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Diesel Service Updates

Diesel Service Report – January 23, 2022

By January 23, 2022February 2nd, 2022No Comments

Diesel Service Report, January 23rd, 2022

SP 3100

When our GE U25B arrived at the museum in the early 1990’s, it was rumored to have cooling problems. After using it at the museum for about 20 years, the problem became so bad that something had to be done about it. We had heard from “Old Head” SP maintenance guys that the problem was most likely a clogged oil cooler. After a few pressure measurements, it became obvious that the cooler was severely clogged. Richard Berk and John Salvini decided it was time to fix the problem. Once they removed the cooler, they found that it was almost totally plugged with rust.

The cooler was cleaned and reinstalled. However, GE had modified their later versions of this design and installed filter screens over the oil cooler so that the rust chunks would be filtered out before getting to the cooler. Carl Pickus designed a similar screen for our locomotive and installed it in the expansion tank directly over the oil cooler. The concept was to catch any more rust chunks that were circulating in the system. Now, two years later and after about 500 hours of operation, the inspection cover was removed to inspect the new filter screen. But before removing the cover, water had to be drained to a level just below the screen. The drained water came out very clear but was still dark pink from the anti-corrosion additives that are used in all our locomotives now. That was all good news. Carl’s new screen had very little debris on it. There is a possibility that the roof mounted radiator cooling fins may have some debris stuck in them, but if so, it doesn’t appear to enough to cause any heating issues. This shows the new filter screen after two years of operation. It appears the problem is solved.


SF5704 Bi-Centennial SD45-2

Stephen Priest, the project coordinator, posted a few pictures showing 5704 in primer paint. The locomotive has been mechanically reconfigured back to its 1976 design. The locomotive is now ready to go to the paint shop. After it is painted, arrangements will be made to transport it to SCRM.


SF560 Fairbanks Morse H12-44

A years ago, we knew that all 12 injector nozzles were not spraying uniform cone patterns, and some dribbled after the injection cycle was complete. An attempt was made to clean them but we had no spare parts for them. After the testing, we tried to find replacements for them and found that no new ones are available. We then looked at upgrading them with more modern ones and found the cost to be over $30,000. We do not have that amount of money.

Richard Berk then posted a request on Facebook asking if anyone might happen to have some spares that they didn’t need. A reply came from one source saying that they had 21 of our model injector sitting on-the-shelf. They knew this model injector could no longer be supported and spent the money for the upgrade to the modern style. But that also meant they had no use for the older style. They pressure tested all 21 injectors and found they all had good spray patterns and opened (popped) at the correct pressure. Richard made contact with them and received a quote that is significantly below the $30,000 needed for new injectors and associated fuel lines and cylinder adapters.

The deal isn’t completed yet but both sides agree on the approximate value. If the deal works out, the museum will have a life time supply of injectors for SF560. This shows the injectors that were removed from FM engines that were used in electrical generation service. This is an amazing find for the SF560 project and gives us even more assurance that the locomotive should be able to be restored to operational service.

As noted previously, the existing built-in class lights are not correct when we go back to the black and white stripe paint scheme. Carl has already designed lockable brackets for the correct old-style removable class lights and removed the existing class lights and filled in the holes in the nose.

The locomotive hood had been severely damaged during its use in the Texas junkyard in the 1980’s. Something very heavy had been dropped onto the exhaust stack area on top the hood. It smashed the hood and severely bent the exhaust stacks. Carl tried to straighten the hood out by chaining it to his heavy duty trailer and then trying to pull the bent hood area upwards using his deck crane. He even use torch heat to help. So much force was applied that it lifted the hood and trailer off the ground. There was no reasonable way to remove the damaged area. He will now cut out that 30 in wide part of the hood and replace it. The exhaust stacks will be straightened or replaced. This shows the hood and trailer as he tried to pull the “dent” upward.

The hood had also been modified to incorporate a specific radio antenna with a ground plane and a beacon. Both were not part of the original configuration and need to be removed and the holes filled in. The third plate in the upper right corner will be left alone. It isn’t tall so can’t be seen from the ground.

New batteries for the locomotive should arrive this coming week. However, the battery boxes were in very bad condition. Carl welded on new door hinges and new safety latches. The floors in the boxes were severely corroded due to battery acid over the years. He removed as much of the rusted metal as possible and built wooded platforms for the batteries to sit on. And then he coated the floors of the battery boxes with Henry’s roofing cement. Everything is now ready for the new batteries to be installed.

The inspection covers for the lower crankcase and the fuel injection area were removed and sent to a radiator shop for cleaning. They have been cleaned and returned. Carl painted them and installed them back on the engine. This is the color the rest of the engine will be painted after being cleaned.

During the time the inspection covers were removed, the engine could not be operated. John Salvini used that time to clean out the engine compartment sump area. He found many gallons of very thick, tar like, oil and grease plus dirt, that had accumulated over the years. It took many days to get the gunk removed.

John has now opened up the area around the snubber (exhaust muffler) drains. We know that excess oil in the exhaust system gets blown into the snubbers and will drain out the drain holes. But that’s something we can’ live with. We have to come up with a design to catch that oil and develop operating procedures for when to drain it and how to minimize that oil coming into the exhaust system. At the moment, we think that we will be able to connect the two drains together and have a drain valve that can be used to keep the snubbers drained of oil. But for now, experiments will be done to characterize the amount of oil coming out of the exhaust system and determine how to best deal with it.

As most of you know, this is a dual opposed piston engine. That means it has two crank shafts, one on top and one below. But for the engine to work properly, the two crankshafts have to be mechanically connected for proper timing. There is 1200 horse power involved and any mechanical device that connects the two crankshafts must be very study. FM had a lot of problem with this and eventually adopted a design that appears to be satisfactory. The connecting device is a vertical shaft with helical gears. The nickname for it is a “quill” shaft. It and its gears, have to be very precise and sturdy. This picture shows the lower set of helical gears. Fortunately these engines don’t have a history of failures of these gears..

Tom Platten has continued to needle gun paint off the lower part of the locomotive. In the near future, work will begin attempting to use a recirculating grit blaster to remove the rest of the rust and paint. If that fails, we will be contacting vendors for prices for removing the rust and painting the locomotive.

This coming Saturday, Tim Johnson and Bob Bray will start working in the radiator compartment. The ceiling of the compartment is totally open so any rain, dust, or debris falls directly onto the compartment floor. The standing water over the years has created a lot of rust on the floor. Carl tried to vacuum up most of it but there is still a lot there in layered chunks. We know there must be a drain in that floor but so far haven’t found it. The first order of business will be to locate the drain and open it up. Then pressure wash the whole compartment, including the radiator fins. So far, the cooling system seems to be able to handle the heavy heat load put on the engine when operating into a load box. Cleaning the radiator fins will help even more.


– Dave Althaus


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