M/V Walla Walla electrical snafu

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What happens when you don't follow appropriate procedures. Someone's booty is gonna get BBQed.

The above link has multiple images of a badly fried commutator and brushes on a GE traction-type motor on the Puget Sound ferry, Walla Walla. Allegedly to be out of service for several more months as a result, when they should have already finished maintenance and repainting of the ship and had it back in service.

Carelessness had resulted in paint overspray getting into the electrical gear, forcing cleaning of the motors. Things went downhill fast when someone forgot to lock out power to this motor while working on another.

Probably familiar to some of you shop guys, should be very similar to railroad locomotive DC commutators. Think you could do the repairs faster?

Tacoma Tom

New Member
I am very familiar with these ferries as I used to work for Todd shipyard as a welder and we used to overhaul them. I don't remember any of them being diesel electric. I spent a lot of time in the engine room and I remember that they had 4, 16 cylinder, EMD diesel engines which are identical to locomotive engines. Two engines powered the propeller going in one direction, and two engines powered the other propeller when it went the other direction. There was no generators because the crankshaft went to a large gearbox which turned the main shaft.

There was a smaller diesel engine that powered a generator for the electrical and maybe that is what they are talking about. The engines I remember looked like this one http://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/7973930034/in/photostream/ although in the 16 cylinder series.

It shouldn't take more than a few weeks to repair. The main problem though is all the large and heavy machinery is lowered down though a large hole cut in the deck and then welded over when everything is set up. To remove the generator you will have to cut out a 20' X 20' deck section along with the supports.


I rode in the engine room of a Super class ferry from Bremerton to Seattle a few years ago. It was diesel electric.
Most/all of the large boats are diesel-electric; the propellers are driven by large electric motors. And that's the problem; all of them have to be working before the ferry goes into service.

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