The "Real McCoy": Hard Working California Ferry
In San Francisco Bay, high-speed high-tech ferries are all the rage. But just up the Sacramento ship channel from the Bay a more traditional ferry has put in 24 hour days for over half a century with little fan fare. Since 1991 the Real McCoy Ferry has been powered on her 1/4-mile voyage between Rio Vista and Ryer Island, by a pair of Cummins CTA8.3-M1 engines each rated at 250-hp (continuous) at 1800 RPM.
This past spring, after travelling over a million miles, the engines had 23,000 hours of running time. Ferry Captain Roger Broom had been sceptical of Cummins power in 1991, but now heartily endorses the decision to replace the current set with more of the same. "We knew little or nothing about the Cummins C Series engine because it were relatively new to the marine market," he said, "we never thought they would see 5,000 hours, but they've passed 23,000 hours. These engines are placed in a very unusual application, we treat them harder than you would in a city transit bus. None of the five captains baby these engines," says Broom, "They run up and down the tach, back and forth between open throttle and idle, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year."
A wide range of climate conditions also poses a challenge to the 84-by34-foot ferry which must operate at 6.5-knots against strong currents in the ship canal in torrential storms and in ambient temperatures exceeding 100 degree F.
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