Essex Machine Works Delivers New Steel Propeller Shafts For Coast Guard's 'Eagle'
Essex Machine Works, Inc., Essex, Conn., recently delivered new forged steel propeller shafts for America's Tall Ship, the barque Eagle, to the Coast Guard base at Governor's Island, N.Y.
According to Wilson W. Cross, president of Essex Machine Works, Inc., a new shaft will be installed on the Eagle when she is hauled out for her normal refit later this year. When not under sail, the 295- foot-long Eagle, which serves Coast Guard Academy instructors and cadets as a seagoing classroom, utilizes her 16-cylinder, 1,000-hp Caterpillar diesel engine to drive her at about 10 knots. Turning an eightfoot- diameter propeller, her new shaft is almost nine inches in diameter, over 20 feet long and weighs 1.8 tons. Her new shaft will replace what is believed to be one installed more than 50 years ago at her launching.
The Eagle bears a name that goes back to the early history of the United States' oldest continuous seagoing service. The first Eagle was commissioned in 1792, just two years after the formation of the Revenue Marine, forerunner of the Coast Guard.
The present Eagle, the seventh in a long line of vessels to bear the name, was built as the German naval training vessel Horst Wessel in 1936 by the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. In May 1946, she was taken as a war prize by the U.S. and commissioned into the U.S. Coast Guard as the Eagle. In making the decision to award the contract for the new shafts, the Coast Guard was seeking a supplier with not only the right machining skills and cost efficiency, but also with the practical understanding of marine propulsion systems that would be required to bridge the half-century change from the ways of the pre-WWII German Navy to present-day needs of a demanding— but safe and efficient—cadet training ship.
Essex Machine has completed the work machining the shafts (one for installation and one for stand-by spare). The surfaces of the shafts were also coated with fiberglass and epoxy to protect them from saltwater corrosion.
The original drawings in German, as produced by the Blohm + Voss designers 54 years ago, were translated and redrawn to current standards by Drew Dickson, sales engineer at Essex Machine, and Robert M. Wilkinson, a consulting naval architect on the project. The entire manufacturing process, which included shaft fabrication, fitting of wear-resistant bronze sleeves, and machinng of one-footdiameter bronze propeller nuts, was completed at the Essex Machine work shop in Essex.
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