The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
John J. McWilliams (Propeller), U77170, 1 Apr 1895

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Upwards of a thousand people witnessed the launching of the monster steel freighter JAMES J. McWILLIAMS at Wheeler's yard at Bay City. The launch was completely succeccful.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Tuesday, April 23, 1895

      . . . . .

      One of Wheeler & Co's. Best Ships.
Engines of one of the most successful steel freighters afloat on the lakes are illustrated herewith. Since F.W. Wheeler & Co. of West Bay City, Mich., have been operating a modern engine building plant, suited to the construction of marine machinery of the largest kind, some of the freight steamers turned out by the company have proven highly satisfactory to their owners. The steamer JOHN J. McWILLIAMS, one of the latest of these boats in commission, was built for W. H. Gratwick of Buffalo and Capt. John Mitchell of Cleveland, from design made by S. Anderson, engineer with the Wheeler company, and is now on her twelfth trip in the ore trade between Ashland and South Chicago. She did not leave the yard of the builders until May 4, so that twelve cargoes have been delivered in four months. On the Sault draft of 14 feet the McWILLIAMS carried on her last trip 3,289 gross tons of ore, and she was loaded with one cargo of 3,060 tons in fifty-two minutes. These records are due to the fact that in her construction everything that would facilitate quick dispatch and large carrying capacity was sought and appearance sacrificed to obtain this end. Her owners are of the opinion that although much smaller than the 400-foot steamers now under way at several lake yards, she will carry freight as cheaply as any of them. The detailed description and drawings of the steamer's engines will, therefore, prove more interesting than plans of the boat itself, which would show only the ordinary type of lake freighter.
The McWILLIAMS is of the following dimensions: Length, over all, 370 feet 6 inches ; length of keel, 352 feet; beam, moulded, 44 feet 6 inches; depth, moulded, 26 feet 3 inches. She is two-masted, schooner-rigged, with foremast well forward and mainmast aft of stack, and has no deck houses, thus giving her a clear deck space with nothing in the way of ten hatches. Throughout the whole ship nothing but the best material was used and she was built to comply with the Bureau Veritas rules. She was built on the bulb-angle principle, with frames spaced 24 inches apart. The water bottom is built on the cellular system and is 4 feet 6 inches deep, divided into four compartments on each side. There is no plating on main deck with the exception of stringer plates at sides and tie plates. The cabins are of the regular barge style, with the pilot house and texas well forward, as are also the quarters for the captain, mates, wheelmen and watchmen. The dining room, kitchen and quarters for the engineers and balance of the crew are in the cabin aft. The pilot house and texas are finished in gum wood and all other cabins in oak..
The boat is supplied with Williamson Bros. steam steerer, located aft of the engine room. The latest design of the American Ship Windlass Co's. windlass and capstan is located forward and a capstan of the same make is aft. Anchors are of the Vulcan stockless type and weigh 3,500 pounds each, with 1 ¾ inch cables.
As has been noted, the engines for this steamer were designed and built at the company's shops, and are of the vertical triple expansion type in common use on lake steamers. The cylinders are 20, 32 ½ and 55 inches in diameter with 42 inches stroke, and are placed in the order of high, intermediate and low pressure. The high and intermediate cylinders have piston valves and the low pressure cylinder has a balanced, double-ported slide valve, with a common travel of 6 ½ inches. All valves are worked by the Stephenson double-bar link motion, with adjustable cut off arrangement. The reversing gear consists of a steam cylinder 10 inches in diameter by 15 inches stroke, with differential valve motion controlled by a lever at the engine platform. The pistons are of cast iron with self-setting spring rings. The piston rods are 5 inches diameter, of machinery steel, with tapered ends and nuts at pistons and cross heads. The cross heads are of wrought iron, with double gudgeons, and slippers forged on. The connecting rods are 8 feet centers, with upper ends forked to suit cross heads and usual bolt connections. The bed plate is of the box girder type, cast in one piece with five main journals. The frame work consists of three straight cast iron columns with all necessary brackets on front side and three y-shaped columns with large bearing surface for slippers on the rear. The columns on both sides are securely fastened together by means of a wrought iron tie rod, and the cylinders are bolted together in such a manner as to allow free expansion. The crank shaft is wrought iron of the built up type, with cranks at an angle of 120 degrees in the order of high, low and intermediate. The crank pins are It inches diameter by 12 inches long, and both crank pin brasses and main journals are lined with anti-friction metal. The thrust shaft is 11 inches diameter, with four thrust collars 17 ½ inches diameter, 2 ¾ inches thick and 4-1 inches space between. The thrust bearing is of the horse-shoe type, with four collars faced with anti-friction metal and adjusted by means of bolts and nuts. The propeller shaft is 11 inches diameter, and 11 ½ inches diameter in stern bearing. The stern bearing consists of a cast iron sleeve in two halves, 4 feet 4 inches long, with the bottom half lined with lignum vitea. The propeller is a sectional one, 13 feet diameter and 16 feet pitch, and is of Wheeler& Co's. design. The condenser is of the Worthington independent type, 12 inches by 17 inches by 15 inches, and all pumps are of the same make.
Steam is supplied at a pressure of 170 pounds by two return-tubular boilers, 13 feet 6 inches diameter and 12 feet long, with three 43-inch furnaces in each. Each boiler has 2,423 square feet of heating surface and 66.3 square feet of grate. Forced draught is supplied by two of the Buffalo Forge Co's. 60-inch fans with a 4 by 4 ½ -inch attached double vertical engine.
      Marine Review
      August 8, 1895
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Steam screw JOHN J. Mcwilliams. U. S. No. 77170. Of 3,400.08 tons gross; 2,808.93 tons net. Built at West Bay City, Mich., in 1895. Home port, Port Huron, Mich. 352.0 x 44.8 x 22.8 Steel built.
      Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1897

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launch, West Bay City
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William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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John J. McWilliams (Propeller), U77170, 1 Apr 1895