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.

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. 


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 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:

As well as a story on Paranam and Alcoa in Suriname:

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 –
Alcoa –
I cant read it, but this is a great gallery of a trip down the Cottica-

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.

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

A Primer on the Cleveland Diesel Engine Division of General Motors. 

In 1912, Alexander Winton formed the Winton Gas Engine & Manufacturing Plant, in Cleveland Ohio.   By 1913, Winton was on to building his first diesel engines.   Between gas and Diesel, Winton was beginning to lead the way with propulsion systems for some of the country’s leading yacht’s – a growing industry, but the tide would turn shortly, when Winton broke into the work boat and stationary engine market: tugs, ships,  car ferries, dredges, municipal power, pumps…the list is virtually endless with what that could benefit from a Diesel engine.  Winton’s first Diesel sale was in 1917 for use in the Auxiliary Freight Schooner “Sherewog”. By 1924, a new industry was added to the list: Rail cars.  Electro-Motive Engineering Corp. was building self-propelled railcars and using Winton gasoline, and later Diesel engines to power them.  By 1930, Winton was powering 58% of the Yachts registered with Lloyds of London.

Winton’s Logo

While the railroad side of things with EMC powered by Winton was growing, Winton was pioneering something else: Diesel-Electric-Drive for marine use.   At the time, the common type of marine diesel engine used was direct reversing.  Meaning-to shift from ahead to astern, the engine would be shut down, and then restarted in the opposite direction.  All of this being done by the engineer, in the engine room.   With Diesel-Electric-Drive, the captain has all that control right at his fingertip, combined with the almost no delay in shifting directions. The first installation of Winton Diesel-Electric drive was in Mr. Russell A. Alger’s Yacht, the “Elfay”. “Elfay used a Winton 115HP model 59 engine, which drove a 75kW generator, powering a 90HP electric propulsion motor. 

Fast forward to June of 1930.  The ever-expanding General Motors Corporation purchases Winton to get its foot into the Diesel engine market and shortly after decides to also purchase Electro-Motive in September, Winton’s then largest customer.   The success and growth of Winton and Electro-Motive Corp. under General Motors is well documented, and thus I won’t get into that here, however down the road we will be covering Winton’s large 4 stokes. By this point, Winton has made several engine designs, mostly 4 stokes, in both direct reversing as well as engines specifically for Diesel-Electric setups.   Even though the Diesel was taking charge, several smaller gasoline engines were still in production, and Winton even began to dabble in distillate-burning engines, which was a fuel somewhere in between gasoline and kerosene.   A new design was introduced in 1932 on the Winton 138, which now featured welded crankcases fabricated by the Lukenweld division of Lukens Steel Company.   This simple change started a new trend – lighter weight engines. 

By the mid 30’s, the US Navy was in the market for a compact, reliable Diesel engine for use in submarines.  The Navy gave Winton a contract in 1932, and the new Winton 201A engine (502 cubic inches per cylinder) fit the bill after some exhausting tests. The 16-Cylinder, 2-stroke engine, with an 8” bore and 10” stroke used uniflow scavenging, as well as the unit injector.  The 201A would go on to power EMC’s various Streamliner passenger locomotives, as well as switchers.   Preston Cook has covered the 201A development well, and I urge everyone to check out his write-up which will be linked at the bottom of this post.

The Winton 16-201A setup for Submarine use. Click for Larger. Winton Photo.

While the 201A was a quasi-success in both the submarine and railroad market, it was ultimately not a successful engine.   General Motors Engineering, working with both Winton and EMC – under Mr. Charles Kettering, would begin to develop a pair of new engines that fixed the issues with the 201A.  EMC focused on the railroad end of things, and the EMC 567 line was born, and Winton would focus on the marine and stationary side of things, thus the Winton 248 was born.   Again, the 567 history is well covered online and in print, and I won’t go there (see links at the bottom of this post).  Production models of the 248 was started in 1937, with the 567 coming a bit later in 1938. 

Winton 16-248. Click for Larger. Winton Photo.

The Winton 248 – was a 2-stroke engine, slightly larger than the 201A with an 8 ½” bore and 10 ½” stroke (just slightly larger than the 567 at 595 cubic inches vs. 567 per cylinder), used a unit injector, and had uniflow scavenging with a Roots blower mounted on the front end.  While the 201A used more traditional push rods to actuate the exhaust valves, the 248 used overhead camshafts.   The 201A was a 60-degree V, the 567 was a 45-degree V (The 567 only having need fit in the 6’ width of a railcar), and the 248 was much narrower, and was only 40 degrees, a big space savings when you are in a submarine! Between 1937 and 1943, the 16-248, rated at 1600HP at 750RPM was utilized in 55 US Navy Fleet subs, several sub tenders in 16, 12- and 6-cylinder configurations, and a lone non-naval use, the City of New York Fireboat Fire Fighter, which had a pair of 16-248’s.   A single 8-248 was built as an experimental rail car engine in 1935.  

Cleveland 16-248’s in retired FDNY Fireboat Fire Fighter. These are likely some of the oldest operable General Motors Diesels. Fire Fighter will be covered extensively in the future. Click for Larger.

Shortly after the introduction of the 248, Winton Diesel would be no more.   General Motors decided to rename Winton Engine Company to Cleveland Diesel Engine Division of GM as of 12/30/1938.   It has been noted in many places that “Winton became EMD!” Well, no.  Winton became Cleveland Diesel.   Electro-Motive Corporation would be reborn as the Electro-Motive Division of GM in January of 1941.   CDED, being led by George W. Codrington, who joined Winton in 1917, was starting to gear up for the inevitable: World War II.    A briefly used “General Motors Sales Corp., Diesel Engine Division” name was used in conjunction with the CDED, EMC and Detroit Diesel brands between 1937/1938.  Sister company Detroit Diesel was started in January of 1938 at an all new plant, building the small diesel, the new 71 series 2 stroke line, in 1, 2, 3, 4- and 6-cylinder configurations. 

The “Television Set” logo used by CDED.

While EMC was progressing forward with locomotive development centered around the 567 engine, Cleveland Diesel would also lend a hand.  EMC would build 567’s for railroad use only and would supply CDED with basic engines.  Cleveland would modify 567’s for marine or industrial applications.  Thus, any EMC/EMD non-railroad 567 application was sold and serviced by Cleveland Diesel, carrying CDED builders plates and engine numbers, right up to the end of CDED in 1961.  In fact, the very first production 567 engines were a pair of 8 cylinder 567’s used in the tug Thomas E. Moran.  CDED would help develop the 12-567/reduction gear installation for in the WWII Landing Ship Tank (LST), which EMD would mass produce in LaGrange. 

The first production Cleveland/EMC 8-567 engines used in the tug Thomas E. Moran in 1938. These would be later removed and replaced with a single 12-278A. Click for Larger. From Cleveland Diesel booklet “A New Conception of Diesel-Electric Drive”.

With war on the horizon in 1940, CDED was already ramping up production for the Navy through various shipbuilding contracts – many of which CDED acted as the General Contractor for the entire program, from planning to launching.   Realizing that they would not be able to keep up with demand for the upcoming Navy contracts, CDED started to expand.  The former Winton plants #1 and #2 on 106th and 110th Street in Cleveland were added onto with the addition of several new assembly bays, machine shops, powerhouse, stock rooms, offices, and pattern shops.   After the events at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, Cleveland Diesel needed more room – and fast.   In January of 1942, CDED met with the Bureau of Ships in Washington and they outlined the need for a new plant.  Ground was broken in February on a new 343,445 square foot factory, located on 76 acres just 1.6 miles southeast of the Winton plants.  The new plant would be owned by the Navy and operated by CDED.  Plant #3 opened in November of 1942, and was mostly used as the final assembly, testing and shipping facility, with Plants 1 and 2 feeding it parts and supplies. 

Former CDED Plant #3 in 2012. Unfortunately a very quasi-1970’s looking office was built in front of the original entrance. The plant has since been expanded several times. Click for Larger. J. Boggess Photo.

The success of the Winton 248 led to a slightly refined engine in 1941 with the introduction of the 278 engines.    The 278 used the same bore and stroke as the 248 but featured reengineered cylinder heads and injectors, as well as an entire redesign of the deck and water manifold for the liner cooling.   The 278 was offered in 6, 8, 12- and 16-cylinder models, and were used in several Navy uses, mostly YTB and fleet tugs. Only a handful of submarines received the 278, repowering a few of the original 201A powered subs.   The 12-278, rated at 900HP at 700RPM being the most common.  Out of 512 278 engines built during the war, 348 engines were 12-278s.

The 278 would be refined one last time in 1942 with the introduction of the 278A.   While essentially the same engine as the 278, the 278A used a slightly larger bore of 8 ¾” with a 10 ½” stroke, bumping it up to 631 cubic inches per cylinder.   There was some crossover in parts on the 3 models mentioned above, but they were all different engines.    The 278A, offered again in 6, 8, 12- and 16-cylinder variations, in many power output options ranging from 1800HP/900RPM 16 cylinder, down to 480HP/700RPM 6-cylinder models.   Unlike the previous 248 and 278 engines being used for generators only, the 278A was now able to handle a reverse/reduction gear as well.    The 278A would go on to be one of the most widely used engines during WWII, and it would be easier to list what they were not used in.    CDED would receive the Navy’s prestigious “E” award in May of 1942 for production, which would later be renewed two more times. 3,495 6/8/12/16 278As were built in the 1941-1945 war years alone. 

One of eight Cleveland Diesel’s in the Destroyer Escort USS Slater. Click for Larger.

While the 248/278/278A were the major players for CDED, they did produce another high horsepower engine during WWII – The 16-258.   This engine was originally a Winton-designed engine, for submarine service, as a 4-stoke, direct-reversing engine, making 1500HP at 900RPM. CDED added a pair of turbochargers, and the newly-dubbed 16-258S made 2000HP at 900RPM– quite a number for its day.  The 16-258S was used predominantly in sub chasers. 

    With the 248/278/278A lines being the high horsepower models, Winton developed several smaller engines that would be used as generators.  The 233, a small 5 ¼” x 7” engine, the 228 which had the same bore and stroke and the larger 6-cylinder 241, which was an 8”x10” 4 stroke engines.  The 268 was introduced by Cleveland Diesel in 1938, initially in a 4-cylinder, followed by an 8-cylinder, then a 3-cylinder model.   The 268 was the first smaller 2 stroke developed under CDED, with a 6 3/8” bore and 7” stroke.   These engines respectively drove 100, 150 and 300kW gensets for auxiliary power.   The 268 was updated in 1940 into the 268A with a slightly larger 6 ½” bore but the same 7” stroke.   CDED would go on to build massive numbers of both 3 and 8-cylinder 268A engines, that were used as generators in everything from submarines, destroyers, LST’s, destroyer escorts, tugboats, ships and anything else that needed electric power.   The 268A would ultimately be offered with a reverse gear for propulsion use in smaller craft. Throughout the war years, 4,778 3-268A engines were built and 4,521 8-268A engines were built.

A 1942 built Cleveland 8-268A on display at the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, WI. This engine originally powered the Navy PC-502, and later the tugboat Arrow. Click for Larger.

War production for CDED would ultimately amass 5,562 Navy ships – 141 Submarines, 376 Tugs, 399 Destroyers, 1140 Sub Chasers/Escorts, 1817 Landing Craft, 992 Minesweepers/Layers, 299 Cargo Ships, 89 Tenders, 48 Transports, 97 Patrol/Rescue/Salvage Vessels, 85 Carriers/Ammo Ships/Other and 79 Battleships, Cruisers and Gunships.  39.5% of these used CDED for propulsion and auxiliary, 23.75% for propulsion only and the remainder for auxiliary only.  21,709 engines were ultimately built strictly for WWII service. 

After the end of WWII, CDED would opt to vacate Plant 3.   Demand for the 278A and 268A plummeted after the war, simply due to the sheer numbers built, and the fact that a massive number of essentially brand new, surplus engines were now available.    The original Winton plants #1 and #2 would be more than enough to keep up with future demand and service.    Plant 3 would wind up being taken over by sister division EMD in 1946.   EMD operated Plant 3 for locomotive production, specifically switchers and GP7’s until late 1954.   After EMD, the plant would be used by Euclid, GM’s construction machinery division, and later Terex.   Today Plant 3 is home to many smaller, non-GM businesses.    

Throughout WWII and after, CDED did extensive advertising, and utilized some rather amazing paintings in many. They also produced a monthly newsletter “Diesel Times”, which typically covered a specific boat or project in detail, as well as several booklets about the company and some of its history. Click for Larger.

   With the Naval contracts winding down, Cleveland Diesel would need to find an alternative to stay viable.    Before and during the war, CDED worked closely with TAMS Inc. Naval Architects with Naval Architect Richard Cook on a multitude of projects.   General Motors saw this as an opportunity and purchased TAMS outright and folded it into Cleveland Diesel.   TAMS, now known as the Marine Design Section of CDED, and being led by Mr. Cook’s successor, Naval Architect Joe Hack, led CDED into the new world of commercial shipbuilding, something Winton helped pioneer many years earlier.    The vast majority of tugs, especially in the Northeast, would be Cleveland-designed, and powered. 

    With WWII over, massive amounts of virtually new ships were coming home, mostly to be scrapped.   At the same time, many commercial maritime operators were in dire need to major fleet upgrades – specifically tugboats.   CDED saw the opportunity and would wind up buying back several engines out of various craft, specifically LST’s, Destroyer Escorts and many others.  CDED would then rebuild these engines to new condition, assign them a new serial and order number, and package them for reuse.   Like its Winton ancestor, CDED was pushing Diesel-Electric-Drive.  The Destroyer Escorts were just that, and CDED would take an engine, generator, and propulsion motor, and lo and behold, you now have a 1600HP Diesel-Electric tugboat package.   CDED would also work with several subcontractors and other GM divisions and supply the entire propulsion package and various auxiliary’s (steering, switchboard, generator engines etc.).   While Diesel-Electric was still the go-to of the time, it was expensive and heavy, even with all the WWII surplus components being utilized.    The new trend for tug propulsion was in clutch drive, with reverse-reduction gears.   Once again, CDED would put together a package, with either a 278A or 567C later on, with typically a Falk MB series gear, on a common base.    While the surplus engines were being used quite a bit, CDED was still indeed producing brand new 278A and 268A engines as well.   Tugboats were by far the bread and butter, but CDED was providing propulsion systems for ships, fishing boats, municipal power plants, and any other non-locomotive diesel use you can think of.   George Codrington finally retired after a long and successful career and was replaced with Thomas Hughes in 1953.

Cleveland 16-567C in the CDED (Joe Hack) designed tug Nancy Moran. Click for Larger.

The Navy work was still happening as well.  The Navy would come to CDED with an interesting request – the need for a non-magnetic engine for Minesweepers.  These engines would feature a unique nickel block with a variety of stainless, copper, brass and bronze fittings – literally, everything but steel were used in these engines.   CDED put together a few different packages, with 8-278A’s with reverse/reduction gears, 8-278A Impulse Generator sets, 8-268A’s with reverse/reduction gears, 8-268A’s with generators as well as a smaller number of 12-278A’s for the Canadian Navy – all of these engines being non-magnetic.    Another Naval development came with the 16-338 engine, a 16-cylinder, 4-layer vertical radial diesel engine for use in submarines.   The 338 engine has its roots in the 16-184A “Pancake” engine EMD built for subchasers during WWII.  Only a handful of the 16-338’s were built, and were used with generators for a single class of post-war Diesel submarine, which were ultimately a failure. 

A CDED Non Magnetic 8-278A, which drove a 530kW impulse generator (another WWII surplus piece), with a heavy flywheel mounted in-between. These were installed on AM-421 and AM 498 class Minesweepers. c. 1952 Cleveland Diesel Photo, J. Boggess Collection.

The 1950’s started a new era in CDED – The Diesel engine horsepower race.   In the mid 1950’s, the US Navy was experimenting with turbochargers, specifically with the 278A engine, and getting successful results.   De Laval was doing its own testing, using the 268A engine, and Detroit Diesel was working with Garrett-Air Research on their own.  EMD was a bit behind in the development, as they were working on their own, in-house designed turbocharger to be used on the 567D engine, after being encouraged by tests done by Union Pacific using Garrett turbos on EMD 567 powered GP9’s.     Cleveland Diesel took the research from the 278A testing and developed an all-new engine dubbed the 498.   While using the same bore and stroke as the 278A, the 498 was all new.    The engine used floating pistons, like the 567 line now used, elimination of the water deck style liners, improved wraparound connecting rods, and a simplified gear train system all mounted in a much heavier crankcase.   On top of that, a De Laval exhaust-driven turbocharger was added, used in conjunction with a smaller Roots blower and an intercooler.   The 498 was offered as a propulsion engine, with either electric or clutch drive packages, or for use in stationary applications.   An 8, 12- and 16-cylinder model were offered rated at 1400, 2100 and 2800HP at 850RPM.  A 6-cylinder model was proposed, but never built.   Only fifty eight 498 engines were ever built, as by the time most of the teething bugs were worked out and the salesmen were really pushing them, the end was near for Cleveland Diesel.  

Cleveland Diesel 8-498 with a Falk 14MB reverse/reduction gear. Click for Larger. CDED Photo.

The last major development by Cleveland Diesel was the 358H line of engines.   These were a massive loop-scavenged, horizontal radial Natural Gas, spark ignition engine, with 16 cylinders with a 12 ½” bore and 14 ½” stroke.  The engine was developed for industrial use, aimed towards natural gas pumping stations, or municipal and industrial powerplants.   The engine was rated at 3300HP at 600RPM.    The largest user of these was Reynold’s Aluminum, who used 42 of these engines, each driving 2000kW generators mounted vertically, for powering aluminum electrolytic smelting operations.  CDED displayed a 16-358H Turbo model, which used a pair of De Laval turbos, bumping the horsepower up to 4500.  CDED would dabble in a few other markets, including a Free Piston Gas Turbine engine for ship propulsion.

Cleveland 16-358H engine with generator. Click for Larger. From CDED booklet “More Power for You”

All good things must come to an end, and this happened to Cleveland Diesel November 1st, 1961, when the Cleveland Diesel Engine Division of General Motors was merged into the Electro-Motive Division.   By now, EMD was making major strides with the 567 line (now up to the turbocharged 567D).  The last new 278A’s were non-magnetic engines built in LaGrange sometime in the late 1960’s. EMD would continue to supply parts for the various CDED lines, however all development stopped, specifically with the 358 and 498 engines.   Joe Hack, along with his brother Al, would purchase the Marine Design division and start their own company – Marine Design Inc., and would continue to design tug and barges for the next 25+ years.    Electro-Motive would not keep the parts support for Cleveland long, and they sold the entire line to Hatch & Kirk of Seattle, WA.   H&K to this day supplies parts for the 278, 278A and 268A engines, predominantly to foreign governments operating surplus US Navy equipment.   I was shocked to hear one of the leading engines supported today was the Non-Magnetic 278A.  

Today, the number of Cleveland Diesels in daily use – from what was once the largest supplier of medium-speed marine diesel engines – dwindles every year.  The largest fleet user today is the Great Lakes Towing Company, which operates several 278 and 278A powered tugs throughout the Great Lakes (along with one of the last 498 engines up to just a couple years ago).  GLT has been very helpful with our Cleveland Diesel history and documentation projects.  Several museum boats have CDED power, including the USS Cod in Cleveland and the Destroyer Escort USS Slater in Albany, both some of the best Naval museums one can visit.  A small, shrinking number of tugs are still around with Cleveland Diesels, as well as those in foreign navies.

USS Slater, returning from drydock in a fresh WWII Dazzle paint scheme. Click for Larger.

After spending several years working on a Cleveland Diesel-powered tug and meeting fellow CDED historian Jay Boggess – we have set out to gather and document Cleveland Diesel as much as we possibly could. Unfortunately, not all that much about CDED (unlike EMD) is on the web, which was one of the bigger influences for starting this blog.  The last several years we have been documenting boats and power plants, visiting libraries, acquiring and digitizing old manuals and documentation, collecting old parts and greasy things, and anything else you can think of.    While a handful of engines were listed above, Winton and Cleveland Diesel combined would roster a whopping 252 different engine models through a 48-year span.   At some point, we will share the roster (it needs a bit more cleanup yet), and quite a few posts will be dedicated in the future to cover many models in depth, with photos, diagrams and the like.    If anyone has anything they would like to add to our research – we would love to hear it, please shoot an email over!  Stories, manuals, documentation, anything.   Plenty of holes in the CDED history yet to be filled.  Of course, Thanks to Jay Boggess for helping write this.

Some links to visit:
USS Cod Submarine Memorial
USS Slater – DE 766
Fireboat Fire Fighter
Preston Cook History on the Winton 201A
Preston Cook – 567 engine in the 21st Century
Cleveland Diesel – US Auto Industry in WWII (A really cool website to browse!)

Production 278’s await testing at one of the Cleveland plants, December 1941. Alfred T. Palmer/ Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Historic Tugs I – Luna and Venus

In early 1930, the Mystic Steamship Company sat down and had the firm of John C. Alden Naval Architects of Boston design them a pair of tugboats for their Boston Tow Boat operation.    Built by M.M Davis & Sons Shipbuilding of Solomons, Maryland, they would be powered by the then growing in popularity – Diesel Electric Drive.   While steel shipbuilding was gaining traction, the twins were both built out of wood.

Click for larger. From “Floating Power Plants”, June 1935 Diesel Progress.
Click for larger. From “Diesel Electric Vessels powered by Cleveland Diesel”
Click for larger. From “Diesel Electric Vessels powered by Cleveland Diesel”

The duo would go on to become flagship tugs for the company, and were used in a number of advertising for Winton, Cleveland Diesel and General Electric. By the late 1930’s, Boston Tow Boat would be reorganized as the Boston Towboat Co., now under parent company Eastern Gas & Fuel Associates, and ultimately falling under the Midland Enterprises banner, parent company to numerous inland tug and barge companies.

Luna and Venus team up to help dock an Amoco ship in Boston.
Unknown photographer/collection of VDD. Click for larger.

Luna and Venus are each powered by a pair of Winton 6 cylinder, 335HP/300RPM model 129 engines. Each engine drives a General Electric 213kW, 250V DC generator, with a 25kW exciter/generator mounted behind them on the same shaft.   A single GE 516HP, 500V double armature (think of it as two 258HP motors together on a common shaft) electric propulsion motor would spin the prop at up to 125RPM.   A battery bank was provided in the fidley to power the compressors and other auxiliary as needed. A major change bought on with Diesel Electric drive, now the Captain had full control of the propulsion right in the wheelhouse, and he did not have to rely on the engineer downstairs through a system of bells to control the engine. The Luna is often credited with being the first Diesel-Electric tug, however this is not true. That honor goes to the Pennsylvania Railroad #16, built in 1924. Luna may have been the first Diesel Electric tug in Boston, or even the first Diesel-Electric Ship Docking specific tug, but she was not the first overall.

Engine shipping dates for Luna and Venus. Click for larger.

The Luna and Venus, now painted in Boston Towboats deep red, with a silver stack band (its no varnished wood, but it was one of the authors favorite color schemes for a tug company) were working alongside the rest of the Boston Towboat fleet providing mainly ship docking work in the Boston area. Unfortunately, tugs grew quickly, so even by the 1950’s they were rather outdated and very under-powered. Luna and Venus were both retired in 1971 and languished around Boston for several years. Venus was owned by Bay State Cruise Co., and used as an office at Long Wharf. Luna was planned to become a reef. Boston Towboat itself would not be around much longer either, they would become part of Boston Fuel Transport in 1985.

Venus in 1992. Unknown photographer/collection of VDD. Click for larger.

By the early 1980’s, plans were in place to save the Luna. She was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. She and sister Venus were back together in the Charles River Basin, and Luna was being used as an office for the Terra/Marre Research & Education Society, her then owners. The Luna was under restoration and open for tours, and was still operational with one engine running, although she still sat unused. By the late 1980’s, the tug was now owned by/under control of the Metropolitan District Commission.

The inevitable finally caught up with the 60 year old tugs. Luna was beached and awash, with sister Venus next to her sunk by the bow. A plan was finally in place by the MDC, and Luna was raised in the summer of 1992 and towed to Jay Cashmans yard. Luna was being kept afloat with a 6″ pump running around the clock, and one night the pump ran out of fuel, and down she went at the dock.

Towing the Luna out of the Charles River. Pat Folan Photo.
Luna sunk at Cashmans pier. Click for larger. Pat Folan photo.

Luna was finally raised, again and towed into the drydock at the former Bethlehem Shipyard in East Boston in December 1993. Fate would not be as kind to Venus, and she was broken up. Luna languished in the drydock until mid 1994 when the Luna Preservation Society was formed. The new group took over the project from the MDC, and was able to get the Luna stabilized by wrapping the hull in PVC roofing material, which kept her floating for the next 5 years. In 2000 the Luna was towed to Sample Shipyard in Maine, and underwent a 2 year long hull restoration.

Luna today in Boston. Click for larger. Will Van Dorp Photo

Volunteers have since done an amazing job returning the Luna to her 1930’s appearance. The current plan is for her to become a new centerpiece at Pier 3, in the Boston Navy Yard. Unfortunately, having been submerged for so long, Luna will likely never run again. There were some plans to possibly install a small diesel engine in the back of the engine room so she could do some light cruising in the Harbor – Boy how I hope this does not happen. She serves her purpose well as a stationary vessel, a testament of 1930’s tugboat technology.

Looking aft at the Starboard Winton 129 engine. Click for larger. Will Van Dorp photo.
Outboard side of the engine. Click for larger. Will Van Dorp photo.
Looking forward at the Port Winton 129. Note the large flywheel, and the GE 213kW generator. Click for larger. Will Van Dorp photo.
What is interesting is that the propulsion motor in Luna is mounted on the very forward end of the engine room, between the forward two fuel tanks. A long shaft spans the entire length of the engine room. Click for larger. Will Van Dorp photo.
Looking down at the rockers on the top of the engine. Click for larger. Will Van Dorp Photo.
The galley of the Luna, with some gorgeous wood paneled walls, not something you see on tugs today! Note that the shaft for the steering, as well as the duplex propulsion controls (linked together) run right through the galley table! Unfortunately Will was not able to get a photo inside the wheelhouse on his visit. Click for larger. Will Van Dorp photo.

Here is hoping for a bright future for the Luna in her new home at the Navy Yard. Unfortunately the Luna Preservation Society’s website has not been updated in 17 years.

Many thanks to Pat Folan and Will Van Dorp for use of their photos, and of course J. Boggess for scanning the Winton records and Cleveland booklets. Thanks to several of my Boston area tug friends for help with clearing up some details.

Be sure to check out Pat’s website Pelican Passage for some fantastic tugboat shots –

And of course Will Van Dorp’s blog Tugster (who was the initial inspiration for making this blog!) –

A bit of a catch-up..

One thing I unfortunately am not a big fan of is how the homepage is archived per say, it makes finding older articles harder, so now and then I intend to do one of these listings with all previous posts so far.

Another thing I want to address is the advertising. At the moment I am using a free plan through wordpress, which unfortunately comes with advertising. In the next month or so I hope to get on a better one in order to get rid of all of that crap. I ask you to bear with me for now, I have lots of great articles in progress!

Fairbanks Morse 31A18

Old Advertising I – Marquette Governors

D-Day plus 75 – A pair of D-Day survivors on the Great Lakes

Another WWII Survivor – The story of the Edmund J. Moran/Barbara Andrie

Old Advertising II – Jakobson Shipyard

Re-purposed – The story of the Great Lakes Towing tug Ohio, and her transformation into a museum piece.

Old Advertising III – Carl Hussman Company and the EMD 567

Spencer Heads – Spencer cylinder head inserts

EMD 567 spotters guide – How to tell apart the various 567 types.

Old Advertising IV – Farrel-Birmingham

Fixing a bearing – Rebuilding the babbit motor support bearing on the Tug Cornells WWII surplus propulsion motor

Old Advertising V – GM Diesel and the George Drake Gulfport Tugboats

Tugboats & Submarines – Story of the Fleet sub Cabezon, and how her engine wound up in the Tug Cornell

Old Advertising VI – Kahlenberg Brothers

Fairbanks Morse Engine List – Listing of every FM Diesel Engine

An unexpected find – Finding an Enterprise Valve at a surplus store

Old Advertising VII – Buchi Turbos

The 40 Series Line – A primer on EMD’s golden years of locomotive production

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The 40 Series Line: Zenith of EMD

The following article was written by contributing author Jonathon Leese.

The year is 1966, and Electro-Motive Division of General Motors (EMD) is top dog in the locomotive sales world. With very few exceptions, the tens of thousands of EMD-built diesel electric locomotives had snuffed out the fires of the nation’s last steam locomotives for good a mere 6 years prior. Barely 20 years earlier, diesel-powered locomotives were nothing more than a curiosity, and now they were here to stay. All was well for EMD, however the railroads now came to their preferred builder with a new problem: the locomotives that had replaced steam, some now nearing 20+ years of age, were worn out and in need of replacements. For the first time, EMD now had to build a locomotive that would be replacing one they had already built. Increasing competition from General Electric (GE), while still barely making a dent in EMD’s market share, were also raising more than a few eyebrows. The pressure was on for EMD to deliver a home run.

As the 1960s dawned, so too did the race for more horsepower. While early diesel locomotives were more efficient and cheaper to operate than steam, it often took 2 or more of them to equal the power and or speed of a large, modern steam locomotive. EMD had been long content to build normally aspirated locomotives in their F, E, GP, SD and SW series, all of which used a variant of their trusty 567 engine. However, 1,800 horsepower was about all that could reliably be mustered from the 567, even in its 16-cylinder form. Union Pacific, a railroad with a long-standing reputation for always wanting the biggest and best motive power to move their trains, began experimenting with turbocharging a small group of their GP9 fleet. These upgraded GP9s, later dubbed “Omaha GP20s” marked the first successful implementation of turbocharging a 567 engine for railroad use. Though EMD had been experimenting with turbocharging since 1955, they had never offered a turbocharged engine in a locomotive. At the urging of Union Pacific, EMD began developing their own line of locomotives using turbocharged 567 engines, dubbed the 567D3. 

The GP9 was one of the most reliable road switchers produced in the 1950’s.

The first EMD turbocharged locomotive to be cataloged was the 4 axle GP20, which used a 16-567D3 rated at 2,000 horsepower. A couple of years later their first 6 axle turbocharged locomotive, the 2,400 HP SD24, was introduced. These were subsequently followed by the GP30 (2,250 HP), GP35 (2,500 HP) and SD35 (2,500 HP). By this point, the 567 engine had reached the end of its practical life for further development. Both the GP35 and SD35 experienced problems in the field as a result of too much power being squeezed out of the 567D3. Concurrently, the limits of traditional diesel locomotive wiring were being reached as well. Diesel electric locomotives employ a transition system to prevent overloading the traction motors and “cooking” their wiring. Without getting into too much detail, it is basically the electrical equivalent of changing gears, in which the power being generated by the generator shifts from series to parallel. By the time the GP35/SD35 were introduced, the transitions needed were complex and many. The GP35/SD35 transitioned a total of 16 times depending on variables like how hard the locomotive was working and how fast it was going! In addition to being complex to work on and troubleshoot, the locomotive would also cease to load while transitioning, basically rendering it useless for however long it took for the transition to take place. This problem was even further compounded when railroads would run sets of multiple GP35s, SD35s, or similar older models together. 4 GP35s together would transition separately a total of 64 times! This was another issue that EMD was looking to address.

In 1965, GE introduced their first 2,800 HP U28C, and American Locomotive Company (Alco) introduced their 3,000 HP C630. While these locomotives did not represent a serious threat to EMD, it did leave them behind in horsepower race. By 1966, EMD was ready. Enter the 645 (645 cubic inches of displacement) engine, an all-new diesel engine incorporating many successful design aspects of the 567 and building upon them. The engine was cataloged in 8, 12, 16- and 20-cylinder varieties for North American railroad use, and was also offered both as a normally aspirated “Roots blown” version and a turbocharged version. Each engine came paired with its own locomotive model: the SW1000 (1,000 HP 8-645E), SW1500 (1,500 HP 12-645E), GP38/SD38 (2,000 HP 16-645E), GP39/SD39 (2,300 HP 12-645E3), GP40/SD40 (3,000 HP 16-645E3) and SD45 (3,600 HP 20-645E3). With this new line of locomotives and diesel engines, EMD now had a model to suit virtually any railroad’s specific needs. Gone were the 16 transitions of the 567-powered 35 series line, the new 645-line locomotives transitioned only once. Parts and electrical components were simplified as well, with all variations of the 645 using the same parts, and every locomotive using the same type of generator, among other things. Many models shared frames and trucks as well, with the GP38, GP39 and GP40 all using the same frame. The same was true for the SD38, SD39 and SD40. This commonality of components and subsystems between multiple locomotive models reduced costs and increased parts interchangeability and simplified training for the railroad personal that maintained them. Indeed, the introduction of the wonderfully simplified 645 series locomotives put many older and cantankerous Baldwin, Fairbanks Morse, Alco and even EMD locomotives out to pasture for the final time. The 645 line began what enthusiasts now refer to as the “second generation” of diesel electric locomotive development.

The new locomotives were a big hit, with the 3,600 HP SD45 being the best seller with 1,260 units produced by the time production ceased. The SD45 was not only EMD’s first production locomotive to surpass the 3,000 HP mark, but also their first to use a 20-cylinder engine as well. Because of the larger engine, more cooling was needed, which led EMD to design the unique angled “flared radiators”, a major spotting feature of the SD45. The first SD45 delivered was Great Northern Railway #400, which the railway dubbed “Hustle Muscle” for its ability to move long, heavy freight trains at higher speeds than older models. Often an SD45 was considered a 2 for 1 replacement on trains compared to older EMD models like the 1,500 HP F7 or 1,750P GP9. Unfortunately, the SD45’s time in the spotlight was relatively brief. Early on in their careers, SD45s were plagued with teething problems, the biggest of which was their tendency to destroy their crankshafts due to the flexing of the engine block at higher RPMs. Being 20-cylinder models, they also consumed more fuel than their little brothers, the 3,000 HP SD40, especially at idle. EMD soon corrected these crankshaft failures by strengthening the block of the 20-645E3, but by then their reputations had been tarnished beyond redemption. The initial reliability problems, increased fuel consumption, and extra cost compared to less powerful models was not deemed worth it for most railroads. Subsequently, SD45 sales stalled while railroads began purchasing other EMD models instead.

The SD45 was EMD’s entrance into the horsepower race of the 1960’s.

EMD also produced a trio of interesting SD45 variants, the SDP45, FP45 and F45. The SDP45 was a lengthened SD45, the extra space being (at the rear of the locomotive) utilized to house a steam generator, which was needed to provide heat and power to North American passenger trains at the time. Railroads at the time were looking replace aging E and F unit locomotives in passenger service but were hesitant to do so because of how much money they were losing on passenger operations. It was also still uncertain at the time as to whether the US government would intervene and relieve the freight railroads of passenger operations. EMD offered an attractive solution; a more-or-less off the shelf freight locomotive with a steam generator that was geared for passenger operation. If passenger operations ceased, the locomotives could be easily regeared for freight service. The Southern Pacific and Great Northern bought their SDP45s (10 and 8, respectively) for passenger service, but the Erie Lackawanna also signed for 34. These were SD45s with SDP45 bodies, but they were not equipped with steam generators and technically designated SD45Ms. EL’s reasoning for their purchase was the longer body could hold a longer fuel tank, allowing for increased range between refueling.

The famous Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe was also in the market for new passenger locomotives, but like other railroads were hesitant to invest in a strictly passenger-dedicated locomotive at a time when the future of the American passenger train was in doubt. However, Santa Fe still took a lot of pride in their passenger trains and public image and went to EMD wanting a locomotive that looked like a passenger locomotive, not a freight model. EMD’s solution was the FP45, an SDP45 with a fully enclosed, semi-streamlined, cowled car body. The Santa Fe bought 9, and the Milwaukee Road also purchased 5. While not as streamlined as the E and F units of the past, the FP45 design was still attractive and they were regarded as very handsome locomotives compared to their freight contemporaries. EMD also marketed a freight version of the FP45, dubbed the F45, which lacked a steam generator and rode on a standard SD45 frame. The Santa Fe bought 40, 20 of which were equipped with pass through steam lines and geared for passenger speeds so they could be used in passenger service in conjunction with the FP45s and older passenger models. Great Northern and successor Burlington Northern also bought a combined total of 46 F45s, with the intent of having one in the lead position on most of their freight trains in the winter months. The thinking was that the cowl car body would offer better protection for train crew and maintenance personnel in the cold weather but having an F45 lead every train soon proved to be logistically impractical.

The FP45 was an iconic engine for ATSF, being used on everything from passenger trains in the beginning, intermodal and even helpers for the restored ATSF 4-8-4 3751.

The introduction of the new line of locomotives also marked the first time that the 6 axle models outsold the 4 axle versions. Trains were getting longer and heavier, and 6 axles had more tractive effort than the smaller 4 axles. As the SD45’s popularity waned, railroads turned to EMD’s next most powerful model, the 3,000 HP SD40. Using the 16-645E3 turbocharged engine, the SD40 represented the first truly versatile 6 axle locomotive. Here was a locomotive that was equally at home hauling a fast mail train, medium speed mixed freight, low speed drag, or switching in a yard, and had the power and flexibility to do any of it with ease. The 3,000 HP 6 axle locomotive would become the standard of the industry for the next 20+ years. They represented the perfect compromise in size, horsepower, tractive effort and fuel efficiency. By the time SD40 production ceased, over 1,000 were built for the North American market. Like the SDP45, a steam generator equipped SDP40 variant was also built in small numbers for railroads desiring new passenger power that could be utilized in freight service later. EMD also cataloged the less powerful SD39, which used the 2,300 HP turbocharged 12-645E3 and was introduced a few years later in 1968. Compared to the SD40, the SD39 was a sales flop, with just 54 units built. The 2,000 HP SD38, which utilized the roots blown 16-645E engine, was only slightly more successful, with about 70 units built. It was hard to compete with the versatility of the SD40. The SD39 and SD38 found more favor in specialized uses like drag freight service and hump yard switching, because of their higher tractive effort at lower speeds. Horsepower was also not as much of a concern in low speed applications.

While the 6 axle models attracted lots of attention, the 4 axle models established what were to become (and still are) the standards for medium duty freight locomotives: the GP40 and GP38. Each was a lighter, 4 axle version of their SD40 and SD38 cousins. The GP40’s 3,000 HP and more modest tractive effort was best suited for higher speed freight service, and most of the railroads that bought them used them for just that. Trios of GP40s would often replace quartets or quintets of older EMDs like F7s and GP9s on priority freight trains. While their tractive effort was roughly equal to that of the less powerful GP38, many engineers found the higher horsepower GP40 to be slippery at lower speeds under a heavy load. It was because of this, and the fact some railroads were not interested in turbocharged locomotives, that the Roots-blown 2,000 HP GP38 also proved to be very popular. The GP38 was much like the SD40: equally at home in almost any kind of service. In their heydays, GP38s handled virtually everything from lowly local freights to the hottest mail trains. They became the spiritual successor to EMD’s versatile GP7 that had debuted some 20 years earlier. All in all, both models were very successful, with over 700 GP38s built and nearly 1,200 GP40s. A later production variant of the GP38 was the GP38AC. Instead of a DC generator, the GP38AC used an AR10 alternator that would become standard on later EMD models. 261 GP38ACs were built between 1970 and 1971. The 2,300 HP GP39 was also offered but found few takers. Chesapeake & Ohio had the largest fleet with just 20 units of the 23 built.

GPs and SDs are fine locomotives for switching cars in yards, but the practice of using such large units in such a diminutive role could be likened to using a Ferrari to tow a boat: it’s possible, but there are better tools to do the job. For switching, EMD fielded the 1,000 HP SW1000 and 1,500 HP SW1500. While they had abandoned the practice of horsepower model numbers with the GPs and SDs, the SWs were still classified based on horsepower. Switching locomotives are designed for maximum pulling power at low speeds, as they load very quickly. Many of EMD’s first production locomotives were switchers, and by the 1960s some of these were approaching 30 years of age, making them ripe for replacement. The 1,000 HP SW1000 was the least popular of the two, with 114 units built, mostly for private companies who needed their own on-site switcher. The SW1500 was almost identical to the SW1000, the main difference being a pair of exhaust stacks for the 12-645E on the SW1500 compared to one on the 8-cylinder SW1000. The SW1500 proved to be much more popular, with over 800 built. Unlike the SW1000, the SW1500 found favor with the larger railroads, with Southern Pacific having the most (208 units). Two variations of the SW1000 and SW1500 were also produced, the SW1001 and the SW1504. The SW1001 was an SW1000 with a lower profile cab for tight clearances more  commonly found in industrial settings, while SW1504 was an SW1500 which rode on EMD’s Blomberg 4 axle truck (most SWs had either standard AAR type A trucks or EMD’s flexicoil truck) and was 2 feet longer than a standard SW1500 to accommodate them. The SW1504s represented some of the final SWs built, as EMD soon replaced them with the larger MP15 series in the 1970s.

The 1966 introduced SW1500 would become the quintessential switcher built by EMD, with class ones only just retiring them in the last few years.

Simply put, EMD had a home run with the 645 line. The railroads loved their improved reliability and ease of maintenance, and sales reflected this. GE began to fall even further behind EMD in sales, and Alco finally exited the locomotive market in 1970. As the 1970s dawned, EMD looked to improve upon their successful lineup of locomotives. The railroads were consulted, and the most requested improvement was even more ease of maintenance. Rather than design completely new locomotives from the ground up, EMD took their 645 series and tweaked them to near perfection. The new line debuted in 1972 and was known as the “Dash 2” line, or “version 2”. The GP and SD models remained the same, but now had a “-2” designation. A GP38 was now a GP38-2, an SD40 an SD40-2, and so on. The biggest difference between a Dash 2 locomotive and its predecessor was the electrical system. The Dash 2 line featured a simplified, modular electrical system, with large cards that could be quickly replaced if needed. Every Dash 2 locomotive used the same cards, so parts supplies were simplified. EMD had been experimenting with the technology since the late 1960s, and the massive twin-engine DDA40Xs built in 1969 for the Union Pacific marked their first application in a production locomotive. The final major improvement was the introduction of a new 6 axle truck, which EMD called the HTC truck. It offered better adhesion and a smoother ride compared to the flexicoil trucks that the SD38, SD39, SD40 and SD45 rode on. Indeed, the Dash 2 line proved to be even more popular than their predecessors, with production of some models spanning over 15 years.

Unlike previous large multi engine locomotives built, the DDA40X was overall a success.

While the SD45 had been the favorite of railroads the first go around, the improved SD45-2 failed to attract many buyers. Railroads still had a bad taste in their mouths from the SD45, and 3,600 HP was not as appealing as it once was, with 3,000 becoming the norm. While all the problems that plagued the SD45 had been resolved, the damage had been done. Just 136 SD45-2s were built, the bulk of which were for Santa Fe who stayed committed to 20-cylinder locomotives longer than most other railroads. While the SD45 had used a longer frame than the SD38, SD39 and SD40, the SD45-2 shared a common frame with the SD38-2 and SD40-2 (an SD39-2 was cataloged, but never built) which further simplified construction. No SD45-2s were ordered or built after 1974, giving the model a very short production run.

A variant of the SD45-2 proved to be a bit more popular, the SD45T-2. Nicknamed “Tunnel Motors”, the SD45T-2 featured air intakes at lower position on the locomotive body than the standard SD45-2. The model was designed at the behest of Southern Pacific, who desired a locomotive that would not overheat in its many miles of tunnels. Conventional EMD locomotives drew in fresh air for cooling via air intakes mounted towards the top of the rear of the locomotive’s long hood end. In long tunnels, the hot exhaust gases from locomotives working at or near full throttle at slow speeds for miles on end would be sucked in by the air intakes, causing them to overheat. The solution was to lower the air intakes to walkway level, allowing them to draw in cooler air from closer to ground level. The units performed perfectly, and Southern Pacific ordered 163 SD45T-2s along with another 84 for their Cotton Belt subsidiary.

The SD40 had laid the groundwork for what was to become EMD’s second best-selling model of all time, the SD40-2. Only the fabled GP9 had sold more units at that point in time. The SD40-2 used the 16-645E3 engine delivering 3,000 HP. Now paired with the Dash 2 electronics, the SD40-2 was more reliable than ever, immediately becoming the industry standard locomotive for the next 30+ years, and in many ways still is to this day. Like the SD40, the SD40-2 was equally at home hustling fast freights, lugging low-speed coal drags, or doing anything in between. By the time North American production ceased in 1988, EMD (and their Canadian subsidiary GMD) had delivered nearly 4,000 of them, including specialized variants. Many railroads ordered them by the hundreds, with Burlington Northern amassing a fleet of over 800, Union Pacific with over 600, and Canadian Pacific with nearly 500.

EMD’s SD40-2 was the most common locomotive through the late 1990’s. Several are still in service with major railroads, although use is beginning to fade.

Variants of the SD40-2 included the SD40T-2, SD40-2W, SD40-2F, SDP40F, and F40C. The SD40T-2 implemented the same air intake design as the successful “Tunnel Motor” SD45T-2 and was also ordered by the Southern Pacific (229), Cotton Belt (10) and attracted a new buyer in the form of the Rio Grande (73). The SD40-2W was built by Canadian GMD for the Canadian National and featured a wider nose than standard EMD/GMD designs. Dubbed the “comfort cab”, the design featured a full-width nose with the front door mounted on the nose as opposed to on the front of the cab face. Designed to provide better crew comfort and increase safety in the event of a crash, the design would later be adapted by both EMD and GE in the late 1980s, becoming standard on most locomotives today. GMD built 123, all for the CN. The final freight variant was the SD40-2F, which essentially an SD40-2 with a fully enclosed, cowled car body for operation in cold and extreme weather conditions. Interestingly enough, when GMD built the SD40-2F (25 of them) for Canadian Pacific in 1988, regular SD40-2 production had ceased almost 4 years earlier, and EMD was busy producing their 60 series line of locomotives. Canadian Pacific wasn’t interested in SD60s however, they wanted more SD40-2s. Unfortunately, the SD40-2Fs suffered from several reliability issues, so much so that CP shied away from EMD products almost entirely for the next 25 years. 

Reliability issues also plagued the passenger service SDP40F. Basically a cowl car bodied SD40-2 equipped with a steam generator, the SDP40F was built exclusively for Amtrak, and was their first series of locomotives bought new since their 1971 inception. It used the 16-645E3 and had a pair of steam generators. Unfortunately, the SDP40F was not a successful locomotive. The new HTC truck, which had been successful on the SD40-2 and SD45-2, was blamed for a series of derailments involving SDP40Fs at higher speeds. While it was eventually concluded that the trucks were not the culprit, many railroads slapped speed restrictions on Amtrak’s units, rendering their newest motive power basically useless. Orders for more SDP40Fs were canceled, and Amtrak focused on 4 axle locomotives from that point on. The SDP40Fs that weren’t traded back to EMD or scrapped (18 of them) were eventually sold to the Santa Fe, who re-geared and subsequently used them for years in freight service without incident.

Another interesting passenger locomotive, derived from the SD40-2 and SDP40F, was the F40C. Riding on the same frame and trucks as the SD40-2, the F40C was slightly shorter than the SDP40F due to the fact that the F40C was equipped with a head end power generator rather than steam generators. It’s 16-645E3 engine was rated a slightly higher 3,200 HP, with the extra power going to the HEP generator. In a way, the F40C was a kind of stepping stone between the flawed SDP40F and the very successful 4 axle F40PH. EMD built 15 of them for Chicago’s Rail Transit Authority in 1974, and they were the last 6 axle passenger locomotives EMD built for the North American market until the mid-2000s. Visually similar to the earlier FP45, F45 and SDP40F, the F40C’s most distinctive feature was their fluted stainless steel side panels, which were requested by RTA so the locomotives would better match the stainless steel commuter cars they were to pull.

The successor to the SD38, the SD38-2, sold a bit better than its older brother, with just under 100 built before production ceased in 1979. Like the SD38, it used the 16-645E normally aspirated engine rated at 2,000 HP. The SD38-2 found favor with heavy haul and terminal railroads like the Bessemer & Lake Erie and Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, where tractive effort was a much greater concern than speed. In recent times, several SD40-2s have had their turbochargers removed and have been rebuilt to SD38-2 specs and HP. EMD also cataloged an SD39-2, as mentioned earlier, which would have used the turbocharged 12-645E3, but never received an order for one.

On the 4-axle front, EMD fielded the new and improved GP38-2, GP39-2 and GP40-2. Unlike the original 40 series, the GP38-2 proved to be the more popular model this time around. Like the SD40-2, the GP38-2 performed equally well in all kinds of service. Reliability was better than that of even the GP38, and the railroads took notice, with nearly 2,300 GP38-2s being built before production ended in 1986. GMD also built the GP38-2W, equipped with the Canadian “comfort cab”, for the Canadian National. The GP38-2 proved to be quite popular just about everywhere, with almost every major North American railroad (along with a myriad of smaller ones) owning at least a few. Much like the SD40-2, the GP38-2 became the standard locomotive for medium and light duty applications, a title which still holds true even today.

Like the SW1500, the GP38-2 was the perfect in-between engine between a yard switcher, and larger road power, including being used for passenger service on the LIRR.

The next most popular 4 axle was the 3,000 HP GP40-2. While the railroads still were starting to prefer high horsepower 6 axle models over 4 axles, EMD still cranked out nearly 1,200 GP40-2s over the course of production. Like their GP40 cousins, the GP40-2s were more slippery at lower speeds under heavy load but were right at home on higher speed freight trains. Railroads like Conrail and Southern Pacific fielded fleets of GP40-2s on high priority merchandise trains. Chessie System bucked the trend of favoring the SD40-2 over the GP40-2 and had the largest fleet, with 348 GP40-2s spread across their Baltimore & Ohio, Chesapeake & Ohio and Western Maryland subsidiaries. They became the go “anywhere, do anything” locomotive for Chessie, and one could find them in just about any kind of service wearing their bright disco-esque paint scheme. In Canada, GMD built the comfort cab equipped GP40-2W for the Canadian National, and a small fleet of head end power equipped units for Toronto commuter agency GO Transit. Over the years, many GP40-2s have been de-turbocharged or have had their horsepower lowered to match GP38-2s, both to increase fuel economy and to make them less slippery at lower speeds.

The GP40-2 was internally the same as the SD40-2, but rode on 4 axles.

By the mid 1970s, Amtrak was looking to replace their troublesome SDP40Fs. EMD had designed the F40PH, which basically a GP40-2 with a cowled car body and a built-in generator that generated electricity for passenger equipment. The F40PH proved very successful and reliable, becoming the standard Amtrak locomotive for over 20 years. Since they mechanically almost identical to the freight GP40-2s, maintenance and troubleshooting was also easy in the field. It also proved quite popular for regional commuter operations, with Chicago’s Metra fielding the largest fleet. Upgraded variants were introduced over the years which included the F40PH-2 and the distinctive slant-nosed F40PHM, the latter of which were the last locomotives built at EMD’s famous La Grange, IL facility in the late 1980s.

You cant think of Amtrak and not think of the F40PH.

The GP39-2, like the GP39 before it, became the somewhat forgotten middle child. It’s 12-645E3 engine was rated, like all 39 series models, at 2,300 HP, and was a fuel-saving alternative to the 16-cylinder GP40-2 and GP39-2. Railroads took little interest, however, with only 239 built. It was certainly more popular than the GP39, but still represented a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of GP38-2s and GP40-2s EMD was cranking out. The largest purchaser was the Santa Fe with 106. Later production GP39-2s represented some of the final 40 series Geeps built and had many external features in common with EMD’s next GP locomotive, the GP50.

Though not technically a Dash 2 model, another new 4 axle introduced during the 1970s was the GP15-1. During this time period, many railroads were rebuilding older GP7, GP9, GP18 and GP20 models rather than purchase new locomotives. EMD wanted in on this market and offered the GP15-1 initially as 1 for 1-unit replacement. Railroads could trade in older F and GP locomotives (along with a certain amount of money) and receive a GP15-1 in return. The GP15-1 was EMD’s version of a rebuild, but about the only things reused from the trade-ins were the trucks and frames. It featured a 12-645E normally aspirated engine rated at 1,500 HP and a very basic, pre-Dash 2 electrical system, denoted by the “Dash 1” designation. The locomotives visually resembled a smaller version of a GP38-2 but featured a lowered air intake system much like those used on the SD40T-2 and SD45T-2, giving them the nickname “Baby Tunnel Motors”. While not as successful as the railroad’s own rebuilding programs, the GP15-1 generated a respectable 310 orders, with Missouri Pacific (160) and Conrail (100) representing the lion’s share. Missouri Pacific also ordered 30 GP15ACs, a variant of the GP15-1 that utilized the same AR-10 AC alternator as the Dash 2 line rather than the older rebuilt DC D32 generator that was standard on the GP15-1. A turbocharged model was also built, the GP15T, which used an 8-645E3 engine rated at the same 1,500 HP as the 12-cylinder models. While marketed as a fuel-saving version of the GP15, the model only attracted sales to Chessie System (20) and Florida short line Apalachicola & Northern (3). These were also the only GP15 models built with dynamic brakes.

GP15-1 – Just an infant SD40T-2.

While bigger models were garnering most of the attention, EMD still fielded an end cab switcher for yard and local service. The SW series was supplanted by the MP series, the MP standing for “Multi-Purpose”. 3 variants of the MP were built between 1974 and 1987: the MP15 (later called the MP15DC), MP15AC and MP15T. All MP15s rode on the same frame as the GP15 and featured the Blomberg trucks normally found under a GP locomotive. The intent was the MP15 would be equally comfortable for crews in low speed yard service or higher speed road service, as well as having the option for a bathroom in a switcher. The MP15 was initially offered with a D32 DC generator, unlike the other Dash 2-line locomotives. Railroads wanted a model that used the same AR10 alternator as their Dash 2s, so the MP15AC was introduced, and the MP15 was re-designated MP15DC. Externally, an MP15DC has a single large air intake on its nose like an older SW model, while an MP15AC has “Tunnel Motor” style air intakes like those found on the GP15 line. Interestingly enough, MP15DCs and MP15ACs were built alongside each other for a few years, with some railroads not opting for the alternator equipped models. Both locomotives used the 12-645E engine rated at 1,500 HP. The last variant was the MP15T, which used the same 8-645E3 engine as the GP15T, also rated at 1,500 HP. All in all, 351 MP15DCs were built, along with 246 MP15ACs and 43 MP15Ts. The MP15 series would be EMD’s final offering of an end cab, purpose-built switching locomotive.

By the early 1980s, sales of the Dash 2 line were waning. Railroads were exercising caution when buying new locomotives, as fuel prices were rising and the entire future of diesel-powered locomotives was coming into question, though prices eventually came back down. Meanwhile, EMD began work on their successor to the 40 series, the 50 series. Unfortunately, the GP50 and SD50 were not reliable compared to the GP38-2s, GP40-2s and SD40-2s they were intended to supplant, and EMD lost serious market share as a result. GE introduced their new Dash 8 line of locomotives in 1985, and that year marked the first year GE outsold EMD. Though the 50 series problems were eventually ironed out, GE’s locomotives proved to be more popular, and EMD has been playing catch up ever since. The 40 series have stood the test of time, however, and the bulk of the GP38s, GP40s, SD40s and their successors are still in service today. Many have been rebuilt and modified extensively, while others continue to soldier on in more or less as-built condition. There are many SD45s still roaming the rails as well, but virtually all have been re-engined with 3,000 HP 16-645E3s. F40PHs continue to be the standard North Amercian commuter locomotive, while SW1000s, SW1500s, MP15s and GP15s have proven to be quite popular on the used locomotive market, as smaller railroads and industrial operations look to buy up reliable second hand locomotives. The 40 series were EMD at its very best, and the success of those models will continue to endure for years to come. 

The SD50 was not a highly successful project, but opened up many doors for EMD and the newer, computer controlled engines of the future.

Thanks to Jonathon for both writing, as well as supplying all of the photos in the above article. This was a fantastic primer per say, on EMD’s golden years of locomotive production. We at VDD have not had much time as of late to do much writing as of late due to work travel (as always!), but please stay tuned. Lots of great articles in the works for this winter, as well as another “Series” I plan to start: Vintage Boat Documentation.

Old Advertising VII – Buchi Turbocharging

Click for larger

Dr. Alfred Büchi, a Swiss engineer, was the father of Turbocharging as we know it. Buchi went on to license his designs to numerous American (and Foreign) engine companies, many of which are listed in the 1951 advertisement above. A note – these were vastly all 4 stroke engine designs. It was not until the 1950s when Turbocharging on 2 strokes was perfected.

An Alco “Turbosupercharger” on a 6 Cylinder McIntosh & Seymour 539.

While everyone knows the familiar sound of turbo whistle – The Alco-Buchi Turbosupercharger produced an unmistakable sound.

Check out this fantastic video on YouTube by fmnut, of Ashtabula, Carson & Jefferson Alco S-2 #107, and the distinct sound of a Buchi design turbo.

Turbocharging is a topic I hope to greatly expand upon in time.

An unexpected find…

A few month back, I was exploring a new store by my house called Rescued Metals & Equipment. Essentially, this is the “dumpster diving” division of a local scrapyard. They pull out any worthwhile metal, cool stuff, new steel/aluminum stock and anything else they might be able to sell. The ultimate in surplus stores. Browsing the racks, I stumbled on something I immediately recognized, an intake/exhaust valve. Without blinking, I bought it of course!

Yeah, its a big ass valve. Lets try that with something for reference..

On the left is your typical 6V battery, and on the right is a Cleveland 248/278/278A exhaust valve.

After tracking the part number stamped on it, it turns out this is for an Enterprise DSRV-16 engine. These were introduced in the 1950’s, and made up until the early 1980’s (by then it was a DeLaval Enterprise). Its a 17″ x 21″ 4 stroke engine running at 405RPM making 9,000HP with quad turbos. These were pretty common as standby generators at Nuclear plants, as well as ship propulsion engines.

From the 1957 Diesel Engine Catalog

If your ever in Southwest Michigan, be sure to stop by Rescued Metals. Its different every week, and they come up some some really cool stuff! Be sure to check out their Facebook page below.

Oh, and the valve makes a fantastic paper towel holder in my office!

Fairbanks Morse Engine List

Unfortunately due to travel, I have not had nearly the time I would like lately to sit down and type up another article. This week however, I will provide some interesting reading. This is a Fairbanks Morse bulletin from 1958, that details every diesel engine model they ever produced. The one downside, is that it only covers the model, and not the cylinder arrangements offered for each one.

F-M was another one of those companies that seemed to have a new “model of the week” engine. Its impressive that quite a number of these engines survived, both as museum pieces, as well as a fair bit still in service today, unlike Winton and many other early diesels.

Keep in mind, this is a 1958 list, and does not cover the later engines that popped up when Colt took over, such as the 38A20, or any of the Pielstick engines.

Click each photo for a larger version.

Old Advertising VI

This week, we feature Kahlenberg Bros. The Kahlenberg Brothers started out in 1895, manufacturing various small steam, gasoline and diesel engines which became very common in Great Lakes fish tugs, as well as several small tugboats and work boats. To go with the engines, they also manufactured the specific propellers to go with them. Kahlenberg exited the engine business in the late 1950’s, however a handful are still in operation today. The line of propellers are still manufactured.

Kahlenberg D3 in my collection, with a unique and very uncommon reversed bell arrangement.

In 1930 Kahlenberg branched out into building horns, and would become the leading supplier of horns used on tugs, workboats, and literally every other type of maritime craft (and some land based) afloat, from single to 6 chime horns, and every combination in between.

Kahlenberg (now known as Kahlenberg Industries) is still in business in their original Two Rivers Wisconsin factory.