The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oceanica (Propeller), U155040, 30 Jul 1881

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LAUNCH AT BAY CITY. -- The largest boat ever built on the Saginaw River, James Davidson's new propeller, was launched Saturday afternoon. Her dimensions are: Length over all, 265½ feet; length of keel, 250 feet; width of beam; 38 feet 9 inches; depth of main hold, 12 feet 2 inches; depth between decks, 7 feet 1 inch. Her hull measures 1,400.40 tons. She was commenced in October, 1880, and since then an average of seventy-five men have been kept steadily employed upon her.
Her stern is like that of an ocean steamer, while the rest of her hull is modeled after common lake craft. She has two steel boilers, nine by sixteen feet, and a compound engine 36 x 54 inches. She has a 12-inch shaft and a twelve-foot wheel.
The machinery was made by S. H. Hodge, of Detroit, and has all been put in position. Previous to launching, a streamer bearing her name "OCEANIC," was hoisted to her masthead. Her cost when complete will reach $110,000. Her first load will probably be salt for Chicago. It is said to be Mr. Davidson's intentions to build at the yard another propeller of the same model but larger proportions.
      Cleveland Herald
      Tuesday, August 2, 1881

      . . . . .
One of the largest and finest of the many recent additions to the lake marine was expected to pass down last night, bound from Chicago to Buffalo. The steamship OCEANICA was built at Bay City by her owner, James Davidson, of Buffalo. She is of the following dimensions: Length of keel 250 feet; over all 265 feet 6 inches; beam 38 feet; hold 12 feet; depth between decks 7 feet 6 inches; average depth 21 feet 6 inches. She is iron strapped, the main strap running fore and aft near top of frame, being ten inches wide and seven-eighths thick. The diagonal straps, running from the main strap round the turn of the bilge are five inches wide and one-half thick, and securely bolted through the frames and ceiling. Her main keelsons are 18 inches square. She has seven keelsons from the main keelson, five the bilge keelson fourteen inches square, running fore and aft on the top of frames, all securely bolted through the frames with 1-1/2 and 1-3/4 iron. Her floor timbers, are seventeen inches deep at the keel, and, with extra floor timbers, eighteen inches wide. her bilge keelsons, six in number, are nine, eight, and eleven inches thick. Her ceiling, from bilge keelson to clamps, is six inches in thickness. She has four streaks of clamps seven inches thick by fourteen inches wide. The other parts of the steamship are proportionately strong. The officers' quarters are forward and are handsomely fitted up. She has a Providence windlass for raising the anchors, and a steam hoisting engine exclusively for discharging and taking in cargoes. The engine of the OCEANICA is compound, having a high steam cylinder thirty inches in diameter and a low fifty inches in diameter and forty inches stroke, the high steam cylinder being placed aft of the low. By this arrangement the chances of the engine becoming totally disabled are very much lessened, as in the case of the air pump meeting with an accident, the high steam engine would still be able to perform its duty after a very short delay to disconnect the forward low steam connections.
      The engine is supplied with steam reversing gear, which enables the engineer to handle her very easily. The boilers are of Otis steel, nine feet in diameter and sixteen feet long, of nine sixteenths thickness, equal to 104 pounds working pressure. They were built by Carroll Bros. of Detroit. The smoke-pipes and other sheet-iron work were made by Samuel Hawman. Mr. Samuel F. Hodge, of this city, is the builder of the engine, and it is numbered ninety-nine, which will give a better idea of Mr. Hodge's experience as an engine builder than anything else that can be said.
      Cleveland Herald
      Monday, September 12, 1881

The new steamship OCEANICA, as briefly announced yesterday, is in port on her first trip, the cargo being salt from Bay City, where the craft was built. Captain Davidson insists that the OCEANICA is really a steamship and that she must not be alluded to as a steambarge. And experts fully agree with him. The dimensions are as follows: -- Length over all, feet 265
      Length of keel, feet 250¾
      Breadth of beam, feet 38¼
      Depth of main hold, feet 12¼
      Between decks, feet 7½
      Measurement, tons 1,500
She is constructed throughout on the plan of an ocean-going craft, and model and workmanship are pronounced perfection itself.
      In the machinery there are many improvements that cannot be fully described in the limited space of a daily newspaper. She has a compound engine 36 x 54 and two steel boilers 9 x 16 feet.
      The cost of the OCEANICA has been nearly $110,000, but Captain Davidson considers her cheap at that enormous figure. Iron strapped and as strong as wood and iron can make her, she rates A 1*. She is certainly a most important and valuable addition to our lake marine.
      The J.W. Hall Great lakes Marine Scrapbook, June/Sept., 1881

Steam screw OCEANICA. U. S. No. 155040. oF 1,490 tons gross; 1,241 tons net. Built West Bay City, Mich., 1881. Home port, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 262.8 x 37.2 x 19.9 Freight service. Crew of 16. Of 600 indicated horsepower.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1906

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launch, Bay City
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William R. McNeil
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Oceanica (Propeller), U155040, 30 Jul 1881