The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), May 17, 1851

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p.2 a letter on Protection signed by "A Sailor of Canada West." (almost a full column)


To the Editor of the Examiner.

Toronto, May 10th, 1851.

Sir, - In consequence of an intimation in your paper, that "the engineer who superintended the improvement of the steamboat Comet would be doing a public service by answering certain questions relative to the burning of said boat," I beg leave to say that I am quite willing to give any information that is in my power, for the satisfaction of the public and the "correspondent of the Examiner," respecting the exploded boilers.

You state that an opinion prevails that the boilers were old; in reply I would say that the boilers were not old, except part of each shell and fire-place, and having received instructions last fall from Messrs. Macpherson & Crane to have the boilers thoroughly examined and if they could not be made all they should be, in point of safety, to condemn them. I inspected them carefully, and found the greater part to be as good as new; any of the parts that I found insufficient I had removed, and replaced with new work, and, as can still be ascertained, the boilers are better stayed than any boilers I know of, on the same principle, now on the lake. The iron is of the best description, Lowmoor scrap, and best English plates, which has been fully proved by the various tests of competent judges at Oswego, who expressed themselves perfectly satisfied as to its quality. I have built and superintended the building of several marine and land boilers, during the last twenty years, most of which are now at work and carrying high steam, and one large boiler in particular (which I can refer to if necessary), twenty-five feet long, and about six feet in diameter, having a large furnace inside of eight feet in length, four feet eight inches wide, and flat on the top, - having five flues of fourteen inches diameter, and bearing a pressure of from eighty to ninety pounds on the square inch, which it has done for the last four years; this I consider to be the strongest boiler of the same description and dimensions in North America, and any one competent of judging must at once perceive how efficiently this boiler must have been stayed to withstand the above mentioned pressure, and I had as much confidence in the boilers of the Comet to stand the pressure for which they were intended, as I have in that just referred to. As a proof of this I went to Kingston, prior to the boat starting on her regular business, and made a trial trip to Prescott and Ogdensburgh for the sole purpose of testing the work, running with the Lord Elgin and beating her several miles, and on our return to Kingston proceeded to Toronto the same night, calling at the intermediate ports, our running time being thirteen hours and a half, and this should I consider, be sufficient evidence that the boiler could have done, constructed on the same plan.

With regard to "the boilers having been condemned, seven or eight years ago, by competent judges," I never heard anything of the matter, - but if you can produce those "competent judges," I should like them to refer us to a boiler of their make now at work, of about the same dimensions, and bearing the same pressure as the one above mentioned: by this they will satisfy us that they are "competent judges" of boilers.

With regard to part of the boilers giving way about two years ago, near Toronto harbor, it was found on examination that part of the flange of the head sheet, which was then new, had been cracked about six or seven inches in the bending, and which might have happened with a new boiler; and being directly opposite the furnace door where the men unfortunately happened to be at the time, was the cause of the accident you refer to, otherwise it would not have been attended with any serious consequences, as a proof of this I can state that a few months ago I knew a boiler to collapse one of the flues the whole length, and blow the contents through the furnace door and in other directions, and because the man had left the furnace door a few minutes previous no accident happened, otherwise he must have inevitably been killed, - but as there was no accident, of course no notice was taken of the matter.

I have not seen any advertisement in any of the Kingston papers stating specially that the boat had been provided with new boilers, but it was stated "that she had been newly fitted up in the best style, with an upper saloon the whole length of her deck," and as she was only three years old, I consider she was, at the time of her starting, as good as new, having been thoroughly fastened with knees and diagonal braces. The boat proved herself, as regarded her model, to answer every purpose of lake and river navigation and did great credit to her builder, Mr. Holt (sic). (should be Ault - ed.) It was the design of the owners to give her to give her the character of a superior boat throughout, consequently no expense had been spared to attain that end.

I have now, sir, candidly answered the questions you have propounded - but permit me to say that I think it most unreasonable for any person to require further proof than what has been already given, in the testimony of scientific gentlemen, and fully concurred in by a highly respectable jury in a foreign country, that there cannot possibly be any blame whatever attached to Messrs. Macpherson & Crane, or me, but that the sole cause of the unfortunate accident was a want of sufficient water in the boiler.

I am, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

D. ROBERTS, Engineer.

The new steamer Ontario, C.L. Armstrong, commander, arrived in port yesterday from Hamilton with the largest cargo of produce ever brought through the Provincial Canals, viz.: 3658 bbls. Flour, 95 bbls. Pork for Quebec. [Montreal Herald]

p.3 ads for steamers New Era, Ottawa, Gildersleeve, Cataract, Northerner

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Date of Original:
May 17, 1851
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), May 17, 1851