In March, Campbell Transportation’s Lincoln Thomas, a 70'×24'×10' towing vessel built in 1975, was repowered with a pair of 850-hp Mitsubishi S12A2s main engines at Amherst Madison, Charleston, W.Va. The engines were provided by Laborde Products. The towboat works on the Ohio River out of Pittsburgh.

The new diesels replaced two 850-hp Cummins KTA38s. This seems to be a significant shift away from Cummins engines for Campbell Transportation’s liquid towing vessels, of which there are 10 listed on Campbell Transportation’s website. Prior to the repowering, seven of the vessels had Cummins main engines. No engine was listed for the remaining three.

The Mitsubishi engines are somewhat lighter and slightly smaller than the Cummins engines. Trace Laborde, vice president of sales at Laborde Products in Covington, La., doesn’t think the weight savings was a factor in selecting the Mitsubishi’s. “They really liked the simplicity and their ability to service the Mitsubishi engine and the support we could provide.” That includes parts availability and “training their team on the engines,” he said.

Though the Mitsubishi engine’s size and weight weren’t major factors in its selection, they contributed to a relatively easy installation. “It was the simplicity of repowering. It wasn’t an exact drop in but was a very simple engine replacement for Campbell to do,” said Laborde.

That might be part of the reason why Laborde’s 850-hp Mitsubishi S12A2 has repowered several vessels that had been powered with 850-hp Cummins KTA38s. Enough so that Laborde said he considers vessels powered with the Cummins KTA38 a niche market “for the Mitsubishi (S12A2) engine.”

In late March, Laborde said the Lincoln Thomas had finished sea trials with its new Mitsubishi main engines and Campbell “is very happy with it.” 

In a previous press release, Campbell Transportation’s Michael Pilgrim said, “We have had great success with the Mitsubishi engines and are excited to add a few more to our growing fleet.” 

Michael Crowley is a long-time Maine-based correspondent for WorkBoat Magazine, specializing in stories related to new vessel contruction and new gear, such as electronics, deck equipment and diesel engines.

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