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The Mount Washington Scuttlebutt

By Captain Jim

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

The Work Begins

Last November a naval architect performed a stability test on the M/S Mount Washington and the ship passed with flying colors (we knew she would).  This required test began a project to re-power the 230 foot ship with new, cleaner and more efficient engines.  Now, it’s the beginning of February and we are dismantling the old Enterprise Engines that have served us so well for over 60 years.  We are about 50% done with breaking down the old engines and I can’t help but think there are many of the old timers looking down on us to be sure everything goes well.    Over the next two months I will periodically update our web fans with our progress.  Photos will be posted from time to time for your enjoyment as well. 

We now know the new Caterpillar Engines are ready for delivery at our request.  Before we can receive them we must prepare the ship for their arrival.  This means preparing a lift for the project, cutting a small hole in the side of the ship, extracting the old engines, revamping the engine foundations, dismantling the old exhaust system and preparing the existing shaft couplings for the new engines.  Obviously this entails a lot of man hours so, we have hired outside labor to assist us in this task.  If all goes according to schedule, and I suspect it will, then we should have the new engines in the ship by the end of February.  Then the project goes into phase two which involves exhaust work, rigging, piping, wiring controls and ballast work.  Phase three will involve lake trials.

In addition to the engine re-powering work, we are remodeling our second deck forward, to unveil the “Captains' Lounge” this upcoming season.  The carpentry and electric crew have been working hard and it shows.  This new lounge will be dedicated to all who have been Captain of the Mount Washington for 15 years or more.  The rich décor will add another beautiful room for our customers to relax comfortably while cruising with us.

Not that we don’t have enough to do already, but sometime in April we will also be painting the hulls of our smaller vessels, the Sophie C. & Doris E.  Both of these vessels were hauled out last November for the first time in four years.  Speaking of hauling vessels, over the past two years we’ve had extensive repairs made to our railway system which included underwater repairs to the rail system, re-decking of the cradle as well as repairing and replacing some of the gears in our winch system.

All these projects are undertaken to ensure that New Hampshire’s largest lake, Winnipesaukee, has the M/S Mount Washington, and her  sister vessels, plying her waters for many years to come.  One last thing, we have not forgotten the “Mini Mount”.  Although we could not get her in last season, we will this season on a date to be determined so stay tuned!  Feel free to email me your questions @ Captainjim@CruiseNH.com.  I may not get back to you right away (we’re a little busy), but I’ll try.  Hope to see you aboard this upcoming season.

Phase Two Begins:

Monday, February 22nd; we now have the engines stripped of all removable parts, the blocks are separated into two sections (mid-section & crank case) and the lifting beams are in place.  Today, Cote Rigging of Manchester arrived to set up for the removal of the Enterprise Engine Blocks.  This will most likely take a few days and be a slow, arduous task.  The engine blocks will be lifted to the main deck level by a 10 ton trolley hoist, swung 90 degrees and trolled out the starboard side to the dock.  As there are two sections to each engine to be removed, this will take the better part of a week’s time (weather permitting).

While the old engines are being removed, the new engines will be fitted with custom foundations that will lay flat on, and be attached to, the old Enterprise foundations.  By doing this we are saving time and money.  We went with a local fabricating company, Ace Welding of Manchester, for this work.  I think it is notable to point out that we are big proponents of using other New Hampshire companies as best we can when contracting needed services.


Time Marches On:

Many are now wondering, what is going to happen with the old engines.  I think it is important for people to know that the old engines are 64 years old and although they have served us well the blocks are well worn.  It was our Company’s biggest expense and concern in maintaining these old engines.  The Enterprise Company no longer exists, parts are very expensive, hard to find and the blocks were annually showing more wear.  In spite of the dedication, knowledge and hard work of our Chief Engineer, the time was drawing near for them to be replaced.

The EPA has stipulated in their grant application, that engines being replaced with EPA money must be retired from service.  This should not be seen as a negative.  Without the help of the EPA grant this company would be hard pressed to repower the “Mount” at this time or for the foreseeable future.   The upside is this ensures a longer life for Lake Winnipesaukee’s most beloved vessel.   In addition, we are now putting in newer technology that will give us cleaner emissions and more efficient fuel use.  This in itself is huge for the area as air and water quality issues are very important to our and many other local businesses.

So as sad as it may be to some, the old Enterprise engines will not run again.  At this point we have not fully decided what we will do with the blocks and the many parts we have in inventory.  We will, however, most likely donate something to the Antique Boat Museum for their display, but exactly what is not determined at this point.  For those who are waxing reminiscent about the old Enterprise engines, remember that you are not alone.  I’m sure there were many old timers back in 1946 that were sentimental seeing the old steam engines replaced by the current Enterprise engines.  Just as I’m sure someday in the future the same will happen with the new Caterpillar Engines we’re installing.


Phase III begins:

Tuesday, March 2:  The old engines are now officially gone and the new engines arrive tomorrow.  The excitement of new is really showing around the area as proven by the many comments and questions I’ve gotten from the people I’ve run into around the Lakes Region.  Needless to say we’re excited as well.

Wednesday morning March 3, the new engines along with their modified foundations, will be delivered by Cote Rigging.  Since time is always a concern on a project of this magnitude, work will begin immediately placing the new engines into the ship’s now spacious engine room.  For the past week the boys have been cleaning and prepping the engine room for this day.  It will take about two days to get the engines placed onto their foundations before we can start the wiring, plumbing, and general hook-up.  While this is being done we await the arrival of the new catalytic silencers, a very important part of the new emission controls.  Out of all the projects in New England being done with this EPA grant, I believe we are the only one to add catalytic silencers.  I tell you this because we are proud of our initiative to go the extra step for a cleaner running vessel on New Hampshire’s largest lake, Winnipesaukee.  Many are asking about the new engines specifics.  Well, quite simply they are C-32 CATS, 12 cylinders each with a horsepower rating of 750hp at 1800 rpms.  We will have a ZF Mathers 4:1 reduction gear to bring the rpms down to 450.  The control systems will be ZF Mathers as well.  In addition we will be installing shaft brakes for the first time on this vessel.  This will quicken our stopping time in emergency situations.  But don’t think we can stop on a dime from full speed ahead.  It will still take us about a ¼ mile to stop the ship from full speed ahead.  What these shaft brakes will do is give us better response time in docking and departure maneuvers.

The Engines Are In:  How exciting is that?  With the greatest of ease Cote Rigging lowered the new Cats into the hull of the Mount Washington and placed them on their new foundations.  Since then we have installed the Miratech Catalytic Silencers and are in the process of connecting them to the engines.  While we wait for the stub shafts and shaft brakes, we’ve kept busy by replacing ballast.  This took about 18 yards (36 tons) of cement, strategically placed in the engine room to imitate the weight of the old engines.
In addition we have put in new deck plates to fill in the empty spaces created by loss of size.  These new engines are about half the size of the old.  Looking to the future, new support beams were installed in the engine room overhead, which will allow us to lift the engines anytime we should need.  Weighing only 4.5 tons per engine, you can imagine it will be much easier for us to lift them up and out in the future, however I’m not expecting to do so in my time.  Engines’ water and fuel connections are next, then onto the controls.  The Wheelhouse control panel and helm have been remodeled as part of a three year project to bring the bridge up to date in terms of aesthetics.

Time To Close Her Up:  Now that all the big parts are in place, we have closed the side of the ship by replacing the section we removed, a fine welding job by Rick Hewitt of Laconia.  Once we grind and paint the seams you won’t even know we cut her open.  As the engineers prepare for alignment, our carpenters will be busy with the cosmetic work on the inside of the ship to prepare her for the season.

Enterprise to CATs: The 2010 season marks the first season the M/S Mount Washington will operate without the venerable Enterprise Engines that have served her for the past 63 seasons. Over the winter months a dedicated crew worked diligently to dismantle the Enterprises and refit the vessel with brand new EPA Tier II compliant, C-32 Caterpillar Engines. This engineering feat will ensure the vessel’s power needs for many years to come, as well as promote a cleaner atmosphere in the Lakes Region. Through the help of the U.S. Government’s ARRA funds, the company received an EPA grant which made this venture financially possible during these economic trying times. The major focus of the EPA grant was to replace older diesel burning engines in the marine trade with new “greener” technology. The M/S Mount Washington was one of nine projects funded here in the Northeast and the only one in New Hampshire.

Enterprise Engines in the M/V Mount Washington
Installed in 1946; Retired in 2010

The end of World War II would bring many changes to the S.S. Mount Washington II. Having her steam engines taken by the Government in 1941, the “Mount” was laid up for the war years. In the spring of 1946, twin diesel Enterprise engines were purchased, by the owners Carl and Byron Hedblom, to replace the steam engines that were taken in 1941. At this same time the vessel made preparations for the conversion from steam to diesel. All steam equipment was removed and changed to electrical power including the steering plant. (Note; the steering was later changed to a hydraulic system in 1981) Under the supervision of Doug Brown and Carl Rossler, from General Ship & Engine Works of Boston, work began to install the new Enterprise Diesel engines. A mighty feat which entailed the use of a twenty-five ton chain falls to lower the huge blocks into place. Many delays in acquiring equipment caused the project to run well into the summer and the first cruise with the new engines didn’t take place until late August. The installation of these diesel engines changed the surname of the S.S. (Steamship) Mount Washington to M/V (Motor Vessel).


Captains Lounge Is Finished:  While all this engine work has been going on our multi-talented crew have been busy building the Captains Lounge to replace the Solarium, located on the second deck forward.  And what a job they have done.  This room is sure to be popular to our passengers, with windows all around to provide superior viewing of the lake scenery from the comforts of being inside.

Shakedown Cruise:  It seems our most popular cruise each year is our Shakedown Cruise, held every spring at the beginning of May.  Unfortunately this cruise is available by invitation only and therefore not available to the public.  Planning and preparing for this annual cruise takes an incredible effort from a dedicated crew.  Since 1991 it has been my responsibility to send out the invitations for this event.  Needless to say this puts me in the undesirable position to disappoint many who would like to be part of the Shakedown.  Speaking to those who don’t get invited, I ask for your understanding in knowing I am limited to the numbers we can allow aboard.  Please note, however, that the first public cruise is our Mother’s Day Brunch and we have two cruises that day.  They depart Weirs Beach (10:00 & 1:30) and offer a delicious Champagne Brunch as well as entertainment.  Tickets are readily available at this point.  Call our office (603-366-5531) for details. 

The First Public Cruise is…
So, once the engines are in and set we will also begin to button up the old girl by removing the lifting beams and welding the pieces we cut back into their respective places.  All this will be done while the engineers align the engines and prepare for the addition of ballast.  A big day tomorrow, but much more work to be done before the operating season.  Remember, the first public cruise of the season will be the 10:00 am brunch cruise on Mother’s Day, so get your tickets early as I’m sure it will be a popular one.      Purchase Tickets .....>>>