Restoration Projects

The Museum has many important restoration projects underway, every one made possible by the generous support of friends and members. Your financial support is leveraged by Museum volunteers who put thousands of man hours into each project. We also use contractors to assist when special skills or equipment is needed, greatly speeding up the time to complete these complicated projects. Restoration work is greatly aided by our extensive library of original photographs, documents and technical information.

Each restoration project has many opportunities for you to participate, from financial and material support, to actual work on the project. Read the project descriptions below to see what you can become involved in.


The Diesel Crew continues cleaning the ATSF 98 carbody and is about 90% finished with the engineer compartment frame, removing extensive scale and rust from the structure. Greg Houle has continued sheet metal work repairing rust damage. He has completed repairing the cab roof where the add-on air conditioner was mounted. Also completed is the reworked fireman’s door. Project Manager Jeff Williams is working on a mid-project schedule and budget update.

Pacific Electric 498

This classic “Big Red Car” is a “combine” (railroad slang for a combination baggage-coach) and will become the second car in our two-car train of restored PE “Blimps”. The 498 was one of only four combo “Blimps”; all of them were used almost exclusively for Catalina Special service from Downtown Los Angeles to the docks in Wilmington, where connections were made to boats for Catalina Island. After being on hold for a number of years, this project is once again active and is currently undergoing final preparation prior to getting a full repainting. Previous work on the car completed major bodywork, including new steel welded in place at the bottom of every window post on the car.

San Diego Electric Railway PCC 508

This streamlined PCC-type streetcar has the distinction of being the first streetcar to arrive at the Museum’s (then new) Perris site, way back in 1958. 508 ran in regular service at the Museum for many years, but the ravages of decades of outdoor storage finally took their toll and required its removal from active service (thankfully the car now has an indoor home). With the help of some significant financial support from the Peters and Myers families, we are now moving forward with a complete restoration project. These two families have generously put up a $10,000 challenge grant in order to raise the car’s fund up to the $35,000 level needed for project completion. They’re matching your gift dollar for dollar up to $10,000!

Southern Pacific SW1 1006

This 1939 switch engine was from the Southern Pacific’s first production order of diesel locomotives. The 1006 was also used on the Pacific Electric from 1956 until about 1966. It was rescued from a local scrap yard in 1986 and came to the Museum in very tired condition. The 1006 is in the midst of a major restoration to return it to its as-delivered appearance. The main hood and fuel tanks were removed entirely to gain access to internal components, but after much work the major pieces are now back together and all of the refurbished sub-systems are now being reassembled on the locomotive.