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Ex-C&O Carferry SS Badger Sold

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Ex-C&O Carferry SS Badger Sold
Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 10:27 PM

https://mibiz.com/sections/economic-development/s-s-badger-iconic-cross-lake-car-ferry-in-ludington-sold-to-ohio-firm

The former rail carferry, now just used for autos/trucks and cargo, has been sold to a Great Lakes shipping company.  Also Ex-PM 41, now a barge, was included in the deal.  No word on the SS Spartan, which is used as a parts doner.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Thursday, December 31, 2020 12:01 AM

Wow. 

Just when I thought 2020 was already a strange year, it just got a little bit stranger. Interlake returning to the steamship business and entering the passenger trade for I believe the first time in its 140 or so year history is a big surprise.

Not even a hint that this was coming that I saw. Good news though since the Interlake Steamship Company is a very well ran and forward looking company. That they see this as a good move is promising news that the Badger will be with us for many more years. 

I hope that they're not planning on repowering her, but even an MV Badger with state of the art engines would still be a treasure. 

Edit: The news article that Boatnerd.com has reprinted from the Mason County Press states that the Spartan is included.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, December 31, 2020 8:48 AM

I doubt repowering would be cost-effective at this late date, but a conversion to oil-firing might be. Honestly I'm surprised it wasn't done years ago.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, December 31, 2020 11:28 AM

Interlake Steamship operates a fleet of ore boats.  It's hard to fathom why they would purchase two carferries and an open-water barge.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Leo_Ames on Thursday, December 31, 2020 7:16 PM

Flintlock76

I doubt repowering would be cost-effective at this late date, but a conversion to oil-firing might be. Honestly I'm surprised it wasn't done years ago.

Her hull has several decades of life left in it. Perhaps a good deal more than could be expected for a nearly 70 year old hull, since she was built for the stress of rail service, year round transits, going out in bad storms, and dealing with lake ice which she hasn't had to deal with for decades.

US flagged freighters of similar vintage are still seeing repowerings. 

CSSHEGEWISCH
Interlake Steamship operates a fleet of ore boats.  It's hard to fathom why they would purchase two carferries and an open-water barge.

A lot of coal is hauled on the lakes and is fast disappearing. Interlake understands that and is preparing accordingly.

Interlake will still be in the ore business, but is looking at other business areas to sustain themselves and grow the company. The Badger is a big surprise, but the barge PM41 isn't. For instance Interlake is now building the first US Great Lakes bulk carrier since the 1980's. And she's not a giant, with a length of just 639'.

She's for serving the smaller customers that Interlake hasn't given much thought towards for decades. She'll be hauling lots of traditional loads of iron ore, stone, and salt (With special effort to protect her from the harmful effects of road salt). But they're also building her for flexibility. She'll have two large cargo holds and her extra large hatches will be load bearing. She will be regularly hauling non-traditional loads for Lakers, such as heavy machinery and components for wind turbine installations.

Barge PM41 will fit in well with that new mindset to seek non-traditional loads in between the usual bulk cargoes. And I suspect PM41 could end up being joined by a sister with the Spartan. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, January 1, 2021 11:34 AM

Of course once Interlake takes posession of "Badger" they can do whatever they want with her, but to me the attraction of the ship is the fact it's still steam-powered, which makes it as much a historic artefact as much as a working ship. 

I remember several years ago on the Forum we had a spirited discussion over "Badgers" coal firing and how unique it was in this day and age.  Personally I really don't care if it's coal or oil fired, as long as it stay steam powered.  

Did you know the New York Central's marine fleet in New York Harbor, tugs and ferrys, stayed steam-powered right to the end?  Late 60's I believe.  There was one exception, a tug that was diesel powered that they purchased used.

One of those NYC steam tugs makes an appearance in the Barbara Streisand film "Funny Girl."  In fact here it  is (wait for it) along with some steam train action AND some interiors of the old Jersey Central terminal in Jersey City.  Some great film making here!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Yfh_CpA9Sk  

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, January 1, 2021 7:42 PM

Flintlock76
Of course once Interlake takes posession of "Badger" they can do whatever they want with her

They made a commitment they would keep the ferry service going and were really more interested in getting into that line of business as well as barge hauling and so were purchasing the ferry more for that reason......which is what it read like to me.     If it was me and I had money, replace the Badger with newer faster ferry that could break ice as an icebreaker and run year round and at a much faster speed when there was no ice.    Use the Badger for charters and special outings in the Summer......perhaps to start new seasonal summer routes?

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Saturday, January 2, 2021 1:01 AM

I don't see the Badger being threatened.

They could run in the winter right now with the Badger, but the tourists aren't there that time of year. The truck business isn't quite lucrative enough alone and with only one running ferry, they need an off-season to maintain the Badger.

At worse, perhaps she'll end up repowered in a few years. But she's a good fit for the service, her hull is in good shape, she's part of the tourist draw herself, and a replacement would be extremely expensive.

She's got to be the main appeal with this purchase. Interlake doesn't have to buy a carferry to get a 400' barge and tug and enter that line of business.

Flintlock76
Did you know the New York Central's marine fleet in New York Harbor, tugs and ferrys, stayed steam-powered right to the end?  Late 60's I believe.  There was one exception, a tug that was diesel powered that they purchased used.

The 2nd hand New Haven tug stayed steam powered, I believe. The Central experimented with diesel powered tugs several times, but were never entirely sold on the idea. Perhaps the most notable part of the story was the Central's last pair of bought new tugs.

https://nycshs.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/nyctug34.pdf

The bought new #33 and #34 were diesel electric from day 1. Both lived interesting lives and the #34 would especially see many modifications during her Central career (The #33 was requisitioned by the government during the war and happily where the Central was concerned, wasn't returned).

An interesting story from a 1980's era issue of Trains tells about maintaining the Central's diesel locomotive fleet. In it, the author that spent a large part of his career with the Central's motive power department recounts a story about removing Baldwin 606 engines from retired switchers #750 and #751, overhauling them, and using them to repower tug #34 (Which had earlier been repowered with Mcintosh-Seymour 538 engines like those in later high hood Alco switchers).

That said, the Central did stay a steam believer. The #21 and #22 were repowered in the mid 1920's with direct drive transmissions and apparently along with engine troubles on the #33 and #34, soured the Central on dieselizing the fleet (Neither would see out the Depression on the Central's marine roster, being sold off in the mid 1930's).

Even the #25 didn't change their minds. She was repowered during the Korean War with a 2nd hand Cleveland 12-278A and an electric transmission. She was successful enough to barely outlive the Central and the last of the Central's steam tugs (Retired at the end of the 1960's), but was their last experiment with repowering their steam powered tugs.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, January 2, 2021 8:59 AM

Thanks Leo, interesting!

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, January 2, 2021 9:45 AM

CMStPnP
   If it was me and I had money, replace the Badger with newer faster ferry that could break ice as an icebreaker and run year round and at a much faster speed when there was no ice.

Is the demand and revenue there for faster and year-round service?  Seems to me there is little premium for either ... and perhaos not for the increased number of trips per season or year that the faster boat would provide.

The thing I'd be costing would be rebuilds to the Spartan as a re-engined alternative, preserving the Badger as an operable landmark and attraction.  (Not sure about either the feasibility or the economics of icebreaking, though ... Leo?)

I don't see any way a new fast ferry on those runs would pay for itself even at low finance rates.  What are the other capital opportunities at lower perceived risk that Interlake might engage in instead?

Use the Badger for charters and special outings in the Summer......perhaps to start new seasonal summer routes?

I'd use the hell out of it, and maintain it to accordingly high standard.  Just because it's steam doesn't mean you baby it.  Now, something I'd be seriously researching is the coming massive increases in coal cost (a kind of secret agenda to disincentivize coal use via 'enlightened self-interest' and the 'capitalist way' used against itself ... but I digress).  There is an interesting thread on RyPN about British difficulties in securing good passenger gas coal -- an issue of importance anywhere, really, you might want to avoid sooting in the exhaust, poor or uncertain ash characteristics... etc.  Here would be a place to try the torrefied wood/coal approach that several companies largely commercialized over the past couple of decades.

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Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, January 2, 2021 3:03 PM

When were the tracks pulled out of the CNJ station in Jersey City? I've been there several times and it's odd to have all the platforms and no tracks. Why was the station decommissioned? 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, January 2, 2021 4:30 PM

54light15

When were the tracks pulled out of the CNJ station in Jersey City? I've been there several times and it's odd to have all the platforms and no tracks. Why was the station decommissioned? 

 

In a nutshell, it just outlived it's usefulness.  With the implementation of the "Aldene Plan" for commuter rail all the CNJ's commuter traffic was routed to Newark Penn Station, passengers would then transfer to the PRR for service into New York.  Luckily the CNJ Terminal survived, now it's the centerpiece for Liberty State Park.

Here's the Aldene Plan story.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldene_Connection

 

 

 

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, January 3, 2021 10:36 AM

Interesting- so basically the terminal was bypassed for direct service to NYP. Makes sense. I like the photos taken of the terminal, especially the one showing "The Blue Comet." I'm right now binge-watching "The Sopranos." 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, January 3, 2021 11:08 AM

54light15
Interesting- so basically the terminal was bypassed for direct service to NYP.

oh jeez no!  Midtown direct came much, much later, and on a completely different set of lines.  Aldene got rid of large redundant trackage serving two disparate ferryboat services, reducing it more to one (and that one with a better approach).  Look up the heroic bridge arrangements across Newark Bay (including the site of the infamous 1958 drawbridge accident) and tell me how pre-Staggers, pre-commuter subsidy railroading would support that alone.

At least theoretically the Aldene diversion (onto LV) would have allowed interchange at Hunter to what is now the NEC, via Harrison.  In practice of course CNJ ran a regular service into Newark Penn Station, but they never ran this under electrification across the River.

Now, I suppose technically you could call taking H&M to 33rd very, very nearly going to Penn Station by rail, but I doubt that is what you meant, even if at one time there were keystones on some of those trains...

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, January 3, 2021 1:06 PM

What I mean is that the plan eliminated the need to take a ferry from the CNJ terminal for a more direct, less time consuming trip into New York. That is how it all looks to me. 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, January 3, 2021 9:22 PM

I see that now.  The original version of the post said NYP, which means the electrified route to Penn Station. The CNJ came to the harbor dramatically further south than Lackawanna or PRR, and in the days when ferries could be competitively fast and cheap it was at least theoretically possible to route boats 'conveniently' to a variety of lower Manhattan destinations.  But as the city grew above 23rd St. that became less and less where the commuters wanted to go or the delightful B&O connecting buses could get in traffic.  It was a haul to get to the Holland by road from Jersey City before the Turnpike extension 14ABC was built, which is NOT the case for Lackawanna Terminal.

Amusingly, B&O did have rights into Penn Station as late as 1924... and they were ⅓ of the B&O-Reading-CNJ  that was the only thing giving PRR a run for its money south from New York.  And the Narrows tunnel to Bay Ridge was a B&O thing, too.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, January 3, 2021 9:45 PM

Overmod
...

Amusingly, B&O did have rights into Penn Station as late as 1924... and they were ⅓ of the B&O-Reading-CNJ  that was the only thing giving PRR a run for its money south from New York.  And the Narrows tunnel to Bay Ridge was a B&O thing, too.

The B&O rights into Penn Station were a result of a WW I emergency power mandate.

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, January 4, 2021 8:52 PM

There has been a trend on the Great Lakes of going over to tug/barge co mbinations. While some of the barges have been new builds, most are the cargo compartments of older freighters with uneconomical steam turbine powerplants. The forward pilothouse is disposed of, along with the rear of the hull.  A "U" shaped notch is cut into the new stern and a square hulled tugboat is inserted.  While detachable, they are semi-permanently coupled.  A very good read on the concept is Real, Honest Sailing by Gary Schmidt.  He was captain of Interlake's Pathfinder/Dorothy Ann combination.  I believe Interlake may be the biggest American company on the lakes, now that the old US Steel fleet has been sold to CN and American Steamship Lines has sold some of their ships to Algoma Central.  Interlake has the contract for the Marquette (LS&I) to Ford Rouge Dearborn run.  They alternate 3-4 of their smaller, older ships on it.  The Hon. James Oberstar, Kaye Barker, Herbert Jackson and Lee Tregurtha.

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Posted by 54light15 on Monday, January 4, 2021 10:24 PM

There is a scrapyard in Port Colborne, Ontario that cuts up old lake boats. One thing they do is cut off the bow superstructure and lift it off complete and then sell it as a residence. I've been told by someone who worked nearby that some of them are pretty luxurious inside. There is a house made from a Ford Motor Company ship's bow house mounted on a cliff over Lake Erie in Ohio. 

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Posted by Backshop on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 8:32 AM

Yes, I've seen it on Put-in-Bay.

FYI--the reason for the tug/barge combos is also that pay rates and crew sizes are determined by the size of the power unit.  So, a freighter includes the whole boat while a combo is considered a tugboat.

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Thursday, January 7, 2021 5:46 AM

Backshop

There has been a trend on the Great Lakes of going over to tug/barge co mbinations. While some of the barges have been new builds, most are the cargo compartments of older freighters with uneconomical steam turbine powerplants. The forward pilothouse is disposed of, along with the rear of the hull.  A "U" shaped notch is cut into the new stern and a square hulled tugboat is inserted.  While detachable, they are semi-permanently coupled.  A very good read on the concept is Real, Honest Sailing by Gary Schmidt.  He was captain of Interlake's Pathfinder/Dorothy Ann combination.  I believe Interlake may be the biggest American company on the lakes, now that the old US Steel fleet has been sold to CN and American Steamship Lines has sold some of their ships to Algoma Central.  Interlake has the contract for the Marquette (LS&I) to Ford Rouge Dearborn run.  They alternate 3-4 of their smaller, older ships on it.  The Hon. James Oberstar, Kaye Barker, Herbert Jackson and Lee Tregurtha.

 

 

I am being picky, but I believe the correct term of art is towboat when he are talking about a boat acting as a road locomotive to one or more barges?  A tugboat is more akin to a switch engine that directs a ship in a terminal area?

Why would people do this on the open Great Lakes.  Those waters can experience non-trivial storms as many historic shipwreck disasters atest, and is this river-barge tow arrangement such a great idea?

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
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Posted by Leo_Ames on Thursday, January 7, 2021 6:21 AM

Great Lakes Fleet is technically American owned, which was necessary to satisfy the provisions of the Jones Act. 

The American Steamship Company has 12 ships. They've been sold to Rand Logistics, the owners of Lower Lakes, but are believed to continue to operate as a separate fleet going into the future rather than merging operations.

The Interlake Steamship Company has fewer ships and their tonnage is still less than today's reduced ASC fleet can handle (ASC's fire damaged St. Clair is believed to be constructive total loss, two other vessels have gone off lease and moved elsewhere in recent years, and the 5 ships they sold to Algoma Central).

Backshop

There has been a trend on the Great Lakes of going over to tug/barge co mbinations. While some of the barges have been new builds, most are the cargo compartments of older freighters with uneconomical steam turbine powerplants. 

Thankfully, the trend has reversed course in the 2000's.

All the mainstream operators on the Great Lakes like the Interlake Steamship Company that experimented with this concept have left it behind with their fleet modernization programs. They're all back to repowering old ships or buying new ships, not barging ships or building new ATB's.

This is thanks to a variety of factors that I'll try to list below.

  • Tightening of regulations on ATB's and ITB's like hull surveys, reducing their savings over a traditional ship.
  • Decreased crew sizes on ships, bringing them close to the crew cost of a big tug.
  • Inherent fuel disadvantage of the hull form thanks to where the tug mates with the barge disturbing how the hull cuts through the water. This perhaps more than anything else has swung the pendulum away from the ATB/ITB concept for the large US fleets and both Canadian giants.

The big exception in the 2000's are the fringe operators around the Great Lakes. Van Enkevort is now a significant operator in the ore and stone trade on the lakes and operates three large self-unloading ATB's all built new in the past 20 or so years (And the barged Joseph A. Thompson). They seem to still be a believer.

And some small operators have barged old steamers in the 2000's. The St. Mary's Challenger is a sad example, but notching her and buying a used tug was much cheaper than repowering and won the day. And with her short runs and regular layups during the course of a season, the decreased fuel efficiency was viewed as not being a big issue.

K&K Warehousing was another, barging the Buckeye and Reserve from the Oglebay Norton fleet in the late 2000's (Now sailing for the US arm of Lower Lakes).

Paul Milenkovic
I am being picky, but I believe the correct term of art is towboat when he are talking about a boat acting as a road locomotive to one or more barges?  A tugboat is more akin to a switch engine that directs a ship in a terminal area? Why would people do this on the open Great Lakes.  Those waters can experience non-trivial storms as many historic shipwreck disasters atest, and is this river-barge tow arrangement such a great idea?

They're a far cry from a Mississippi River towboat pushing a group of barges. One never hears the term towboat used for the types of vessel combinations he's talking about. 

They're called "articulated tug barges" or "integrated tug barges" (Depending on how the tug connects to the barge). They're essentially a Great Lakes freighter in everything but name, taking advantage of loopholes to deliver savings to the operator over a traditional ship.

Here's a good example of one from the Interlake fleet converted from a classic steam powered freighter.

http://www.boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/pathfinder.htm

And some of the giants that were built this way from the keel up, even look like a ship at first glance from many angles.

http://www.boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/PresqueIsleBarge.htm

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Posted by 54light15 on Monday, February 22, 2021 2:28 PM

Thsi showed up in my You tube today- no shots of the engine room, unfortunately. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFZ7TaKDNN0 

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