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.

Re-purposed

In 1952, the Great Lakes Towing Company would purchase the former Milwaukee Fireboat “M.F.D. #15”.    Great Lakes Towing, looking to build a large lake tug, for doing offshore over lake towing chores, would purchase the fireboat, and strip it to its bare hull.   Over the next 2 years, the fireboat was rebuilt into a tug, including its conversion to Diesel Electric drive.   Now named the “Laurence C. Turner”, after the president of the company, she would become Great Lakes Towing’s largest tug.  The tug was no youngster, built in 1903 by the Ship Owners Shipbuilding Co., in Chicago, and came in at 118’ long, 24’ wide and a 13’6” draft. 

1954 Cleveland Diesel ad featuring the “Laurence C. Turner” – Great Lakes Towing’s 25th Diesel Tug. She would go on to become Great Lakes Towing’s flagship for quite some time.

Coincidentally a few weeks ago I was browsing a 1949 issue of Marine News, and came across an ad for Boston Metals Company, advertising a slew of surplus WWII vintage equipment.    Boston Metals was a rather prominent ship breaker and scrapped quite a bit of WWII era vessels such as Destroyer Escorts, Landing Crafts of all sizes, Liberty Ships and everything else you can think of. 

Naturally, doing all of the Cleveland Diesel research lately – two engines caught my eye.   While it was common to see these engines listed in the trade publications for sale, it was rare (as in, I have yet to see it anywhere other then this one ad) to see the actual engine serial numbers listed.   So, off to the records…

Record for Cleveland engines 11907-11909 – Collection of my Cleveland Diesel research partner J. Boggess. Click for a larger view.

Engines 11907 and 11909 were originally part of Cleveland Diesel order #4752, which covered a vast portion of Destroyer Escorts.   These specific engines (and two others) would go into 1943 built DE-278, to be named the “USS Tisdale”.  DE-278 was never commissioned in the US and went to Britain as part of WWII Lend-Lease and would be commissioned by the Royal Navy as the “HMS Keats”.  She would receive partial credit for sinking German U-Boat U-1172 as well as U-285.   After the war, the Royal Navy returned the “HMS Keats” to the US, where she would be sold for scrap in 1946.  The other pair of 16-278A’s from the “HMS Keats” would wind up in Norway, in the “MS Rogaland”.

Cleveland 16-278A Propulsion Package model.

“HMS Keats” was powered by 4 “Navy Propulsion Diesel Generator” packages.  These were a 1700HP Cleveland 16-278A engines, which drove an Allis-Chalmers 1200kW, 525V DC generator.   In turn these provided power to 4 Westinghouse 1500HP DC motors, of which two in tandem drove each prop shaft.    After the war, Cleveland Diesel would wind up purchasing back quite a number of engines, which in turn they rebuilt to new condition and resold.   In some cases, new serial numbers were added, however some kept their original number.    Cleveland would wind up with two engines from the “HMS Keats”.  Each of these engines were put on a single base, with one of the Allis-Chalmers generators, as well as adding a belt driven 35kW generator mounted on top of the main generator.   This power package (along with a single Westinghouse motor) would be a very common tug propulsion package, and we will dive into that more down the road in a future article. 

Engine room of the newly converted tug, from the 8/1954 issue of Diesel Times, which featured the “Laurence C. Turner”.

Engine 11907 was rebuilt and sold to Tracy Towing Line in NYC, and used in the tug “Helen L. Tracy”, and 11909 would go to Great Lakes Towing Co., for use in the “Laurence C. Turner”.   By now the “Laurence C. Turner” was totally rebuilt, and now looked like a tugboat, and not a fireboat.   The tug would have provisions for a crew of 13, a large central galley, 7 state rooms, 2 heads, and an 18 person lifeboat.   One interesting feature was the Almon-Johnson electric towing machine on the back deck.  

In 1972, the “Laurence C. Turner” was renamed as the “Ohio” to fit in more with the fleets state class naming.    In 1977, she was re-powered.    Out came the electric drive, and in went a brand new, 2000HP EMD 16-645E6 engine with a Falk reverse-reduction gear and air clutches. All of this drives a 102″x72″ 5 bladed wheel.

The new engine in the “Ohio” – a 2000HP EMD 645, taken in the same spot as the photo above. Ohio has one of the largest engine rooms of any single screw tug I have ever been on.

The “Ohio” would be Great Lakes Towing’s main lake tug until being laid up in late 2014.   111 years of service, 60 of which as a tug – Not bad!  But her life did not end there.    In 2018, the Towing Company donated the “Ohio” to the National Museum of the Great Lakes, in Toledo, Ohio.  The “Ohio” was moved into place at the Museum in October of 2018 and has been under restoration since.   “Ohio” has been fully water blasted, repainted, and cleaned up.   The Wheelhouse has been fully restored, and work is well underway by volunteers on the rest of the boat.   “Ohio” will be dedicated this coming week as a museum ship, and alongside her will be the new tug “Ohio” getting christened at the same time as Great Lakes Towing’s newest tug.  The “Ohio” will be an excellent addition to the museum and will be open for tours later this year.

“Ohio” now at home at the National Museum of the Great Lakes, in Toledo. In rear, is the “Col. James M. Schoonmaker”, one of the most exquisite museum ships I have ever seen. This was in October of 2018, before the restoration started.

National Museum of the Great Lakes

HMS Keats at Navsource