A Tier 3, EPA-approved mechanical engine, manufactured by Anglo Belgian Corporation (ABC Diesel) is breathing new life into the Pollock trawler, Great Pacific. This engine is the first to power a commercial fishing boat in the US.
“This is great news for fishing vessel owners who want to operate in Dutch Harbor because a lot of them have a thorough mechanical background,” says Justin Roeser, Operations Manager for Seattle-based Transmarine Propulsion, ABC Diesel’s North American representative. “This is like the last of the old school diesel engines before we get into Tier 4, which comes into effect January 2015.”
The repower project began last fall after Great Pacific’s owner, Alaska Boat Company, weighed increasing maintenance costs, oil consumption and reliability concerns on the vessel’s existing Alpha MAN diesel engine against the options of high-speed or medium speed alternatives. Switching to a high-speed engine meant pulling out the engine, the shafting, the gearbox and propeller.
“They wanted to keep it simple,” explains Roeser. “Everything is controlled by a mechanical property. For example, the fuel injection is one pump per cylinder as opposed to a common rail or electronic fuel injection. It’s not as easy to carry out maintenance on electronic fuel injection or electronically-controlled engines because sometimes only the manufacturer can give you access to the tool but the tool will only give you a code which you really can’t do much with.”
The original plan was to remove the Alpha engine by going through the bottom of Great Pacific, but the logistics of docking the vessel up to the necessary height in the dry dock was one barrier that wouldn’t make the project cost-effective. In the end, it was decided to cut a hole through the side of the hull. That job was managed by Seattle-based Snow & Company, Inc. in association with Northlake Shipyards.
“We cut a hole on the starboard side and went through the water tank where we created a passageway for the exchange,” says Brett Snow, Owner of Snow & Company. “Then we did modifications to the engine bed and hydraulic and refrigeration piping systems, added new keel coolers and a new exhaust system. This took about a week of heaving steel work and heavy moving. Afterward, the piping projects began, so the entire project took about eight weeks.”
The Alpha Diesel was a 10-cylinder in V formation, whereas the ABC Diesel is a six-cylinder inline engine. The new engine gives Great Pacific 240 HP more while losing four cylinders, which Roeser says, among its fuel-efficiency advantages, will save Alaska Boat Company up to 40 percent in overhaul costs. The lifecycle of the engine will be at least 30 years or more if proper maintenance is adhered to.
“As engines get older, parts become harder to find,” says Roeser. “You get to the point where replacing major components like crankshafts, engine blocks, connecting rods, cylinder heads and liners will need a long lead time or you’ll have to go to the second-hand market and hope you can recondition them yourself. Or you find a parts dealer that’s only dealing with reconditioned components who is buying them from scrap yards and they’re fixing them and selling to the owner.”
“At some point, you’ll have to be putting in new cylinder liners and you might also put in new pistons and connecting rods because the manufacturer may say so,” Roeser continues. “But when it comes to spare parts, because most fishing vessel owners deal with European-made engines, the logistics of getting parts from Europe to Alaska is going to take about four to six days, even by express shipping.”
To address this challenge, Transmarine is stocking all of the major components, both in their Seattle location, as well as in their Florida shop. They stock maintenance sets that are automatically sent out at certain engine maintenance intervals. “Some owners buy 10 sets up front so they essentially pretty much have their own inventory sets,” says Roeser. “We also keep all of the consumables like seals, filters, o-rings and gaskets in stock. Essentially we have all major components available for an engine’s first 6,000 hours.”
The Tier 3 engine is narrower than the Alpha but Alaska Boat Company had to sacrifice some of the overhead. However, because ABC Diesel has provided similar engines in European trains, there is already a set of special tools available so that if the owner wants to pull a piston and connecting rod, the tools allow the piston to be held in place above the engine block with enough distance to pull the connecting rod out.
“We can customize the tooling and a lot of the engine to the owner’s requirements,” says Roeser. “They can decide what side they want the turbocharger on, how deep they want the sump, what kind of fuel injection, governor, etc. When you order an engine, you get a questionnaire you can work on with your crew or port engineer. You can even have it painted whatever kind of paint you want. It’s that customizable.”
“It’s certainly a beautiful piece of equipment, and the whole project went very smoothly with this team,” adds Snow.
The project has brought Alaska Boat Company and Transmarine full circle. “We started with Great Pacific in the 80s and have learned over 30 years what the biggest problem having a European engine in US waters is like,” says Roeser. “Luckily enough, we were able to work with a flexible company like ABC Diesel to make this happen.”