Saturday, May 24, 2014

Variable Height (Retractable) Pilothouses

(Update: I learned in July 2018 that the correct term is "retractable pilothouse." But I'm not going to spend time fixing all of my old posts because Google broke the author's search function on April 3, 2018, so the value of consistent terminology for use in a search has become worthless. But starting with July 2018 posts, I use "retractable pilothouse.")

The following is from one of my visits to Lemont:

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I caught the Mary C lowering its pilothouse in July, 2014.

Note how the pilot house is setting on the body of the boat and that it is low enough to pass under swing bridges that no longer move and bridges that never got converted to lift bridges. But the top of the "stairwells to nowhere" at the front is the height of empty barges that it could be pushing. So the captain could not see the front of a tow very well. For this reason, the pilot house is mounted on vertical hydraulic rams that can be used to increase the height of the pilot house.

In fact, I have caught a towboat pushing empty barges.
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I found a photo of each of Illinois Marine Towing's towboats.  Note that all but two of them have variable height pilot houses. The small fixed height towboat works around Channahon, and the large one works between Lemont and Peoria.

I was shocked to learn that some big towboats also have retractable pilothouses. The first one I saw was Sam M. Fleming on July 8, 2018.
Specifications and a lot more photos
I followed it for a few days. It came back to the area on July 16 and Aug 18, but I wasn't able to get decent shots of it then. I found photos of it working on the Mississippi River, so it is a long haul towboat as it size would indicate.

As it was going northbound on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, it passed a southbound Al Weaver that "parked" on the side of the canal so I was able to get photos of it with the pilothouse up and down.

Digitally zoomed from the above photo

Are there other urban areas that also need retractable pilothouses?  Jeff Cumptan caught M/V Norman at Robert C. Byrd L&D (#10).
Ohio & Kanawha River Photography added, one of thirteen photos

Another of Jeff's thirteen photos
Norman is currently owned by a company based in Houma, LA. But it does get up the Illinois Waterway. Here are this photo at Joliet, IL, is one of 15 locations it has been caught at. The 15th photo shows it running light with its pilothouse all the way down.

David Gulden posted two photos with the comment: "The WILMINGTON."


Gary Mount posted
How many of you worked on one of these jewels.
The pilot house was retractable.
The one I worked on up and down the Kanawha River was the Wilmington.
She looked like this one in the pic
Nick Bolter: M/V Sam Fleming
Wade Bienvenu: M/V NORMAN. The boat pictured.
Michael Forbess: I rode the Wilmington also for G&C, Sam Fleming, Wm Klunk and Leviticus.
[The comments list some other towboats.]
Sam Schropp: The Conti-Karla, Sam Fleming, Bee Gee. I do not like retractable pilothouse towboats. Noisy, cramped <expletive> holes.
Charles S Thornton: Mr Sam Schropp you haven’t been on the miss Marley yet. It’s great. The lay out is amazing. Dino and the rest did a great job on this one. The galley is the same size as the gene Neal. Everyone has queen beds and desks in their room. Wheelhouse is really nice as well. Has an extended window up front to view the capstan and h bit. It’s a goodun. It’s 20ft longer than our others and wider.
Randy Sanderson: Several of them. I got broke in the pilothouse, by my father on the M/V Bronwynne Brent.
Spending years at Brent Towing, which I loved. During those years I worked on several of those from time to time. Eden Brent, Ann Brent and the Leviticus. Never over a trip or so, and those trips usually ended up on the IL river, which is not my fav place to
Charles S Thornton: I’m captain on mmt’s newest jack up. 4300 hp, huge galley, everyone has a queen bed, rooms aren’t loud. I love this boat.
Raymond Craven: I was Captain on the one pictured for a few years the M/V Norman. Matter of fact I was on it during this pic. I loved the blue lights at night.
Dan Scott: Lots for twin city and material service from 79 till 84 Lake Michigan to Cairo Ill.
My old boat [Note how the radar is off to the side to keep the height down when the pilothouse is retracted. And then the house started going down. Did the pilot lower it to put on a show for the drone? He also shows a view of the rapids.]

Carl Bates commented on Gary's post
I ride one now
The King of the Illinois River

Steve J Crile posted
M/V Wisconsin @Muscatine

Roman Bernal posted
Who owns the M/V Lee W? Pretty boat for sure. N/B on the Ohio River, Evansville mile 792.
[The E on the smokestack stands for Enterprise.]
Lee W 1297828 138/38'/12' 2019 Verret Shipyard 2 531 4200 (2 engines, 531 gross tons, 4,200 HP)

Dakato Nutt commented on Roman's post
That’s the Lee W with the pilot house all the way down.

The radar and antennae are mounted different on this towboat, so it appears at least two of their 66 boats have retractable pilothouses.
A web page cover photo
[So where in the USA is there a green truss next to a blue truss, both Warren trusses?]

One of seven photos posted by Lloyd Scott Hardin
National ranger/Katy p/ Marne b than and now 1987.
[I had never noticed the cables before. I guess that is because most of them enclose the cables. The Marine B photo shows that it now has a regular fixed pilothouse.]

Quapaw Canoe Company posted
[This is one of a few photos, each describes the company of the boat in the photo.]

Southern Towing Company

Southern Towing Company, headquartered in Memphis, TN is one of the nation’s largest transporters of fertilizer and other products along the nation’s inland waterways.
For over 60 years, we have operated the largest fleet of anhydrous ammonia barges in the United States. Our customer base is diverse and includes clients responsible for providing key products up and down the Mississippi River System and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to end markets such as farming, coal and aggregates. We set high standards for our equipment and more importantly, for our crews and shore side staff to ensure safe and timely transportation service.

We are a leading inland tank barge operator, specializing in transporting bulk liquid fertilizer products throughout the Mississippi River System and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. We operate the largest fleet of anhydrous ammonia barges in the United States. In addition to our fertilizer expertise, we provide towing services for several other commodities including refined petroleum, chemicals, coal, grain, and aggregates.
We set high standards for our equipment and more importantly, for our crews and shore side staff to ensure safe and timely transportation service. We are committed to providing your company with safe and prompt delivery.

One of five photos posted by Ergon Marine & Industrial Supply, Inc.
MV Miss Andrea!
[This is a marine services company in Vicksburg, MS.]

Ingram Barge Company posted
Did you know: Ingram Barge has several vessels with *retractable* pilot houses?! As you can see in this picture, these boats look quite different (and shorter) than the others when the pilot house is down. The pilot houses are on hydraulic ram, and can be raised or lowered with the ram. Typically, this type of boat is used to get underneath bridges where clearance is an issue. And that's our Barging 101 Tidbit of the Week!

#barging101 #bargingisbest #ingrambarge #barges #transportation 
See Less

David Gulden shared
Sam Schropp: Avoid Ingram's retractables. Their Nashville Bridge boats are loud SOBs that will ruin your hearing.
Dennis DeBruler commented on David's share
[This video and these photos are already in these notes.]

Sometimes on my way home from Joliet I revisit the 135th Street Bridge. As I started up the bridge, I saw that a tow was going upstream. So I raced (OK, trotted) up the bridge grabbing pictures as I went hoping it wouldn't get too far before I got to the top. Note that the tow had its bridge in its full, upright position.

20150523 1910

Upbound on the Des Plaines River in Joliet between Jackson Street and Ruby Street Bridges --- Sydney Reese. The largest of Ozinga's Middle River Marine's four towboats: 73'x20', 1200hp. Built in 1965. [BoatDB] (Their web page is out of date. They now have a 77' 2000hp retractable-pilothouse with Z-drives named Kamryn Olivia stationed in Mokena, IL. (But Mokena does not have a waterway!) [WaterwaysJournal]) (Update: MWRD video of Sydney pushing three ACL barges.)
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Cropped even tighter.

20150523 1880
While I was at McDonough Street Bridge, I caught part of a towboat through a fence. It turned out it was the Sydney Reese, and a closeup (below) gives us a good view of the hydraulic ram that raises and lowers the pilothouse.

On the left of the following tow that I caught while I was at the old Bear Trap Dam site is a pilot house in the raised position.

The following takes advantage of every pixel that was in the picture (that is, it is original-size).

Around 3:53 of this video of towboats working on an icy Illinois River you can see the pilothouse go up. This video also catches two more tows going downbound on the river. Note that the size of the tows are just 2x4 or smaller when there is ice. At 7:55 you can tell from the propwash and the engine exhaust that the port side screw is pushing harder to help get the front end of the tow around the curve. The M/V Sugarland appears to be another retractable towboat. At 17:23 we see that it takes lots of horsepower to shove through ice because those are big prop washes considering it is a downbound tow. Also, I'm really impressed by the river bluffs in the background. I wonder how far up north they were on the Illinoi River. His commentary says that there had not been traffic on the Mississippi north of the Illinois River mouth for a month. 

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