SEYMOUR — More than 700 Cummins Inc. employees at Seymour Engine plant learned Friday that they don’t just make engines — they save people’s lives.
No one knows this better than the crew of the crab fishing boat Time Bandit, stars of the Discovery Channel show “Deadliest Catch.” Crew members, including co-captains Andy Hillstrand and Johnathan Hillstrand, visited Columbus and Seymour on Thursday and Friday to meet and thank Cummins employees. The crew also helped build a Cummins engine in Seymour that will be installed this summer in their boat to replace the existing, but aging, Cummins engines.
The co-captains are just as you would expect them to be, judging by their TV personas: boisterous, quick to crack a joke and always ready to laugh. In Johnathan’s case, it’s with his signature nicotine-induced raspy timbre.
And Johnathan especially often gets bleeped on the show for good reason. Curse words frequently spice his linguistic arsenal. But if anyone should get to curse like sailors, perhaps it’s actual sailors.
And when it comes to equipment on their boat and getting their hands on the engine assembly line, the Hillstrand brothers are all business.
They know that in the rough Bering Sea, when 50-foot waves crash into their boat while tons of ice cling to every crevice from bow to stern, a reliable engine can be the difference between life and death.
Andy remembered an incident from the early 1990s, shortly after the Time Bandit was built. A huge storm sank several boats, and the Time Bandit faced 100-foot waves. To prevent capsizing, he had to steer the boat straight into the waves, to climb them at full throttle before switching into reverse on the way down.
“You need all the power you got,” Andy said. “If my engine would have failed me then, I would have been another statistic in the Bering Sea.”
Johnathan said the family has used Cummins engines since he was a kid.
“We wouldn’t get anything else,” he said. “We trust our lives to these engines.”
For business reasons, too, engine reliability plays a critical role, he added.
When an engine breaks down while the ship is out to sea, it can take days to get back to the base, Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
And you can’t just drive down the street to get another engine, Johnathan said.
Those delays easily can cost a crew hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Johnathan said the new QSK19 engines that will power the Time Bandit this fall will give the boat more power, use less fuel and, because of its emissions technology, will be more environmentally friendly. The new 19-liter engine will provide 660 horsepower, 235 more than the old Cummins engine with the same displacement.
“We’re going to be as fast as (the other) guys and burn half the fuel,” Johnathan said.
For the Seymour Engine Plant employees, Friday was Time Bandit Day. About 700 employees wore black Time Bandit T-shirts to work — while the Hillstrand crew wore red Cummins shirts.
Eddie Hollan, who has worked at the plant for 37 years, said meeting the crew was an honor.
“It’s an awesome deal,” he said, standing near one of the 19-liter engines that he repairs if they come off the line with a problem.
Assembly operations manager Harold Wilson said everyone on the team has been asking almost daily when the crew would arrive.
“My whole line’s been excited,” Wilson said.
Now everyone at the plant feels like they’re part of the crew, he said.
Billy Brooks, of Clifford, worked with the Hillstrand crew on the engine line on Friday.
“It’s pretty neat,” he said. “They’re a rowdy bunch.”
Brooks, who has worked at the plant for 13 years, said he looks forward to seeing the “Deadliest Catch” episode in which the Time Bandit gets its new engine.
The footage shot in Seymour likely will be included in an episode next spring, in Season 9, according to the Discovery Channel.
Plant manager Darren Wildman said the crew’s visit helped the employees put their jobs in perspective.
“It’s a very proud day,” he said. “Fantastic for morale.”
After visiting the Cummins headquarters, Tech Center and other locations in Columbus on Thursday, the Time Bandit crew toured the Seymour plant on Friday, posing for photos with employees, signing T-shirts and giving away memorabilia.
They also thanked the employees in a speech, Wildman said, and they helped them build the engines on the line.
With a camera crew catching every moment, Andy and Johnathan affixed an oil pan to the bottom of a silver engine block. A few stations down the engine line, Johnathan helped an employee operate a pulse gun to fasten bolts.
Standing next to a red Cummins engine, Andy faced the camera and shouted a mock warning to the other crab fleet captains: “Watch out, you got Cummins red coming at you. It’s faster just by looking at it.”
Later, in a more somber mood, Andy also had a special message for all the Cummins employees who design, build, assemble, service and repair the engines.
“You’re not just making an engine,” he said. “You’re making sure that I get home.”
Weight: 293 tons
Length: 113 feet
Cruising speed: 9 knots
Current engines: Two 425 hp Cummins KTA19s
Future engines: Two 660 hp Cummins QSK19s
Props: Two 52-by-58 stainless steel
H ydraulics:Two 125kw auxiliaries
Crane: 10-ton, 40-foot knuckle boom
Hold capacity: 120,000 pounds of king crab
Hull material: Steel
Designed by: John Hillstrand Sr., father of Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand
Home port: Homer, Alaska
Cost: $1.3 million
Where: Giddings Boat Yard, Coos Bay, Ore.
Origin of name: Reference to the 1981 movie “Time Bandits” and because, as John Sr., put it, “sea steals your time.”
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!comments powered by Disqus
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.