Posted by: nwseaport | January 23, 2010

Stopping the Leaks on the Arthur Foss

We’ve started a new project on our 1889 tugboat Arthur Foss — we call it “Stop the Leaks!” The project is a $50,000 effort funded in part by a Heritage Landmarks Challenge grant from local arts-granting agency 4Culture. Its goal is to stop freshwater infiltration into the vessel from the topsides, which will help preserve it far into the future.

Shipwrights performed a detailed survey of the boat from the decks up this past December and have identified a wide variety of tasks for Stop the Leaks, from servicing the bollard pads to replacing cabin sheathing. Perhaps the most major sub-project, though, is to repair the bow stem, the forward-most piece of wood on the hull; it looks kind of like the boat’s nose in this picture:

That “nose” is a rubber fender made from layers of old tires and likely has been there since the Arthur was last rebuilt in the 1940s. It blocked the shipwrights from really seeing what was underneath, though, so the last step of the survey was to pull it off and take a look at what it’s been covering up. Here’s what we’ve found so far:


That’s the bare bow stem from the side.


And that’s from the top looking down. The bow is sheathed in iron, which has corroded and started flaking away — it’s easy to clean up, though.

The shipwrights are pretty glad we’re repairing the stem now: it’s one of the parts of a tugboat most succeptable to damage. Sure enough, Arthur‘s stem shows cracks and other other damage from past collisons, made during her long working career.

We’ll keep you updated here as we continue the Stop the Leaks project. You can also view some of the work for yourself by visiting Lake Union Park — it’s easy to see the Arthur‘s stem from the wharf, and we’ll resume our self-guided tour hours this spring.

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