Patti S h i p y a r d Delivers 1 , 2 0 0 - P a s s e n g e r Riverboat To Robert's River Rides

One of the largest passenger excursion boats built this year has been put into service powered by a trio of 500-horsepower Cummins KTA-19 engines. The vessel sails on all-day excursion trips between South Charleston, W. Va., and Huntington, W. Va.

Appropriately named the West Virginia Belle, this vessel is the latest addition in owner Bob Kehl's fleet. Mr. Kehl owns Robert's River Rides, which operates three other excursion/dinner boats on the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities, Dubuque and Bettendorf areas of Iowa and Illinois.

By any standards, the West Virginia Belle is simply spectacular.

Built by Patti Shipyards, Inc., Pensacola, Fla., and designed by their own in-house architectural staff, the West Virginia Belle measures 197 feet 9 inches by 46 feet with a 10- foot draft. She features two totally enclosed decks, a partially enclosed third deck, and an open fourth deck topped by a pilothouse. Although the boat will be certified for at least 1,200 passengers, Mr. Kehl will limit capacity to 1,000 on all-day 100- mile trips.

While the KTA-19 engines are one of the standard workhorses of the Cummins marine diesel line, the propulsion system aboard the West Virginia Belle is unique.

For example, the Columbian Kaplan- style propellers are enclosed in Padget-Swann kort nozzles. "That's a first for passenger excursion vessels as far as we are concerned," said Frank Patti, owner of Patti Shipyard.

Another important aspect of the propulsion system is its vibration isolation system, supplied by Lo Rez Vibration Control, British Columbia, Canada. This system provides an effective isolation system for engine- sourced vibration in mediumand high-speed marine engines, reducing noise by 90 percent over the entire speed range of the engine. It was custom designed for this application by Lo Rez working with the Patti design staff and Cummins engineering.

"We have used similar isolation systems on smaller horsepower engines before," said Dave Adams of Cummins engineering department.

"But, this is the first installation we know of on engines in the 500 horsepower range." Two additional Cummins engines are located far forward to power a pair of 250-kw gensets. Cummins NT855 models were chosen for this job. All five Cummins engines were sold by Northern Iowa Diesel, Dubuque, Iowa.

The hydraulic system onboard the boat was supplied by Custom Hydraulics, Gretna, La. A PTO, attached to one of the gensets, runs a hydraulic pump that powers the bowthruster. Separate electric motors powering hydraulic pumps operate the steering system, and the paddlewheel lifting system. The West Virginia Belle has a cosmetic paddlewheel that can be lifted out of the water to cut drag during times when the boat is underway at full speed.

Among the state-of-the-art systems onboard the riverboat are an eight station TV monitoring system, centralized liquor dispensing, electronic engine controls with five control stations, three Microphor sewage treatment systems and an Aquafine ultraviolet water purifier.

For free literature detailing the boatbuilding services of Patti Shipyard, Circle 30 on Reader Service Card

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 28,  Aug 1988

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First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.