BLACK HOLE CUMMINS
Diesel World|November 2021
1964 CUMMINS VT12-825-M
Jim Allen

Not all diesel engines have glamorous jobs in fancy places... like under the hood of your pickup. Some toil in the dark, buried deep in the bowels of a ship. Such was the life of this 12-cylinder Cummins VT12, also known as a VT12- 825-M.

In 1966 when the Great lakes ore boat SS Col. James M. Schoonmaker was 55 years old, she got a very useful upgrade in the form of a bow thruster. “What’s that?” you landlubbers ask. In the simplest terms, it’s propulsion that moves a ship sideways rather than forward or back. It’s very useful for maneuvering to or away from dock. It’s typically located in the forward part of a vessel but some have them in several locations.

A ship the size of Schoonmaker won’t get by with an outboard-sized bow thruster, so when the thruster was added in the ‘65-66 off-season, they needed some beef. The engine selected was the marineized VT12-825-M. The “825” indicated the 825 horsepower pleasure boat rating, the highest rating for this engine family at the time, the absolute maximum intermittent allowable output in marine use. In normal marine use, the operator would limit operation to 700 horsepower at 1850 rpm.

VT12 HISTORY

The conceptual origins of the V1710 Series go back to the mid-1930s and a monstrous 4,638 cubic inch V12 Cummins built for use in an experimental diesel locomotive. Cummins Engineer and Historian, Keith Baylor, says only about 15 of these engines were built.

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