Walt Disney World Friendship Boats

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by cajunseadog, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. cajunseadog
    Joined: Jun 2006
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    Location: Raceland, Louisiana, USA

    cajunseadog Junior Member

    Is anyone familiar with the design and systems of these Friendship boats?[​IMG]
    I've ridden aboard them a couple of times. While working at WDW back in 2005, I took a tour and actually visted the dry dock at EPCOT where they are maintained. I did get a quick glance at one pulled up out of the water, and it appeard it may have had a small pair of azimuth thrusters, or something similar, but I'm not sure because I didn't get a real good look. Also, I'm not sure if they are diesel powered or use some other source of power, such as and electric propulsion system. They are pretty quiet, and when you ride in them all you can really hear is a humming sound. It could be that there is just good sound proofing material in the engine compartment. Any info would be appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  2. Poida
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Location: Australia

    Poida Senior Member

    What they may have is a steel cable layed along the route. The humming would then be an electric winch pulling the boat along the cable.

    Maybe

    Poida
     
  3. RAWRF
    Joined: Dec 2006
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    Location: Eagle, Alaska

    RAWRF Junior Member

    I am pretty sure they are made by Sea Ark, you could ask them. They made the old WD boats that were recently for sale on the internet.
     
  4. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2007
  5. thirdmancharged
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: Orlando, FL

    thirdmancharged New Member

    Hello, I am w 16 year WDW Friendship Boat Captain (1991-2007-retired). The propulsion system was originally a 4 cylinder diesel motor (up until about 2005 they were all 82hp 236 c.i.d. Perkins) Now they have switched to Yanmar 115hp turbo diesels due to emission requirements. When I retired in 2007 only 2 boats still had the Perkins Diesels, and those motors were due for replacement on the next 'rehab' cycle. The diesel motors drive a hydraulic pump that helps to turn the propeller shaft 360 degrees, as well as providing the torque to turn the propeller itself. This gives the propeller assembly a full 360 degrees of radial turning motion as well as providing the thrust. It is like an upside down oscillating table fan that can turn around and and around limitlessly. Because there is no direct mechanical link between the drive shaft and propeller shaft, due to the hydraulic torque generator, the drive shaft will never bind up. The hydraulic steering is on a 1 to 1 ratio with the propeller assembly, therefore a knob is located on the steering wheel indicating direction. With the knob at 12 o'clock the vessel is straight ahead, with the knob at 6 o'clock the vessel is in full reverse. The throttle only controls engine speed, pulling the throttle all the way back only disengages the torque generator. There technically is no reverse gear.

    There are two small thrusters located aft, one on each side. You can tell where they are located above the water line by noticing a short red stripe on the aluminum bumper alongside the vessel. These thrusters are a late addition. Due to the number of sudden torque generator failures, the pilot had no way of stopping a boat in full motion should the hydraulic system malfunction. After a few 'incidents', namely the Friendship #3 ramming the boardwalk in front of Spoodles and shattering it's tempered glass windshield all over the guests walking along the boardwalk, engineering decided to add an extra safety system to allow the pilot to stop the boat in case of engine failure. The thrusters are electric, run off their own batteries and have no directional capability. They will immediately apply full reverse thrust if the pilot pushes the big, red, candy like button forward of the original console and steering wheel. There are two small joysticks, and the thrusters can be used to apply forward or reverse thrust individually to guide the boat back into the dock if necessary. Turning the boat in this situation, you would just apply reverse thrust to one, and forward thrust to the other to turn in the desired direction.

    The boats also have a second, identical motor in the engine room strictly for running an electrical generator for lights, sound and climate control. it is in not used at all for propulsion. Even the electric thrusters have their own batteries and are not hooked into the generator.

    Hope this solves the mystery, they are indeed free-floating vessels entirely under control of the pilot operating them. In the 16 years I was a pilot, I only ever saw a few incidents in which guests received minor injuries due to a mechanical failure. The addition of the new electric thrusters greatly reduced those incidents to near zero in the last few years.

    Mark J Hoffman III

    Friendship Boat Pilot (Retired)

    1991-2007
     
  6. Captain XI
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: Orlando

    Captain XI New Member

    hi

    Yes, what Mark says, he just said it better than I could have
    from a seasonal friendship boat captain
     
  7. cajunseadog
    Joined: Jun 2006
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    Location: Raceland, Louisiana, USA

    cajunseadog Junior Member

    Thanks Mark, that's some great info. I've been interested in the watercraft at WDW for some time now and I think the friendships are my favorites. If I go back to work there again I wouldn't mind working in watercraft.
    Cheers,
    Matt
     

  8. messabout
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    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    Pre-dating the WDW boats by a considerable margin were the electric boats at Cypress Gardens (another tourist attraction in Florida). Those boats were in full use for excursions, during the late 40s. They lasted into the late 90s and may still be in service. Smaller than the Disney boats, perhaps 15 passengers. They were electric and almost totally silent. Nothing particularly high tech about them except that they were oddities in a world of internal combustion propulsion systems. Maybe there are some Cypress Gardens skippers who could provide more informative commentary.
     
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