San Francisco: Rapid Repower for Westar's Wildcat

Thursday, July 29, 1999
San Francisco Bay, with its huge area and several ports, could more rightly be called an inland sea. Small harbors like Vallejo, major container ports like Oakland and several great bridges combine to create an immense demand for marine construction and repair. Moving a lot of that construction equipment around the Bay is an important part of the work of Port of San Francisco-based Westar Marine Services. In business since 1976, Westar has a fleet of six barges, four water taxis and nine tugs up to 3,000 hp. As a part of their fleet maintenance program the company recently purchased a pair of Cummins N14-M marine engines rated at 440 hp to repower their 56 x 14.5-ft. tug Wildcat. They had added five ft. to the boat's stern and a pair of kort nozzles with new 48-in. propellers from Sound Propellers last year, but the old 300 hp mains were just too tired to get the best out of this upgrade. With the tug busy assisting construction firms working on the seismic upgrading of the San Mateo Bridge, Westar was reluctant to take her out of service for too long. Fortunately the N14s, while they dramatically increase the horsepower, do not require the boat be hauled out of the water to make the engine swap. Given the design of the Cummins cooling system, the existing keel coolers will meet all of the needs. In mid-April the company took delivery of the two N14s with Twin Disc 5114 deep case 4.17:1 gears at their shop on San Francisco's Pier 50. When the boat gets a break in her busy schedule, Westar General Manager Richard Smith figures they will be able to have the old engines and gears out, the new engines installed and Wildcat back to work within two weeks. In addition to their assist work in marine construction, Westar provides ship and tank barge assist and escort services as well as delivering personnel and stores to ships at anchor in San Francisco Bay.
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