Railway Preservation News

OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!
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Author:  whodom [ Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

Can anyone direct me to a source with specifications and/or photos for the ship's boilers and engine?

Author:  Overmod [ Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

Hugh, your best bet is likely to get with the folks at Atlas that did the 2014 rebuild of the Belle of Cincinnati's engine. If anyone knows the arcane sources of riverboat-engine lore, and antler-competition trade secrets, they'd be at the head of the list.

Author:  David Dewey [ Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

One of the best books on the two boats' history is "King & Queen of the River" by Stan Garvey ISBN 0-9642513-3-7 Not a lot of dimensional detail of the machinery. You should also visit Steamboats.org where you will find links to all sorts of information about them.
Some pictures of the boiler room while underway (Don't tell Homeland Security that I was there.) Average temperature in there, over 100F, age of fireman, 71. Spry guy! Oh, boilers, 1914, purchased new in 1927 as surplus from a US Navy contract.

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Author:  David Dewey [ Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

A few more photos for Hugh--my excuse for posting here is they are of a steam engine!!
Looking across the engine room at the main gauge board, The chief and his assistant and a passenger. For those who know "The African Queen" the chrome wheel in the forground is "Main Steam Stop Valve." The rest, the photo titles should help out. The engine is a cross-compound, high pressure on the Starboard side, Low pressure on the Port side (I hope I have that right, this IS from memory!) One of the cylinders is from the Delta King's engines following a mishap in the 1950s. Unfortunately the rest of the King's engines and spares were lost in a wharf boat sinking and a then-owner who didn't realize the value of having spare parts handy. Some of the DQ's owners weren't the best stewards!

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Author:  J3a-614 [ Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

Commentary on David Dewey's post:

Oh the memories!! I got to visit the Delta Queen in the 1970s, when it stopped in my home city of Wheeling, W.Va. Got to walk all around the boat, and my father later commented I was about the only person who would note that the stack went up through the middle of the fancy lounge. Of course, those of you who know the boat also know that the stack is hidden behind paneling and mirrors and just looks like a big column.

On the deck below, you walked through the boiler room to get to the dining room. This was on a walkway above the boiler room photos in Mr. Dewey's post, the boilers rising from the firing level he was on past the walkway and then exhausting into the stack. If I remember right, there were four boilers.

Beyond the dining room was the galley and some crew sleeping quarters, and behind that was the engine room. The bottom photo showing the main steam valve is from the starboard side facing the stern. Visible in the foreground is the reverse lever, just like a steam locomotive.

I could be wrong--I'm going from memories almost 50 years old--but as I recall, the cross compound cylinders had bores of 30 inches and 60 inches, and shared strokes of 120 inches, or 10 feet.

The Pittman arms, or what we would call main rods on a locomotive, are of wood and iron composite construction. The valve gear is essentially Stephenson, and the eccentrics are visible in Mr. Dewey's previous photograph of the paddle wheel, with the rolls in the wake it makes.

The eccentric blades are of tubular construction, and I recall they went under a small sink in the engine room on the port side. You had better watch where you put your knees there when the boat was running! You can see the port reversing link in his third photograph, entitled "Port Side Pitman Guide."

What would be the valve rod on a locomotive went to a wrist plate, such as you would see on a Corliss engine. Rods from this wrist plate transferred valve gear motion to reciprocating cams to operate poppet valves. This cam is in the form of a bar, and is visible in the photo labelled "Low Pressure Valves."

At the time I was in the engine room, the engine was off, and the main steam valve had a blue sign, much like our blue flags, lettered in white, "Man in Wheel." Someone was working on the paddle wheel, and in addition to the sign or flag, the main steam valve had a chain through it, secured with a lock, to prevent someone inadvertently starting the engine.

The photo labelled "Small Gauge Board and Stairs" is taken from near the main steam valve and is facing forward; the reversing lever is visible to the right of the stairs. This stairway lead down to the pump room, which also housed the condensers. A small vertical enclosed engine was circulating the river water into the condenser. There were also two reciprocating steam pumps to charge the fire fighting system. One of these "steam lizards" was steadily stroking away, maintaining pressure in the system, and the other was held in reserve.

I had the opportunity to speak to the engineer, who was a bit older but not what I would call ancient, maybe in his 50s. I asked him how he kept these engines and everything else running. He commented that wasn't as much a problem as finding people who understood steam. Otherwise, he said, the engines and the boat could outlast both of us!

I hope this description is accurate, but it was a long time back now!! Corrections are welcomed if needed!!

Most people would probably have appreciated the style of the beautiful woodwork and the food, the traditions, the views, and I certainly would as a passenger--but that engine room was more interesting than the rest to me!!

Author:  David Dewey [ Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

You have an excellent memory, and you described the works excellently. Now though, the boiler room is walled in more, the average passenger never sees it. Yes, finding steam folks is even harder now. My first trip was also the first run under the new owners then, Majestic Cruise Lines. Most of the engine room crew was taught about steam, but hadn't really experienced it "live." One of my first questions was, "Is this the simpling valve?" (used to get the engines to roll over before the condensers create the vacuum necessary for the low pressure side); they had never heard that term! Turned out, it was. Later on the trip the low pressure side had developed a knock. I was in the engine room and I could see one of the young guys walking around, trying to figure it out, and I told him, while I reached up and grabbed hold of one of the valve eccentric rods, " Feel for the knock, then you can time it." He was shocked that you could hold part of the engine while it was running --granted, one has to pick where and what to grab on so you don't get yourself into trouble! That is one of the joys of slow RPM engines. But when he followed, the look of discovery was priceless. I then told him, "listen and feel this engine running, she'll tell you what she needs!"
One of the modern tools they used, that was a great improvement, was a remote reading thermometer--they could point it at a bearing (like the main shaft) and read its temperature. By our second trip, the engine crew was much more competent, and some of the "old hands" were back too.
As much as I enjoyed "normal" steamboatin' activities, I spent probably too much time in the engine room! I don't sleep much on a DQ trip! :) If I were younger, I'd probably be in line to work on the boat, although it's not an easy life.

Author:  whodom [ Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!


Thanks much for posting the photos and links. I'll have to do some digging.

Author:  Dick_Morris [ Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

The valve gear is essentially Stephenson

The eccentrics and other Stephenson parts' only function is to reverse the engines.

Cut-off is handled by a Cross or California Cut off. It's actually a fairly simple design of valve gear. After watching the Delta Queen's valve gear for about five minutes I was able to figure out how it worked.

There are some drawings in this web page that shows several types of Western Rivers valve gear. I put this together almost 20 years ago. http://www.alaska.net/~rmorris/steamboat1.htm

Author:  Les Beckman [ Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

ted66 wrote:
A lot of people do not know that the Delta King and Queen operated on the Sacramento River from 1926 to 1940. Now the Delta King is a floating hotel and restaurant in Sacramento and the Delt Queen will hopfully be going back to work on the Mississippi and other Inland Rivers.

Ted Miles, San Francisco, CA

Ted -

In checking some of my old photos of the trip my wife and I took back in 2006, I realized that I also had a photo of the Delta King, taken there in Sacramento. We had taken the Delta Queen on a trip and as soon as I saw the Delta King, I recognized her as D.Q.'s twin. Since David's posted photo was of the King sunk, I thought this one might show the boat just a bit better.

This is an OT thread, which got me to wondering if there are any existing photos of the Delta Queen with an example of railroad preservation?


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Author:  David Dewey [ Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

Les, You're right, I should have included a "today" view of the King--my pics are very much like yours, so I won't repeat that one. I did a talk on the DQ titled "Delta Queen & Delta King, Not Twins Anymore" with pictures of identical areas on the two boats. The King is closer to original in many ways than the Queen--but then, she hasn't seen decades of use and wear & tear! But the Queen retains her original grand staircase railings and most of the stained glass. The King Hotel people also greatly modified the cabins providing large, comfortable rooms with bathrooms larger than our cabin on the Queen!
So, here's some samples; The replica Wheel--of course, in California, you never saw the wheel, it was hidden by cover to keep noise down (it was a night boat after all!). The King's "Engine Room" (it's amazing what all you can do with a space when it isn't filled up with pesky machinery!), and the Kings' wheel powerplant. A little explanation here. They've done an amazing job of duplicating the paddlewheel, although the necked down the shaft at the ends to use a standard "off the shelf" bearing. After all, it isn't propelling the boat. The thought was that the current would turn the wheel slowly, but when that didn't happen, they added a small motor to do it---EXCEPT the wheel really is a wheel and the torque of it pushing the river twisted the end of the shaft off! Ooops.
Another bit of trivia; the stack on the King is a replica--the original stack is just outside of Isleton being used as a storage shed. The owner refused to sell it to the folks restoring the boat, so they had to have a duplicate fabricated. The Stack on the Queen has been modified many times to fit the needs of the operations (ability to be folded down to get under low bridges, etc. )

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Author:  EDM [ Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

Smaller shaft or not, that open chain really should have a guard over it! I don't think OSHA would like seeing that.

Author:  David Dewey [ Sat Dec 01, 2018 1:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

Since the shaft twisted off, and was repaired, I've never seen it in use. Also, it runs at a very slow RPM, like maybe 1/2 an RPM and it's not in an accessible area. Note the accumulation of rust, showing lack of use.

Author:  Kelly Anderson [ Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

Both the DQ and the DK were taken into the Navy during World War II for service around San Francisco bay. In early 1945, one or the other was serving as a barracks ship, and my dad lived aboard her for several weeks or a few months well he waited to be assigned to his ship (USS Cabanna DE-260).

He couldn't remember which one was his home, but he remembered the looking at the paddlewheel etc. My wife and I have taken trips on the DQ twice, and while I have looked, I never did find his initials carved in any woodwork.

I'm glad she's coming back!

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Author:  Brian Norden [ Wed Dec 12, 2018 6:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

I received today a mass email from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Besides other advocacy activities, it reported about the Coast Guard Authorization bill affecting Delta Queen bill was signed into law on December 4..
Delta Queen Set to Sail Again

The Delta Queen, built in 1926, is the last remaining authentic link to our country’s 200-year tradition of passenger steamboat transportation. After ten years of uncertainty for the Delta Queen, the President on December 4 signed the Coast Guard Authorization bill (S. 140) that includes provisions enabling the historic steamboat—a National Treasure—to return to operation as an overnight passenger vessel.

With this provision now signed into law, the Delta Queen Steamship Company is positioned to raise the funds needed to make substantial repairs and safety upgrades to the ship and prepare her once again for active service. The owners estimate the work will be complete and the Delta Queen will cruise the Mississippi again starting in 2020. Thank your members of Congress today for supporting the Delta Queen.

Author:  Jim Baker [ Thu Dec 13, 2018 12:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: OT: Delta Queen Steamboat gets Exemption-will run again!

I took a trip on the Delta Queen in March of '07 (David Dewey was on that trip also). I spent lots of time in the engine room, especially when they were docking. There appeared to be a couple of "old heads" there, plus several new graduates of an east coast maritime academy, one of whom was female. She was at the controls when we were docking one time; all these guys watching her quite intently. Must have been a bit stressful for her. The engine order telegraph was ringing down slow ahead, stop, slow astern, etc. She was kept quite busy, answering the telegraph, opening/closing the throttle as required, and shifting the "Johnson bar" from on end of the quadrant to the other. Finally, "Finished with Engine" rang down, and she had a big sigh of relief. She got a big applause from all the guys. I can't remember the exact numbers, but engine speeds weren't stated in RPM, but seconds per revolution. Slow was something like 30 seconds per revolution. I took some videos of the engine running, but of cours I can't seem to find them.

One of the engineers told me that because of the condensers, they didn't need to add water to the boiler very often, EXCEPT when someone was playing the calliope!

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