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 Post subject: The Competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2024 3:41 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:21 am
Posts: 482
This post has nothing to do with old trains, yet everything to do with old trains.

I have begun a "moonlight" part time job as Assistant Engineer on the steam stearnwheel boat Belle of Louisville (Louisville, KY). I worked the night of this YUM Center event. The YUM center is a large arena next to the wharf where the boat is, and shares parking spaces. When entering the parking lot, the attendant asked for the $15 parking fee, and the lot was full. I showed I was an employee going to the far end of the lot for the employee boat parking, and asked what the event was. She said UFC. I noticed that all surrounding parking lots were full, and traffic was backed up.

The Belle departed with about 200 passengers on board, which is OK, but it has a capacity of nearly 800 when completely loaded. 400 is a fairly full evening cruise.

You can see the comparative numbers for "the competition". Very few of our boat passengers that evening came down to the boiler room or engine area to look or ask questions. Those who did simply looked and went on about their evening.

It's becoming increasingly hard for historic trains, planes, boats, and such to compete with people getting bloody noses.........

https://www.wdrb.com/news/ufc-fight-at- ... ZhrX3l8pFZ


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2024 4:34 pm 

Joined: Thu May 06, 2010 10:30 pm
Posts: 996
Location: Bucks County, PA
Mark Jordan wrote:
...and asked what the event was. She said UFC. I noticed that all surrounding parking lots were full, and traffic was backed up.

The Belle departed with about 200 passengers on board, which is OK, but it has a capacity of nearly 800 when completely loaded. 400 is a fairly full evening cruise."

"It's becoming increasingly hard for historic trains, planes, boats, and such to compete with people getting bloody noses........."


Maybe then, try less to "compete" with them and instead "cooperate"? Get in touch with the UFC next time they're coming to town - or a fight promoter or something - offer your boat (or train, if we're talking about trains) for an exclusive after-party for attendees. Maybe a "pre-fight night" cruise. Or let's say Taylor Swift is coming to town or some other pop star. Get in touch with the local radio station to set up a pre-show party and live broadcast aboard the boat. Not everything has to be about competing for people.

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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2024 6:05 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 2362
bigjim4life wrote:
Maybe then, try less to "compete" with them and instead "cooperate"?

Sometimes groups just aren't compatible (also thinking about those drunks on the speedboat that wouldn't move so that a riverboat could dock a year or so back, and ended up in a brawl). You may not want people who came to witness a street fight on your family-oriented cruise:


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2024 6:18 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 615
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
If I wanted to take a cruise and learned that there was a large event that would take all the parking at the same time or saw the lots full I would wait for another day.


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2024 9:28 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:06 pm
Posts: 138
Dick_Morris wrote:
If I wanted to take a cruise and learned that there was a large event that would take all the parking at the same time or saw the lots full I would wait for another day.


That’s my thought as well. The competition might not be the event so much as the parking availability and craziness of a big event. If I want to do something downtown I tend to avoid nights with major events, ball games, etc. Anecdotally, I’m from the Cincinnati area and attend events in Louisville a few times a year. I find Louisville to be a nightmare to navigate during an event. Your missing passengers aren’t at the YUM Center, they are at home avoiding the chaos.


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2024 11:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:21 am
Posts: 482
In the broader sense, my post is about the general interests of the general public. Sports games, music shows, and just about anything available for folks to go do and see are "competition" to any historic preservation effort. In my opinion, the general interest in "old stuff" is only a fraction of a sports event etc.

The fight, the song, the game, the event will immediately become only a memory, while historic fabric returns to dust. Yet, it's the event that gets the dollars.


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2024 3:28 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:29 pm
Posts: 27
Location: Near Boston
I took a cruse on the Belle of Louisville and enjoyed immensely. Tell us more about your job and the boat.


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2024 7:23 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 1769
Location: Back in NE Ohio
Rollerman wrote:
I took a cruse on the Belle of Louisville and enjoyed immensely. Tell us more about your job and the boat.


I want to echo this sentiment. Mine was almost 30 years ago during Tall Stacks'95. I was on the Belle for the grand finale Race for the Golden Antlers against the Delta Queen. I thought the Belle was great, and did go down to look at the engine room. Never bet against the hometown boat, we were leading until near the end when the Delta Queen miraculously pulled out a win.


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:16 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:06 pm
Posts: 138
PaulWWoodring wrote:
Rollerman wrote:
I took a cruse on the Belle of Louisville and enjoyed immensely. Tell us more about your job and the boat.


I want to echo this sentiment. Mine was almost 30 years ago during Tall Stacks'95. I was on the Belle for the grand finale Race for the Golden Antlers against the Delta Queen. I thought the Belle was great, and did go down to look at the engine room. Never bet against the hometown boat, we were leading until near the end when the Delta Queen miraculously pulled out a win.


I too will echo this. The Belle is an amazing vessel and I believe the only original Mississippi River style steamboat still in operation?? If you enjoy history and steam, definitely check it out. I'm usually not a big fan of the water, but riding on the deck listening to her chug her way up the river is a real treat.


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2024 11:15 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 1592
"In the broader sense, my post is about the general interests of the general public. Sports games, music shows, and just about anything available for folks to go do and see are "competition" to any historic preservation effort. In my opinion, the general interest in "old stuff" is only a fraction of a sports event etc."

One thing to keep in mind is the amount of advertising dollars that are spent to get the general public interested in those games, music, and shows.


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2024 11:35 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2893
I'll echo the comments about parking and traffic. Even if the "competition" doesn't steal your patrons, it can impact them and your event.

I work with a couple of Ren Faires. Post COVID, tickets routinely sell out. In 2022, the small town we were in had two other events as well. Between the 3 events, we totally gridlocked the town. It was ugly. Huge traffic jams. Our patrons were justifably upset, some waiting for hours.

It was such a mess that they decided the only real solution was to relocate to an area with more space for the event and parking, and not in an urban area. It was a massive pivot, and the organization was concerned what it would to to attendence.

The results were overwhelmingly positive, so much so that they've added 2 more weekends and it still looks like they'll all sell out.

What your event/venue/operation is matters, but so does the location, traffic, parking, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2024 1:26 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 2334
In my opinion, the logical thing to do if you have an overwhelmed or 'predatorily priced' parking and access situation would be to arrange a shuttle service with satellite parking.

And then advertise it as available to other "venue patrons" as well... perhaps for a fee.

The vehicles involved can have decorations (perhaps less expensive than 'skins') applied to advertise your operation. I see this regularly in connection with the FedEx/St. Jude golf tournaments that are run in the Memphis area. Whether or not you need patrons to sign waivers of some kind, or to buy tickets with implied waiver of liability, is a potential concern, but the provider's insurance may cover much or most of the potential issue. I do not know what sort of security arrangements are needed for the satellite parking.

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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2024 4:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:21 am
Posts: 482
Without intention to derail my own thread, here is some info for those asking about the Belle of Louisville:

The IDLEWILD was launched in 1914, built by Rees & Co. It was a typical stearnwheel steamboat of it's era. Steel hull, wood superstructure, reused engines dating from about 1885 from an earlier boat. In the 1940s is was renamed the AVALON, and spent the next few decades tramping up and down the Ohio River, as well as jaunts on other rivers. Retired and sold for junk in the 1960s, it was purchased and is now owned by the City of Louisville, and operates seasonally as a tourist attraction in Louisville, KY. Plenty of information available on the Internet, and videos on Youtube.

I have been slightly active with the Belle for the past 18 years, including setting up a test where Bruce Babcock, Kenny Howe, and Alan Bates ran traditional indicator tests on the engines. Bruce built quite the contraption to translate the 8ft'ish stroke down to what the indicator could handle. Since then the main engine cylinders have been bored true and other engine work done to make the engines "new". Cruising speed is about 11 rpm. Double Gong Flank all Ahead maybe 18rpm.

Each season, the Belle and it's modern diesel mate the "Mary Miller" hire seasonal crew to fill out the ranks in addition to the full time crew. Bartenders, food service, deck hands, office clerks, etc. This year they requested an "Assistant Engineer". I know the engineering crew, so threw my hat into the ring. They know I'm a boiler inspector and veteran steam railroader and traction engine operator, so off I go.......(I can do this because the boat is not in my jurisdiction as an inspector, no conflict of interest. It is US Coast Guard inspected).

I keep my full time job, but am now in training as a backup engineer. The first step is to learn to fire. This is relatively easy, if you have fired an oil burning steam loco. Similar setup. Manual operated steam atomizer with manual fuel oil feed. Fuel oil is now diesel fuel, as it is easy to get compared to a heavier oil. The main fuel tanks are in the hull and a duplex steam pump transfers fuel to a day tank. Electric pumps pressurize the fuel lines to the burners. The fireman has an engine order telegraph relay from the engine room/area and a pressure gauge. No water level indicator, no water feed controls. Fireman only makes fire. Engineers in engine area run pumps and watch the water levl via a water glass and three "Van Duzen" gauges (if I spelled it right?). Working pressure is 180-190 with safeties set at 200psi.

This past weekend I began my venture into the engine service, with main engine/throttle/valve gear, boiler feed pumps, house water feed pumps, fire main feed pumps all duplex steam pumps. Two modern diesel electric generators for onboard electric and newly added air conditioning on boiler deck. Once again, standard steam technology, I just have to learn the details. However, I did find myself thinking I have a great opportunity as I was standing on the fantail while underway at full ahead, watching a split brass on the left crank move a bit and cause a knock. A special moment, to chase down a knock on a 140 year old steam engine with wood connecting rods ("Pittmans" in boat parlay) while going up the mighty Ohio River at 6mph............I am thankful.


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2024 10:05 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 615
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
I've seen the Belle operate once, but never taken a cruise. I did have the good fortune 50 years ago to take a cruise on the Delta Queen and spent considerable time in the engine room. She had just undergone a major overhaul and I got to watch someone from the shipyard do an indicator test on the HP cylinder. My recollection was a sting went from the crosshead to a large plywood pulley and the indicator was driven by a small pulley on the same shaft to reduce the 10 foot stroke to 2 or 3 inches for the indicator. The admission poppet valve in the California cut-off on the Delta Queen is closed quickly under spring pressure at cut-off when a snap that can be heard from the valve valve when it closes. One thing I noticed on the indicator card was that every time the intake valve closed, there was a ringing in pressure at the cylinder. I still kick myself for not asking for one of the practice runs to get a good indicator card.


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 Post subject: Re: The Competition
PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2024 10:45 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2778
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
As a Kentucky ex-pat, I have ridden the Belle many, many times.

Have you/they ever thought of offering a more formal engine room presentation? It could be something like designating a specific time during the cruise to invite passengers down for a 5-10 minute talk (with appropriate sound system) about the engines.

It is nice to go down and visit the engine room, but most passengers do not know what to ask about or what they are looking at. My experience of the Belle is there is not much effort to present the living history aspect of the cruise.

It would also be nice if one could visit the pilothouse before/after the cruise.

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Danmarks Tekniske Universitet


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