The Travels of Tug 44

Waterford Steamboat Meet
Waterford, NY

Each summer on July 4th, a group of about 20+ steamboats get together at Waterford NY., to show off their boats and have a pretty good party! Each boat was lovingly hand-made. Every engine is different, there are all kinds of different configurations and many of the engines themselves are hand made. It's really quite a show.

Late June 2009, some 22 steamboats paraded down the Champlain Canal from Whitehall to Waterford for the annual Meet. They over-nighted at my docks at Fort Edward. Here some of them get started early the next morning and are warming up their boilers for the trip ahead.

Suddenly the wind shifted and the smoke came my way. Hey it's all part of operating a fleet of wood-burning steamboats.

And a few days later, the fleet has arrived in Waterford.

The boats remained on display for several days, with a lot of steaming around in the harbor.

A side view of the engine in Dean's boat. The cast iron door in the bottom of the boiler on the right is where the firewood is loaded.

And a rear view of Dean's engine. The boiler on the right is clad with wood to prevent touching the hot metal.

A look at the really nice gauges on Dean's boiler.

And here's Dean himself.

This is the engine in Dave Conroy's steamboat Sayonara. Note the cylinders are different sizes. The steam direct from the boiler goes into the smaller cylinder and then the exhaust, somewhat cooler steam, is piped to the larger cylinder. The cooler steam doesn't produce as much power so a larger cylinder is used to make it even with the smaller hotter one.

VIDEO: A short video of the engine in Dave Conroy's boat Sayonara, running. About 30 seconds in, he reverses direction and the engine runs backwards. These boats are all "direct drive" meaning they have no clutch, no neutral ... when the engine is running, the prop is spinning. There is a lever that will shift the cam shaft, which makes the engine run backwards to reverse the boats. In this video you hear some clunking noise, caused by the engine still being cold. Steam condenses in the cylinders increasing the compression and producing that knock.

VIDEO: This is Dean's engine running smoothly, after reaching operating temperature.

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