Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

November 29, 2009

Hull of history

W.P. Snyder Jr. in local dock for $1.5 million hull replacement



Her steel hull, immersed all those years in the waters of the Muskingum River just upstream from where it joins the Ohio, has slowly rusted and sprung leaks.

The Ohio Historical Society, which owns the boat, has contracted with McGinnis to repair the 152-foot hull. Over the next eight months, workers will remove all the steel plates which form the hull’s outer skin. They will inspect and repair the frames that are the skeleton of the boat and then weld on new hull plates.

McGinnis tow boats shepherded the Snyder down the river from Marietta a week ago Friday. Marietta gave the boat a grand send-off as she nudged out into the stream around mid-day, sandwiched between two barges.

The tow boats then pushed the barges downstream, carrying the Snyder along, said architect Fred Smith, the project manager.

The flotilla averaged 8 knots for most of the 146-mile trip, Smith said. McGinnis technicians monitored the fragile hull during the voyage and checked for leaks every 15 minutes. There were a few, but pumping removed the water. “Once we found out how manageable the leaks were, everyone relaxed a little bit.”

Heavy fog set in around 3 a.m. the following morning, forcing them to tie up for eight hours. Off again at 10 a.m., the boat reached South Point at 6 p.m. that night.

The first order of business is to remove the remains of toxic lead paint from inside the hull. Scott Lepi is in charge of that job. He owns Lepi Enterprises and is in the business of blasting away unpleasant deposits and debris.

Lepi will use ground walnut shells, blasted onto the surface with highly pressurized air, to remove the lead paint. The shells are easier to handle than other blasting media he has used and don’t kick up visibility-impairing dust, he said.

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