A Turbocharged Failure – The Story of the Cleveland 498, Part IV

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.

The Idaho after receiving her raised wheelhouse. Please note that this photo is not in my collection, simply one from my files. If anyone knows the photographer or archive please send me a message so it can properly be credited.
Ironically, one of the very first pieces of Cleveland Diesel ephemera I would add to my collection would be one depicting the new 498 powered tugs of the Great Lakes Towing Co.

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.”

The 498 powered tugs would never stray too far from the main yard in Cleveland, typically working the ports of Cleveland, Ashtabula, Toledo or Detroit. The porthole aft of the wheelhouse is the tugs small bathroom. Photo by Isaac Pennock.

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.

Sister tug Montana received the first 498 engine to be sold, seen here being lowered into the tug at the Cleveland yard. From Cleveland Diesel’s “More Power For You” brochure.

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).

The heart of the Idaho is her Cleveland 498 engine. Note the exhaust jumpers are rusty, having no water jacket around them, and by this point, no insulation either.
The tug had a WWII surplus, Allis-Chalmers 525V DC propulsion motor, rated for 1090kW at 720RPM. On top is a 120V DC shaft generator.
The power package installed in the Idaho. From Cleveland Diesel’s “More Power For You” brochure.
The propulsion switchboard. At left is a pair of excitation generators.
Also from the Destroyer-Escort is the propulsion motor. This was built by Westinghouse, and rated for 1225HP.
Farrel-Birmingham reduction gear, with a 4.233:1 ratio. The tug has a 102″ x 87″ stainless 3 blade propeller.
The portside, aft end of the engine room has the steering gear pump, as well as a motor-generator set. The fuel tanks are located behind the aft bulkhead.
Switchboard.
Portside of the engine, the air starter is mounted on the floor level. On top are the various gauges and governor.
Detroit Diesel 3-71 with a 30kW generator. In front is the tugs oil fired steam boiler for heating.
Air compressors.
The heart of the 498 is the De Laval turbocharger. The air intake filter is seen in the middle, with the compressor on top. A discharge tube feeds air into the intercooler on the bottom.
From the intercooler, the air fed into the roots blower (at left) from the bottom end. It was mentioned these engines sounded like helicopters.
Looking aft, the large cast cover is over the camshaft balancer, proudly displaying the maker of the engine.
Taking on ode from the 248 engine, the 498 used a two piece top cover. On the bottom right is the blowdown/safety valve. Former engineers for this boat mentioned heads and head gaskets were a big failure point being addressed often.
The reason the Idaho was retired. Shortly after startup, the #4 piston locked up, thus the connecting rod snapped, in turn swinging around and slamming into the airbox and both liners.
Unfortunately, parts for the 498 were long since unavailable, and a failure like this is typically a death sentence anyway, especially in an 80+ year old hull.
The hydraulic power pack and head tightening tool.
G tugs still have a tiller handle for rudder control, along with the Lakeshore throttle stands.
Wheelhouses were rather spartan, with a simple bench, small chart table and propulsion gauges. These tugs were only intended to do day work, with no real provisions of any kind.
These tugs were built for one purpose, docking ships, thus the low profile deckhouse. The stairs in front lead down into the forecastle.
A few basic bunks, lockers and a simple table in the bow.
The tugs official number, gouged into the steel 80+ years ago.
Great Lakes Towing exclusively used towing bitts manufactured by the Montague Iron Works in Northwest Michigan.
“G” tugs as they are known in the lakes, got their name from the large stack insignia.
The Idaho returning from a job in her last year in service on the Detroit River. Photo by Isaac Pennock.
Removal of the stack insignias traditionally mean the end is near. This was likely the last photo of the Idaho in one piece. Bill Kloss Photo.

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.

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