The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Dec. 7, 1893

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The great number of disasters which have occurred during the year 1893 to the larger class of steel steamers on the lakes has produced a serious turn in the minds of the owners of such craft, and has also caused the gentlemen engaged in the business of marine underwriting to earnestly consider the same subject. When one of those immense metal boats strands or even rubs over a hard bottom the result invariably is that her frames are upset and broken and her bottom plates crushed or punctured to a greater or lesser degree. In all cases the expenses for repairs figure up heavily. We know of an instance where the contact between the boat's bottom and the earth was so slight that only two men on the boat noticed that she had struck, and yet damage was inflicted to the amount of nearly $15,000. Men interested in this description of property are looking around for some remedy for so serious a condition of things. Among them is Capt. E. M. Peck, of this city, than whom none can see a point quicker. He has studied the subject in all its phases, and has arrived at the conclusion that a mistake has been made in the construction of his big steamer, now on the stocks at Wyandotte.* With characteristic decision the captain has arranged with the builders to make a radical change in the boat. She is already plated, and it was intended to launch her before Christmas, but the changes ordered will postpone that event until March or April. Her entire bottom will be sheathed with a covering of white oak plank, fastened by ¾-inch screw bolts through the planks and steel plates. She will thus obtain the advantage of a composite steamer with the added strength imparted by the plating. The additional weight may somewhat impair her carrying capacity, but this will be more than overbalanced by the safety imparted by the planking. There is an important financial point also involved. That a wooden protection to a metal boat's bottom greatly increases her safety is not a matter of experience, but is well understood by both expert vessel men and underwriters. Capt. Peck therefore expects to benefit by obtaining more favorable insurance on No. 118 than if she had been finished as originally contracted for. The work of sawing the plank has already begun. It will all be whip-sawed by hand, thus giving a winter's employment to many more men than if the timber had been sent to the sawmill.

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Item Type:
*Propeller bulker HARVEY H. BROWN (US#96261) at Detroit Dry Dock. She went to salt water in 1916 and was scrapped in Maine in 1928 after stranding on the Penobscot River the previous year. If you check out the photo of her in Historical Collections of the Great Lakes website, there is no visible sign of the wood planking, even though she's riding high.
Date of Original:
Dec. 7, 1893
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Dave Swayze
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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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Dec. 7, 1893