Friday, December 14, 2007

The Train Master

3rd Street San Francisco, May 1967. I was stationed at Hamilton AFB from 1963 - '67, just up the US 101 from San - Fran - Cisco! And while there was a lot begging for a young airman's attention in and around San Francisco - if you get my drift - I did grab my camera from time to time and venture to South San Francisco (SP) and Oakland (SP & WP).

At 66 feet long, this is the Fairbanks-Morse Train Master. According to the sales brochure, "...the most useful locomotive ever built..." And, it's a fact that upon its introduction in 1953, the 2,400 horsepower H-24-66 Train Master was the most powerful single-engine diesel locomotive available!

Until the arrival of the Alco RSD-7 in 1954.

These units carried a steam boiler with a rated output of 4,500 lbs per hour. It was said they could keep up to 15 passenger cars warm down to zero degrees. But since they mostly worked the commuter speedway between San Francisco and San Jose, the need was never challanged!

Fairbanks-Morse first H-24-66 demonstrator units, TM-1 and TM-2 rolled out of the factory in Beloit, Wisconsin, in April and May of 1953. These two demonstrator locomotives became Southern Pacific 4800 and 4801, later becoming the 3020, pictured above, and 3021 following the “Great Re-Numbering Scheme of 1965.”

A total of 105 units were built in the US, and 22 in Canada, between 1953 and 1956.

The dipping handrail is indicative of the so-called "1b" modification. A gaggle of these units shuffled commuters out of South San Francisco for years. The 2-cycle opposed piston motor was touted in a sales brochure as "No other engine is so right for railroad service."


Railroad Stuff: Fairbanks-Morse Model H-24-66, 2,400 hp "Train Master", Beloit, 1953, nee 4800, 1953. Southern Pacific Road Class DF-500 (2 units) and DF-501 (14 units.)

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