Post Number: 1
|Posted on Monday, September 03, 2012 - 01:09 pm: ||
Anyone have information or knowledge about Russel Brothers Limited Gasoline Engines used in Russel Brothers Limited "Steelcraft" boats?
About 1912, the Russels decided to begin building small boats for the Canadian logging industry. This type of boat was known at that time as "a headworks" or an "alligator". The name "headworks" was given to the log raft on which was installed a windlass or capstan. This was operated by a team of horses ahead of a boom of logs when they were being moved across a still water lake, and was known by the lumberjacks as the works ahead of the boom. The name "alligator" was given to the steam powered boats that replaced the headworks in later years. This was fitted with two heavy timbers or skids underneath to allow them to ride over log booms without damage to the propellers. These boats were also able, by the use of their winch, to pull themselves from one lake to another over land.
However, the Russels decided to power their boats with gasoline engines instead of steam and for this they used an engine known as the Campbell engine, made by the Campbell Engine Co. in Wazatta, Minnesota, U.S.A. This engine had a crankshaft that extended from the frame both fore and aft. The after end of the crankshaft was fitted with a friction clutch and a reverse gear that would allow the propeller to turn both clockwise or counterclockwise, or stay still when the winch was being used. The foreward end of the crankshaft was fitted with a friction clutch only to drive the winch or stay neutral. The winch was comprised of a series of gears that connected to a drum on which was wound between 1000 and 4000 feet of steel cable. This drum could also be allowed to run free if desired.
The method of operation to move log booms across a lake was as follows. The boat would leave the boom and run ahead of it between one-half mile and one mile, depending on the size of the boat and the length of the cable. It would then drop a large anchor over the bow, which was fastened to the forward mounted winch cable. The boat would then turn 'round and run back to the boom of logs. They'd fasten a short length of cable between the tow post on the after deck and one of the short logging chains that connected the boom timbers. They would then engage the winch and wind in the forward cable, thereby moving, or warping, the boom of logs in the direction they wished to go at a speed of between one-half and one mile an hour, depending on the velocity of the wind.
While this may seem a very slow rate of speed, it was very efficient and an economical method of bringing large booms of logs to the mill and did the work of much larger and more costly steam boats.
When the boat had wound in all the cable, it would lift the anchor onto the deck and the procedure would be repeated until the logs were at the mill. Russel Brothers changed the name of the type of logging boat that they built from "headworks" or "alligator" to "winch boat" for one under 27 feet long, and "warping tug" for the ones over 27 feet in length.
They are very large engines with Russel Brothers cast into the block and heads. In 1923 the Campbell Engine Company, realizing that the demand for the slow speed open type gasoline marine engine was finished in the U.S.A., offered Russel Brothers the opportunity of purchasing all their drawings, jigs, fixtures and parts on hand, of this engine. With the help of the Bank, they made this purchase and in 1924 began the building of this engine in their plant in Fort Frances. That year they built and sold about twelve boats powered with their own engines. However, as is often the case with new products, many "bugs" and difficulties were encountered. The Russel Brothers 1, 2 & 3 cylinder engine used in the vessels described above built in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada.
They are raw water cooled or keel cooled (depending on the application), carburetor fueled, dual ignition systems (6V coil with distributor and magneto), side valve, individual cylinder heads with a crankshaft that extended from the frame both fore and aft. The after end of the crankshaft was fitted with a friction clutch and a reverse gear that would allow the propeller to turn both clockwise or counterclockwise, or stay still when the winch was being used. The forward end of the crankshaft was fitted with a friction clutch only to drive the winch or stay neutral.