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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles


Date: 01/27/21 16:22
Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: Zephyr

Most, if not all, of the former SPRR Los Angeles Division employees remember Dayton Avenue Tower located at the east end of Taylor Yard directly under the Pasadena Freeway adjacent to the Los Angeles River.  Dayton controlled all signals and power switches between Mission Tower at the throat of the leads to/from LAUPT and Mainline Tower, located between Taylor Yards A-Yard and C-Yard.  It also controlled all switches and signals governing movements over the LA River into the old Bull Ring/Cornfield/Links Yards as well as the Santa Fe interchange tracks, referred to as Downey 1 or Downey 2. Dayton was a pistol grip type facility for signals and switches but also had a small CTC type board that controlled the mainline and A Yard 1/C Yard 1 signals and switches at Mainline Tower.  I've attached a diagram of the plant, minus the Mainline Tower portion.  The name Mainline Tower was kind of a misnomer, because it had no control over anything on the mainline, rather its primary function was to communicate which track an inbound train was to enter from the mainline.  There was a large tote board on top of the Mainline Tower that would be lighted by the herder in the tower, indicating which track a particular train would enter.  The Mainline Tower herder would communicate with the Dayton Tower operator when the yard was ready to handle an inbound train.  Dayton would then line the train into A-Yard (which was generally the receiving yard at Taylor Yard) while the Mainline Tower herder lined the yard switches for the train entering the yard. Most eastbound trains originating Taylor Yard departed from the C-Yard, the east end of which was located adjacent to Dayton Tower. Dayton Tower could get very busy at certain times of the day. The low end C-Yard Yardmaster shared a portion of the tower on the west side and had an unobstructed view of C-Yard.  I remember one second shift working Dayton Tower when there three simultaneous movements occurring on the two main tracks and across the river toward the Bull Ring. The Yardmaster instructed me to flag a set of power by an interlocking signal so it could get by a switch to a track where its train was made up.  With so many moves occurring at once, I refused as I did not believe it was a safe move given the set of power would have come dangerously close to the conflicting movement going across the LA River.  There was a loud flurry of swear words telling me what to do again.  I stood my ground.  The Yardmaster informed me he was going to turn me in to the officer on duty, which he did.  The lite set of power was delayed maybe 15 minutes before it was able to couple to its train.  Next thing I know, the officer who was known as "Shiny Shoes -----" stormed into the tower and demanded to know why I was insubordinate.  I explained to "Shiny Shoes" that I did not believe it was a safe move so therefore I refused to follow the Yardmaster's instructions.  I told "Shiny Shoes" that if he wanted me to make moves like that he would need to put it in writing and sign it so that I have the instructions from management to violate safe procedures.  That kind of ended the discussion.  Life went on as normal at Dayton Tower from that point on, even though the Yardmaster didn't particularly care for me!  The Dayton Ave. Tower building still exists, although not in its original location.  It's located very near to where the old Mainline Tower was located, now adjacent to new housing units on the old property of Taylor Yard.  

Pete
Clio, California
 




Date: 01/27/21 17:12
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: stanhunter

Fascinating!  Great diagram of the plant.  Got to go up in the tower once when nosing around Taylor Yard in the late 1970s.

What are the functions/orientations of signals 49 and 54, in the upper right, with long arrows in both directions, on either side of the main heading down the east side of the river?

Stan Hunter
Fair Oaks, CA



Date: 01/27/21 17:18
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: CCDeWeese

Lock levers?
 



Date: 01/27/21 20:21
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: ExSPCondr

stanhunter Wrote:


> What are the functions/orientations of signals 49
> and 54, in the upper right, with long arrows in
> both directions, on either side of the main
> heading down the east side of the river?
>
> Stan Hunter
> Fair Oaks, CA

There are three signal bridges between Mission and Dayton with automatic signals on 5 of the 6 positions.  With with 49 and 54 in normal position, current of traffic kept to the right.  To run against the current, either 49 or 54 had to be reversed.  The one signal on bridge 4 that was an "absolute," governed the entrance to the UP Pasadena Branch.
G



Date: 01/28/21 04:31
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: engineerinvirginia

ExSPCondr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> stanhunter Wrote:
>
>
> > What are the functions/orientations of signals
> 49
> > and 54, in the upper right, with long arrows in
> > both directions, on either side of the main
> > heading down the east side of the river?
> >
> > Stan Hunter
> > Fair Oaks, CA
>
> There are three signal bridges between Mission and
> Dayton with automatic signals on 5 of the 6
> positions.  With with 49 and 54 in normal
> position, current of traffic kept to the right. 
> To run against the current, either 49 or 54 had to
> be reversed.  The one signal on bridge 4 that was
> an "absolute," governed the entrance to the UP
> Pasadena Branch.
> G

It's a curious contrast how an operator or disptacher is looking at the board thinking of how it affects the field....whereas we in the field know our territory by track numbers and signal names......in the tower, everything is numbered.....for example....I need to run against the current starting at CP whatever....all I know is the switch there has to be reversed to give me access to the track and possibly a restricting signal to confirm the route (not necassarily the track beyond) is available.....but the operator has many levers to pull and push.....



Date: 01/28/21 05:58
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: 3rdswitch

Remember it well. Working one of the Santa Fe transfer jobs, was held in Downey one for ten hours, dying on the law making only the six or so miles from Hobart Yard.
JB



Date: 01/28/21 09:51
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: 90mac

Last time I was in Dayton Tower was probably 1984.
I was visiting John Schwitzner after SP closed Burbank Junction tower and John bumped into Dayton Interlocker.
That was the last time I saw John and inside Dayton.

TAH

Posted from Android



Date: 01/28/21 10:33
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: TAW

engineerinvirginia Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> It's a curious contrast how an operator or
> disptacher is looking at the board thinking of how
> it affects the field....whereas we in the field
> know our territory by track numbers and signal
> names......in the tower, everything is
> numbered.....for example....I need to run against
> the current starting at CP whatever....all I know
> is the switch there has to be reversed to give me
> access to the track and possibly a restricting
> signal to confirm the route (not necassarily the
> track beyond) is available.....but the operator
> has many levers to pull and push.....

B&OCT procedure was when arriving at a new to you tower to go to work, walk the entire plant, learning where all the switches and signals were and what tracks they led to/from. That was so that the switches and signals weren't just numbers in your mind, they were real things.

In the tower there was a manipulation chart: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeff_lemke/16154567664

That gives the to and from and in what order to pull the levers. The term in the machine means the normal position (pistol grip or mechanical levers pushed back). The manipulation chart assumes that you're starting with all the levers in the machine. After a while, you learn to associate switches and signals rather than using the chart. When you've made that association, you don't need to start with all the levers in the machine, if part of the route is needed for the next move, you learn to just leave those switches out of the machine, etc. Of course, that is contingent on the first step of having the actual railroad outside clearly in mind.

After a while more, you learn by repitition what the numbers are without looking at the model board. At that point, you can literally make lineups by feel. At night, we usually worked with the lights out except a desk lamp, so we could see out better.

TAW



Date: 01/28/21 15:09
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: Shafty

At Hobart Tower it did not take very long to memorize the correct order in which to pull the levers.  We had plenty of practice.   

The levers would come out halfway and stop.  After the switch lined itself correctly, we could hear a click and then we could pull the lever out all the way and go the next lever in the sequence.  If we did not hear the click the lever would not come out all the way, and we had a problem.  We had two, and only two, extra fuses available.  When they both blew, we had a problem for sure.  Call the maintainer, go out and roll the switch by hand.  One of the fellows brought along his own fuses, unfortunately the wrong size, and burned out a switch motor. 

As mentioned above, we used only the desk lamp at night.  So the tower was not obvious.  The company across the street left their pallets out in the open.  That was an invitation to thieves.   One time when a double stack ATSF train was going by I could see the top of a truck going back and forth across 26th St.  I could not figure out what was going on.  When the train cleared, the driver was using the back end of the truck to batter and bulldoze his way through the gate. 

I called the Vernon police several times and had to testify at pretrial hearings twice.  I had to identify myself, my employer, and my duties.  One time the judge stopped everything and went off the record.  Whereupon he asked me if I was the one making a mess of the traffic along Downey Road and Bandini Blvd.  I said that was indeed me, and I would have to plead guilty.  Everyone laughed, and after a few more questions the judge went back on the record and continued the hearing. 

Stealing the pallets was out in the open, but the ATSF had a shed back in the nearby bushes.  That was dangerous since a ATSF employee would drive in there and meet the thieves face to face.  I called the police and they caught some burglars there. 

I mentioned to my fellow employees when I had called the police, so they could keep an eye out for any suspicious characters. 

Eugene Crowner



Date: 01/28/21 23:44
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: mapboy

I remember the crews approaching Dayton Tower from Mission Tower and when asked for location, said, "We're at the jail."

mapboy



Date: 01/29/21 06:47
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: cewherry

Which was a reference to the Lincoln Heights jail located at signal bridge #6. In today’s parlance, a CP-control point.
Spent many an hour, while waiting for track room ahead, watching the detainees being unloaded and marched up
a ramp for further handling.

Charlie



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/29/21 10:13 by cewherry.



Date: 01/29/21 18:36
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: cewherry

Here's the tower today as provided Google:

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0942551,-118.2305998,3a,21.4y,191h,96.97t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sl83SFp4fhyQY1Y33kQ4nxA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

This view shows the door--without the stairway--leading to the office of the 'LE-C' yardmaster (Lower End 'C' yard) and tower operator's area beyond.  

In service, the words "Dayton Ave. Signal Tower" were painted beneath "Southern Pacific" which was likewise painted beneath
the bank of windows on the left side of the tower. Both are missing in this Google view.

Charlie



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/29/21 21:44 by cewherry.



Date: 01/30/21 06:36
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: SanJoaquinEngr

There was a character that worked Dayton on the midnight shift by the name of Herbert Q. Lube. Not sure of the spelling of his last name. His nickname was pillow head. He had a pillow on the controller and would nap in between movements. He would sleep pretty soundly and it required many radio calls to wake him up.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/30/21 10:24
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: Zephyr

Yes, SanJoaquinEngineer, Herbie Lube was quite the character! I broke in with him in my training to become qualified at Dayton. Actually a really nice guy, but had his priorities straight about sleeping!



Date: 02/04/21 16:54
Re: Remembering SPRR Dayton Ave. Interlocking Tower Los Angeles
Author: ExSPCondr

Pete and SJ Engr sure have it right about Herbie Lube!  I worked the Low End of C Yard yardmaster's job on the afternoon shift for over a year, before going on the Ydm extra board for the money.  

Herbie was a 'minute man,' always arriving about five minutes late,  however he wanted to be relieved on time. Yardmasters shift change was at 730, 330, & 1130, while the tower operators changed at 759, 359, & 1159.  This meant that the midnight yardmaster worked with the afternoon towerman for a half hour until relief arrived, or in Herbie's case, 35 or 40 minutes.
 
Herbie had the chance to make it all up to the afternoon man when daylight savings time ended, and he forgot to change his alarm clock.  He showed up in his mustang at 1105pm, and when he found out he was an hour early,  instead of telling the afternoon man to go home and enjoy, he stormed out, got in the mustang, and drove the 20 minutes home.   Went inside for 20 minutes, came out to make the 20 minute drive back, and showed up five minutes late!

Wow, the 50 year old names, apparently I never yardmastered next to either Pete or Doc Jones at Dayton, and didn't meet Pete until we were both ATMs at C of I.

A question, do you gentlemen know Tim Simon?  He had been hired as a clerk about two  months, and had two break in days at Dayton before a Friday afternoon when the regular afternoon man laid off,  The chief clerk, or whoever handled the extraboad took a look at his rested people, and the only person he had who had ever been to Dayton was Tim, so he sent him.  I'm downstairs with switch lists for my crews when Tim comes to work, so we didn't talk until later.  The yardmaster's and clerk's side of the tower was separated by a glass wall, so the yardmaster had a button on his intercom console for the tower side.  With a switch clicked, the ydm could hear the selected area, and stepped on a pedal to talk.  About 5pm I pushed the button for the tower and asked for a switch move through the plant, which was the only lead we had.  I didn't get an answer, so I said again, Tim, how about a switch move?  Still no answer, so I turned around to see why I wasn't getting an answer.

Tim was standing there looking left to right at the model board which had every light but one lit!  Both main lines are blocked between Mission and Dayton, there are trains on both mains between Dayton and the Mainline Tower, and #98 is due in just over an hour.  Fortunately the operator at Mission knew what the last three trains the day man had sent up the West Main were, and he knew what he was holding on the East Main for the UP and the SP dispatchers.  The AGYM and Desk yardmasters had the same intercom system as the Low end Ydm, so I told them that I would be on the tower side, and to talk to me over there.  That is when Tim told me he only had two days training on the day shift, and that he had told the chief he was not qualified, and the chief told him he didn't have anybody else, so "just go and do the best you can."  Afternoons were the busiest shift, and Friday was the worst day of the week.

The day towrman (Remember Martin Keleher Doc?) had run a Westbound hump train up the Eastbound Main because of crowding, and I was able to get the Hump to take it in fairly quickly, and once Mission knew we needed the two trains on the Eastbound track moved to clear a track for #98 to get to LAUPT, he started pushing the SP and UP dispatchers to take the two trains.  Apparently Mission had told Martin that he was holding a local from the harbor at the 1st switch at Mission because of the SP's congestion, and the UP dispr didn't like single tracking, and wasn't going to take an outbound SP until the SP took that inbound.

The afternoon LA Junction Hauler yard job had to go via the West Main in the Bullring to get to Mission, but at least I could keep my switching lead lined up across the Midway bridge most of the time.

After his baptism by fire, Tim picked it up pretty quick, and went on to become a dispatcher.
G



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