Webbies Preserving the Past: Steamship Restoration Project

by Ian Cosic ’21

On November 19, Webb seniors Ian Cosic and Cross Weeks had the unique opportunity to conduct an inclining experiment aboard the USCG Lilac. Constructed in 1933, the Lilac is the last steam-powered lighthouse tender in the United States. For the last 17 years, she has been maintained and exhibited to the public as a museum ship by the Lilac Preservation Project, a group of dedicated volunteers working to restore the vessel and preserve her rich history.

The experiment, conducted as part of their senior thesis, consisted of a calculated series of weight shifts across the deck of the vessel to induce an angle of heel. This was then measured with three different pendulums. Before the actual shifting of the weights, Ian and Cross explored every space on the Lilac to catalogue the weight and center of gravity of every moveable object aboard the vessel. Using the data from the experiment, the students will be able to determine the vessel’s current vertical center of gravity and assess her intact stability. They hope to assist the vessel’s owners in developing a plan to modify the Lilac for eventually carrying passengers. Their thesis advisor, Professor Bradley D.M. Golden ’99, was present to assist and to provide guidance on the experiments.