The Railway, As In The Actual Railway.

Hi from the Marine Railway. This is the crank, the pully,, the heart of the Railway

The other day you all asked about the Marine Railway and does it work. HELL YA IT WORKS! George has kept working on the Railway for decades. There is a song in there. I suppose now I Am Now working on the railway is more accurate. I smell a video in the works. Hit it!

So when is Dina gonna come by? Oh boy, that took a strange turn. Hopefully its just my sick mind…Anyway, back to the Railway and how it works.

Bruiser checking the cable. Who’s a good boy? YOU ARE! 

This lever moves the clutch.

A foot break.

All driven by a transmission out of some truck. I havnt gotten to deep into this yet, there is a spare. Which I am going to get rebuilt and on the shelf. Generally it stays in 2nd gear. That seems to be the best speed. Weight and gravaty and the break help the boats get back into the water

Old, and works like it should. Just like most of us.

The boat starts its journey in the water, the rail cradle is lowered under it on rails

SLOWLY the boat and cradle meet and move

The boat is cradled and adjusted as it rises to make sure its supported. Sweet Pea requirs some side support since she is a deep hull

Headed up the incline

The Railway can handle several boats at one time

Its slow, and very gentle on the boats. There used to be two railways here. I am thinking that area may be a good ramp at some point

This is the lift system from Algonac at the Chris Craft plant – I am planning on some sort of thing like this. Which was here at some point.

A rough sketch of how it may look. The one issue I am having is how this may work. I dont want to block the entry. And also there is an amazing view here. So this will change a bunch of times. But the concept of a Railway, a ramp, and lift makes sense.


35 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    That thing is amazing. Here in Michigan I have only seen the huge travel lifts used to take big boats in and out. I am not aware of a railway in the area. I can’t believe you can resist the urge to play with that thing every day!

  2. Steve Anderson from Michigan
    Steve Anderson from Michigan says:

    I agree Greg, ramps and travel lifts are all I have ever seen. I love the overhead railway idea, that might be much easier to get past the DNR requirements. An idea is brewing…

  3. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    We all know why we want Dina to stop by. Although someone’s been in the kitchen with Dina strumming on the old banjo.

  4. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    We have a few marine railways still working here in the ANE.

    One of the largest had just occupied the HMS Bounty before she was sunk by Sandy (the hurricane, not my wife). I remember one night standing on the pier of Boothbay Harbor Boatyard (Formerly Samples Marine) watching the fireworks through the rigging of The Bounty with a full moon in the sky. It was truly magical.

    I wonder who is in the kitchen with Dina?

  5. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Damn you other than southern boys have a painfully short boating season and now you reveal you have never seen a marine railway?? Wow. Sorry about that…coolest things in the world.
    As soon as this rare ice storm abates I am Going Boating….

    John in Va.

  6. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Matt, that is the mother of all rails , pictured here is a lighter weight track and dolly system on Lake Lucerne wisconsin. Older style gutter track into water . Dolly runs on concrete into boat house. Winch in and gravity out . Track must be removed from lake over winter . I have had my 22 footer on this dolly . The distance to the lake is 50 feet.

  7. Frank@Falmouth
    Frank@Falmouth says:

    There are still a few marine railroads in operation down in Southern Maryland (Solomons Island/St Marys County area) on the Patuxent . Both commercial and privately owned and operated. My neighbor still uses his ..We used to pull my dads skipjack out using it until we pulled the carraige off the railway when a line snagged it putting the boat back in the water… (he never offered its use after that 🙂 ) Most were built to service the Skipjacks and oyster boats that use to ply the Bay so they are quite “experienced” ..mostly geared for shallower draft workboats .
    Havent seen an active overhead beam lift like you envision for years… …. Probably because boats dont have lift rings anymore so a sling based travel lift is the way to go and is much more versatile especially if you want to get the boat on or off a trailer (maneuvering a trailer between those supports would be a nail biter) I was wondering about the absence of a gradual ramp at RMR.. I assume there are some others around Reedville…

  8. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    We had our Penn Yan on a small rail for years, but it didn’t go into a boat house so it was of limited utility. The replacement covered boat lift serves the purpose much better.

    If you have the railway for big boats and a ramp for small, what would you really use the lift for? Rather than blocking the entry and the view, I would consider a lift off to the side somewhere that you can use to get a boat on or off a road trailer or dolly, but not necessarily to drop in and out of the water. Use a trailer and the ramp for that. The lift would also be useful for pulling and replacing engines if you don’t have an indoor winch.

  9. Mark in da U P
    Mark in da U P says:

    “Dina won’t you blow Dina won’t you blow” Why is it I can’t remember the rest of the song after that.

  10. Art
    Art says:

    In the Algonac area there was a lift called the Algonac Hoist. I was an electrically operated hoist for boats with lifting rings, which most of the CC boats had. The one you showed, looks like a very old manually operated chain fall rail type at the CC plant. Now a days the Algonac lifts are sought after by us antique nuts.

    BTW Matt, it came through OK this morning…..go figure!

  11. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    That lift system with spreader bars for boats with or without lifting rings would allow you to trolley a boat up for display out front or possibly all the way into that building with a little engineering.

  12. Don Palmer
    Don Palmer says:

    Matt, that was a very entertaining video that I really enjoyed.
    I am going to meet Dick Dow for lunch in Seattle and on the drive I will be singing that song in my mind the whole way!

  13. Jeffrey Martinson
    Jeffrey Martinson says:

    There’s a guy who made an O scale model of a marine railroad. Really neat! You could have one in your living room. For the man who has everything, lol!

    I tried to link the video, but my post was blocked. You can see it if you search the tube of you for “Steve’s O scale Marine Railroad”.

  14. Clay at Crosslake
    Clay at Crosslake says:

    Loved hearing Wolfman Jack at the end of the video. Cool to see the casting from Duluth foundry Clyde Iron Works. That iron came from one of Minnesota’s iron ranges making it some of the best in the world.

  15. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    We’re about the last marina up north MI with what we call a craneway to the water. All covered.
    Boats are on cradles and we use lifting rings or straps and spreader bars.
    We can back a trailer in and pick the boat off too.
    Been working since 1938 and about as simple as it gets.
    Not that I still don’t get nervous as a cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs when I see a 26’ swept deck swinging in the breeze from two lifting rings six feet off the concrete rolling towards the water……..

  16. Matt (not that Matt)
    Matt (not that Matt) says:

    We’ve got an older rail system in our boat house that’s covered in bird crap and waiting for a boat to come along and keep it company…

Comments are closed.