In the ultimate water sports contest, this takes us front and center as we watch an unusual tug of war between a 500 horsepower Kenworth tow truck and a 900 horsepower tugboat. The primary consideration is the difference between the pulling surfaces — water versus cement. The action unfolds with the drop of the flag to start the war. The tugboat goes right for the kill and begins to drag the tow truck across the cement giving those industrial grade tires a scorching. This happens even though the tug boat is creating momentum on water. The power of the tug is so much that the front tires of the tow truck rise off of the ground, and that is exactly the point in this tug of war where fate changes hands.
What Just Happened?
Admit it. Most people would have called the truck to win, but the real surprise is the tug boats success in pulling the truck backward and nearly winning. How did that happen? Some may argue that this is really a matter of 900 HP versus 500 HP, but that is not quite it either. Some could argue that the water surface is what caused the tugboat to lose and that the truck had a better advantage due to being on cement, but that is not quite it either. Let’s look at what we know about each vehicle.
Kenworth Truck Stats:
- 500 HP engine
- 2007 Diesel Engine
- Boom Rated for 50 tons
- 26,000 pounds on the drive axles
Tug Boat Stats:
- 900 HP engine
- 2012 re-powered engine
- Gross weight is 29 tons
- 16,000-pound Pollard pull
How Is It that a 900 HP Tug Boat Was Out-pulled By a 500 HP Tow Truck?
The first consideration is not the horsepower of either vehicle. It is the angle of the tow line. When the tug pulls, the force of the pulling causes more pressure to be exerted on the drive wheels of the tow truck. When the tow truck pulls, it is actually lifting up on the tug boat. This causes two problems. First, neither vehicle is pulling square, and the effects of the pulls are not equal. The tug boat must pull down and away whereas the tow truck needs to pull up and away. The length of the dock actually works in favor of the truck, and yet the tug boat pulls the truck backward. The problem here is that the dock diminishes the power of the pull from the tug boat. Because the truck lifts up the boat, the surface of the water does not oppose the pull from the truck as the dock does for the tug.
The second problem is the elevation. Had this been a competition where the vehicles were at the same elevation, I am pretty sure the tug would have won, and won easily.The second problem is that the angle by which the force of both pulls occurs. For the tug, the force of the pull is above the weight of the truck. For the tow truck, the force of the pull is from the center of the tug. If you correct both of those problems, the tug would likely have destroyed the truck.
The sad thing about this is that we do not have all of the data needed to analyze the power structures of each vehicle properly. It is not horsepower that moves a vehicle; it is torque. Part of what we should compare here is the torque range and power zones of each engine, but we simply do not have that information. Another factor is how each vehicle’s intended usage vary. The tug is meant to pull, but the tow truck is meant to tow over various terrain — uphill, downhill, etc. The tug is designed to pull across a flat surface, even with waves. So how the vehicles are designed to perform their jobs becomes another consideration for how the outcome of this event is decided.
As far as drama is concerned, it was a good show. I’d like to see the entire match replayed under different circumstances. As for the commercial about the oil, I doubt the either engine got into a position where the engine was hot enough for the oil to save it. A better test for the oils function would need to be longer. So what say you readers — how about a series of these tug of wars to see which engine lasts the longest?