Old Advertising IX

I seem to be on a Fairbanks-Morse kick lately, so I will run with it.

Doing some research for my book the other day, I came across this one from F-M in the brochure for the 1953 NYC tugboat Races.

Something F-M touted for quite some time was that their engine powered the winner – Which was Reading Railroads RTC Built, Tom Bowes designed “Shamokin”. She had a WWII surplus, factory rebuilt 10 Cylinder 38D 8 1/8th engine. Unfortunately, Reading did not seem to have much luck with them. Shamokin lost a rod bearing bolt on her trial run, and Tamaqua blew up her engine in 1962 and they would have to replace it. Shamokin also got a new OP, but not until the 1990’s. “Shamokin” would go on to win the 1953 race as well. She is still running today, as Blaha Towings “Alfred Walker”.

The specific engine depicted in the advertisement is a 10 Cylinder direct reversing OP that was used in US Navy LSM class landing ships. The lower engine, F-M’s 5 1/4″ bore OP, is something I will make a more in depth post on down the road.

Little Engines I

At the end of the last post on the Fairbanks Morse 31A series, I mentioned I was going to draw up the engine in CAD and 3D print it. I am a model builder and a model railroader when I don’t get to play with old engines, boats and locomotives, and even do it as a business now. The model was drawn out and printed in 1/87th scale, better known to model railroaders as HO scale.

I opted to do the 5 cylinder 8 1/2″ version. I am considering making a small diorama depicting the Corpus Christi Pumping station that appears in the post below.

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On the left is a finished model, on the right is exactly how it leaves the 3D printer. I decided to make a version of the engine with no base, so that it could be used as a flatcar load.

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This is just the first of many engines I am going to build models of. I am already well into the CAD for a few more. You will see those here first! If anyone is interested in one for their railroad – I have them forsale over on my actual business page : https://gothamrailmarine.com/3d-printed-parts/

Here is another 1/87th scale engine, an EMD 16-567 offered by Walthers. This kit has been around for 20+ years, and is pretty crude, but not terrible. It is a bit of a mashup between a 567A and a 567B. On my to-do list is a slew of upgrades to make this kit a little more closely resemble something a little nicer. https://www.walthers.com/emd-567-prime-mover-kit

A few years back I cut down one of these kits and made a little 6-567, as if it came out of an SW1 switcher. This sat in the engine facility of my previous layout.

In Part II I will show you some more 3D printed 1/87th engines that are available.

Art Deco Diesel – The Fairbanks-Morse 31A En bloc Series

aka Diesels that look like toasters, Part I. 

As we outlined in our very first post here, Fairbanks-Morse introduced a line of what they called “En bloc” engines, meaning whole, which to put bluntly, they used a one piece cast crankcase with integrated cam pocket and bearing bores, which F-M advertised as putting all of the pieces in perfect alignment every time.   Attached to the block would be the various auxiliary pumps, exhaust belt, water header, blower, etc.

VDD Post on the Fairbanks-Morse 31A18

The F-M 31A En bloc engine seems to have made its first appearances in advertising around 1945.  This specific line of 31A appears to be the decedent to the 31A “Borneo” engine.   The first real production of this 31A series seem to start around 1949, which is the publication dates of each of my manuals.   The 31A was offered in 3 bore sizes: 6 ¼”, 8 ½” and 18”.   

An 8 Cylinder 31A8 ½“, setup for stationary service – Note the Woodward UG8 governor control panel. FM Photo. Click for Larger

The 31A we will be discussing in this post is specifically the two smaller versions of the model, the 31A6 ¼” and the 31A8 ½“.  The engines are two stroke, cross flow scavenged, with an integrated scavenging blower, as well as an optional compressor, bilge pump and water pumps.   Both models were offered in a direct reversing marine model, or a stationary model, and in the case of the larger 31A8 ½“, a dual fuel version.  An additional option on the direct reversing marine engine, was a reduction gear with an Airflex clutch (note- this is not a reverse reduction gear, the engine is still direct drive).  Both models were available in either rotation.

31A6 ¼”: 6 ¼” bore, 9” stroke
Marine & Stationary Engines – 720RPM
5 Cylinder – 150HP
6 Cylinder – 180HP
7 Cylinder – 210HP
8 Cylinder – 240HP
31A8 ½“: 8 ½” bore, 11 ½” stroke
Marine Engines – 540RPM
5 Cylinder – 312HP
6 Cylinder – 375HP
7 Cylinder – 437HP
8 Cylinder – 500HP
Stationary Engines – 514RPM
5 Cylinder – 325HP
6 Cylinder – 390HP
7 Cylinder – 455HP
8 Cylinder – 520HP

The cool part about the 31A engine line – it was a fully enclosed engine.   Removable covers covered the entirety of the engine, front to back, with a very 1930’s Art Deco type look to it.   It also looks like a toaster, and this will be the first model we cover in a series of “Engines that look like toasters”.

A 7 cylinder 31A6 ¼” setup for stationary service, driving a small generator. FM Photo – Click for larger.
A 5 Cylinder 31A8 ½“ setup for marine propulsion, with the Airflex clutch and a reduction gear. FM Photo – Click for larger.

While the engine is offered in two sizes, they are virtually identical engines, much like how the F-M 38 series (5 ¼” and 8 1/8” bore) were designed – parts were just “scaled down”.  The notable difference being that the smaller 31A6 ¼” used a timing chain for the camshaft drive, while the 31A8 ½“used a gear drive.  It seems to be that the larger 31A8 ½“ was much more common then the smaller bore, which seemed to be popular in smaller work boats.

The one piece cast crankcase and cam pocket. FM Photo – Click for larger.

Let’s do a quick walk through of some of the features of the 31A.

Up on top, the 31A used a very basic lump of a cylinder head, like most of the previous F-M engines.   A central fuel injection nozzle, along with a start air check valve, and a space for either a test cock or a start cartridge adaptor.   The cylinder heads bolt down onto the liners, with a simple copper gasket between the firing surfaces, and rubber rings on the water passages. 

31A Cylinder Head. FM Photo – Click for larger.

Unlike most previous large F-M engines which the cylinder liner sits on top of the main crankcase, the 31A uses a cylinder liner that inserts into the block.   The air inlet ports, and the exhaust ports are surrounded by a water jacket supplied through an unorthodox method.   Cooling water enters the engine into the (water jacketed) exhaust manifold.  A threaded fitting allows water to exit from the exhaust jacket, into the lower portion of the liner, flowing up through the head into a water header.   On the bottom of the liner was a simple O ring to seal the scavenging air from the crankcase. 

Note that there is no actual seal between the air and exhaust side of the liner. FM Photo – Click for larger.

The 31A series engines use only a conventional style full pressure oil system (unlike other models which used a combination of force feed Madison-Kipp lubricators as well as a pressure system), which force feed all of the bearing surfaces, as well as drilled crankshaft which feeds oil to the connecting rods and pistons.  The bearing shells for both the upper and lower main bearings, as well as the crankpin bearing shells were all interchangeable. 

The 31A piston used a set of bolts to hold the carrier to the piston. On the lower end, like all of the previous large bore FM engines, the crank pin bearings were in their own separate holder, thus when you had to pull a piston, you did not have to detach it from the crankshaft. FM Photo – Click for larger.

Scavenging air for the 31A series is provided by an attached vane style, oscillating blower.   In layman’s terms, it’s a big moving flap.  Incoming air comes in through a set of intake valves, gets compressed (1.5-3psi), and exits into the airbox through a set of discharge valves.   The moving vane is run off its own connecting rod on the forward end of the engine.  Intake air could be routed through the top, or front of the engine.  Engines so equipped with a compressor; this was driven off the lever that runs the blower vane. 

Oscillating vane style blower, and attached compressor. FM Photo – Click for larger.

Under the hood on the control end, things are a little more complicated.   To maintain the streamlined appearance, all the control rods are inside.   Follow the diagram – Incoming fuel comes into the fuel header on top of the injection pumps. Each injection pump is driven off the camshaft.  The fuel rack on the pumps is controlled by the governor – in this case, a direct reversing marine engine, using a Woodward SG8 governor.  Governor speed is controlled by a speed lever.   The governor is driven off the camshaft, which also drives the fuel pump, as well as a very basic, mechanical overspeed governor trip system.   Engine direction is controlled by a separate lever, which controls an interlock on the air side (to prevent the engine from starting if it is still moving in the opposite direction).

The fuel/control side. FM Photo – Click for Larger.

Moving on to the air system: The shift lever controls a rather complex pilot air system.  Driven off the camshaft gear drive train, is an air distributor.   Think of this like a distributer in a car.  Instead of controlling the firing order of spark plugs, it controls the air start sequence timing.  Putting the lever to start, air from the pilot valve, opens the air start relay valve, thus filling air header with start air.   At the same time, air from the distributor. opens a check valve on the appropriate cylinder, thus letting the start air in.    The same lever also has a cam that is tied into the fuel rack and governor, to set the fuel load when either in the start or run position.   In order to switch from ahead to astern, the shifter lever also controls a shifter cam, which in turn runs down to a shift fork inside the air start distributor.   This shifter moves a small camshaft to choose the appropriate timing for ahead or astern starting. 

Control air side of things. FM Photo – Click for Larger.
The rotary distributor valve that controls pilot air for starting in a specific direction. Much simpler then the large sliding camshafts a number of big bore engines used. FM Photo – Click for larger.

Stationary engines still use the same system; however, it is slightly simpler without having the additional moving shifter and gear for the reversable timing.  Stationary engines used a Woodward UG8 governor, with a faceplate and knobs for the extra controls. 

Unlike the larger 31A18 engine, these smaller engines have more provisions for attached pumps.   All the pumps (oil, raw water, soft water) are driven off the crankshaft through a flexible drive gear (a spring pack drives the gear to absorb any shocks) located under the blower.  In the case of the direct reversing engines, all the pumps are reversable (except the fuel pump, which has a directional switching valve).   One of the options for marine engines was a small reciprocating bilge pump that was driven off an eccentric on the cam idler gear.  Behind the flexible drive gear was the thrust bearing.   Often in cases of stationary engines, water pumps were typically electric driven pumps.

Pump drive system, as well as the thrust bearing. This is on the front end of the engine, under the blower. FM Photo – Click for larger.

Both models of the 31A included an unusual option – either an Airflex style clutch and a reduction gear, or a Twin Disk clutch.  This clutch was simply an “on – off” per say.  The reduction gear would be built to match a vessel’s specific.  The Airflex clutch was also available for stationary applications and could be offered on either end of the engine. 

The reverse gear (made by FM) and Airflex clutch (likely a Fawick). FM photo – Click for larger.

In the case of the 31A8 ½“ engine, an optional dual fuel version was offered, the 31AD8 ½“.   While the specifications are the same, the AD engine included a few additional parts in order to run on both Diesel and Natural Gas – however, Diesel was still used as a pilot fuel.  On the control side of the AD engine, tied into the control lever is a pilot valve, which controls an oil pressure activated gas shut off valve – which is also tied into the governor overspeed – thus, if the engine overspeed’s, or shuts down for any reason, the natural gas is shut off.  On top of the engine, a gas manifold runs alongside the cylinder heads.  On each of the cylinder heads is a valve, which is operated by a set of push rods and rockers off the main cam shaft.   The fuel injection pumps are a duplex style, that when the engine is run in Diesel mode, the normal amount of fuel is injected, however when operating in dual fuel mode, a smaller metered amount of Diesel is injected as a pilot fuel for the Natural Gas.   When running in Diesel mode, the gas injection valves are still functioning, however nothing happens as they open when the exhaust stroke starts. 

Gas valve lever assembly. FM Photo – Click for larger.

Fairbanks-Morse 31A Gallery

Cutaway view of the 31A8 ½“ engine. FM Photo – Click for larger.
A trio of FM 6 cylinder 31AD8 ½“ engines at the Roodhouse, IL municipal power plant. The AD version of the engine can be spotted by having the extra set of duplex filters (the Diesel version only has one set). These engines each drive a 265kW alternator. Fairbanks -Morse News. Click for larger.
An FM 5 Cylinder 31A8 ½“ driving a 75,000gpm pump at the Corpus Christi flood control station “B”. Fairbanks-Morse News. Click for larger.
At the Corpus Christie pump station “A”, a trio of 5 cylinder 31A8 ½“ engines drive 54″ 75,000gpm pumps, for a combined capacity of 225,000gpm of flood control. The station also housed a 75hp FM electric motor driven, 36″ 27,000gpm pump. Fairbanks-Morse News. Click for larger.
A postcard of the FM Chicago showroom, including a full scale cutaway 31A engine. This is not just a drawing, it actually existed! I have seen a photo of Mr. Morse standing in front of it. FM Photo – Click for larger.
The City of Stockton, KS would replace a pair of FM Y engines with a single FM 8 cylinder 31AD8 ½“ in 1949. In the background are a pair of FM 32E14 engines. I would be curious as to what size generator this 31A drove. This plant would run these engines full load 96.7% of the year, a testament to the reliability of FM’s big bore engines. Fairbanks-Morse News. Click for larger.
The Glennallen Diesel Plant, in Glennallen, AK originally had a pair of FM 8 Cylinder 31A8 ½“ engines. These would be replaced in the 1970s by 38OP engines. Cooper Valley Electric Photo – Click for larger.

The F-M 31A series (with the exception being the 18” bore for stationary power generation) never really caught on.   By the 1950’s when F-M was really pushing the engines, there was already smaller and lighter engines making around the same power.   Not to mention, the plethora of cheap WWII surplus engines, including many F-M 38D OP’s which went on to do just about every job under the sun.   By 1958, F-M severely reduced engine production to just the 38D OP engines (in both bore sizes), the 31A18, and the small 45C and 49B engines.  All of the older models were now discontinued (such as the 31A, 32D, 37F, 33D: any of the older pump or crankcase scavenged engines).  One of (the?) last running example of a 31A8 ½” was the NOAA research vessel “John N. Cobb”, which was operational until 2008 when the crank snapped.   The vessel has recently been sold for use as a fishing boat, and I would imagine will be repowered.  The small, former Canadian buoy tender “Nokomis” has a 31A6 ¼” and has been up for grabs for some time now, if it has not been scrapped yet.   I imagine there may still be a handful of older stationary examples hiding around the country somewhere. W.W. Williams became the parts supply company for these engines when F-M gave up the rights, however nothing has been available for quite some time.   Interestingly enough, Williams listed a  4 3/8” as well as a 10 ½” bore 31Aengine, however I have seen nothing about this in any of my F-M company literature, production lists or any advertising of the period. 

Video from youtube user oldtacomamarine (which used to be a fantastic website for old engines, but it has gone dormant) of the John N. Cobb just before the crank broke. Here is the link to their page on her engine: John N. Cobb at Old Tacoma Marine
Cover of the FM brochure on the 31A engine.

As always, I welcome any questions, comments, corrections, etc.. I would love to hear if any more of these engines are out in hiding. I have manuals for all 3 sizes, as well as the parts book for the 18″ should anyone need a copy. Since I know I will likely never get to play with any of these big old engines, I started the CAD work to 3D print a scale model..the first of many engines I plan on building.

Winton & Cleveland Diesel: The List.

Over the last few months, I have been combing through the records for Winton, and later Cleveland Diesel, and put together the following master list of every engine produced by them. This is the result of several nights of going through 2000+ pages of entries, and then spending the following several months filling in the gaps with specifications using various manuals, brochures, company newsletters and everything else, and even still, there are many, many holes with the early engines.

The records start with engine #15 – thus I can not fill in those very first engines. Note that Winton assigned model numbers to several of their auxiliary units such as compressors and pumps, and are labeled as such below.

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The last Winton engine before being purchased by GM was engine number #3559 on 6/12/1930, a model 148 engine for Electro-Motive. Winton was purchased by General Motors on 6/20/1930.

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On 12/30/1937, Winton Engine Corp., was renamed to the Cleveland Diesel Engine Division of General Motors. The Final Winton Engine was #5359, A 12-201A for Railroad Service.
Note 1: 4432/3 are the prototype 201 engines, listed as “used 201” in records.

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When it comes to horsepower ratings, especially on the later engines (278A, 268A, 567C), there were simply too many horsepower numbers to list, as it varied by application.

Note that by now – we see engines that are made by sister companies including Detroit and EMC/EMD. Early on, the Detroit Diesel engines sold through CDED (typically part of a “package” for a boat) carried both a Detroit Diesel as well as a Cleveland Diesel builders plate. In the case of the Detroit engines, this was dropped by the 1940’s.

However – with the EMC/EMD 567 line, engines sold though CDED for marine and stationary use carried only a Cleveland builders plate well into the late 1950’s. Only the very last few 567 engines sold through CDED carried both an EMD and a CDED builders plate. More information on this can be found on our post documenting Winton/CDED linked below.

Also to note: This list covers only engines built or sold through Winton and Cleveland Diesel. This does NOT cover any additional engines or developments by Detroit Diesel (such as the 51 or 53 series and later) or EMD (184A, 645 etc.)

Thanks to J. Boggess and P. Cook for helping with this. As always, there are numerous holes in the listing, so please send us a message with any additions or corrections.

4/5/2020 : Since posting this, I have been able to fill in a number of holes in the list. At some point in the future, I will post a revised edition.

Cleveland Diesel Engine Division – GM’s war hero turned ugly stepsister.

Diesel-Electric Drive in 2020

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The other day as we passed through Deepwater Range on our way to a job-site in New Jersey, a scene seen multiple times a day, caught my attention. Sitting in the racks at Whitehall were the Staten Island Ferry “John F. Kennedy” and the Governors Island Ferry “Lt. Samuel S. Coursen”. To the average commuter, these are just a pair of tired old ferry’s – 55 and 64 years old to be exact. Both of these boats are somewhat dinosaurs now – especially since both are powered by Diesel-Electric Drive. Both have been going back and forth next to each other on the same route, since being built.

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The JFK was built in 1965 as part of the 3 boat Kennedy class, consisting of the “John F. Kennedy”, “American Legion” and the “Gov. Herbert H. Lehman”, built at Levingston Shipbuilding. The trio were big ferrys of the time – 297′ long and could carry 3,055 passengers and 40 automobiles. Powering the boats were 4 EMD 16-567C engines which each drove a generator. In turn, 4 propulsion motors feed into a single output reduction gear set that drive the propeller – one motor/gear on each end of the boat.

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Coming in at about half the size of the JFK, the “Lt. Samuel S. Coursen” has also been plying the same route since being built by John H. Mathis in 1956 for the US Army – who at the time occupied Fort Jay on Governors Island. The Coursen became part of the USCG fleet, with sister ferry “Pvt. Nicholas Minue” when the USCG took over operations on the island in 1966. The pair of boats were designed by Eads Johnson, who designed several NYC area ferrys including those owned by the Electric Ferry Company – one of which, “The Tides” would become a fleet mate to the duo running to the island in 1969. Unfortunately, I have no idea what originally powered them (The Tides was powered by a Cleveland 6-278A) – other then they were repowered in 1965 – and again later on in the case of the Coursen with a Caterpillar, however the original Diesel-Electric propulsion was kept.

NYC DOT has a new order of ferry boats on the way, one of which will be the replacement for the “John F. Kennedy”, which has been the spare boat for some years now. Even being the old boat on the roster, she is still used almost every day. DOT also has a trio of other modern ferry’s, the “Spirit of America”, “Senator John J. Marchi” and “Guy V. Molinari”, each powered by 3 EMD 16-710G3B engines driving an AC drive Diesel-Electric package. The “Lt. Samuel S. Coursen” also has a new fleet mate that arrived in 2019, the “Governors 1”, however she is only equipped to carry passengers, thus the Coursen should be around for a few more years.

Each year the number of Diesel-Electric drive boats is fewer and fewer…

More on Coursen: https://govisland.com/blog/governors-island-fun-fact-who-was-samuel-s-coursen

Milwaukee Firsts

Nope, I am not talking about Pabst Blue Ribbon, or Miller High Life.   This past week I found myself heading to Wisconsin for a meeting and opted to make a stop over by where Great Lakes Towing operates in the Port of Milwaukee.    A pair of Great Lakes Firsts are spending this winter laid up in there. 

Back in the Menominee River, sits the tug North Dakota.   North Dakota, built in 1910 by the Towing Company, was the first “G Tug” converted to Diesel propulsion.   North Dakota was converted to diesel in 1949 by Paasche Marine Service in Erie, Pennsylvania, to plans laid out by Tams Inc., and Great Lakes Towing Company.  Under the hood so to speak, is a Cleveland Diesel 1200HP 12-278A, that was shipped 2/23/1949, part of order number 5641.  These engines drove Falk 12MB reverse reduction gears that swing a 102″ wheel.  Order 5641 encompassed the propulsion for four tugs, including North Dakota, Arkansas, Vermont and Illinois.  Today, all four of these tugs are still in service.   

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North Dakota had some major engine work done recently, and hopefully will be in the fleet for a few more years.   The crews in Milwaukee keep their boats looking sharp.   North Dakota would be a great museum piece one day, a true testament to the “G Tug”, now going on over 100 years old, and having spent more time with Diesel engines now, then their original steam plants. 

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Back at the Kinnickinnic River in the Port, is the Stewart J. Cort.   The Cort was the first 1000’ ship built for the Great Lakes, abit in an odd fashion.  The bow and stern sections were built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi, welded together and sailed to the lakes.   On arrival, they were split apart, and a mid-section was added by Erie Marine, also in Erie, PA. The Cort went into service in 1972, on a run she still handles today between Superior, WI and Burns Harbor, IN.   The Stewart J. Cort is powered by a quartet of EMD 20-645E7 engines, rated at 3600HP each.  Each pair of engines drives an Escher Wyss controllable pitch prop.   EMD supplied several of what were essentially locomotive parts for the Cort, including many traction motors that power the Bow and Stern thrusters and various pieces of unloading equipment. 

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In front of the Stewart J. Cort, is the tug Louisiana.  While not a first, she was converted to diesel as part of the 2nd order of engines in late 1949 for Great Lakes Towing.  Unlike the first batch, all these engines were WWII surplus that went through Cleveland Diesel’s rebuild program and emerged as brand new engines with new serial numbers.   Louisiana’s engine originally powered the Landing Ship – Tank # 935.  For all intents and purposes, she is identical to the North Dakota. 

I am going to throw this one in also for the hell of it. On my way back to the highway, Amtrak’s Empire Builder was leaving. While I can’t say railfanning interests me like it used to, I opted to get a quick shot. In the lead is Amtrak 182, a 19 year old General Electric P42DC, followed by two more. Amtrak has begun the process to replace these tired engines with new Siemens Chargers…which, to put bluntly, are ugly as sin. But hey, they said that about the EMD F7 once upon a time also..

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Sun Sets on the North Dakota..

Aluminum in the Jungle – American Tugs in South America

What does one of the worlds most versatile elements have to do with a blog about 1950’s diesel engines?  Well, we will get to that.   Aluminum as we know it, is composed chiefly out of Bauxite Ore, which is ground into a powder and mixed with Sodium Hydroxide to produce Aluminum Oxide, which is then converted by electrolysis at an Aluminum smelter into Billets or Anodes, where it can be further formed.  I am not a chemist, so if you want to know more about making Aluminum, look elsewhere.

Being somewhat interested in Rocks & Minerals, I went up to my local shop and picked up a piece of Bauxite.

In 1907, the Aluminum Company of America was formed, later known as Alcoa.  Alcoa was the country’s leading Aluminum manufacturer, which was growing at a rapid pace with a slew of plants across the country by the time WWI rolled around.   Alcoa was, however, not just an American company.  They were worldwide by the teens, operating mines, refinery’s and smelters around the globe.   In 1916, Alcoa opened a new Bauxite Ore mine in Moengo, Suriname, part of what was Dutch Guiana– about 70 miles Southeast of the capital city of Paramaribo.

Our story begins in South America… Google Maps.

To get to Moengo:  We start at the Atlantic Ocean and begin a very short trip down the Suriname River.   We hang a left just inside the harbor and enter the Commewijne River.  The Commewijne heads South, and the Cottica River splits off a few miles in, and continues East, before making a hard turn and dropping straight south into Moengo.   

Now, most of us are familiar with the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Cuyahoga, which has literally burned 13 times, including a major fire in 1952, stretches (for the navigable section) 5 winding miles up the river to what is now the ArcelorMittal Steel Mills.   Great Lakes Ships traversing the river, would typically need a pair of tugs (until Bow/Stern thrusters came prevalent), one on the bow, and one on the stern to navigate the rivers bends and bridges.

A pair of Great Lakes Towing tugs assist the steamer Willowglen in the Cuyahoga River at the aptly named Collision Bend in 1985. Most ships today dont even take tugs, and better yet, they even back out! Unknown photographer, VDD Collection

A great video from Youtube user Wes Clanton of the M/V Sam Laud transiting the Cuyahoga. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5m_YLBnVHA

Well, the Cottica River, makes the Cuyahoga look like a drag strip.  And it goes for 40 some miles. 

The Cottica River down to Moengo. Note the several short cuts that I assume were man made. Be sure to click for the full size. Google Maps.

In Moengo, Alcoa subsidiary Surinaamsche Bauxite Maatschappij operated the Bauxite mine, which would ship the ore by rail a short distance to the processing plant on the Cottica, where it would be transloaded into ships.   From there, ships bound for sea would need to transit the Cottica, and naturally, a single screw steam ship of the day, would need an assist tug.  That’s where Tams Inc. comes into play. 

Alcoa, being an American company, went to Tams Inc. Naval Architects in 1952, and had them design a pair of sister tugs for doing assist work on the Cottica to replace some antique steam tugs.  Joe Hack at Tams would design a pair of 103’ tugs, which would be based off the very well received Moran shipdocking tugs of the late 1940’s.   

The first tug delivered was the Wana. In a few years Joe Hack would design the tug W.R. Coe for the Virginian Railway, which was almost identical, right down to the streamlined stack flared into the wheelhouse. Cleveland Diesel/Diesel Times.

The tugs were operated as day boats, much like traditional NY Harbor Railroad tugs, and thus did not have a need for any major accommodations outside of a small galley and some pipe berths in the bow.   For better control towing in the quick turns of the river, the stern H bitt was moved way forward.  The unique feature, and what was foretelling for the future of tugs in general, was that the sisters had a second set of controls on top of the wheelhouse, under a simple sunshade.  

Tamarin’s upper wheelhouse. Note the “airbrushed” out windows in the lower wheelhouse. Fun fact – That style of drop down window was built by Alco – Yes, American Locomotive built tugboat windows! Cleveland Diesel/Diesel Times

Propulsion would come from a 1640HP Cleveland 16-278A driving a Falk MB reduction gear and Falk Airflex clutches.   A pair of 30kW generatros driven by Detroit 3-71s would power the auxiliaries. The tugs were built by Gulfport Shipbuilding of Port Arthur,Texas.   The tugs, owned by Alcoa Steamship Co., and operated by Surinaamsche Bauxite Maatschappij would be named the “Wana” and “Tamarin”, and were delivered in late 1952/early 1953.   Both tugs were based out of Moengo.  Cleveland Diesel covered the tugs in the March 1953 issue of Diesel Times.

Looking aft in the engine room. Cleveland Diesel/Diesel Times.

Each day, one of the tugs would run upriver and meet the ship before the river became a roller coaster ride.  According the the NYT article linked below, it was around a 10-hour trip, and it was not uncommon to brush up against the trees or run aground. 

1964 NY Times : SCENIC ‘JUNGLE CRUISE’ FOR CARIBBEAN TOURISTS

Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to acquire some slides of the tugs in action, likely all taken by Alcoa Steamship passengers. Unfortunately I have no idea the photographer and cannot credit them for these rare views.

The Wana in 1956. I assume this is the location where the tugs would pickup the tows. Click for Larger. Unknown Photographer/VDD Collection
Kodak 126 slide of the Tamarin in March 1967. Note that the stack colors are the same as that of the ship in the above photo. Click for larger. Unknown Photographer/VDD Collection
In what looks to be almost the exact same spot as the above photo, the Tamarin makes a hard turn to pull the bow of the ship around the corner in February of 1958. Click for larger. Unknown Photographer/VDD Collection
Same photo as above, but cropped tighter. Note that the rear H Bitt has an awning. The upper wheelhouse has Canvas sides as well, the roof was aluminum. Unknown Photographer/VDD Collection
Tamarin dragging the bow of the ship around a bend, the same day as the above shot. The Cottica was home to several local tribes. Click for larger. Unknown Photographer/VDD Collection

Alcoa (now locally Suralco) would open up a new smelter and refinery in nearby Paranam in 1965, as well as building a massive hydro-electric dam, which would ultimately power most of the area.   Unfortunately, finding information about 67-year-old tugboats in South America, can be a bit of a challenge!  According to Tim Coltons Shipbuilding History page, the “Wana” was renamed the “Coermotibo” by 1968.  After finding one of the local facebook pages for the town of Moengo, and translating some posts, I was able to find out the “Wana” was unfortunately tripped while towing a ship in the river and sunk, killing her 5-man crew.   The tug was apparently raised and rebuilt, along with being renamed.   The upper wheelhouse was rebuilt into an actual enclosed wheelhouse at this time. 

A photo and drawing of the “Coermotibo” from Wazim Mohammed on the http://www.clydeships.co.uk/ website.

The history of Moengo and nearby Paranam mirror our own Rust Belt in America.   The industry pulled out, and the towns went into a slow downward spiral.  Alcoa/Suralco closed the Paranam refinery in 1999, and the smelter in in 2015.  Alcoa was by far the largest employer, as well as owning a good portion of the area including company housing projects.   The Bauxite mine in Moengo would operate until 2015 as well, however I can’t find out if they were still shipping by ship, barge or whatnot.   At one point Alcoa even sold tickets aboard their ships to visit Moengo.  

A fantastic read on the fate of the town of Moengo: https://newsinteractive.post-gazette.com/suriname/economy/

As well as a story on Paranam and Alcoa in Suriname:
https://newsinteractive.post-gazette.com/suriname/overview/

At the end of the day, I can’t find a peep on what happened to the “Tamarin” or the “Coermotibo/Wana”. I regret not talking to Joe Hack about them.   Quite a few former American tugs are working nearby in Guyana, however its unknown what became of these sister tugs.   I suppose they COULD still be running around somewhere down there…

If anyone happens to know what became of them, shoot me a message!

1960’s postcard? of Moengo, with one of the sisters. Note that the little overhang on the stern is gone now. From the Moengo Facebook group.

Some additional reading:
Railways of Surinam – http://www.internationalsteam.co.uk/trains/surinam05.htm
Alcoa –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoa
I cant read it, but this is a great gallery of a trip down the Cottica-
http://hrmsdubois.weebly.com/dias-vd-commandant.html

Missing Parts…

Several years ago, we were doing a gasket kit on a power pack on the Cornell. We had it torn almost all the way apart and I had a “brilliant” idea… Lets see whats in the exhaust.

So… I reach in….expecting some carbon chunks..

Huh..there’s a pile of something… I don’t think its carbon.. Its just this one pile..

There’s a lot. Huh. Lets see if I can get it out.

What the hell!

Click for larger.

Sure as shit, it was a pile of bolts. They were totally caked into the oil and carbon in the bottom of the manifold. Turns out – Once upon a time, somebody doing the same thing many years ago, must have pulled the exhaust jumper off, and stuck the bolts in the manifold so they don’t get lost. Because that seems like a great idea..

The exhaust jumper is held on with 12 bolts, 6 on top and 6 on the bottom. The kicker is the top ones are fine thread, but the bottom is coarse thread, so you cant mix them. In-between is a set of asbestos-copper gaskets between the elbow and the head/manifold.

We did not feel the need to put them back in.

A look into the manifold. Not bad considering the engine does not get worked hard at all. Click for larger.

Its been a busy holiday season. Hopefully I can get back on track soon with a weekly advertisement as well as getting some more in depth write ups done.

Seeking out leaking liner O rings. The Cleveland 278A uses a water deck style liner, somewhat like the early EMD’s. Yes, that is a piston by the stairs. Makes a great step stool. Click for larger.