Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Large white pine and table in the field to the north of home.

Washington Island, Wisconsin -

(Note:   I've added an additional comment to the foot of this posting...1.28.16)

Readers curious to know about the changing conditions on Washington Island, and who look in frequently at the Ferry Line's webcams, will know that the photo above wasn't taken today.

I took this one while on skis - that's right, cross country skis - several weeks back when I was feeling quite frisky.   I skied modestly, or so I thought, two days in a row, and also fell a couple of times when just standing, talking with my daughter, Evy.  My skis slipped out from under me in quick order.  The result of that outing was further aggravation of my Achilles tendons, both legs, putting me pretty much out of such continued activity since then.  During that hiatus, the snow melted and skiing conditions deteriorated, anyway.

But this morning we awoke to a pleasing cover of about 5 inches of wet snow, delicately blanketing tree branches, power lines and roofs.  Peanuts, when compared to the storm out east, but it's much more pleasant to observe and be outdoors in this kind of a snowfall.  Today's temperatures of 30+ have already melted some of the snow, opening up patches on the drives and lawn.

Skiing partners on this day were daughter
Evy with her dog, Ozzie.  Unfortunately,
those conditions didn't last for long.

A week of cold weather, single digits most mornings, finally stiffened up the ice in Detroit Harbor, so that just one week ago we saw Jeffrey Andersen walking out on the ice, towing his pop-up shanty.  Must have caught a few perch, too, because he stayed until dark.  The following morning Mack Gunnlaugsson towed his ice shanty down Main Road to the shore, and morning after that he pulled it out into the open harbor with his three-wheeler.

Since then others joined in, and now there are half a dozen shanties, and more with pop-up fishing shelters adding to the scene.  Almost all fishermen still use lighter ATVs, as the report I received indicated only about 6 inches of ice on the outermost areas, and not enough to safely drive a pickup truck over the ice.

Digging out in a different setting

We recently added insulation to the attic over our home and attached garage by placing fiberglass batts over blown-in insulation.  Although this space is quite open, and I hadn't known anything was stored up there, a few interesting items were uncovered.

First were two large, framed photos, and we have no idea who the subjects are.  Mary Jo guesses they are relatives, maybe connecting with the Kalmbach side of her family.  The photos and frames are quite bulky, and evidently the once-popular jumbo portraits of those now long gone were of no particular interest to Arni and Mary when they lived in this home.  Partially covered by the blown-in insulation, we guessed they were placed up there many years ago.

One item I quickly recognized was the stainless "destroyer-style" wheel from the helm of the Washington, built and outfitted at Peterson Builders, Inc. in the spring of 1989.  PBI completed outfitting with parts and pieces left over from U. S. Navy contracts that PBI was awarded over several decades.

Jacob Richter married a Kalmbach daughter.  Perhaps
these are relations?

"It don't look or feel right," was a comment I seem to remember hearing the first time Arni stepped foot in the new ferry's wheelhouse on sea trials.  Naval Architect Tim Graul set it right by substituting one of walnut, custom-turned by Dan Austad in his woodshop.

But, just what happened to the stainless wheel was a question I occasionally wondered, and apparently Arni preferred it up in his attic rather than on someone else's wall.

Hoyt Purinton holds the stainless wheel in the adjacent photo.  He and others recall that when  the Washington was ready for delivery to the Island (in mid-June of 1989), a new, wooden wheel was in place.

Of course, with the Washington's power steering, even a wheel could be considered unnecessary, and it is sometimes dispensed with on vessels today in favor of a short stick or jogging lever connected to hydraulics.

Nothing quite like the feel and look of a wooden wheel, however, comfortable in the palm of your hand, as you mentally track the spokes while changing the rudder angle at night.

-  Dick Purinton

Note:  I received an email from Chuck Sena last night, who operated the C. G. Richter when still a college student, and he recalled this wheel - or one just like it - having been used on the C. G. when trips were made in summer to Gills Rock (perhaps very early 90s?)  A phone conversation with Erik Foss, who makes it a point to remember such detail, verified that this might have been the case.  If so, I had completely forgotten about this, so thanks for the correction, Chuck.

The C. G. was retrofitted with power steering at Peterson Builders about 1991, as I recall, when plating was also replaced above the chine at the water line.  This change from cable steering followed what was received by Captains as an improved feature when the Washington was built.  A similar power steering arrangement was engineered by Tim Graul, and it underwent a couple of versions.  The first steering pump didn't hold up as it should, and maybe this first trial was when a stainless wheel was substituted for the original, large maple wheel.   

In any case, the wooden wheel eventually was reinstalled, and it stayed on the boat through the sale to a Florida operator.  The C. G., last I've heard, is operating from St. Martins Island, Caribbean.  

Another feature of the photo I ran above, of Evy and her dog Ozzie on our ski outing, was that a second dog, Roxie, was further down the trail.  Sharp eyes, Erik!  - DP

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