Big Mama Gets a Make-Over

Thursday, July 29, 1999
When Zito Companies towed 32-year old Big Mama into their subsidiary, Inter-Coastal Marine Repairs, at Jefferson, La., from her lay-up berth in Pascagoula, Miss., she was a tired and worn-out boat. But under the rust and grim, was a fine ship waiting to be found. "We replaced plate as required above and below the waterline," says Director of Operations Barry Boudreaux, "and then we stripped the engine room." The propulsion system had been four engines arranged as a two tandems turning into two gear boxes. These were replaced with a pair of Cummins KTA38 MO engines rated for continuous duty at 850 hp at 1,800 rpm and turning into Twin Disc 540 gears with a 7:1 ratio and 74 x 68 in. four-blade props. The 73 x 26-ft. towboat, which is equipped with flanking and steering rudders, will be employed in fleeting operations by Zito themselves, rather than chartered as they have done with their other 12 boats. "This is the first one we are bringing back in," says Boudreaux, "We expect to bring the others back over time." With new engines in a completely refurbished engine room, the company turned their attention to the accommodation areas. Here they found grime covered teak cabinetry. "We redid all of the electrical systems to U.S. Coast Guard specifications," explains Boudreaux, "But we saved all of the old style cabinetry and paneling. We took out the teak bunks, refinished and reinstalled them. We even kept the old pipe mounted rotation spice rack that some engineer had built. I'm really pleased with the results." In the wheelhouse, new Furuno electronics have been installed. The steering, which was electric over hydraulic has been converted to straight hydraulic with the "follow-up" system that holds the rudders where ever you leave the steering sticks. This is a handy safety feature in the tight maneuvering around a fleeting operation. Outside, heavy fendering has been added forward and a "fleet deck" has been installed between the second deck and the push knees. This provides a safe working platform for the crew when handling either loaded or empty barges.
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