PTF-19 Restoration Project/ Site Visit Report
Chuck Fowler -- March 25, 2004
For those of us early 1960's Cold War veterans who had never seen a PTF up close and personal, visiting John Patnovic's PTF 19 at his Worton Creek Marina boatyard on the northeastern shore of Chesapeake Bay was an awe-inspiring experience.
Because of my own longtime historical interest and in 1998 discovering a core group of World War II Navy veterans in Portland, Oregon who were actually restoring a 1945, Higgins-built PT boat to operating condition, I was familiar with wooden military patrol boats of the era. This nonprofit group, Save the PT Boat Inc. (STPTB), had received the PT 658 on loan from the U.S. Navy and the Oregon Military Museum. The STPTB core group of WWII veterans, and other volunteers who joined the project along the way, have been working for almost a decade to restore the 78-foot, 48-ton wooden warboat.
By comparison the general size and scale of the PTF 19 was not surprising. However the enormity of actually beginning a similar major restoration effort, this time of a fast, powerful patrol boat built almost 35 years after its WWII ancestor was both surprising and overwhelming.
Restoring the 80 foot long, 24 foot beam, 75-ton Nasty class PTF to full operation is an especially significant effort. Like many other major military historical preservation projects both planned and actually underway, the warboat restoration vision of 52-year-old John Patnovic, his partners and friends is itself commendable. But the commitment to devote the necessary time, energy and especially considerable funding required is even more laudable.
To date John and his project partners have invested tens of thousands of dollars. They have purchased the boat with its twin Napier Deltic engines, three spare powerplants and all the other parts and equipment to get the restoration job done. Even with his and his group's personal resources, including his ownership of a well-equipped marina and boatyard with a skilled staff, John estimates that it will take many multiples of the funding that he and his colleagues have put in so far. And he says he's ready to stay the project course, three to six years according to his estimate.
The restoration of PTF 19 is not just another technical and financial challenge for John and his project crew. This particular Nasty Class patrol boat was the third of six built in 1968 by the famous Maryland boatbuilder John Trumpy & Sons in Annapolis. And while not a Vietnam veteran himself, as a Maryland native who grew up on the water and appreciates WWII PT and other military patrol boats and those who served aboard them, he has returned to his Chesapeake Bay maritime roots to help restore an very special part of the region's proud Navy heritage.
The Washington, D.C. area has many historically significant Navy connections. The Washington Navy Yard has a colorful heritage and is the location of the fascinating Navy Museum. And Annapolis itself is the home of the United States Naval Academy. However across Chesapeake Bay near Chestertown, Maryland currently there is another much less known but important Navy heritage site -- the Worton Creek Marina where the PTF 19 is under restoration. And like the PT 658 in Oregon, in the future the PTF 19 will become an active, operating interpretive exhibit that teaches the hands-on history of both the United States and the Navy in some very dramatic, memorable ways.
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Yesterday I visited the Worton Creek Marina near Chestertown, Maryland. That is the new home of PTF-19. John Patnovic bought her and had the boat barged up from Chesapeake Yachts. Right now she is sitting on dry land behind the marina's office waiting for the busy season of the marina to subside (everyone wants their boats ready for spring). He is in the process of getting his administrative ducks (non-profit organization, etc) in a row.
While I was there, he let me scan a small stack of photos obtained from the grandson of John Trumpy. The photos show the construction and test run of PTF17-19. I also scanned a color shot of the boat being loaded on the barge at Chesapeake Yachts. No doubt I'll be able to get a scan of the photo showing the boat being delivered.
I will be out on west coast in late April and plan to visit the National Archives in San Franicisco and Los Angeles, the Seabee Museum at Port Hueneme, Rio Vista and the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. The National Archives in LA is supposed to have a bunch of pictures from the PIO's office. Maybe the 13, 20 and 21 boats will show up there. I have also asked the historian at the Seabee Museum to see if there is any information on the PTFs at Port Hueneme. All the worst they can say is no. We'll see....
Here are the photos....
01/27/03 Dear Mike,
Dan Withers has sent me manuals for the T18-37K engine. I have:
1. Publication 430 Overhau Manual for Deltic Engines, Series II and Series III, Volumes 1 and 2.
2. Amendment List 2 for Overhaul Manual, Publication 430.
3. Spare parts catalog, Publication 520 for Napier Deltic Engines Type T18-37K Series III Standard.
4. Publication 505, Maintenance Manual for Deltic Marine Engine, Type T18-37K Series III.
I will spend some time reviewing them to make sure we have all the sections and pages.
Best Regards, John Patnovic
01/13/04 Dear David,
Thank you for your e-mail dated Jan. 9, 2004. I am a mechanical engineer with a background in start-ups and turnarounds of small to medium sized manufacturing companies. Six years ago my wife and I bought a small marina on the eastern shore of Maryland to semi-retire. We have 110 boat slips ranging from 30' to 70' long and a sizable yacht repair operation with a crew of 10 people. We work on boats from 10' to 80' long. The yard has a 70 ton (and a 25 ton) travelift. We also have a mobile 15 ton hydraulic crane for heavy lifting. We have clean, heated, indoor space for work on engines and boats.
I recently purchased PTF-19 which was built at the John Trumpy and Sons boat yard in Annapolis, Maryland in 1968. PTF-19 has been laying in Norfolk since the mid-1970's. As part of the purchase agreement we have been allowed to scavange missing parts and pieces from 7 other PTF's in Norfolk. In addition, the purchase agreement includes five T18-37K engines and transmissions. Four of the engines have been in PTF hulls since the 1970's. The fifth engine has been outside, uncovered on a cradle for an unknown period of time. Unfortunately, the four engines that have been in the PTFs have at some point had the "BC" and "AB" crankcase covers removed. The connecting rods are lightly rusted as are the vibration dampers and gears at the ends of the crank shafts. The crank shafts themselves show no sign of rust. The cylinder liners show rust where they are not chrome plated, but the cylinder bores are not rusty. The rust is a result of condensation, the engines do not appear to have had water dripping on them.
All of the engines were used in American PTF's. We have formed a non-profit corporation over here to restore PTF-19 to her original operat ing condition. Ordinarily I would say that this is an impossible task given the condition of the boat and the fact that the engines have not been run in many years, however, since I own a boat yard I know we can carry this through. My biggest concern at this point is determining the feasibility of getting two T18-37K Napier Deltic engines in good operating order to power the boat and hence my e-mail to you.
In answer to your specific questions:
1. There are currently four of us that have put up the funds to purchase PTF-19, 3 spare engines, and ship everything from Norfolk, VA to the marina. We are in the early stages of getting started but already have about eight volunteers that have expressed an interest in helping with the restoration. I will make the equipment and facilities of the marina available to the project at no cost.
2. The 5 engines we bought have not run in many years. We anticipate disassembling them for inspection, measurement and clean-up. Then we can use the best parts to reassemble two engines for the boat.
3. We have not attempted to turn the engines. We have liberally flooded everything with oil to help stop any further corrosion and start loosening things up.
4. We are in contact with the previous owner. He tells us that two of our engines were run about ten years ago. We are attempting to work with the Navy to get drawings and manuals but I'm not sure how successful we will be.
5. We purchased the boat from Bill Norton who has a company call General Propulsion. He bought nine PTFs in the late 1970's and 1980 as scrap from the Navy. He has always wanted too much money for them so they have sat in Norfolk since then. He had one running for a while but they are now all in too bad a shape to even float. He has gotten some Deltics running and sold them off. The boats are so bad that he has reduced prices and we bought one. We brought it up to the marina on a barge.
I have been in contact with Mike Baker in the UK with regard to the Deltics and he is helping us to get an overhaul and spare parts manuals.
I am very interested in your thoughts and ideas on how we should proceed. Please let me know what you think and what additional information I can provide. What do the folks in the Napier Power Heritage Trust do for spare parts for the locomotive engines? Are there any T18-37K's being run in the UK?
Regards, John R. Patnovic
November 24, 2003
My name is John Patnovic. My wife Libby and I own Worton Creek Marina near Chestertown Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay. We have purchased PTF-19 from Bill Norton, along with three extra engines. Our intention is to form a non-profit corporation and restore the boat to her 1968 as-new operational condition.
I have followed the PTF’s in Norfolk since they were first advertised in "Boats and Harbors" back in the early 1980’s. When Bill Norton started dropping the prices recently I contacted him about purchasing a Trumpy boat. A few weeks ago while researching the engines I found your website. PTF 19 (as well as other PTF’s in Norfolk), is in very poor condition and will require a tremendous amount of money, time and effort to restore. Although we will keep the boat at our marina at no cost and we will be able to use my shops and equipment, (70 ton Travelift, 15-ton crane, etc.) At no cost, I cannot hope to accomplish this project without help.
Your website has been an invaluable source of information and I am writing to let you know what we’re doing and to solicit your ideas as to how we can all work together to accomplish the restoration of PTF-19. I am hoping that some of the people who have contributed to, or visited your website will be willing to help in the following areas;
The current plan is to ship PTF-19 from Norfolk to our marina by barge during December. After that we will start to disassemble her so we can find out in detail what we have.
Our email here at Worton Creek is email@example.com. Our phone number is 410/778-3282 and fax number is 410/778-3395. I hope to hear from you.
John R. Patnovic