Part IV, the final part of this series will be a photo documentation of the tug Idaho.
Be sure to view the previous parts:
A Turbocharged Failure – The Story of the Cleveland 498, Part I – Introduction
A Turbocharged Failure – The Story of the Cleveland 498, Part II – Engine Design
A Turbocharged Failure – The Story of the Cleveland 498, Part III – Engine Installations
By the early 1990’s, the Great Lakes Towing Company (GLTC) would have the only running Cleveland 498 engines left in the US (See note on the bottom). The Towing Company as they are known has a rich history dating back to its formation in 1899, consolidating several smaller tugboat companies on the Great Lakes. GLTC currently serves numerous ports across the Great Lakes, and is the largest user of Cleveland 278 (A and non A engines) left in the country.
Starting in 1907, the company began to build their own tugs in house, in their own shipyard. The yard, originally in Chicago, and moving to Cleveland is still churning out all new tugs for the company today, as well as doing outside work.
In 1931, the yard constructed Hull # 67, and named her the Idaho. GLTC had two sizes of tugs, the smaller, “Type I”, which were named after cities, and larger “Type II”, named after states. The Idaho would be the last new tug built until 2008.
The Idaho was originally powered by a single cylinder, 26″ x 28″ steam engine. The tug was 84′ 4″ long, 20′ beam and a 12’6″ depth. The tug was one of three that would receive a raised height wheelhouse for doing lake towing.
In 1956, the Idaho was on the block to be converted to Diesel propulsion. The engine chosen was the new 498 from Cleveland Diesel, as outlined in previous posts. Cleveland Diesel Order #1640 was placed in early 1956, for a pair of left hand rotation, 1400HP, 8-cylinder 498 engines to convert the tugs Montana and Idaho (Montana was an identical sister, Hull #60 of 1929). The engine for Idaho, #46002 was shipped from the factory on 12/13/1956, having to only go a few miles up to the companies shipyard. The tugs would receive Diesel-Electric propulsion packages, utilizing WWII surplus Destroyer-Escort main generators and propulsion motors. Disaster struck the Idaho shortly after being rebuilt on 10/21/1960. The tug was assisting the lake ship C.H. McCullough, Jr. in Chicago, when the tug was sunk. She would be raised, dried out and put back in service. A photo of her being raised appears in Alexander Meakins “The Story of the Great Lakes Towing Co.”
Great Lakes Towing Company would ultimately have a quartet of 498 powered tugs. The Diesel-Electric Montana and Idaho, and the Clutch tugs Tennessee and Pennsylvania which were converted in 1960 from Steam. Montana would be retired in 2006, Tennessee in 2012 and the Pennsylvania in 2019. Ironically, the Pennsylvania would wind up receiving a replacement engine at some point in her life, originally out of the towboat Leila C. Shearer. This too was replaced with an EMD 12-645, however the conversion was never finished.
Noting that the last surviving 498 was likely nearing the end of her life, we reached out to the company to see about the possibility of documenting the engine and tug, and maybe see about preservation options. Unfortunately, we would be a touch too late. While the tug was still around, it was sitting laid up having suffered a catastrophic engine failure in 2016, however we were welcome to document her anyway.
The tug was laid up in Detroit for a few years, and was being used for parts for the other tugs in the GLTC fleet (while the engines were different, the tugs still share many parts between them).
Unfortunately, all things must come to an end. In January of 2019 the tug was towed back to Cleveland, and with the last few usable parts removed, the tug was scrapped. We can’t thank the Great Lakes Towing Company enough for allowing us to photo-document the tug.
With only 58 engines built, and being that virtually all of the engines stateside were replaced long ago, it is highly unlikely any of the foreign sold engines remain. We heard a rumor of one driving a water pump in Egypt, but again, this would have had to have been a relocated engine, and is highly unlikely it exists. Somebody please prove us wrong!
That wraps up our four part series on the Cleveland Diesel 498 engine. Please be sure to view the previous posts on this engine, linked on the top of this page. I will say it again, if anyone has any 498 manuals, brochures, stories, parts, anything, please get in touch with us. Should anything new arise, we will make another follow up down the road.