Friday, February 2, 2018

Busy Times in Bakersfield (Part 2) SP Yard Overview

Last time (Busy Times in Bakersfield - Part 1) we looked at the busy engine movements around the Bakersfield Roundhouse and engine changes on the trains.  This time we'll be looking at the switchers which worked in side the yard sorting cars and spotting them at industries in town.

The SP 6386 set cut away from No.57, the Owl, preparing to move to the engine servicing track as a VXW-4 departs via Track 22, 70, and the Sacramento St. crossover west of town.

Bakersfield Yard track plan below: Mt. Vernon Switcher in blue, Haley St. Switcher in orange, and City Switcher in purple.

City Yard, 70's Yard and main SP yard at Bakersfield during the 1950s as modeled at La Mesa Model Railroad Club.

John "Pappy" Pappasurgia, a retired switchman who hired out to the SP in 1952 at Bakersfield, during an interview in 2005 recounted the regular assignments of the tracks in the main yard as follows:
  Tracks 2-6: arriving and departing trains - yellow on the drawing above
  Track 7: Valley shorts (TMW for Roseville) - also yellow on drawing above
  Track 8: East Shorts (VXE for LA)
  Track 9: Cars for Mojave (This is the track for the "Mojave Shorts" cars)
  Track 10: ?
  Track 11: Cleanout track (Bakersfield supplied PFE reefers and boxcars for local loading)
  Track 12: Cleanout track (Bakersfield supplied PFE reefers and boxcars for local loading)
  Track 13: Cars for the Santa Fe interchange at Kern Jct.
  Track 14: Bad Orders
  Track 15: Oil City cars
  Track 16: City loads
  Track 17: Scale
  Ice Deck 1 & 2: - Icing of PFE and private cars, obviously.
  Track 21 was the designation used for the 'Tail' track for the shops

It's also interesting to note that between Track 7 and 8 there was a line of lockers and work tables for the carmen to make running repairs to cars in the yard, which didn't need full RIP track work in the Car Shops west of the roundhouse.

Mt. Vernon Ave. Switcher

The SP Bakersfield Yard's large 600-car main body tracks are flat switched by a crew working from the East End at Mt. Vernon Avenue.  The Mt. Vernon Switcher draws the heaviest switcher of the three main assignments at Bakersfield.

SP 1486 switching an inbound freight and the SP 6461 making a brake test on a departing 800-series eastward freight.

Mt Vernon yard chart drawing for crews to get familiar with the track arrangements

The East Lead is about 34 cars long and can handle long cuts from Tracks 2-6 which serve as the primary arrival and departure tracks in the yard.  The ATSF trains continue on the West Main to Kern Junction without stopping at Mt. Vernon Ave.

Crossing over from 6 to 7, SP 3701 and 3712 backing down onto the Mojave Shorts East train on Track 9.

Access to Ice Deck 1 & 2 is made east of the ladders to 7-12 and 13-16 off of Track 7, which can double as a separate yard lead.  There is also a crossover from Track 6 to Track 7, allowing Track 6 to work as a switching lead for Track 7-16 if needed.

SP 6461 ready to leave town with a reefer block to Colton on Track 6, the Porterville Local prepares to depart from Track 7

Heavy 4-unit sets of F-units prepare to depart Bakersfield with R-3 symbol freight (3rd Roseville reefer block of the year) around 7PM on Jan 4, 1953.  The cut-off time for reefer traffic collected around Bakersfield was 5:01PM, which was guaranteed to move out of Bakersfield before midnight, seven hours later.  This allowed for any topping off of the ice bunkers, ventilation adjustments to the hatches and fans as well as a quick final checking over by the carmen before the cars headed for Colton and points east.

SP 1486, a heavy FM switcher pulls several cars out on the main east end lead to switch.

Here the Mt. Vernon Ave. Switcher works a short string of boxcars and a tank car which will be heading to Tracy and west over the Altamont Pass to Oakland.  Notice the new "DF" 50ft boxcar in auto-parts service, one of the signature cars heading for the assembly plants around Oakland.

SP 3701 and 3712 prepare to depart with the Mojave Shorts East. The Mt Vernon engine on Trk 7 working the Porterville cars.

Above the Extra ATSF 212 West arrives at Kern Junction with a SWG-symbol freight and diverges off to the Santa Fe yard two miles to the west.

Meanwhile in the SP yard we can see a long string of reefers on Track 7 ready to head west.  This is either a "Valley Shorts" block of empty iced cars to be distributed to the sheds short of Fresno or a Porterville Local with reefers for the sheds and canneries on the branch.  The reefers on Track 6 are the R-3 cars which just arrived from Roseville.  The valley engine has cut away and the SP 6461 hasn't moved over to the train yet.

On Track 9 the Mojave Shorts train is coupled together and is preparing to depart.  Notice the covered hoppers in assigned cement service to be loaded at Monolith, beyond that are boxcars for Monolith and some PFE reefers for the apple sheds at Tehachapi.  At the headend are some GS gondolas heading for Bealville, via Caliente for the Mt. Work Train.  The cars towards the rear are general merchandise cars heading for Mojave, Searles, the high desert around Palmdale and the Owenyo Branch.

Haley St. Switcher

Bakersfield Yard's West End Switcher is called the Haley St Switcher.  The Haley St. job trims the departing eastward trains, switches cabooses, and generally works between Haley St and Baker St.

Busy times in Bakersfield with a PSS freight arriving from Fresno and heading into the yard.

Haley St Switcher yard chart

All arriving freights from Mojave and the Valley head into the SP yard for work, at least having the engines changed and helpers added for the climb to Tehachapi Pass.

SP 2718 preparing to take a TMW block to Fresno and the 5203 behind it with a block for the 20's yard with Oil City cars.

Here we see a couple of locals and a short TMW-symbol train preparing to depart westward from Tracks 10 and 11.  Another time we catch T&NO 910 freshly transferred back from Texas ready to depart westward from Track 2.

T&NO 910, an F-5 class engine, ready to depart westward with a livestock block for Fresno and Roseville.

Cutting In Helpers at Haley St.

One of the main jobs for the Haley St. Switcher is to trim and pull the rear of eastward freights apart so the helpers can be cut into the trains.

Here's a graphical diagram showing the process of cutting in helpers at Bakersfield, Page 1.  (Drawings by Jason Hill)

The process really isn't that complicated, but given that the yard shown in the diagram is over 60 feet long, sometimes it is difficult to wrap one's head around the larger scope of what's going on with the maze of switches between Haley St. and the 20's Yard.

Recombining eastward train with helpers using the 20's Yard, Page 2. (Drawings by Jason Hill)

Let's see a few photos of the 20's Yard while this process is being carried out.  Below we see that the yard crew has doubled over the train into both Tracks 23 and 24, allowing the helpers to more easily couple to each cut respectively.  The cars sitting on Track 25 are not related and were left there by the City Switcher or the Haley St. Switcher for local service.

The rear of this eastward OCM-symbol freight is pulled back into Tracks 23 & 24 ready for helpers to be added.

At 12:51AM on Jan 5th 1953, we see the rear of the OCM pulled back into Track 23 and doubled over for the second helper into Track 24.  By 1:02AM, the two AC-class helpers have pulled out of the Ready Tracks and backed down onto their cuts.  Ready A & B are stuffed with F-units in the photo below.

Helpers cut in and ready to pull forward and couple to the front of the train.

At this point, it's an easy operation to have the helpers pull their cuts forward into the departure track, couple to the headend and get the brake test before leaving town.

Caboose Shuffling?

The cabooses in the years before 'pool caboose' agreements they would lay over between trips.  One other thing the Haley St. Switcher crews need to keep track of are the local cabooses are assigned as shown below.

Cabooses being serviced at Bakersfield, notice the SP 23486 (above the 3rd caboose from the left) on the top of the Wrecker.

Showing nicely in the right side of the photo above is the caboose tracks on the south side of the main in the PI Yard.  The caboose servicing area was located there until about 1954 when the SP shifted to pooled cabooses for road jobs, at which time two new pool caboose tracks were added off the Haley St. lead between the Scale Track and the Ice Deck.

Here's a photo with three rider cars receiving servicing - the single caboose is one of the local service cars.

Often the SP cabooses are shown in photos over the 4th and 5th track south of the Main in the PI Yard.  There was also often photos of passenger coaches laying over at Bakersfield as well.  The SP regularly assigned coaches as express riders and high-speed cabooses.  Bakersfield originated high priority express traffic, so it follows that the coaches would be stationed here as well.

Express Rider Cars:

The 2800-series of coaches were modified for rider and high-speed caboose service on express trains.  The cars downgraded to the 2800-series would usually last no more than two years before being retired to SPMW service.

SP 2810, ex-SP 1806, the solo car in 60-C-1 class, the first all-steel passenger car on the SP built in 1906.

Before the SP started the special 2800-series of cars in the late 1940s, regular coaches would be used in express rider service.  The 2800-series eventually totaled 28 cars, with the last being assigned in 1954.

SP 1190, coach bringing up the rear on No.56 at Caliente.

Local Cabooses:

SP 684 - Taft Local (Sunset Rwy)

SP 789 - Porterville Local

SP 69 - Mountain Local (Based in Mojave)

Yard Service "Cabooses":

Yard service 'cabooses' didn't need to meet the Union Agreements for fittings and equipment since these cars basically were used to give the switchmen and foreman on a job a safe place to ride.  Three or four switchmen and a foreman couldn't all ride in the cab of a steam switcher along with the engineer and fireman!

SP 973 - Oil City Switcher

The SP 973 was converted to 'caboose' service for the Oil City Switcher crew in 1953.  It would appear from photos that the car was used around Bakersfield for a few years before that date in local freight service.

SP 23486 - Edison Switcher (used as needed as a riding car in the yard)

The boxcars converted from retired B-50-6 class boxcars into cabooses did not meet the Union Agreements for caboose fittings, so were not used after WWII by road crews (conductors and brakemen) and were used in yard service by foremen and switchmen for several more years.

Kern Junction - The Santa Fe

Kern Junction during a quiet time in the SP yard.

Per the 1899 Joint Line Agreement between the SP and the ATSF (Santa Fe) allows ATSF trains to operate between Kern Jct and Mojave (East Mojave after 1943).  This creates a hot spot of traffic having an interlocking plant in the middle of the SP's Division Point yard at Bakersfield to the north of the main track.

Here two 'Decks' bring a train into the SP yard past Kern Jct. - Notice the PI Main crossing the ATSF in front of the Tower.

A three track interchange yard is located between the two ATSF main tracks and the SP yard.  The P.I. main track, named for the Pacific Improvement company which built the Sunset Railway to Taft, crosses the ATSF at Kern Juction directly in front of the Tower as well using two diamonds.

ATSF 212 waits for a proceed signal from the Towerman at Kern Jct. with the SWG-4, Jan'53.

Here we see the San Joaquin Daylight, No.52, blasting out of town crossing Haley St. and past Kern Jct. Tower.

3:08PM Jan 4th, 1953, Kern Jct as No.52 departs town, Haley St engine deep on Track 4 with a freight helper on Track 3.

Action is intense east of Kern Juction with Double Track (East and West Main Tracks) allowing ATSF trains to continue west from Mt. Vernon Ave. without stopping to the Santa Fe yards west of Kern Jct., and eastward trains to head straight out of town while SP trains head into the yard.

Plenty of action at Mt. Vernon today as ATSF 170 with a BK-block blasts out of town as SP 6248 brings in the XMUG from Los Angeles.

The SP Yardmaster (foreground) and Kern Operator (sitting in front of the scissor phone) oversee the operations in the SP yard and movements at Kern Junction respectively.

ATSF 225 down a unit with a GP7 cut in behind and ATSF 3737 heading out to Bena to cut in as a rear helper.

The Kern Operator also communicates with the Dispatcher and relays information about approaching trains and information to the Dispatcher about the status of trains preparing to depart.  The phone to the Yardmaster's left is for communicating with the Cheif Dispatcher, who plans 4-6 hours ahead and plans the train tonnages, engine assignments, and crew calls before handing off the authorization of those plans to the 'Trick' Train Order Dispatcher who writes the Train Orders and issues the Clearances.

The "Tide is in" during a busy time in the ATSF Bakersfield Yard! Jan 4, 1953.

I'll cover the operations of the SP-ATSF interchange in the future when I write about the ATSF Bakersfield Yard.

City Switcher

The Bakersfield Yard's City Switcher works the various industries with general freight, company shop and store houses, and also the express and freight houses.  The east end of the yard is worked by the Mt.Vernon Ave Switcher, the west end by the Haley St. Switcher.  The packing sheds at Edison, seven miles east of the yard, and the Oil City Branch to the north of Bakersfield are also worked by the yard switcher crews as needed.  I'll discuss these other jobs in future posts.

Here we see the City Switcher working the 70's yard.  The Kern Land Warehouse has a full double spot in the foreground.

Let's look at the City Switchers territory in detail, marked in purple highlights in the drawing below.

City Yard, 70's Yard and main SP yard at Bakersfield during the 1950s as modeled at La Mesa Model Railroad Club.

The City Switcher works out of the "70's Yard", which is a sub-yard which forms the hub of the local switching operations around Bakersfield.  The main classification flat-switching yard has a track for "City" traffic which is a basic 'sluff' track for all traffic for the Oil City, Sunset Rwy (Taft Branch), P.I. Yard, Company Car Shops, Freight Houses, and local industries.

Passenger & Express Switching

The Switchers within the Bakersfield Switching Limits (Not related to Rule 93, but to Union Agreements) allow any switcher on duty to be directed to work as needed within the yard switching limits.  This can mean that one crew could be directed to do all the work in the yard if no other crews are on-duty.  Usually two crews are on-duty in the main yard during the day with extra crews put on as needed for Oil City Switcher and Edison Switcher if needed.  The regular City engine works overnight between 8:01PM and 8:01AM.

SP 6236 in the City Yard.

Usually the opening move of the City Switcher is pulling any express cars for the VME (Overnight) returning to Los Angeles after 6PM.  If the separate City Switcher isn't on duty yet, the Haley St. Switcher will come over to preform these duties.  Often they 'Go for the Quit' early once No.447, the VMW (Overnight), arrives and they spot the express cars at the Bakersfield freight house.

During the middle of the shift the Owl (Nos. 57 & 58) pick up and set out sealed mail cars from Oakland and the Mail (Nos. 55 & 56) does the same for cars from Los Angeles.  Below we see No.57 receiving its sealed mail pickup car in the evening during the engine change.  The HO scale car models are heavier and require two GS or Mt class engines to take the Owl into the San Joaquin Valley, in real life only one was plenty for the 17 car train.

Earlier in the evening the City Switcher shuffled the pickup car for No57 out to the platform.

The City Switcher's hottest moves in the evening is working the sealed mail cars for the various night passenger trains.  Tonight's rather light, SP baggage car 6011 is coupled into the consist of No.57, the Owl, during the engine change.

Coming down to the joint with the Owl at the platform while passengers and mail are being worked.

Industrial Switching

The City Switcher's work can be divided into five areas:
- City Yard (South of main, between Bakers St. and Kern River)
- SP Freight House (West of Kern River - not in service as of Jan 2018)
- North Side (Industries along the 70's Yard, between Baker St. and Kern River)
- SP Shops (including Carpenters Shop, "Malley Shed" Car Shop, Co Storehouse, and Backshops)
- Kern Wye and PI Yard (South side of main, between Depot and the east leg of the Kern Wye)

11:49PM Jan 4, 1953 we see a string of tank cars and box cars being drilled on the west 70's ladder.

Operations in the City Yard are governed by switchlists marked up by the Yardmaster and car movements are issued on the original wheel report lists as the cars enter the railroad from staging by Clerks from the Traffic Dept.  The Clerks also preform the Freight Agent positions, update routings and assignments of empty cars at the three major yards in Bakersfield, Mojave, and the larger industrial stations at Monolith and Tehachapi.

Hard at work reading switch lists and throwing switches.

The City crew's getting started on another block of cars from the main yard.  They'll sort them by rough destinations into one of the five tracks in the 70's yard.

11:59PM John B. works the City Switcher on the night of the 4-5th of January 1953 session.

By 1:51AM the 70's yard is well in order.  The north side industries have been spotted and the switcher's working on the south side.

Looking east at 1:51AM there's large strings of boxcars in the City Yard being worked and prepared to be spotted.

By 2:02AM the City Switcher's running back up the main track to the main freight yard with the pulls for outbound sorting.

Several times a day the City Switcher returns to the main yard to drop off cars for movement out of Bakersfield, be it to the Santa Fe interchange or to SP freights.

ATSF boxcars at the Kern Land Warehouse - leased for additional ATSF freight house space.

Unfortunately one of the considerations of getting such a massive amount of prototype railroad into a limited space is that some concessions have to be made.  In the ATSF Bakersfield yard, there simply wasn't enough room for the 1400ft long freight house used to unload all the inbound merchandise and freight forwarder shipments at Bakersfield.  At the same time, as far as our records can tell, the Kern Land Warehouse was vacant for many years during the late 1940s and early 1950s.  The Kern Land Warehouse has seven doors on the south side of the SP's City Yard.

So in a slight bending of history, we're saying that the ATSF Freight House is operating at reduced capacity because of earthquake damage from the August quake of 1952 and the ATSF is leasing the Kern Land Warehouse for their freight forwarder operations.  This change also allows more traffic through the Kern Junction interchange between the two RR's as SP's City Switcher does the work at the Kern Land Warehouse.

In the future as the industrial trackage around the SP Bakersfield and Oil Junction areas get finished the SP's Freight House operations will be moved "across the river" to the correct facilities near Oil Junction.

In Closing

SP 5301 & 5304 recouple to the KI Local at Bena for the returning Eastward trip to Mojave.

That will wrap up our Overview of the SP Yard at Bakersfield (Part2).  In future posts I'll be looking at Mojave Yard and more closely at other trains of interest on the Tehachapi Subdivision.

Jason Hill

Related Links:

Overview of 1950s Time Table & Train Order Operations on Tehachapi Pass

Busy Times in Bakersfield - (Part 1)

A Trip Over Tehachapi on SCX-BI

Modeling Mail Trains 55 & 56 - Tehachapi Mail

Modeling an MOW Supply Train (Part 1)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Busy Times in Bakersfield (Part 1)

Happy New Year everyone!  Hopefully 2018 will be another good year for rail-fanning and also finding out more history about how things worked 75-80 years ago on the railroads.

For the first time in 58 years, SPNG 18 under steam meets SPNG 9 at Laws, CA, Sept 23, 2017. - Jason Hill Photo

I thought I'd branch out in a slightly different direction than most of my other blog posts and hit on some thoughts about operations again.  Two months ago, I was in San Diego for the November on Tehachapi 2017 at the La Mesa Model Railroad Club's 1950's Operating Session.  Most of the following model photos are from that 24 hours of 1:1 time operation.  The last blog post I made about the operations at LMRC was almost a year ago and can be read at this link - A Trip Over Tehacahpi on the SCX-BI.  I also did a blog on Modeling an SPMW Supply Train.

A busy Kern Junction Operator copies orders during the November Session on Tehachapi. - Photos by Jason Hill unless noted.

I've been thinking about putting some tid-bits of information about how some of the 'regular operations' are done, which are based on prototype photos taken during the 1950s and interviews with former switchmen who worked the Bakersfield Yard during the 1950s.

Roundhouse Operations at Bakersfield

During the average day there were eight passenger trains doing engine changes and at least eight freights changing engines between the valley and mountain.   The freights often ran in multiple sections and eastward freights usually needed one or two helpers.  Some helpers were through and others were instructed to cut off at Summit and return to Bakersfield.  In addition there were three regular switchers and anywhere from two to six or more locals working out of the terminal at Bakersfield.  All of this traffic makes for a busy time at the Bakersfield Roundhouse!

Changing Engines for Eastward 1st Class Trains

SP 6244 and another set of F-units wait for their next call. The 4185 is on the Outbound Leads ready to move to her train.

The SP did not have any water plugs at the Bakersfield Station Platform, so all steam engines arriving on scheduled passenger trains were swapped out here.  The San Joaquin Daylight only spent seven minutes at the platform, just enough time to disconnect the steam lines and cut away the arriving engine(s) and couple up the fresh departing engine(s), connect the steam and air hoses and do a brake test.

LMRC's West Bakersfield Yard Plan, Not showing is the main 600-car yard body to the east. - Jason Hill drawing 2017

While it might not be obvious to the untrained eye, the experienced crews working Bakersfield use the track work here to the maximum potential.  The preparation for the arriving First Class train and engine change can start as much as 90 minutes before the scheduled arrival of the train.

The basic flow through the roundhouse complex is from west to east.  Engines arrive via the "Back Track" from the yard and no switchman is required next to the "Pullman Shed" where a spring switch (marked "S/S" on the drawing above) routes the engines when moving eastward down the lead to the "Inbound Engine" track.  Once the engines have been serviced and inspected, they're topped off with water and fuel on the "Outbound Leads" which dump out on a third lead which leads into the west end of the Ice Deck.  Steam engines generally wait either on the "Outbound Leads" and the diesels in "Ready A" or "Ready B" until the crews pick them up.

Eastward engine changes for passenger trains happen with the train arriving on the Main Track in front of the station.  This can get tricky as freight trains often are split between the main yard and Track 23 and 24 while cutting in helpers mid-train.  Sometimes this process can really tie the throat trackage and leads up beside "Ready A" for 15-20 minutes.  It's always good to keep the First Class train's engines - first.

Time: 30-45 Minutes Before Departure
SP 4450 waiting on the "Outbound Lead" for the second engine to come off the turntable and couple up. - November 2017

As soon as the engines are ready on the Outbound Leads, they are 'herded' over to the East "Main Pocket" shown on the drawing above.  In this example, a pair of 4400-series GS-4s are being coupled together to take the San Joaquin Daylight (No.52) on the last leg of the schedule from Bakersfield to Los Angeles.

Remember that engines may move freely within the Yard Limits (Rule 93) as long as they are not on the time of a First Class Train.  In this case, the arriving first class train is becoming the engines that are sitting on the main.  Protection of the engines is provided by lining the cross over to their west to cross over to Track 22 to Track 1.  Any arriving freights coming in (running like crazy ahead of the First Class Train) will be heading into the yard at that cross over anyway, as all freights arriving in Bakersfield do.  Any westward light engines cleared through Kern Jct. will cruise down the "Old" Track 1 and then crossover to the east end of the 20's Yard ladder heading to the "Back Track" to the Roundhouse's Inbound Lead.  No westward freight trains would be trying to leave (hopefully not anyway) in the face of an opposing First Class Train's arrival.

Time: 8-20 Minutes Before Departure
SP 4450 and one of her black-painted sisters prepare for the arrival of No.52, the San Joaquin Daylight.

At this point, the Bakersfield Yardmaster has the departing engines ready in the East "Pocket" on the Main Track.  The Left-hand crossover east of the station is set to 'reverse' directing the arriving eastward engines over on to Track 22/Track 1, this also serves to 'protect' the waiting engines in the "Pocket" from the arriving train if it overruns the platform stop.  On the model this is also done so the train can be pulled clear of Baker St., which can be a problem for 17 car passenger trains like the Owl and some special trains because of the selective compression of the platform trackage.

Notice that in the photo above the set of F-units on Ready A are gone?  They were called for a freight train with the 4185 as the helper.  Because the engines for No.52 were out of the way and sitting on the Main Track, there was no probable or delay to putting the freight train together.  The freight will be ready to leave as soon as No.52's block clears at the east end of the yard in a few minutes!

Time: 7 Minutes Before Departure
At this point the arriving No.52 pulls into the station.  The arriving engine cuts off, leaving the train at the platform and crosses over to Track 1.  The crossover is lined back for the Main Track and the new engines back down onto the train standing at the platform.

Time: 2 Minutes After Arrival, 5 Minutes Before Departure
SP 4466 pulled the First 52 into Bakersfield and is ready to back down to the "Back Track" and head to the Roundhouse - Eddie Sims Collection

Here we see SP 4466 backing down Track 1 Lead and about crossover to the 20's Ladder heading for the Roundhouse via the "Back Track" next to the Carpenter's Shop at the left of the photo above.  The train that SP 4466 just pulled into Bakersfield should be just out of frame to the left in this photo.

Also of interest is the dirt-asphalt walkway seen at left crossing the P.I. Yard tracks between the crew Yard Office building (out of frame to the far left) and the Crew Lockers and Washrooms at right where the road crews go on-duty.

Time: 5 Minutes After Arrival, 2 Minutes Before Departure
SP 4450 and 4434 are ready for departure.  SP 4438 (in 'half-Daylight' scheme) is on the inbound servicing track top-right.

The arriving engine (SP 4438) cuts away from the standing train at the depot and pulls through the crossover.  The two new engines (SP 4450 & 4434) back down onto the train, connect the steam and air hose connections, make a quick brake test, and then wait for the Conductor's highball, signaling that all the passengers and headend work are done.

The arriving engine (SP 4438), after moving through the crossovers backs down the 20's ladder and onto the "Back Track" moving westward along the south side of the Carpentry Shops and over the spring switch (marked "S/S" on the drawing), before pulling eastward again onto the "Inbound Engine" lead for service as shown in the photo above.

Time: 15 Seconds After Departure - On Time
On another day SP 4434 leads No52 out past the Storehouse towards Kern Jct. - Nov 2017

The San Joaquin Daylight is back on the move heading for Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT).

Head End Car Notes:
If any headend cars are being pulled off the arriving train they can either come off with the arriving engines or a switcher can dive in and pull them away.  The San Joaquin Daylight usually doesn't have any cars to pick up or drop off at Bakersfield.  The short 7 minute stop would mean any car moves should be done ahead of time on the departing engines before the train arrives or by pulling the setouts off with the arriving engine, to clear the path back to the standing portion of the train at the station without further delay.

Changing Engines for Westward 1st Class Trains

The scheme for changing westward engines isn't much different, except the track arrangement is a bit different.

SP 4439 sitting at the Bakersfield Station - Eddie Sims Collection

Here's roughly what the San Joaquin Daylight would have looked like arriving into Bakersfield off the Tehachapi Pass from Los Angeles.  The above photo is actually taken on March 17, 1957 on a Fresno-Bakersfield-Fresno fan trip.

Waiting Departure Engine
Waiting in the "West Pocket", the SP 4438 ready to take a First Class westward train. November 2017

Above we see SP 4438 again waiting for an eastward freight to come into the yard, probably a PSS (Portland-Sunset) or OCM (Oregon-California Manifest) from the look of it.  This would be common if the passenger engine was spotted in the pocket 20-40 minutes before the arrival of the train it was assigned to and the freight could come right up the Main Track past the Station before crossing over into the yard without fouling the time of the First Class train.

The train arriving from LA cut off the engines, leaving the train standing at the station platform while headend baggage and mail are worked.  The engines from LA head for the roundhouse and SP 4438 will then back down across Baker St. on to the standing consist at the platform.

No.51 Departure
Coupled to No.51, SP 4455 is ready to go --- as soon as the guy fixing his bike is out of the way!  Photographer Unknown.

Another day, downtown Bakersfield shakes as the Mt-4 accelerates the Daylight out of town!

Here's a classic scene of No.51 departing Bakersfield, with the station at the far right. - Eddie Sims Collection

After changing the westward pair of engines out at Bakersfield for a single fresh engine, the Daylight is out of town heading for Fresno, Lathrop and Oakland.

Around the Roundhouse

The Bakersfield Roundhouse is a full time job for the bidded job working the "Roundhouse Foreman" position.  Responsible for all movement within the Roundhouse Complex, he also doubles as the "Inside Hostler" for moving engines from the sanding and servicing arrival area, into stalls with inspection pits for about 90 minutes minimum for "Running Inspections" to be completed.  He keeps track of the times the engines arrived and were put away.

SP Bakersfield Roundhouse setup for operations.  SP 4401 is waiting to be serviced and tucked away for inspections.

The Roundhouse Foreman works with the Chief Dispatcher by phone, the engines are called in a First-In, First-Out basis.  During these regular phone calls engines are assigned to trains up to 2-3 hours ahead of time.  The engines once called, will be pulled by the Inside Hostler and spotted on the Ready Leads pointed in the correct direction for their call for the crews to pick up.  The crews move the engines from the Ready Lead or Ready Track out into the yard to pickup their trains.  On some occasions if the crew is on a 'short call' or late, or we're short on crews, the Hostler will take the engines out to the trains.

SP 4477 & 4483, plus two GS-2/3/6s are worked in the South Garden of the Bakersfield Roundhouse - Eddie Sims Collection.

Running repairs and light work was done at the end of every trip.  This was usually not serious work, but basic every day type work.  Any serious problem found could be dealt with, but would require the use of a 'protection' engine if the original engine was planned to go back out on a 'short turn'.  This is why there was ALWAYS a spare passenger Mt or GS sitting at Bakersfield to protect the passenger pool.  If a freight engine, whether it was a 'Malley', a 'Deck', or a engine from the local pool, there would always be a protection engine ready in case the primary engine couldn't take the assignment.

Any medium and heavy servicing could be done in the backshops at Bakersfield, this included full rebuilding of the SP's narrow gauge engines which worked the Keeler-Laws Branch out of Owenyo 143 miles from Mojave.  While some complete rebuilds were done at LA or Sacramento, Bakersfield could handle all the regular work which the engines assigned to it needed.

Engines in the shops for heavier work are also modeled, such as SP 4279 undergoing repairs and service.

In one photo I've seen from the John Sweetser Collection, a late model AC-class engine with its tender removed and set aside.  The engine, placed in the same open-air "Garden Track" as the model above, shows its smoke box door-plate removed and a 'superheater cart' pushed up to the rear of the 'monkey deck' for the swapping out of the Superheater unit and tubes.  Adding an engine under scheduled 'medium repair' is rather interesting, and adds some variety to the scene.  The SP 4279 model is a disabled IMRC Mk-1 AC-12, which has also been used to salvage spare parts from for the other IMRC engines I've discussed before.

Crews Taking Their Calls

SP 2601 on the Bakersfield Ready Track - Eddie Sims Collection - used with permission.

Here, SP 2601 one of the early 'Harriman' 2-8-0s with a whale-back tender sits awaiting her crew on the north Ready Track Lead from the turntable.  This lead extended to the east of the roundhouse complex into the Haley St. Yard lead along the north side of the yard.  Engines ready for service would wait here for the crew to come on-duty and final servicing was finished up before moving into the yard to fetch the train.
The SP 2601 didn't last too long, retired in 1949, as I recall.  It was probably being used mostly as a switcher in the yards or close by in local service by this photo after June 1946.

Other Roundhouse Operations 

Servicing Diesels

Here we see the PSS/OCM arriving with two sets of four F-units, the 4185 called as a helper and two "Decks" ready to go west.

In the photo above we see the PSS or OCM arriving, running up Track 22, to Track 1 and then being 'Yarded" down into Track 3.  "Ready A" and "Ready B" each have a 4-unit set of F-units receiving light servicing before returning to LA.  During the first few years of diesel operations at Bakersfield the F-units worked an LA-Bakersfield-LA cycle, only receiving a quick wipe down of the windows and possibly a topping off of the fuel tank with a hose if needed.  This light work only took about an hour and didn't require any pits for inspections.  The regular inspections and work were handed at the "Home" shop in LA.

Lumber Shed (Yellow) and Carpenter's Shop (Red) as viewed from the North-East. (Lumber Shed will be painted Red too)

The diesel work wasn't done at Bakersfield from 1948-about 1958 when the SP tore down the Carpenter's Shop and replaced it with a small diesel fueling and servicing rack, with the demise of the SP steam operations in the San Joaquin Valley Division.

Freight Yard Operations

SP 2850 leads a local with a block of SP stock cars through the San Joaquin Valley.

The primary operations in Bakersfield were changing engines on the railroads heavy freight traffic as it made the transition from the mostly flat San Joaquin Valley (Bakersfield Sub Division) territory to the heavy grades of the Tehachapi Sub Division with 2.2% grades climbing from 300 feet at Bakersfield to 4000 feet at Summit.

Engines on the Mountain
SP 6202 pulls No.51, the San Joaquin Daylight, through Caliente in late 1953.

The SP's F-units were mostly used as the road engines on the Tehachapi Sub. after about 1950-51, replacing the heavy AC-type "Cab-forwards".  The AC's remained in regular helper service until March-June 1953 with the arrival of the 5294-5307 series of RSD-5s.

Some of the SP's F-units were delivered for dual-service with steam generators in the B-units and water tanks in the A-units, these units were often seen working as heavy mountain territory passenger engines.  They started being used over Tehachapi on passenger trains such as the West Coast and Owl around 1952, and eventually taking over the San Joaquin Daylight for a time in late 1953, before the ALCo PA's arrived in numbers.

The 1949-1953 era is really the last 'longer' era not seeing the phasing in and out of engine types very quickly on the Tehachapi Pass.  The F-units in freight service on Tehachapi only lasted until 1954 when the 44 new 5440-series SD9s were delivered and bumped the F-units to other Divisions.  This was the beginning of the fast changes to the SP engine fleet which lasted well into the 1960s, changing every couple of years, modeling this era is very hard because of these rapid changes.

Engines in the Valley
SP 3666, "Deck" serviced and pointed westward, ready to back down to her next assignment.

During the early 1950's SP used SP-type (4-10-2s) "Stuttering Decks" and F-type (2-10-2s) "Decks" as the heavy engines on the Bakersfield Sub. of the San Joaquin Division.

The SP 5038 and a "Deck" bring a heavy freight down Track 22 past the station at Bakersfield - November 2017.

Heavy trains on the model railroad don't scale as well, so often two engines are needed for 60-70 car trains in the Valley.

T&NO 910 prepares to take an NCP westward to Fresno with a couple of stock cars on the headend.

During the post-war years, SP transfered most of the F-5 class engines to the Texas & New Orleans subsidiary.  A few came back to the Pacific Lines in the early 1950s, T&NO 910 was one such engine, which actually kept its T&NO number for about a year, during that time it worked out of Bakersfield.

Engines in Local Assignments
The switching and local jobs keep the SP's small engines busy.  The wide variety of 2-8-0 "Hogs", 2-6-0 "Valley Malleys", and 0-6-0s, along with a scattering of S-2 Alco diesels and a few other diesel switchers cover most of the smaller jobs.  The SP's last 4-8-0, the SP 2914 TW-8 class, was kept working into the mid-1950s out of Bakersfield on the Taft and Sunset Railway Locals.

SP 1774 works in Bakersfield on Track 25 next to the Carpenter's Shop building.

The various locals worked out of Bakersfield up the San Joaquin Valley and on the various branches that radiated off the mainline between Bakersfield and Fresno.  Engines like SP 1774 (above) often kept their train indicators slated with three blank numbers, so it was easy to drop in the freight schedule number when they're called to work on the road west of Bakersfield.

It is interesting that the 1774 is on Track 25, not the Back Track in this photo.  This might suggest that it's drilling on Track 25 working the 70's yard before taking a 3rd class scheduled freight train west up the valley.  Alternately, perhaps a Valley Shorts or Hauler for the towns along the way.  Another possibly is that the crew will be working completely within yard limits and not need the indicators at all.

Local & Switching Operations

SP 2827 heads a string of reefers, probably on a run to drop off at various sheds up the valley. - Eddie Sims Collection

Above we see SP 2827 leading a string of reefers out past the Station on the Main Track.  This could be a "Valley Shorts" train which would go out and drop reefers off and then either run on up to Fresno or turn and come back as one of the "Haulers" with loaded reefers to send east on an SJ-Block via Los Angeles and Colton on a C-Block to the eastern markets.

SP 2850 brings in a short string of SP GS-drop bottom gondolas with SP 973 as the caboose.

It should also be remembered that the Oil City Branch and Edison packing shed district were inside the "Yard Switching Agreement" which meant that yard crews would work these jobs instead of road crews.  The Oil City Switcher was assigned an old coach in 1954, the SP 973, which I talk about in SP Cabooses (Part 1) - Ex-Coaches.

Yard Work - City Switcher
The City job works all the industries around the Bakersfield area, which number about a dozen, some of which can take 6-12 cars each.  This includes the Car Shop, where bad-order cars are fixed and various other repairs are made.  Company materials to the various storehouses as well as commercial customers are served.

One of the SP yard jobs is the City Switcher, which works the SP and ATSF freight houses.

Currently the SP's final Freight House track work area isn't finished and the ATSF's Freight House had to be compressed down to about 10% of its scale size.  The result is that we've moved our freight operations over to a prototypically unused building during the early 1950s, the Kern Land Warehouse, which offers 7-doors and until the future SP Freight house is serviceable a second track for through-loading of freight forwarder loads both in and out from Bakersfield.  The freight houses are a major traffic flow for Bakersfield's locals because of all the merchandise coming into the consumer markets from the manufacturing east coast. - Remember the industrialization of the west coast was just beginning in the early 1950s.

The SP 6102, a set-out Storage Mail Car from the various night mail trains sits at Bakersfield's Mail Dock track.

The City Switcher job also works the express and mail cars, and also the express perishable work around Bakersfield.  I talk about this more in the SP 6102 - Storage Mail Car post.

During expected low work shift times of the day or week, the City job can be cut off and the regular yard job will do whatever work is needed.  This also applies to the Oil City switch job and Edison packing shed work.

'Going for the Quit'

I always find it fun and somewhat amazing how the art of "Ferro-Industrial Anthropology" works out in practice when you build a scale model (with minimal compression) and then start using it to the best of the research as you can get, how accurate the "simple answers" work out to be the "historically accurate" ones too.  The Bakersfield Yard complex discussed above is missing only one or two crossovers, which are semi-redundant, but the basic functions and flows works very close to what photos and discussions with the men that worked the yard experienced there.  - Even down to the caboose tracks... but that's a blog for another time!

One of SP's Articulated Chair cars brings up the marker on the San Joaquin Daylight this day departing Bakersfield.

I hope that everyone has enjoyed this blog post talking about operations within a larger modeled terminal area complex.  I'll probably expand on this with other more detailed posts about other aspects.

Jason Hill

Related Article Links:

A Trip Over Tehacahpi on the SCX-BI

Modeling an SPMW Supply Train

Modeling SP Cabooses (Part 1) - Ex-Coaches

SP 6102 - Kitbashing an RPO from MDC/Athearn Parts

Modeling Mail Trains - SP Nos 55 & 56 - the Tehachapi Mail