Cat® Marine repower adds horsepower, lowers emissions and reduces fuel consumption for towboat fleet

Campbell Transportation Company, Inc. is modernizing a fleet of four towboats at a cost of $2.2 million per boat.

The major repower project represents a complete re-engineering of propulsion systems that will increase horsepower and improve handling and maneuverability—while significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The smooth-running, new Cat® Marine engines will also greatly enhance crew comfort with less noise and 90 percent less vibration.

This project “demonstrates the company’s commitment to invest in its equipment and people to provide safe and reliable service to the inland marine transportation industry,” says Kyle Buese, president of Campbell.

Based in Houston, Pennsylvania, Campbell Transportation Company, Inc. (CTC) is committed to providing efficient and reliable service across all its business segments to its valued customers where safety is their top priority. CTC commits its resources to safe and environmentally sound operating practices and procedures. This results in a safe work environment for employees, and safe, dependable service for customers.

In 1994 and 1995, five identical towboats were built with three-quarter inch steel hulls at Jeffboat in Jeffersonville, Ind. Measuring 126 ft. long with 33.7 ft. beams, the boats were each fitted with two 12-cylinder diesel engines. Campbell acquired four of the boats in 2017—the mvs. Roger W. Keeney (now the Connie K.), Jeffrey A. Raike (now the M.J. Monahan), James R. Morehead and James E. Pinson—from American Commercial Barge Line; and purchased the fifth, the Norman L. Snodgrass from AEP River Operations and renamed it the Tommy H. The Pinson, which was then sold, leaving the four boats that are now being completely modernized.

“We had a lot to work with,” said Mike Pilgrim, manager of vessel maintenance, referring to the size and healthy hulls of the four boats.

Operating in freshwater, the boats all had minimal hull degradation, and they had good documentation, making it easier for The Shearer Group to draw engine room and stern modifications, said Joshua Sebastian, engineering manager.

The Project

The project kicked off the second week of January 2020. The estimate for completion was 4.5 months or 118 working days per boat. COVID-19 led to a six-week delay.

Campbell partnered with Electra Shipyard, owned by Enterprise Marine Services, to complete the project. Pilgrim, who started his career as a deckhand for Magnolia Marine nearly 30 years ago, was the project lead. Jacob Brown, director of marine maintenance, construction and shipyard operations led the efforts of the yard.

Cat Repower

The old, inefficient engines were replaced with clean-burning Cat 3512C Tier 3 Marine Propulsion engines each delivering 1502 hp @ 1,600 RPM. They were supplied by local Cat dealer Cleveland Brothers and their experienced sales team led by Dale Brosius, OEM / Industrial Engine Account Manager Energy & Transportation.


“These engines provide significant emission benefits over the pre-tier original engines that were replaced,” Brosius says. 


The new engines reduce NOx hydrocarbon emissions by 122 t/year, and reduce particulate matter by 5 t/year.

The fuel-efficient Cat engines also achieve significantly better fuel consumption moving BSFC from .393 to .348 lbs/bhp/hr. Outfitted with Twin Disc MGX5600 gears and new Kort nozzles, the twin engines in each boat combine to achieve 3,200 hp. “At the yard, they registered over 3,300 hp,” Pilgrim said.

While working on the boat, Pilgrim also converted some fuel tanks to freshwater tanks. Now the boats have 45,000 gallons of fuel capacity, which leaves less fuel inventory onboard compared to the 70,000 gallons they used to carry around. This leaves plenty of fuel onboard as the vessel averages 15,000 to 20,000 gallons of diesel during refueling.

Another key result, other than more power with less fuel consumption and emissions, is that the powerful Cat engines in each boat deliver vastly superior handling and maneuverability, Pilgrim said. With roughly 90 percent less vibration, crew comfort on the boat has never been better.

The boats are “better than new,” Pilgrim says. Two of the boats are already completed and the Connie K is pushing 12 barges upriver and burning only 2,600 gallons per day.

 For more information about repowering your marine vessels, contact your local Cat marine dealer.




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