With the help of Winton, the Electro-Motive Company pioneered and developed gasoline-electric railcars. Hundreds of these cars were built in the 1920’s-1930’s, and were an important stepping stone in the development of the forthcoming Diesel-Electric generation of railcars and locomotives.
Only a small handful of these cars remain, including Montana Western #31, at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, Wisconsin. #31 was donated to the museum in 1965.
The car was built in 1925 for the Great Northern Railway as their #2313, and was sold to shortline Montana Western in 1940. Only the front truck on these cars is powered.
While the date on the plate is 10/1925, the car’s engine was not shipped until 4/1926, leading me to think this may have been a contract date.
Inside, the car is essentially 100% original, including these lush purple velvet walkover seats. A small smoking section is in the compartment forward of this one.
Ahead of the smoking section is a baggage room, as well as being home to the cars heating boiler.
The rear end of the car features a control stand, as well as a small bathroom opposite of it.
Forward of the baggage room is the engine room, home to the 6- Cylinder Winton 106A gasoline engine and control stand.
Stepping back a few feet gives us a better overall view of the engine, showing the central carburetor and intake manifold. These early engines used General Electric electrical gear. The three exhaust pipes head straight up to the roof.
Forward of the engine is the engineers corner with the various controls and brake system, note the use of a “trolley” style controller. My ears bleed just thinking of being this close to the engine!
The engine in #31 is a Winton 106A, a 7 1/4″ bore x 8″ stroke, 4 stoke, 6-cylinder gasoline engine. The engine was rated for 250HP at 1200RPM. Previous model 106 was a slightly smaller, 7″x8″ engine, rated for 200HP at 1000RPM.
Looking toward the magneto side. While you can access the cab through doors on either side, or by climbing over the generator – it is still an extremely cramped space.
Special thanks to Bill B. at Mid-Continent for arranging a look inside this rare piece of equipment. #31 is currently not in operable condition, however the museum does have a 2nd spare parts engine it obtained from Sperry Rail – once a large user of Gas-Electric railcars. Be sure to stop by the museum if you are in the area, they have an amazing collection!
Happy New Year! We shall begin this year with a brochure – the Winton 201 engine used to power the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, held in 1933-4. I was able to get a copy of this a few years back, so here is a scan. Click them all for a larger version.
Eugene Kettering would state in his 567 development paper the following about these engines at the expo:
“The boys worked all night and hoped the engines would run all the next day. It was no fun, but we learned fast and a new design study was soon underway at Winton. To mention the parts with which we had trouble in Chicago would take far too much time. Let if suffice to say that I do not remember any trouble with the dip stick.”
Needless to say, the engines did work at the end of the day, and provided an important stepping stone for Winton and the developments with which would become the 201A engine, to be used in many railcars, locomotives and submarines. While the engine was not entirely a success in the long run, it did lead to the development of the Winton 248 engine for Marine use, and the 567 engine for locomotive use, and the Detroit Diesel 71 line.
Amazingly enough, one of these engines is a survivor, on display at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL. It would become a trade show display for General Motors through the years. Unfortunately, the sister engine to my knowledge disappeared.
I truly hope one day we can see a Winton 201A run again for display.
Over the last few months, I have been combing through the records for Winton, and later Cleveland Diesel, and put together the following master list of every engine produced by them. This is the result of several nights of going through 2000+ pages of entries, and then spending the following several months filling in the gaps with specifications using various manuals, brochures, company newsletters and everything else, and even still, there are many, many holes with the early engines.
The records start with engine #15 – thus I can not fill in those very first engines. Note that Winton assigned model numbers to several of their auxiliary units such as compressors and pumps, and are labeled as such below.
The last Winton engine before being purchased by GM was engine number #3559 on 6/12/1930, a model 148 engine for Electro-Motive. Winton was purchased by General Motors on 6/20/1930.
On 12/30/1937, Winton Engine Corp., was renamed to the Cleveland Diesel Engine Division of General Motors. The Final Winton Engine was #5359, A 12-201A for Railroad Service. Note 1: 4432/3 are the prototype 201 engines, listed as “used 201” in records.
When it comes to horsepower ratings, especially on the later engines (278A, 268A, 567C), there were simply too many horsepower numbers to list, as it varied by application.
Note that by now – we see engines that are made by sister companies including Detroit and EMC/EMD. Early on, the Detroit Diesel engines sold through CDED (typically part of a “package” for a boat) carried both a Detroit Diesel as well as a Cleveland Diesel builders plate. In the case of the Detroit engines, this was dropped by the 1940’s.
However – with the EMC/EMD 567 line, engines sold though CDED for marine and stationary use carried only a Cleveland builders plate well into the late 1950’s. Only the very last few 567 engines sold through CDED carried both an EMD and a CDED builders plate. More information on this can be found on our post documenting Winton/CDED linked below.
Also to note: This list covers only engines built or sold through Winton and Cleveland Diesel. This does NOT cover any additional engines or developments by Detroit Diesel (such as the 51 or 53 series and later) or EMD (184A, 645 etc.)
Thanks to J. Boggess and P. Cook for helping with this. As always, there are numerous holes in the listing, so please send us a message with any additions or corrections.
4/5/2020 : Since posting this, I have been able to fill in a number of holes in the list. At some point in the future, I will post a revised edition.
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.