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Old 08-14-2011, 10:15 AM   #1
Diver1111
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Default Alton Barge

I've been looking for this barge for about 2 years. Found it recently. My search was based on information relayed to me by a man who dove in the 1960's and was looking for it as well, never found it. He wasn't sure if it existed either but now we know it does-thank you-you know who you are. I will not release its location as it's delicate and the most intact (old) wreck I have found yet in Winni, nearly 100%. I am afraid it will get trashed if it's dived by the wrong people. I've seen what happens and it's bad. Besides there is nothing to take home that won't be a fragment-and once out of water it will disintegrate unless steps are taken to prevent this natural process. There is nothing of monetary value to take but that won't stop some.

Barge is about 65 feet long, 25 feet wide, and the sides stand about 5 feet off the bottom. Classic flat-faced sloping bow and stern for a barge. Tools, a cement mixer on a trailer set-up, a "one-lunger" engine complete with flywheels, bags of concrete still stacked 7 high, piles of stone on deck next to a pile on sand-clearly they were going to build something. This is not ballast stone such as what can be found in the hold of the Lady of the Lake. These vessels don’t really have “holds”, more like crawl spaces. Nifty wooden deck cleats 2 feet wide. Weight of sand and stone piles is bending the deck down a bit.

What I don’t understand is why it is complete with machinery, tools, and material and how bags of concrete stacked 7 high never toppled over. No salvage effort that I can see, as the cement mixer engine is still there among other components; Perhaps it wasn’t worth it, perhaps it broke anchor and sank by itself; It was suggested I look for towing cable or chain (none), spuds to secure it in position at a site (none).

Dive was dark hence the dark video, certainly not unusual but I wish it was clearer-that's what we typically have to work with. My thanks to camerman Lea Nichols, again. Lea has shot all of the videos I've posted.

If anyone has background information on such a barge in Alton please contact me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-xarqwG3q0
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:28 PM   #2
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Approximately what year do you think it went down?
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Old 08-14-2011, 09:07 PM   #3
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Thanks for posting the pictures. It is very interesting and the pictures were nice and clear from that depth. It is amazing that the bags of concrete were still intact and till stacked as you said. Thanks again for posting.
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:42 PM   #4
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Wow those pictures are amazing and I'd love to see this in person. I know you're not up for giving the coordinates, but still it's amazing.

Stinks that some people can ruin it for others. Good find, though!
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:56 AM   #5
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It's like a time-capsule! My bet is that it was well balanced but overloaded, and swamped.

I don't blame you for keeping that to yourself for now. It's doubtful anyone will want to take the neccessary steps to recover and preserve it. Keep taking pictures in case some history buff ever wants to re-produce it or make a scale model.

Thanks!
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Old 08-19-2011, 10:44 PM   #6
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Default Alton barge

My guess-and that's about what it is-is that it's been there for 80+ years; Looks like it was built perhaps 1860 to 1900.
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Old 08-27-2011, 03:59 PM   #7
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Dove this on Tuesday and it really is in remarkable shape. No signs of any breaches in the hull (at least the portions visible), and it definitely sank straight down.

One item of note: When we surfaced from the hour-plus dive, we all remarked on how temperature was never an issue. 66 degrees average. Contrast this with the water temp at the Weirs piledriver barge -- roughly the same depth -- which seems to always be in the high 40s.

A great find and an awesome dive.
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:00 AM   #8
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Very cool! I think I may have been getting out at Clark's Point a few weeks ago when you and a buddy where getting in. You side mounts look familiar! I was with a female buddy of mine.....I will have to look at the log and see which date....
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Old 09-02-2011, 10:08 AM   #9
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My guess-and that's about what it is-is that it's been there for 80+ years; Looks like it was built perhaps 1860 to 1900.
Did you notice the plate on the outside of the cement mixer? Facing up, on a curved part -- still very readable. I wiped it clean with my glove (appears to be brass). I reads:

Webster Tri-Polar Oscillator
The Webster Electric Co.
Racine, Wisconsin USA

Turns out it's the magneto. And in the picture below, you can see where the label plate is. From some quick research, it looks like these things came on the market in the 1910-15 timeframe. So this wreck could easily be 80-100 years old. Another clue could be those enormous wooden cleats on the deck.
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Old 09-02-2011, 03:40 PM   #10
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I thought this was interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbCRDWJjOkE

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Old 09-02-2011, 04:13 PM   #11
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Nice call Grant and the video was very interesting thanks Ride & Dive. Do you think I looked myself for a plate on the engine? Noooooooooooo.

My video guy Lea thought it was a "one-lunger" engine that fired something like...every four cycles or so-that video confirms that something is happening every few seconds. Would that be a firing sequence when that thing moves? What is the ignition source? Gasoline?
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:23 PM   #12
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Nice call Grant and the video was very interesting thanks Ride & Dive. Do you think I looked myself for a plate on the engine? Noooooooooooo.

My video guy Lea thought it was a "one-lunger" engine that fired something like...every four cycles or so-that video confirms that something is happening every few seconds. Would that be a firing sequence when that thing moves? What is the ignition source? Gasoline?
Got me. I was just looking at the "engine" area of the mixer, and noticed the curved area on the magneto. Thought I saw some shiny stuff under the gunk and ran my finger along it -- and there were the letters. Had to read it over and over to remember the company, as I'd left my dive slate up on the boat. Didn't think to look it up until this morning. (Another "DUH")

Amazing what you can find via Google. And, yes, i saw that video during the search.

I suppose all that sand and till on the barge (where the deck caves in) was part of the cement making process? Otherwise, I don't see how it could've ended up on the deck in that quantity. I want to dive this again -- and bring my bigger light next time.
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:34 PM   #13
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Okay -- I just looked at the video again. In the frame between 3:32 and 3:40, the curved part to the left of the wheel, as you're looking at it, is the magneto.
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Old 09-03-2011, 01:29 PM   #14
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Default Alton Barge

I believe that I have identified the mixer on the barge as a "Jaeger Tilting Mixer", made by Jaeger Machine Co. of Columbus, OH. Judging from the video and still shots taken by Hans and Lea, everything is in the right place for it to be a Jaeger, including the engine, plus their patents go back to 1917. There are quite a few pictures and some ads on Smokstak.com, if anyone is interested.
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Old 09-06-2011, 09:29 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Diver1111 View Post
Nice call Grant and the video was very interesting thanks Ride & Dive. Do you think I looked myself for a plate on the engine? Noooooooooooo.

My video guy Lea thought it was a "one-lunger" engine that fired something like...every four cycles or so-that video confirms that something is happening every few seconds. Would that be a firing sequence when that thing moves? What is the ignition source? Gasoline?

Found this read while doing a quick search. It explains how the magneto ignition works and has a pic of this exact unit about 1/2 way down the page.

http://www.old-engine.com/maglma.htm
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