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Diesel Service Updates

Diesel Service Report – October 6, 2021

By October 6, 2021January 26th, 20222 Comments

Diesel Service Report, October 6th, 2021

ATSF 5704 EMD SD45-2

After a long period of behind the scenes work by a lot of people, it has now been announced that locomotive ATSF 5704, an EMD SD45-2, has been donated to SCRM by BNSF. It will arrive at SCRM fully painted in its 1976 Bicentennial paint scheme. At present it is in Kansas City being painted in that Red, White, and Blue scheme by Mid-America Car, Inc.

There are numerous pictures of this locomotive on Internet. We have received permission from Kim Piersol, the owner, to use this picture (left) in our communications. The photo was taken by Russell Eslick. Joe McMillan has also agreed to allow one of his photos to be used. That photo is shown in the news release further down in this report.

Obviously, the donation of the locomotive to SCRM has the Rail Fan community buzzing with interest. In response to many questions regarding the locomotive and its history, Even Werkema, the undisputed expert on ATSF locomotive history, posted the following information on


“Great news!  This locomotive had been one of the most historically significant unpreserved Santa Fe diesels still in existence, and it’s fantastic to hear that we can now strike “unpreserved” from its description.  In addition to being a second generation 6-axle road locomotive, something grossly under-preserved in the US relative to switchers, it’s an example of a model that Santa Fe rostered in higher numbers (90) than any other railroad.  In my admittedly biased opinion, the SD45-2 is also one of the best-proportioned and handsomest of all spartan-cab EMD’s.  Santa Fe 5704 touched many corners of Santa Fe history that are worth preserving and remembering. It was built in May 1973 and arrived on the property in the blue and yellow warbonnnet scheme.  It got its bicentennial dress in January 1976 and in this form accompanied the American Freedom Train on at least two separate occasions – trailing T&P 610 from Houston to Ft. Worth, TX and SP 4449 from Deming to Albuquerque, NM.  The 5704 was also often seen on the Super C, a.k.a. The World’s Fastest Freight Train, before the schedule was canceled in May 1976.  The unit wore the bicentennial scheme the longest of any of the five Santa Fe bicentennials, finally reverting to blue and yellow warbonnet again in June 1978.  After 13 years on the road, the 5704 was remanufactured in-kind at Santa Fe’s San Bernardino, CA shops, emerging as the 5834 in September of 1986 still in blue and yellow warbonnet (it just missed the SPSF painting frenzy).  It was one of only two of the former bicentennial SD45-2’s that retained its cab when rebuilt.  The other was 5702 which became the 5842, while 5700, 5701, and 5703 were remanufactured as cabless SD45-2B’s.  Following the BNSF merger, the former ATSF 5704/5834 was renumbered BNSF 6484 in September 2000.  It last turned a wheel under its own power some time in 2008, and for the next decade and change it haunted deadlines with many of her sidelined sisters.  The unit was spotted in storage at Temple, TX by January 2009, and it was there that it received its final identity (indignity?) as GN 6484 in late 2012 to clear its BNSF number slot.  The unit and others were moved to another deadline near the company shops in Topeka, KS in September 2013. It lingered there until April 2020 when it was shuffled off to Progress Rail in Memphis, TN for scrapping.  Snatched from the jaws of eternity at the last second (along with at least one of the former bicentennials that had become an SD45-2B and haunted many of the same deadlines), the unit’s next move has been a mystery for over a year.   It’s great to now know that the once-and-future 5704 will be heading to a museum with a well deserved and growing reputation for preserving and restoring Santa Fe equipment.  Thanks to everyone who helped save and cosmetically restore the unit as well as those who will be donating time, sweat equity, and financial support to make it operational in the coming years.  Let us know how we can contribute!”


This following news release was issued by SCRM Oct 6th.

Southern California Railroad Museum adds ATSF bicentennial SD45-2 to collection, October 6, 2021
BNSF donates locomotive, to be restored to red, white, and blue scheme; Perris museum hopes to return diesel to operating condition.

Santa Fe SD45-2 No. 5704 has been donated to the Southern California Railroad Museum and will be restored to the paint scheme shown in this (left) 1976 photo (Joe McMillan)

SD45-2 No. 5704, built in 1973, was one of five repainted locomotives repainted into red, white, and blue at Santa Fe’s San Bernardino shops in 1975 and 1976, and saw action on priority freight trains as well as in support of the American Freedom Train during its time on Santa Fe routes. It was repainted into the standard blue and yellow paint by late 1978, and continued to operate well after the merger than created BNSF Railway.

Recently retired and scheduled for scrap, the locomotive was saved through efforts by led by Stephen M. Priest, a former railroader, author, and historian in the Kansas City area.

“Santa Fe 5704 will be a terrific addition to our museum’s collection, which already includes numerous pieces from that railroad,” museum President and CEO Barry Busch said in a press release. “We are delighted Stephen worked to facilitate a donation of the locomotive by BNSF, in addition to donations by Mid-America Car, Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., to cosmetically restore 5704; the Sherwin-Williams Company for providing paint, primer, and clear coat; Eagle Enterprises, Inc. of Wichita, Kan., which donated vinyl lettering; and Insight Print & Display in Kansas City, Mo., for donating specialized paint masking. This has been a collaborative effort to cosmetically restore and preserve Santa Fe 5704 to its bicentennial paint scheme glory for the benefit of generations to come.”

Once painting is completed, the locomotive will be moved from Kansas City to Perris. The museum is currently working to secure components that will allow a mechanical restoration to full operation. Restoration donations for No. 5704, as well as other museum projects can be made at this page at the museum website.


Obviously there are a lot of questions being asked about the project and we don’t have all the answers yet. The first questions is how it will be shipped to the museum. The answer is that it will come on its own wheels. The next question is how it will get to the museum if the museum track isn’t connected to the mainline in Perris. Those negotiations are underway and will be reported when the agreements are in place. We are confident that it will happen but the details aren’t finalized yet. And the final question has been about the possibility of getting the locomotive operational again.

That answer is more complicated. First, 5704 languished in several storage yards over the past many years. During that time, copper thieves were able to gain access to an inner electrical cabinet and essentially dismantled all of the heavy copper cabling and bus bars. That all needs to be repaired or replaced.

Secondly, we know the Diesel engine was drained of oil for some reason. A cursory inspection of the piston rings and liners show no excess wear, but two rod cab bolts are missing on one of the crankshaft throws. No one knows why they are missing or why they were removed.

During the inspection, the engine could only rotate in one direction. A preliminary guess is that a clutch assembly in the turbo/blower assembly is stuck or not releasing. But that’s just a guess. What it showed is that we have some work to do before the engine can be started again.

But all of this is inconsequential compared to the positive impact or our receiving this historic locomotive professionally restored cosmetically. And what it really does is give us a terrific opportunity to add one of the most classic locomotives ever built to our collection.

– Dave Althaus


  • ROSS M BRYAN says:


  • Kommander says:

    It would really be nice to hear her start up again. I know it will be hard work on the long road ahead to restore her but it will be worth it. One day before my dad and I leave Cali, we might make a stop down there and if she’s in operational condition it would be nice to put my locomotive driving skills to the test.

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