ASME-Landmark:SS Badger Carferry


Now a rare mode of transportation, the S.S. Badger ferries car-passengers between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The two 3,500-hp steeple compound Unaflow steam engines powering the S.S. Badger represent one of the last types of reciprocating marine steam engines. Built by the Skinner Engine Company, most Unaflow engines are single expansion. These feature tandem high- and low-pressure cylinders separated by a common head. The Badger's four Foster-Wheeler Type D marine boilers, which supply 470-psig steam to the engines, are among the last coal-fired marine boilers built.

Improved rail switching through Chicago made rail freight around the lake more economical and brought the age of this type of ferry to a close. But the Badger has been in continuous service since 1952, with an exception between November 1990 to May 1992, when the ferry changed ownership. The Badger was renovated in 1991 by owner Charles Conrad of Holland, Michigan. Renovations included a lounge, restaurant, retail shop, museum, and updated staterooms. No major mechanical overhaul was needed.

The Badger was built by the Christy Corporation of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. It was launched on September 6, 1952, and began regular service in 1953. At a cost of $5 million, it was (and is) the largest of the Great Lakes rail car ferries ever built. Each engine is rated at 3,500 SHP at 118 rpm to give a total of 7,000 SHP, which drives the Badger across Lake Michigan at a maximum speed of 24 mph (usually at 18 mph, with a running rpm at 50-95). See ASME website for more information