Evans’ riveting story

Evans McKeil

We are just wrapping up cargo operations in Hamilton, the
cargo is of wheat, lightered off the grounded Orsula, off Cape Vincent in late December. The ship
made it to Montreal albeit with some damage to her propeller, but the “salvaged” cargo
has been a long experience on its own, challenged by numerous weather, and “administrative” fronts.

My workplace, and home, for this particular adventure has been the tug Evans
McKeil. Would you believe it, this tug was built in 1936 !

Well of
course you believe it, it’s a Canadian boat. Yup, this is by far the oldest
vessel I’ve worked on in my career, the second oldest being my first ship, the 1947
built, Anscomb. While the Anscomb is now resting at the bottom of Kootenay Lake
in BC, the Evans McKeil continues to chug along the Great Lakes.
…from the original drawings
The Evans McKeil, was originally built as the Alhajuela,
for the Panama Canal Mechanical Division in Balboa, Canal Zone. She had a
sister, the Arraijan; both were named after cities in Panama. Despite her age, she only bore three names in her life. 
…is that the inside of a boiler?
Nah, just the steering flat.
In 1970, the tug was brought up to the Great Lakes by Malcolm Marine, and renamed Barbara Ann, after the company’s matriarch. She entered the Canadian register in 1991, since then she’s
been known as the Evans McKeil, named after the founder of the Hamilton based
family company.
The 110 foot long, single screw tug, has a beam of just over
25 foot, with a draft of 10 foot. The hull is riveted and she has a tonnage of
433 tons. These tugs must have been quite
the showpiece, when they were first launched in Panama!
Evans McKeil: a riveting story!

Because of the simplicity of the design, the engine room is
actually pretty nice, big, bright, open, airy, probably no good for water
ingress, but nice to work in. However, despite her size, she does not carry a whole lot of fuel.

The tug originally had twin Ingersoll Rand, 6
cylinder, 900 hp, engines, each driving 350 kW generators at 250VDC. The
propeller was powered by the single, 750 hp DC electrical motor, turning to a
maximum 135 rpm.

So nice, not to bang
your head everywhere
In 1965 she was re-powered with a single GM 16-278 Diesel
engine producing 1700 hp, at 750 rpm, into Western Gear reduction gearbox. Sometime
later, she was again re powered, this time, by an EMD 16V645, blower engine putting out 2,150 hp, to give her a speed of 10 knots.
Having just completed an inspection the other day,
the main engine is in excellent shape. As strange as it may sound, I’d say there is
a good chance this boat should be around for it’s one hundredth anniversary. 
You can read more about the Evans’ history from its previous owner, Malcolm Marine. Here are some pictures, more here.  
A good broadside of the Evans McKeil. …from the interwebs

This article has 3 Comments

  1. Good morning. My name is Lew Stabler and I am a tug captain on the Panama Canal. I am currently working on a history of the tugs at the Panama Canal for the last the 100 years. The tug ALHAJUELA is the subject of a chapter all to herself. After finding your comments on her (EVANAS McKNEIL) on the internet, I am requesting permission to quote your story and possibly reproduce the drawing and photos. It was a joy to read that she is still in service today. For your information, in 1942, the ALHAJUELA was involved in a horrific collision involving a Navy seaplane. Several people lost their lives that day. She was rebuilt and put back in service about 9 months later, and went on to serve well until she was sold in 1970.
    I am looking forward to your response.

  2. Lew
    Ed McIlvaine here. I don’t know if you remember but my wife Kari Batalden’s father who was a Balboa High School teacher lived in Arraijan. I was very fortunate to acquire one of the name boards that came off the tug Arraijan and it is one of my prize possessions. I have been looking for some time for a good picture of the tug to properly display with it. If you could help me with this it would be greatly appreciated.

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