The Travels of Tug 44

Tug Buffalo

Tug Buffalo was built in 1923 as a steam tug. Her first 25 years were spent as a maintenance tug on the NY Canal System and was then sold to a private company. She now has a 1931 Cooper-Bessemer diesel engine. In 2002 she suffered severe engine damage and was idled for several years. In 2005 the Buffalo was donated to the Town of Waterford. Through the efforts of Nobby Peers of Whitworth Marine Service, the engine was repaired in 2007-08. Seen here in September 2008, Tug Buffalo heads to Albany, under her own power, to lead the Waterford Tugboat Roundup Parade.

Another view of the Buffalo, heading north to Waterford.

That's why they call it a wheelhouse! The Buffalo's engine is "direct reversing" meaning there is no clutch, no transmission, etc and the prop shaft is bolted directly to the engine. When the engine is running, the prop is spinning. To reverse, the engine is stopped, and then restarted running backwards. There are no controls in the wheelhouse other than the wheel itself. The captain uses a bell to signal the engineer to control the throttle or reverse the engine.

When the engine was restarted in September 2007, it produced quite a bit of smoke at first. In fact it pretty much fogged out the entire town for a few moments! Seen here are the first puffs. That's Tug 44 behind her, and Tug 8th Sea behind that.

A view of the engine from above, with Nobby Peers hard at work.

That's Nobby again, standing next to the engine like a proud father. Without his efforts and knowledge of old diesels, the Buffalo would never have run again.

I had heard that large old diesels sometimes would blow smoke rings out the exhaust pipe on cold starts and here I saw it for myself. Tug Buffalo blew 2 foot diameter rings as she idled at just a few RPMs.

See the video of the Buffalo's engine running. Nobby Peers presides over the engine
amid clouds of smoke, vibration and clattering valve lifters. Video by Capt. Bill Curry.

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