The Swiss Class of 1914
In 2014 three Swiss Paddle Steamers celebrate their 100th birthday. The class of 1914 includes Stadt Rapperswil on Lake Zurich, Savoie on Lake Geneva and Lötschberg on Lake Brienz. The technical data and additional information has kindly been provided by Daniel Eichenberger.
DS Stadt Rapperswil
Stadt Rapperswil was built by Escher Wyss, Zürich and entered service on 29th May 1914. She is 59.1 m in length and 13.1 m in beam. Her displacement is 264 tonnes with a passenger capacity of 750 (originally 1000). Her original boiler was replaced in 1985. Each wheel, with 9 floats, is driven by a 2 cyl. Compound inclined steam engine. Her normal service demands 500 HP at 49 rpm, at 753 HP (60.5 rpm) her maximum speed is 27.2 km/h or 14.7 knots.
Due to rising passenger numbers, a sister ship of DS Stadt Zürich was ordered for 1914. Just a few small details distinguish the two sisters. Stradt Rapperswil has big vents at the paddle box and the yard on her main mast. Inside, a much more conservative (compared to the very modern one on the Zürich) first class saloon in “farmers baroque” was fitted. The engine of the same size and power was fitted with the new Escher Wyss Valve on the HP cylinder instead of a piston valve. Fir many years the ship was only used on peak summer days. Due to the very bad condition of the ship, steamer friends (“Aktion pro Raddampfer”) provided finance for a refit, which was carried out in 1971-1973. In 1985/6 the boiler needed to be replaced and the first class salon was carefully restored. In 2005/6 the ship was overhauled again, a new upper deck glazing was added. Due to the significantly rising passenger numbers on Lake Zürich (being part of the cheaply priced Zürich transport association), the two steamers now cover more and more kilometers as more bigger ships are needed in daily service.
Savoie was built by Gebr. Sulzer, Winterthur and entered service on 23rd May 1914. She is 68.8 m in length and 14.3 m across the beam. With a displacement of 324 tonnes she has a passenger capacity of 560 (orginally 1100). She was re-boilered in 1967 and again in 2006. Each paddle wheel has 8 floats being driven by a 2 cyl. Compound inclined steam engine of 900 HP although 700 HP in normal service at 50 rpm. Her maximum speed is 27.5 km/h or 14.8 knots.
Together with her sister Valais (1913 – 1960, scrapped 2003) the Savoie was designed the same size as the Montreux and Général Dufour, but to meet the economics of the smaller Vevey and Italie. Indeed, Sulzer built two fine, stable and very economic steamers which incorporated for many years the classical Lake Geneva steamer. In 1962 the boilers needed to be replaced, which was carried out by 1967 together with many modernizations (upper deck structure, wheel house, galley moved to the stern end of the first class lounge!). After the major overhaul the ship appeared back on the Lake in her former glory by 2006. Even the first class salon in cherry timber remembering Louis XVI was changed back to the original layout. Since then she is used from early spring until December on day and evening cruises in the petit Lac between Geneva and Yvoire, offering gourmet food.
Lötschberg was built by Escher Wyss, Zürich and entered service on 25th July 1914. She is 56.5 m in length and 12.85 m across the beam. She has a displacement of 272 tonnes and a passenger capacity of 800. Her paddle wheels carry 9 floats and are driven by a 2 cyl. Compound inclined steam engine capable of 531 HP at 59.4 rpm although in normal service 450 HP is sufficient.
For the rather small Lake Brienz, Lötschberg was a quite big steamer built by 1914. Although being more expensive than the bigger Stadt Rapperswil, a more simple first class lounge and a more old-fashioned engine type (identical to the Piemonte engine of 1904 but with higher boiler pressure!) was fitted. Nevertheless, the ship reached outstanding manoeuvering abilities and economical values. Fitted with a bow rudder, quite a long part of the cruise is carried out astern – not only on the river Aare down to Interlaken. Just a week after her maiden voyage, the ship was laid up due to WWI, seeing just two more service days until being reactivated in 1923. Since then the Lötschberg has been reliably and every year in service. Being converted to oil-firing in 1968, the upper deck was enclosed in 1975. After the withdrawal of DS Blümlisalp on Lake Thun in 1971 the (original!) first class chairs and tables were moved to the “Lötsch” where they still are today. The Lötschberg was the last steamer in 1979 to be painted all in white, losing her buff bulwark. Due to a necessary boiler replacement, in 2001/2 the ship was very nicely restored, also the green colours of 1914 were re-introduced. In addition to her two daily traditional full-length return sailings from Interlaken to Brienz, a third one – as evening dinner cruise on peak summer Saturdays – was successfully added.