California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996

Camera Car 8799

ex SP Krauss-Maffei ML-4000 #9113 nee #9010

These 3 images courtesy Ray Gandy Sr.
SP Camera Car 8799 SP Camera Car 8799
SP Camera Car 8799 SP Camera Car 8799
photos © John Barnhill, taken at the California State Railroad Museum, last photo courtesy John W. Rosser via John Barnhill
SP Camera Car 8799 SP Camera Car 8799
© 1986, 1997 Stan Rothwell
8799 at Taylor Yard, CA.
© 1971, 1999 Bob Dengler
8799 at Roseville, CA.
SP Camera Car as it looks today
SP Camera Car as it looks today © 2016 Robert J. Zenk

The only survivor of the fleet of German built diesel hydraulics SP 8799 ex SPMW 1166 nee SP #1, stagnated in a forlorn state for a long time in the backlot at the California State Railroad Museum until rescued by the Pacific Locomotive Association and Howard P. Wise in 2008.

SP was evidently the first railroad to build a computerized full-motion fixed base aircraft-style Locomotive Simulator for engineer training. To supply films for this, SP converted a vacated ML-4000 to a Camera Car.

Built in 1968-69 at the Sacramento General Shops it emerged as SPMW #1, due to SP's traffic computer requiring 4 digits, it was renumbered SPMW 1166, by June 1969 it was finally renumbered to SP 8799.

To contain all the camera gear the nose was totally rebuilt, an angle iron framework was covered with heavy steel plate for collision protection. All cooling and ancillary equipment in the first Radiator Hood was removed to make way for an auxiliary generator to supply power for the camera equipment, which drew its fuel from the original fuel tank. Missing weight was made up with ballast, the rear engine and transmission was left in but disabled by the removal of all Cardan drive shafts and final gearing from the trucks, thereby requiring an active locomotive for any movement.

It underwent a number of modifications to the front end detail, mostly involving additions to keeping the camera lens clear.

All the locomotive controls remained operational in the cab of the unit, the plan being to drive any and all locomotives from the cab of the Camera Car. It could be operated on the point of any train, but usual practice seemed to be a special trip, with just an attendant locomotive for power. Known examples are a single F7B, a GP9. an SD45T-2, and a GP35.

Its usual home appears to have been West Colton, from there occasionally venturing out to shoot more films. Finally vacated (SP's term for written off) in October 1984, it was donated to the California State Railroad Museum in April of 1986.

In 2008 the 8799 was acquired from the CSRM by the Pacific Locomotive Association and is presently undergoing restoration back to its 1964 locomotive appearance. The unit has been made operational as a Non-Powered Control Cab with full MU capability. A salvaged rear geared truck and revival of the intact rear power plant will allow eventual operation under power as a diesel-hydraulic locomotive.

see: SP 9010 website

Page updated Jan 2016 with corrections from Robert J. Zenk


  • SP 1968-69 Motive Power Annual page 12 - "The Simulator Camera Car" article
  • SP Historic Diesels Vol.2 "Diesel Hydraulics" page 61 - photo's
  • SP Historic Diesels Vol.2 page 30 - line drawings of the later KM's
  • SP 1973 Motive Power Annual page 89 - photo
  • SP 1974-76 Motive Power Annual page 107 - photo
  • SP 1977 Motive Power Annual page 106 - photo
  • SP 1977-80 Motive Power Annual page 83 - photo
    • most people seem to call these books SP Motive Power "Annuals", although most are actually titled "Reviews"
  • SP Dieselization by John Bonds Garmany page 344 - short history
  • SP Dieselization by John Bonds Garmany page 345 - photo

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