Locomotive Engines as Maritime Propulsion

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AndyHall

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Given the embedded linkages between the boat and the local railroad line to New Orleans, I'm inclined to believe that reference means exactly what it sounds like.
 
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Bil R

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Hello Gentlemen,

This is a most interesting thread. The protection of New Orleans' western flank has not received the attention of many researchers and remains poorly understood. There is no doubt that Lovell appreciated the importance of Brashear City as it became the primary entry port for New Orleans as the blockade tightened. That combined with its excellent rail connections made it essential to defend.

Perhaps the best of the CSN's early gunboat conversions (CSS Mobile) was stationed to protect Berwick Bay and local authorities attempted to add to the emerging squadron during the fall and winter of 1861 and 1862. Parties in Franklin called for local gunboat construction using local funds as early as July 1861. These efforts resulted in the seizure and/or lease of the A.B. Seger, the lease of the mail boat St. Marys, the construction of the gunboat Herron (later St. Marys) and the purchase of the Flycatcher. It was intended to haul up and lengthen the last during her conversion into a gunboat. There were two shipyards in the area capable of such work. One was the Franklin Shipyard which was owned and operated by Thomas Smardon and the other was the Alfred B. Vail Ship & Boatyard located at the 'old place' in Berwick. Two foundries existed which could do limited machinery and engine work, the Flemming Foundry in Franklin and the Escudler Works in Berwick.

If I recall correctly there is an old back issue of the Louisiana Historical Quarterly that describes the establishment and construction of both Forts Berwick and Chene and the associated challenges with manning and armament. Officer Waterman's account postwar (SHS papers) describes the CSN's activities in early 1862 in Berwick Bay and provides details of how the St. Marys (Herron) and Mobile were withdrawn up the Atchafalaya River as Union forces converged on New Orleans. This evacuation was apparently ordered directly by Lovell. The Seger was not deemed valuable enough to save and was left behind. It is my thinking that the mail boat St. Marys also came at that time. As the later USS Alexandria she appears quite different from Waterman's sketch of the gunboat St. Marys.

Returning to the A.B. Seger she was armed by the CSN with 2 rifled 24 pdrs (armed transport) and was used as noted above, as a dispatch boat. In Lytle's supplement 3, page 44 it lists the A.B. Seger as being built from the former barge Concordia. Lytle's does have the occasional error and I have not found confirmation yet in other sources. The Concordia was built as a un-powered barge in Plaquemines Parish in 1846. She is reported as being converted to steam in early 1851 and as lost later that same year. If her hull was salvaged she could have easily been hauled up and rebuilt as a small coastal steamboat in 1860. Perhaps such an extensive salvage and reconstruction prompted the name change and rechristening. The original dimensions of the Concordia were 29 39/95ths tons, length 58'1" x 15'2" x 3'9" which are consistent with the Seger's reported size. Typically in passages of the time that I have read it will describe a non-marine boiler as a 'locomotive-style' boiler. I tend to think the Seger's machinery was converted from an actual locomotive. I would be interested if John would not mind showing us by illustration how such an arrangement would appear.

All the best,
Bil
 

AndyHall

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Bergeron, Arthur W. “Fort Berwick and Fort Chêne: Guardians of the Attakapas.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, vol. 47, no. 4, 2006, pp. 435–450.
 

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rebelatsea

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Hello Gentlemen,

This is a most interesting thread. The protection of New Orleans' western flank has not received the attention of many researchers and remains poorly understood. There is no doubt that Lovell appreciated the importance of Brashear City as it became the primary entry port for New Orleans as the blockade tightened. That combined with its excellent rail connections made it essential to defend.

Perhaps the best of the CSN's early gunboat conversions (CSS Mobile) was stationed to protect Berwick Bay and local authorities attempted to add to the emerging squadron during the fall and winter of 1861 and 1862. Parties in Franklin called for local gunboat construction using local funds as early as July 1861. These efforts resulted in the seizure and/or lease of the A.B. Seger, the lease of the mail boat St. Marys, the construction of the gunboat Herron (later St. Marys) and the purchase of the Flycatcher. It was intended to haul up and lengthen the last during her conversion into a gunboat. There were two shipyards in the area capable of such work. One was the Franklin Shipyard which was owned and operated by Thomas Smardon and the other was the Alfred B. Vail Ship & Boatyard located at the 'old place' in Berwick. Two foundries existed which could do limited machinery and engine work, the Flemming Foundry in Franklin and the Escudler Works in Berwick.

If I recall correctly there is an old back issue of the Louisiana Historical Quarterly that describes the establishment and construction of both Forts Berwick and Chene and the associated challenges with manning and armament. Officer Waterman's account postwar (SHS papers) describes the CSN's activities in early 1862 in Berwick Bay and provides details of how the St. Marys (Herron) and Mobile were withdrawn up the Atchafalaya River as Union forces converged on New Orleans. This evacuation was apparently ordered directly by Lovell. The Seger was not deemed valuable enough to save and was left behind. It is my thinking that the mail boat St. Marys also came at that time. As the later USS Alexandria she appears quite different from Waterman's sketch of the gunboat St. Marys.

Returning to the A.B. Seger she was armed by the CSN with 2 rifled 24 pdrs (armed transport) and was used as noted above, as a dispatch boat. In Lytle's supplement 3, page 44 it lists the A.B. Seger as being built from the former barge Concordia. Lytle's does have the occasional error and I have not found confirmation yet in other sources. The Concordia was built as a un-powered barge in Plaquemines Parish in 1846. She is reported as being converted to steam in early 1851 and as lost later that same year. If her hull was salvaged she could have easily been hauled up and rebuilt as a small coastal steamboat in 1860. Perhaps such an extensive salvage and reconstruction prompted the name change and rechristening. The original dimensions of the Concordia were 29 39/95ths tons, length 58'1" x 15'2" x 3'9" which are consistent with the Seger's reported size. Typically in passages of the time that I have read it will describe a non-marine boiler as a 'locomotive-style' boiler. I tend to think the Seger's machinery was converted from an actual locomotive. I would be interested if John would not mind showing us by illustration how such an arrangement would appear.

All the best,
Bil
Bil,
I have a problem with the description as given ,whereby the cylinders are bolted to the top of the boiler. A team railroads locomotive has its power unit mounted either on a saddle beneath the boiler or bolted to the frames beneath the smoke box. In the very first railroad locomotives here the cylinders were actually mounted verticaly IN the boiler, but by the 1850s the two arrangements above were the norm. Locomotive boilers were not constructed in such a way as the be able to take cylinder mounts directly, as the shells would not take the stress of the much faster running machinery.

I also have a problem with that aspect. A screw vessel could comfortably be powered by the two cylinders with some form of gearing to convert the forward and back movement of the piston rods to longitudinal motion to power the shaft, or by mounting on one side of the keel driving directly on to the shaft.
However we are talking about a paddle vessel here, I can't see how such an arrangement could be made to work given the slower speed of a wheel shaft.
It is true that Road locomotive /agricultural /traction engines had /have the cylinder/s mounted on a saddle atop the boiler, but I doubt very much if such a thing was around in New Orleans in 1860 /61.
Apologies for being negative ,and I'm willing to be proved wrong !
 

unicornforge

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I humbly recommend this book. It describes that they built both locomotive engines as well as stationary steam engines. It also describes how, at best, their facilities could only work at one-third their capacity/demand for products including rail and engines due to their inability to acquire enough food and raw materials for full capacity production:

Ironmaker to the Confederacy: Joseph R. Anderson and the Tredegar Iron Works – October 1, 1999 by Charles B. Dew (Author)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0884901904/?tag=civilwartalkc-20

Best wishes,
Dave E.
 

rebelatsea

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I humbly recommend this book. It describes that they built both locomotive engines as well as stationary steam engines. It also describes how, at best, their facilities could only work at one-third their capacity/demand for products including rail and engines due to their inability to acquire enough food and raw materials for full capacity production:

Ironmaker to the Confederacy: Joseph R. Anderson and the Tredegar Iron Works – October 1, 1999 by Charles B. Dew (Author)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0884901904/?tag=civilwartalkc-20

Best wishes,
Dave E.
I'll second that ,it's a bit heavy going but worth the effort.
 
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USS ALASKA

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DaveBrt

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Given my limited time as a member of this board, I've seen Dew's volume recommended quite a few times...I wonder if that has ever been reflected in it's Amazon sales :smile:

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
This is the 2nd edition -- the first came out in 1966. Any book that is still in print after 50 years and has a 2nd edition must have sold well.
 
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While in this case there appears to have been some McGyvering going on, I think in general that any reused loco bits in ships would be the boilers, as they are common in small war vessels of the era and higher pressure than commercial boilers of the period.
 

georgew

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While in this case there appears to have been some McGyvering going on, I think in general that any reused loco bits in ships would be the boilers, as they are common in small war vessels of the era and higher pressure than commercial boilers of the period.
DaveBrt or Rebel might like to weigh in on RR boilers. They certainly got a lot of use and you wonder how long they lasted. I've always wondered if they might eventually suffer from a cycling phenomena between heating and cooling. Perhaps the water in the boilers and the fact that most were total loss systems kept their temperatures more constant. Something else is a question, did they have to modify the fire boxes if they changed from coal to wood for fuel?
 

DaveBrt

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DaveBrt or Rebel might like to weigh in on RR boilers. They certainly got a lot of use and you wonder how long they lasted. I've always wondered if they might eventually suffer from a cycling phenomena between heating and cooling. Perhaps the water in the boilers and the fact that most were total loss systems kept their temperatures more constant. Something else is a question, did they have to modify the fire boxes if they changed from coal to wood for fuel?
Yes, the fireboxes had to be upgraded when going from wood to coal. Coal burns at a much higher temperature, requiring the iron parts of the box, especially the grates, to have to be replaced with stronger pieces.
 
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rebelatsea

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Putting my Railroad hat on, steam locomotive boiler and fireboxes don't like being heated and cooled in short cycles, or being left in one or other states for long periods.
Constant use a high temperature causes seams to begin to weep and tubes to block, fireboxes begin to warp and burn. It also doesn't allow down time for TLC to maintain peak efficiency.
Leaving an engine cold doesn't help either as solids in the water settle to the bottom of the boiler and around the outside of the tubes causing heat transfer loss. Cold fireboxes actually shrink!
The best use is over a regulated daily cycle, x days under steam, one day cooling ,one day washout and inspection then start again. Short cycles strain the tube ends, and firebox stays between the inner and outer wrappers (the water space around the firebox), resulting in leaks and serious damage.
Those of us here in the UK who are old enough to remember the last days of steam will confirm the awful state engines were allowed to get into when their replacement by diesels became a fact.
 

georgew

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Yes, the fireboxes had to be upgraded when going from wood to coal. Coal burns at a much higher temperature, requiring the iron parts of the box, especially the grates, to have to be replaced with stronger pieces.
Hi Dave. Somewhere in my Texas notes is a quote from the Union QM Dept regarding the steamer 'Matamoros'. It was one of the King-Kenedy boats from the Rio Grande. The Union had pretty much forced them into duty as transports, but there was a shortage of coal, so they ended up switching fuels and the QM had to deal with frequent maintenance issues. The KK boats weren't new and probably didn't get as much maintenance as required anyway. Reusing equipment like this must have been a bit dangerous.
 

rebelatsea

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Hi Dave. Somewhere in my Texas notes is a quote from the Union QM Dept regarding the steamer 'Matamoros'. It was one of the King-Kenedy boats from the Rio Grande. The Union had pretty much forced them into duty as transports, but there was a shortage of coal, so they ended up switching fuels and the QM had to deal with frequent maintenance issues. The KK boats weren't new and probably didn't get as much maintenance as required anyway. Reusing equipment like this must have been a bit dangerous.
Your telling me, high pressure steam in the hands of unskilled men is a recipe for disaster.
 
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georgew

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Your telling me, high pressure steam in the hands of unskilled men is a recipe for disaster.
amen. I think W.T. Block was the fellow who posted a story about the fate of Union crew and soldiers aboard the Clifton when she took a round through the boiler at Sabine Pass. a very graphic description by one of the Confederate soldiers included a report that the surgeon from the Clifton actually rolled some of the victims in flour after their skin sloughed off. I suspect that there was a similar effect on the Mound City earlier in the war.
 

rebelatsea

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Modern UK boiler regulations insist on having two washout plugs in the firebox. I'd guess it's probably universal as the idea is to protect the boiler in cases of low water level thus preventing overheat of the firebox and catastrophic explosion. It's one of the jobs of a firelighter to check each morning to see if they have been weeping, they will see chemical deposits around the plug hole - in which case they fail the engine immediately. Unfortunately if one of these plugs blows when the fire door is open the crew have nowhere to go.
 
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