Monday, December 5, 2016

Tuesday Torque: Steamboat Arabia Artifact

I've been fascinated by steamboats since I was a little kid, but there aren't very many around to study.  There have been a few dug up by adventurers who did research and then went looking. Digging up a steamboat wreck is a tough job, because even though the boat may be under farm land now, it is still in the river valley, and the river also flows through the alluvium.  Digging out a boat is a real engineering feat, and you must have good pumps  to keep the hole dry, because the river will fill it right up from the bottom.

The Arabia is an exhibit  in Kansas City, and it is a must-see museum if you are in the vicinity.  Here is a necessary little steam engine from the boat that is little known today.  Boilers need to be fed, and water must be pumped from the hull to keep the boat afloat.  It looks like this engine performed both tasks.  It is a real piece of history.  Video by our friend Gary Bahre.


Merle said...

Isn't this called a walking beam?
IIRC, it was used on paddle wheel boats in the early days.


David aka True Blue Sam said...

Yep, that's right! The eastern boats used that arrangement for the main engine, but boats west of the Appalachians had to run shallow, and the hulls were more barge-like, with the engines laid out horizontally. Look up River Queen on Wikipedia. Lincoln and Grant had a confab on that boat, so there are photos of it.

I spoke to Gary Bahre today and he says the little engine was a bilge pump only. There is another engine for feeding the boilers. The hull of the boat is preserved with the snag still stuck in it from when the Arabia sank. I gotta go see that!

Merle said...

OK, thanks for the update!