Petersburg Pilot -


Floating machine shop relocation planned


Suzanne Ashe

The 99-year old Piston & Rudder floating machine shop will soon be moved out of the North Harbor, to its new home at the shipyard.

The North Harbor community will soon say goodbye to the 99-year-old, red and white, floating machine shop that has serviced thousands of boat engines over the decades.

Piston & Rudder Service is relocating the 1,040 square-foot former barge next to the old Petersburg Shipwrights, which is now owned and operated by Piston & Rudder.

The company employs 17 workers and services more than 300 boat engines per year, said Piston & Rudder Service majority owner Mike Luhr.

“We deal with boats on the haul out, as well as, boats with simple hydraulic repair [and] more complicated engine repairs,” Luhr said.

Piston & Rudder has been planning this move for almost a year, Luhr said. In preparation for the move, 280 feet of new float has been installed at the new location, in addition to substantial electrical upgrades. Other improvements to the new location include, shorepower (up to 100 amp, 3-phase power), a float hydraulic hose fabrication shop, a 65-foot covered boathouse, and repairs to the dockside fiberglass.

In its new location, the shop will float on 16 feet of water at low tide. Customers will also have ample parking, which the current location does not offer. “[This] is a huge improvement alone, as well as not having to deal with a 300-foot pier,” Luhr said.

The timing of the machine shop relocation comes just a few months prior to the planned rebuild of the North Harbor, Luhr said. But the two projects are unrelated, he added.

The advantages of the new location include being able to provide for customers in “a one stop service center,” Luhr said.

When asked if the move will take place before the busy fishing season, Luhr said: “Lord, I hope so.”

The relocation of the machine shop will cost in the low $100,000 range for additional floats and piling, Luhr said. He did not reveal specific details about the financing.

Petersburg Shipwrights, which had been in operation since 1987, was the only source of boat haul out for large fishing vessels in Petersburg. It was purchased by Piston & Rudder and other investors last spring. After a two-month clean-up, the facility reopened for business in June, 2011 under the Piston & Rudder name.


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