Side View of a 12-278A Skid Mounted Engine and
HISTORY OF THE CLEVELAND
The Cleveland Diesel Engine Division of General
Motors was the former Winton Engine Company, one of the pioneer
builders of diesel engines in the United States, which GM acquired
from Alexander Winton in 1930. Winton Engine had been one of the
largest builders of marine and industrial diesels in the country
throughout the 1920s. At that time GM also purchased Winton Engine's
largest customer, Electro-Motive Company, which subsequently became
the Electro-Motive Division of GM, which was for many years the
world's largest builder of diesel locomotives.
The Cleveland Diesel Model 278A diesel engine
was the result of a series of design progressions from the Winton
201A engine, which were done under the direction of Charles F.
("Boss") Kettering, the head of the GM Research Laboratories
in the late 1930s. Boss Kettering was also the principal developer
of the Detroit Diesel 71 series engine, the Electro-Motive 567
series diesel, and the Cleveland Diesel 268 and 268A engines.
The 201A engine had achieved widespread recognition for its early
role in the dieselization of the railroads, and was also used
in US Navy submarines constructed in the late 1930s. In service
the 201A was found to have some shortcomings which were addressed
with the development of its immediate successor, the Model 248
marine engine for the U. S. Navy. That engine was subsequently
increased in cylinder displacement as the Model 248A, and was
then partially redesigned for production simplification as the
Model 278. The Model 278A was introduced early in World War Two
and provided a further increase in cylinder displacement and horsepower
output. It was carried in the Cleveland Diesel product line through
the late 1950s.
The 278A engine was built in six, eight, twelve,
and sixteen cylinder versions, all of which were Vee configuration.
It is a two-stroke cycle uniflow aspirated diesel, which uses
an engine driven roots blower to supply air to the cylinders for
combustion. In these Cleveland Diesel engines as in the predecessor
201A engine, the roots blower is located on the front of the engine,
which was convenient for marine applications. The similarly sized
Electro-Motive Model 567 diesel engine, used by that GM Division
in their locomotive products, was designed to drive roots blowers
from the rear gear train, allowing them to be located over the
engine power coupling, and freeing the front power takeoff to
allow its use in driving separate accessories.
Cross Section of the Cleveland Diesel Model 278A Engine
The Cleveland Diesel Model 278A
was extensively applied in U. S. Navy vessels, including late
wartime production of fleet submarines, destroyer escorts, fleet
tugs, auxiliary tugs, harbor tugs, and amphibious warfare vessels
including some LSTs. It was also a popular engine in the early
postwar years for use in commercial tugboats and railroad tugs.
The design was further developed in a strengthened crankcase as
the Model 498, which used a freewheeling turbocharger in series
with the engine driven roots blower to boost the horsepower rating.
Very few of the Cleveland Diesel Model 498 engines were constructed.
The construction of over 2000 Model
567 engines by the Electro-Motive Division of GM for wartime Navy
LST production, many of which had not been installed at the cessation
of hostilities, resulted in the intrusion of surplus 567s into
the postwar marine market. The Electro-Motive engine was an excellent
performer, of simpler construction than the Cleveland Diesel 278A,
and parts were readily available as it was widely produced for
railroad use. As a result the EMD 567 gradually displaced the
Model 278A from the marine industry, resulting in Electro-Motive
becoming GM's larger builder of marine engines in this size range,
and leading to the demise of the Cleveland Diesel Engine Division,
which was eventually absorbed by EMD. The last few Model 278A
engines were built by EMD at La Grange, Illinois after the Cleveland
Diesel operations in Ohio had been phased out.
Article and page design by Preston Cook, ©2009
This is the cover art of the Cleveland Diesel
Division of General Motors sales catalog for the 278A engine,
issued around 1945.
This illustrates two Cleveland Diesel Division
sales promotional knives with engraved images of their diesel
engines. The knife at the top features a Model 498 engine and
the knife at the bottom displays a sixteen cylinder Model 278A.
A skid mounted Model 248 with generator, the predecessor
of the 278A.