Tug Photos & Archives

The Great Lakes Towing Company


A Brief History on GLT's tugs powerplants

In 1947 GLTCo conducted a survey of its large but aging fleet, and decided that most of its tugs' steam plants (many of which had come from even older tugs originally) were beyond maintaining any longer.
GLTCo commissioned New York naval architects and marine engineers Tams, Inc., to propose a plan for renovating the fleet. Tams concluded that 1200-hp Diesels would be the largest that could be shoe-horned into the existing hulls, and recommended either Fairbanks, Morse or EMD. GLTCo decided on the EMD 12-278A, rated at 1250-bhp.
Over the next eight or so years, most of the harbor towing fleet was thusly repowered, although I think four received 12-567As. The *North
Carolina* was originally built for US Steel as *Limestone* by Defoe, and has a 12-278A but is, I believe, DC drive using Allis-Chalmers equipment. The *North Dakota* I featured some years back on this site. Built as the *John M. Truby* by GLTCo in 1910, she had originally the fore & aft compound steam engine from the old tug
*Prodigy,* built in 1897 by Detroit's Frontier Iron Works. This was replaced by a 12-278 in 1949 by Passch Marine at Erie; the *North
Dakota* was among the first group of four GLTCo. tugs to be modernized. William Lafferty.

The 2 cyl 20-24 horse was the smallest oil engine built. Here's a picture of the next size up, the 30-36. The 30-36 makes 375 to 400 revolutions to make 15 to 18 hp per cylinder. Once warmed up these engines will burn anything that can be pumped. Diesel is the cleanest and best today. Those torches felt might good during those cold Michigan days. Ron Brazell.
Here is Casho's old LEOPARD (ex-Providence Steamboat), originally DPC3 - now the MISS LAURA. We broke a track with the SENECA into this marina digging through the mud and 2' of ice the whole way so the MISS LAURA could come and retrieve her cranebarge for an early "spring" job.
She went in, through the brash ice and split her hull open like a can of peas. Good ol' 60-year old salt water tugs! Well, atleast another DPC has some what of a good life now in fresh water. She should be around awhile. Franz VonReidel Photo
Oscar built 1910 by Johnston Bros. at their yard in Ferrysburg Mi. Kahlenberg engine still fresh water cooled by heat exchanger. Oscar now located west coast (Vallejo, Ca). Ron Brazell Photo.
Jenny T. II laid up in Windsor since the early 1990's until a couple years ago when she went through several owners in a short period of time, spending time in Algonac, Port Dover and now Cleveland at the old G&W yard.

She was a City-Class tug TYPE 1 which was sold Canadian many years ago. She had a bunkering barge in Hamilton I think for awhile and engaged in several "miscellaneous" type jobs until being sold to Gayton's who basically never used her and let her deteriorate over in Windsor.

We went to look at buying it and fell down the stairs going below. Not because of slipping, but because the wooden stairs just gave way, crumbled under us. She's undergoing a restoration now, privately owned and has a Lister diesel. Sort of an unusual "Canadian repowering" of an old G-tug. Makes her quite unique I guess. Franz VonReidel. Jeff Thoreson Photo.

James Elliott built the wooden steam tug C. W. Elphicke 126569 at Saugatuck, Michigan, in 1889 for the Hausler Bothers of South Chicago, operators of a marine construction firm. She measured 63.8 x 16 x 6.5, 43 gt, 23 nt. A single-cylinder high pressure steam engine, 16 x 18, was her motive power, built by the Montague Iron Works, Montague, Michigan. The following year the Hauslers merged with the Lutz family to form Hausler & Lutz, a construction and towing company based at 92nd street and the Calumet River. In 1903 she was sold out of the firm, but the Lutz family bought her back in 1905 with the intention of stationing her at Michigan City, Indiana, to assist the crack Chicago-Michigan City day excursion boats into and out of Trail Creek, the diminutive stream that served, for the most part, as Michigan City's harbor, and to provide general towing services there, which she did for five unremarkable years. That changed on 24 June 1910, when the Elphicke towed the United States stern first toward of her berth after a brief lake excursion. The Franklin Street bascule bridge began to open to let the Elphicke through as the tug let off the tow line and the United States began to reverse with her own over-sized triple-expansion steam engine; however, the United States began backing far too quickly. It became obvious to the tugmen that the United States would strike the bridge, and the Elphicke's master and part-owner, Ed Lutz, called out for his three man crew to jump into Trail Creek, which they did just as the United States struck the cofferdam that housed the bridge's opening mechanism, causing the span to come crashing down on the hapless Elphicke, pinning the tug to the bottom in twenty feet of water. The crew swam to shore. The wrecks of the bridge and the tug lay there while litigation involving culpability began its slow and circuitous route, trapping the steam barge S. M. Stephenson, unloading a cargo of pulpwood, inside the harbor when the event occurred, until the Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company succeeded in removing the downed span and the tug's hull on 12 July 1910. By the time the litigation had been resolved almost two years later, the Lutzs received $8,500 in compensation from the Indiana Transportation Company, owners of the United States. On 14 June 1912, almost two years exactly after the accident, the final documents of the C. W. Elphicke were turned into the Custom House at Chicago, with the cryptic endorsement "Vessel lost."

Below is a photograph of the United States (left, in her first year of service) and the Theodore Roosevelt at Michigan City during the summer of 1909, with the C. W. Elphicke in the foreground. William Lafferty, PhD

The following two photos show the results of the misshap: The damage to the stern of the United States and the downed span. If you look closely where the span enters the water, you can see the Elphicke's funnel. William Lafferty, PhD

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