GINA ON THE JOB: Belle of Louisville Chief Engineer
This week, WDRB's Gina Glaros climbed aboard the Belle of Louisville to take over for its chief engineer.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- They're jobs unique to Kentuckiana and they're letting WDRB's Gina Glaros take over for a day. This week, Glaros climbed aboard the Belle of Louisville to take over for its chief engineer.
Every year, tens of thousands of locals and tourists visit the Belle of Louisville, riding in the oldest time machine of its kind nationwide, to see the city in a new way.
Before the steamboat opens in April for the season and visitors step on board, a team works daily.
Glaros went to the main deck of the boat, a place most visitors don't get to see, where she joined Chief Engineer Steve Mattingly to clean out the boilers. "It's one of the dirtier jobs, but it's necessary," Mattingly said.
Soot from the whole season builds up. So, a team will clean the area annually, to be able to see the surface prior to the United States Coast Guard's inspection.
"All these surfaces will be totally covered with black soot. So, we've already gone through this process once. Now, we're in the process of cleaning up the residual soot that's been left behind from the first cleaning."
The cleaning continues inside the furnace. "He probably fills ten, five gallon buckets or more with soot."
One job down, several more to go. Tom Coursen, Assistant Engineer showed Glaros how to muck the hold, a method to clean up rust and debris due to natural moisture in the air. "We want to clean this out so we can get a good visual inspection when we need to make sure that everything is water tight and structurally sound," Coursen said.
In order to get the job done, Glaros and Coursen had to climb downstairs. The job isn't for the claustrophobic. "A little more than a quarter inch of steal is below us. Between us and the river."
This area of the boat is bout 180 feet long. "So, that's a lot of mucking."
A small broom, scraper and dust pan are necessary to eliminate the rust and protect from corrosion. "It's kind of a job that doesn't end."
The next task was replacing the mat from under the machinery. It collects about a year's worth of oil. Gloves and plenty of rags were a must.
The last job took place at the stern of the boat and a daily process. "We have to keep the paddle wheel lubricated when it's turning, just because of the weight of the wheel. By applying grease to the paddle wheel, it lubricates so it will function."
Removing the grease beforehand is necessary. "We go to great lengths to make sure we don't pollute the river. Because of the design of the boat, it's necessary that we have to put grease in the wheel. At the same time, we want to collect any grease that's been used and work its way out of the system so that it doesn't end up going into the river."
More rags, wind and elbow grease were part of the gig. "That's what people identify with steamboats, is the paddle wheel, all the stacks."
They're all tasks with visitors in mind. "Everything that we do on the boat is in effect to make sure that our passengers are delivered safely up and down the river."
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