Skip to main content
Diesel Service Updates

Diesel Service Report – December 18, 2022

By December 18, 2022December 29th, 2022No Comments

Diesel Service Report, December 18, 2022

SP1006 EMC 1939 SW1

SP1006 came to the museum in the late 1980’s. Shortly after its arrival its restoration project began. When we started to refurbish the 6 cylinder Diesel engine, it became clear that sometime in its past someone had overhauled the engine and upgraded the power assemblies to a 567B version. Plus the piston rod bearings and caps were all stamped with late 1960’s production dates. That was good news and to add to it, the inspection of the cylinder liners and piston rings showed very little wear. The conclusion was that the engine had been overhauled and then almost not used prior to the museum acquiring it. The first two years of operational experience at the museum has pretty well proved what we concluded from the inspections. The Diesel engine runs perfectly and almost no oil is blown out the exhaust stack. But like almost all EMD locomotives, it is best to ensure that the air boxes have no standing oil.
The reason for bringing this up is that SP1006 has been the locomotive chosen to pull the Percy train during our annual Day Out With Thomas event. After a few years of experience we now see that the engine runs great and can be relied on to operate cleanly. As such, we will continue to plan to use the locomotive on the Percy train during the Day Out With Thomas event.
However an oil leak was noticed in the engine compartment by the oil tank reservoir tank a few months ago. John Salvini cleaned up the oil on the floor and tightened a fitting that he thought might be loose. But oil still leaked. Saturday Frank Kunsaitis and Corey Wylde cleaned up the leaked oil again and tightened additional fittings to see if the source of the leak could be seen. The engine was started and no fresh leaked oil was found. Frank retightened all the fittings on the tank and now we will have to wait to see it it was maybe just a gasket leaking under a fitting. We should know more in a couple of weeks. The amount of leaked oil was only a cup or two but was something that needed to be solved. The oil tank is visible inside the front double door on the left side of the open door.

SF560 Fairbanks Morse H12-44 Restoration

After the two trucks were put back under the locomotive, work has been underway to reconnect the traction motor leads to the car body leads. It has been very difficult. Many of the electrical leads needed to be repaired with tape for better insulation and one original connector had not been crimped properly and during years of operation, overheated the connection and it now needs to be repaired. John Salvini and Richard Berk have one truck wired with the cables all clamped in place and are working on the second truck. All of that work has to be done over the Carbarn 4 pit. This shows one of the traction motor sets of wires that are connected but still need to be raised up and clamped in place under the body of the locomotive. The cables are very stiff and heavy and it’s difficult to do.


We are now getting ready to start preparing for painting the locomotive. That includes many activities including finishing painting underneath the locomotive. Carl Pickus has been working on preparing for that work by cleaning areas around the trucks and under the locomotive that can be clearly seen by the public. The main air reservoirs are a good example of what he has prepared and something that needs to look nice.

Of course many years ago, kids broke out all the cab windows by throwing ballast rocks. Now those windows all have to be made new and reinstalled. The cab sliding windows were also all broken. This shows Frank Kunsaitis removing the sliding windows for restoration.

SF108 EMD FP45

When SF108 arrived at the museum, we were told that some of the power assemblies were worn out and needed to be replaced. We tried running the engine and it ran acceptably well. Inspections were made of the 20 power assemblies and a few were suspect as being significantly worn but the decision was made to try and operate it as it was. About that same time, the locomotive was immaculately restored to essentially perfect condition and became the prime locomotive to see at the museum. However, the worn engine allowed loose oil to get into the exhaust system and that oil would spit out the exhaust stack and be splattered all over the locomotive. That just wasn’t acceptable for that perfect paint job and it made the locomotive look really bad.
We knew that the problem could be minimized if the exhaust system could be heated up and “burned out”. The locomotive has what is called a “Self Loading” feature where the Diesel engine can be operated at full power and that electrical power can be dissipated into large resistors located on top of the engine compartment. The self loading was tried and the exhaust system cleaned itself up and no oil was spitting out the exhaust. But after a few hours of running at idle speed again and no significant load on the engine, oil would again be spit out the exhaust.
The locomotive was used to power the main Day Out With Thomas train for a couple of weekends each year and after five days of low power running, the whole locomotive would be totally covered with black oil. Long term that just isn’t acceptable. We know that the locomotive is the most used locomotive for our Run One program and we want that to continue. And we know that its important that locomotives be used on a regular basis to keep all of the systems functional in the locomotive. We don’t have the manpower near term to install new power assemblies but will research the cost of doing that. In the mean time the locomotive will be restricted in its use and will only be used for Run One excursions and weekend rotational use which should have it operate about once every six weeks or so. With that limited amount of operation, we should be able to keep the locomotive clean using its self loading feature.
We don’t have all the answers yet regarding how to solve the problem but know it has to be done if we want to continue to use the locomotive. There are various ways to address the problem. Of course installing 20 new power assemblies and new piston rings is the ideal way to solve it. But its expensive and very time consuming. The next way to to obtain proven Running Take-Outs from other locomotives that are being scrapped. Regardless of what the sellers say about the condition of the power assemblies, they are still used ones. Maybe it would work but there is risk. Another approach that has been suggested is to allow the engine to ingest a standard household cleaning cleanser, like Ajax, through the air intakes while operating under full load. The theory is that that the cleanser would roughen up the liner walls and piston rings to allow them to break the glaze on the liners and hopefully reseat the rings again. Once concern with this approach is that the cleanser would also migrate into the oil system where it may cause further damage. At this point we just don’t have an answer as to which way we will decide.
What we do know is that it takes a full day to clean the splattered oil off the locomotive after the Day Out With Thomas event. That just isn’t acceptable long term.

– Dave Althaus

Leave a Reply