Diesel Service Report, May 28, 2023
ATSF Fairbanks Morse H12-44 SF560 Restoration
What we do know is that our H12-44 is different from previous H12-44’s that Santa Fe bought. Ours is one of of the last order of six H12-44’s that were classified as Santa Fe class 559 and were delivered in 1957. This class was 45′ 9.5″ long. The previous similar class of H12-44’s was class 503 last built in 1956. Those were 49′ 2″ long. Fairbanks modified the H12-44’s by shortening them 3′ 4.5″ and incorporating a number of other changes. But the model designation was not changed, as far as we can tell. This new shorter model received the nickname of “Shoebox” when compared to the earlier longer models.
But, our Santa Fed “Shoebox”, SF560, is different from other Fairbanks Morse locomotives built to the same specification. There were modifications requested by Santa Fe when the locomotives were built. Fairbanks had been using their Specification #100 to describe what they would deliver to a railroad if the railroad ordered and “off-the-shelf” model. When Fairbanks Morse designed the “Shoebox” model, they issued a new specification for that modified design. That specification was #101. However, railroads all had their own unique requirements they wanted incorporated by Fairbanks Morse and an amendment document was prepared by Santa Fe and given to Fairbanks Morse along with the purchase order. To date, we have not found any of the complete amendment paperwork. We’ve seen one partial document from 1953 that listed some of the amendments but not all.
What we found was that Fairbanks specification #100 document stated that the cab interiors would be painted gray. The Santa Fe amendment we found asks Fairbanks Morse to paint the cab interior green, not gray. From our research it appears that Santa Fe asked Fairbanks Morse to then paint all their locomotives being delivered to have green cabs. Fairbanks Morse specification for the shorter H12-44 was their #101. But it had eliminated the reference to what color was to be used in the cab.
When the restoration of SF560 began, it was obvious that many coats of paint had been applied to the cab interior. But no matter where we looked in the cab, the very first color was green. That corresponds to the conclusions we reached during the search of documents.
The next issue was to identify the color green that was used. There are numerous ways to accurately match colors. Samples can be taken to paint suppliers who take their magic color gun and have it print out an analysis of the colors and what ratio of pigments to use in any specific paint type to achieve that color. Or, a search can be made for an off-the-shelf available paint that is very close and is a good quality paint. During our SP1006 project a few years ago, we had the same issue to deal with. After a lot of frothing and getting nowhere, a discussion with a friend back east resulted in him suggesting that we look at an oil based paint called Oliver Green. Yes, Oliver Tractor Green. We looked into it, made sample comparisons and found that it was an almost exact color match. We then use it on SP1006 and will now be using it on SF560. Its an off-the-shelf paint bought from Tractor Supply, even in California. That is amazing! Carl Picus bought a gallon and tested it for color and it was an extremely close match to the first coat used in SF560. He then painted the Engineer’s console. It came out very nice. He also sprayed a little on the wall next to some original paint that had been sanded. When that old paint was whetted down, it was a dead ringer for the Oliver Green. Problem Solved!
As noted previously, the cab floor was in very poor shape. Carl has spent numerous hours tearing out the old floor, rebuilding the super structure under the floor, cutting new plywood and fabricating new metal trim that goes around all the outside edges of the new linoleum that will be installed. This shows what the whole cab floor looked like. And it was much worse in some areas.