50,000 Continuous Hours and 250,000 Tourists MTU Engines Running Strong
Four generations after Samuel G. Clark charged a dime to row the first tourists and commuters from North Haven to Shelter Island and back again, hisgreat-great-grandsons Clifford and Bill still operate the South Ferry Company. Like being greeted by your first name at one of the summer tourist mecca’s two post offices, the ferry service has become part of the culture of the
True to their family’s two-hundred year tradition, the brothers still appreciate the value of a long pull, only this time by two 400 hp MTU Series 60 engines mounted in each of their five ferries. Two of those engines, according to Bill, who serves as the company’s vice-president, are still pushing and pulling a boat named Southern Cross after 50,000 hours of continuous service.You read that right. Fifty thousand hours – almost six years of runtime – without an overhaul, major repair or anything other than regularly scheduled maintenance.“Our first ferry leaves the dock at 5:40 A.M. and our last leaves the South Fork at 1:50 A.M.,” says Bill.
Each roundtrip takes about fifteen minutes. “We tell our passengers we’re a high speed ferry, since each leg takes just three minutes. Of course, the trip is only a quarter of a mile,” he jokes.These engines don’t get babied by any means. South Ferry’s boats transport up to 240,000 pounds of cars, trucks, semis, motorcycles, bicycles and the people that own them up to twenty hours a day during the busy summer tourist season when the population ofShelterIsland swells to 12,000.
Clifford and Bill (a retired Coast Guard Captain) are sticklers for maintenance. “We do regular oil analyses, crankcase pressure checks and other routine work,” says Bill. But since their installation in the Southern Cross in 1998, the Series 60s have never let the company down. At 50,000 hours and still counting, MTU engines are proving to be as dependable as the South Ferry.
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