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Nostalgia & History > SP Overnite


Date: 04/01/06 09:20
SP Overnite
Author: chichi41

Can anyone provide a history of this service and/or post some photos of the equipment marked for it. I have heard about it, but never recall seeing much said about on this board.
TIA,
Ron W



Date: 04/01/06 10:16
Re: SP Overnite
Author: spnudge

They even had a few hacks painted up in silver.

Nudge



Date: 04/01/06 11:27
Re: SP Overnite
Author: mdo

Here is one of those cabooses at 4th and Berry Streets in SF, ca. 1958 - 1960




Date: 04/01/06 13:34
Re: SP Overnite
Author: dmaffei

A photobob blue light special:
http://www.snowcrest.net/photobob/spcc17.html



Date: 04/01/06 13:38
Re: SP Overnite
Author: WAF

371/372, the Advance Coast Merchandise and 373/374, the Coast Merchandise had them as cabooses.



Date: 04/01/06 16:18
Re: SP Overnite
Author: 4merroad4man

Taken from a variety of sources, some info sketchy.

Coast Merchandise West and Coast Merchandise East were the official names and symbols (CME and CMW) for Southern Pacific's Bay Area-Los Angeles lcl trains.
These trains ran at near-passenger train speeds or better, rating fast Mt-class 4-8-2's or GS-class 4-8-4's in steam days. In diesel years, "The Zipper" got solid sets of F7's, SD9's, RSD12's and RSD15's. Later power was anything the SP could throw on the train, from SD9's to GP35's to SD45's and Tunnel Motors.
The CME, operating a couple of hours ahead of No. 75, The Lark was carded for a daily except Saturday and Sunday departure out of San Francisco at varying times during its career, mostly in the 7:05PM range. The CMW had a similar schedule and relation to the westbound Lark. It made connections with the Little Zipper out of Oakland and then, with the Lark closing the gap, the race to LA was on. San Francisco departures ended sometime in the early 70's, with the train's principle northern terminal shifted to Oakland.
The CMW/CME were known to the public as The Overnites, with specially painted boxcars carrying the SP name and the Overnight logo, an arrow speeding through a full moon.
Even the cabooses assigned to these trains were painted to advertise the fast nature of the run.
Some older heads remember the Oakland connections off the CMW as The Steel Wheels, or the Little Zipper. The train frequently handled lcl and fresh fruit.
The CME/CMW were also known as The Zippers, and in the days of MDO, Topper and others on this board, a "Zipper Change" meant one thing: a fast, no-nonsense crew change.
In the early 70's the CME/CMW monikers were replaced with the LAOAT/OALAT symbols, but the trains were still referred to as "The Zipper". Later incarnations were the BALAT, LABAT and still others.
If anyone cares to add or correct, feel free.



Date: 04/01/06 16:32
Re: SP Overnite
Author: WAF

You got it in a nut shell. The decline of the Zipper began in 1970 when the train begain orginating in Oakland instead of SF. It began picking up autos in warm Springs about 1974, forcing dispatchers to annual its schedule between Elmhurst and Santa Clara and operating it extra via Niles Tower. By 1976 or so 374's schedule was done off the timecard between Oakland and Santa Clara and it just operated extra every night to Warm Springs and onto San Jose. The train was further downgraded by 1977 and the schedule came off the timecard completely between San Jose and Burbank Jct, just operating as an extra.In 1980, it became the OALAC and in 1981, the BALAT. The OALAT symbol stayed around, but was an overflow train with mostly empty equipment going back to LA.

373 died an earlier death by 1975, it's traffic riding on the LAOAF or WCOAF (which ever it was, it switched back and forth). In 1980 became the LAOAC and later in 1981, the LABAT. There was more w/b intermodal traffic than east so the symbol later changed to a few others.



Date: 04/01/06 17:03
Re: SP Overnite
Author: Steamjocky

My Western Division timetable #270 dated April 26, 1959, shows the Oakland CME, #336, departing West Oakland daily except Fri, Sat, and Sun. at 610pm and arriving San Jose at 720pm. I don't have the Coast Division timetable to follow the schedule to LA.

It also shows the Oakland CMW, #335, departing Santa Clara daily except Sat. and Sun., and Mon. at 510am. No departure time is shown for San Jose.

The timetable also shows a Pacific Coast Expediter, #378, departing Oakland (16th Street) at 1035pm and arriving at Sacramento at 1245am. Even though it also ran on a first class schedule I assume it wasn't quite as hot as #335/#336 but that is just an assumption on my part.

Los Angeles Division timetable #230, dated April 24, 1966, shows first class train #371 (Advance CMW) going by Dayton Tower at 430pm daily except Fri., Sat., and Sun. and arriving San Luis Obispo at 1020pm with a scheduled meet at Callender with it's counter part, #372, at 947pm and a schedule dmeet with #98 at Hewitt at 529pm. That's less than 6 hours running time between the two points named. Can Amtrak make that kind of running time? #99 did it in 4 hours and 25 minutes.

Train #373 (CMW) by Dayton Tower at 510pm and arriving at San Luis Obispo at 1103pm.

There is also a first class schedule for the Advance CME, #372 and the CME, #374.

I never realized the SP ran that many first class scheduled freight trains. Boy, things sure did change by the time I hired out. I don't think there were any on the LA Division but there were some up the coast and up the valley.

JDE



Date: 04/01/06 20:48
Re: SP Overnite
Author: agentatascadero

The Lark ran 7 days/week, and departed each terminal at 9PM.



Date: 04/02/06 06:39
Re: SP Overnite
Author: 4merroad4man

Yeah, I was worried about the way my statement appeared. The Lark ran 24/7 but as I tried to say, the Zipper did not.



Date: 04/02/06 13:24
Re: SP Overnite
Author: topper

According to Signor's "Coast Line" book, the trains were first established in 1935 and were discontinued in 1942 due to the war. During this first incarnation they ran as sections of regularly scheduled passenger trains.

The trains were reestablished in 1946 and given their own schedules as First Class Trains #373 and 374. For their entire careers, they often ran as a section of the "Lark" when their actual time on any given day was more closely to that train than that of their own schedule.

TOFC service was introduced in 1953, and as business increased the "Advance" trains were established in 1955 as #371 and 372. I can't find a discontinuance date for these two trains, but they last time I recall seeing them operate was probably around 1968. Towards the end, they didn't operate every day; on the days they didn't, they would be annulled by train order.

Numbers 335 and 336 were the numbers given to the connecting service than ran between Oakland and San Jose. 335 disappeared from the timetable first and then operated as an extra, but 336 lasted into the early Seventies. Even after it lost its timetable status and ran as an extra, crews often referred to it as "336."

Once the Bay Area terminal was shifted from Mission Bay to West Oakland, 373 and 374 would usually operate Cab Hop between San Jose and the City using the LA power (which gyrated between consists of 8 - 10 F units or 4 -5 GP35s/U25Bs).

Pre-war box cars assigned to the train included those from SP's fleet of express boxes and a group of steel-sheathed box cars that were painted black with orange trim. "Overnight" was not painted on these cars.

When the train was reestablished in 1946, SP assigned a group of 450 new box cars to it. They were painted black and had a red and yellow "Overnight" insignia with an arrow.

After TOFC service was introduced in 1953 the assigned box cars received a solid silver paint job with black and red lettering that included the word "Overnight" in large lettering. As LCL service decreased these cars entered the general box car pool without being repainted, and they were quite common around the SP during the Sixties. Apparently a large number of them were assigned for rice loading on the T&L Lines, as I vividly remember seeing a lot of then stenciled as such. I don't recall seeing any after about 1976 or so.

To coincide with the start of TOFC service, SP repainted a small group of cupola cabooses for assigned service on these trains. The following are known to have been so painted: 1031, 1069, 1076, 1096, 1097, 1147, 1181 and 1201. They would eventually be replaced with bay window cabooses from the regular caboose pool, a few of which had "Trailer-On-Flat-Car Service" stenciled on their sides.

378 that Steamjocky mentions was the scheduled West Oakland to Portland TOFC train. It stayed in the timetable until the mid-1970s, although by then it wasn't just TOFC. There had been a southbound counterpart, #377, but it disappeared from the timetable before its northward mate.

I would seriously doubt that Alco RSD-12s or RSD-15s, as mentioned in another post, were ever used on these trains, and I doubt that SD9s were on a regular basis. Initially, the trains were assigned 4 - 5 GP9s, which were eventually integrated with various F units and occasional RS-11s. It's said that Alco's RS-27 demonstrators made at least one round trip, and the GP20 and SD24 demonstrators might've, too. SP regularly used its GP20s and RS-32s on the trains when they were new, before going to mostly GP35/U25B consists. Then by the mid-1960s, 8 to 10-unit consists of passenger Fs appeared. I have very vivid memories of 10 F units on 373 coming to an "abrupt" (i.e., emergency) stop on the westward track at the east end of the Glendale station platform when the train encountered a passenger train stopped on the eastward track. The real show began after the passenger train departed and 373 "blasted off." Watching and listening to the engineer notch out to Run 8 was something not easily forgotten! By the time the caboose flew by, they were back up to track speed (which was 50, as I recall).



Date: 04/02/06 17:18
Re: SP Overnite
Author: 4merroad4man

Actually, I can remember seeing RSD15's on the CMW and old heads at LA once reminisced about RSD12's being used on the train. The SD9's I mentioned were seen with some regularity during 63-64.



Date: 04/03/06 00:36
Re: SP Overnite
Author: topper

4merroad4man Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Actually, I can remember seeing RSD15's on the CMW
> and old heads at LA once reminisced about RSD12's
> being used on the train. The SD9's I mentioned
> were seen with some regularity during 63-64.

Well... OK.

When were they running the Alcos on the train?



Date: 04/03/06 02:03
Re: SP Overnite
Author: JohnSweetser

Topper wrote (based on info in John Signor's "Southern Pacific's Coast Line") that the Overnights ran as sections of regulary-scheduled passenger trains during the period 1935 to 1942.

However, pg. 284 of Signor & Thompson's "Southern Pacific's Coast Line Pictorial" has a photo that was taken no later than 1941 showing a locomotive on the Overnight displaying the train's own number of 374 (which was also the number used after the Overnight was restored to operation in 1946 following World War II). While the caption stated the photo was taken in 1945, the fact that the number boards are at the front of the engine indicates a pre-1942 photo (in 1941, number boards on GS-2s and GS-3s were moved to the middle of the engines).

Pages 10-25 of the August 1950 issue of Railroad magazine had an article about the Overnight.



Date: 04/03/06 03:12
Re: SP Overnite
Author: topper

JohnSweetser Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> However, pg. 284 of Signor & Thompson's "Southern
> Pacific's Coast Line Pictorial" has a photo that
> was taken no later than 1941 showing a locomotive
> on the Overnight displaying the train's own number
> of 374 (which was also the number used after the
> Overnight was restored to operation in 1946
> following World War II). While the caption stated
> the photo was taken in 1945, the fact that the
> number boards are at the front of the engine
> indicates a pre-1942 photo (in 1941, number boards
> on GS-2s and GS-3s were moved to the middle of the
> engines).

There's also a photo on page 260 of the CME at West Glendale captioned September 1939. "374" is displayed in the indicators.



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