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About 80% of general aviation aircraft fly using Lycoming engines. Clearing the trees at the end of the runway. Leaving 4500ft for 6500ft. Maintaining airflow and generating lift across the wings. All are impossible without a reliable engine. Lycoming powers my training aircraft and so fuels my quest for a private pilot certificate. This blog is a record of my thoughts and experiences on life, flight, and learning.

01 March 2007

SS Jeremiah O'Brien

When I was in San Francisco, upon the recommendation of my brother Sam, I went and toured the Liberty Ship docked on Pier 43 (or whatever) on Fisherman’s Wharf. It was $8 well spent! It is only one of two "living" Liberty Ships that is still operating and still sets sail every so often. One of the tour guides, Charlie Rich, spent quite a lot of time with us, and actually served on a Liberty ship in the war. It was really fascinating to hear his experiences and sharing his knowledge of the ship and how cargo was carried across the Atlantic to support the war effort in Europe. Apparently, over 2600 liberty ships were built during the 1000+days of WWII, and they were built in an extremely short time – usually only about 60 days to complete a ship. The Jeremiah O’Brien was built in only 56 days. Truly amazing.

The picture to the right is of me sitting in the firing seat of the rear 5 inch gun. This is the seat that my grandfather sat in during WWII. He was a gunner on a Liberty Ship during the war, and also served on board the USS Yorktown. One of the real highlights was walking through the engine room and seeing the steam powerplant. It had a three-cylinder steam engine with a 48 inch stroke on the cylinders. The primary cylinder had a 24inch diameter cylinder operating at full steam pressure (something like 200-240psig), a secondary 47 inch diameter cylinder operating at a lower pressure – 100-150psig, and the final cylinder of 70 inch diameter that squeezed the last bit of thermal efficiency out of the steam possible. The engine room was a hoot, because there were little oiler cans and brushes hanging all over the place. I could just picture an army of engineers clambering all over the engine during operation making sure all the oilers and drippers were lubricating the bearings and cams properly. Very, very nifty-neato. And, as always, the engineer in the room will be happy to answer any questions that you may have:).

The gentleman that gave us the personalized tour also took us into the forward cargo hold of the ship, the ship’s store, where he showed us a diorama of the Normandy invasion that was a gift from the French people at the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. It was a 1:72 scale model and was something like 8ft wide x 30ft long. The level of detail was amazing and the sand used for the beach was sand actually taken from Utah beach. I snapped a bunch of photos of the diorama – it was pretty cool.


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