Toiler/Mapleheath Revisited

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
Ship of the Month No. 105 STEELVENDOR
Homer D. Alverson Makes The News
Toiler/Mapleheath Revisited
Additional Marine News
Table of Illustrations

In the October issue, we featured as our Ship of the Month No. 104, the early motorship TOILER, which was better known in later years as the canal-sized steamer MAPLEHEATH. As usually happens, however, a wealth of additional information has come to light since we penned the original article, and we now hasten to present this material for our readers. We do not regret the fact that this information has only now become available, for if our efforts do nothing but generate comment and additional research, then we have succeeded in one of our prime goals.

It seems that we were quite wrong in our description of TOILER as she appeared when new from her builder's yard. She did not, in fact, have her heavy deck masts or kingposts when she first came from Newcastle-on-Tyne, but rather these were added later. She originally carried one mast right abaft the forward cabin and another up on the quarterdeck, but neither of these was equipped with cargo booms. Perhaps the most startling feature of her original appearance, however, was the fact that she carried no stack at all; this gave her an unmistakably "bald" look aft. The complete lack of a stack and a "boilerhouse" (both of which were carried by her near-sister CALGARY) were, no doubt, the reason why she was called "the strangest looking vessel to visit the lakes during 1911".

The July, 1911, issue of "The Marine Review", described TOILER as "by far the largest craft of her type (i.e., motorship) actually afloat". It mentioned that her four-cylinder, two-cycle, reversible diesel engines were built by the Diesel Motorer Company of Stockholm, Sweden, and that they developed about 400 I.H.P. at 250 r.p.m. It went on to report that her deck machinery and engine accessories were worked by compressed air, the compressor being driven by a small diesel engine. Power for electric lighting was supplied by a dynamo driven by a small paraffine motor. Cabin heating was accomplished by small coal stoves, augmented by hot water which was heated by the exhaust gases from the machinery.

The maiden voyage of TOILER took her not directly to Montreal, but rather from Newcastle to Calais, France, with a cargo of 2,650 tons of coal. She is said to have made that trip in extremely heavy weather, managing an average speed of only 5.9 knots per hour. Running light on the return trip, she averaged 8.2 knots. We presume that she then sailed from Newcastle to Montreal (probably with coal), but therein lies a further mystery. As previously reported, our records indicate that TOILER made her maiden arrival at Montreal on September 21, 1911, whereas the July, 1911, "Marine Review" reported that she "reached Montreal some weeks ago".

We mentioned that TOILER stranded near Cardinal, Ontario, on May 24, 1912, and that she was rebuilt and repowered at Kingston over the winter of 1912-1913. The August, 1912, issue of "The Marine Review" reported that TOILER had run ashore on May 20, 1912, at the foot of the Galops Rapids, that she was released on May 31 after the lightering of 35,000 bushels of grain, and that she docked at Kingston on June 10, 1912. The January, 1913, issue of the same publication included the following detail, under the heading "The TOILER's Mishap":

"The oil engine boat TOILER met with an accident early in the fall (sic) while manoeuvring in the locks below Kingston, one of her cylinders on the starboard engine breaking at the housing near the bed-plate from some cause not yet explained. The steamer lay about three weeks (sic) at Montreal while repairs were made on the broken engine. Considerable difficulty, however, was experienced in getting the engine to run again because of the disarrangement of fuel and air valves and setting of same.
"After many unsuccessful attempts, the owners cabled Swan & Hunter, builders of the vessel, and they sent out their representative, and after several days of effort failed to start the engine. The TOILER was towed from Montreal to Kingston light, and the owners asked assistance from the American Ship Building Co., Cleveland.
"This was promptly given by two members of their engineering department, who, after an hour or two, located the difficulty and the vessel proceeded under her own power to Port Dalhousie to load grain.
"This vessel seems very much underpowered, as she only develops about 360 B.H.P. with both engines and has difficulty with the strong current in the St. Lawrence River. She is also at a disadvantage owing to the absence of a suitable auxiliary air compressor formanoeuvring the main engine when in the locks. The TOILER only makes about six or seven miles an hour.
"Last fall, the Kingston Ship Building Co. installed a steam boiler and all her auxiliaries were changed over from compressed air to steam, which was found a decided improvement for lock conditions."

Small wonder, it seems, that Messrs. Richardson and Playfair decided to remove TOILER'S peculiar diesel machinery and replace it with more conventional steam power! Despite the various inconsistencies that have appeared in the "Marine Review" reports concerning TOILER, we believe that this added information gives us a far more complete story of TOILER'S early years than was available heretofore.

(Ed. Note: We extend sincere thanks to Leonard J. Barr II of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, for his comments on TOILER'S early appearance, and to Robert J. MacDonald of Erie, Pennsylvania, for sending along copies of the articles taken from "The Marine Review".)


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