183: The Intricate Process Designing and Constructing a Tow Boat with Hayden Pearson of JANTRAN

This week on the Oakley Podcast, host Jeremy Kellett chats with Hayden Pearson, Shipyard and New Construction Manager at JANTRAN. During the episode, Hayden discusses his lifelong passion for boats, detailing the construction process, including design considerations for various boat components and the importance of precision. He also talks about the differences in propulsion arrangements and the upcoming challenges with new emission control systems. The conversation touches on the financial aspects of boat building and concludes with Hayden’s involvement in reviving JANTRAN’s Christmas party tradition by building a tow boat-themed Christmas float. Don’t miss this great episode! 

Key topics in today’s conversation include:

  • Hayden’s Introduction and Background (1:36)
  • Early Days at JANTRAN (2:35)
  • Opportunity to Build Boats (5:28)
  • Transition to Computer-Aided Design (10:00)
  • Boat Building Process (10:35)
  • Boat Design and Piloting Preferences (11:49)
  • Precision and Launching (13:35)
  • Boat Design Sketches (16:05)
  • Propulsion Arrangements (18:01)
  • Boat Building Techniques (21:39)
  • Construction Costs (25:29)
  • Regulation and Standards (27:24)
  • Technology in Tow Boats (30:51)
  • Constructing a Christmas float (36:42)
  • Engine room and documentation (44:14)
  • Final thoughts and takeaways (46:07)

Oakley Trucking is a family-owned and operated trucking company headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information, check out our show website: podcast.bruceoakley.com.


Jeremy Kellett  00:12

You were already a little bit interested in building boats?

Hayden Pearson  00:16

Yeah, you know, my dad being a pilot in the fleet. I was always interested in tinkering with tow boats. And I always looked up to my dad and it was just, they kind of infatuated me and my dad, my grandfather, his dad was a commercial fisherman and my dad commercial fish to some on the side. I remember helping him right in the boat, taking up triathlons or whatever. And I would ride by here and see the boats on drydock and always, you know, kind of enamored mesa. It was cool. I was always drawing bikes as a kid. He would get home tired now, where does this radar go? Where does this antenna go? And, you know, he was nice enough to kind of tell me that I know we didn’t want to talk about towboats after four days and 12 hours at a time.

Jeremy Kellett  01:01

Welcome to the Oakley podcast, trucking, business, and family. This show is brought to you by Oakley Trucking, headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The purpose of this podcast is to communicate with Oakley owner-operators and their families by giving them up-to-date information concerning Oakley Trucking and the trucking industry. From business advice to safety updates to success stories. Also to give an inside to outside truck drivers that might be interested in joining the Oakley family. Let’s get started first. First by introducing yourself Hayden. So give me your name family hobbies.

Hayden Pearson  01:36

So yeah, my name is Hayden Pearson. My dad he’s kind of the reason I’m out here which I have alone. My whole mom’s side. All her uncles. I think I’ve got six. Great uncle’s great grandfather, my dad. They’re all river man, you know, all captains at some

Jeremy Kellett  01:56

point. So you wouldn’t get out of it.

Hayden Pearson  01:58

I didn’t have a good chance. I didn’t have a good chance to get out of it. So yeah, you know, long family history. They’re this way far as hobbies go, you know, typical Delta boy hunting, fishing. I love being outdoors.

Jeremy Kellett  02:15

So yeah, you have family at home. Why

Hayden Pearson  02:17

Do I have a wife? We’ve been married for nine years. Have a four year old Wyatt and a one year old win? And you’re like, keep me busy. Keep me running all the time. But

Jeremy Kellett  02:28

keep mom busy for sure.

Hayden Pearson  02:31

She’s a trooper, though. Yeah. 

Jeremy Kellett  02:33

So how long have you been on the JANTRAN? 

Hayden Pearson  02:35

Oh well, from the early days, including when I was just a kid. I think I got my license. And then maybe a month or so later, I was here. Doing any driver’s license. Got my driver’s license. Yeah. So that would have been 2006. I was 15 and a half. And I guess kind of the tradition. You know, some of the longtime employees, their kids were able to come and work in the summer. And Mr. Joe was gracious enough to let me come in and, you know, do whatever I could, you know, you

Jeremy Kellett  03:08

worked all summer.

Hayden Pearson  03:09

I did. I think my first job here was painting a cyclone fence silver again, so good times. And he went to school. I did. So I went when I turned 18. Now that summer before I graduated high school, I was 17 too young to get on the boat yet with my dad to learn, you know, the whole decK inside, what goes on out in the river. Joe decided to start building boats again. So they started on the Miss Alec. So they started in 2008. And anytime that I wasn’t doing my chores around here, you know, helping Wade and supply I would sneak down and help them wailed, you know, any chance I got sometimes maybe getting a little trouble, you know, doing that instead of what I was supposed to be doing. So I would, you know, do that. And I guess he kind of saw I had an interest in that. So I turned 18 and was able to get on the boat with my dad. That was a different experience. But he didn’t cut me much slack. But it was great to get to learn that side of it. So I got on the boat with him. And we, you know, started here at Delta State. My wife was a year behind me so of course I didn’t want to jump over to Mississippi State while she was still here. So I started my first year in college here at Delta State to get some, you know, basics out of the way and then she graduated and we both went to Mississippi State. So I was over there and got a lot of Mechanical Engineering under my belt enough to be dangerous anyway. And I guess I was 20 or 21 maybe just turned 21 and 2012. And I remember it very vividly. I was driving to work. Me and my dad were on the same shift. I was on his boat so we were in my truck driving to Jay and trying to start the night shift and My dad got a call on his phone. And he had me say, here’s this, Joe. Janice said, Okay. And I picked up the phone and he said, Hey, this is Joe, Janice, you know, how are you today? So I’m good at work. He said, Well, I think I want to start building boats again. He said, I know you showed some interest, you’re stating, you know, do you want it on this project? And I was like, hey, of course, you know. So that’s kind of where it all started right there. You know, Mr. Joe had an interest in it and took off from there.

Jeremy Kellett  05:33

So we quit. Pretty much pretty much done with the five because it was a 12 hour shift ride with me about that ride.

Hayden Pearson  05:43

And there was a little overlap. You know, there was still some in between, you know, like I said, the first part of Maine at Mississippi State, there were several of those weekends where, you know, broke college students had to pay rent somehow and pay for school. So I would leave, start home. You know, Friday afternoon and get over here by five, get on the boat work Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night, hop off the boat at five o’clock Monday morning and fly back to start as quickly as I could make it to class eight or nine o’clock. So good time. So

Jeremy Kellett  06:15

It was a good phone call.

Hayden Pearson  06:16

It was a good phone call. Good phone call.

Jeremy Kellett  06:19

So that’s what got you. You are already a little bit interested in building boats. You

Hayden Pearson  06:24

Now, my dad is a pilot in the fleet. I was always interested in tinkering with towboats. No, I always looked up to my dad. And it was just, they’d kind of infatuated me and my dad, my grandfather, his dad was a commercial fisherman and my dad commercial fish to some on the side. So I remember helping him right in the boat to take up triathlons or whatever. And I would ride by here and see the boats on drydock and always, you know, kind of enamored me so it was cool. I was always drawing boats as a kid. You know, he would get home tired. Now, where does this radar go? Where does this antenna go? And, you know, he was nice enough to kind of tell me that when he I know he didn’t want to talk about towboats after four days and 12 hours at a time so I use

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Jeremy Kellett  07:57

Does I mean of course you had it in Yeah, but then you get this opportunity to help. You know, the owner started building boats here at the yard here at Jan train. And I mean, from the outside looking in, I’m like, How do you even start building a tow boat? I mean, so

Hayden Pearson  08:20

he drew it out on paper, right? So that’s kind of how we started. So that’s how his intentions were to show me how to do it on paper and loft it out. And all of that, well. We got about halfway through the first boat and the first boat would have been the Rosedale. And I actually shot him kind of guided me through it. And we had another foreman here, Johnny SS. He had been here with him through the very early days when they started building boats back in the early 80s. And, you know, Johnny showed me a lot. You know, I owe a lot to him. Also, he showed me a lot of the tricks and tricks of the trade. Well, I told Mr. Joe about halfway through it. It’s like well, this is really cool, you know, to learn it this way, but I do have some AutoCAD experience. It’d save us some time on some stuff. So we did still draw everything out every bulkhead, every sheet of steel, we actually started with a sheet of steel, we drew it out with soapstone on it by hand all the measurements and we cut it out by hand and you know the gas fired it up but the stiffener zone and we laid the keel did everything by hand. So you know we’ve progressed a little bit now. I send my drones to the steel company and they cut them out. They have all the scrap lines, the directions of the angles, everything numbered links and all that so they cut it everything’s numbered. It goes on pre song, everything is pre cut to fit so it’s just like a Mr. Joe calls about kit is a new sheet and it’s a book yeah

Jeremy Kellett  09:59

Well, you had to, but what? So now instead of drawing it on paper, you draw it on a computer? We do. Yes. And you’re able to, I mean, I guess you’re setting all the dimensions and everything that you send off for them to cut in that size. Right?

Hayden Pearson  10:16

Right. You know, we’ll start with the kind of the specs that we won’t know. I’ll scale it out on AutoCAD and draw it out. And it’s nice because you’re able to AutoCAD is a program, right, right, the computer program saw Yeah, it’s all computer aided drafting design. And we’re gonna

Jeremy Kellett  10:29

go out here and look here in a little bit on some stuff. But so what’s the first thing you build?

Hayden Pearson  10:34

So the very first thing you build, you start out, we have our crib that we started on, and all it is, yeah, so we have two beams laid down, and then there’ll be lines of angled lines just starting. You want to start on a complete level flat surface. So it’s just a table, we have two tables, we have that when we start the boat. And we have the when we do our prefab for all of our bulkheads in our queue. So the first thing we saw

Jeremy Kellett  10:58

in that building right now all big warehouse, do that you lay it all out,

Hayden Pearson  11:03

right, so the first thing you do is called Lena cue, and you lay just flat sheets of steel out, make sure they’re square and tacked together. And the very first thing is the sinner kills. So that’s going to be your very center and part of your structure. And it starts in engineering. And from there, you do your apple, your aft engineering bulkhead, forward engineering bulkhead, and you start framing from there. So it starts at the back and starts in the center, and you do the back wall forward wall, and you can either start working from that wall back to the stern, which is the back and then or the worker way forward toward the bow. And just kind of start piecing everything together from there. And

Jeremy Kellett  11:40

then so that, I’m assuming that’s got to be a certain angle, right at the bottom of the duck boat. And

Hayden Pearson  11:49

you have different designs, you have some of your, your flat bottom boats, like say, all of our Arkansas River fleet, they’re all kind of a modified Drivo Viking designed flat bottom, you know, with a radiused shine with a knuckle was what we call it, that’d be the bottom corners. It’s like a 12 inch radius, the one the harbor tugs, they’re more V bottoms. They have just their you know, squared edges, but it’s a V bottom, you know, a little bit anyways,

Jeremy Kellett  12:21

I mean, just just different to be different, no advantages.

Hayden Pearson  12:24

So talking from a pilot’s perspective, the V bottoms don’t tend to slide and when I say slide, meaning the boat just drift sideways kind of like in a flat bottom jon boat when you’re, you know, duck hunting or fishing you go and you turn the boat kind of tends to slide a little bit sideways, well, flat bottom boat is gonna slide more than a V bottom of V is gonna cut, you know, a little more intentional on your, you know, your control.

Jeremy Kellett  12:53

So which one do the pilots like best?

Hayden Pearson  12:55

It’s a cordon is really what they get used to on the larger boats, you know, you have your going back, you have your St. Louis ship, you have your national bridge company into brico. Drivo Jeff boat, you know, that’s the older four that come to mind. Of course, you have a new company now like CNC, the company that used to guesstimate the older boats. Gotcha. And, you know, they are very solid designs. And you know, nowadays, I’d say everything’s kind of derived, you know, there’s some footprint from those. So,

Jeremy Kellett  13:30

but it’s probably critical that you don’t make a big mistake when,

Hayden Pearson  13:35

yeah, there’s not, you know, we try and keep everything pretty tight. If I can keep everything within a 16th of an inch on being square and level and really all that, you know, that’s kind of that’s the goal. So is it like,

Jeremy Kellett  13:48

Is it like anything else if you’re a six, you know, if you’re a quarter inch off here, well, by the time you get here, you’re gonna be two feet. Oh, that’s right,

Hayden Pearson  13:55

it progressively gets worse. So you try and keep it as tight as you can the whole time. But as long as you keep it level and square, that’s the two main things. Because when these boats we’re building them when they’re in the shipyard before we slide it off in the water. That’s the last time that they’re ever going to be level. And we get carpenters on here working on stuff and they’ll have a bubble level trying to level up a cabinet or something. I’m like, now you can throw that away. I said, you know, you’re not gonna get these boats level after they’re in the water. That’s it,

Jeremy Kellett  14:21

I guess. I mean, yeah.

Hayden Pearson  14:23

So the last time there level is before we launch, have

Jeremy Kellett  14:27

you seen some I mean, I’m assuming you’ve launched quite a few

Hayden Pearson  14:31

last see, Rosedale log loader terrain legacy. And then we have hold 30 going right now hold 31 After that, though, we’re launched out of here right all right here and we would get you know two big dozers we get A to D eight and the DEA six and starts national and gruesome timbers up sit it on there and pull to we can’t pull any more until it breaks over the hill and takes off.

Jeremy Kellett  14:57

Oh man, I want to say that you’re gonna have video was uh i

Hayden Pearson  15:01

I think I’ve got some video. I now have one video on Instagram. You know

Jeremy Kellett  15:05

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Hayden Pearson  16:05

for some of the stuff that Joe was actually drawing by hand. So some of his likes, so this is awesome. His old ships cars. That’s how you blended your, all your cars, your lines and your boats and all that. So this one is when Joe was sketching on Miss Alex. So this is kind of his general design layout. And, you know, that’s

Jeremy Kellett  16:40

this is this is the reduced drawing on

Hayden Pearson  16:43

Right, right, right. So I can take this and you know, you got your frame lines, you know, 05 all on two foot frames. So yeah, that’s kind of how it starts right there. And you get your general arrangement, your floor plan of all your decks , this is your elevation view. This is your forward elevation view. And that’s how you kind of start figuring out your your stairwells, your room arrangement, tank arrangement and things like that.

Jeremy Kellett  17:11

You have to know maybe you have to have enough room in here to for your Engines,

Hayden Pearson  17:16

engines, gears, coolers, yeah, all your your steering gear hydraulics for your rotors, all your air tanks, potable water, tanks, generators, engineers office, you know, so and then all your framing has to line up because all your structural points, you know, where this decK Redis, you want a solid bulkhead, they’re all your bulkheads, like right here is the back of this cabin. So you’re gonna have a solid bulkhead in there and down here too. So you know, that kind of stuff, you just gotta make sure you have continuity, that’s the biggest thing on a boat hole is, is continuity of structure. So you don’t have any weird stress points. And you don’t want the hard points because it can cause cracks. And that’s one of the Arkansas River boats, Dorothy M Janice, which is named after Joe’s wife. So another cool elevation, same concept on here, you know, you can, you know, shape everything out. And so in there, you have what you call like this. So I was telling you earlier, you have an open wheel or a quart nozzle boat. So this is a harbor tour. This is the one I’m building right now. And this is an open wheel man, there’s no doubt around it. So you have your propeller here and on this other boat. So you see, so like on this, and you see the propeller would go right here and you have that nozzle around it just around nozzle. And it maximizes the water flow. So that’s the back view of it. That’s kind of what it looks like. And you have to have all of your, your proposed arrangement showing your engine and your reduction gear and your intermediate shaft or your shaft tube and your propeller shaft and all that. So it kind of goes in layers. You know, same thing here, like I was showing you over there. Here’s just the computer version. You know, fuel all your diesel tanks, potable water and blue labels.

Jeremy Kellett  19:08

How big is your fuel tank

Hayden Pearson  19:12

on this boat if we ever build this one? So 64 to 100 128,000 gallons on this one.

Jeremy Kellett  19:19

But the one you’re actually building

Hayden Pearson  19:22

let’s see if I got that yet. It’s going to be about 7000 gallons. Something like that. You know they don’t hold near as much

Jeremy Kellett  19:29

that you have one year out here building it. We’re gonna go look at you got it on here. This

Hayden Pearson  19:34

is it. This is it. Yeah. So this is where you start, you know you’ll, this is like I say the master drawing. This is everything I’ll work off of and then off of this drawing. I’ll pull, see if I can pull it up for you all. Like a general arrangement. Yeah, here it is. So that’s kind of the layout of the whole boat, decK by decK. So that shows you know up here we’ll have regenerators up top and some of this will rearrange, we might put these generators in a later engine room. And it shows the galley engine could house engines in place. All your Tiller on trigger rotors were hydraulics hook up and all your decK layout. So that’s kind of how it started. And then of course, I take all of that, and I start drawing off of this line’s plan. And I’ll transfer that to these drawings. And then these drawings go to organize them by flight thickness, like this is my NES set for what I need out of half inch steel. And then three quarters still like your engine foundations, your rudders, these engine foundations right here, your head log, which is the very front of the hole that’s going to touch the barge, you know, and they for this are all your instructions for how I need them to form that. If there’s any form in breaking anything like that the transom, which is the the stern,

Jeremy Kellett  20:58

and your course gives you the knowledge of how many pieces of steel you need. Right, right. And then you can order them. Yeah,

Hayden Pearson  21:06

already good. Yeah, I sent this, I transferred this, this is what you call a DWG file, I turned to a DXF so they can get it and read it. And they take it straight from there, put it into their program, and they use one called Omaxe. And they like to lay a sheet of steel out. And when you get done, they’ll lay a half inch piece and that’s what pops out. It’ll have all the lines with the arrows pointing back to know the angle irons gotta face that direction it takes. It takes all the guesswork out of you know, it’s on the money. You know, all that what I was talking about earlier about being you know, within a 16th of an inch, I mean, these plasma cutters, everything’s, it’s on the money. If you put it on the line, and you keep everything level throughout construction, check your level as it’s going to be like it needs to be. It’s cool getting to see it, getting to see it coming together, you know. And then of course, when you start getting into the intricate stuff, say wiring and piping, you know, I like the structure part that part’s fine, too, but I’d rather see the structure coming together then you know, the other parts, but you know, I’d say probably the biggest. The coolest thing is when you talk to pilots, I feel like we’re on the boat. And you know, they’re bragging on how it handles and how you know how it performs. And so for example, I’ve got two boats that are sister vessels, the redzone, long letter, same whole design, same propellers, same engine, same rotors, same everything. Well, they swear one while back the other one, but one will outsell the other one. And it makes no sense. So anyway, stuff like that, which it doesn’t matter. But, you know, like the terrine. It’s got very large whales, how could that happen? Right? Right. And I’m sitting there, you know, racking my brain well, like, how does that work? You know, but so the terrine, it’s, it’s a two, it’s a pretty powerful harbor tour, you know, normal harbor took is 1000 to 1200 horsepower. And, you know, they just talked about Mr. Tao . You know, you hear that thing’s a beast, you know, it’s a really good handling boat. And compared to what we used to have, we used to have another Rosedale, another log loader, and you know, all Hajikko valves, all air controls, you know, hand winches, stuff like that. So a lot of these older pilots, they’ll tell you like, Hey, man, these, these new parts are spoiled. You know, they’re used to all this new equipment, that’s just it responds really quick. So.

Jeremy Kellett  23:39

So how long does it take? Build?

Hayden Pearson  23:42

If it’s a design, it’s been done, you know, most of the time 12 to 16 months,

Jeremy Kellett  23:47

these ones you’ve, you’re talking about, you’ve built here though,

Hayden Pearson  23:49

I’d say you know, 14 to 16 months, sometimes we’d be waiting on water to come up, you know, the water was too low to launch. But yeah, I’d say 14 to 16.

Jeremy Kellett  23:57

And how many people do you get working on it? Really, you know,

Hayden Pearson  24:01

for a shipyard with a relatively small crew, six to eight guys at any given time. It’ll pick up a little bit once we start piping and running wires and stuff like that. So the structural side, most times I have six, eight.

Jeremy Kellett  24:16

So you don’t have to do you have to get outside contractors to come in and do stuff on

Hayden Pearson  24:21

the early boats? No, here lately, we’ve been contracting out the electrical work because our mechanics stay very busy. You know, just on our repair and maintenance side. So we like the city of Cleveland, of course. We rebuilt those that Leland speaks in the city of Cleveland. They were existing holes that we cut down and rebuilt the structure after you know, we had a base explosion on engines and they burned so we rebuilt those we had contractors come in to do the electrical work. And when did the

Jeremy Kellett  24:53

engines go in and how many are there?

Hayden Pearson  24:56

Most of our boats are twin screws. I have too. So those will go in. I actually just got the entrance for this new harbor tug two days ago. So they’ll go in within the next few months, probably, I’d say, January. So they’re early in the process. After we get the first decK on, we’ll sit the engines in and cover them up so they don’t get damaged. Right? Yeah,

Jeremy Kellett  25:21

pretty expensive. pretty pricey. How much there’s built in some of these boats. You’ve talked about launching out of here, I mean, what’s the price on?

Hayden Pearson  25:30

So I think Rosedale lobular terrine, they range from who, back in the day when steel was, you know, 40 and 50 cents a pound blast and primed. You know, you’re looking at 1.9 to 2.7 million roughly, for these harbor tugs. I think now you’re looking closer to 4 million cow

Jeremy Kellett  25:54

Lee. So no pressure, there’s

Hayden Pearson  25:57

no pressure, no pressure

Jeremy Kellett  26:00

to build a $4 million tugboat.

Hayden Pearson  26:02

So it’s Causton pretty close to, you know, these Arkansas River boats, they used to call us this, you know, 6 million. And really, now there’s no telling them what they’d cost. You know, for larger boats, like, you know, say 160 to 180 foot boats, you’re looking at 21 $22 million for gas or about that size. So it’s a big investment,

Jeremy Kellett  26:27

I guess. Steel is your biggest steel

Hayden Pearson  26:31

availability of products. But you know, it’s a domino effect, when one thing goes up, everything goes up, you know, COVID kinda helps to stay there.

Jeremy Kellett  26:41

What’s the what’s the, I guess the main components in a tugboat, some of the most important I guess is the steel, the motors, the

Hayden Pearson  26:50

steel, steel, and then your your motors, your gears, your reduction, gears, propellers, court nozzles, which is the duct around you can either have an open wheel boat, or you can have a court nozzle by meaning ducted propeller so all of your you know, your steering system, your air system, your hydraulic system, a lot of systems go into while you know, that’s it’s more closely regulated nowadays, especially after sub am in 2000. Oh, you got standards you gotta meet, we do have standards now on new construction pretty much has to be abs, you know, for new construction guidelines. So it’s Easter weekend, you know, throw it together, Mr. Joke and throw it on a legal pad and laugh it out. And we can just kind of go with it, start cutting it by hand and build it now we’ve got to gotta get the Okay, we’ve got to get some professional engineer stamps on drawing some compliance letters to make sure that it’s suitable for construction. Do

Jeremy Kellett  27:53

you have to get somebody out here to visually look at it? We do. We

Hayden Pearson  27:57

use a group out of Texas and they send somebody to come and check it out. After that you’ve reviewed some of my drawings and stuff

Jeremy Kellett  28:03

like that is that during the process or when it’s completed, they

Hayden Pearson  28:08

do some checks during construction periodically, and then they’ll come at the end and do some weight and balance calculations, you know, while it’s in the water, things like that. Okay. So it’s gotten to be a lot more than when I started in that short time, relatively short time. Yeah,

Jeremy Kellett  28:27

I can imagine. I mean, all the rules that come out now, but I mean, you’re, you’re operating, you know, a tow boat out here on a river that’s gotta meet standards. And you want to build a good one. So I guess you’ve learned you learned some things in the past building boats on what not to do, maybe what to do make them better, bigger, you know, something better? Yeah. Learn

Hayden Pearson  28:51

some of the some tricks, some ways to speed things up, ways to not give away your secrets. Yeah, I don’t think anything profound there. But

Jeremy Kellett  29:01

But yeah, make mistakes to make it better. I guess. I’ve

Hayden Pearson  29:05

made I’ve made a couple made a couple,

Jeremy Kellett  29:07

you know, Surely not? What’s the biggest challenge? You think? We’re going to talk about it? Tow boat? I’m sorry.

Hayden Pearson  29:15

You know, nowadays, I would say it’s probably just a regulation nowadays. For the most part, the construction, you know, if you if you have a kind of construction oriented mind, and you’d like to build things, you know, and you can read a set of plans, you can build a boat, you know, being you know, being in this part of the industry, having my pilot’s license to where I run, you know, actually, I’m able to run a boat. I got my license in about 2015 After decking with my dad, so that kind of helped, seeing both sides of it knowing what these operators Don’t

Jeremy Kellett  30:00

go out there and drive it. I can launch it, you build it, launch it and drop it.

Hayden Pearson  30:04

I can. I’ve gotten to do sea trials on several other boats I’ve built. So that was fun. I bet that was rewarding. Yeah, you know, it’s pretty, it’s pretty cool. You know, my dad being on one of the boats that are built to Oh, yeah, that’s neat. You know, that was probably one of my favorite boats that I’ve ever built and get to see him operated every day.

Jeremy Kellett  30:26

That’s pretty neat. You know, it was hard. I don’t know if you ever went back and watched the episode I did with Charlie.

Hayden Pearson  30:32

Boat? Johnson. Yeah, in a young family. Yeah,

Jeremy Kellett  30:35

ultimately. But, you know, I was amazed with the technology that they have in that wheelhouse, right, and stuff I had, has technology, play a part in these in these tow boats,

Hayden Pearson  30:51

you know, now, it’s, it’s pretty amazing. Because everything is tied in together, you know, you have your, your rose point system, which is your electronic charting system, you have your radars, you have, and they’re just, you know, they’re basically the same, they’re a little more advanced now. And now you have, for safety reasons, you have the dead metal orders, which either have a motion system where it’s going off the steering system, to make sure somebody’s awake in that wheelhouse. If not, it’ll start throwing alarms in the boat. You have all your, you know, engine alarms that you know, or every little every little system, you know, has, you know, redundancy to make sure that you know, we keep everybody safe. Are

Jeremy Kellett  31:31

these which made me think of those engines. Now, are they? Do they have a lot more technology on the engines you put in there now? Or? They used to? Do we like centers? What? Yeah,

Hayden Pearson  31:47

You look a lot like a cat. So are the deaf. So, that’s a whole different matter. Yeah, we could talk about that for a while. But so you had tier zero non tiered engines all the way through tier four. You had tier non tiered you had tier zero, tier zero plus tier two, tier three, tier four tier tier four, interim tier four final. And so as the EPA started introducing, they were trying to get, you know, more green, I guess, they got to tier four. And so like even Yeah, I guess it gets down all the way back to truck and I’m sure that some of those engines had to use, you know, even your, you know, highway vehicles, you know, everyday use for you know, yeah, they

Jeremy Kellett  32:36

gotta have this. Yeah, they have deficits. Yeah. Yeah, urea. So towboats don’t have to have that,

Hayden Pearson  32:42

well, they do new construction, new construction has to, for all new construction, now, you have to have tier four engines. And it’s got, you know, so like AMD, Caterpillar, they use def systems, it’s a dosing cabinet that goes on top of the exhaust. And so you have to have basically 10% capacity for urea def, that you have your fuel capacity is got to be 10% of that. So if you have, you know, some more about 200,000 gallons, you’d have to have a 10,000 gallon def tank in that boat. So very corrosive, pretty much a stainless steel tank separate, you know, from every other system. So it’s, that’s, I guess, I’d say, you know, you asked earlier, what’s some of the bigger challenges and that’s probably one of the bigger challenges now is is, you know, finding new room in these boats to house all the extra

Jeremy Kellett  33:39

equipment now. So you’re gonna have to put in a def tank. So on this

Hayden Pearson  33:42

one, so there’s a horsepower limit anything below 805 horsepower. You don’t per engine, you don’t have to have DEF Oh, okay, so these engines are 803 horsepower. How does that convey that? Yeah, you know, I rarely missed it. So that, you know, there’s some, some ways to get around some of it nowadays, but

Jeremy Kellett  34:04

Well, that’s, that’s causing havoc in the trucks, you know, truck drivers and dealing with this system and stuff. It’s just, it’s been, it’s been terrible. It has put a lot of guys out of business. Right, you know, just because of the Deaf system and all the sensors that are on the trucks now. And yeah, like you said, that’s a whole nother episode talking about that, but it just made me just click while I’m sitting here talking to you about that, because I know what truck drivers listen to this going. I want you to know, they gotta have a deaf system.

Hayden Pearson  34:33

And yeah, you know, different from the Marine and the highway, you know, we have our horsepower ranges are different to have to be cheerful. Yeah. But, um, so currently, right now, all of our boats were before tier four, it was, you know, implemented. So all of our boats are either, you know, tier 00 Plus tier two or tier three.

Jeremy Kellett  34:54

You’re not going to deal with a death yet.

Hayden Pearson  34:56

Not yet. It’s common, you know, I’m not as scared of it as I was. Well when they first introduced it, you know you’re getting more of it in the industry. And I think you know, they’re getting it they’re they’ve not perfected but they’re getting a lot closer than what they were. I hope so. So you know, the Arkansas River fleet, all those boats there for 4200 horsepower there are running caterpillar 3516 sees a lot of their electronic engines but no deaf night you know, great boats, no wrenches, gears. nickels. We built the Miss Alex and then Nichols Boat Company built all of those models. They often miss Alex’s great boats, they do a really good job for us. Yeah.

Jeremy Kellett  35:36

Yeah. I mean, that’s really interesting. I mean, being able to actually construct a tow boat and watch it and put it into water

Hayden Pearson  35:46

then drive it. Yeah. And that was

Jeremy Kellett  35:48

really crazy. Annabelle is what he was drawn to when he was a kid.

Hayden Pearson  35:51

Yeah, you know, I would. When I was probably, you know, 1213 Or maybe younger than that. I was. I remember there was a website. It was the old river bill Toba and the sky was. I don’t know if he was a pilot or not. But he would like to have a whole website dedicated to modeling these towboats. And I remember getting on there and watching and then getting to come here and see and all that stuff. And I would be a kid and I would be building tow boats in the garage. You know, my dad would finally trust me to use a jigsaw and I would get some damn plywood and start throwing stuff together. So that’s crazy. You know, I was kind of always interested. Well, now

Jeremy Kellett  36:30

that you say that you’re building a toy out here in the shop

Hayden Pearson  36:33

as you showed it? That’s right. Our Christmas floats. So

Jeremy Kellett  36:37

Yeah, they Yeah. How’d that come about? Ah, well,

Hayden Pearson  36:43

so back in the day. Jan Tran, they used that art. So when Mr. Joe would build the boats, when they had the customers. I think he might have told you earlier about maybe some of the Ashland old boats they built or some of the contracts anyway, when they built those boats, they would kind of have christening parties. And they you know, they’d be pretty interesting. Pretty. It’d be a party. Yeah. Well, they used to have Office Christmas parties that were pretty interesting. Well, that was all before my time. And I remember they used to include the fleet. Pilots, the boat pilots are good to go kind of like you’re stroking parties. Yeah. So they were big. They were crawdads. And that was all before my time. And I always heard about the giant train Christmas parties, how great they were and you know, told Miss Leslie and Mr. Paul and Mr. Joe, like, we’re gonna have another like now not only you know, those days are long gone. And so something came up about we saw another company had a really cool float, it was like a tow boat. So it’s like, you know, we need one of those. And somebody said, ” What if you could build this float? In less than 10 days, we’ll have a Christmas party again. I said, Okay, so I’m at my office and spent about 45 minutes drawing it up. And I had it cut at the steel company delivered the next day and we started putting it together. So that you know, I held up my Iona deal and they’re holding up there. So we’re having an old school janitor and Christmas party on December the 14th. Yeah, so that’s how it came about.

Jeremy Kellett  38:22

You’ll be the big hit at the party. Well,

Hayden Pearson  38:24

I’m not gonna take too much credit. I got a good crew that knows how to build a boat. So this Christmas float when anything for him?

Jeremy Kellett  38:34

Yeah, so this Christmas float. It’s actually steel. It’s scaled

Hayden Pearson  38:37

to it. It’s steel on a gooseneck trailer. It’s to scale a drawing of, of one of our boats. So it looks pretty cool. They did a good job. And

Jeremy Kellett  38:47

How are you gonna get it? We don’t just put it on a trailer. Yeah,

Hayden Pearson  38:51

We just loaded it on the gooseneck trailer and one of our safety director Josh he likes decorated it. Yeah, they’re gonna put some law, it’s gonna have work and spin and radars and LED lights on it and a horn and all that stuff. So some of our employees there’ll be walking in some of the keys their kids are going to ride in the Christmas parade in Cleveland and I think Roseville the next day. There’s

Jeremy Kellett  39:13

Joe knows what this costs?

Hayden Pearson  39:18

I don’t know. We’ll tell him something.

Jeremy Kellett  39:19

Yeah, that’s gonna be a big hit. Yeah, we’ll get a picture of that. It’ll be cool. It’ll be cool. We’ll get some stuff done. Well, man, I appreciate you joining me. This is great. It’s a great episode. I learned so much in just two days. I’ve been here since January. I’m still not. I mean, a lot of that stuff you said just went right over my head. But it’s interesting. And it’s impressive what you’re doing here and what you’ve done. I mean, it’s very impressive.

Hayden Pearson  39:47

I appreciate that. I owe a lot to you know, Mr. Joe, Mr. Paul and everybody here, Mr. Jerry. Mr. Bo learned a lot from everybody Mr. Gianni and he’s retired now but you know, they all taught me a lot And I just soaked it up and learned everything I could. And it’s been a good ride so far.

Jeremy Kellett  40:05

It’s good. Well, thanks for hanging out with me, we’re gonna go get some, we’ll get some more information down here and get some pictures and video of what you’re actually building. This

Hayden Pearson  40:14

is your sideshow, all this is pre-cut. The only thing that’s not pre cut is the first layer of play that we put down. So the guys, whenever we get everything framed out, will pick this up. And they’ll trim it to fit like this right here. You say they’ve got to get this, they’ve got to get this back down, push down where it’s all flush, where they can, they’ll go back, they’ll back gouge all this to be able to, you know, they’re welded, all appeal overhead. And then we still got to cut our holes for our tail shafts to come through everything. Oh, okay. So but like I say, the biggest thing is keeping it straight and level keeping it all square. But we prefab like our recess boxes, this is where your copper grid coolers go to cool the engines and the generators and all that. So all this is fabricated, laying down on the table flat. And then everything is brought down here. And this is the career that we start on. That’s the first thing we do is level though, that whole, that whole crib up with all the blocking ever that using the angle iron. So just to keep your plate your initial play that you lay your kid alone. That’s what you lay it down on to keep it all kind of flat. How you gonna drag this off. So we’ll end up jacking this, we put these legs on, we’ll drag this button, you can see how much weight so as you can see how those legs are starting to press into the ground right now this you’re probably looking at about 60 times. And it’ll be more than that. So we’ll jack this up, you know, say six, three to six inches according to how much sag we have. And then we’ll pull this out from the laundry and then we’ll replace it with wood timbers that run all the way down the bank. And then we’ll we’ll get two doses in here to hook on to it and pull it out and slide it

Jeremy Kellett  42:03

got a column and we can get ready to do that.

Hayden Pearson  42:04

We’ll do it. It’ll probably be next spring or so. But anyway, so we’ll come around here. And like I say takes a bunch of consumables all out, we have a tank form of argon because we use like a 7525 mix of argon and carbon dioxide to shield our welding wire. So take a lot of that. But like on this, we still have to put our corners in our bow corners, we have to put our toe knees and like this is so these are the form corners right here. We’ll send this to the steel company. And you can see where they mark it and they just roll a radius on their plate roller and that’ll go. We’ll cut that to your radius and fit it right there.


We roll that here.

Hayden Pearson  42:56

Now that’s rolled in greenwashed that nickel steel company and we’ll do some prefab down there you’ll see like our mass poles radar stands and then that’s the table down there that’s where we do all of our flat fabrication but you have to you have to have some really good welders that know what they’re doing because once we lower this down every same on here as welded laying on their back really it’s a it’s a slow process some boat builders like doing it upside down and flipping it over later on just tacked up there now no I mean it’s well it’s all on the inside okay, and then but they’ll have to you know everything’s welded both sides solid passes. So that’s why we use a dual shielded dual shielded welder welding process; it’ll be a flux core with a gas shield. So better penetration so this is the engineering so when you hear me talk about our center kill that wall in the middle of the engine room that’s your center cue. So your kill laying date is one of the most important things as far as documentation because that I mean that’s when the boat started so this is the engine room engines will sit there and they are those beds that go up that’s where the old the little cradle right that’s where the this bed has Mitsubishi Essex our tubes so it’ll be 1600 horsepower total, the two combined and then we’ll have arranges gear behind the reduction gear. So like right here, all they do you see this one has the stiffeners on the back the angle iron stiffeners so all those you’ll see their number log si Bl 22 Dash 26 that means like starboard, that starboard and board stuff starboard inboard longitudinal frame 20 through 22 to 26. So they know every exact position so TF 10 is that means trend. As far as spraying 10, starboard inboard side. So everything has a specific number of specific locations. So there’s no no question as to where it goes. But it’s a fun process, you know, everybody I encounter that, you know, talks about how neat This is, like, Well, how long did you know, what are you so you’re engineering, like, I got enough engineering under my belt to be dangerous. You know, that’s what I tell everybody.

Jeremy Kellett  45:25

Well, man, I appreciate you joining me. This is great, it’s a great episode to learn so much. And just the two days I’ve been here in January, I’m still not. I mean, a lot of that stuff you said just went right over my head. But it’s interesting. And it’s impressive what you’re doing here and what you’ve done. I mean, it’s very impressive.

Hayden Pearson  45:46

And I owe a lot to you know, Mr. Joe, Mr. Paul and everybody here, Mr. Jerry, Mr. Bale learned a lot from everybody, Mr. Gianni, and he’s retired now, but, you know, they all taught me a lot and I just soaked it up and learned everything I could and it’s been a it’s been a good ride. It was good. Yes, sir. Thank you for having me. 

Jeremy Kellett  46:06

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Oakley podcast: trucking, business, and family. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to rate or review the show on the podcast platform of your choice and share it with a friend. We love hearing from our audience, so if you’ve got a question, comment, or just want to say hello, head over to our website, theoakleypodcast.com, and click the “leave a comment” button. We’ll get you a response soon and may even share some of the best ones here on the show. We’ll be back with a fresh episode very soon. Thanks for listening.