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Diesel Service Updates

Diesel Service Report – November 20, 2022

By November 20, 2022December 29th, 2022No Comments

Diesel Service Report, November 20, 2022

Ray Ballash

Ray Ballash passed away this past Friday. For those of us that knew him, he was a gentle soul that offered to help anyone that needed assistance. Ray and 12 others started the museum in June 1956. The group needed to assign membership numbers to the group of 13 so they decided to draw numbers to see what number each of them would be assigned. Ray picked #1. Officially he was the first member of the museum. Now, 66 years later, Ray is no longer with with us. He will be fondly remembered by all.

**CORRECTION** Yesterday I sent out a Diesel Service Report stating that the original member numbers were assigned by lottery and that there were thirteen original members. Paul Muehlebach sent out a detailed write-up with the correct facts. There were 14 original members, not 13, and their museum membership numbers were assigned alphabetically, not by lottery. Below is Paul’s article. Sorry about that.

Ray Ballash died Friday evening at 9:00. He was 86.

Ray was just 20 years old in 1956 when he became one of the 14 founding members of the Orange Empire Traction Company, which later morphed into the Orange Empire Trolley Museum, Orange Empire Railway Museum, and ultimately today’s Southern California Railway Museum. Because his last name fell at the top of an alphabetical listing of the founding members, he ended up as member #1.

Ray served as museum president and as a member of the Board of directors. He was a generous supporter and in the early years was often the difference between acquiring a piece of rolling stock for the collection and seeing it go to scrap.

Ray’s mind was still sharp right up to the end and he loved to tell stories about the early days, about touring railway museums in other parts of the country, and about interesting personalities he met. One of his favorite questions in recent years was, “How did we succeed?” Only four of the 14 founding members were 21 or older when they formed OETC in 1956. The rest were in their teens or were 20 years old. They were too young and naive to know it couldn’t be done, so they just went ahead and did it.

Only three of the founders are still with us: Ken Harrison (#5), Harvey Laner (#7), and Dean Park (#10). Harvey and Dean both worked the Day Out With Thomas event this month. Ken resides in Northern California.

Arrangements for a funeral/memorial are in the works. I will spread the word when more is known. I will write up a biography/obituary of Ray to hopefully be included in the Whistle Stop online newsletter and maybe even the Gazette.

Paul Muehlebach

SF560 Restoration Project

Today’s report is a group of pictures showing SF560 in its various conditions through its history to date.
This is what it looked like when it was owned and used by ATSF in the Kansas area in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.
Later it was painted by ATSF in the Blue and Yellow scheme.

Then in 1974 it was sold to Metals Processing Inc., a scrap dealer in Vinton Texas. It was used in Texas until 1990 when it was purchased and shipped to OERM. This picture shows the locomotive while it was actively still being used in the scrap yard.

This next picture shows the locomotive just prior to OERM’s purchasing it and some time after the scrap yard stopped using it and parked it, ready for scrapping.

The locomotive was prepared for shipping to OERM and placed on a heavy duty flat car and shipped to our museum in Perris, CA.

Immediately after it arrived at the museum, it was started a number of times and it quickly became obvious that there were too many major problems that we were not equipped to deal with. The local kids had broken all the windows out so plywood was installed over the openings and the locomotive remained untouched for the next 30 years.


Two years ago we decided that SF560 might be our next restoration project, if we could gain confidence that the Fairbanks Morse opposed piston engine could be made to operate satisfactorily. After a lot of work, the engine proved to be workable.


Once the engine appeared to be OK, the next step was to rebuild the trucks. They were removed and refurbished and placed back under the locomotive.


The latest work was to move the locomotive outside and pressure wash the underneath in preparation for reattaching the traction motor leads and starting the Diesel engine again. The locomotive was pulled out of Carbarn 7 this past Saturday for the pressure washing. This shows the locomotive outside for the first time in about a year.

Next Saturday we will put it over the pit next to Carbarn 4 and reattach the traction motor leads, inspect lower traction motor brushes, and make a last minute check for any needed adjustments. Then, assuming everything is OK, the engine will be started again. Once the engine is started, the locomotive will be moved back to Carbarn 7 and the axle friction bearings checked for temperature rise. If the temperatures are OK, a number of excursions will be made from Carbarn 7 to Members crossing and back to ensure the axle bearings and traction motor axle support bearings stay cool. Then begins the tasks of painting, window replacement, and a myriad of other tasks waiting to be done.

– Dave Althaus

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