Facebook Page
Old Time Trains

CPR Facilities

Drake Street Roundhouse

7042 and 7117 sitting on the north service track just outside my office/enginemans
booking in room and leading to the turntable out of the picture to the right.
Andy Cassidy was working the 16-24 shift as the Assistant Locomotive Foreman at the time.

7118 was the last MLW S4. It was purchased in 1953. A decent running unit as I recall.






MLW S4's 7109 & 7114 on number 7& 8 pits in the roundhouse. You can see the punch clock in the background to the left.
The closed fire door leads to the Diesel Shop portion of the Roundhouse, pits 10 through 12.
Those fluorescent light fixtures sure made a BIG difference working in this place. They were surplus fixtures we got from
the old CP Station on the other side of downtown. It used to be so depressing working in that dimly lit roundhouse at night.


These things were huge! 12-3/4” Bore, and the stroke was 15-1/2”.
Slightly larger than the MLW 539 engines.

Injector test stand we had setup on the bench in the Diesel Shop portion of the roundhouse.
I think it was the most high tech thing we had there at the time.

These three shots are of the Compressor Room and the equipment therein. This Canadian Ingersol Rand compressor ran flawlessly for years. It had a 100 HP GE synchronous motor operating it. When this thing was pumping you could hear it all around the shop. Never ran low on air that I can remember. As opposed to the same compressor that was in place at Coquitlam but run by a 100 HP Westinghouse Motor that was constantly giving trouble. I chalked this up to the physical size difference between the two motors. The GE was considerably larger in every aspect. So I guess the Westinghouse Engineers figured cheaper = better, but that was not the case. In any event, this particular machine ended up with a second career for many years after at the BC Rail Steam Shop where the Royal Hudson, CP 2860, was maintained till the BC government shut down the operation a number of years ago. Not sure where it is now.?

100 HP syncronous motor for air compressor..

Air compressor control panel.

Boiler room. East side of boiler facing south wall at duplex oil pumps and chart panel.

Fuel injector and atomizer.

Basement condensate recovery tank and coal escalator.

Basement ash cleanouts and blowdown tank.

Boiler room feedwater tank.

These two photos (above and below) are the Steam Powered Duplex Pumps used to supply Bunker-C to the boiler. Prior to using bunker, the boiler used coal as fuel, but that was before my time there. In any event, bunker was supplied to us by tank car. Only one was in place at a time, and that was placed in the #1 stall of the roundhouse. Steam was connected to the car to heat the oil so it could be pumped, otherwise it is just black tar. (When cold out it was like rock). Once heated up to 170 degrees or so, it was pumped from the car into a storage tank located outside the boiler room, and that tank was also heated by steam. The pumping was accomplished by a larger set of duplex pumps located outside by the tank.

The pumps in these pictures were the same style as those outside, but smaller. They drew oil from the storage tank and fed it under pressure to the boiler where it was atomized with steam at the injector, (as seen in the previous batch of photos). One was constantly making minor adjustments to the steam and oil pressure at the injector to keep the flame clean. The pumps were amazing to watch cycle back and forth, and again they had to be tweaked constantly as well to keep them from hammering. Just a nice smooth flow was ideal. (Too bad I didn’t have a video of all this, but this was before video recorders. One gets spoiled by the electronic age these days.) Small trays were in place below packing seals that collected drips of oil and water as they accumulated, and they were cleaned out twice a shift. The place was spotless!

The Induction fan supplied a forced draft to the boiler. The original stack on the boiler was a good 100 feet high, but the top rotted out and at least ½ was removed for safety reasons. That induction fan played an important roll in keeping the heat moving through the tubes and up the stack. At one point after the stack had been lowered, the heat in the boiler was excessive and the sides bulged out considerably. Not a good situation. That even with about a foot of firebrick lining the walls. Anyways, we had two cats that called the boiler room home. Forget their names now, but one suffered as a result of that induction fan! Not seen in this photo is the other side of this fan. Driven by a 575 volt 3 phase motor, the coupling was normally covered by a guard to protect against the rotating shaft.

These three pictures show the steam powered high pressure air compressor, and the two Weir Feedwater Pumps. (Also shown is a colour picture of a smaller version of the Weir pump just to give a better view of what they look like). The top portion is the “Steam Engine” as it were, and the bottom portion is the actual water pump.

The high pressure air compressor used to bang away every so often, and to be honest I have no idea what the hell it supplied air to.? Maybe the Coach Yard for testing the Air Brakes on the cars. If anybody has an idea, let me know. That’s one of the few things I never did figure out there.

The Weir Feedwater Pumps were the heart of the operation. These things were set up so the packing on the piston rods was tight to the point they would squeal when operating. When they did that everything was good. The thing about boiler rooms, steam engines, and the like, is that a good portion of what you do to ensure things are running properly is to LISTEN. So consequently these pumps spoke to you about what was going on in the boiler. To the uninitiated ear, when they walked into the boiler room it was nothing but noise and heat. Lots of it and loud! Induction fan running. Compressor in the adjacent room banging away constantly. High pressure compressor operating intermittently. The duplex oil pumps running, along with the Weir Feedwater Pumps. And not to mention the fire roaring away in the firebox. Etc. Nobody wore earplugs in those days.

Anyways, once you knew what was going on there, you could actually fall asleep. All the noise was like a tune playing away in sync, and as long as everything was ticking away at the right times and speed it was quite relaxing. Those Feedwater Pumps would change pace based on the steam demand. If a lot of steam was being consumed for some reason, these pumps would pick up to a gallop! There was no sleeping then! You had to keep on top of things to make sure the water level stayed in the safe zone. There were automatic controls installed in the plant, but they worked only so-so, (Except the low water alarm). So it was all pretty much a game of constant tweaking to ensure all was working properly.

The last thing I’ll say about the power plant was that with the exception of the induction fan, the whole place ran on steam. Even if you only had 5 PSI of pressure, it was enough to get all the pumps moving and the fire lit. After a maintenance shutdown when everything was cold, the boiler was started by filling with cold water and staring a fire with compressed air and diesel fuel, which did not need to be hot to pump. Once a minor head of steam was up and the Bunker was hot enough to pump you could switch over to the Bunker-C fuel and steam atomization. Then the real heat was produced, and we’d get up to 100 PSI of steam in no time. That boiler was a 100 HP unit, so was a good size.


Rebuilt Weir feedwater pump.

Oil house interior. We had only the best of accommodations here. A first class building with all the amenities. Like a
floor, walls, leaky roof, and clear windows. Oh, not to mention the resource library of outdated manuals, and complete stock of required hardware in a first class drawer organizer. Man, it was chilly in this place if cold out. Even with the steam pipes hot.
This building was just east of the Foreman's office on the service track. So we were in and out of there all day. At coffee break, one could possibly get in on the local poker game in session.

Above, looking east from inside. You can see old F-M manuals, tattered and long-unused. An open rag bin next to the card table. Also hanging on the right are a number of spare 27 pin MU Jumper Cables. These were primarily for use on the Passenger Power, #1 & 2, that we serviced daily.

Below: Looking west from inside. To the left is the door in. Then our great drawer organizer full of every fitting and bolt you didn't need! Our heating system, and well organized work bench. The vice worked pretty well. Plus the chairs had cushioned seats. I think some prison cells might be better places to hang out. I miss the old place though.


Press we had in the machine shop portion of the roundhouse. It used air to pump water from a reservoir into the press cylinder. You can see the pump on the right side under the red jib hoist there. Primitive, but very effective.

A row of various machines on the East wall of the Machine Shop. The press in the last photo was on the left out of view.

The punch clock. As you can see, I only had five guys working that afternoon. A common practice back then was for a designated guy to punch the cards of all the guys during lunch breaks and on the way out at the end of the shift.
That is until the shop foreman decided to stand watch over the punching at random. Then they all hit the panic button.
They never took statements in those days, but guys used to get docked pay or got a good lecture at least.

The tool room. As you can see, it’s stocked with the most up-to-date equipment… There was a lot of stuff in there, but never anything that you needed it seemed. In earlier days it was tended to by an attendant, but at this time the job was long gone. Along with any sense of organization there.

This shows how primitive we operated. The pic is taken just outside the locker/lunch room area in the machine shop area of the roundhouse. Here you can see our first class washing machine. Better yet is the trough we used to clean up in. That’s the box on the left side, and you can see the stream of ice cold water that continuously flowed. There was no hot water there, and it was tough washing greasy hands and faces there let me tell you!!! My face is still numb from washing up there.
In the background is the big sheet metal roller used for boiler jackets.

Looking north through the Blacksmith area. You can see the Forge and Air Press straight ahead. Some boiler tubes to the right of the Anvil. And a pipe rack on the right. Reminds me of another good story. When I was first an apprentice, one day the Boiler Maker Apprentice Bob Williams calls me over to that rack. Sitting on the rack was a small freshly orange painted gismo that looked like some twisted circus trumpet. Bob tells me that this horn makes a sound that the General Locomotive Foreman of the day, Bill Silver, can’t stand. He says to blow it as hard as I can, then we’ll run like hell! Well, of course I fall for this and give this thing a Big Blow. Next thing I know, my eyes are full of flower, as I didn’t notice the two tubes pointed straight at my eyes amongst this maze of piping. Yelling obscenities, all I hear is the whole shop laughing. They were all hiding in the woodwork. In the mean time I’m running to that trough, described above, to dunk my head in to get that crap out of my eyes. That water was ice cold! I was some ticked off, let me tell you. In the end we all had a good chuckle over it. No hard feelings. Just part of the hazing rituals we all went through in those days.

Looking south towards the lunch room and the locker area.
Again you can see the washing machine and the trough by the support pillar.

Also a B&W shot of the locker & cleanup area. Here again we see the infamous Trough, with ice cold water for cleanup!
The washing machine, and wet floors to boot. All high tech you know!!

The big Brownboggs sheet metal shear we had in the shop. Wouldn’t want my fingers caught in that thing!

Our lunchroom. There is another table behind the pony wall on the left. Paintings are courtesy of the late Albert Derdowski. He was the first guy I worked with when I hired on as a Labourer there. I walked into the lunch room and went to put my lunchbox on the far table, (right side of the door). He was sitting at the spot where I’m taking the picture from against the North wall. He says to me, “If you want to get thrown out of here, leave the box there. Otherwise, come over to this table”.
In those days, there were defined class lines in the shops. A Labourer did not sit at the Tradesmen’s table unless they were invited. If you weren’t invited and you sat there, they’d throw you out the door! So I sat with Albert and he was my mentor from that point on. For some reason he liked me and we got along fine, but others didn’t and they hurled insults like no tomorrow at the poor guy. Of course, he threw back just as many and didn’t accept much guff. Albert started as a Labourer, then worked as a Machinist Helper in the summer vacation season, and eventually worked his way up to Machinist. Like a lot of the others that worked there, he has since passed away. Will always remember him and his antics.

Looking east from the Tinsmith's corner of the machine shop in the roundhouse.

Looking north past the Carpenter's area from the west main door area of the machine shop. You can see Machinist Alex Bondarchuk sitting in the far corner of the shop at the Tinsmith's bench. That’s where the pic above was taken from. I don’t have a good picture of the spot I’m standing at. That is track 6, and it ran right through the roundhouse into the machine shop, and out the west door.

These two photos are ones I had to take, as nobody would believe these were our facilities! These “Turkish”, or squat toilets as we called them, kept guys from wasting time. No sitting around reading newspapers on these thing. On day we had a new machinist working at the shop and he had to go. Well, one of the other fellows goes into the washroom only to find the first guy didn’t understand the concept of these toilets, as he was sitting on the floor with his legs sticking out from under the cubicle door! LOL! I used to go over to the coach yard, as they had conventional sit-down toilets. The only down side to them was they had no privacy. Just a modesty panel between each toilet, and a panel in front. This was so the foreman could walk in and walk the line of toilets to see if anybody was sitting there reading the newspaper. How things have changed.

Blacksmith area of the Machine Shop. Here you can see the press, anvil, and stack of boiler tubes, among other things.

Another view of the machine shop from over in the blacksmiths corner.
Here you can see the forge, press, anvil, jib hoist, and some boiler tubes, among other odds & sodds.

Small self-propelled crane used around the shop for many things.

Looking into the roundhouse from the Machine shop area on Track 6. This track ran right through the roundhouse and machine shop out to the west end. Inside the roundhouse is an S4 71xx I didn’t record the number of, and can’t see in the photo because of the glare off the number box glass. . To the right on track 5 is the Sperry Car.
From where I’m standing, the Blacksmith area is to the right in front of the Blue Chip Crane, and the Machine shop to the left.

North end of the Machine Shop. Here you can see some of the smaller power tools such as bench grinders and the small
drill press. In the foreground are some gear reduction drives and other parts for the Rabbits at the Coquitlam Car Shop.

Big power threader for doing the likes of Stay Bolts, etc.

The big Gilbert Drill Press. This machine was used constantly.

A couple of old pieces of equipment sitting in one corner of the machine shop. That being the base of the wheel jack for the
steam engines, and a portable air compressor. I don't ever recall having that compressor running, but it looked to be complete. That jack MAY have been a spare, as there was one in active use in the roundhouse up until the end.

Locomotive Foreman/Engineers Booking-In-Room building that was east of the roundhouse in the servicing area. Yours truly sitting in the outside office. By this time it was just a glorified sitting area, and if it wasn’t for the phone, I wouldn’t be there. Just to my left was where we had the Yard Unit Scheduling Board, but it was removed and put into the current office of the day which was moved to the old Electrical Foreman’s office west of the roundhouse. Behind me in the picture is the pass-through to the Engineers locker/booking in room. By this time there were none checking in or out.

Here you can see the clock, the clock correction board, and the power assignment board which was out of date by this time as all of the passenger and road switcher assignments were long gone. The clock correction board was very important in the old days, as everybody’s watch had to be precise. So that board indicated any error of the current clock reading, and the Engineers checked that against their own watch.

Scheduling Board mentioned earlier, but at this time it is in the new office. This board showed all the assigned units, locations, dates due inspections, etc. On the far right you can see we had six of the columns assigned to engine compression readings. The only two Baldwins left were the 7070 & 7072. The 7072 was assigned to the Island at this time according to the note.


Back (Use your browser Back button)

Old Time Trains © 2010 2011 2013