GGRM acquired SP-1487 in March, 1995 through
the Department of General Services Surplus Property Program, which
allows non-profit museums to obtain government surplus property.
This engine was formerly U.S. Army No. 1847, based at Hawthorne,
Identical first generation locomotives of this type
were purchased by the Southern Pacific and were based almost
exclusively in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the early 1950's,
H-12-44's worked side-by-side with SP-2472 and other SP steam. They
lasted until the mid 1970's.
Fairbanks-Morse was in the marine engine business in
WWII, producing opposed-piston engines for submarines. In contrast
to pistons moving against a fixed cylinder head, as in conventional
engines, this engine incorporated two pistons opposite each other
inside the same cylinder.
After the war, Fairbanks-Morse looked for additional
markets for their products. Opposed piston engines produce a higher
starting torque, and were ideal for switching and commute
locomotives. They incorporated their unique diesel engines into
switchers such as the H-12-44. SP-1487 is one of the few survivors
of this type.
The FM diesel has been painted to replicate SP
locomotive No.1487, black overall with orange tiger stripes. The
distinctive ash-can oscillating headlights and number boards that
were common to SP locomotives have been added as well.