The Oak's 750-horsepower, triple-expansion steam engine was built by John W. Sullivan in New York in 1921. Its boiler, built in Detroit by John Brennan, was originally coal-fired, but was converted to an oil-burning system in 1934. This profile view of the ship shows the location of the engine room and the orientation of the engine.
After more than 40 years of service, the Oak was decommissioned in 1964 and taken to the U.S. Coast Guards facility at Curtis Bay, Maryland. In 1971 the original engine and auxiliaries were removed for the Smithsonian Institutions transportation collections and in 1978 the engine room was first displayed to the public in the Hall of American Maritime Enterprise.
The Oak at the U.S. Coast Guard facility, Curtis Bay, Baltimore, Maryland, 1971.
The Smithsonians John Stine in the Oaks engine room prior to its removal from the ship, 1971.
The Oaks engine in situ. An opening was cut in the ships deck to remove the engine, 1971.
In addition to the engine, the Smithsonian collected the pumps, condenser, steam pipes, steam whistle, engine room telegraph, speaking tubes, tools, and architectural fabric from the ship. The engine room setting in America on the Move includes these artifacts, as well as a sound track of a triple-expansion steam engine under way, layered with the sounds of fog horns, steam whistles, and bell buoys evoking harbor traffic in 1920s New York.