It was on one of Barnhard's service calls to Capitol River Cruises that he had to break the news to Frank Frager, the sightseeing company's president, that the Nightingale's faithful engine had finally reached a point of diminishing returns and needed to be replaced. Sounding more like he's describing the heartbreaking decision every owner of an old dog dreads having to make one day, Barnhard recalls somberly telling Frager, "Frank, it's time."
Such sentimentality between boats and the folks who make their living with them is as old as Homer's Odyssey, and especially understandable in the case of the Nightingale's venerable Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle Series 71. mtu Marine Service Engineer Mike Turner says his records show the engine was the 489th Series 6-71 unit built by Detroit Diesel. Unit 489 left its Michigan birthplace on September 29, 1948, destined for GMC Truck and Coach, and was marinized and installed in the boat three years later. The vessel served as a ferry on Lake Erie, and then briefly as a dinner tour boat before joining Capitol's sightseeing fleet.
After 62 years of trouble-free duty in this storied boat, what engine could have possibly replaced Unit 489 in the Nightingale? Barnhard seems genuinely bewildered that anyone would ask such a silly question.
"Another Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle Series 71, of course. And if were up to me, I'd tell mtu to chrome-plate the old engine and put it on display in the mtu Hall of Fame," he replies.