Civil War Navy Cutter Now Launch Named 'Ruth'

Boiler and oilburner

The owner, boiler and oilburner of the launch Ruth. See Mr. William's article.

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Cordova, Illinois

WELDING AND CUTting play a dramatic part in the story of the steam launch 'Ruth'. Long before she was given her present name, 'Ruth' was a 10-oar navy cutter on U.S.S. Kearsarge, of Civil War fame. 28' in length with a 7' beam and powered by muscular Navy oarsmen, she sliced smartly through salt water nearly a hundred years ago.

And the old girl is going stronger and faster today than she ever did before. She's engine powered now, but this new heart of hers isn't so young either. It's a 21 hp. cross compound built in the Mare Island Navy Yard back in 1918. In 1954 the 'new' Ruth was plying smoother waters than she used to know.

It was her new lung, the water-tube rectangular form porcupine boiler, that was cut and welded. The quills are of seamless steel tubing about the same size as ' standard pipe. They are 6' in length with one end welded shut with nickel steel rod.

There are 300 of these quills which are arc welded into ' vertical pipes, the tops of which are connected to a steam drum made of a piece of 6' extra strength pipe, the ends of which are closed by welding. The lower ends of these ' pipes are connected to a mud drum. Water is fed into one of the 2' cross drums.

Large pipes and slugs to close their ends where desired were torch cut and in most cases welded in.

The fire door is on the left handend which faces aft in the boat. The successful operation of a water tub boiler depends a great deal on its having a large capacity super heater coil. This one has about 12' of seamless steel tubing, just under the boiler proper. Economizer coils above the quills to preheat the feed water will be added.

By taking steam from the top of a steam drum through a 1' valve, which is only partially opened, and then running it through a super heater coil of about 12' of 1' diameter steel, tubing under the boiler and above or in the fire, this boiler easily supplies the power to drive the 21 hp. navy engine. The boat operates successfully on old crankcase oil after being started in about three minutes on kerosene. The rudder was cut from three-eighth sheet steel and notched. In the notches, the rudder shaft of 1' cold rolled steel shafting was are welded, as was the short steel shaft at the bottom, engaging the skeag. A piece of 1' standard steel pipe was fitted over the rudder shaft and welded to braces which were bolted into the stern at the hull.

Thus equipped, this Civil War cutter is again heading into the waves, this time at speeds ranging from 12 to 15 miles per hour.