to the hospital in Rock Island. I 'think' Terry Beckett even mentioned they tried using bags of ice on the cylinder hoping to loosen it by temperature change. Old time bridge builders in iron used to employ this to get spans to meet as close as possible.

It all worked out with most to all passengers remaining aboard during the repair process. Expenses hit the GREENE LINE hard as they already had a big mortgage with their bank for the boat's initial purchase, renovation at DRAVO. I have no idea [Help! Capt. Bill Judd] as to what insurance the GL had for such events. Who knows? When the boat was repaired, returned to Cincinnati with her whistle blasting it was featured in the papers [B/W TV also] with, "The QUEEN is back home!" This is all I know or remember.

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