Above: The newly completed Lehigh Valley Railroad
tugs Lehigh, Cornell, Hazleton, and Wilkes-Barre
parade for the camera in this publicity photo by the Cleveland Diesel
Engine Division of General Motors.
The "Four Aces" was an advertising description attached
by General Motors to four tugboats built for the Lehigh Valley Railroad
by Jakobson Shipyard in the late 1940s. The four tugs were part
of a postwar fleet modernization, and their design and construction
were coordinated by GM Diesel Power. The 105 foot long tugs, each
powered by a sixteen cylinder Cleveland Diesel 278A main engine
rated at 1600 horsepower, were designed by noted tug designer Joe
Hack of TAMS Inc.
On delivery of the boats they were arranged for a series of well
known publicity photos, showing the four tugs parading together
with lower Manhattan in the background. In actuality, only one of
the boats was underway for the photo, the rest of the tugs were
solidly lashed alongside to maintain a precise formation.
The tugs Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton were conventional
carfloat handling tugs, used in the cross-harbor interchange of
carfloats (barges with tracks on deck that transported railroad
freight cars and locomotives) and the servicing of waterfront freight
terminals that had no connecting trackage. They were equipped with
high pilothouses and stacks, to allow visibility over strings of
railroad cars on the floats.
The tugs Lehigh and Cornell were fitted with
lower pilothouses and stacks, and also had ballasting tanks to allow
them to trim down in the water, for service to terminals on the
Harlem River that required passing under low-clearance bridges.
The four tugs were considered very successful, and were joined
by two more vessels that were near-copies, the Bethlehem
and the Capmoore. This fleet of six diesel tugs served
the Lehigh Valley Railroad capably until carfloat traffic began
to drop off in the 1960s, and railroad mergers resulted in connecting
land routings for freight cars going to New England. They were gradually
sold off to commercial marine towing companies, where they provided
many more decades of useful service. Of the original four, only
the Cornell survives in private ownership today, along
with the Bethlehem, which is owned by a towing company.
Two Photos Above: The interior of the pilothouse
of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Tug Wilkes-Barre on completion
in 1949. This vessel is equipped with diesel-electric drive, the
port and starboard side controls are both for the single main engine.
Above: The forward end of the deckhouse was fitted
with a small lunch room with a hotplate, table, and stools. Railroad
tugs were manned in shifts so there was no need for elaborate cooking
facilities. The rest of the deckhouse contained two locker rooms
and the engine room clerestory.
Two Photos Above: The main propulsion engine on
the Wilkes-Barre was a Cleveland Diesel 16 cylinder Model 278A rated
at 1600 horsepower. The tug was fitted with direct current diesel-electric
drive, which provided very precise control when maneuvering with
carfloats in crowded areas.
The images on this page were part of an original
publicity package issued by the Cleveland Diesel Engine Division
of GM on the completion of the vessel.
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