The George Spencer, U.S. Registry 85849, was built in 1884 at Cleveland, Ohio by Thomas Quayle & Sons for Captain Thomas Wilson. The vessel was named for George Spencer, an intimate friend of Wilson's. The George Spencer's keel was laid on February 18, and its first frame on the February 25th. The Spencer had a length of 230.5 feet, a beam of 37.2 feet, and a depth of hold of 18.8 feet. First inspected in July, 1884, the vessel was listed as 1360 gross tons and 1082 net.
Constructed of wood, the Spencer had steel arches on its ceiling and on the frames outside, bolted through and through. It carried three masts. The Spencer had a gross tonnage of 1412 and a net tonnage of 1134. It drew 4.5 feet forward and 9 feet aft. Period photographs show it had a bluff bow with a full entrance and a folding stock anchor on its bow with the anchor chain emanating from one of the vessel's four bow hawse holes. The Spencer's raised forecastle deck supported the pilot house. The vessel had a raised after deckcabin with at least six side windows on each side. Atop the deckcabin sat a lifeboat. The vessel's large black single smoke stack stood just forward of the cabin and immediately aft of the aft mast. Located just aft of the central mainmast was a small cabin. All the cabins on the vessel were painted white. All three of its masts were gaff rigged and each had a topmast.
The Spencer was equipped with a fore and aft compound engine, 27 inches and 50 inches diameter by 36 inch stroke, built by Globe Iron Works of Cleveland, Ohio. The 625 horse power engine had cranks opposite and steam reversing gear, making it a duplicate of the engine built for the Robert Wallace and similar to the machinery in Captain Wilson's other new steamer the Kasota. The Spencer had a hoisting engine on the spar deck, with a pony boiler sufficient to run the engine. Both the bilge and fire pump were operated by the hoisting engine. The Spencer had one return flue boiler, Otis Steel, 10.5 feet in diameter by 17 feet long, with double furnaces and which could carry 100 pounds of steam. The boiler was also constructed by the Globe Iron Works of Cleveland. There was a wrought iron pan and iron deck beams under the boiler and Beache's hot air casing over the boiler. The Spencer was equipped with a Providence ship windlass, from the American Ship Windlass Company, of Providence.
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