By the early 1990’s, the Great Lakes Towing Company (GLTC) would have the only running Cleveland 498 engines left in the US (See note on the bottom). The Towing Company as they are known has a rich history dating back to its formation in 1899, consolidating several smaller tugboat companies on the Great Lakes. GLTC currently serves numerous ports across the Great Lakes, and is the largest user of Cleveland 278 (A and non A engines) left in the country.
Starting in 1907, the company began to build their own tugs in house, in their own shipyard. The yard, originally in Chicago, and moving to Cleveland is still churning out all new tugs for the company today, as well as doing outside work.
In 1931, the yard constructed Hull # 67, and named her the Idaho. GLTC had two sizes of tugs, the smaller, “Type I”, which were named after cities, and larger “Type II”, named after states. The Idaho would be the last new tug built until 2008.
The Idaho was originally powered by a single cylinder, 26″ x 28″ steam engine. The tug was 84′ 4″ long, 20′ beam and a 12’6″ depth. The tug was one of three that would receive a raised height wheelhouse for doing lake towing.
In 1956, the Idaho was on the block to be converted to Diesel propulsion. The engine chosen was the new 498 from Cleveland Diesel, as outlined in previous posts. Cleveland Diesel Order #1640 was placed in early 1956, for a pair of left hand rotation, 1400HP, 8-cylinder 498 engines to convert the tugs Montana and Idaho (Montana was an identical sister, Hull #60 of 1929). The engine for Idaho, #46002 was shipped from the factory on 12/13/1956, having to only go a few miles up to the companies shipyard. The tugs would receive Diesel-Electric propulsion packages, utilizing WWII surplus Destroyer-Escort main generators and propulsion motors. Disaster struck the Idaho shortly after being rebuilt on 10/21/1960. The tug was assisting the lake ship C.H. McCullough, Jr. in Chicago, when the tug was sunk. She would be raised, dried out and put back in service. A photo of her being raised appears in Alexander Meakins “The Story of the Great Lakes Towing Co.”
Great Lakes Towing Company would ultimately have a quartet of 498 powered tugs. The Diesel-Electric Montana and Idaho, and the Clutch tugs Tennessee and Pennsylvania which were converted in 1960 from Steam. Montana would be retired in 2006, Tennessee in 2012 and the Pennsylvania in 2019. Ironically, the Pennsylvania would wind up receiving a replacement engine at some point in her life, originally out of the towboat Leila C. Shearer. This too was replaced with an EMD 12-645, however the conversion was never finished.
Noting that the last surviving 498 was likely nearing the end of her life, we reached out to the company to see about the possibility of documenting the engine and tug, and maybe see about preservation options. Unfortunately, we would be a touch too late. While the tug was still around, it was sitting laid up having suffered a catastrophic engine failure in 2016, however we were welcome to document her anyway.
The tug was laid up in Detroit for a few years, and was being used for parts for the other tugs in the GLTC fleet (while the engines were different, the tugs still share many parts between them).
Unfortunately, all things must come to an end. In January of 2019 the tug was towed back to Cleveland, and with the last few usable parts removed, the tug was scrapped. We can’t thank the Great Lakes Towing Company enough for allowing us to photo-document the tug.
With only 58 engines built, and being that virtually all of the engines stateside were replaced long ago, it is highly unlikely any of the foreign sold engines remain. We heard a rumor of one driving a water pump in Egypt, but again, this would have had to have been a relocated engine, and is highly unlikely it exists. Somebody please prove us wrong!
That wraps up our four part series on the Cleveland Diesel 498 engine. Please be sure to view the previous posts on this engine, linked on the top of this page. I will say it again, if anyone has any 498 manuals, brochures, stories, parts, anything, please get in touch with us. Should anything new arise, we will make another follow up down the road.
Production of the Cleveland 498 commenced with the first engine shipped in May of 1956. Most production would take place in the fall of 1956 (16 engines built), and the summer of 1957 (17 engines built). 1958 saw only a pair of engines, a trio in 1959, and the last 4 were built in 1960. A total of 29 8-cylinder, 9 12-cylinder, 17 16-cylinder and 3 test engines (one 8, and two unknown) were built over the course of production, for a grand total of 58 engines.
A brochure for the engine issued not long after being announced at Powerama. Click for larger.
1) Tug Montana – Great Lakes Towing Company, Cleveland, Ohio Engine 46001, Shipped 5/2/1956, Order #1640, 8-498, 1400HP/850RPM
2) Tug Idaho – Great Lakes Towing Company, Cleveland, Ohio Engine 46001, Shipped 12/13/1956, Order #1640, 8-498, 1400HP/850RPM
Great Lakes Towing Company needs no introduction here, they are the largest tug company performing shipdocking on the Great Lakes, using “G Tugs”. We will do a more detailed feature on these down the road. Great Lakes put in the very first order for 498 engines, with the first one going into the tug Montana. Montana was built in 1929, with a single cylinder steam engine. Idaho followed a few months later. Idaho was the last “new” tug built, in 1931. Both tugs were identical and built-in house, receiving electric drive propulsion packages using surplus Destroyer-Escort generators and propulsion motors***. The Montana was retired and scrapped in 2006, and the Idaho was scrapped in 2019. The 4th and final part will be dedicated to the Idaho.
Tug Idaho shortly after being converted to Diesel power. VDD Collection.
3) Tug Hoboken – Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad – NY, NY Engine 46003, Shipped 10/31/1956, Order #1807, 8-498, 1400HP/850RPM
4) Tug Buffalo – Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad – NY, NY Engine 46004, Shipped 11/30/1956, Order #1807, 8-498, 1400HP/850RPM
5) Tug Syracuse – Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad – NY, NY Engine 46005, Shipped 12/28/1956, Order #1807, 8-498, 1400HP/850RPM
6) Tug Utica – Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad – NY, NY Engine 46006, Shipped 1/14/1957, Order #1807, 8-498, 1400HP/850RPM
7) Tug Nazareth – Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad – NY, NY Engine 46007, Shipped 1/21/1956, Order #1807, 8-498, 1400HP/850RPM
Delaware Lackawanna & Western placed an order for 5 Diesel-Electric tugs with Bethlehem Steel of NY, built to General Managers Association (GMA) design for moving carfloats in NY Harbor. Erie Lackawanna started to sell off the tugs in the early 1970’s, these were the first to go, and every one of them was repowered not long after being sold (all being repowered by the early 1980’s). Two would go on to get GE engines, two would get Alcos, and the last an EMD. The Utica, the last survivor, is now working in Panama. These tugs will be covered extensively in my upcoming book on Railroad Tugs, coming out later this year.
Diesel Times/J. Boggess Collection
8/9) Towboat Lelia C. Shearer – O.F. Shearer & Sons, – Winchester, KY Engines 46008, 46009, Shipped 10/19/1956, Order # 1883/1884, 8-498, 1230HP/750RPM
Hillman Barge & Construction both designed and built this 2700HP diesel-clutch twin screw towboat for the O.F. Shearer & Sons company. She was repowered in 1964 with a pair of EMD 16-567C engines. The towboat kept her name through several companies and was finally scrapped in 2014. This was the first 498 powered towboat.
Diesel Times/J. Boggess Collection
10/11) Tug M.P. Anderson – Brown & Root, Inc. Engines 46010, 46011, Shipped 7/30/1956, 731/1956, Order # 1974, 8-498, 1400HP/850RPM
M.P. Anderson was designed by Brown & Root and built by Gulfport Shipbuilding. This 123-foot, twin screw, Diesel-Electric tug worked in the Gulf for most of her life and was also repowered with a pair of EMD 16-567C engines, with reverse-reduction gears in place of the electric drive. She is now working in Baltimore as the Austin Krause (and has one of the largest tug engine rooms I have ever been in).
The M.P. Anderson was covered in the June 1959 issue of Diesel Times. J. Boggess Collection
12) Tug William C. Gaynor – Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. Engine 46012, Shipped 9/11/1956, Order # 1956, 8-498, 1400HP/850RPM
This 94’ tug was designed by Joe Hack under Cleveland Diesel for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock. The tug was built by DeFoe shipbuilding and spent her entire life in the Great Lakes doing dredge work. Today she is working (under her original name) for Sarter Marine in Sturgeon Bay, WI. The tug was repowered with an EMD 12-567C in 1990.
All we know about these three minesweepers with non-magnetic 498s is what we can find in Wikipedia & Navsource. We have no idea how long the 498s lasted or how well they did – it is likely the reason these ships were retired was because of the 498’s. Since these three ships were scrapped over 40 years ago, we suspect that information is lost to the ages. BUT, if there are any ex-Navy sailors out there, drop us a line.
Diesel Times/J. Boggess Collection
27/28) Towboat Eleanor Gordon – Two engine order, shipped 4/24/1957, Order 2039/2040, 8-948, 1400HP/850RPM.
Designed and built by Nashville Bridge Co. for Mid America Transportation Company. This 149’ towboat was powered by the pair of 498 engines with Falk reverse reduction gears. Apparently Mid-America was so displeased with these engines that the towboat was repowered within 18 months.
Diesel Times/J. Boggess Collection
The engines were sent back to Cleveland, who rebuilt them and reshipped them under a new order to Great Lakes Towing Company, who installed them into a pair of tugs, the Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
Pennsylvania would be one of the tugs assigned to work all the way down in Florida on a Navy contract in the 1990’s. Tennessee was scrapped in 2012, with the Pennsylvania being scrapped in 2019. The Pennsylvania was repowered with an EMD 12-645, however the repower was never completed before GLT decided to scrap her (?).
Tennessee was an identical sister to the Pennsylvania, and also worked in Florida. Both of these tugs were the only “G” tugs to have fixed Kort nozzles, with 102” wheels.
Tug Pennsylvania Engine 46027, Shipped 11/30/1959, Order 3936
Tug Tennessee Engine 46028, Shipped 11/30/1959, Order 3937
The Pennsylvania and Tennessee on the job in the early 1970’s. VDD Collection.
29) Tug Alexander Wiley Robinson Bay, St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. Engine 46029, Shipped 11/15/1957, Order 2573, 8-498, 1400HP/850RPM
Robinson Bay is a 103’ Diesel-Electric ice breaking tug designed by Merritt Demarest for use in the St. Laurence Seaway. The tug was repowered by Great Lakes Towing in 1991, who kept the engine as a spare parts source. The tug is now powered by a Cat 3606 with a 1750HP GE 581 propulsion motor.
The Robinson Bay at work in Northern New York. Will Van Dorp Photo.
Cypress was a 140’ towboat for the Chotin Transportation Company designed and built by J&S Shipbuilding. The towboat has been out of documentation for some time and repowering/disposition is unknown.
Diesel Times/J. Boggess Collection
33) Tug Ralph E. Matton, John E. Matton & Sons, Cohoes, NY Engine 51004, Shipped 7/31/1957, 12-498, Order 1726, 2100HP/850RPM
Ralph E. Matton was a New York Canal tug, designed and built by Matton. The tug was repowered with an EMD 16-567C, and later became the Mary Turecamo, and Albany. It was scrapped about 15 years ago.
Courtesy of Dave Boone
34) Tug Spartan, James McWilliams Blue Line, NY, NY Engine 51005, Shipped 9/14/1956, 12-498, Order 1893, 2100HP/850RPM
Spartan was a NY Canal tug, designed by Cleveland Diesel (Joe Hack) and built by Calumet Shipyard. The tug became part of the Ira Bushey & Hess family of companies and was reefed in 1986.
35) Tug Matton #25, John E. Matton & Sons, Cohoes, NY Engine 51006, Shipped 10/20/1956, 12-498, Order 1939, 2100HP/850RPM
Matton 25 was a New York Canal tug, designed and built by Matton. The tug was repowered with an EMD 16-645, and later became the Joan Turecamo, and Everglades of Seabulk Towing. It was reefed in 2017.
36) Tug Matton, John E. Matton & Sons, Cohoes, NY Engine 51007, Shipped 4/29/1957, 12-498, Order 2210, 2100HP/850RPM
Matton was a New York Canal tug, designed and built by Matton. The tug was repowered and later became the Kathleen Turecamo, and Troy. It was reefed in 1990.
Courtesy of Dave Boone
37) Test Engine Engine 51008, Order 3133
38) Gen-Set, Bell Telephone Co., Philadelphia, PA Engine # 51009, Shipped 7/17/1957, Order 2118, 12-498, 1840HP/720RPM
39/40) Towboat Oliver C. Shearer, O.F. Shearer & Sons, Cedar Grove, WV Engines 51010, 51011, Shipped 7/14/1960, Order 5058/5059, 7/21/1960, 12-948, 2100HP/800RPM
Shearer returned for another set of engines for a second towboat, the Oliver C. Shearer. She was designed by Friede & Goldman Inc. and built by Marietta Manufacturing. The towboat was repowered in 1965 with EMD 16-567C’s and has since been repowered several times with EMDs. The towboat is still in service under her original name.
Diesel Times/J. Boggess Collection
41) Development Engine Engine 57001, Order 4150, 16-498S
42/43) Towboat Mark Eastin, West Kentucky Coal Co., Madisonville, KY Engines 57002/57003, Order 1775/1776, Shipped 12/14/1956, 11/30/1956, 16-498, 2800HP/850RPM
The 177’ Towboat was at the time, the most powerful twin screw towboat on Inland Rivers. Repowered in 1969 with EMD 16-645 engines. In service today as the Kevin Michael.
Diesel Times/J. Boggess Collection
44-53) Gen-Sets, Cia Cubana de Electricidad, Havana, Cuba All engines are 16-498, 2850HP/720RPM, Order 2361
Gen-Set Engine 57018, Shipped 12/28/1959, Order 3760, 16-498, 2800HP/800RPM
Hydraulic Dredge Alaska used a trio of 498 engines. Two engines drove the main pump drive unit, with the 3rd driving three generators, a 1250kW, 500kW and a 200kW, all on a common frame. The Alaska is still in service, but of course was repowered, and currently has EMD 710 engines.
Diesel Times/J. Boggess Collection
While most of the above users of the 498 were featured in a dedicated issue of Cleveland Diesel’s newsletter Diesel Times, the 9/1957 issue showcased the current maritime users of the engine. Click for larger.
Coming up in the final part of A Turbocharged Failure will be a post dedicated to the Great Lakes Towing tugboat Idaho, the last known 498 engine to be in use.
Thanks to my Cleveland Research Partner J. Boggess for proofing and sharing the above issues of Diesel Times.
A few months back, I made a post on the tug Luna and Venus, of the Boston Towboat Company, dubbed Historic Tugs I. The intention was to highlight museum vessels and whatnot with historic documentation and photos. To change that a bit, I am going to start a new series covering just tugs of the 1930’s-1970’s, including both new and repowered boats, using several styles of propulsion. This first tug profiled, will be the M. Moran.
Not much has to be said about Moran Towing, one of the oldest and well known tugboat companies in the world, founded in 1860 by Irish immigrant, Michael Moran. Moran Towing is a well established company, using a vast fleet of tugs, ranging from small 80′ direct reversing Canal tugs, to large, WWII surplus ocean going 165′ tugs, many of which were on charter from the US Navy. Fast forward to 1960: These were all single screw tugs, never exceeding much more then about 2000HP. Moran Towing had a long history of working with TAMS Inc., and later the General Motors Marine Design Section under naval architects Richard Cook and later Joe Hack.
In the era, just about every tug was considered “Ocean Going” (a scary thought..), however in reality only the larger, WWII era tugs really were just that, with the rest being glorified harbor and coastal tugs. Joe Hack would design Moran a 120′ tug, with a 31′ beam, and an 18’9″ depth. A new first for Moran was also introduced – twin screw propulsion.
The tug was named the M. Moran, after the founder of Moran Towing’s Michael Moran. She would be the 7th tug named for him. The M. Moran was designed for an 11,000 mile range, or anywhere in the world – holding a capacity of 75,000 gallons of fuel. The M. Moran was built in Texas, by Gulfport Shipbuilding.
The M. Moran had a rather unorthodox layout, using two split levels underneath the wheelhouse, giving her a rather odd, low profile appearance, but affording a massive amount of interior space. 9 full staterooms, two of which were dubbed a radio room, and a sick bay. A large central galley was located over the engine room – thus she lacked any actual upper engine room, also known as a fiddley. Behind the galley was a space for a 75HP Almon-Johnson towing machine.
You guessed it – the M. Moran was Diesel-Electric, powered by a pair of Cleveland Diesel, 1750HP 16-278A engines, with Allis-Chalmers main generators – all WWII surplus equipment, giving her a rating of 3,500HP. The engines were factory rebuilt, and were originally installed in US Navy Landing Ship LSM-529 (engine #55810), and LSM-324 (engine #55284). Ironically the other engine from LSM-324 would also go to Moran, re-powering the steam tug Michael Moran. The tug had a pair of Detroit Diesel 6-71’s for generators, as well as a piggyback shaft generator belt driven on top of each main generator. The tug had a pair of 9′ 10″ wheels, and a rated bollard pull of 95,000lbs.
The wheelhouse of the M. Moran featured American Engineering electric-hydraulic steering system, and the same Lakeshore throttle stands used by Cleveland for a number of years, of course modified for twin screw. A Sperry gyro, and radar rounded out the interior – pretty spartan, even for its time. While the maneuverability of Diesel-Electric is well known, an interesting feature of the M. Moran – being twin screw, was the cross-compatibility. The tug could run on only one engine, and power both propulsion motors when running around lite tug, somewhat of a throwback to the Destroyer-Escorts of WWII (where the propulsion motors in the tug originated), where various combinations of engines could power certain groups of motors.
The M. Moran was placed in service on 9/27/1961, and her very first trip, just a week later – would take her all the way to Pusan, South Korea, towing the 30,000kW generating barge Resistance, a WWII LST converted into a powerplant. The M. Moran was well covered in Cleveland Diesel’s Diesel Times newsletter Diesel Times, as well as several issues of Moran Towing’s own newsletter, Tow Line.
By the late 1960’s the M. Moran would gain a large upper wheelhouse. She would spend many years running around the Gulf area towing large project cargo, as well as the occasional foreign tow. The M. Moran was briefly renamed as the Port Arthur for a brief time in the early 1970’s, likely operating under a charter.
Moran would go on to order a 2nd tug, to the same design as the M. Moran, named the Esther Moran. The Esther would be built in New York, by Jakobson Shipbuilding. At the same time, Jakobson also built the Patricia and Kerry Moran, which used the same hull design, however it was shortened 12′ with the tug being setup for harbor work, thus lacking the towing machine and split levels. These three tugs would be the last new tugs powered by Cleveland 278A engines. Cleveland was rolled into Electro-Motive in late 1961.
Both the M. Moran and the Esther were not Cleveland powered very long. Both tugs would be repowered with EMD 16-645E engines with air clutches by the end of the 1960’s, giving them a new rating of 6,300HP – a massive amount of power at the time. Joe Hack would revisit the split level design with a pair of tugs for Gulfcoast Transit, the Katherine Clewis and Sarah Hays.
In 2000, Moran sold both the M. Moran and Esther Moran to Canada’s McKeil Marine. The M. Moran became the Salvager, and the Esther as the Salvor. The Salvager became the Wilfred Seymour in 2004, later being shortened to Wilf Seymour. Both tugs operate in the Great Lakes, and both would be converted into Articulated Tug-Barge combinations, with the Wilf getting a Bludworth coupler, and the Salvor a JAK system. The Salvor was laid up in 2018, and the Wilf is still in service.
Noted maritime artist Carl G. Evers would do several paintings of the M. Moran, including one of her in Korea. Several of Carl’s paintings have graced the cover of Moran’s Tow Line.
I am about to head out on a 3 week trip, so before heading off I will leave the blog with something cool – A 1955 F-M proposal package for a Diesel-Electric drive tug. Unfortunately, it seems F-M was never really able to get a foot hold in the commercial DE drive market, one dominated by Cleveland Diesel. However, F-M was able to sway both the US and Canadian Coast Guards, and several classes of vessels were built, including the 140′ Bay Class Ice Breakers. The tug in the design, while just a sketch, looks strikingly similar to the Reading Railroad’s Harold J. Taggert. Click on all of the images below for larger versions.
Anyone ever seen an F-M powered, Diesel-Electric harbor tug? Drop me a line!
I seem to be on a Fairbanks-Morse kick lately, so I will run with it.
Doing some research for my book the other day, I came across this one from F-M in the brochure for the 1953 NYC tugboat Races.
Something F-M touted for quite some time was that their engine powered the winner – Which was Reading Railroads RTC Built, Tom Bowes designed “Shamokin”. She had a WWII surplus, factory rebuilt 10 Cylinder 38D 8 1/8th engine. Unfortunately, Reading did not seem to have much luck with them. Shamokin lost a rod bearing bolt on her trial run, and Tamaqua blew up her engine in 1962 and they would have to replace it. Shamokin also got a new OP, but not until the 1990’s. “Shamokin” would go on to win the 1953 race as well. She is still running today, as Blaha Towings “Alfred Walker”.
The specific engine depicted in the advertisement is a 10 Cylinder direct reversing OP that was used in US Navy LSM class landing ships. The lower engine, F-M’s 5 1/4″ bore OP, is something I will make a more in depth post on down the road.
Nope, I am not talking about Pabst Blue Ribbon, or Miller High Life. This past week I found myself heading to Wisconsin for a meeting and opted to make a stop over by where Great Lakes Towing operates in the Port of Milwaukee. A pair of Great Lakes Firsts are spending this winter laid up in there.
Back in the Menominee River, sits the tug North Dakota. North Dakota, built in 1910 by the Towing Company, was the first “G Tug” converted to Diesel propulsion. North Dakota was converted to diesel in 1949 by Paasche Marine Service in Erie, Pennsylvania, to plans laid out by Tams Inc., and Great Lakes Towing Company. Under the hood so to speak, is a Cleveland Diesel 1200HP 12-278A, that was shipped 2/23/1949, part of order number 5641. These engines drove Falk 12MB reverse reduction gears that swing a 102″ wheel. Order 5641 encompassed the propulsion for four tugs, including North Dakota, Arkansas, Vermont and Illinois. Today, all four of these tugs are still in service.
North Dakota had some major engine work done recently, and hopefully will be in the fleet for a few more years. The crews in Milwaukee keep their boats looking sharp. North Dakota would be a great museum piece one day, a true testament to the “G Tug”, now going on over 100 years old, and having spent more time with Diesel engines now, then their original steam plants.
Back at the Kinnickinnic River in the Port, is the Stewart J. Cort. The Cort was the first 1000’ ship built for the Great Lakes, abit in an odd fashion. The bow and stern sections were built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi, welded together and sailed to the lakes. On arrival, they were split apart, and a mid-section was added by Erie Marine, also in Erie, PA. The Cort went into service in 1972, on a run she still handles today between Superior, WI and Burns Harbor, IN. The Stewart J. Cort is powered by a quartet of EMD 20-645E7 engines, rated at 3600HP each. Each pair of engines drives an Escher Wyss controllable pitch prop. EMD supplied several of what were essentially locomotive parts for the Cort, including many traction motors that power the Bow and Stern thrusters and various pieces of unloading equipment.
In front of the Stewart J. Cort, is the tug Louisiana. While not a first, she was converted to diesel as part of the 2nd order of engines in late 1949 for Great Lakes Towing. Unlike the first batch, all these engines were WWII surplus that went through Cleveland Diesel’s rebuild program and emerged as brand new engines with new serial numbers. Louisiana’s engine originally powered the Landing Ship – Tank # 935. For all intents and purposes, she is identical to the North Dakota.
I am going to throw this one in also for the hell of it. On my way back to the highway, Amtrak’s Empire Builder was leaving. While I can’t say railfanning interests me like it used to, I opted to get a quick shot. In the lead is Amtrak 182, a 19 year old General Electric P42DC, followed by two more. Amtrak has begun the process to replace these tired engines with new Siemens Chargers…which, to put bluntly, are ugly as sin. But hey, they said that about the EMD F7 once upon a time also..
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.
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.
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.
Well, the Cottica River, makes the Cuyahoga look like a drag strip. And it goes for 40 some miles.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. http://www.tugboatluna.org/
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.
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.