The 1971-built push boat provides an invaluable service delivering freight and consumer goods to communities along the Yukon River and its tributaries.
These shallow waters, usually only navigable between May and October, are fed by rain and glacial melt containing highly abrasive silt and ground rocks, called glacial till, that can severely damage other propeller shaft systems.
Since 2003, when Inland Barges Services replaced the single-screw Ramona’s rubber bearings,Thordon’s polymer system has undertaken over 2000 hours of operation per year in some very abrasive environments.
“I haven’t seen anything like it,” said Hnilicka.“When we used rubber bearings we were lucky to get a full operational season out of them before they needed replacing.”
Scott Groves, Thordon Bearings’ Business Development Manager, said: “We have data from workboats operating on the Mississippi showing typical RiverTough wear rates of 0.075mm to 0.100mm (0.003” to 0.004”) in 6,000 to 7,000 hours of annual use, but this is the first time we have received data from a vessel operating in the high north. The feedback from Inland Barge Services provides clear evidence of RiverTough’s superior wear life in very abrasive water conditions. They routinely outlast rubber bearings by a factor of two or more.”
Todd Terry, President of Pacific Marine Equipment (PME),Thordon Bearings’ Seattle-based distributor, said Inland Barge Service, Inc is among a growing number of workboat and small craft operators to covert from rubber tail-shaft bearings to the RiverTough solution.