The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
A New Type of Lake Freighter
The Railway and Marine World (Toronto, ON), March 1911, p. 273, 275

Full Text

A freight steamship, The Toiler, is

now being built in England for the

Canadian canal and lake trade, which

is a decided innovation. It is simply a

hull, without any top hamper, masts, or

even funnels, as it will be operated by

internal combustion oil engines, the same

as automobiles. It will be the first boat

of this kind to be operated on the Great

Lakes for commercial purposes, and will

also be the first vessel in the canal carrying

trade to use double propellers,

which, it is claimed, will prove of great

advantage in manoeuvering.

The adoption of this type of boat is

in line with the natural evolution of the

canal freighter. With the short season

and high wages paid, shippers have been

using all their ingenuity to get as much

out of a given size of vessel as is possible.

The lake tonnage is divided into

two classes, the big upper freighter and

the canal boat, while the latter is divided

into two types, the package freighter

and the bulk carrier. The great increase

in the bulk shipments of coal from Lakes

Erie and Ontario points to Montreal, the

building of the Port Colborne elevator

and the elevators in Montreal, together

with the pulpwood trade, have of late

tended to make the bulk freighter a

most important type. The continual

struggle has been to get the greatest

possible deadweight on the limited draft.

But with the limitations of the canals

and locks, it is impossible to increase

the dimensions of ships, so that any increase

in deadweight must be taken out

of the material and equipment. The

limit in reduction of weight of material

used in construction has long been

reached, so that the only method of increasing

carrying capacity was by reducing

the weight of the propelling machinery.

With this idea in view internal combustion

oil engines have been adopted for

the new boat, which was designed by

John Reid & Co., Board of Trade Building,

Montreal. The introduction of this

type of engine has effected such a saving

of space and deadweight that The

Toiler will carry nearly 3,000 tons, or

about 97,000 bush. of grain through the

canals, an increase of about 15,000 bush.

over the largest canal carriers fitted with

steam engines.

To get such a carrying capacity boilers

had to be dispensed with altogether.

The boat's propelling machinery consists

of two sets of oil engines driving

twin screws. The latter feature

is a revolution in itself, as it will be

the first canal boat so equipped.

The advantage claimed is that the

vessel will he under better control

while manoeuvering in narrow waters

and in lining up previous to entering a

lock. The engines are directly connected,

without clutches, to the propeller

shafts, and are a modification of the

Diesel engine. There is no injection system

of any kind, therefore, no delicate

joints or connections to get broken or

loose, which might stop the engines at

a critical moment. The starting and reversing

gear is simple, and said to be

more certain than with the steam engine,

and is done by means of compressed sir,

the same power being also used to drive

the steering engine and other auxiliaries.

The fuel to be used is crude petroleum,

which is injected into the cylinder

without being vaporized, where it is ignited

and burned in a charge of hot air.

This air when the oil is injected is at a

dull red heat, generated under very high


The Toiler will arrive at Montreal and

go into service early in the coming navigation

season, and will be the first gas

or oil propelled vessel to cross the Atlantic.

It is regarded by ship engineers

as a big step in the solution of the canal

navigation problems, and the prediction

is made that within a decade or two

steam will be out of date on canal and

lake boats.

In connection with the construction

of The Toiler, experiments are being

carried on with high speed oil engines in

combination with electric transmission,

which it is expected will mark a further

advance in economy and efficiency in

Canadian canal transportation. An interesting

feature will be that through

suitable electric switches and connections

the control of the propellers will

be placed in the hands of the navigating

officer right in the bow of the ship. This

will be a very great advantage in handling

a vessel through the narrow canal

channels and locks.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
March 1911
Language of Item:
Copyright Statement:
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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A New Type of Lake Freighter