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    What was the first disel powered towboat?

    What was the first diesel powered towboat? Was it the first to push a tow a significant distance on the rivers on a regular basis beyond harbor work? When did this happen?

    Keep your steam up!

    Russ Ryle

    #2
    Russ, I'm going to do some more research on this. One of the first successful diesel towboats was the motor vessel CODRINGTON, built by Nashville Bridge Co. in the late 1940's. George Codrington was an engineer and executive with General Motors Corp. and developed the two-cycle air blown diesel engine that has served for many years in the inland towing industry. Whether or not this was THE first diesel towboat is what I need to do some more research on. Here: https://books.google.com/books?id=X_...ington&f=false
    is an article from Motorboat Magazine about Codrington's diesels being placed aboard some Coast Guard boats.

    Also, here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_engine is a Wikipedia article on Diesel engines. I found it very interesting that Adolphus Busch of Busch brewing fame bought the rights to license Diesel engines in America in 1897! This is why we love history!

    Comment


      #3
      According to this article Towboats it looks like 1910 might be when the first diesel towboats appeared.

      Diesel engines did not really become common until after WWII due to material shortages and the need for diesel engines in military service. Also, prior to that time, diesels were not well developed enough to offer desired the reliability for long-haul service. Because of this and the war, steam held on for a lot longer (on both boats and railroads) than it might have otherwise.

      I hope Steve Huffman and Bill Judd will chime in on this thread.

      Comment


        #4
        *Engline reliability/Rudolph Diesel's strange fate*
        Morning, Steamboating colleagues:
        Thanks to Russ Ryle, Capt. Bob Reynolds for introducing, advancing the above discussion RE: "first diesel powered towboat." Interesting with me not knowing much. Indeed, the diesel engine development was rather slow, jerky at first for reliability. The engines came into their own with W.W. I 1914 to 1918 ["Guns of August"]. Glad our guys above differentiated between 'diesel' and the early 'gasoline' engine boats.

        The fate of Rudolph Diesel still somelthing of a mystery even today following his mysterious disappearace in 1913 while on a passenger ship bound from continental Europe to a conference in London. Foul play, espionage was suspected after he was found missing from his ship. Other investigations found he was not well, faced by huge financial losses. The true story will never be known. Still when comparing conventional steam to diesel, the latter engine was perfected to be powerful, reliable, economical. A number of us can recall when the big railroad companies began coversion from steam to diesel in very late 1940s to early 1950s. I remember here seeing steam trains running daily. Later whole strings of big steam locomotives were being hauled by the new diesels to be junked, cut up. I'm sure Capts. Bill Judd, Jim Blum remember that here in Cincinnati at old Undercliff Yards, Cincinnati UnionTerminal, Reading Rail Yards. How many here remember traveling by steam train? Again, what do I know?

        R. Dale Flick
        Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

        Comment


          #5
          Early diesel vs steam towboats...

          Once diesels became available I believe it was a rapid transformation. Steam vessels were inspected, which meant licensed officer billets regulated by the Inspection Service. Diesel vessels somehow were considered uninspected, and if memory serves correctly a captain or pilot did not require a license until the early 70's(??) let alone the chief or mate. Anyone could walk up and run the vessel at least in the gov'mnts eyes, though I believe many company's like UBL required 1st class pilots, or at least paid more if they were licensed. The "uninspected" vessel license of the 1970's was addressed after the Bayou Canot disaster some 25 years ago, and sometime this year the uninspected vessel documentation is going by the wayside with the Sub M enactment, though I do not believe billets are entailed, outside of "adequate crew size" guidelines. I have a book somewhere that was published by Dravo Mechling Barge Line ( 1960's?) that was given out to customers and employees ( betcha Dan has a copy ) that gives a pictoral timeline of the earliest boats like the Betsy Ann all butchered up with tow knees, and the large in size but small in power Wm. Pitt. Like so many things in our past operating costs dictated the industry, and the advent of efficient diesel engine doomed the pittman arm and water tube boiler. Luke ( somewhere on the Mississippi )

          Comment


            #6
            The Motor Vessel HARVEY has always got that honor, built 1923 by Nashville Bridge. Had two Worthington diesels, total 240 h.p. . It was a good size vessel 92' l x 26'w. All the old river books claim it was the first full diesel installation on the inland rivers.

            Comment


              #7
              re: First diesel towboat built in 1923 - last steam towboat was built in?

              Thanks to all for the discussion. Looks like the honor of being the first diesel goes to the MV HARVEY. What info is available on its career? When did it go out of service?

              Now, for the next related question. What is considered the last steam powered towboat built and when?

              Keep your steam up!

              Russ Ryle

              Comment


                #8
                Howards built a self propelled, self loading, self unloading barge in 1919, the INCO. It had four "oil engines". I'm not sure what the difference is between oil engines and diesels. The INCO was ahead of its time, propeller driven, wireless radio equipped and an economic failure both to the owner and to Howards. Who had promised a certain delivery date which they did not meet, the resulting penalties about sent the shipyard into receivership.
                I have a note in my 1958 Inland River Record that the HARVEY was sold in 1959, all worn out.
                I always heard that the JASON was the last steam towboat, built 1944.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Oil engines and Diesel engines are the same thing. Was the JASON the last steam towboat? I thought it was the ALEXANDER MACKENZIE. Both built around the same time, I think.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I found this older thread on steamboats.org discussing the ALEXANDER MACKENZIE and the JASON. JASON was built a year after the A.M., so I stand corrected. The Snickers bar goes to Jim Reising!
                    http://www.steamboats.org/forum/stea...mackenzie.html

                    Comment


                      #11
                      RE: Way's Towboats Old And New compiled in 1946

                      Morning all,

                      In my youth I was gifted by S. D. Hempfling, a friend of my grandfather, two early book(lettts). One covered steamboats and one listed packets. The steamboat list is just a one line entry for each boat. The towboat listing looks a lot like the early Inland River Records. Both only list steam powered vessels.

                      It lists the JASON as being built in 1940. It says it was sold to Union Barge Line in 1947. This means the DPC boats were built later?

                      Is there such a thing as a list of the early diesel powered towboats?

                      I know this is a steamboat site but if there is not such a list for diesel powered towboats there should be. While we all still have water under our keels and steam up can such a list be produced?

                      Information shared is history saved.

                      Russ Ryle

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Russ you are right the last steam towboats built were the DPC's. The Jason holds the record as the last steam sternwheel towboat built. Now as to your question on the HARVEY history, built 1923 at Nabrico for the T.L. Herbert Co., a sand-gravel firm in Nashville, then sold in 1951 to Nugent Sand.Co of Louisville, sold in 1959 to Capt. Ralph Raike of Pt. Pleasant,WV, renamed the KATHY R and converted to twin props in 1964, sold in 1974 to Capt. Harry White of Belle, WV. Much larger Cat engines in 1977 and sold 1981 to Madison Coal ( now Amhearst Madison, finally dismantled in 1990.

                        This thread area has to do with diesel boats as much as steam.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          RE: Disel powered towboats that could compete for the longer haul business

                          Hi Bill,

                          Thanks for the history. Not sure how to phrase this next related question, but here goes. What was the first (larger horsepower?) diesel powered towboat built to regularly push multiple barges a long distance competing with boats like the DPC vessels?

                          Best regards, Russ Ryle

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Jim Reising View Post
                            I always heard that the JASON was the last steam towboat, built 1944.
                            Dad always said that the last steam towboat to be built was the JASON, and that the legend was her name came from the months that she was built: July through November. To my way of thinking the Greek classics had a greater role in her naming!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Russ here comes a long answer. First there is a lot of disagreement on this subject. In my opinion the history of so called "line boats" is as follows. Dravo at Pittsburgh and Chas. Ward Engineering at Charleston, WV kind of took the lead in this race.

                              Ward built the GEO. T. Price in 1925 with two F-M diesels, total 720 h.p., vessel size 115'l x 26'w and iin 1927 the W.A. Shepard, identical to the PRICE.

                              Dravo answered with the PEACE and NEVILLE in 1933. Each 162'l x 34'w, originally had two Winton diesels, total 750 hp., both boats re-engined in 1948 with G-M diesel total 1600 h.p.

                              I guess the prize goes to the Geo.T. Price, all boats mentioned were still in service up until the late '60s and early '70s.

                              Comment

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