Southern Pacific Motorcar

SPM 4044



The newest addition to the Coalingstation


SPM 4044 was owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad. It is a Model M-19  produced by Fairmont Railway Motors, Inc. All identification plates have been removed: therefore all means of establishing the exact model and date of production are now history.  I'm hoping that someday I will be able to do some research and possibly find out a bit about it's past.

The engine is a single cylinder 2- stroke model ROC which would mean that is should produce about 8 horsepower. Previous owner (Roy Greenwood of Sierra Vista ) said that he had the engine running;  it has good compression and appeared that it will not need a rebuild. I'm hoping he's right.

The cab appears to be a M-9 cab which was widened by Southern Pacific It has a peaked roof which is supported in the rear with steel angle supports. The side and rear curtains will need replacing. The operator console was modified and the lifting handles are exposed in the cab. The console was mostly steel and is pretty hacked-up as well as extremely heavy. I intend to rebuild it using mostly wood with an aluminum frame to make it lighter and reduce the in-cab noise level. I will most likely put the lifting handles back inside the console.

Current Status

4044 arrived at the Coalingstation on March 2, 2009. A couple of hours and a couple of wrenches later I was in the throes of a "complete makeover".

The Surprises Begin

While it was obvious that somewhere along the line the springs were removed from the suspension; removal of the cabwork provided some startling revelations. The right side suspension had been altered and the right side frame rail was trashed. The left side frame rail had been replaced with a steel angle and the bolts holding the now springless suspension were welded in place. The motor was not mounted correctly and the right side mount which is also the center frame rail was also ruined. Fortunately I found an outfit called ( ) out of Seattle, WA. which sells 6061 T-6 structural aluminum at a reasonable cost with prompt and reasonable shipping. I have already fabricated the right, left and center frame rails


The first thing you've probably noticed on my motorcar is the rust. The first decision I made was that ALL standard nuts, washers and bolts were to be replaced. Armed with that decision; I fired-up my compressor and got out my impact wrench. I sprayed the hardware with liquid wrench and started removing it. Surprisingly, about 75% of the fasteners unscrewed rather than breaking. Probably a plea for mercy, but they are going in the trash. The last thing I'll need is a failure due to a broken bolt.

 Now I was faced with a truckload of rusted body parts and running gear.  I remembered that rust can be removed by electrolysis, so I did an internet search. I came up with an evenings' worth of reading. The following sums-up the meat of  the other articles . I pretty much followed the guidelines in the article. I based my system using a "plastic" 45 gallon stock watering tank. The electrodes were 1/2" rebar. Power was provided by a 12 volt battery charger with an old 12 volt RV battery in parallel. The battery acts as a buffer/filter and smooths-out the chargers' DC output. This was definitely a worthwhile investment. The paint literally fell off of the parts. I rinsed them with cold water, dried them and went over them lightly with a wire wheel. It didn't do all of the work for me, but It sure made my life a lot easier. Below, I've got some pictures of my set-up and one showing the sum of last weeks' work.

  End of day 16 March 2009

Where do We Go From Here ?

Did I ever tell you; I HATE to paint!! I'd rather gargle with the solution in my rust removal tank than paint!!! However, that was not an option so almost everything I do from here will involve paint !@#$. I started by removing all of the orange SP paint from the frame members which were not new. I sanded everything with #80 grit sandpaper to give the paint something to hang on to. Next I assembled the basic frame members. My thinking here was to have good metal to metal contact for grounding purposes.( Not sure if that is a good idea; but it seemed right to me.) Next I (brush) primed the frame assembly with ACE paint for Aluminum and Galvanized metal. Next day I sprayed the assembly with Rustoleum Automotive black primer. I followed up with 2 spray coats of Rustoleum Industrial gloss black.

While the paint was drying; I cleaned, repacked and reassembled the axle bearings. I procrastinated on buying the springs which were originally missing from the frame. Driven by impatience, I decided to put the frame together without the springs and insert them after they arrive.

The Center Bearing From HELL

When I got this motorcar the rear axle center bearing was not attached to the frame. It was wired in a location where it served no purpose. In driving the unit off of the axle, I chipped the center race. After careful examination, I decided that I did not destroy this ($100) bearing. I restored the bearing cleaned and repacked it and carefully reassembled it. I was also able to repair the carrier swivel with parts from ACE Hardware. So far, so good. This bearing is pre-loaded with the same size spring which I needed for the axle bearing carriers. I decided to dry-run this unit also, While reinstalling the center bearing; I broke the casting. Fortunately I was able to locate a new one at Brown Railroad Equipment, Inc .I'm now in a holding pattern waiting for the springs and casting. Guess I'll drown my sorrows in paint.

Yes Virginia; there is a Center Bearing!!

Spent the middle of last week !@#$ painting. Mr. Brown came through on Friday with my springs a center bearing housing and some insulating washers. Thursday & Friday I did some evaluation regarding the cab. After a few attempts I came up with what seems to be a workable solution. Late Friday afternoon, I placed an order for the Aluminum components needed to build the cab. Much to my surprise the folks at Online Metals came through and got my order shipped Friday. They definitely are good people to work with. I decided to use rubber isolators to set the roof and the front & rear cab panels on. I found some at  McMaster Carr Supply Co .Friday I found a man in Tennessee who may have some of the brake components I need to stop this thing once it gets moving. The Flange brakes which seem to have been original lean toward identifying the motorcar as a M-19E model. I was able to salvage the brake shoes. I will need to build new wood carrier blocks and get new attaching studs.

Sunday & Monday were productive days. I installed the springs and the center bearing. Next came the wheels and some other accessories. It's beginning to look a lot like a speeder!!

Tunnel Vision

Well; I found out that contact cement and construction adhesive are designed and made by the same !!@#$s who make paint. I built the floor panels and the engine cover panels last week. I used Baltic Birch plywood and sandwiched it between 2 layers of aluminum roof flashing. I protected the edges with an aluminum channel which is designed to edge plywood with. I attached the flashing to the plywood with contact cement. All I can say is the stuff sure sticks well to your hands. Didn't work worth a damn on the aluminum. Next I attempted to put a layer of thin aluminum tread plate over the flashing. The contact cement failed soooooo I tried construction adhesive. I also had marginal results with that stuff!@#. Decided to quit trying and do damage recovery later.

The folks at Online Metals came through with flying colors again. The aluminum I needed to complete the cab arrived on Wednesday . I've cut & fitted the rear wall components and tomorrow I'm off to the Hitching Post welding shop to have the cab pieces assembled.

Movin' on up!!

Got the metal off to the Hitching Post on Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon I got an order off to McMaster Carr. The Hitching Post  called on Wednesday, said the welder looked at the job and said that the new estimate was about 2-1/2 times the original. I said that I'd try to find a more affordable way. After searching out the hardware swtores for cheap alternatives; I tried ARC WORKS WELDING in Sierra Vista. They gave me an estimate which was the same as the base estimate from the other place. I gave them the metal and a 50% upward buffer alowance. They said the work would be ready Friday . Arc called on Thursday and said that the job was done. Well within the estimate. Picked the work up on Thursday afternoon. They did an EXCELLENT job. I'm on a roll. The order from McMaster also arrived Thursday; WOW!!! Spent Friday and Saturday designing and fitting the body back together. By Sunday I had things pretty much assembled. Sunday afternoon I worked on fixing my Haulin Trailer. Also Did some thinking about painT.  Roy Greenwood used Ace brand Safety Orange on his M-9. The sun has turned it into a pink. I'm strongly considering yellow!

Raisin' the Roof!!!

Got anxious today and started working on the roof supports. Most (not all) of the front holes lined-up which indicates that it's been a while since the roof was properly installed. Had to fabricate a bracket to mount the rear support bushings on. Got a couple of issues to resolve, so I'll quit for the evening. Also got some quotes on glass and weather-stripping. WOW!!

Details !!

Lots of details. Did some research online and decided to purchase a Model T Ford "Buzz Box" spark coil. Found a guy in Phoenix, AZ who rebuilds old model t spark coils. His delivered cost for a rebuilt coil is about 1/3 the cost of a new coil. Got the coil in record time and added terminals where Ford had contact buttons. Now that I have a coil, I'm getting anxious to fire the motor up. Sooooo now that I have spark, I decided to rebuild the carburetor. Of course I have to order a valve seat for the carb. Next I cleaned-up the Fuel Tank. It was dirty but in good condition. It's now painted Safety Red. Next I fabricated new mounts for the fuel tank, Rebuilt the Idler Pulley and temporarily mounted it on the (needs to be replaced) brake shaft. The operating mechanism for the idler pulley is badly worn and the specialty hardware for mounting it is gone. Decided to sleep on that aspect. Last week I set the roof on for the photo above. I fabricated an assembly to permanently mount the roof on shock mounts. Cleaned-up, painted and installed the seat frames. Had the rust removal tank operating again last week. Had to add about 15 gallons of water. That thing is a real time and money saver. Also cleaned up and straightened the tool boxes which mount on the front of the motorcar. Unfortunately, the insides of the tool boxes are really rusted and the rust tank basically works "line of sight' so finishing that part is on the back burner. Finally I fabricated and mounted the rr tracks on the "haulin" trailer.

Break time

Started slowing down around the first week of May, I fabricated the front panel extensions and riveted the aluminum tread plate to the rear framework. Had to relocate the motorcar to a secure area in preparation for my trip to Tennessee (WAHOO!! ).

Break's over "Back on your knees"!

Finally got started again. The "long pole in the tent" regarding putting the control panel in place is the braking system and engine location. I've been in contact with Darren Doss of Tennessee who has the parts I need to get these items placed.  He came up with a fair price and the payment is on the way to Darren.

The condenser needed a repair and the water tank needed to be stripped so I pulled the engine out of my storage building and took it into the garage. Armed with the knowledge that the bolts holding the condenser are extremely fragile, I began to carefully remove them using heat and rust blaster. I got about a dozen out unscathed and got cocky; by the time all of the bolts were out I'd broken 3. I figured that since I was this far into the engine; I might as well do a complete teardown. Besides, it's easier to !@# paint it disassembled. Good thing I did; when I removed the water tank I discovered that the water jacket was full of crud. By the time I got all of the crud out of the water jacket; I had what resembled about half a bucket of horse poop.Now I've got a shop full of engine parts and need some gaskets & stuff to put them back together again. I put in a call to Dean Mark at Les King Motorcars/Fredricksburg Shops . Had a very informative conversation with Dean. He has almost all of the parts I can afford at present and will ship them this week. Dean is a veteran operator/mechanic and is willing to share his storehouse of knowledge  Also went to Tucson and bought the wood (ash)  I need to fabricate the lifting handles. Between fabricating the lifting handles and !@#  painting the engine; I won't be bored for lack of parts.


Tried to update this page earlier today. The computer crashed and I went back out to the shop to get the engine ready for !@# painting. In my frenzy to get through the old paint removal: I started to use a 4" angle grinder with a wire wheel. I was NOT wearing eye protection. A strand of wire dislodged from the grinder and stuck in my left eye. Dr. Thompson at Cochise Eye and Laser was able to remove the wire pieces with a minimum of discomfort. I am one lucky duck and I thank God and Dr Thompson for saving my vision. ALWAYS wear eye protection!!

End of day June 16, 2009

Back in the saddle again!!

I've left the date above (which I probably should have done all along) to set a reference point. The last four months have been quite warm. So; I've let more indoorsy projects occupy the front burner. I now have most of the major parts which I'll need to get this thing running. I've put the motor back together. Installed a John Deere 12 Volt alternator and mounted the motor on the chassis. Most of the major components have been set in place waiting to be tweaked and tightened.

A Brake Arm, A Brake Arm, My Kingdom for a Brake Arm

Being cheap; I've decided to go with the flange brakes which were on the speeder when I got it. I was able to find or fabricate most of the components needed to set-up the braking system. That is with the exception of the left side brake arm. Seems this part is a pretty darn near impossible to find.

Why such a big deal about a brake arm? Since this car seems to be the product of cannibalization; I have been unable to get measurements to locate the control panel. By setting-up the braking system I would be able to locate the control panel since the brake lever and the belt adjusting lever extend through it. I was finally able to locate a brake arm at Brown Railroad Equipment Inc. .I was able to reference the needed part number through an old M19 manual. The left and right brake arms are different numbers so>>>> I ordered the complimentary number to the one I had. Mr. Brown promptly shipped the ordered arm. To my dismay; the ordered arm was identical to the one I had, even though they were marked with different numbers. I called Mr. Brown and he was extremely cooperative. In fact he went out of his way to ship one of each part to allow me to figure out which arm I really needed. Upon comparison, it appears that the arm which I originally had had the wrong number "cast" into it. Many Thanks to Dan Brown.

With the braking system set-up temporarily; I was able to locate the control panel, cut the hole in the motor cover, mount the motor cover, and fabricate linkage for the new timer lever.

I was also able to locate a Master Machinist locally who was able to drill-out and re-tap the broken stud locations in the condenser housing. Mounting the housing enabled me to design new brackets to mount the upper motor stabilizer plate and the lifting handles.

End of Day October 18, 2009

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