Great progress this month!
In the last newsletter, I referred to "limber chains" but didn't tell you
about them. SO, here's the rest of that story. The inside of
the bottom (bilge) of our boat is subdivided by the frames, which provide
the structure upon which the boat is assembled. The frames are the
skeleton of the boat, if you will. The frames present a problem for
water drainage inside the boat, as they act like dams and prevent the bilge
water from flowing to the bilge pumps. The obvious fix is to drill
holes (known as limber holes) through the frames as close to the bottom of
the boat as possible. The limber holes allow the bilge water to move
through the frames...unless the holes get stopped up with trash (you name
it, it'll get into the bilge and stopper up the limber holes!). Problems
like this can cause big trouble for little boats. Higgins plans called
for "limber chains and springs" for the LCVPs. Earl Fredricks called
me about 8 months ago and asked me if we were going to use "limber chains"
in the boat. I said "Sure, if the plans call for it..." but what I
was really wondering was "what the heck are limber chains???"!
I can tell you that I have never seen a boat with them installed, but they
make perfect sense! Higgins stretched #25 zinc plated sash chain through
a row of limber holes. The holes run in a line, fore and aft (front
to back). At each END of the chain there is a spring which then attaches
to the inside of the bilge. A slight amount of tension is then taken
up on the chain, and the result is that a crew member can reach into the
bilge at any point, grab the chain and PULL. The spring-loaded chain then
CLEARS all of the limber holes it passes through! Kinda neat. Now,
all of YOU know what a limber chain
is! There are runs of these chains on both sides of the
keel in the cargo bay and in the engine compartment. Standard Supply
and Hardware and Shindler Spring of New Orleans helped us find the chain
and springs. Shindler had to MAKE the springs for us! Thanks
for the help with these items.
Coastal Erection hoisted the engine on Good Friday. All went well.
Joey Madere now has the engine alignment accomplished. Our engine,
coupling, shaft and propeller are installed according to factory spec.
Great work Joey! We used the Good Friday opportunity to have
a work day, and then the crew worked Saturday as well. I have to take
a minute to tell you about the GREAT WORK that Ray Asprion, Jim Weller and
Roy Redler have been doing in the bilge of our Higgins boat. The bilge
of an LCVP is a VERY complicated one, as there is more foundation and sub
structure down there than you can believe. Every bit of ALL of that
bilge and deck foundation had to be cleaned, sanded, primed, scuffed and
re-painted Haze Gray. Ray, Jim and Roy did ALL of that. I KNOW
that this work was painstaking and back breaking. These three guys
worked for DAYS in our bilge. No glory job here folks, but the job
was done perfectly and beautifully. In case you don't remember from
previous newsletters, Ray is former USCG, Jim is former U.S. Army and Roy
is former USMC. Ray, Jim and Roy are all retired now and have really
forged a great friendship working on our boat. What a team!
Ed Daroca and Al Haydel are almost done in the steering / fuel tank compartment.
We had no idea that this space would be so difficult to construct!
Talk about a MAZE of blocking, framing, shelving, decking, steering,
fuel tanks, muffler, beams and decking. Geez. Ed and Al have
spent an unbelievable amount of time back there. I can tell you that
no grass grows under Ed and Al's feet, they are great builders. The
space is just very complicated. We still are not sure how to orient
the after muffler that installs in there. We'll have to go back to
the archives to hunt up the answer. As soon as the muffler issue is
solved, we deck over that space. Not a minute too soon for Ed and Al,
I'll guarantee you!
Muffler talk: Whew, mufflers drove us all nuts. We
had them built once, and then we realized that they were built incorrectly.
You know the drill, everything according to PLAN. So, back to the drawing
board. We determined that we could salvage the basic fabrications that
we had obtained, so here is what we did:
Cecil Borne carefully cut the after muffler apart without damaging the
components. Cecil is an artist with a carbon arc cutter! He did
a masterful job of salvage here folks. Joey Madere will fabricate the
"missing" internal components and then Cecil will weld everything back up.
Glad to have Cecil on our team. We will DEFINITELY be using Cecil
for a lot more work on our bow ramp soon. Cecil and I used to serve
on patrol boats together, and he is a heck of a good coxswain too! He
is a retired USCG BM1.
The REALLY serious problem lay with our forward muffler. This monster
(about 4 feet long) was supposed to have an internal system of opening and
closing plates which allow the boat to be run QUIETER if desired. This
assembly was very complicated, and (of course) we had NONE of the components.
Two "throttle" plates mounted on pivot pins, as well as a system of
external arms and linkage fabricated out of brass and stainless all had to
be assembled together. Mind you that some of this assembly is installed inside
of a pipe that is welded INSIDE another pipe!!! Mr. Haddock said we
needed a team of trained mice to assemble this thing. So where do you
go when you have a mess on your hands and need something so complicated
FABRICATED and ASSEMBLED??? We asked Sheriff Harry Lee and MANUFAB
to help and they did. Jim Alford at MANUFAB dug right in and produced
one heck of a muffler for us! I know I often take you folks into
the minutiae of boat construction (this is a journal you know...) but please
join with me and get excited about this muffler! Thank you Sheriff
Lee and MANUFAB!
We have a new project volunteer aboard. His name is Ernest Daunis from
New Orleans, LA. He is a former LA National Guard and his first love is aircraft
restoration. Welcome aboard Ernest, we are all looking forward to working
The last newsletter listed our oldest volunteer as being 86. I am corrected
by Richard McDerby. "Mac" is 89 now and darn proud of it. Mac
is going to get underway with us if we have to get him in the boat with a
crane. My money says he's going to put the boat "ON THE BEACH" for
us! Sorry for the error Mac, I stand corrected.
We had a pretty busy month for "press" in April. WBRZ from Baton Rouge
spent some time with us. They are doing a special for June 6th.
Diana Baker and crew from Louisiana Public Broadcast came by to film
the engine hoisting for her
planned documentary. CBS called and wanted to film for Charles
Osgood's "Sunday Morning" show. Whew. We are very happy that there is so
much interest in the boat. We all wanted to "tell the story" and so I guess
we are doing a good job of that. It gets real tough to build a boat
when you have to be QUIET. The Osgood folks were great though. Pam McDonough
was the producer for the piece and she really made it an enjoyable experience.
Nice people all of them. CBS expects this piece to air on Sunday, June
Karen Reisch and the christening committee have been extremely busy planning
for the big event. As construction issues are ebbing, christening issues
are on the rise. Karen is extremely busy now, and she is ably assisted
by the rest of her team. Keep pushing, Karen!
Great news! J&H MARSH AND McCLENNAN insurance brokers has pledged
to provide our insurance needs for the boat and christening ceremony.
Additionally, they have graciously offered to help us with invitation
costs, postage and mailing! Thanks very, very much Bobby Monsted
and Diana Gladwell of J&H Marsh! We appreciate it.
Chris Labure has been doing an intense study of our project to determine
the replacement cost of our boat. Chris has gone through PILES of invoices
and receipts, and he has interviewed dozens of people who provided for our
needs. He went through every edition of the Higgins newsletter to be
certain that every detail is accounted for. Needless to say, this
exhaustive research is very important to the project. We saved and
recorded everything, so I am confident that the final figure will be very
accurate. I have an idea of what the figure is, but we won't release
it until Chris says he is finished. Chris is donating all of this time
to the project. Thanks, UNITED MARINE SURVEYING and Chris Labure!
Dan Gay and Janine and David Bowman have been spending lots of time on the
construction of our web site. Very soon we will be at WWW.HIGGINSBOAT.ORG.
The site is remarkable. Great work guys!. This newsletter is
regularly published there.
I'm looking for some experienced USCG-licensed Captains who are interested
in getting underway with the boat during sea trials. If anyone knows
of someone who would like to assist, please let me know. So far, we've
got Capt. Don Summers, Capt. Verne Streckfus, Capt. Steve Streckfus, Capt.
Chuck Walton and myself on the list. I'd like to identify several more
qualified Captains so we can share the underway "watch" list.
Only 6 more months until the christening / commissioning! The
boat should be complete in 8-10 more work days! We are looking forward
to being in the water in July. See you next month,