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UP Turbines At The End

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This page was last added on January 30, 2021.

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Overview

Union Pacific's thirty 8500hp gas turbines were delivered between August 1958 and June 1961. The first to be retired were the first four, which were retired in August 1968, and one more in late 1968. Seven more followed in early and mid 1969, then four more in late 1969. The last group of 14 locomotives were retired in February 1970. The last operational run of a UP 8500hp gas turbine was on December 26, 1969, when Turbine 7 took an eastbound manifest freight from Cheyenne to North Platte.

It was widely reported in the early 1970s that on September 15, 1971, ten of UP's 8500hp gas turbines were sold to "Continental Leasing Group" and shipped to its subsidiary "Intercontinental Engineering Co.". The ten locomotives in the reports were UP 7-7B, 8-8B, 14-14B, 16-16B, 18-18B, 26-26B, 27-27B, 28-28B, 29-29B, and 30-30B.

This was reported at the time in the Extra 2200 South locomotive news magazine, and in three later books, two in 1975 and another in 1981. These books very soon became the mandatory reference works for UP turbines, so their information has been hard to verify and dislodge. These books include Harold Keekley's "Big Blow," and Tom Lee's "Turbines Westward," both published in 1975, and George Cockle's "Giants Of The West," published in 1981.

The other 20 locomotives (of the original group of 30 locomotives) were traded to GE. A total of eleven of the locomotives were traded to GE in 1969, and their trucks used for 22 new U50Cs. A total of nine of the locomotives were traded to GE in 1971, and their trucks also used for 20 new U50Cs, including the mismatched UP 28-20B set. Their carbodies were scrapped by GE at Erie, Pennsylvania, or at other locations. There were rumors that GE refurbished the gas turbines and sold them as stationary power plants.

An accounting of the truck assemblies for the 20 turbines traded to GE, and the 40 new U50Cs built by GE, indicates that there were no spare truck assemblies retained for the U50C fleet.

(View the roster listing for UP's thirty 8500hp gas turbines)

Nielsen Enterprises

UP 14-14B, 16-16B, 27-27B, and 30-30B (four locomotives) were stored at Ogden when they were retired in February 1970. They were auctioned off in August 1971 and were purchased by Nielsen Enterprises, a freight damage broker, as well as a second-hand and metal salvage dealer located in Ogden. Nielsen very soon realized how difficult it would be to dismantle the four locomotives solely for their scrap value, and within a month was lucky enough to learn that Continental Leasing had just bought six of the large turbine locomotives (UP 7-7B, 8-8B, 18-18B, 26-26B, 28-28B, 29-29B), and was able to make a deal with Continental to buy Nielsen's four locomotives.

The date that Continental bought the four locomotives from Nielsen is not known, but UP 27-27B was moved to Houston in late 1971 and scrapped in early 1972. There was some difficulty moving UP 27-27B to Houston, concerning its air brakes not being operable for interchange with MKT, so UP 30-30B, which was in similar condition, was moved to a local salvage dealer in Salt Lake City, where it was dismantled. The gas turbines in the two locomotives' B-units were apparently removed and shipped to Continental's affiliate company, Intercontinental Engineering in Kansas City.

The difficulty in moving UP 27-27B and 30-30B in late 1971 because of their condition, resulted in moving UP 14-14B and 16-16B only 30 miles from Ogden to GE's Apparatus Service Shop in North Salt Lake, Utah, where the two locomotives' gas turbines were removed from the B-units by GE in autumn 1972 and shipped to Intercontinental Engineering. The two A-units (UP 14 and 16) were stored in Salt Lake City until they were moved to Kansas City in 1979.

Continental Leasing Corporation

The report of the sale of the last six UP turbine locomotives (UP 7-7B, 8-8B, 18-18B, 26-26B, 28-28B, 29-29B) to Continental Leasing was apparently based on documents held internally at UP's Mechanical Department, with a sale date of September 15, 1971. A bit of online research in a variety of sources has found that Continental Leasing Group was a group of investors planning to buy and lease-back heavy industrial equipment. In January 1971, one newspaper account called Continental Leasing, "A young, fast growing rental and leasing company that could benefit from the recent decrease in interest rates."

Research has not yet found documentation, but it appears that Continental Leasing was affiliated with Western Contracting of Sioux City, Iowa, a large construction contractor with activities all across the U. S., and owned by the Everist family. During the mid 1950s and into 1960s as the Everist companies began their large construction projects, they needed large fleets of large and expensive heavy construction equipment, including large shovels and large haul trucks, as well as dredges for its dam projects along the Missouri River. The equipment was usually leased from banks and companies that specialized in leasing and renting large equipment, and after some legal difficulties concerning the so-called lack of proper care of equipment upon the end of the lease, research suggests that the Everists and associates organized their own leasing company, known as Continental Leasing. References in the available public record show Continental Leasing, a Delaware corporation incorporated in April 1961, as the owner of record for numerous fleets of heavy equipment, as well as barges and dredges used in dredging contracts along the Mississippi River, and in coastal areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Continental Leasing Corporation was apparently reorganized in March 1976 as the Continental Leasing & Financial Services Corporation. As late as 1979, the U. S. Coast Guard's "List of Merchant Vessels of the United States" shows that Continental Leasing owned two barges based in St. Louis. One, built in Leavenworth, Kansas, was 80 feet by 30 feet, with a gross tonnage of 162 tons. The other was built in Port Lavaca, Texas, and was 180 feet by 70 feet, with a gross tonnage of 1,289 tons.

In the case of UP's gas turbine locomotives, Continental Leasing was reported as the buyer for six UP 8500hp turbine locomotives numbered in the 1-30 series. The B-units of these ten locomotives included the large gas turbine power plants that Continental and its affiliated companies were interested in. The gas turbines were to be used by an affiliated company, Intercontinental Engineering of Kansas City, which dismantled the locomotives and removed the gas turbines for use as stationary power plants, including dredging barges.

Intercontinental Engineering and Manufacturing

Intercontinental Engineering & Manufacturing (Intercon) was (and still is) located in Riverside, Missouri, at 1000 Intercon Drive. From their web site, the company "designs and manufactures heavy machinery. The Company offers towing and anchor handling winches, tug-barge, power modules, and deck machinery."

https://intercon.com/

In June 1960, Western Contracting announced that it would build a facility for its affiliated company, Intercontinental Engineering and Manufacturing, in Kansas City. H. H. Everist was shown as the president of Western Contracting, and vice president of Intercontinental Engineering. The company was reported as planning to build river barges at its Kansas City site, which was 275 miles down-river from its home base in Sioux City, Iowa.

Erman Corporation

The name "Erman Corp., Turner, Kansas" can be seen many times while researching the disposition of many Union Pacific locomotives. A check of online newspaper ads and news items finds that in the 1960 to 1990 time period, Erman Corporation was an active salvage dealer in the Kansas City area. Their address was (and still is) 6600 Thorn Drive, Kansas City, Kansas.

In May 1962, Erman was producing 28 tons of scrap metal per day. To increase the output to 40 tons per day, Erman installed a large hydraulic press and shear that would press pieces of railroad freight and passenger cars into blocks measuring 3 feet by 4 feet by 30 feet. These blocks were then sheared into blocks 3 feet by 4 feet by 18 inches and loaded into waiting railroad gondola cars for shipment to its major customers at the time, Sheffield Division of Armco Steel, and Griffin Wheel.

Erman Corporation was one of several metal salvage companies controlled by Walter Erman of Chicago, and members of his family. One of the Erman affiliated companies was Erman-Howell Division, a subsidiary of Luria Brothers Steel & Trading Company, a well known scrapper of steam locomotives. Walter Erman died in December 1972 at age 79.

Erman Corp. is still very active in the recycling of all types of metal. There are classified ads as early as 1960 for Erman Corp. in Turner, Kansas, asking for burners, laborers, welders and crane operators, but in 1967 the ads started using "Kansas City, Kansas" instead of Turner. The site is actually west of the city limits of Turner, and 8.5 miles southwest of Riverside, Missouri, the home of Intercontinental Engineering. Erma's large salvage yard is still there today, and they share the site with Watco, which sells used and reconditioned railroad freight and passenger car parts (wheels, axles, brake equipment, etc.). Erman Corporation's main office is in the Chicago area, and they have another salvage yard in Lake Bluff, also in the Chicago area. But it appears their largest site is in Kansas City.

Research suggests that the UP turbines that were sold to Continental Leasing, were shipped to Intercontinental Engineering, where UP 7 and 8 were dismantled. The effort may have been more than Intercontinental wanted, and the others were sent to Erman Corporation to be dismantled. All of the B-units were scrapped except UP 18-18B and UP 26-26B. The A-units remained in the Kansas City area until 1990-1992.

UP Turbines At The End

The six former UP locomotives (UP 7, 8, 18, 26, 28 and 29) purchased by Continental Leasing were moved to Intercontinental's site in Riverside, Missouri, and had their gas turbine power plants removed. An article in the April 1976 issue of Pacific News shows UP turbine 7 being cut up after its gas turbine power plant had been removed. Turbines 7 and 8 were cut up for scrap at Intercontinental, but the others were sold as scrap to Erman Corporation after the gas turbines were removed. Erman's salvage yard was (and still is) located in nearby Turner, Kansas, eight miles southwest of Intercontinental's site. The A-units for UP 26, 28, and 29, along with both units of 18-18B (with its turbine removed) sat at Erman, and later at other locations in the Kansas City area into the late 1980s.

In 1976 George Cockle took photos of a line of the locomotives sitting at Intercontinental Engineering in Riverside, Missouri. This group was reported as UP 18, 26, 28 and 29 (A-units and B-units). UP 7 and 8 had already been scrapped by the time of Cockle's visit in 1976, and Cockle took photos of their cabs sitting on the ground. Other photos show four remaining A-units and four remaining B-units. As for the locomotive numbers, later reports show that UP 28's A-unit was photographed at GE in Erie in April 1971, having donated its trucks to the U50C program. UP 28's B-unit was in Kansas City in 1976, where it was scrapped. This report makes for a mismatched A-unit and B-unit sitting at Riverside, but this is explained by the report that the A-units of 20 and 28 were swapped at Cheyenne in 1970, with 20 being renumbered as 28, thus making for two A-units numbered as UP 28. One went to Erie, and the other, with the 28B B-unit, went to Intercontinental in Riverside.

In 1973, photographs of UP 26-26B and 29-29B show them in Cheyenne. The photos were taken by two separate persons in late May and during June 1973, and a third person in November 1973, indicating that they had not yet been moved to Kansas City.

Of the ten UP turbines sold to Continental Leasing in 1971, two were scrapped in 1971, without being moved to Kansas City, as follows:

UP 27 and 27B were moved in late 1971 to Houston, where they were photographed being scrapped in March through July 1972.

UP 30-30B was seen in Utah in 1971, being scrapped by Lerner-Pepper, a local salvage dealer. The trucks had already been removed, and the A-unit's cab had been cut off and was sitting at a bad angle. The B-unit and gas turbine were not seen. The gas turbine was later reported to be at GE's Apparatus Service Shop in North Salt Lake.

With two (UP 27 and 30) of the ten locomotives having been scrapped in 1971-1972, here are the known dispositions of the remaining eight locomotives, known to be in Kansas City in 1976:

UP 7-7B and 8-8B were scrapped in Kansas City in 1976.

UP 14 and 16 remained in Utah until 1979, then were moved to Kansas City. Just after being sold in August 1971, the two locomotives were moved to GE's Apparatus Service Shop in North Salt Lake where the gas turbines were removed. Ken Ardinger took a photo in September 1972, showing UP 14 and 16 sitting at GE's Apparatus Service Shop in North Salt Lake. The B-units had already been scrapped and the gas turbines removed, and were sitting on the ground nearby. The photo also shows two other already-removed gas turbines, including part of 24B, on the ground awaiting removal of its carbody, along with three gas turbines from UP's smaller 4500hp turbines. After storage at GE in North Salt Lake, and then at Salt Lake City, in 1979 both UP 14 and 16 made their way to Kansas City, from where they were both donated to Illinois Railroad Museum. But since by that time they were incomplete and without their B-units, they were scrapped to raise funds for the museum's other projects.

UP 18-18B was donated to Smoky Hill Railway and Historical Society for its Kansas City Railroad Museum in 1977, and was moved to Illinois Railroad Museum, Union, Illinois, in 1992.

UP 26-26B was donated to Ogden Union Station Museum, Ogden, Utah in March 1986; moved from Kansas City via BN in March 1987; arrived at Ogden in July 1987; painted during April 1989; painted during May 2019.

UP 28 (ex UP 20) and 28B were scrapped in Kansas City in 1976. UP 28 was sold to GE and moved to Erie, where it was seen and photographed in April 1971. Its trucks were used as part of the U50C program.

In 1970, the small Cooper-Bessemer engine in the A-unit for 28 was found to be bad, and the A-unit from Turbine 20 was swapped for the A-unit from 28, then renumbered, making for two A-units numbered as 28. One was traded to GE in 1971, and the other (actually from Turbine 20) was sold to Continental Leasing along with 28B, and was scrapped in Kansas City.

UP 29-29B was one of the locomotives seen at Kansas City in 1976, where the B-unit was scrapped. The A-unit for Turbine 29 was still at the Erman Corporation's salvage yard as late as July 1990.

UP Turbines From Published Railfan Reports

December 1975
UP Turbines 14A and 16A stored at Salt Lake City since August 1975. (Pacific News, Issue 170, December 1975, page 32)

February 1976
UP Turbines cut up by scrapper at Riverside, Missouri. (Pacific News, February 1976, page 15)

April 1976
UP Turbines 7, 8, 26, 28, 29 scrapped by Intercontinental Engineering, Riverside, Mo. UP 7 was the first, it was gone by the first week in February 1976. The actual turbines were being salvaged. (Pacific News, April 1976, page 30)

May 1979
UP Turbines 14A and 16A, long stored at Salt Lake City, were shipped to Kansas City, arriving there on March 29, 1979. Stored at the old Kansas City freight house, in company with 18-18B, owned by the Kansas City Railroad Museum. (Pacific News, May 1979, page 22)

May 1979
Steam rotary snowplow 900075 stored at Kansas City, along with Turbines 18-18B, 14A, and 16A. (Pacific News, May 1979, page 22)

June 1984
The following comes from the June 1984 issue of Trains magazine:

Union Pacific turbine units 18-18B have been preserved through the effort of the Smoky Hill Railway and Historical Society, parent organization of the Kansas City Railroad Museum and the generosity of the Intercontinental Engineering and Manufacturing Co. (Intercon) of Kansas City. Mo., which donated the units to the SHRHS in 1977.

Intercon had acquired six turbines from the UP, plus spare turbine engines, parts, and trade-in locomotive generators from General Electric in order to use the turbines, generators, traction motors, and electrical gear to re-equip the operating machinery for a 42-inch hydraulic cutter head dredge. This rebuild work was being done when SHRHS first approached Intercon about preserving one of the locomotives. At first, the idea was to acquire only the carbodies and trucks, but ultimately, the locomotive was received as follows: Locomotive operational in original hostling mode, using the cab unit's 6-cylinder Cooper Bessemer auxiliary diesel driving only one remaining traction motor. The cab unit is essentially intact except for the other traction motors. A small diesel engine/D.C generator set was installed as a course of starting power for the Cooper Bessemer. The operational turbine in 18B was traded for a nonoperational one for the display, and 18B's main generators and traction motors were removed.

July 1987
UP Turbine 26-26B donated to Ogden Union Station in 1986. Arrived in Ogden on July 10, 1987. (CTC Board, July 1987, page 26)

UP Turbine 26-26B sat at Intercontinental Engineering in North Kansas City for 13 years. (CTC Board, July 1987, page 60)

October 1990
UP Turbines 14, 16, 28-28B, lettered for IRYM, at Kansas City on September 9, 1990 in transit to Illinois Railway Museum, Union, Illinois. (Locomotive Notes II, Issue 141, October 1990, page 14)

The following comes from comments by Alex Huff, made on the Railway Preservation News public discussion group on March 18, 2013, and updated on November 28, 2015:

UP 14B and 16B are shown as purchased by Western Contracting, which was affiliated with the L. G. Everist Co. of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Confirming the use of the turbine power plants in dredges, Western Contracting owned what at the time was described as the most powerful dredge in the world. I was given some snapshots of one of the UP turbines which was a donor to the dredge. Two were installed with only one operating at a time as I recall. My memory is that Western Contracting bought only the turbines out of other units for use as replacements. L. G. Everist is also connected to the Dakota & Iowa Railroad, reporting marks DAIR.

Western Contracting

Some sources show that some UP turbine locomotives were sold to Western Contracting Corporation.

Western Contracting was founded by H. H. Everist in 1917 in Sioux City, Iowa. The company was best known for their dam building, especially four dams on the Missouri River: Gavins Point, Fort Randall, Oahe, and Big Bend, all for the Corps of Engineers from 1948-1964. Western was always asking equipment manufacturers to push the limits, and build equipment larger than was available on the market, often one-of-a-kind machines. Their 'Western Orange' paint was seen on huge fleets of equipment during their biggest years from the 1940s to about 1964. The mid 1960s brought an end to the company bidding on very large construction projects.

Prior to 1946, Western Contracting engaged in several smaller highway construction projects, light grading, paving, and some airport work in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. All of this work involved a single shift of operation of either 8 or 10 hours.

Commencing in 1946, Western Contracting entered into contracts for heavier types of construction, as a general contractor, involving heavy grading and earth moving in the construction of dams, tunnels, canals, turnpikes, airports, and similar projects which were located in various states in addition to those already mentioned. The large projects included heavier equipment and additional workers working around the clock in many cases.

During the years 1946-1949, the projects where Western Contracting had contracts included large dam construction in Kansas and South Dakota, and highway construction in Iowa, and in Yuma, Arizona. The company also entered into contracts to build a railroad tunnel for the C&O railroad in Kentucky. A large irrigation canal was completed in central California.

"Western first began dredging operations in 1955 and by the spring of 1958 owned four dredges. Western decided to construct the "Western Eagle" in the latter part of 1957. At that time three large dredging projects in the eastern part of the United States had been programmed by the Corps of Engineers and Western decided to build a fifth dredge in order to be in a position to bid on those projects. However, Western constructed the 'Western Eagle' for use anywhere in the world where the business of Western might require its use. Western obtained plans for constructing the 'Western Eagle' in the fall of 1957 and through the winter of 1957-1958, and started constructing the dredge in the spring of 1958 at its manufacturing facility in Kansas City. Construction of the dredge was completed on December 23, 1958." Among the four dredges already owned were "Western Scout," "Western Warrior," and "Western Hunter." Upon its completion, "Western Eagle" was moved to San Diego, California, for use in a dredging project in Mission Bay. Upon completion of that contract in July 1961, "Western Eagle" was moved to San Pedro, California, for a dredging project that was completed in May 1963. (Western Contracting Corporation v. California State Board Of Equalization, September 10, 1968)

The fourth dredge was the "Western Chief," which had been built by Western Contracting at the Fort Randall dam site. Beginning in May 1955, the dredge was moved from the Fort Randall Dam in South Dakota, down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, along the Gulf coast, and around Florida to King's Bay, Georgia, for a dredging project there. The trip lasted until early September. At the time, the Western Chief, at 280 feet long and 87 feet wide, was described as the largest ship to travel the Missouri River. Special pontoons were required to float the dredge and reduce its depth in the water to allow passage along the river.

Among its large earth moving projects was one in Utah. Beginning in late 1958 and continuing through early 1963, Western Contracting held a contract with Kennecott Copper for the removal of 21 million of tons of overburden at its Bingham Canyon open pit copper mine.

During the period 1961-1963, Western Contracting also completed a contract with the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers to build Atlas nuclear missile sites in eastern Nebraska. Also during the same period, the company completed extensive work expanding the bases for the U. S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command.

"Western Contracting Corporation is an Iowa corporation which, since its incorporation in 1917 has had its principal place of business in Sioux City, Iowa. It has been qualified to do business in Utah since August 8, 1955. During 1962, the company also engaged in major constructing activities such as bridge construction, dredging, and stripping in the states of Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota." (Western Contracting Corp. v. Utah State Tax Commission, March 19, 1965)

Western Contracting Corporation had its principal place of business at Sioux City, Iowa, and a repair and manufacturing facility at Kansas City, Missouri.

Western Contracting withdrew from doing business in Georgia in January 1988. Documents on file with the Georgia Secretary of State show that Western Contracting was incorporated on May 18, 1955. At the time the company withdrew from Georgia, the company offices were in Sioux Falls, Iowa, and officers were Daniel E. Everist (CEO); Daniel E. Everist Jr. (CFO). Other principals included L. Garland Everist and H. Hubert Everist.

Hubert Harpham Everist, Jr., 103, of Sioux City passed away peacefully on October 15, 2020. Hubert H. Everist, Jr. was born on June 27, 1917, in Sioux City, the son of Hubert H. and Julia (Green) Everist. Mr. Everist served in World War II as a Captain in the U.S. Army Air Force, piloting A-26 attack bombers over Germany. A graduate civil engineer, Mr. Everist followed a career in family businesses which included Western Contracting Corporation of Sioux City, and Intercontinental Engineering-Manufacturing Corporation of Kansas City. He served in various officer positions, becoming President of Western in 1968 and presiding over landmark construction projects. Mr. Everist became President of Intercontinental upon its founding in 1958, and later served the firm for over fifty years as Chairman and Director. Everist was the founder of L. G. Everist Inc. and Western Contracting Corporation.

Lucius Garland Everist, 96, of Sioux City passed away on May 22, 2012. Garland Everist was born on January 10, 1916, in Sioux City, the son of Hubert H. and Julia (Green) Everist. Garland grew up in Sioux City and graduated from Central High School. He received a degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. He then served in the U.S. Navy and was a pilot during World War II. Garland was president of Western Contracting Corporation and oversaw the building of the Fort Randall Dam, Gavin's Point Dam and parts of Interstate 29.

In 2007, a list of Iowa contractors showed that Western Contracting was a marine and heavy equipment contractor founded in 1917. Its current president was Daniel E. Everist Jr., the third generation of family ownership. The company predominately constructed Corps of Engineer flood control, wetland and Missouri River mitigation Projects in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Western Condor

Research strongly suggests that at least two of the gas turbine power plants removed from UP's turbine locomotives ended up in Western Contracting's dredge "Western Condor." A report from 1979 described Western Condor as having two 10,000 hp gas turbines, and that it was the largest gas turbine dredge in the world. A later report about the dredge in 1980 described Western Condor as having four gas turbines. The timeline seems to match for the removal of the gas turbine power plants from UP turbines in early 1976 at Intercontinental Engineering, and the completion of Western Condor in late 1976 or early 1977.

(View a newspaper photo of Western Condor in 1976)

(View a newspaper photo of Western Condor in 1978)

The dredge "Western Condor" was built by Tampa Shipyards, Inc., using the hull of the "Triton," an existing dredge that was already described as the world's largest dredge. The U. S. Coast Guard office in St. Louis recorded that the Triton was renamed to Western Condor, with an effective date of November 3, 1975. The Triton had been built in 1967 by Gulfport Shipbuilding Corporation in Port Arthur, Texas, for use in completing the inter-coastal waterway along the Texas Gulf coast. The Triton dredge was completed in November 1967, was 180 feet long, with a gross tonnage of 1,187 tons. It was built for the Gregg, Gibson & Gregg company. (Not known is if a vessel's name is transferred at the beginning of a rebuild and refit, or at the completion.)

The web site Shipbuildinghistory.com, shows that the dredge Western Condor was finished in 1977 by Tampa Shipyards, Inc., owned by Continental Leasing, and was the "Jumboization of Gulfport Hull 695 dredge Triton." The dredge was 290 feet long and had a gross tonnage of 2,474 tons.

On September 14, 1976, Western Condor suffered major damage, reported as a half million dollars, due to a fire while anchored in Tampa Bay. The dredge was described as being 370 feet long and 70 feet wide. The dredge returned to work within a week, but went into dry dock in March 1977 at the shipyards of Tampa Ship Repair & Dry Dock company for scheduled annual repairs that lasted three weeks. (Tampa Times, September 14, 1976; Tampa Tribune, March 8, 1977)

By June 1977, Western Condor was operating at the entrance to Tampa Bay in Egmont Channel.

In January 1978, Western Contracting's dredge "Western Condor" was dredging the ship channel in Tampa Bay. The dredge was originally built in St. Louis in 1968, and could remove 120,000 cubic yards of material per day, through its 42-inch pipeline. The dredge was 292 feet long and was rated as the world's largest and most powerful dredge.

Western Contracting had a contract to deepen the Tampa Harbor entrance channel to 43 feet from an existing 34 feet and widen the channel to 500 feet from the existing 400 feet. Western Contracting used their 42-inch cutter dredge Western Condor. The project removed 12 million cubic yards of material from 26,000 feet of channel.

In September 1979, the Western Condor was described as one of the largest dredges that use gas turbines for dredging operations. Classified as a non-self-propelled vessel, the Western Condor was set ahead by using swing anchors to pull its bow in port-to-starboard arcs, alternately raising or lowering two 100-foot spuds to provide an off-center pivot at the stern.

In 1980 the Western Condor was used to widen and deepen the ship channel at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"My very first dredge was the Western Condor, 40 years ago [1976]. It did Ft. Lauderdale in 1980. They deepened and widened the entrance channel and the port base in there in 1980. It was a gas turbine that had four GE gas turbines in it. It burned 33 gallons of fuel a minute. We did a complete refit on the backhoe and dredge equipment before bringing it to Ft. Lauderdale. We tore that thing completely apart. We pulled the boom, stick, bucket, hydraulic, spuds. And it went back together. That dredge showed up from a job it was doing in Illinois and we completely reassembled it." (The Triton, Nautical News For Captains and Crews, May 19, 2016)

The following comes from the June 12, 1980 issue of the Miami Herald:

The dredge is 600 feet long, 75 wide and 75 tall, countless tons of massive floating factory that cost $33,000 a day to run.

She drops to the bottom of the port a 1,000-ton drill, and every hour, she cuts up and sucks up 6,000 cubic yards of sand and rock and spews it through two miles of pipe to a dump area.

She's got a 42-inch discharge line and a 110-inch impeller in the main pump. There are two 10,000-horsepower diesel turbine jets, just like a regular jet's, with eight generators on each shaft. The dredge has moved up to 117,000 yards of soft stuff in a day.

In September 1980, Western Contracting's dredge "Western Condor," 200 feet long, was dredging the Inter-coastal Waterway near Miami, Florida.

Owned by Western Contracting Corp. of Iowa, Western Condor, the world's largest gas-turbine-powered dredge, is 335 feet long with a 42-inch diameter discharge. Power originates with two Model 592 gas turbines, each rated for 10,000 hp. The main dredge pump is powered by 6,300-hp motor. (World Dredging and Marine Construction, Vol 15, No. 2, Feb 1979, pp 7-10.)

Western Condor was what was known as a cutterhead-pipeline dredge, and was one of several that have been used in the Tampa Bay region. Western Condor was the largest, with 42-inch diameter discharge pipe, a 10,000-horsepower pump, and a 2,500-horsepower engine turning the cutterhead.

The following comes from "Implementation of Innovative Dredging Techniques in the Chesapeake Bay Region," a report completed by the federal EPA in March 1982.

Extended digging has been achieved on a pipeline cutterhead designed by Orenstein & Koppel of Aktiengessellschaft in Lubeck, West Germany. The 66-foot dredging capability of the cutterhead was extended to 131 feet by hinging the ladder as far back in the dredge
hull as practical, then gaining positive control over the extended ladder by lifting gear mounted on the bow. The invention has been adapted to an American dredge, the "Western Condor" (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi Sound and Adjacent Areas Reconnaissance Report., 1979).

The cutterhead is adapted to dig into a wide variety of bottom sediments ranging from hard corals to limestone and muds. It is probably because of this factor that the cutterhead dredge is so popular all over the world (Bray, 1977).

The dislodged material is forced into a pipeline by the suction action of a centrifugal pump. The teeth on the cutterhead are usually made of manganese carbon steel and designed so that they are easy to replace (Cooper, 1975). The cutterhead dredge can effectively pump dredged material through floating and shore discharge lines to disposal sites.

This type of dredge is not generally self-propelled. It is controlled on stern-mounted spuds and swung from one side of the channel to the other by anchored wires (EPA/U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1978).

By March 1987, Western Condor was moored in Galveston, at Pier 41.

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