by Mary Byrnes
Don’t let the name fool you. Mud Cat only sounds like the latest addition to the list of endangered species. It’s actually a trim little machine from Mud Cat International that clears water of sludge, sedimentation, and weeds in record time, at low cost.
Operable in just 27 inches of water and requiring a crew of only two men, Mud Cat is an appealing alternative to dredging for the small marina. In addition to its economy and portability, it earns high marks in the ecology department. An ingenious mud shield encloses the machine’s cutting head during operation, trapping waste material and sealing it off from the water. Harmful turbidity is virtually eliminated.
Mud Cat consists of a floating barge powered by a well-muffled, 175-hp Detroit Diesel engine. Its cutter head, mounted on a hydraulically-operated boom at the barge’s front end, is the center of activity. Studded with cutter knives, it can carve a swath eight feet wide at depths of up to 15 feet. A patented spiral auger behind the cutter knives drives the waste material to the Mud Cat centrifugal suction pump. The pump impels it through a series of intake tubes and floating aluminum discharge popes to a dumping area. Material can be pumped distances up to a half-mile away from the Mud Cat barge.
Mud Cat is propelled along a shore-to-shore cable. After each eight-foot-wide pass has been made, the barge is winched over another eight feet by pullover cables. One member of the operating team mans the controls while the second handles the cables on shore. These two can also assemble the pipe system, launch the machine, and haul it out when the job is done. Most Mud Cat projects require less than a day’s preparation.
This ease of assembly was one reason why the Palisades (New Jersey) Interstate Park Commission chose Mud Cat over their own equipment. Apparently, they weren’t disappointed. Park Superintendent Buzz Quadri says the Mud Cat cleaned the 120-ship marina twice as fast as the usual dredge. “It couldn’t have done a better job,” he beamed.
Reprinted from BOATING