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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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Brakeman Capsey: 1943

Brakeman Capsey: 1943

March 1943. "Acomita, New Mexico. Brakeman R.E. Capsey repacking a journal box of a special car as the train on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad between Belen and Gallup, New Mexico, waits on a siding." Medium-format negative by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.

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Jordan Spreader ATSF 199234

Found a 1948 picture, although not the best showing 199234 in San Bernardino October 25, 1948 after some modifications.

Jordan Spreader

It's a Jordan Spreader, sort of a rail-mounted road grader.

Originally used to maintain trackside drainage ditches, but in more recent times primarily used for snow clearing, as the wing blades can swing out and clear several tracks at once, or push the snow further from a single track to make room for the next storm. The wing blades were multi-jointed, to grade a ditch contour.

It has old-fashioned arch bar trucks, made illegal since the many bolts+nuts could loosen up and cause a derailment. Probably survived on this spreader because it never left the home railroad in interchange service. The trucks on the adjacent refrigerator car also had bolts, and would eventually be banned also. Modern trucks interlock together like a nail puzzle, with no fasteners needed.

Modern railroad cars and locomotives use roller bearings exclusively, eliminating the need for frequent oil lubrication and messing with the cotton waste that was used as a wick.

Looks like a Jordan Spreader

This is a device with outboard swinging wings to clear ditches or snow along the tracks. Here is a photograph of a model that looks quite similar.

I did this

The summer I was 20, I repacked journal boxes on the wash track at the UP yard in LA. It was dirty work. I always ended up soaked in oil. The packing had to be carefully installed so it covered the entire journal on the bottom. If it didn't it could cause a hotbox. It was a good experience. These days railroad trucks have roller bearings that don't need repacking.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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