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Museum of the American Railroad

Project Alco PA - Restoring the Legendary Santa Fe Chief Passenger Locomotive Minimize

The Alco PA-1 diesel locomotives, particularly those used on Santa Fe, enjoy a very loyal following. The Museum of the American Railroad is proud to be the steward of one of a handful still in existence - and the only unit to be restored to its original Santa Fe appearance. In order to restore #59L and return it to its former grandeur, we need to cultivate stakeholders in the project nationwide. This is your opportunity to participate in the creation of something that only currently exists in photographs and legend. We are seeking your support through funding of this project and fulfilling needs for certain goods and services. The rail enthusiast community has an opportunity to take an active role in an exciting project that will celebrate the history of this locomotive and inspire future generations.

All cash and in-kind contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. To make a cash contribution, you may send a check to the Museum's mailing address:  Museum of the American Railroad, 6455 Page Street, Frisco, Texas  75034. To make a one-time or recurring contribution to the Alco PA Restoration Project, click below. You will be directed to PayPal for payment, though you do not need a PayPal account to make a donation.

Project Links Minimize

Donor Acknowledgments

Click here for the compelling story of the repatriation of Alco PA-1 #59L.

Please help by spreading the word about the project, following its progress, and joining the discussion on the project's Facebook page.

Generosity by Indiegogo hosts our fundraiser to purchase the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad's HR-412 #76, which will help make America's PA operational again.
Restoration Committee Minimize
America's PA Restoration Committee 

Robert Willis – Committee Chair
Museum of the American Railroad

Don Colangelo (“The Alco Doc”) – PA Chief Technical Advisor 
CMO – Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad   

Doyle McCormack – PA Restoration Advisor

Allen Rider
Manager Locomotive Engineering – Norfolk Southern   

Tom Mack
Chief Technology Officer – VeRail Technologies, Inc.

William Gibson
Vice Chair – Museum of the American Railroad Board of Trustees

Project Alco PA - Background Minimize

In May, 2011 the Museum took delivery of ex-Santa Fe Railway Alco PA-1 locomotive #59L. The locomotive joins the Museum's Historic Santa Fe Collection, and is one of two Alco PAs repatriated from Mexico in 2000 through the efforts of William Withuhn of the Smithsonian Institution and noted railway preservationist Doyle McCormack.
The #59L and its running mate #62L, are now among the rarest early generation diesel locomotives in the U.S.  Through an agreement with the Smithsonian, #62L was painstakingly restored to Nickel Plate Road livery and numbered 190 by Mr. McCormack, while #59L was to have become part of the SI's collection. Plans for the Smithsonian unit changed, and the locomotive sat in a rail yard near Portland, OR for almost 10 years. When it appeared that #59L was headed for an uncertain fate, the Museum expressed interest in acquiring and restoring the locomotive. 

Through the generosity of the Smithsonian and a commitment of transportation by the BNSF Railway, the locomotive was donated and moved to the Museum’s new home in Frisco, TX. The unit was offloaded from flatcars and reassembled onto its trucks. The PA-1 will be meticulously restored to its original Santa Fe grandeur of the 1950s, when it could be found powering the line’s famous fleet of Chief streamliners. 

“It’s the successful end of a 26-year saga to rescue AT&SF 59…Now it’s the beginning of a new role for this great American icon thanks to the Museum of the American Railroad.” --William Withuhn, Curator Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution

Having reached sanctuary in Texas, the Museum has developed a comprehensive plan for restoration of the unit’s carbody. The locomotive is in need of extensive repairs as a result of a 1981 derailment while in service in Mexico. Work will include repair and replacement of the underlying carbody truss work. Fortunately, the locomotive’s platform (frame) and forward vertical posts are undamaged, providing an excellent base along with reference points for structural repairs. The use of truss work in #59L’s carbody design is essentially that of a bridge; once these damaged members are repaired and/or replaced, the locomotive’s exterior panels can be fabricated and applied. 

With funding and a donor locomotive, the ultimate goal of this project is to have an operational PA - America's PA.
What's Next for Santa Fe #59L Minimize
We are very grateful to those individuals and organizations that enabled us to acquire and move the #59L to its new home in Frisco. Obviously, much work lies ahead in order to restore this historic locomotive to its former Santa Fe grandeur.

We will tackle this massive project in phases. Phase One will entail repairs and restoration of the cab/nose section of the unit. This will involve replacement of several exterior compound steel panels on the cab roof and nose, along with the underlying structural skeleton to which they are attached. A replacement nose door will be located or fabricated and installed (the original door was stolen just prior to movement to Texas).  Additional components are being repaired such as the MARS signal light, the signature rooftop number boards, horns (2 Leslie A200-156), and cab controls. The locomotive's pilot and anti-climber will also be repaired/replaced as part of Phase One work.

After initial repairs to the forward section are completed, work on the carbody will begin. This is undoubtedly the most challenging part of #59L's restoration. The carbody's underlying truss-work was heavily damaged in the 1981 derailment when the locomotive essentially rolled on its side/roof. Using the undamaged vertical posts just ahead of the cab side doors as a reference point, the truss-work will be realigned and/or replaced in order bring the carbody into tram from front to rear. All vertical truss members will be made plumb to the side sills and roof sills.   A full set of locomotive prints has been secured from Alco Engineering Archives, which provides great detail of all aspects of the locomotive’s design and dimensions. Plans are also being developed to fabricate a suitable substitute for the side air intake grills. A sample of the original stainless steel grills is being used to develop a cost-effective replacement design.  

After structural integrity of the locomotive's carbody has been restored, we will move toward the application of new roof and exterior side sheeting, including the stainless steel floating panels that were unique to Santa Fe versions of the PA-1s. Final cosmetic work will entail painting the locomotive in DuPont's Imron polyurethane enamel in the classic Santa Fe Warbonnet scheme (see Project F-7).

Making the locomotive operational is almost a separate project from the carbody restoration. Ideally, a donor locomotive will provide most of the components necessary for operation, including a 12-251 prime mover, alternator, turbocharger, air compressor, control contactors, 26L brake equipment, fan drive, traction motor blowers, sanding equipment and truck parts including wheel sets and traction motors.

The locomotive will be placed on permanent exhibit at the Museum's new facility in Frisco. Interpretation will include its contribution to the post-war streamliner era of railroading and the legacy of Santa Fe's famous Chief streamliners to California and Texas. The locomotive's years of service as Delaware & Hudson #16 "M.A. Davis," and National Railroad of Mexico DH-16 will also be included in its interpretation. If the locomotive can be restored to operation, it will almost certainly make appearances at events outside of the confines of the Museum.
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