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Diesel Service Updates

Diesel Service Report – March 6, 2021

By March 6, 2021January 26th, 2022No Comments

Diesel Service Report, March 6th, 2021

The museum’s annual members meeting was held on Saturday. There were several items reported regarding the status of the museum and its future. But the exciting news, associated with Diesel Service, was that the museum’s President Award, which is given to just one museum volunteer each year, was presented to John Salvini, one of our Diesel Service crew members. I expect that most of you don’t know John. He has been working with our Diesel Service group for a number of years and has been key to the success that we have had with many projects.

John retired from a railroad career working for Santa Fe and then BNSF. He worked out of the San Bernardino yard much of the time and had the nickname of Mr. Cajon Pass among fellow workers. One of his main jobs was being a roving maintenance man solving problems as trains moved back and forth between San Bernardino and Barstow. If they encountered any type of problem, John was called and always had the answer.

When I first met John, another person, an Engineer with BNSF, came to me and asked if I knew who John was and his history. I said no and then listened to the many stories that told how he solved problems time and time again, and helped save peoples jobs by proving equipment was faulty and not the Engineer.

Another time I received a call from a subcontractor regarding work that we wanted done under contract. The subcontractor was quoting the task for us. When we finished talking, he asked if I knew John Salvini because he had heard that John was volunteering at the museum. I said yes, and that John was with us in CB7 working at that moment. The contractor, who maintains locomotives all over Southern California for a living, commented that John had forgotten more about locomotives than he, the contractor, ever knew. He also related an incident where his crew was stumped over an issue and ended up calling John in the middle of the night for help. Of course, John gave him the right information and the contractor solved the problem. And the stories go on and on like that.

I expect this will all embarrass John since he shies away from publicity. But it’s a real pleasure to have him on our team and look forward to working with him for years to come.

Thanks again John.


Fairbanks Morse H12-44, SF560 Restoration Project

As reported last week, the first exhaust snubber was removed. This past Tuesday, John Salvini and Richard Berk unbolted the second one and Carl Pickus used his deck crane to remove it from the engine. Now, a method must be found for cleaning the snubbers. They are severely coated internally with loose oil and carbon deposits. Numerous methods have been suggested. One suggestion was to light the loose oil and carbon on fire with a blow torch and let the fire clean them out. The major problem with that is the risk of having the metal distort its shape due to the high heat, which could pose problems bolting the snubbers back onto the locomotive.

The next thought was to take the snubber to a company that could immerse them in a hot caustic solution which would dissolve the deposits both internally and externally. The problem with that is that the snubbers have an encapsulated heat shield on the outside. That stuff appears to be a fibrous material encased with some type of high temperature potting material. We are afraid that if the snubber were immersed in a caustic solution, that the liquid would leak into the fibrous material and we couldn’t flush it out. It could cause severe damage if it couldn’t be flushed out.

The latest approach that we are considering, is to take the snubbers to a professional radiator shop that specializes in industrial cooling systems. They would attempt to steam clean the snubbers. We don’t have an answer yet but will take one of the snubbers to the radiator shop to get their opinion regarding what they think could be done. We should know more in the next week or two.

One of the replacement injector pumps had a stuck plunger barrel a few weeks ago and was returned to the vendor. They have it, or a replacement, ready to ship back to us. We don’t know yet what caused the sticking pump problem but are guessing it might have been an issue with the fuel or contamination in the fuel system. A special fuel additive will be added now and flushed through the system in the hope that the problem won’t happen again.

Sellers Wheel Lathe Restoration

Carl Pickus and Doug Newberry have spent several days each week, for the past few months, working on the lathe project. They have the housing structure built and all the roof and siding attached now, except for the two ends. The picture below was taken Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon, the east wall sheathing, on the right side of the housing, was installed. They will most likely finish installing the end sheathings during the next couple of workdays.

The housing consists of two equal halves. Each half rests on six rollers, which ride on angle iron tracks. That allows the housing to split in the middle and roll apart, which provides an opening in the roof for a crane to lower a wheel set into the lathe.

Carl installed an access door, with a drip rail, in the west wall. The door was surplus at the museum and even had an operable door opener attached. The next step will be to get the door lock assembly installed.

Since the shed can be easily split by rolling the halves apart, there was a need for pinning the two halves to the foundation when they are closed. That was necessary to ensure that the wind wouldn’t blow them open. A secondary latch was installed inside the housing so that the halves couldn’t be rolled apart from the outside without first unlocking the door and going indoors to release that security latch.

Carl also removed all the tarps that were protecting the lathe. He then cleaned years of accumulated dust and dirt from the bottom of the lathe pit. With the roof now on, rain will no longer flood the base of the lathe. One of the next remaining tasks will be to pull electrical power cables into the facility for lights and hand tools.

 There will be two types of lighting. One will be area light using fluorescent lights attached to the roof beams, and the other will be spotlights that shine directly onto the wheels being cut. And of course, there will be electrical outlets to support the use of hand tools and grinders for sharpening the lathe cutting tools.

We haven’t found data indicating exactly what the weight of the lathe is. But as a guess, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that it weighs upwards of 30 tons or more. After sitting unused in a wooden leaky shed for 30 years, there is a lot of work to do removing accumulated dirt and surface rust on the lathe itself. We know that it functions for rotating wheel sets and that the right-hand tail stock transverses back and forth properly. That gives us some assurance that the major risk areas are solved. The issue now will be to carefully refurbish the other parts that haven’t been used for so many years.


 USAF 1601, 80 Ton GE Switcher

Now that the running gear on the locomotive has been rebuilt, it was time to do the final servicing. Frank Kunsaitis changed the engine oil and installed new oil filters. He also replaced the fuel filters and topped off the oil in the two compressors. The friction bearing journal boxes were checked and one was found to have a low oil level. The oiling wick was still wet with oil but there was little or no loose standing oil in the bottom of the journal box. That was surprising because the others had plenty of oil. They are now all topped off and we will keep an eye on the one that was low. Either it wasn’t filled initially, or we have a leaking journal box. We didn’t see a puddle of oil under the box after fresh oil was poured in, so hopefully, it was just low on oil. The plan for next week will be to drain the cooling systems and refill them with properly treated cooling water.

Weekend Passenger Duty

Last weekend, March 1st, SP3100, our GE U25B locomotive, was used both days for pulling the passenger train. This week, our UP942, our EMD E8 locomotive was used both days. No mechanical defects were reported on either of the locomotives.

Dave Althaus

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