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Diesel Service Updates

Diesel Service Report – August 7, 2021

By August 7, 2021January 26th, 2022No Comments

Diesel Service Report, August 7th, 2021

SF560 Fairbanks Morse H12-44 Restoration Project

Work continues installing the front and rear foot-boards. While working in the scrap yard in Texas, the foot-boards and three of the bottom access steps were bent. One of the access steps is totally missing.

Carl Pickus disassembled the old foot-boards and was able to salvage the support bars and foot guards. But the actual tread steps were not reusable. New ones have been ordered. The support bars are installed and awaiting the new tread steps. In this picture, the foot guards are sitting loose on the support bars waiting for the steps to be installed.

At some time, the rear left access step well had been bent forward about an inch. Carl removed that damaged step and then proceeded to bend the face plate back to its original position. It took some leverage to do that. He fabricated an extension bar out of heavy box metal and then used a chain-fall to apply a bending force in the face plate. Once the tension on the chain was about as high as he dared go, he used a torch to heat up the face plate metal to allow it to slowly move to the correct position.

Once that plate was straight, Carl, Frank Kunsaitis and Doug Newberry adjusted the rest of the wheel well and the step tread to get everything aligned and installed. However the bottom step and its support structure are still removed while Carl rebuilds them.

The engine cooling system is still in work. As noted previously, Santa Fe had removed the very complex fan and shutter actuation system that Fairbanks Morse had initially installed and replaced it with a simple piston arrangement for opening the shutters and a pneumatic valve for operating the pistons. The pneumatic valve is still functional but the pistons are not. The air lines to the pistons were broken and the pistons were coated with hard caked oil mixed with dirt. This picture shows the piston rod and the air vent stub on the end of the piston body. Obviously, nothing was going to work if it was coated with hard tar like material. The pistons have been removed for rebuilding.

The following is a little background on our FM locomotive. The information was mostly found on

Initially FM manufactured a H10-44 model, which was a 1000hp locomotive. The “H” stood for Hood Model, the 10 indicated it had 1000 hp, the 44 meant that it had four axles and four traction motors.

Many of the customers adjusted the fuel injection systems and made them produce 1200hp. The reliability of the engine appeared to not be affected by the increased hp so FM incorporated that same injection system and called the new Model H12-44.

The H12-44 began production in May of 1950 using a body design that was inspired by industrial designer Raymond Loewy. But in the fall of 1952 FM removed much of the Loewy design to save on production costs. There were 320 H12-44’s sold in the US, 1 in Mexico, and 30 were built by a FM subsidiary called Canadian Locomotive Company, for use in Canada.

Santa Fe purchased 62 H12-44’s. FM began building the model in May of 1950 and the last one was built in Feb 1959. Santa Fe took deliveries through out that period, and it appears that those deliveries were the result of 16 separate purchase orders. Sana Fe numbered their H12-44’s sequentially from 503 – 564.

Our locomotive is 560 which means only four more were delivered to Santa Fe after ours was delivered in 1957. However, FM made numerous modifications over the years and further modifications were made to numbers 559 – 560 which were a shortened version. The shortened version has been referred to by others as FM’s “Shoebox” model. According to Joe Strapac, the first use of that nickname was on page 41 of the November 1964 issue of Trains Magazine, edited by David P. Morgan. Only Joe could have tracked that down!

Another interesting note regarding this short model H12-44 is a reference to it in the Operators Manual written specifically for the last deliveries made to Santa Fe. It refers to the model number as H12-44M. That “M” hasn’t been found on any other document, so far.

Dave Althaus


– Dave Althaus

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