California Zephyr Servicing & Cleaning
Cleaning and Servicing
|Floodlights provide ample lighting for the workers who operate the automatic train washer at
Shortly after arriving in Oakland from her westbound
transcontinental trip from Chicago and the last passenger had
departed the train was pulled into the yard. No time was wasted
after she was divided into two sections, due to track length in the
coach yard, and then pushed through the mechanical washer by a
diesel switcher. Under the glare of lights the road dirt and grime
would pour from her stainless steel sides as they received the full
brunt of a foamy detergent forced from nozzles under high pressure
and scrubbed by revolving brushes. She would then get a clean water
rinse while being pulled back through the washer, the domes being
touched up by hand, and once again rinsed as she moved ahead out of
the washer onto service tracks at the opposite end of the yard.
By the time she would leave the yard the following morning to begin
her eastbound trip she was scrubbed and rubbed, checked and serviced
inside and out. Her glistening appearance demanded the attention of
all who chanced to see her flashing by, and those who would be
aboard would be assured of comfort and enjoyment.
|Jack Lynch, carman, removes oil from
a trucks roller bearings.
Midnight to six a.m. found a flurry of activity taking place. Armed
with an assortment of tools, brushes, and electrical and mechanical
devices especially designed for the purpose, the crews are at their
stations as the cars were spotted over the pits, and the work began
as soon as the wheels stopped rolling. Worn wheels were removed and
replaced with new ones. Carmen, electricians, carpenters, and other
skilled workmen made thorough checks and serviced running gear,
electrical and public address systems, and all other mechanical
facilities so the train would maintain top efficiency and
performance. In addition, the company maintained upholstery repair,
pipe, and electric shops, capable of handling major repairs.
|Coach Cleaner Lee Tolefree, removing ashes from a seat tray, quite a collection is made each
Inside a thorough scrubbing from one end to the other followed.
Carpets, floors, windows, ashtrays, vestibules and steps were
vacuumed, washed, scrubbed, shined, and cleaned. New headrest cloths
were fastened to the seats and any imperfections noted in the
upholstery repaired. Tables in the buffet cars and diner were
cleaned, and the ranges, cooking utensils and storage facilities
returned to their original appearance.
Soiled linen, refuse along with any other garbage that may have been
missed at points along the line was removed from the train for
replacement or disposal. Pullman cleanup crews were busy, too, from
midnight on, replacing bedding, towels, drinking cups and other
articles required by sleeping car passengers. By the time the
outgoing steward and his crew reported the next morning the train
was ready for the stocking of food and the setting of tables.
Provided with a requisition list by the incoming steward the
previous afternoon the Commissary Department assembled and made
ready for loading the next morning all supplies necessary for the
diner and buffet-lounges. Silver that may have been tarnished or in
need of re-plating was sent to a silver smith for repair and any
worn linen, chipped china and glassware was replaced. In addition to
the linen, china, silverware and glassware the requisition list for
the diner and buffet cars consisted of approximately 375 items, all
of which had to be checked prior to departure and replenished as
necessary to a pre-determined level. Extra linen, perishable foods,
meat, etc. could be picked up if necessary en route at Salt Lake
City or Denver and at other points in an emergency. Bottled gas was
replenished and the mechanical refrigeration was also checked for
proper operation. In addition to all this activity unannounced
inspections by the U. S. Public Health agency also occurred on an
irregular basis at least four times a year. During times of high
demand extra linen, perishable foods, meat, and other items would be
picked up at Salt Lake City or Denver.
|James Goodwin, third cook, lends a hand in stocking the diner with a selection of the finest foods.
Arriving at six a.m. the next morning the outgoing steward a full
crew for the diner and two buffet cars consists of a chef
(supervisor of the kitchen), three cooks, a pantryman, six dining
car waiters, three coach porters, buffet cook and two waiters, one
in charge. By the time the train was ready to leave the yard the
crew had put away all the supplies, dining car tables had been set,
fresh flowers put in place, and the car ready for those who may have
wanted a late breakfast on departure from Oakland Pier. Because of
limited space aboard the diner, there was a place for everything and
everything must be in its place.
The steward, in whose charge the diner was operated, kept a
perpetual inventory of supplies and equipment so that when ordering
he knew not only what he wanted, but how much. That inventory also
served as a trip report or journal, recording the number of meals
served and revenue involved. Properly filled out in all detail, the
report was a 20 page book and gave a complete financial and supply
record of that particular trip.
Sixteen pages were needed to record the dining car's supplies, each
page showing aggregate quantity of each commodity on hand, consumed
or needed. Under the heading of meat, poultry and fish, there were
74 various items. Vegetables, from the lowly onion to the lordly
truffle, accounted for 52 entries; fruits covered 32 items. Then
there were 11 standard jams and jellies, 25 different dairy
products, 12 bread entries, 275 individual "dry" groceries, 20
beers, 22 wines, 25 mineral waters, 35 whiskeys, brandies and
cocktails, 10 brands of cigars and 10 kinds of cigarettes. By
keeping this perpetual inventory up to date, the dining car steward
made up a "grocery order" at the end of his run for enough supplies
to bring his kitchen up to standard. A dining car's storeroom thus
resembled a grocery store without a cash register. In addition to
the above, a dining car carried sufficient linen to serve one
thousand guests. Crockery, glassware, silver service and kitchen
equipment that would do justice to any first class hotel dining
room, were all stored within a short space of some 25 feet.
|Clean linen, sparkling silver, water pitchers, and fresh flowers are in place on the dining car
tables before train leaves the yard.
The chef of a WP diner planed his day's meals, and before the first
breakfast order was given, he had luncheon and dinner menus well
along in the process of preparation. In the dining car proper, five
to seven waiters laid the tables with fresh linen, silver and
glasses, filled the water bottles and gave the car that spick and
span look. As the passengers entrained at a station, the dining car
crew watched them and not from mere idle curiosity, either. For from
long years on the same run the good dining car crew studied the
taste of the traveler, so that before the dinner call was sounded,
your own pet dish was often already on the fire, ordered by a waiter
who had served you before. Early on the run a checkup was made of
through passengers so that the chef would know the probable number
of meals he had to prepare.
It always surprised the visitor to a dining car how so much food
could be stowed and prepared in so small a space. The answer was
training. Each cook knew his job thoroughly, and all his materials
were close at hand. Much of the success of a dining car's service
was due to its crew. They must be congenial people who could work
together. After the last meal was served, and the train was nearing
its terminus, all hands turned to cleaning silver and counting linen
to prepare it for the laundry, while the chef and steward checked
the stock and prepared the requisition for supplies.
|Painting the underside of the diesel locomotive is Painter Orval Mayo.
At the terminus, inspectors from the dining car department boarded
the car to take over the stock and supplies still left and prepared
to restock it for its next run. As every member of the crew well
knew, there was far more to a dining car meal than the mere eating.
At eight a.m. the train had been reassembled. All maintenance work
was under the supervision of the district car foreman and the
superintendent of the dining car department. As a last minute check,
an electrician and a pipefitter would ride the train to Oakland Pier
for any last minute adjustments. The last finishing touch, which
gave the train much of its striking, brand-new appearance, took
place as the sleek streamliner would leave the yard for Oakland
Pier. With a painter on each side of the track, the running gear of
the entire train from the nose of the diesel engine to the
observation-lounge car was sprayed with shining silver paint.
Similar activities also occurred at Chicago with the arrival and
departure of each train.