The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Samuel F. B. Morse (Propeller), U116841, 22 Sep 1898

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A picture of the new Bessemer steamer SAMUEL F.B. MORSE, which appears herewith, does not convey an idea of the size of the vessel, and is lacking also in other respects, but it is the best that has as yet been secured. The MORSE is the largest vessel on the lakes and is the most powerful of the freight steamers. She is 476 feet over all, 456 feet keel, 50 If feet beam and 29 feet depth. Engines are of the quadruple expansion type, with cylinders of 26 1/2, 37, 54 ½ and 89 inches diameter, and a common stroke of 42 inches. There are four Scotch boilers, each of 13 feet 4 inches diameter and 11 feet 6 inches length and allowed 200 pounds working pressure.
It will be readily understood from the foregoing brief summary of leading particulars of this vessel that she ought to take first rank among the lake freighters. She has been criticized from the standpoint that her load from Lake Superior, a trifle over 6,000 gross tons of ore, is not greater than that of vessels that are not her equal in dimensions. It was well understood when the MORSE was under construction at West Bay City with two other big vessels (tow barges) that she was being built with more weight in all parts than probably any other vessel ever built on the lakes; that she was being made especially strong, and that some vessel men had pronounced her too heavy for lake requirements.
Mr. L.M. Bowers, general manager of the Bessemer company, said when this matter was spoken of, a few days ago, that he had heard the same criticism before the vessel was begun, when she was still on paper. It was the intention of the people whom he represented, however, to have nothing but the strongest kind of a ship; the best that could be built with a reasonable regard for capacity. The MORSE had carried, he said, every pound that she was designed to carry. She was built to move 6,000 gross tons on the present Lake Superior draught, and she had done that. She was not built with a view to putting into her every ton of cargo that could possibly be moved in a hull of her dimensions. She was intended to tow a steel barge, the largest on the lakes, and probably two such barges, and the indications are that she will eventually tow two big barges at a rapid rate. On her second trip to Lake Superior with a towing wheel she made 14 ½ miles for a time, going up light, and when returning with ore she made 13 ½ miles all the way down. The chief engineer of the line was of the opinion, he said, that with another wheel suited to fast running the Morse would attain a speed of 17 miles. Her engines are still stiff, and it has not been found necessary as yet to work them up to anything like their full power. The problem of finding lines and attachments that would admit of two big steel barges being hitched onto this powerful steamer (the three carrying approximately 20,000 gross tons) did not seem especially difficult. The experiment would be tried. The steamer STEVENSON, with the ROEBLING and NASMYTH in tow, had moved 17,490 tons of ore from Lake Superior only a few weeks ago. All weights were taken into account when the MORSE was designed. Her gross displacement on 17 feet draught was figured at 10,500 tons. Take from this 4,125 tons representing weight of machinery, boilers and other parts, and the capacity of the ship in net tons on 17 feet is found to be 6,375 tons; add 260 tons for the excess of draught over 17 feet and we have 6,635 net tons.
      The Marine Review
      September 22, 1898

      Largest Steamers on the Great Lakes
      The Samuel F. B. Morse and Its Sister Ship Building at the Works of the Globe Company Cleveland
      Vessels in Which There Is No Sparing of Material.
The Globe Iron Works Co. of Cleveland, has had under construction for some time past for the Bessemer Steamship Co. (Rockefeller fleet) a freight steamer that is to be a duplicate of the SAMUEL F. B. MORSE, built last winter at the works of F.W. Wheeler & Co., West Bay City, Mich. The MORSE is the largest steamship on the lakes. Although built at the works of Wheeler & Co., Mr. R.L. Newman of the Globe company has been given credit for features of great strength in the Morse that seem to have proven especially satisfactory to the management of the Bessemer company. This was one reason why the contract for a duplicate vessel was given to the Globe works. It is generally understood that the MORSE has not proven a large carrier, if compared with other vessels built recently on the lakes that are not her equal in dimensions. She carried on safe Lake Superior draught just 6,000 gross tons. It is not expected that the duplicate steamer, now building in Cleveland, will do a great deal more than her predecessor, but the answer of both the builders and the management of the Bessemer company to criticism on this score is that the ship carried all they had expected of her, in view of the strength required by all parts of the design. and in view also of the fact that she was built with the intention of eventually towing two of the monster steel barges - 7,000 gross ton type - that have come into use on the lakes.
Referring to the plans of the second steamer building at the works of the Globe company, Mr. R. L. Newman, general manager of that company, said: "If at the end of next season this steamer should bring down the lakes two large steel barges, moving in all three vessels 20,000 gross tons, there would be another side to the criticisms regarding this kind of ship and the question of economy in the transportation of an immense quantity of ore. This steamer, running alone, can readily maintain a speed of about 15 miles an hour, and she will tow two trig consorts when conditions can be arranged for handling such a tow, at a speed of about 11 miles an hour. The Review has already published illustrations dealing with the equivalent girder of these vessels, an examination of which will show that there are no vessels afloat on the lakes that will even approximate them in strength. Great care has been taken in the design, and quite a number of departures made from the usual practice. The object has been to so distribute the material that the neutral axis is considerably higher than those of similar ships, with the result that the fibre stress in the top member has been considerably reduced. The result has been, as illustrated in the operation of the morse, that under any condition either of load or speed, there is an entire absence of vibration, which is so perceptible in most of our long modern lake freighters. It is pleasing to note that notwithstanding the early criticism of this design, many of the vessels building at present are being constructed with a view to satisfying the conditions required for these long ships, but up to date none have advanced to the degree of stability represented by these two steamers."
      A general view of the MORSE, which is, of course, representative of the steamer now building, will be found in the Review of Sept. 22, 1898. Illustrations made from drawings of the engines arc presented herewith. Dimensions of hull are 476 feet over all. 456 feet keel. 50 feet molded beam and ?9 feet molded depth. Engines are of the quadruple expansion type, having cylinders 26 1/2, 37, 54 ½ and 80 inches diameter. with a common stroke of 42 inches, and it is expected that they will indicate about 3,000 horse power on from 80 to 85 revolutions. The high pressure cylinder is driven by a plain plug piston valve, the firs. intermediate by the ordinary piston valve, the second intermediate by a piston Trick valve and the low pressure by the ordinary double-ported slide valve. All of the engine forgings are of high-grade steel, and the crank shaft, thrust shaft and tail shaft are of hollow forged steel, made by the Bethlehem Iron Co. of So. Bethlehem, Pa., under what is known as the Whitworth fluid compressed system, and this shafting, before leaving their works, is all oil tempered. The propeller is 15 feet in diameter and 16 feet pitch. and made of cast steel. The bed plate is of cast iron, made in one piece, and weighs about 24 tons. There are four Scotch boilers. 13 feet 4 inches mean diameter, and 11 feet 8 1/8 inches over tube sheets, each boiler being fitted with three Morrison suspension furnaces, and the whole designed for a working pressure of 200 pounds per square inch. Each boiler is also fitted with a Learmonth purifier. The total grate surface in the four boilers is 264 square feet, and the total heating surface 9,417 square feet; ratio of heating surface to grate surface, 35.6 to 1. Tops of the combustion chambers are made circular, with plate attachments for staying the back head. This obviates the necessity of using crown girders and studs.
      Marine Review
      January 12, 1899
The steamer SAMUEL F.B. MORSE was launched at Wheeler's yard at Bay City on Monday.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Wednesday, Aug. 3

Steam screw SAMUEL F.B. MORSE. U. S. No. 116841. Of 4936 gross tons; 4301 tons net. Built West Bay City, Mich., 1898. Home port, Duluth, Minn. 456.0 x 50.0 x 24.0
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1899

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William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Samuel F. B. Morse (Propeller), U116841, 22 Sep 1898