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

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Southern Pacific Fairbanks-Morse H-24-66

Train Master

16 units delivered


original numbers
TM-3 TM-4
4800 4801 4802 4803 4804 4805 4806 4807 4808 4809
4810 4811 4812 4813 4814 4815 Halloween => 4811
1965
3020 3021 3022 3023 3024 3025 3026 3027 3028 3029
3020 3021 3022 3023 3024 3025 3026 3027 3028 3029
3030 3031 3032 3033 3034 3035
3030 3031 3032 3033 3034 3035
extras
4804 4809 3020 3020 3030 3033 3033

see also: the Train Master Walkaround


(C) 1974, 1998  - Clyde King. FM's at Bayshore.


FM built 4 Train Master Demonstrators, two were designated 'eastern demonstrators': TM-1 and TM-2, and two 'western demonstrators': TM-3 and TM-4. SP hosted the 'western' pair TM-3 and -4 in 1953, testing them in freight service between LA and El Paso. As well TM-4 (at least) was tried on 'commutes' even though TM-4 did not have a steam generator; the only one of the four without this feature...

SP purchased -3 and -4 in 1953, (and ordered another 14), painting them in Black Widow paint, the first hood units in this scheme, but left the truck sideframes silver, the only Black Widow units with silver sideframes; see photo Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Vol.1 page 23, renumbered to 4800 and 4801, they kept their single 'blat' horns and their 'straight' long hood handrails. - These were later retro-fitted with the 'dipsy-doodle' ??? long hood handrails, 5 chime horns and 4801 (ex TM-4) gained a steam generator.
btw: the silver truck sideframes would not have lasted long, possibly until the first repaint, but the silver was known to wear badly so maybe sooner.

The dropped section in the middle of the long hood walkway, also differed on the demonstrators. There was an open 'area' to the rear of the louvered section, 4800(3020) and 4801(3021) kept this variation until their demise

The demonstrators also had small numberboards in the lower position - see later - SP changed these to larger 5 digit types, possibly only on the front. They also fitted small boxes underneath the numberboards for 'train indicator' numbers or stencils.
the Athearn 'high' numberboard model has these train indicator boxes, and the 'low' numberboard model has the 'small' numberboards.

Units then began to show up at El Paso every couple of months until March of 1954 when the order of 14 units was delivered. Some of these units were evidently a canceled NYC order that FM had sitting on the factory floor. Although most details seem to be same throughout the fleet, except the demo's as above; the numberboard size and position is most obvious difference.

As demonstrators the TM's had a physically smaller 3 digit numberboards both ends, they _appear_ to have kept these smaller ones at the back, but SP replaced the front ones with a larger 5 digit size in the lower position, other units also appear to have the smaller type on the rear.


Looking through the available photo's in publications I have, I developed the table below, dates are taken from photo captions:

  • L = low position - both ends
  • H = high position - both ends
  • L/H = Lo front Hi rear
1953195419551956195719581959196019611962196319641965
4800L----- L --- -- L
4801-----L - --- -- -
4802----LL L --- -- -
4803----LL - --L -- -
4804L-L--- L --- -- -
4805---LLL L L-- -- L
4806------ L --- -- L
4807------ L L-- -- -
4808------ L L-L -- -
4809L---L- L LL- -- -
4810L----- L --- -- -
4811-HH--L/HL/H--- -L/HL/H
4812H-H--H L/H--- -- -
4813--H--- - --- -- -
4814--H--- - --- -- -
4815--H--- - --L/H-- -



196619671968196919701971197219731974
3020- L L L - - - L -
3021L - - - L - - - -
3022- - - - - - L L L
3023- - L - L - - L -
3024- - - - - - - - -
3025- - - - - - - L -
3026- - - - - - - - -
3027- - - - - - - - -
3028- - - - - - - - -
3029- - - - - - - - -
3030L/H- - - - - - - -
3031- - - - - - - - L/H
3032- - - - - - L/HL/H-
3033- - L/H- - - - L/H-
3034- - - - - - L L -
3035- - - - - - L/H- -

Watch for the size of the rear numberboards, 3023 certainly had the smaller 3 digit ones on the back still in 1975

What can be drawn from the above tables? - I'd say 4800 - 4810 were delivered with low numberboards both ends.
Those that had the smaller 3 digit boards at the front were modified to 5 digit boards.
4811 - 4815 were delivered with high numberboards both ends, and later had the front boards lowered; although 3034 seems to be an oddity...


Initially delivered for, and used in freight service out of El Paso, they did not like the wind-blown sand or high air temperatures, so by mid 1956 all were assigned to the commute pool between San Jose and San Francisco.

Black Widow paint was the vogue until the early 1960's, when they received the scarlet and gray paint, still retaining their 4800 series numbers, except 4811, which sported the Halloween paint for a while in 1958; see photo page 3 of Train Master - The Most Useful Locomotive Ever Built - by Diesel Era/Sweetland; as well the early 1960's saw their as delivered dynamic brakes made inactive.

Another dating feature is: in 1971 SP started to apply the Block style SP initials to the front of diesel hoods/noses; the TM's receiving theirs late 1971.
The photos of 3026 and 3027 at the top of the page are missing the SP on the front, so dates both photos to pre 1971.


In response to a previously inaccurate statement I made here...

Stan Rothwell has kindly contributed this addition, thanks Stan, more contributions like this welcomed.

As you mentioned, these units did not take well to the blowing sand and grit, encountered in the deserts and mountains of New Mexico. They were assigned to the Bay Area commute pool for the following reasons:

  1. They had steam generators (obviously)
  2. The OP engine used, was originally developed for the US Navy, for its diesel-electric submarines (the diesels charged the batteries when operating on or near the surface) and were optimized for cool, moist air at atmospheric pressure.
  3. There were plenty of Navy-trained OP mechanics in the Bay Area, due to the proliferation of naval facilities in the area. This resulted in the bulk of the FM switchers being assigned here as well.

It was common for these units to be used in freight service to Roseville or Watsonville on the weekends. While they may have been typically used on extra (drag) freights, they were also used on fruit blocks (express freights with perishable produce) during the harvest season.


The beginning of the end for the TM's, began when the SDP45's were assigned to the commute pool in 1973 - 1975, and all were retired by May 1975.

One possible use for the TM's after 1975, was as Brake Sleds.


Modeling References:

As I wrote on the SP FM H-12-44 page, the recent purchase of "Southern Pacific Historic Diesels, Volume 1, Fairbanks-Morse Locomotives" by Joe Strapac, has also confirmed much of the information given above, and also offered so much more, both through text and photo's. As a reference for use in modeling the FM H-24-66's, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Here is another most useful book, "Train Master - The Most Useful Locomotive Ever Built" - by Diesel Era/Sweetland although this book covers Train Masters in general, its most important contribution is the color photo's. One of which, is the #4811 shown in the Halloween paint...

  • Southern Pacific Historic Diesels, Volume 1, Fairbanks-Morse Locomotives - by Joe Strapac.
  • Train Master - The Most Useful Locomotive Ever Built - by Diesel Era/Sweetland
  • Southern Pacific Dieselization by Garmany - Chapter 10 is devoted to FM's
  • SP Motive Power Review 1977 - page 64 - A Train Master Salute.
  • Trains Magazine March 1987 Page 24 - Part 1 of FM History.
  • Trains Magazine April 1987 Page 48 - Part 2 of FM History, with Train Master details.
  • Railroad Modeler December 1972 page 49 - Southern Pacific Train Masters proto article by Dave Perata.

see also the Western Trains Database for more magazine refs - search for fairbanks or master

* This article also appeared in the October 1983 issue of a British magazine called 'Scale Trains'.


Additional information supplied by Bruce Conklin, Bob McCarthy and Bill Roberts.

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This document © 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. Richard.A.Percy

24/6/2010