AT&SF 560 Fairbanks Morse H12-44 Refurbishment Project Update
For the past few months, a great deal of effort has gone into determining if SF560 was economically restorable. The main issue of concern was the status of the Diesel engine. If it was determined that the engine was not operable and couldn’t be made operable with a limited budget, then the project would not proceed. The engine has now been started and used to move the locomotive back and forth on a limited basis. That gave us the confidence to decide to go ahead with the project.
The first task is to continue refurbishing the engine area cosmetically while addressing other issues that remain in the engine compartment. After that is completed, the cosmetic refurbishment of the rest of the locomotive will continue.
Previously we had asked for comments regarding which paint scheme would be the most desirable. The overwhelming response has been to restore the locomotive back to its “as delivered” scheme, which was the black and silver (or white) stripe arrangement, commonly called the Zebra stripe scheme. That means we will need to remove the integral class lights that were installed in the late 1960’s. Other than that, the locomotive is essentially the same as it was when it was delivered in March of 1957. There are other minor issues, such as antenna mounts etc, but nothing significant.
However, for us to continue the project, we must raise the money. As a best guess, based on previous restorations, we will need about $40,000. That is roughly half of what it took to restore SP1006. And the reason for that lower estimate is that the body of the locomotive is in excellent shape and we aren’t aware of any major issues with the running gear. We know we have one bad journal bearing, and maybe axle, to worry about. But we have spare parts on-hand if needed. So, the success of the restoration of this locomotive is up to you, the donors.
There are a few ways to make your donations. The traditional way is to write a check to the museum. If you elect to do that, please make sure that the check is annotated in the memo area as being for the Fairbanks Morse Restoration Project, Fund M56. If that information isn’t indicated on your check then the donation may be deposited into the museum general fund, and not the restoration fund. The second way to donate, and probably the easiest way, is to click on this following web page. It will take you directly to the donation page in the museum’s web site.
Progress to date:
Initially, the Diesel engine would not start. All 12 of the injection fuel pumps were frozen. A very generous company agreed to trade us operable, but used, pumps for our inoperable ones. We only had to pay shipping costs. The cost for comparable rebuilt pumps would have been close to $40,000. One of our members donated $1000 towards the project initially and that paid for essentially all of the costs associated with starting the engine for the first time.
This next photo (left) shows one of the replacement fuel pumps with a high-pressure line going down to the injectors. The fuel pump body is orange. The injector is mounted in the side wall of the cylinder. There are 12 of these in the locomotive. Two for each of the six cylinders.
Once the replacement pumps were installed, the engine started quickly. The locomotive was then moved back and forth a few times under its own power but was not working correctly. The best guess at the time was that something in the electrical system was keeping the main generator from producing electricity as it should. Of course, by that time we knew that the main generator, exciter generator, and auxiliary generator were so gummed up with oil and dirt that some of the brushes were frozen solid in their brush holders.
Frank Kunsaitis started the generator cleaning process and John Salvini then worked many days cleaning brush holders, brushes, and commutators. This next picture shows one of the smaller generators after John cleaned out the commutator area. Prior to cleaning, some of the brushes couldn’t even be seen due to the thick layer of oil and dirt. Look at the dirt to the right of the cleaned area. That is how dirty everything was on the brushes and commutator (right).
Then when John started to clean the main generator, he saw that a major portion of an insulation band was missing on the end of the commutator. This is a very high voltage area and the insulation is extremely important when the locomotive is operating under heavy loads. He and Richard Berk were able to wrap new fiberglass tape around that area and glue it in place with a modern high tensile strength adhesive. And, just like the other generators, the brush areas and commutator segments were totally covered with oily dirt.
This picture (left) shows what it looked like after all the cleaning and refurbishment. Again, notice all the caked on dirt all around the area. That’s what everything looked like before the cleaning. The orange band on the left side of the picture is the insulation repair that John and Richard made. During the cleaning, John noticed that a couple of brushes needed replacing. Those will be ordered quickly.
Of course, the locomotive has not stood up well to the years of outside storage and our major task will be to repaint it back into the Zebra stripe scheme. This (right) is how it looked prior to the restoration project. The windows were all missing, essentially there was no paint left, but the sheet metal was in pretty good condition, in most areas.
The only area where there is serious metal damage, due to severe rust, is near the rear cab door. There are numerous holes where the rust has eaten totally through the sheet metal. Those areas will need to be cut out and replaced with new material. But that is very minor compared to previous restorations that we have done.
During the past many weeks, Tom Platten, Tim Johnson, Bob Bray, Doug Newberry, and Carl Pickus have removed essentially all the old paint from the exterior of the locomotive.
The big problem now is that much of the sheet metal had no paint on it for years and was exposed to the elements associated with outdoor storage. That caused significant rusting of much of the unprotected body metal. It didn’t rust through the metal but severely eroded the outside surface. In doing so, it left deep pits with rust embedded. Sanding of smooth surfaces can usually remove rust prior to painting. But in this case, the rust pits are so deep that they can’t be sanded out. To address this, we will try a product that converts active rust into a long term stable element called iron phosphate. This still leaves the deep pits but is supposed to stop the rust from growing.
Paint primer cannot be applied over rust. If it is, a few years later, the rust just reappears and the paint job is ruined. So, if the iron phosphate solution does the trick, we will still need to use a primer that has significant body to it for filling the remaining pits. One product that we have used before is Feather-fill. Its like a spray on filler material that can be sanded smooth. However, this whole topic is all speculation for now. We will be seeking professional guidance as to how to best proceed.
Before any of the painting can proceed, there are a few other tasks to accomplish. Some of the access steps are missing or severely damaged. Those will need to be replaced or repaired. And there are a few other areas of deeper nicks and scratches that will need some filler material applied. But compared to previous projects, this should be an easy restoration.
And of course the final portion of the project will be to restore the interior of the cab and install all new glass.
However as noted before, none of this can happen if we don’t have the money. If you can, please help by donating to Fund M56, the Santa Fe SF560 Fairbanks Restoration fund.