PT 658 News Summary
2004 and 2005
Since the fire in October, 2003 that was centered amidships in the wardroom CO's hanging closet and desk, the boat has been fully repaired. The year 2004 saw several significant events take place for the restoration effort. The PT 658 was launched into the waters of the Willamette River at Swan Island on June 7, 2004. Shortly thereafter, we took the PT658 to the Portland Antique Wooden Boat Show at Tomahawk Bay Marina in Portland on the Columbia River on June 25-27, 2004, where several hundred visitors saw it. In July, 2004, we loaded 700 gallons of 93 octane gas into the forward tanks. In late August 2004, we started 2 of the 3 Packard's and drove her around the dock to place the 40mm cannon, and 2 Mark 13 torpedoes on her deck. Now the 40mm cannon and the two torpedoes are mounted. During the move, the starboard engine carb was running rich, with lots of blue smoke coming out of the cast bronze mufflers. After adjusting the carb and installing radar set and GPS/depth finder units, we took her out again, in mid September 2004 for about 30 minutes on the Williamette River, running all 3 Packard's. Ed Jepson of Peter Tare was at the helm, as was Bob Hostetter and Russ Hamachek, all former PT Skippers and Squadron 39 CO.
The center engine overheated that day so we had to shut it down, since the Freshwater HX had clogged with rust. Also, the steering gear linkage chain was sticking and jumping so we replaced the chain. We later flushed all Freshwater HX so they won't overheat again and the center engine is running fine now.
The Save the PT Boat Inc. crew again took the PT boat underway for the "PT Boaters Bull Session" held on Saturday Oct 9, 2004. We took the boat out three times that day, with 3 groups of 25 passengers each, all Bull Session guest attendees. The PT boat achieved 23.5 knots according to the GPS display, as it was running down the Willamette River, since the engines were able to operate at only 1000 rpm due to the carburetors not being adjusted correctly. Even going a relatively slow 23.5 knots, the boat had a significant "Rooster Tail" much to the satisfaction of the crew! When this boat reaches it top speed of 42 knots, and the boat is riding up "On the Step" of the planning hull, the rooster tail wake can be as much as 100 feet long and 20 feet high! All of the guests were very enthusiastic at the opportunity of riding the restored PT boat and hearing the roar of those majestic Packard's. Overall, the Bull Session was a resounding success!
So far in 2005, the PT 658 has had several major events. We are also currently working on getting the Voltage regulators for the dc generators working (but they are in pretty sad shape) and we are working on mounting a 24 vdc alternator onto the center engine. In early April 2005, we installed the two pairs of twin 50 caliber MG's onto their ring mounts and cradles into the gun tubs. We are still searching for a 37mm cannon for the bow, without much success. Ron Moran, one of our restoration experts, has found an authentic WW2 style TCS Radio transmitter and receiver set, and the charthouse is looking pretty authentic. Ron says he may be able to get the old radios to actually work. He also installed a proper antenna mount. The restoration has progressed further inside the forward crews quarters, especially the bunks, interior painting, crews lockers, CO's bookshelf, galley stove and refrigerator, and galley cupboard. The entire boat is looking pretty good, but there is still, as always, much more to do.
In early April 2005, we had another 800 gallons of 93 octane gas delivered to the boat, so now there is enough to adjust the engines and take a couple of outings. Then, on April 18, 2005 we took the PT Boat out for a Peter Tare Organization Reunion, and we also had a reception dinner for that group. We had sent the carburetors in December to a Holley carb rebuilder's specialty shop in Dallas, Texas, and two of the three carbs have returned and have been re-installed and they run much better now that an expert has tuned them up and rebuilt them to spec. One more to go and then all 3 of our engines should be running much better. We found some small problems with the magneto on the Port engine during the April 18th outing, but it should be fixed soon.