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HOR's and other engines

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    Posted: 27 Dec 2018 at 10:21am



When World War II came to US shores the the operational tempo of the submarine force increased drastically. Not only were the number of hours on each engine installed in submarines by necessity ramped up but the requirement for a greater reliability of the engines became more important than in the peacetime force. If an engine failed and had to be repaired in port it pulled a submarine of patrol thus real war strategy not just the results of a peacetime exercise. Submarines had to perform 60 day patrols with 21 to 28 days for refit and repair before starting again. Failure rates had to be factored in and as the tempo increased better usage data on engine reliability became available.


As the wartime operational tempo became established planning for equipment operating hours, submarine maintenance and overhaul schedules could be formulated with some degree of accuracy. ComSubPac wanted six war patrols between yard overhauls. With the number of submarines involved in the Pacific war in late 1942 this meant that there would be at least fourteen submarines in the yards at any one time and as more submarines came on line the number of boats in overhaul would grow. Thus there needed to be yard capacity and skilled workers available to perform the work. West coast yards ramped up to take this increased load. Bethlehem Steel San Francisco and Hunter's Point started to do overhaul work as facilities and workers became available. By the end of 1943 Mare Island handled nine submarines simultaneously while Bethlehem had three and Hunters Point another twelve. Remember these facilities also handled all the other types of ships from aircraft carriers to destroyer escorts.


The data pointed to the unreliability of the HOR engines and the Winton 201 engines. New submarines were having HOR engines and GM 248 engines installed because they were in the design pipeline. Thus the submarine force needed to decide what engines to install in the new “Balao Class” submarines and what to do with the engines already installed in earlier boats which were now carrying the load in the Pacific war. The decision was made to go with GM 16-278A engines in submarines of the “Balao Class” and “Tench Class” boats being built in yards using the EB designs and the FM 38D engine in boats using the Government design.


Now the issue was what to do with the engines already in or being installed in boats from the V-1 to the end of the “Gato Class”. This decision was not an easy one. The simple solution was to replace the unreliable engines with those being installed in new construction “Balao and Tench” classes.


Actual re-engining was a complex effort which consumed a great many man-hours. These were not 'plug and play' situations like we might be familiar with today. Consider if you had a Ford pick-up truck. You wanted to (for some reason) change the Ford engine to a Chevrolet engine with a little more power. The Ford engine needs removed along with the piping, wiring, most likely the radiator and battery support. The engine mounts must be torn out and replaced with an arrangement that would fit the new engine. Now imagine doing this while having to stand and sit in the engine compartment. The situation is similar to engine replacement in a submarine. Everything down to the pressure hull must be removed including the engine and generator foundations and all supporting auxiliary equipment and piping. Then new foundations had to be fabricated not only for the engine block but for all the new lube oil coolers, pumps, engine cooling water pumps and engine exhaust piping. And remember this must be done four times (four engines). It would take between 32,000 and 35,000 man-days of effort to replace the HOR engines with GM 278A engines in the Gunnel series of Gato Class boats with the Gunnel (SS-253) taking over 44,000 man-days as the first to undergo the replacement.

7

So how many submarines are being considered for replacement. The three big “V” boats, Argonaut, Nautilus and Narwhal had MAN engines. [3 boats, 12 engines] Maschinenfabrik-Augsburg-Nürnberg (MAN) was a German company thus replacement parts would be difficult to obtain. Dolphin and Cachalot also had MAN engines. [2 boats, 4 engines] Cuttlefish had NELSECO engines (New London Ship and Engine Company) which were no longer being manufactured. [1 boat, 2 engines] There were Winton 201 engines in Porpoise (SS-172) through Permit (SS-178) [7 boats, 28 engines]. There were 80 HOR engines in scattered through the Perch, Sargo, Salmon, Seadragon, Tambor, Gar, and Gato Classes from Pompano (SS-181) through Pargo (SS-264) [20 boats, 80 engines]. This gave a total of 33 boats with 126 engines that needed engines replaced. Note that Dolphin, Cachalot and Cuttlefish had two engines each with the rest having four engines each.


The decision seems easy but requires much study, planning, requisitions, scheduling and not the least of which is approval of the entire Navy chain of command and the acquisition of money to pay for new engines, parts, man-days of work. New contracts and plans already in the pipeline called for HOR engines to be installed in 12 new construction Gato Class boats. Letters and their reviews and comments flew back and forth between Bureau of Ships (BuShips), Bureau of Engineering (BuShips), the Bureau of Inspection and Survey (InSurv) and the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). The breaking point came when the InSurv Board did not understand how the most unreliable of the engine types being used in submarines was to be used in three times as many new construction boats as the more reliable types. The letters back an forth reveal that all thoughts of maintaining good relations with a particular company went out the window and patience with their ability to correct deficiencies was at and end as wartime considerations took precedence. The arguments about which engines to use boiled down to the issue of smoking in GM engines, cracking of cylinders in FM engines and whether the issues with HOR engines (which smoked little) could be corrected in future engines. GM shifted to iron pistons and changed lube oil pumps to solve their smoking problem. FM worked on redesign of cylinder liners and water jackets to eliminate the cracking problem. In the end it was decided that all HOR engines must be replaced along with Winton 201s and the MAN engines in the boats which had them.


The option for replacement of the HOR engines were to use GM278A engines, FM 9cylinder engines or FM 10 cylinder engines. The FM10s would be a very crowded arrangement. In addition, the FM engines as replacements would mean that the engine exhaust piping in the superstructure including the mufflers would have to be rearranged. The FM engines were, however, easier to obtain. The final decision was to use the GM engines.


The next issue was more difficult to solve. Boats having HOR or GM201 engines were in patrol cycles which were vital to the war effort in the Pacific. They could not be 'set aside' for engine replacement until new construction boats came on line. Therefore many of the boats with these 'deficient' engines had to continue to make patrols. The good part of the problem was that as the construction of new submarines ramped up and the various Bureaus (Ships, Engineering, etc.), Type Commands (ComSubPac, ComSubSoWesPac, etc) and the office of the Chief of Naval Operations got a handle on scheduling it was possible to decide when to change out the engines on those submarines that needed engine changes.


By late 1942 engine replacement for existing submarine was well in hand at Mare Island. Five boats, Porpose (SS-172), Pike (SS-173), Tarpon (SS-175), Pickerel (SS-177), and Permit (SS-178) were in the yard having their GM Model 201A engined replaced with GM Model 278A engines.


The Gunnel series SS-253 through SS-264 were re-engined starting in mid1943 and finishing in March 1944. The older submarines with HOR engines had these engines replaced with GM 278A's starting in May 1944 and finishing in August 1944.


The HOR engines were gone from the submarine force by the end of 1944. However for much of the war they made one patrol after another with problems, corrections and maintenance performed by ship's force, tenders and refit crews. The GM engines were not without issues some of which restricted their loading to 75% in an attempt to minimize crankshaft bearing problems. FM engines had exhaust header problems, cylinder liner cracking and their operators became very proficient at replacing liners.


Both GM and FM engines lasted until the end of the last fleet boat in 1978. I served for a time on one boat with GM engines (Dogfish SS-350) and a longer time on one with FM engines (Sterlet SS-392). Not being an Engineman I didn't have to actively work on either type but it was my observation that those who worked on GM's (Jimmy's) thought they were the best and those working on FM's thought their engines the best. It was similar to those Ford pickup truck lovers who would never own a Chevrolet pickup and vice-versa.

This list is the best information I have to date.  It is from various sources and includes the extensive research of BuShips records at the National Archives by Christopher Wright.  My thanks to him and to the others who compiled listings. 

Hull Number NAME Number of Main Engine(s) Main Engine Manufacturer Main Engine Model Number
166 Argonaut V-4 4 MAN

V-4 Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 12-258
167 Narwhal V-5 4 MAN

V-5 Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 12-278A
168 Nautilus V-6 4 MAN

V-6 Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-258
170 Cachalot V-8 2 MAN

V-8 Re-engined 2 Cleveland Diesel 16-258
171 Cuttlefish V-9 2 NELSECO M9VU 40/46

V-9 Re-engined 2 Cleveland Diesel 16-258
172 Porpoise 4 Winton 201A

Porpoise Re-engined
Cleveland Diesel 278A
173 Pike 4 Winton 201A

Pike Re-engined
Cleveland Diesel 278A
174 Shark 4 Winton 201a
175 Tarpon 4 Winton 201A

Tarpon Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 278A
176 Perch 4 Winton 201A
177 Pickerel 4 Winton 201A

Pickerel Re-engined
Cleveland Diesel 278A
178 Permit 4 Winton 201A

Permit Re-engined
Cleveland Diesel 278A
179 Plunger 4 Fairbanks Morse 38D8

Plunger Re-engined 4 Fairbanks Morse 38D8 1/8
180 Pollack 4 Fairbanks Morse 38D8

Pollack Re-engined 4 Fairbanks Morse 38D8 1/8
181 Pompano 4 HOR 99DA

Pompano Re-engined 4 Fairbanks Morse 38D8 1/8
182 Salmon 4 HOR 99DA

Salmon Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
183 Seal 4 HOR 99DA

Seal Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
184 Skipjack 4 HOR 99DA

Skipjack Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
188 Sargo 4 HOR 99DA

Sargo Re-engined* 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-258
189 Saury 4 HOR 99DA

Saury Re-engined* 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-258
190 Spearfish 4 HOR 99DA

Spearfish Re-engined* 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-258
194 Seadragon 4 HOR 99DA

Seadragon Re-engined* 4 Cleveland Diesel 278A
253 Gunnel 4 HOR 99DA

Gunnel Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
254 Gurnard 4 HOR 99DA

Gurnard Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
255 Haddo 4 HOR 99DA

Haddo Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
256 Hake 4 HOR 99DA

Hake Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
257 Harder 4 HOR 99DA

Harder Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
258 Hoe 4 HOR 99DA

Hoe Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
259 Jack 4 HOR 99DA

Jack Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
260 Lapon 4 HOR 99DA

Lapon Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
261 Mingo 4 HOR 99DA

Mingo Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
262 Muskallunge 4 HOR 99DA

Muskallunge Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
263 Paddle 4 HOR 99DA
263 Paddle Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A
264 Pargo 4 HOR 99DA
264 Pargo Re-engined 4 Cleveland Diesel 16-278A



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote oldsubs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Dec 2018 at 10:22am
This is part two of two.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bgurls Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Dec 2018 at 8:25am
When did the 248's come into the fleet?  As I remember the bore on the 248 was 1/4" larger than the 278.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote oldsubs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Dec 2018 at 2:37pm
Note that Dolphin was not re-engined and had four diesels, two direct drive and two diesel generators.
Thanks to Ric Hedman for pointing out the error in the paper.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote oldsubs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Dec 2018 at 2:38pm
As far as the 248's -- don't know but I will find out.
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