Monday, January 4, 2016


Machinery space boiler maintenance, with
Arba Turner on Robert Noble.

Washington Island, Wisconsin -

Seems a shame to use up this space for housekeeping information, but since I recommended in my last posting that readers sign up to be a "Follower" in order to get notification of new postings here, I learned that this process isn't fool-proof.

Just this morning I read something  from the people who make a blog such as mine possible, and it appears their internal machinery requires that you reconnect as a Follower.

The information from the web provider is as follows:

The latest from Blogger Buzz

An update on Google Friend Connect

2 weeks ago by A Googler

...As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, we’ll remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, we’ll remove non-Google Account profiles so you may see a decrease in your blog follower count.

We encourage you to tell affected readers (perhaps via a blog post), that if they use a non-Google Account to follow your blog, they need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow your blog. With a Google Account, they’ll get blogs added to their Reading List, making it easier for them to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs they follow.

We know how important followers are to all bloggers, but we believe this change will improve the experience for both you and your readers.

Posted by Michael Goddard, Software Engineer

I have interest in knowing who reads what I write (and I especially appreciate it when someone I don't know, or hardly know, tells me in person that they enjoy reading my postings), but as for striving for increased numbers of Followers, such numbers are incidental to what drives me to spend my time with photos and writing about Island activities.  And, I certainly don't want readers to feel compelled to give out personal information, if asked to do so.  

If you've found success in the notifications via the blog Follower program, then I appreciate your taking the time to make that re-connection.

As an example of "reward" that comes from writing a post that can connect with readers, I was contacted the other evening by phone, by Walter Burr of Los Angeles, a relative of Wilson Trueblood.

Wally is 91, and although he's not been to the Island in over 40 years, he fondly remembers time spent here in his youth.  Wally's family activities were centered in the shoreline community near the Hotel Washington that we know as Jensenville, where they spent summers, and where today several of his relations, as well as descendants of old family friends, still maintain summer properties.

The unexpected contact with Wally included discussion of the Trueblood Performing Arts Center, which after fits and starts has emerged as a fine Island facility, increasingly important in the lives and general culture of Washington Island.  Wally expressed satisfaction in seeing photos of the facility posted in one of my blogs, that Wilson would have approved of the end product.   I hope that Mr. Burr will have the opportunity to visit and see this Performing Arts Center in person, and perhaps enjoy a presentation of music or theater on the stage.  The notion of an Island community theater began as a seed with Wilson some twenty-five years ago, germinating slowly until construction began in 2003, after Wilson's death.

My wish is that words and photos through this site might continue to connect with readers in unexpected ways.

I also admit to pleasant surprise in seeing red dots pop up on the revolving globe along the margin of the blog page, and every once in awhile I'll try to guess who that person might be, because of Island connections.  Just how many interested readers might there be in Argentina, Costa Rica or Uruguay, for instance? I imagine, at least, these are foreign exchange students, or Islanders who are visiting that nation.

And now, the rest of the story

The photo at the top of this piece was taken on a late October day when Arba Turner and I had torn into the boiler heating system on the ferry Robert Noble.   Exhaust pipes and boiler flues were clogged with soot, the engine room itself was sooty, and soon, so were we.  We came up on deck for air to find a salesman from Twin Disc calling, Chuck Balboa.   He'd ridden to the Island to see our operation, and to check on our equipment needs.  His timing enabled him to take this photo of us.

The heating systems on the ferries built in the 50s, 60s, and 70s that I worked on were either hot air (Voyageur, C. G. Richter) or hot water (Eyrarbakki, Robert Noble).

There was only one Coast Guard approved hot water boiler at the time, a vertical, oil-fired boiler made by a company called WayWolf.  Piping that carried hot water to the upper deck cabin and pilot house wasn't well insulated.  The cabins, pilot houses and engine rooms had very little insulation.  As a result, heat dispersed rapidly as the fluid left the boiler and circulated through the system.  The boiler thermostat demanded one start-up after another, day and night.  And with so many starts, the igniter tips sometimes fouled, and the long exhaust runs gradually filled with soot particulate, especially on the horizontal pipe leading to the tall vertical stack that finally exited above the canopy adjacent to the wheelhouse.    In short, these hot water boiler systems fouled frequently, and they sometimes backed up and blew soot around the engine room space.  Not a pleasant task to vacuum and then scrub all of the surfaces, and especially not when it was freezing outdoors.   Having a source of heat on board was not only necessary for the comfort of passengers and crew, it was essential in the machinery spaces to keep water pipes from freezing, and to keep the iron warm for start-up in the morning.

So, one positive way to determine if furnaces were working and heat was being produced as required (until the ferry systems were drained and the ship was taken out of navigation for winter lay-up) was to check each ferry in the evening before retiring to bed, to be sure the furnace was operating.   On the C. G. Richter this was most easily accomplished by driving on board.  The vehicle weight rolled the ferry from side-to-side and helped break it loose from ice that was forming along the waterline.  A hand palm on the starboard side air vent with glove removed would quickly determine if the temperature was warm (furnace recently cycled), hot (in the process of cycling) or cold (more problems that required going below to determine the problem).  

These housekeeping - or ship keeping - tasks were a regular part of the cold weather routine, until we began installing clean, and generally more suitable, electric heaters.   The possible use of electric heaters was impeded, for many years, by having very small output ship's generators that were matched to low demand lighting, and perhaps a small water pump, and also by shoreside electrical service that wouldn't come close to supporting the demand of multiple electric heaters.

Over the past 25 years, little by little, electrical service feeding the ferry dock was improved, with larger capacity wiring and proper receptacles matching the shore cords for the several ferries.   At night, before layup, four or five ferries would potentially draw on that service at one time.   Then, too, ship's generators had to be sized larger to accommodate more and better lighting, larger electrical pumps, air compressors, and electric heaters with fans.  The intended goal was to provide sufficient heat for equipment, passengers and crew, with the side benefit being cleaner, lower maintenance systems within the vessel machinery spaces.  

While there can be still plenty of dirty corners to get into, they generally won't involve the volume of soot presented by stopped-up boiler heating systems.

-  Dick Purinton

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