Tuesday, September 16, 2014

McGiffert Loader

Purchased new in 1989, this is a stunning replica of a McGiffert Loader by Overland Models, Inc.

The "McGiffert" represents loggers ingenuity.

Self powered, chain drives move the loader to the loading site at a blistering 5 mph. On site, the wheel sets are cranked up, settling the loader onto skids. Once the wheel sets are stowed, empty log cars move beneath the machine and spotted for loading logs by the main boom.

This loader was manufactured by the Clyde Iron Works of Duluth, a company founded by C.A. Luster in 1899 under the name of Northwestern Manufacturing Company. The name "Clyde Iron Works" was adopted in 1901.

Trained as an attorney, with a passion for tinkering and invention, a Clyde company executive, John R. McGiffert designed and oversaw the erection of the first "McGiffert" log loader in 1902.

Preamble to US Patent No. 899,180, filed December 6, 1905:

To all whom it may concern: Be it known that I, John R. McGiffert, a citizen of the United States, resident of Duluth, county of St. Louis, and State of Minnesota, have invented a new and useful improvement in Log-Loading Machines, of which the following is a specification, the principle of the invention being herein explained and the best mode in which I have contemplated applying that principle, so as to distinguish it from other inventions.

The "McGiffert" was an instant success, and the company could scarcely keep up with demand. More than 1,000 units were erected.

In 1923 Clyde Iron Works merged engineering and sales with Willamette Iron & Steel, located on the western bank of the Willamette River in Portland Oregon.

In the 1920's efforts were made to power skidders, yarders and loaders by Direct Current (DC) power. This was an effort to make forestry safer by elimination of fire danger.  The photo below shows the first DC powered McGiffert loader under construction at Willamette Iron & Steel.

Willamette, as you may recall from the history of the Shay locomotive, was licensed to repair Shays working in the Pacific Northwest, thereby eliminating the necessity to ship locomotives all the way back to Lima, Ohio.

With the knowledge gained from servicing Shays, Willamette envisioned a "Pacific Coast" version, and in November 1922, the first Willamette Geared Locomotive was delivered to Coos Bay Lumber Company.

She was of course a Shay type, but the name "Shay" was owned by Lima.  From my collection, the brass locomotive above is Construction Number 25, Willamette Geared Locomotive, built for Eastside Lumber Company #107.  See my earlier posting, The Willamette Geared Locomotive.

Overland released this model in 1985, catalog number 304, was produced by Samhongsa. I purchased it in 1989, and it has been a static display ever since, as shown in the photo set.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Panama Canal: 100th Anniversary

A little tardy in observing the Panama Canal "Happy Birthday."  So many articles; so little time!

One of the iconic images of the Panama Canal Opening, is the familiar photograph of the SS Ancon in transit, south to north, 100 years ago on August 15th 1914.

The SS Ancon was an American steamship that began as the SS Shawmut, built for the Boston Steamship Line in 1902 at Sparrows Point, Maryland by the Maryland Steel Company.
Around 1910, the Shawmut was purchased by the Panama Railroad Company to provide shipping of the supplies required for the construction of the Panama Canal. The name Shawmut was changed to Ancon after Ancon Hill and Ancon township in Panama, home to the head of the Canal Commission. 

The SS Ancon and her sister ship SS Cristobal played a crucial role in building the canal, bringing workers and supplies, notably massive amounts of cement, from New York to Panama. 

On August 15, 1914 the SS Ancon made the first official transit of the canal as part the canal's opening ceremonies. Her sister ship SS Cristobal had made the first unofficial transit on August 3rd, delivering a load of cement. 

Five days after World War I ended November 11, 1918, the United States acquired the Ancon and she was outfitted as a troop transport to bring our soldiers home from Europe. 

The USS Ancon was commissioned March 28, 1919 with Lt. Comdr. Milan L. Pittman in command. The USS Ancon was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet's Cruiser and Transport Force where she made two round-trip voyages from the United States to France to bring American servicemen home. 

The USS Ancon's brief Navy career lasted only four months. Following her second voyage, she was decommissioned at New York City on July 25, 1919. Adapted from "Know We Know Em," by Carl Leonard. 

The Expansion Program registers an overall progress of 78 percent, while the new locks project is currently 73 percent complete. Original projections had the Expansion Program wrapped up by now, with operations beginning this year!

But construction, funding, and labor walkouts move the opening in late 2015.

There are numerous jaw-dropping photos taken during construction of the Third Locks. It is one frigging massive trench!

The existing Panama Canal Locks 1 and 2 - parallel lanes - use powerful electric locomotives, referred to as "mule's", made by Mitsubishi, to guide vessels through the locks.

Beside the jaw dropping immensity of the Expansion Project, two innovations are immense:

•  The use of tugs, instead of mules, and rolling gates, instead of miter gates, to processs vessels through the locks.

•  And the 3.7 mile long Pacific Access Channel, contained by the Borinquen Dams.

Of particular interest to me is the innovative design of the new lock systems, described by some as "one of the most complex and fascinating infrastructure from all times."rolling gates," as opposed to miter gates.

Moreover, water used to fill or empty the lock - raise or lower a vessel - will be recycled in a closed loop system known as Water Saving Basins.

This system is not the first of its kind. Water Saving Basin concept has been at work in Germany since 1976.  Uelzen I and Uelzen II Locks use this system on the Elbe Lateral Canal.

What is unique in Panama is the shear size - that each basin is the size of the Empire State Building! It is predicted that there will be as much as a 60% decrease in loss of water, using this closed loop system.

Tugs fore and aft will tow the vessel into the lock chamber, and continue towing the vessel through all three chambers.

In this animation, Jorge Quijano, CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, on the Panama Canal expansion, explains the nuisances of the Third Lock concept, at the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies, in March 2014.

Gates Delivered

A major milestone was celebrated on July 21, 2014, when the first of 8 rolling gates for the Atlantic Third Lock was moved into the lock on its transporter vehicle.

The humongous Rolling Gates began arriving  from their erection site in Spain.  These rolling gates are massive structures, each weighing up to 4,143 tons!

Here we see the 3rd set of rolling gates departing Trieste on the heavy lift vessel STX Sun Rise en-route to Colón City Panama.

This computer animation details the entire process of moving the gates from Spain to the Atlantic and Pacific Third Locks. (And it's a great music video!)

As a reminder, to fully enjoy your YouTube experience, maximize the video by clicking on the enlarge icon.  Tapping the "Esc" key, returns you to normal aspect ratio.

•  The second remarkable feature of the Expansion Project is the Borinquen Dams and Pacific Access Channel.

To construct the 6.1 km (3.7 mile) Pacific Access Channel, required excavation of 50 million cu meters (65,397,531 cu yards) of material.

To contain the channel, Borinquen Dams were constructed, guiding the Access Channel past Lake Miraflores, directly into Lake Gatun. The higher lift eliminated another set of locks.

Borinquen Dams derive the name from a road they displaced, Borinquen Road.

[Ed Note:“Borinquen” means “land of the brave lord.” It was the name the Taino Indians gave the island of Puerto Rico long before the Spanish Explores came on the scene.]

A truly amazing engineering accomplishment, the Panama Canal Expansion began in September 2007, and has been largely ignored by main stream media.

An interesting residual from the Expansion Project, was tons of specimens and data relating to the paleontological finds, conducted at various sites.

This link takes you to an April 2014 presentation, richly illustrated, documenting Expansion progress.

In closing, despite the billions of dollars expended to create a state of the art Third Lock System, it remains to a two man crew - in a humble row boat - to pass lines from massive container ships to line handlers on the lock walls ...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lac-Mégantic: TSB Final Report

From TSB animation of MM&A derailment
One of my faithful readers alerted me that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada had released their final findings of what contributed to the terrible oil-train disaster a little more than a year ago at Lac-Mégantic, Ontario.

It is a detailed analysis of the oil train derailment, which, as you recall, took 47 lives. More than 100 other souls were hospitalized, with 20 or so requiring extended hospital care. In addition, 40 structures, including a library containing priceless First Nations artifacts, and 53 motor vehicles were destroyed.

Recently, all of former Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MM&A) motive power, now Central Maine & Quebec, were sold at auction. If you haven't had the opportunity, read the description presented by the auctioneer, of the fundamentally pitiable gaggle of locomotives. This is reflected in the Final Report.

¶ 1.13.1 Analysis of the Locomotive Event Recorder.

¶ 1.15 speaks to the mechanical condition of MM&A 5017, lead engine of the runaway consist. Reads like a Gothic horror story. This unit was withdrawn from the recent auction, by order of the Sûreté du Québec, as being associated with a crime scene.

¶  1.18 speaks to the infamous DOT-111 tank cars. While Canada has taken positive measures to get that junk off the tracks or complete extensive retro-fits, here in the USA we "strongly advise" to get rid of the cars, with retro-fitting staggering along.

¶ 1.23 speaks to the culture of Single Person Train Operation (SPTO.) Under Edward Burkhardt, former owner of MM&A, SPTO was argued to be superior to a two-man cab, ostensibly to reduce inattention due to "conversations," and other ridiculous reasoning. Call it like it is. Wage reduction.

¶ 1.25.16 speaks to the condition of rails and track inspections.

¶ 2.13.8 speaks to a weak organizational safety structure. I am of the opinion that will the history of train wrecks, train crews running unit oil trains, especially those carrying the caustic "Bakken Crude," need to be trained on their responsibility to operate trains in a safe manner, and management must commit to operating a safe plant, including detailed track inspection with a recognized service such as Sperry.

¶ 3.0 speaks to the findings as to the causes and contributing factors, resulting in death and destruction.

Another document brought to my attention was an article in the International Railway Journal, written by David Thomas. Mr. Thomas makes an interesting argument, beyond Edward Burkhardt's penny-pinching, there is plenty of blame  to be spread around for Lac-Mégantic

With a Unit Oil Train coming to your neighborhood, rail operators have a fiduciary responsibility to commit resources, training and accountability, to insure safe transit of hazardous materials through your neighborhood.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Epic Voyage of the Corbin Foss

I just learned of Seattle's Corbin Foss towing the decommissioned aircraft carrier ex-Constellation to a scrap yard in Brownsville Texas.

Our wiz-bang newspaper just reported it today, so I find myself playing catch-up! The tow left Bremerton on August 8th!

When I brought the Corbin Foss up on MarineTraffic, I find she is a day or so out of Long Beach! Had I known about it in real time, I could have gotten some excellent shots of the tow passing my home here in Port Townsend!

At any rate, this video, grainy as it is, is all I've been able to locate. Shot by Ron Bishop, the tow is just getting underway, traveling through Rich Passage. Rich Passage leads from Bremerton Naval Ship Yard out to Puget Sound.

Voyage by the Numbers

Corbin Foss
•  Foss Maritime, Seattle Washington
•  Built: Marine Power & Equipment, Seattle
•  Launch: 2003
•  Callsign: WDB5265
•  MMSI number: 366902220
•  IMO number: 218926
•  Length: 149.8 ft (45.6 m)
•  Beam: 40 ft (12 m)
•  Draft: 19.5 ft (5.9 m)
•  Prime Mover: 2 x ALCO 16-251F diesel engine, 4,100 horsepower @ 900 RPM.
•  Twin Screw Kort Nozzle
•  Bollard Pull: 212,900 lbs (106 t)
•  SOLAS (Compliant with Safety of Life at Sea criteria)
•  Net: 181 tons
•  Complete Tug History

USS Constellation (CVA-64, CV-64)
•  Length: 1,088 ft (332 m) overall, 990 ft (302 m) waterline
•  Beam: 282 ft (86 m) extreme, 130 ft (40 m) waterline
•  Draft: 39 ft (12 m)
•  Launched: October 8, 1960
•  Commissioned: October 27, 1961
•  Decommissioned: 7 August 7, 2003
•  Removed from the Navy List: December 2, 2003
•  June 2014, the US Navy awarded International Shipbreaking Limited of Brownsville, Texas, for the towing, dismantling and recycling of ex-Constellation.
•  Estimated travel time: 140 days.
•  Distance: Bremerton Washington to Brownville Texas, 16,000 miles
•  Crew change: Chile.
•  Too big to transit the Panama Canal, travel through the Straits of Magellan into the Atlantic, thence to Texas.
•  Tow Weight: 61,000 dead weight tons

The tow will stop for fuel at Long Beach also to clear Customs.

Bremerton Mothball Fleet

•  USS Ranger (CV 61) Type ship: Forrestal-class aircraft carrier Length: 1,067 feet Beam: 270 feet Status: Stricken, available for donation as museum or memorial Commissioned: Aug. 10, 1957 Decommissioned: July 10, 1993 Stricken: March 8, 2004
•  USS Independence (CV 62) Type ship: Forrestal-class aircraft carrier Length: 1,070 feet Beam: 263 feet Status: Stricken, to be disposed of Commissioned: Jan. 10, 1959 Decommissioned: Sept. 30, 1998 Stricken: March 8, 2004
•  USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) Type ship: Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier Length: 1,069 feet Beam: 282 feet Status: Out of commission, in reserve Commissioned: April 29, 1961 Decommissioned: Spring 2009
•  USS Constellation (CV 64) Type ship: Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier Length: 1,073 feet Beam: 282 feet Status: Stricken, to be disposed of Commissioned: Oct. 27, 1961 Decommissioned: Aug. 6, 2003 Stricken: Dec. 2, 2003

Follow the Voyage 

•  You can follow this epic voyage on Foss' Maritime Blog.
•  And you can get "real time" positioning at www.MarineTraffic.com  (Click on green icon, "Click on Live Map.")