Newsletter Masthead - 34KB

[March 1999]


[May 1999]

Hello all,

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!52KB  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!

50KBMuffler 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 with you!

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 55KBplanned 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 6th.

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,  

[March 1999]

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