Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cangarda's engine room

I've had a couple of requests (demands) for updated photos of Cangarda, as well as angry comments on the lack of progress. I just walked out there and took some pictures in engine room. It's so full, that it's hard to get away far enough to get an image that conveys the complexity. Here's shot looking down at the foot of the ladder showing some of the piping underneath the sole.
Under the engine room sole
I believe there are twenty-eight valves in the fuel supply located below the engine room sole. Most of those are remotely actuated, computer controlled valves part of the automatic combustion control system. (That's exclusive of the fuel transfer system. See the photo below).

Twenty-eight valves (just for the fuel), located below the sole, all of which have to be correctly operated to maintain combustion...hmmm. There is the theory of the normal accident first put forth by Charles Perrow in 1984 (and lately adopted by Nasa to explain their catastrophic system failures). Normal in the sense that when a system becomes so complicated, failure is statistically normal.
Very neatly made fuel transfer manifold

It's very did it happen? I've had many questions in that vein. Originally, Cangarda/Magedoma had a naturally convected, coal fired furnace. The coal fire, raked by hand, boiled water in the boiler, which ran the main engine and auxiliary machinery. The intensity of the fire was controlled by shoveling in more coal and opening the furnace doors to admit more air. The coal soot and ash was blown out the stack, the expended clinkers shoveled overboard, and the permanent nine man crew kept the boat and guests pretty clean with constant hard labor.

The main reason is boats aren't allowed to simply blow coal soot out their stacks and shovel ash overboard anymore. A diesel fire is inherently cleaner, requiring fewer crew to maintain the boat in its lovely state. With controlled combustion and a forced draft, it's possible to get more power out of a given volume. But the power, convenience and cleanliness come at a cost...complexity. I see Jeff and the owner are giving a paper this weekend at the Classic Yacht Symposium at the Herreshoff Museum of Yachting in Bristol, RI. Maybe there will be more information on Cangarda's current status there.

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