Amid demolition, crews scrapping the ferry Kalakala are saving bolts, pieces of distressed metal with rivets, some railing.
The brass trim of windows.
Maybe the pistons and connecting rods from the big engine.
And they can use it, considering that the office phone at Rhine Demolition Inc. has been ringing non-stop with calls from people seeking those sorts of souvenirs.
“They just want a piece of the Kalakala,” said Mike Lano Sr., who’s running the demolition crew. “Everybody wants a little trinket.”
Workers towed the ferry to a graving dock on the Blair Waterway in Tacoma on Thursday to be scrapped. It had been sitting in the Hylebos Waterway nearby for more than a decade.
Something like 600 people have called and emailed the company seeking the mementos of the ferry.
The company doesn’t know when it’ll be ready to sell souvenirs, but the office is compiling a list of people who are interested.
Lano said it’s hard to guess, but he thinks they’re about 10 to 15 percent done with demolition of the boat, which he expects to finish no later than Feb. 7 or Feb. 8.
They’ve been methodically working their way through, seeing what they can salvage.
“The propeller is long gone,” he said, “but we’ll probably save the rudder for posterity.”
They’ll work to save the distinctive rounded pilot house on top of the vessel.
And workers are trying to preserve some art deco railing, and port holes, though the original brass from those has been gone for years.
Lano’s crew used torches to cut out the brass windows that are left, arched ones that run along both sides of the superstructure. Without the glass. Most of that was broken long ago.
It’s possible some relics might end up on public display.
“We’re thinking that we like to keep a good image with the public, so if some museum or the Port of Tacoma or somebody is interested, we’ll be happy to work something out with them,” Lano said.
Significant items, such as a fog horn and the like, aren’t there.
“What you’d typically expect to find on a ship is gone, and probably has been gone for many years,” Lano said.
He didn’t think the salvage requests would slow the overall process much.
“We have to take it apart anyway,” he said. “But if it gets to be too much work, we’ll just say, ‘To heck with it.’”
Until then, they’re putting together the list of what to save as they go.
“Demolition is a treasure hunt,” he said. “That’s just the nature of it.”