We've been busy! Lots of good stuff to report. Both the forward
and after engine space bulkheads are permanently installed. For your
information, the bulkheads are sealed at the hull
canvas and Dolfinite. This installation may be our last use of Dolfinite
on this boat! The crew is ecstatic. The fuel tank foundations are done
(and re-done). We had another of those Higgins puzzles to solve with
the fuel tank foundations. It seems that Higgins made some alterations
to the frame gussets in way of the fuel tank foundations in order to accommodate
the design change from the round transom to the vee transom (our boat). Ed
Daroca and Al Haydel now know how to install fuel tanks in both boat
types! Coming up to speed with this "learning curve" cost Ed and Al a day's
work. The good news is that the job is done right and the tanks will
now fit right in.
Aubrey Adams, Ron Maranto and Ray Asprion have put the finishing touches
on the deck supports and forward deck blocking. We are ready to begin
laying the decks on now. Ed and Al have fit the after deck beams (over
the rudder compartment), and this space will probably be decked over before
the next newsletter. Joey Madere has pressure tested the fuel tanks
(they survived the test in fine condition) and they are ready to go in right
now. As soon as the tanks are installed we are ready to rough in our
fuel piping and then deck over the space. We are wrestling with how
Higgins vented the fuel tanks. Does anyone out there know? Richard
McDerby remembers them venting out of the transom, but we have no plans or
pictures of how it was done. In the absence of more information, we
will vent them out of the transom (OK MAC ???).
George Benedetto and Earl Fredricks have the engine-driven and hand bilge
pumping systems all plumbed in (Ed. note: Think Jimmy's a little
ahead of the curve on this one). By the way, since the last news
letter we determined that we needed another Wilcox and Crittendon
hand bilge pump. The boat has two hand pump systems. I was lucky
enough to find an old friend in the marine supply and salvage business named
Sam Laventhal. Mr. Sam couldn't help me, but he passed me over to his old
friend Paul Alain at Dreyfouss Marine Supply. Paul couldn't help with
our pumps (but did offer other assistance!!!). Paul told me to call
his buddy "Max" in California. Yep, Max had TWO pumps! What a deal!
We took both pumps figuring we could always use an extra. By
the way, thanks a lot Mr. Sam and Paul Alain (Paul, I'm going to talk to
you about a few things we need very soon!).
We decided to put in two additional electric bilge pump systems. Our
engine driven system is one heck of a water mover...as long as the engine
is running. The hand pump system works in direct proportion to how
scared you are of sinking...I've got all the faith in the world in our engine
AND in the integrity of our hull, but we're still going with the additional
electric pumps. It won't hurt to have them onboard.
Chris Labure of United Marine Survey came out to spend "an hour or so" with
us, and stayed all morning and then some. Chris is performing yeomans
work putting a report together which will help assign a replacement cost
to the PA33-21 for insurance purposes. I gave Diana Gladwell of J&H
MARSH and McCLENNAN insurance brokers a tour of the boat a couple of weeks
ago. Diana is working to assist us with our insurance needs. Hats
off this month to Dr. Richard "Sparky" Warren! Doc has spent HOURS
carefully grinding frame and frame gusset bolts. This has been a very
tedious job, and Doc has stuck with it and seen it through. Doc is also about
to help us do some "cosmetic" surgery on the bow ramp.
aboard to Kirt Garcia! Kirt is a volunteer at the National D-Day Museum,
but now I think he's a Higgins man. Last time I saw Kirt, Jim Weller
was leading him away with paint brush in hand...and Kirt was SMILING!
Dan Gay and Janine Bowman have been putting their heads together on a Higgins
web page. The page is online now!
http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/8601 Check it out when
you get time, it is really good! The page is "under construction" and
I'm hearing that the final product will be world class. Great work
Dan and Janine!
The Wednesday crew painted the hull last week. Brad Booth, Ron Maranto
and Harold Buchler sanded and brushed a nice coat of haze gray on the sides
We are looking good! Brad Booth says Harold Buchler is one heck
of a paint slingin' lawyer!
We have received the final plans for the long awaited cradle. Jack
Leary and Mike Dunn sent them over to me on 12 Feb and they look great!
Mike did a heck of a job for us on this. We gave Mike an interesting
challenge with this job, and we changed course a couple of times during the
design phase but Mike hung with us and I think we have exactly what we need.
Now to get it built...Ed and Al are producing full size templates taken
directly from the hull at the four places where the boat will actually rest
on the cradle. We want to be certain that the boat fits in it like
a glove. The fabrication shop will be able to make a direct tracing
to steel plate from the templates we produce. Graham Haddock is personally
supervising these templates.
Bruce Harris has finished the foundation for our GROCO duplex raw water
filtration system (sea strainer). We've got the original unit (supplied
by Chip Houston from Virginia). This foundation was another Higgins
puzzle, just like the fuel tank foundations. Bruce stuck with it and
(whew!!) the foundation is complete. We have started to install ramp
sheave brackets on the boat. We will be running wire for the ramp before
you know it. Same is true for the steering cables. Ray Asprion,
Jim Weller and Roy Redler built the steering stand and it will be installed
very soon. As soon as the stand is installed, the Higgins telescopic steering
system goes in! Jimmy Dubuisson and Spencer McIlvaine are standing
by ready to run the wiring. Our electrical panel has been fabbed by U.S.
Marine Inc., and it is ready to go.
Bruce Harris reports that we have only about 6 more weeks of wood working
left. The only things left to attend to after that will be engine
installation, and other "metal" work! Can you believe what you just
read? The project is nearing completion people...
I got a call from the Director of the Washington Navy Yard near Washington
D.C. last week. They had been looking for a Korean War era Higgins boat for
display in their museum, and had
a boat that could be "correct" for their purposes. The Director and
I had a very interesting conversation about the minutiae of these craft.
He is lucky he has a boat to start with. All we had was a concrete
floor! The same group of folks who restored the USS Constitution have
agreed to assist the yard in their restoration, and I have pledged them any
assistance we can render. Their group is sending a contingent to visit
us very soon. We applaud their efforts and we are looking forward to
seeing their finished boat! Hey Joey, I think they are going to have
to borrow your strut pattern (I'm not kidding). They also need a special
cradle...they are forwarding pictures to me now.
We had a hard time finding garboard drains (drains in the bottom of the boat
in the garboards. These are planks which run fore and aft on each side of
the keel), so Mr. Haddock made them for us. He showed up at my shop
to borrow my oxyacetylene rig one day (even brought his own fire bricks...)
and fabbed up a good looking pair of drains for our use. Another Haddock
Ray Asprion and I went to Gulfport to give a presentation to a Navy League
chapter there. Mr. Robert Meyer (their President and a U.S. Coast Guard
Auxiliarist) was our host for the event. Our message was well received, and
we look forward to several visits from our friends to the East! Thank
you again Mr. Meyer!
Aubrey Adams has volunteered to build a deck box for us. Thank you
Aubrey! As soon as the box is at the workshop we will begin filling
it with the items on our boat outfit list.
Erston Reisch volunteered to make a set of double braided nylon mooring lines
for us. Thanks Erston! Donovans Marine continued their support
of our project by donating more caulking and West System epoxy. Steve
Garner at Donovans has always been forthcoming with support and we are ever
grateful. Thank you Donovans!
Congratulations to Sheriff Charles Foti for receiving the Mayor of New Orleans'
Military Advisory Council's "Friend of the Military Award." The Sheriff
has certainly been a friend of our project, and we congratulate him on this
LOST AND FOUND - Someone left a black and white check mans insulated
vest. If you lost it, I've got it.
Each remaining issue of this news letter (only 8 left!) will contain
a christening report from Karen Reisch. We are fortunate to have Karen
chairing our christening committee!
CHRISTENING COMMITTEE REPORT
As mentioned in previous newsletters, our committee has been meeting regularly
since July of 1998. We are very lucky to have in our number a great
group of volunteers who are dedicated to planning and executing the
BEST possible christening event!
The Christening and Commissioning ceremonies will be held on Saturday, November
6th, 1999 at 12:00 Noon. The site is the old Higgins yard
on the Industrial Canal near Chef Menteur Hwy. This yard is now owned by
Equitable/Halter, and it was the site of many WWII Higgins christenings and
launchings. Many thanks to our gracious host John Dane III for making
the site available to us! Sheriff Charles Foti has offered the support
of the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff's Office in preparing the site for
the big day.
We are planning a solemn military ceremony - unique in that it will combine
the christening AND commissioning of a vessel in one event. Our sponsor
will be Gail Higgins Jones of New Orleans, LA. Mrs. Jones is the
granddaughter of Andrew Jackson Higgins. The boat will be commissioned
by the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Admiral James Loy.
There will be many service and public dignitaries in attendance, and it is
our goal to attempt to capture the flavor of a 1940's era christening event.
We are planning for lots of red, white and blue bunting, balloons and
I will be asking you to send in requests for christening invitations in the
next edition of this newsletter.
Jerry Strahan was contacted by the media firm in New York which is putting
together the video for the Higgins Industries display in the National D-Day
Museum. They were looking for someone to do the voice over for the
video...someone with a heavy Southern drawl!!! No offense intended
to any Northern readers of this news letter, but
WE DON'T TALK LIKE THAT IN NEW ORLEANS !!!
I'll bet Jerry gets it fixed. BTW, Jerry wrote the biography of Andrew
Will Gougis, the head of the Coast Guard's Vessel Documentation Center in
New Orleans (Will works at MSO New Orleans) has been assisting us in documenting
the PA33-21. Thanks for the help Will! We should have our application
in the mail within a week. Gordon Grant is lending his complete attention
to this important detail as well.
A SPECIAL MARDI GRAS STORY TO WRAP IT UP
In the years prior to WWII, Higgins had built a special inspection boat for
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The M/V Guyer (named for a Corps
member) was a wooden boat which had two marine converted Liberty aircraft
engines and could do 40 knots! The boat was complete and ready for
delivery to the Corps at the foot of Canal St. a couple of days prior to
Mardi Gras. Mr. Higgins was very interested in clearing the boat out of the
small plant at Felicity and St. Charles Avenue, but there was a problem getting
a wide load permit to transit the boat through town because of Mardi Gras.
Someone came up with an idea...PUT THE BOAT IN A PARADE, AND MOVE IT
THAT WAY! So, the Corps boat joined Elks Krewe of Orleanians during
its transit down St. Charles Avenue with Higgins Industries revelers aboard.
You guessed it...the boat had to depart the parade route near the foot of
Canal Street for delivery to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers! This
story comes to me from a Higgins retiree, and it is a classic! You
have to love Mr. Higgins' approach to problem solving!