California Zephyr Servicing & Cleaning

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Oakland Yard Facilities

View of the new Oakland, California CZ servicing area.
Railway Age.

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 effective basis.

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 an incinerator.

Oakland, California passenger yard track diagram.
Diagram of new California Zephyr servicing area. Click on image for a larger view.
Railway Age.

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.
Railway Age.

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 building.

Truck turntable in new Oakland passenger yard.
Railway Age.

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.
Railway Age.

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 yard.

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, engineer-inspector.

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