Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Restoration of DODO: A Classic Puget Sound Steamer

DODO restored and steaming along again, summer 2016

Long after the heyday of the Mosquito fleet, precursor our highways and the Washington State Ferry system, a resurgence of  steamboat enthusiasm emerged between 1950 and the 1970s in the Puget Sound Region.  People were drawn by the romance and nostalgia of a time when plentiful driftwood fuel lined the shores and protected waters provided ample cruising and commercial opportunities for trade, transport, and pleasure.  

DODO leaving McConnel Island steam meet in the 1960's.
DODO uniquely spans this history and has been one of the most popular boats repaired at Emerald Marine. Steam enthusiasts of all types frequently stopped by with remembrances of DODO running as a steamer on Puget Sound. Other visitors would drop by occasionally to check on progress simply as supporters of Puget Sound maritime history.

DODO at a steam meet at McConnell Island in the early 1960s.  Russ Hibbler’s SAN JUAN QUEEN from Anacortes tied alongside.  Al Giles Steamboat CREST from Olympia in the background.
Harold Lanning Sr. began construction of DODO in the year 1914 in Henderson Bay, South Puget Sound.  Harold designed the craft to be a strictly conventional work-boat of the period. When asked why he named his steamboat 'DODO', Harold Lanning Sr., replied, "Steamboats will be extinct by the time I get it done!" Called to a hydroelectric job in Potlatch, on Hood Canal, Lanning Sr. abandoned his project framed and half planked in 1915.  In 1933 Harold Lanning Jr, seeing a way to make a living in the middle of the Depression, encouraged his father to finish building the boat. So the partially completed vessel was trucked across the Kitsap Peninsula to Potlatch on Hood Canal in 1933.  DODO was completed, entirely with hand labor, and launched as a working steamboat in 1934.   
A new pump shelf was fabricated on the port side of the engine room.  The original steam Knowles steam feed pump is on the left.  The five-gallon hotwell, which serves as an intermediate tank 
between the condenser and the boiler, is to the far left.
From her launch until the mid 1950’s DODO earned her keep by beach-combing logs, salmon trolling, and shrimping.  DODO ran as a beloved steamer in Puget Sound until 1988 when an owner removed the steam plant and converted her to internal combustion.  Her engine, boiler and auxiliaries were sold overseas.
The Hylton Family on Launch Day in Anacortes.

DODO is currently owned by Paul Hylton and family who sought out and bought the vessel in 2008 with the intention of returning her to steam.  Paul was forever impressed riding on DODO in the 1980s when she was still a steamer.  His extended family has a long history of steam adventures in the San Juan Islands--including on McConnell Island, which was home to a smaller version of Tommy Thompson’s steam train that used to run in Anacortes, Washington.  
The main steam pressure gauge on top of the wood fired boiler.
Although the young family built many happy memories camp cruising the San Juan Islands on DODO when she had a modern diesel engine, Paul was planning the steps to restore DODO back to her original steam power.
Wood fired watertube boiler.
The search for her original Navy K steam engine wound up in England (!) where the engine was tracked down, purchased and shipped back to the Puget Sound in 2010.  
US Navy Type K steam engine build 1918.  Approximately 15 HP at 325 RPM.
Paul and his father Dave Hylton designed and engineered a new watertube boiler similar to the original in 2012.  Their machinist friend and fellow steam enthusiast Andrew Van Luenen of Arlington, WA fabricated the boiler in his shop in 2013.   Chief engineers to design, install and plumb the steam machinery were Paul and his dad Dave. 
Dave Hylton on launch day.
The carpenters at Emerald Marine completed the structural woodworking and interior restoration. The whole Hylton family participated in the balance of the finish work while looking forward to creating future family memories and sharing this Puget Sound treasure.  
Fitting the original 30"x 34" 3 blade Coolidge propellor.
Forty steambent sister frames were added by way of the boiler, engine and bridge deck. Here is one hot out of the box, Andy pre-bending it before installation.
Lead ballast cribbed in under the bridge deck and water tank. You can see new sister frames and floor timbers too.
The new boiler sitting on the original 6x6 beds, which were re-newed where necessary after modifications for the diesel engine. Notice the new timbered ring frame, clamp and bridge deck cabin sole beams in process of being fit.
It was a great partnership of Emerald Marine and owners working together.   The guiding vision during construction for the Hyltons and Emerald Marine was an installation honoring the beautiful simplicity of Harold Lannings original creation.  
Caulking the new fir plank on the starb. side. The original planking is in good shape. This one was removed for access and because it had too many old thru-hull fitting holes.
Launch day in Anacortes!
Since launch, the Hyltons report:
"DODO has been running beautifully! The steam plant re-power and shipwright repairs have proven to be successful.  She made several trips into the Islands, including a trip to Blaine for the Northwest Steam Society steam meet.  The Hylton family and the greater Puget Sound steam family are thrilled that DODO is back steaming again and running better than ever!"

Steamboat enthusiasm runs deep in Paul’s family.  Paul’s aunt, Stephanie Hylton, is a long-time Lopez Island resident and has a steam launch called Uno that was built in 1894 in Mud Bay, Lopez Island by Michael Norman. 

Renewing UNO's garboard western red cedar plank.  Here it is steamed and clamped to the plank above while it cools into shape.  There is a big twist and bend in the first three feet of this plank.  After cooling it was final fit, steamed again and fastened home.
During Dodo’s refit, UNO spent a brief time in the Emerald Marine shop for a new garboard of western red cedar.  The plank required an extra-tricky 90-degree twist and turn up into the stem.  Normally this plank would be the first plank installed.  Fitting this complex shape without removing adjacent planks was a real challenge.
UNO, a very elegant craft.

Paul Hylton hanging out the starboard engine room side door.

DODO and UNO together at McConnel Island in 2016.  This was DODO's first steam trip after her rebuild and repower back to steam.
Emerald Marine would like to thank Paul and Emily Hilton for providing important details and help in writing and editing this story.  Working on DODO has been a great pleasure and realization of Emerald Marine's goal of helping to maintain wooden boats and provide pleasure to the owners and greater community.