|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
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.
|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.|
|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
|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.|
|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.
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