THE S.S. CANADIANA COME ABOARD

Chapter 4
During the summer of 1986 there was an open house at the boat. ~ It was early in the year and it was sunny and warm. ~ There were big bright tents set up where T-shirts, hats and other souvenirs were for sale. ~ Hot dogs and other carnival foods and drinks were being served and there was music. ~ Calliope music of a sort. ~ The big brass whistle of the Crystal Beach boat had been set up with a compressor to supply the air and for $1.00 you could pull the lever and blow it. ~ It was a wonderful sound. ~ An instantaneous trip back through time each time that whistle sounded its deep, totally unique and remembered toot.

The gigantic Crystal Beach Boat sat where she was left by the winter storm, with her stern end towards the gathering and stretched across the slip to the other bank. ~ The party was being held in open fields on the lake side of this slip. ~ A wooden stair-structure and gangplank had been constructed for access to the ship directly above the propeller. ~ The ship was cleaned up quite a bit by this time and some of it repainted. ~ She looked almost beautiful. ~ People were enjoying themselves ashore while small groups on guided tours were being shown through the ship.

The tours brought back a flood of memories. ~ Walking through and seeing again all the familiar pieces and parts of the ship. ~ The small areas and little things that perhaps would not be remembered unassisted. ~ Speaking for myself; the ship was so big when I was small that I looked on individual areas of the ship as complete in themselves. ~ I was unable to get a vision or concept of the entire ship in my mind and so would just wait till I got to those other places to remember them again. ~ Those small stairs set against the inside walls of the ship. ~ The stairs that lead up to somewhere important and were only for the crew. ~ They told me I was as high up as I could go. ~ The sliding doors for entering the second deck salon from the outside walkways on either side. ~ The small heat radiator that was located inside at the front of the salon. ~ This was the only device of its kind in the public area of the boat. ~ We remember one particular night being very grateful that radiator existed. ~ A day that had turned cold and stormy and it was the darkest of nights when we come back from the beach. ~ The boat was being tossed about by giant waves and the rain and bursts of spray from the breaking waves were beating on the windows of the salon. ~ It was impossible to see outside. ~ I knew the heater was there and had headed forward and upward as soon as I got aboard. ~ Thinking there would be no room in the salon as everyone else surely would be heading there also, I remember being surprised to find the salon was not totally packed. ~ The others apparently were hunkered down on the benches, wrapped in their picnic blankets, perhaps not knowing or caring of the one small feeble source of heat. ~ But I liked it.

The tours also brought us into the crews area. ~ These were the never before seen parts of the ship that were totally fascinating. ~ The most awesome and unexpected was the ships galley area. ~ A large dining room that was located under the first deck to the rear of the engine room. ~ It took the entire width of the ship and about the same in length. There were columns throughout supporting the upper deck but otherwise it was an open space. ~ The columns and walls of the room were again done in the utmost of style with detailed woodwork all around. ~ The walls consisted of a lower half fashioned similar to wainscoting. ~ The upper portion of the walls were divided into rectangular areas like a series of giant picture frames, with vertical dividers and accompanying trim. ~ Several sections held horizontal ovals made up of curved pieces of what appeared to be Oak, and these ovals enclosed paintings done on the wall covering. ~ Total turn of the century grace and elegance. ~ That theme did go throughout the ship and may be best remembered by the underside of the grand staircase, between the second and third deck salons. (photograph here) ~ The excellence of the eating area strikes one as truly exceptional, especially compared to what one might expect using today's standards. Just the fact it was thought worth doing by the builders. ~ It's a tribute to them that they did so, knowing the only ones to ever see and enjoy the area would be crew members. ~ But this was to be their home. ~ It was obviously done with the intent to be a place where the crew would want to be; to feel comfortable in and enjoy.

Between the mess and engine room was the kitchen area. ~ Near the center of the ship was a cooler that was about seven or eight foot square. ~ It was built with thick walls and ceiling and inside of these were slabs of cork for insulation. ~ In the beginning it was cooled with ice but later there were cooling systems installed. ~ Steam operated pumps and compressors that contained CO2 at first and then Freon. ~ They had no thermostats. ~ Just turn it on for awhile and then turn it off some hours later on a schedule. ~ On the port side of the ship was the utensil area. ~ Cupboards and drawers for dishes and silverware, sinks for washing and the like. ~ On the starboard side of the cooler and stairwell was the big room for cooking. ~ It contained a mammoth cast iron coal burning stove and other arrangements for preparing meals for the many hungry crew-members. ~ To the rear of the ship were three bunk rooms for the usual two cooks and one steward.

In the forward area of the hull ahead of the engine room and the fuel tank bulkheads were the main crews quarters. ~ They were accessible from the main deck through a door on the backside of the main staircase. ~ To go down these steps brought a feeling of entering some inner sanctum. ~ It was a narrower portion of the ship and it was close. ~ The ghosts of all the people who had lived down there seemed to be in the air. ~ You touched a door handle and, except for time, you felt another hand there also. ~ Perhaps this very someone had, in his life, gone through the door while you were above, riding the ship on the lake so long ago. ~ You could imagine and hear the laughter that must have sounded throughout when someone passed a joke between the rooms. ~ The hustle of getting ready for the day. ~ Trying to make room for each other as they passed in the cramped hallway space.

The toilets in the crews area must have gotten a real work out every morning. ~ For all the crew, there were just three up front and one astern. ~ Mounted on somewhat higher flooring against the curve of the hull; you had to step up on a platform to get to them. ~ Doing so gave use of the greater width of hull available higher up and it also provided the added advantage of having the toilet open to the lake above the water line. ~ There may have been a few ships designed which did not make use of these features but it was discovered quite early in shipbuilding history that those simple design elements added years to a ships life and so most did incorporate them.

The ships potable water tank was down here at the rear of the stairway. ~ Every spring is was flushed and cleaned and it was kept chlorinated. ~ The public health inspectors kept close watch on ships in those days and the Canadiana always passed their inspections in fine shape.

These rooms too were done nicely but in a more basic fashion. ~ Each room had a one or two level bunk with drawers built in at the bottom. ~ There was a radiator, sink, mirror and small closet in each room. ~ There was one large room, more like a dorm, with space for perhaps three or four doubled bunks. ~ The rooms of various sizes and numbers of bunks were assigned to the rank of job position. ~ The Captain had a room to the rear of the pilot house but very seldom lived aboard. ~ The purser who took care of the ships payroll and other finances had a room on the first deck just ahead of the port-side staircase, amidships. ~ The first engineer had a room forward of the pursers, close to the head of the stairs to the engine room. All the rest were below. ~ There were the 1st and 2nd Mates who ranked just below the Captain. ~ Then came the Able-Bodied Seamen who were the watchmen, wheel-men and the like. ~ Next were Ordinary Seamen who took care of the maintenance, cleaning the decks, etc. ~ The Chief Engineer and the 1st Engineer came in under the Captain and Mates in another line. ~ Below them were Oilers who kept the mechanisms lubricated and the 3 Firemen to shovel the coal or later the 1 or 2 needed to man the oil burning boilers. ~ Then the usual tour was 4 hours on and 8 hours off so that there were three men for most every job. ~ The ship took a lot of people to run it.

In the ceiling of the open center area, between the crew quarter's rooms, was the bottom end of the controls from the pilot house. ~ A square, cabinet like housing, that extended from floor to ceiling through each salon, carried all the electrical, mechanical and acoustical signals that controlled the ship, down to this point in the crews quarters. ~ Although not used in later years, there was also a flexible voice tube that carried commands directly to the ear of the engineer. ~ Under the floor up in the pilot house were enough batteries, under constant charge, to keep the ship in lights and power for 24 hours. This power was also brought down this same cabinet conduit, to be fed into the system if needed. ~ All the original D.C. wiring that carried power to and from the pilot house was still in place and in use along with man-overboard alarms and other necessary electrical circuits between the pilot house, engine room and other sections of the ship. ~ This D.C. wiring was all single conductor and was routed through the ship under grooved strips of wood which separated each wire from the other. ~ As we have plastic sheathing over our multi-conductor wire today, they used this flat, wood molding equivalent. ~ As some of these electrical areas were disassembled, scorched areas were found on the wood where arcing had taken place, through the years, under screw terminals of light fixtures and switches. ~ A little chill went through the air on seeing this.

A steel shaft brought the revolutions of the ships wheel, three decks above, straight down to the ceiling of the crews quarters where it transferred its motion and direction to another shaft heading back to the engine room. ~ This was done by meshing gears, each about 10 inches in diameter and attached like wheels to the ends of the two shafts. ~ The shaft going to the engine room went along the ceiling of the crews quarters, through bulkheads and past the triple expansion engine to the steering engine where its direction was again directed downward, in the same manner, to operate a control valve. ~ This steering engine was a bulky cast iron object that squatted on the engine room floor near the rear bulkhead. ~ It was in fact a steam operated device with a set of pistons that produced the power and strength needed to turn the big ships rudder. ~ The shaft rotation brought from the pilot house would allow steam into the appropriate cylinder. ~ Which ever direction it turned caused a large chain loop with 3" links to continue the message, along greased tracks, to the steering mechanism and rudder at the rear of the ship. ~ To turn the ship to starboard, the starboard side of the chain loop was pulled while being released on the port side and vice-versa.

The engine room was the hardest to understand but just looking at it was impressive. ~ As it always was from above, it was much more so from below. ~ The many cast iron moving monsters kept everyone who worked down there constantly busy and alert. ~ To describe what appeared to be a chaotic arrangement of machinery is difficult. ~ There was of course; the main mover. ~ The triple expansion steam engine dominated the area. The basic principal and design of this engine was that it consisted of three different sized cylinders. ~ Each cylinder operated the same in that they were sealed at top and bottom with a piston inside; the piston connecting rod having a steam tight exit out the bottom. ~ The pistons were forced down by applying steam to the top end while exhausting the space at the bottom and then in the opposite direction by applying steam to the bottom cavity while exhausting the top. ~ Ahead of each of the three cylinders was a steam box that contained slider valves. ~ These valves were controlled by the revolutions of the crank shaft; sending steam either to the tops or bottoms of the cylinders as determined by the position of the shaft.

Steam, right out of the boiler, was at its hottest and maximum pressure; its most compressed state. This steam was kept at 185 plus or minus 2-3 pounds. ~ If it was higher it would pop safety valves and loose steam and if it was lower you lost speed. ~ The steam was sent to the steam box ahead of the first cylinder. ~ It was then routed to the top or bottom as described and in addition; the valves were set so that they cut off the steam before the piston had fully completed the stroke in whatever direction it was being sent. ~ The steam trapped in the cylinder at that point continued to expand and complete the distance. ~ This cut off point determined the amount of power the engine had. ~ On the exhaust, the steam, while it had expanded somewhat in filling the area of the first cylinder, was still under very much pressure and was driven into the next steam box. ~ This box received steam alternately from top and bottom exhausts and it steam was applied to the second cylinder in the same manner as the first.

This cylinder, larger to match and accept the expanded volume, produced another thrust of respectable force to the crankshaft below. ~ The steam pressure in the intermediate cylinder went in at 65 pounds. ~ The same went for the last cylinder, the largest of the three, taking another usable gulp of just 6 pounds of steam before it was totally expanded. Remember; as the pressure applied to each cylinder decreased it was being applied to larger and larger piston surface areas so that the resulting push was amplified and each of the three were close to being equally forceful. ~ A rough calculation shows that each cycle of steam on its trip through the engine, causing one revolution of the crank shaft, was capable of producing a total of over 16 tons of force distributed over the three pistons and the two directions of travel. ~ H/P was determined by "PLAN". That is; (P) Pressure times (L) Length of stroke times (A) Area of piston times (N) Number of strokes per minute divided by 33000. Cruising speed was 90 r.p.m.

On the output of the low pressure cylinder was the steam condenser. ~ It was a large bulbous looking cast iron fixture and its purpose was to cool the steam and so return it to its water state. ~ Condensing was done by spraying cool lake water into the tank filled with steam exhaust. ~ Depending on the lake water temperature, it took about 16 parts of spray water to condense out one part of reclaimed steam water. ~ Not much need for the reclaimed water except that the operation was necessary to help the engine run. ~ As the large volume of exhaust steam was reduced to its water state it left a vacuum in its wake. This vacuum actually pulled the balance of the nearly spent steam from the last cylinder. ~ The vacuum even pulled on the piston itself, in the exhaust direction, to gave an additional driving force to the engine. ~ In fact; it would not run without it. ~ If the vacuum wasn't there, the cylinder could not exhaust quickly enough and the back pressure would buck the piston travel. ~ The steam pushed at the input and vacuum pulled at the end of the proper three cylinder sequence. ~ In rough weather the intake for the condenser water would sometimes be out of water and it would suck air. ~ This would cause the engine to bang and bang until it either worked itself out or the engine died.

To keep the sprayed lake water from being drawn in the direction of the vacuum it created, there was a steam operated pump that pulled the water out of the condenser. ~ This pump was self regulating to maintain a vacuum of 22 inches on the last cylinder. ~ Some of the water was sent back to the boilers but most of it went back into the lake.

All the other small steam devices around the room usually expended their steam directly into the air but various means were devised to condense and collect their water to keep the humidity down.

The main engine was started by simply applying steam. ~ Once in a while if it was cold and wouldn't roll over, the engine was switched into reverse and given another shot of steam in that direction, then perhaps again. ~ This back and forth rocking could be built up until it rolled over and kept on going. ~ Always; when starting the engine, it had to be done with great care. ~ One never knew when there may be water in one or more of the cylinders. ~ If the pistons came up with water in the cylinder it had to be blown out the safety petcocks on the ends of the cylinders. ~ If it came up too fast and couldn't do this the water would cause blockage like a brick in the cylinder. ~ You could end up with bent and cracked castings and the engine out of service.

In operation, the engineer manipulated controls for speed and power. These consisted of the actual steam pressure allowed out of the boiler, the amount of water being sprayed into the condenser to vary vacuum produced, and the cut off points of the steam box slide valves. ~ Cutting off the steam to the cylinder earlier for light loads and later for heavy loads. ~ When more speed was called for, more water was moved by the propeller; thus increasing the load.

Two bells to the engine room meant forget everything else, give me full reverse power and do it now. ~ The Engineer had to be ready for this one at any time. ~ When in reverse, everything went full open; it was always full speed and full load power. ~ Reverse was simply a matter of moving "take-offs" to the opposite end of their rockers. ~ These take-off rods operated the steam box slide valves and they would then open and close in the opposite sequence with respect to the position of the crank shaft. ~ This then caused the engine to reverse and therefore the shaft to rotate in the opposite direction. ~ When the rockers were shifted, even at top speed, with everything counter balanced and having no flywheel, the reversed steam application would instantly cause the engine to come to a halt and start rotating in the opposite direction.

On the stern end of the engine and on the protruding end of the crank shaft was what was called the rag gear. ~ This was used to turn the engine by hand when it was being worked on. ~ There was a ratchet assembly that was supposed to be usable by one or two men but it often came to tying a rope to it and running it into the boiler room so everyone could get into the act.

The propeller shaft was a foot in diameter and extended from the rag gear, through the engine room bulkhead enclosure and under the mess hall in the shaft housing, to the point where it tied onto the tail shaft. ~ The tail shaft was also a foot in diameter and it was 30 feet long emerging through the keel just ahead of the rudder. ~ All along the main shaft were Babbitt bearings for support and at the point where it exited the hull, the tail shaft went through a six foot enclosed section which was packed tight with greased hemp rope for the water seal.

Thrust bearings were mounted on the shaft at the engine end. ~ They receive the forward push of the shaft and transfer it to the hull. ~ That is; while the propeller is turning and pushing the water out the back, the reaction is that the shaft is forced forward. ~ It is this forward motion that pushes the ship but if there was nothing else, it would be applied directly to the end of the engine and the crank shaft and cause all kinds of problems. ~ So at the rear of the engine the thrust bearings were put in place to take the pressure off the engine. ~ On the Canadiana there are four, equally spaced, along the shaft for about five feet to the rear of the rag gear. ~ They are large thick steel disks with the propeller shaft going through their centers. They are keyed and fixed to the shaft. ~ They revolve with it and their front and rear surfaces supply half the necessary load transfer mechanism. ~ The other half comes from the horseshoe shaped collars which set down over each of the disks and totally encase them. ~ The collars are bolted down to the hull and their inside surfaces match up with the disk surfaces on the shaft. ~ As the shaft is revolved and forced forward or backward, the pressure of the four shaft disks is applied to the surfaces of the four collars bolted to the hull and so, ship then just naturally comes along with them. ~ These thrust bearings are also serviced by cooling water lines and lubricating oil lines as is most everything on the ship.

While the boat was in operation, oilers were constantly at work. ~ These men covered everything that needed oiling or greasing every 1/2 hour. ~ There were small oil containers attached to the heavy structure of the engine at each cylinder and from these, tubing went down to the bearings of the drive shaft. ~ These containers were never to go below a certain level and had to be constantly filled. ~ Every grease fitting had to be turned in a half turn every 1/2 hour. ~ This applied a little pressure to the contained grease and forced some into the bearing or slide area. ~ When sailing, every moving piece of machinery in the ship had to be covered in thirty minutes, and then the process started over.

Other machinery in the area consisted of several steam operated water pumps; fire protection, boiler, ballast and bilge. ~ There was an electrical generator and of course, the steering engine. ~ Six large gauges and meters were concentrated on a large slate panel mounted against the forward bulkhead on the starboard side. ~ On each side of the area, just under the deck above and attached to the hull were large tanks used to keep the boat balanced. ~ They were called leveling tanks and the idea was that water would be pumped in and out of each, or back and forth between them, according to the force of the wind on the ship, the weight of passengers and fuel or any other factors causing the ship to list. ~ In practice; according to the Chief Engineer who ran the ship last, this was not done nor needed as the ship handled so well.

Under the starboard leveling tank and tucked behind its supporting structure was a small machine shop area. ~ Really not much more than a bench, a lathe and a vice but it was here that many items were fabricated for minor repair work.

Stooping down and looking around to what was the forward end of the engine, one engineer who had worked on the ship, pointed out a small screw that had been placed up high into the forward connecting rod. ~ As this giant connecting rod drove the huge crankshaft that propelled the ship across the lake, it was also hard at work doing the laundry. ~ A cord and hook could be strung to slosh any clothing or oily rags that needed cleaning, up and down in a bucket of steam-heated water and detergent.

For the balance of below decks; there was the very bow of the ship in which was stored the anchor chain. ~ There was a large steam operated winch engine on the first deck at the bow used to wind the anchor chain in and out of storage and through feeder holes in the deck plate and hull to the outside where the anchor hung. ~ The anchor could also be raised and lowered by means of a manual capstan on the first deck.

* * Boiler room and coal/oil bunkers...* *

At the stern was a small area below decks which housed the steering mechanism of the rudder. ~ Normally operated by the chains pulled from the engine room, the rudder could also be operated manually by means of another large capstan which stood by itself at the rear of the main deck. ~ It connected directly to the rudder post and capstan bars could be placed through it to manually force it around.

Other miscellaneous items were the capstan steam engines at the sides of the ship on the first deck. ~ These had single 4" cylinder vertical castings and were used to crank in the hawsers and pull the ship in close to the dock.

Another room previously unvisited and unknown to us was the hospital or medical care room. ~ It was located directly ahead of the staircase amidships on the starboard (right) side, across the ship from the pursers room. ~ More than likely, seasickness caused the biggest single need for this room. ~ A room forward of this was for the Assistant Purser. ~ He was the storekeeper and he emptied the slot machines. ~ His supplies were kept in the triangular space directly under the starboard amidships stairs. ~ This was the whiskey, the Babe Ruth's other supplies that were dispensed at the big food island right there on the first deck and at the big counter in the salon.

The food island was a rectangular enclosure that offered two sides and its stern end to the public as it sat, backed against the engine room wall. ~ It had all the necessities to supply the hungry and thirsty crowds. ~ A pair of early coolers from this area were transferred to land, perhaps on an upgrade, before it left Buffalo and were still in use behind the bar on the beach at Crystal until the park was closed in 1991. ~ There was a narrow counter running along a series of windows around the perimeter of the food area while an overhanging canopy extended along the top of the windows. ~ The windows could be raised or lowered and they did close them whenever they were at the dock. ~ When the window was down there was a sign "CLOSED AT DOCK", right on the glass, that made it perfectly clear as to where the boat was at that moment.

On each side of the ship and forward of these rooms were the publics rest rooms and lounges. ~ The men were greeted by a long trough like fixture against the outside wall of the ship. ~ There were small panels out from the wall to provide a bit of privacy; they created five individual sections of trough. ~ The trough had a slight tilt downward on one end and a pipe led from the low end down through the floor overhanging the hull and opened to the lake below. ~ The tilt of course, not only aided flow but provided the variable needed to accommodate ones particular height. ~ The standard sit down compartments for both the men and women were along the inside walls of each of these twenty foot rooms. ~ They were the standard functional design of the day. ~ The horseshoe shaped seat was held up and away from the bowl at an angle of say 20 degrees or so, until it was sat on. ~ This downward lever action caused the bottom of the bowl to open for the duration. ~

Lounges on both sides but especially the women's, were grand. ~ Again the mahogany prevailed. ~ Before the day of broad expanse plywood and other paneling, most all walls were built up from "tree width" wood. ~ To overcome the "plank" look, wall assembly usually consisted of variations on the design of small square or rectangular panels separated and supported by vertical and horizontal runs of board. ~ All of the panels then had an inset look and were edged with smaller moldings to blend them into the longer runs of board. ~ With sills and ceiling moldings, starting with a 3/4" by 3" for instance, they piled decreasing sizes of plain wood strips upon the one below, for perhaps 4 or 5 layers, to provide a stepped build out from wall to ceiling. ( diagram of build out ) ~ Over this was applied the ornate strips of mahogany trim; each one blending into the one above and below to effect a look of one continuous massive carved piece of molding. ~ The mahoganies used on the boat were of the Honduras variety. ~ A rainforest wood that today is being replaced by an easier to grow but not so nice, Philippine variety. ~ The Honduras woods have beautiful, deep red coloring; rich looking and at the same time, mahogany is about the best wood possible for marine construction.

The ceilings of the lounges were covered with three dimensional plaster designs of grape clusters and vines. ~ They were flat delicate and lacy castings that were attached in artistic arrangements and outlined with more mahogany oval and rectangular framing. ~ The grapes and other designs of the ceilings were then hand painted and the overall look to these rooms was very elegant indeed. ~ Of course; most of us only remember the end of those forty six years of sailing to Crystal. ~ Some of the wood and beautiful plaster artwork had been painted over in the name of expediency and was not quite so magnificent. ~ Where the Neptune heads appeared between windows, they were by then covered with the same paint as the rest of the wall and were perhaps not even especially noticeable. ~ It belied all the underlying beauty.

The Pilot House was where much of the action was. ~ This was the control point for the entire ship. ~ As in all ships, this is where all commands are given by the Captain. ~ There was much to control and it was a somewhat thankless job. ~ While not completely verified, its been said that the Captain had to pay a hefty fine if he damaged the pier, dock or boat. ~ The boat was hard to steer in the wind. ~ The broad expanse of the ship caught the breeze like a sail. ~ The ship normally backed straight out from the pier at the beach and then headed forward again, making a turn towards Buffalo in the forward direction. ~ There was minimal steerage in reverse so they couldn't cause the boat to turn when backing out, they just went straight back. ~ When they stopped to try the turn toward Buffalo, if the wind was coming from the wrong direction, they could not get the boat to turn away from the beach. ~ They would have to back halfway to Detroit before there was enough room to clear the pier and head for home.
For  now, that brings us to the end of Chapter 4.

 Copyright SS Canadiana  and Mr. Lee Online