We Were Smokeboat Enginemen…

Click on the Handbook Image Above

As an Engineman on Sailfish it seemed as if all we ever did was work on equipment!  The main engines were always in some need of repair no matter if we were underway or in port.  Many a time an Upper Crankshaft on one of the 12 Cylinder OP’s would be cradled in brass lined metal ‘V’ blocks on the engine room deck between two main engines.  I remember that when ever we needed to pull an upper crankshaft on a main engine while underway, the Skipper would always dive the boat to avoid any rough seas.  We seemed to have done it a lot when I was onboard….

The manual above (click on the image to view the entire manual) wasn’t the actual manual we used on Sailfish.  That one was a large black binder that weighed a ton and was filled with about a million ripped and oil soaked pages (Typical Navy Manual).

However, the one above does have a story though……

After almost seven years service, in 1977 I left the Navy and began working for Caterpillar Marine Dealerships up and down the west coast from California to Alaska as a Marine Analyst.  There was a mechanic at one of the dealerships in Seattle Washington who was a retired ENC(SS) who (I believe, just can’t remember) may have been stationed aboard the USS Sea Robin (SS-407) at one time during his career.

Ed Ritzhaupt and I became very good friends over time and would always talk about submarines and Fairbanks Morse OP’s when we’d get together. Before I transferred to Kodiak Alaska to open another Caterpillar Marine Dealership there, he gave me an old Fairbanks Morse Manual as a going away gift.  I finally pulled that old manual out of mothballs and copied it the best I could.

Just going through that crusty old manual that was mostly falling apart from old age (sound familiar?) after being moved around almost the entire United States inside an old cardboard box for the last 40 plus years sure did throw a spark into some aging old diesel-oil soaked (and maybe a little Single Malt Scotch) brain cells.  Anyway, whatever that spark was, it was just enough of one to ignite old memories of blower overhauls in Yokosuka Japan in December of 1972; upper crankshaft removals while underway; hand lapping vertical drive friction cones; replacing busted spring packs; pulling pistons and liners, and the list went on and on as I took photos and scans of that old manual…  Looks like more stories….

Chief “Ritz” passed in 2003 at the age of 75.  I’ll always remember him saying to me when we’d be faced with a tough job out in the field,… “There ain’t no such thing as a ‘hill’ when yer an old High Step’n ‘Smokeboat Engineman’ Lanny”…..

I’d like to believe that ol’ Ed gave me that crusty old manual knowing that one day I’d make good use of it and share it with a bunch of other crusty ‘ol Smokeboat Enginemen….  Thanks Ritz!

DBF!!!

 

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Author: Lanny

Known as the 'King of Run-on Sentences", Bill "Lanny" Lanahan served aboard the Sailfish as an Engineman from November 1971 until June, 1975. After 7 years in the Navy, Lanny spent 15 years as a Caterpillar Marine Analyst before accepting a position with the Department of the Interior working for the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Lanny retired in 2012 and currently resides at his "Mini-Wildlife Refuge" located in Middle Georgia with his wife Connie and his dog Griffin.

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