STURGEON BAY, WI (July 1, 2015) – Marine Travelift Inc. announced today that two prominent Maine boatyards have purchased new mobile boat hoists from the Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin-based manufacturer. Billings Diesel & Marine Services in Stonington, Maine, has purchased a new 75 BFMII, and the John Williams Boat Company in Mount Desert, Maine, has purchased a new 50 BFMII. Both sales were handled by The Martin Walter Company of Norwell Ma., the exclusive sales and service Northeast Distributor for Marine Travelift for over 36 years.
Founded in 1928, Billings Diesel & Marine is a full-service boatyard dedicated to every aspect of boat service and maintenance, serving recreational yachts, fishing boats and commercial vessels — including coastal Maine’s ubiquitous lobster boats, tugs and ferries — up to and beyond 100 feet in length. In mid-April, the yard added a new Marine Travelift 75 BFMII mobile boat hoist to its operation, which includes two covered railways and a 35 BFMII. The addition effectively doubled its hoist lifting capacity to 165,000 lbs with the new 75BFMII.
President Harlan Billings, who began working for the company when his father took over the business in 1966, said Billings Diesel & Marine Services has owned several Marine Travelift machines over the years, including 25-, 30- and 35-ton mobile boat hoists. The company added the new 75 BFMII to complement its existing 35 BFMII.
“The 35 BFMII is a very busy Marine Travelift,” Billings noted. “If the new 75 BFMII is half as busy as the 35 BFMII, I’ll be very happy.”
The new machine features a two-speed hoist, wireless remote control, sound suppression kit level II, an additional 10 feet of depth below grade, and Marine Travelift’s signature top beam extension. With this innovative feature, the top beam is moved forward, providing additional clearance while the boat is suspended in the slings.
This allows the boatyard to lift a much larger number of vessels with super structures, without needing to adjust the vessels’ rigging. What’s more, it allows the yard to handle a wide variety of vessels including fishing vessels that have larger, higher superstructures.
“Here, time is money,” Billings said. “So this feature saves money.”
He said the wireless remote control also was a great addition. It increases operator visibility of the boat, launch piers and surrounding area, improves operational safety, and ensures maximum maneuverability in the yard. It also allows the yard to operate the machine with less manpower.
“I wish I’d ordered the 35 BFMII with the wireless remote control,” Billings observed with a chuckle.
He also noted that 75 BFMII’s customizable width was a critical element in his decision to purchase the machine.
“With the 35 BFMII, I don’t have the width or the tonnage I need to haul super-wide boats,” he explained. “A 24-foot beam is much more forgiving. When customers come in with a vessel that’s 24 feet wide, they’re tickled to death,” he continued. “This machine doesn’t put any strain on the hull.”
Being able to handle bigger boats means more work for the yard. Billings said he hopes to add a covered, heated building to his operation that would allow the operator to drive the new 75-ton hoist inside, out of the weather, with its load.
“If we do that, we’ll only need one railway,” he said. “I’d really like to see the business expand, maybe employ half a dozen more people, and build that new building.”
The new 75 BFMII has now been operational for more than two months, and Billings said he classifies its performance as excellent — user-friendly, comfortable, and easy to operate. He also said he wouldn’t recommend anyone else but Marine Travelift when it comes to lifting solutions.
“For one, these machines are American made,” he said. “And, the company is sensitive to downtime. They schedule service and maintenance during bad weather, the parts are available, and the mechanic from Martin Walter Company comes down and does probably 85 percent of the work here. That is convenient for us, and it definitely saves time and money. Marine Travelift’s service is second to none, and the service-and-parts network is impeccable.”
The John Williams Boat Company also turned to Marine Travelift when it sought to enhance its operations. JWBC is a custom builder of Stanley Yachts, in the style of traditional Maine lobster boats; it also provides full repair and restoration services, as well as indoor and outdoor storage facilities for at least 100 vessels.
The new 50 BFMII is the second Marine Travelift purchase for JWBC. Its first purchase was in 1974, when JWBC became the first boatyard on Mount Desert Island to get a Marine Travelift mobile boat hoist. The company’s original 30 AMO is still operating in the same location, where it has provided lifting and launching services for more than 40 years.
“In 1974, it was the largest lift in eastern Maine,” said John “Jock” Williams, JWBC’s founder and president. “Hinckley only had a 20-ton. It was a really big lift for this area.”
Fast forward to 2015, and Williams said customers were wondering why JWBC had just one 40-year-old mobile boat hoist.
“All the other yards had new machines,” he said. “We were out of step. It was time to add a new one, and Marine Travelift has a great reputation in Maine. They have great service, their parts hold up and are readily available — everyone’s just really excited about the new 50.”
JWBC’s new 50 BFMII arrived on May 5 and was in operation within two days.
“When we ordered the machine, we were given a delivery date,” Williams said. “We were told it would arrive between May 1 and May 5, and it would be running by May 7. It happened as promised, to the day. I was very pleased”.
“My service manager and I had researched the machine, and we watched a 50 BFMII in operation at two other yards, so we knew what to expect,” he continued. “But for the others, the 50 BFMII has exceeded all expectations. That’s really helped morale.”
The new 50 BFMII features two-speed hoists, extra depth below grade, and the wireless remote control. The two-speed hoists are critical for high-duty cycles; when the machine is in high demand, they will improve overall lifting efficiency, allowing lifting at roughly twice the standard speed with no load.
“The 50 BFMII also steers a bit more easily than the old 30, and my staff told me we needed the wireless remote control,” Williams said. “They feel that it expedites operation. It provides better positioning power and better visibility.”
While the new 50 BFMII will handle the yard’s lifting and launching duties, JWBC will continue to use the 30 AMO for routine tasks such as painting and propeller work. Williams said he’s hoping to expand and widen the 50 BFMII’s runway over the water, so the yard can handle larger vessels with 18- to 20-foot beams.
“We don’t want to become this huge yard, but we do want the opportunity to pick up longer, bigger boats,” he explained. “That’s the next step for our company, to increase boat size. To continue doing what we do, but do it even better.”
And Marine Travelift will continue to play a major role as a partner.
“It’s a highly regarded name,” Williams said, “and it’s a wonderful relationship.”
For more information about Marine Travelift and its full range of mobile boat hoists, forklifts, and transporters, please call Marine Travelift Inc at (920) 743-6202, e-mail the sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.marinetravelift.com.
The world’s first mobile boat hoist was conceptualized and manufactured in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, in 1945. Officially established in 1954, Marine Travelift Inc. has a long-standing reputation as a marine industry leader and is recognized for its tradition of excellence on a global scale. The company manufactures mobile boat hoists, marine forklifts, self-propelled transporters and other related marine lifting products. It also has an extensive U.S. and international dealer network, with more than 3,500 units in service worldwide.