Thursday, November 17, 2011


Robert Noble, port engine, exhaust line with insulation
blanket being installed, foreground.
Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin -

Work progress continues on board the Robert Noble at Bay Shipbuilding.   Piping is now nearing completion, and within a few more work days fluids will be added to cooling and hydraulic systems, prior to system testing.

Rich Ellefson reported this noon that the dry dock in which the Noble rests was flooded (filled) this morning, and barring unforeseen problems, the gates will be opened and the ferry will be escorted to a berth by tugs this afternoon for the remaining work.   As the water reaches the point where the ferry is nearly once again afloat, inspection is made of all below-deck spaces to ensure no weeping of through-hull fittings or of new welds.  This inspection is visual, and so far, the hull has proven to be dry except for the point at which propeller shafts enter the engine room.  There, slight leakage can be controlled by means of the stuffing box, which has fiber packing rings between flanges.   Dripping at the stuffing gland will continue to be monitored.   The packing will be loosened prior to initial start-up of the new CAT engines to avoid heating through excessive friction with shaft rotation.

Insulation blankets were in the process of being installed on exhaust lines when I visited the shipyard Tuesday.   Other panels will be mounted on the overhead, where work had been done to the exposed underside of the main vehicle deck.   Room to move about the engine room, once generous when this was a nearly empty space, is already reduced as the space fills with piping, new equipment, and soon wiring, as gauges and controls are connected.

Hydraulic pump made in Belgium mounted
to aft face of port transmission
will drive fire pump and
Auragen generator.
One new operational feature will be a hydraulically driven fire pump, and a hydraulically driven generator, known by brand name Auragen.   This compact generator will produce 8.5 kw and should eliminate, at least with typical operating loads, the necessity of a running the diesel genset, thus improving vessel fuel economy and lowering overall air emissions.  These main engines have sufficient reserve power to drive a sizable hydraulic pump without reducing ability to turn the propeller shaft.  Previously on the Noble,  a belt-driven pump was relied upon for fire system water pressure, and this occasionally led to alignment problems, worn belts, and the need to rev the main engine at high rpms to get the required water pressure to the hydrant (60 lbs. psi).   Shipboard electrical needs in the future should allow for a choice in power source, rather than mandatory operation of a diesel-driven generator set that ran, more-or-less, from startup to shutdown each day.  Significant dollar savings are also anticipated on generator moving parts through fewer operating hours on this piece of equipment.

Within several more working days, piping runs for coolant and hydraulic oil will be ready to be flushed, filled, and tested.

Space between forward bulkhead and port
engine shows addition of new piping.  These systems
are designed to be isolated by valves,
with removable sections for servicing.
Crawling through or standing in
this space has become prohibitive.
Then, as piping needs gradually reduce, engine room wiring and electrical installation activity will increase.  During the past several weeks, electricians have avoided competing with engine room working space with the other tradesmen, but their time has been well spent in the pilot house. New wiring harnesses connecting engine room with the operating stations on the upper deck were run earlier.  Gauge panels with associated lights, sensors and gauges will be wired in soon.

Given continued progress, the new engines should be ready for startup the week after Thanksgiving.  We are looking realistically for operational testing, pier side and then underway, to be completed for Coast Guard and owner approval, in the early days of December.

  -  Dick Purinton

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find the articles on the Noble refit very interesting. I'm not a Washington Islander but I love all things about Washington Island, especially the ferries. Keep it up!