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Diesel Service Updates

Diesel Service Report – March 14, 2020

By March 14, 2020January 26th, 2022No Comments

Diesel Service, March 14th, 2020

Volunteers for the week were Tom Platten, Taka Sakai, Frank Kunsaitis, Carl Pickus, Doug Newberry, Richard Berk, John Salvini, with assistance from Ryan Keck and Andrew Temoshek.


As reported previously, 1474 is out of service pending investigation into why the cooling fan assembly is making a very large clunking noise. We were told by an ALCo expert that the normal problem is a worn-out shaft coupling. When the coupling was tested, it was noted that it had more free play than it should which would be the most probable cause for the noise. However, the reason for the coupler problem is most likely that we didn’t know that it was supposed to be serviced on a regular basis. It is in a very awkward place to get to and none of us realized that the coupler has two cavities that are supposed to be kept full of lubricant according to documents that were donated to us by Cliff Wagner last week. It has been operated for more than 30 years without being serviced so its no surprise that it is worn out. This picture shows a portion of the Falk type coupler and the hex plug that was supposed to be removed for servicing on a periodic basis. Obviously, it hasn’t been removed for a very long time.


USAF 7441

Tom continues to needle-gun the painted surfaces to get rid of flaking paint and as much rust as possible. He has completed most of the areas on the locomotive except for those that aren’t accessible to him above the engine hoods and on top of the cab. Carl has been spraying primer paint over the areas that Tom completes to ensure that new rust doesn’t get started.


USAF 1601

Ryan Keck discovered that the front coupler head is severely cracked around the knuckle pin mounting hole. It appears that the crack extends completely through the body of the head directly to the top hole for the knuckle pin. He also noticed that the coupler pocket assembly, that is bolted to the locomotive front frame, is cracked in one web. That doesn’t appear to be a safety issue. The rules are that no portion of a coupler can be welded in an attempt to repair it, so it must be replaced. However, the coupler pocket, which is bolted to the locomotive body, can be repaired as needed.



John removed the handbrake assembly for inspection. The handbrake has been almost impossible to release after it has been set tight and it shouldn’t be that hard to do. When John disassembled it, he found two bushings that were severely worn and a slightly worn cog gear. Richard has received overhaul instructions from WABCO regarding the correct procedures for replacing those bushings. He is now trying to locate anyone with those bushings in stock. He did find a company that overhauls those models of handbrakes so that is an option if he can’t find the parts. This picture shows John as he disassembles the handbrake assembly.


Carl picked up the oil cooler from the refurbishment contractor and brought it back to the museum.


Now comes another task that Carl is taking on. It is modification of the water tank to install a screen element directly over the top of the water input area leading to the oil cooler. That screen will ensure that rust chunks in the system won’t clog the oil cooler again. The open holes in the new screen, will be smaller than the oil cooler tubes so the loose debris in the system should get caught prior to the oil cooler in the future. Once the debris caught, it will be a simple matter to remove an inspection hatch to clean out the accumulation and clean off the new screen. The area Carl must work in is very confined, dusty, and difficult to access. Thanks Carl. You continually save the day for us.


This next picture shows the sub-floor that Carl cut away and below it is the round opening that the oil cooler bolts up to from underneath. The debris issues can clearly be seen. The whole area will be cleaned as best possible when the work is completed but with so much rust in the system, it is guaranteed that rust chunks will still be swirling around inside the tank. And we can’t allow those chunks to get into the cooler tubes again.


Adding the new screen requires a lot of fabrication and cleaning work inside an extremely rusted water tank. Carl has cut a large hole in the sub-floor inside the tank for the screen assembly to pass through where it can then be located directly over the water feed area of the oil cooler. The square area that he opened up in the sub-floor, will then be covered over with a new removable steel plate. During inspections, that plate can be lifted off which will give good access to the new screen for cleaning.

This next picture shows a portion of the small tubes that water flows through inside the oil cooler. There is flowing engine oil on the outside of the tubes and cooling water on the inside of the tubes. That concept helps warm cold oil on a cold day and helps keep the oil from overheating when the engine is working hard. There are over 1,200 of these tightly packed small tubes in the cooler. The openings in this picture are each 3/8” dia. We would very much like to see how these tubes were fabricated into an assembly that has them spaced so close together yet in such perfect formation. It’s a beautiful fabrication job. These are the tubes that the new filter screen will keep debris out of.


The amount of rust is the system is extreme. It’s totally amazing that the engine operated as well as it did for as long as it did. This next picture shows the piece of the sub-floor tank that Carl removed to gain access to the top of the oil cooler opening. Note the holes that had already rusted totally through the plate. This is a perfect example why operating locomotives with proper water treatment chemicals is so very important. Especially in museums where locomotives are expected to last for a very long time.


The final task associated with the wheel replacement work  on the locomotive, was to reinstall the front and rear lower guards. Carl and Doug were able to lift the guards back into place and bolt them tightly back on. The guard is the very lowest portion of the front of the locomotive. The bright new bolts show the outline of the guard.



Investigative work has started on our Fairbanks Morse locomotive to determine if it is reasonable to restore it. This investigation will include a few steps to ensure that the Diesel engine is ready to be safely started. This is another picture of the locomotive in its blue and yellow paint scheme from the 1970’s.


The very first step of the investigation was to ensure that the cooling system was functioning properly. Now we know that the engine was totally drained of water 15 years ago because we found the drain valve still open. That’s good in one way but bad in another. By being empty of water, the rust has been held in abeyance. But not having water in the system allows all the water seals to dry out, which increases the risk of having water leaks.

Frank, Taka, Ryan, and Andrew traced the water plumbing and found that the drain valve was still open but frozen tight. The valve stem and gate assembly were then removed. Water was then put into the system expansion tank and it should have flowed directly down to the engine’s water pump and then down to the open drain valve. There was no water flow. The feed pipe leading from the expansion tank to the water tank, was totally plugged with rust. Once that was cleared up, water flowed freely into the engine. The drain valve was then partially reassembled, and the engine block filled. We know the drain valve will have to be replaced if we go ahead with this restoration project, but it is a very difficult task because of the way the plumbing was installed. And it is made even more difficult because the plumbing we are dealing with is very rusted internally.

This picture shows the water plumbing by the water pump. Note the gold looking circle in the middle bottom of the picture. That is the drain valve that was disassembled. However, to replace it, the oil lines that are located above it are in the way and must be removed first. As noted, we won’t replace that valve unless the project is given approval to proceed.


Before water was added to the cooling system, the crankcase access hatches were removed. There was a high probability that cylinder liner seals could have dried out which then could leak water into the crankcase. If that was the case, it would have signaled an immediate stop to the project. Fortunately, no leaks were seen in the crankcase.

This next picture shows the inside of the crankcase looking at the bottom of the lower piston rod on the lower crankshaft. Everything looked very clean inside the engine. The oil of course is black and that is expected in every Diesel locomotive. The very bright white spots at the bottom of the picture are reflections of light off the surface of the oil in the crankcase. Note how clean the crankshaft and rod areas are.


As everyone knows, the Coronavirus is affecting everyone in the country. And it affects older people more than it does younger folks. Many of us are well along in years and each will have to consider their own actions risks in the coming weeks and maybe months. There is a possibility that work on our locomotive projects will slow down or even stop for some period of time starting near term.

Dave Althaus

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