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Southern Pacific H-12-44 No.1487

Dave Roth 

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, Nevada.

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.