California Zephyr Servicing & Cleaning
Oakland Yard Facilities
|View of the new Oakland, California CZ servicing area.
Servicing facilities as modern as the equipment they would serve
were constructed at Oakland, California by the Western Pacific to
administer to the needs of the California Zephyrs at their western
terminus. To provide rapid and complete servicing of the trains at
the end of their run at Oakland the Western Pacific, at a cost of
$880,000, constructed a fully-equipped coach servicing yard and a
diesel locomotive servicing shop, with all the auxiliary facilities
necessary to assure they would function on an efficient and
The new facilities were reached from the main line over a balloon
track. They consisted of a two-track, stub-end, diesel servicing and
repair shop; a stores building; a general utility building; a boiler
and lathe building containing a completely automatic power plant; a
truck repair building with related facilities; a five-track coach
yard with two 550-ft. inspection pits served by a wheel drop pit at
one end: a complete mechanical car-washing layout designed to wash a
car a minute, which included a washer control building; diesel oil
storage tanks with an adjacent pump house; a transformer house; and
|Diagram of new California Zephyr servicing area. Click on image for a larger view.
The unit system of making repairs was used at the new layout, and to
implement this system a complete stock of repair parts was kept on
hand, including an extra locomotive truck complete with traction
motors and gears, along with generators, spare coach trucks, etc.
Thus, an entire assembly, whether a traction motor or a reclining
coach seat, could be readily replaced during the servicing period,
and later overhauled or otherwise repaired without haste or tension.
All the buildings were of corrugated metal on structural frames and
had concrete foundations which, in the major structures, were
carried on piles. Piling was used because of the nature of the
subsoil which consisted of approximately five feet of fill
(compacted by years storage of shipyard steel), and about 20 ft. of
blue clay mud overlying hardpan. After the piles had been driven to
the hardpan, lengths of 112-lb. scrap rail were placed across their
tops and encased in concrete.
The two-track diesel shop building, 54 feet by 178 feet was built on
a monolithic concrete foundation and painted aluminum on the outside
and green and white on the interior. The locomotive door openings
were fitted with steel rolling doors, and the interior had
cab-level platforms and an 80-ton Whiting drop table.
|Car washer in new passenger yard.
In addition to the two 550-foot pit tracks the coach yard had three
600-foot tracks for servicing and storing cars. The wheel drop pit
at one end of the pit tracks, which also served one of the
conventional tracks, was fitted with a 40-ton Whiting drop table.
Housed in the boiler and lathe building, which was near the far end
of the coach-yard servicing pits, was a Sellers wheel lathe. Wheels
were carried by lift truck to a 10-track wheel-storage yard in front
of the wheel lathe building. This yard was served by a transfer
table which delivered the wheels to the lathe.
The car-washing setup, embodying Whiting equipment, was located on
the lead track to the coach yard. The first element of this
installation consisted of elevated platforms, one on each side of
the track, from which laborers, using brushes dipped in a cutting
solution, scrubbed the glass windows of the Vista-Domes as the cars
passed by. Immediately following the Vista-Dome washing platforms
were three sets of revolving brushes. The first set, moistened with
a cutting solution, washed the entire sides of the cars, the second
set scrubbed the window areas with plain water, and the third set,
also using plain water, again scrubbed the entire sides of the cars.
After being scrubbed by the brushes the cars passed through a
high-pressure rinse spray which was directed at the tops as well as
the sides of the cars. These spray nozzles directed the
high-velocity water at an angle opposite to the direction of
movement of the cars so that the dirt was washed ahead of the spray
and eventually off the car.
In addition to the wheel drop table serving the coach yard, truck
handling and repair facilities were provided, which consisted of
four electric jacks
operating on reinforced concrete jacking pads, a
truck turntable, and four tracks radiating from the table, including
three for storing wheels and one leading into the truck-repair
|Truck turntable in new Oakland passenger yard.
Steam for the requirements of the new layout was provided by two
80-hp. automatic Cleaver Brooks steam generators, operating at a
pressure of 125 pounds per square inch. Air was supplied by a
motor-driven Ingersoll-Rand air compressor, and all air was
dehydrated before storage. Oil storage facilities consisted of two
20,000 gallon tanks, one for fuel oil and one for lubricating oil.
For disposing of refuse and garbage a brick oil-fired incinerator
was included among the facilities, and also a small building in
which garbage containers were steam cleaned and rinsed.
A feature of the new facilities was the extensive drainage system
that was installed including both surface drains and perforated pipe
drains under the three conventional coach tracks. The drainage
system embodied 5,920 feet of pipe, varying from 6 inch to 21 inches
in diameter, and terminated in the Oakland estuary. The sanitary
system was laid with approximately 533 feet of 8 inch coated Armco
corrugated pipe and terminated in a 9,500-gallon capacity concrete
septic tank. Because of the small difference between the annual
maximum high tide, which reached an elevation of 8.5 feet and the
highest point in the yard, elevation 12.5 feet, it was necessary to
install the drainage system with extreme care.
|Dining car commissary building.
Located at the west end of the new yard, adjacent to the servicing
tracks one of the most modern commissary buildings in the railroad
industry was completed in the early part of 1950. This building
replaced an existing structure located a mile away adjacent to the
yards of the Southern Pacific where Western Pacific trains were
formerly serviced. The greater part of the building was one story
high, 96 feet in length and 86 feet wide. A second story, 38x42 feet
in area, was located above the southwest corner of the building, and
housed the commissary offices. The concrete floor slabs varied in
thickness from five to seven inches, and rested on large rail
reinforced concrete beams, which in turn rested upon a total of 69
creosoted piles. The frame of the building was of fabricated steel,
and was covered with Galbestos siding, having a neat modern
appearance, which matched the existing buildings in the Zephyr yard.
|Top quality meat supplies were stored at 38
degrees in the commissary meat refrigerator.
The northwest corner of the building housed a large refrigerator,
about 20 feet wide by 43 feet long. Machinery for the refrigerator
was located outside the building on a fenced in concrete pad. As a
part of the commissary project, the building, which formerly
occupied the site, was moved and remodeled. A two story “L" shaped
structure, it was cut in two and moved to the southwest corner of
the yard. By removing the lower story and placing the two wings of
the "L" end to end on a new foundation, it was converted into a very
comfortable dormitory building. Attached to the east end of that
building was an ice storage room, made over from an old refrigerator
car body. Space for Pullman operations was constructed from parts of
the removed lower story. With ample space for storage of the wide
variety of foods required, the building also had a linen room where
tablecloths and napkins were stored in first class condition, a room
for holding class instruction in dining car operation, and a shower
and dressing room for the convenience of dining car employees.
All supply purchases were handled at this new office under the
supervision of the commissary buyer, and a careful check was
maintained to provide an adequate stock at all times. The building
had spacious aisles for ease in handling the trucks, and wide
rolling doors made for easy ingress and egress to and from the
building when trucking supplies direct to the dining cars in the
This entire project was planned jointly under the direction of W. J.
O'Neill, superintendent of motive power, and T. L. Phillips, chief
engineer. They were assisted by E. W. Englebright, assistant to the
president; E. E. Gleason, superintendent of motive power; A. W.
Carlson, bridge engineer; A. A. Kramm, assistant engineer; A. V.
Norberg, electrical engineer; and S. F. Burmeister,