The Travels of Tug 44

Steamboat African Queen

Nope this is not the African Queen from the old Bogart/Hepburn movie, but then again, the movie boat was not actually a steamboat at all. This one began life as a Navy "Whale Boat" (NWB) with a small diesel, and was later converted to steam.

Bill throws another piece of wood into the boiler and waits to build up steam. It takes about 20 minutes from a cold start. Once the boiler is hot, it can be put into:"standing" mode for hours if necessary, and it takes only five minutes to get up steam from there. The hand crank with the two wooden knobs is a simple valve which acts as throttle, allowing steam into the engine.

That's Captain Bill Curry who owns the boat, as well as the Tug 8th Sea. In the background is John Callahan, the #2 man on the New York Canal Corp. A few minutes later we were joined by Carmella Mantello, Director of the New York State Canal System, who brought her kids for a ride on this lovely Saturday afternoon at the Waterford Steamboat Meet.

This is a 10 HP steam engine which runs at about 200 RPM, propelling the boat fully loaded at an easy 10-12 knots. Steam from the boiler is fed into the right cylinder at about 40-60 PSI. When exhausted, the steam goes into the black tube at the top, to the left cylinder and gets reused. Notice the left cylinder is twice the size of the right one, as the steam it gets is somewhat cooler and less powerful then what the right one receives. The drive for the camshaft can be rotated which causes the engine to reverse direction. There is no transmission, the prop shaft is coupled directly to the engine. There's no neutral, but the throttle can be shut completely so the engine simply stops turning.

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