• New Haven Railroad Tug BUMBLEBEE

  • Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
  by mxdata
 
A news item for the NYNH&H fans. The former New Haven Railroad tug BUMBLEBEE has reportedly been offered for sale recently by a marine towing company in Boston. This vessel was build for the New Haven Railroad in the early 1950s by Jakobson Shipyard in Oyster Bay, Long Island. It was designed by Joe Hack, who also designed many of the tugs for Moran towing in the same time period. It is powered by a 16 cylinder Cleveland Diesel 278A engine. The owner is reportedly asking $60,000 for the vessel.

  by Engineer Spike
 
My uncle said that he was on the ship as part of a railfan trip in the '50's. He said that the there was a framed copy of the prayer said at the launching. My uncle, ho worked for the NH commented on how the bum bastard Mc Ginnis changed all the ship names to Transfer xx . He said that the name had been changed on the prayer. This made him think less of Mc Ginnis.

  by [email protected]
 
Hello Spike & mxdata,
The former "Bumblebee" is indeed for sale by Eastern Towboat Corporation (617-567-5299), Doug DellaPorta, proprietor, and a close friend of mine. Her original name is still very visible at close range, welded into the bulwarks on either side of the stern. She is in excellent structural condition, and is the most heavily-constructed harbor tug I have ever seen. Her 16-278A Cleveland engine is largely intact. The main generator and motor (she is diesel-electric) were removed and rebuilt by the Cross Harbor Railroad, and Eastern Towboat is in possesion of these items. Cosmetically, she is in tough shape, and she suffered greatly from vandalism while "stored" inactive. Doug is offering her for conversion to a houseboat, which would be a wonderful use. Her engine-room is enormous, even with the engine still there! It is not a project for the faint-of-heart, or for one without adequate funds. This is a big and expensive job, but the result would be a genuinely unique living-space. I hope that the right person comes along to make this a reality.

  by mxdata
 
I have not seen this vessel recently, but many years ago she had complete handrails atop the wheelhouse, and I spent one entire spectacular sunny day up there taking slides and movies. I still remember that the ladder on the back side of the wheelhouse tilted backwards slightly and was quite challenging to climb. I went up with a rope over my shoulder and the crew tied up all my photographic equipment and we hoisted it up top. (SLR's, 16mm Bolex and heavy tripod too). Captain Sal would talk with us through the window occasionally to let us know what he would be doing with the tug to maneuver the floats. It was one of the best "railfan" excursions I ever took, and I still think it was well worth the extensive sunburn. That Cleveland 278A was smoother and quieter than an EMD 567, probably because the water cooled exhaust risers and manifold damp out some of the sound. It was an incredible view from up there, looking down on the tug and the carfloat. A truly memorable day on a wonderful railroad tugboat.

  by mxdata
 
In a recent conversation, Doug advised that the tug was not sold as a result of the advertising for sale. As was mentioned in a previous posting, he is hopeful that someone will take an interest in the tug for conversion to a houseboat. As noted earlier, the tug has serious problems which make continued use as a commercial vessel impractical.

Restoration of the BUMBLEBEE would not be a project for those who have a limited budget. A tugboat is a very expensive item to maintain and berth, particularly if it ever needs any hull repair work.

  by mxdata
 
I went over recently and took a detailed look at the BUMBLEBEE. I think that Doug's evaluation that restoration for commercial use would be too expensive is quite accurate. Several major machinery items need rebuilding and they are all 50 year old equipment to start with, plus the tug has a lot of rust rot.

He is still hopeful that someone may acquire the tug as a houseboat. Unfortunately there seem to be no marine museums with any interest in railroad tugs at the present time. Hopefully we will not see the BUMBLEEBEE follow the large number of the postwar diesel tugs that have gone to scrap in the last few years. But of course the last DL-109 PP716 got scrapped in Boston too, and nobody was able to save it.

Unfortunately most railroad historical groups take little interest in a fallen flag railroad's former marine equipment, and many marine historical groups view tugboats as being simply work boats and historically irrelevant, so the tugs usually just get scrapped. It is really sad since the numbers of former railroad boats have declined dramatically in the last few years since Moran and other companies have taken the position that they will scrap old boats rather than sell them.

  by mxdata
 
I talked with Doug today and he advises that although a number of people looked at the BUMBLEBEE, he has not been able to sell the vessel. He is still trying to identify some group that might be interested in getting the tug into a museum collection or in the hands of some other historical organization.

The least expensive (in the long term) way to preserve the tug would be to take her out of the water, which stops the salt water rusting and corrosion. Second best choice would be to get her into fresh water, which would also greatly decrease the deterioration due to rusting.

The BUMBLEBEE is within the weight range that she could be lifted by one of the large construction cranes in the NYC area if a suitable shoreside display location could be found. Doug advises that the hull is in good enough condition to survive the lift without damage. Mounted on a cradle in a shoreside park, she would make an ideal centerpiece for a display on railroad marine operations. Of course the best location for such a display would probably be in the NY Harbor area where she operated.