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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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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Jacked: 1942

Jacked: 1942

November 1942. "Chicago, Illinois. Jacking up a car on the repair tracks at an Illinois Central Railroad yard." Someone get the spare out of the trunk? Medium-format negative by Jack Delano, Office of War Information. View full size.

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Trucks and solid axles.

With the solid friction bearing axles as in this pictured truck. The truck needs to be disassembled to replace a wheel set (2 wheels and axle). The paper between the jack and steel body is to reduce slipping of the steel on steel surface.

That Jack

That jack is very similar to the ones my father had stored in his garage. He used a couple to jack up the front and back porches on his house (for long term stability). He called them "house" jacks, and I'm sure they are still doing their jobs 60 years after installation!

That guy has some "get up and go"

Now that's what I call a faith-based initiative!

Wheel taper

Wheel taper is 2 degrees 50 minutes. The taper is designed to keep the flanges off the rail heads and to eliminate hunting. The wheels are pressed onto the axles. This particular car has 33 inch wheels and plain bearings. It would be another 20 years before roller bearings were in widespread use on freight cars.

Tapered wheels

Tapered wheels keep the wheels centered on the rails and allow for the different distances each wheel travels when going around curves since they have a solid connection via the axle to the opposite wheel. In an ideal world the flanges should never touch the rails in reality they do however.

Don't Damage the Finish

We first saw a track jack and Texas toothpick back here. I don't quite understand the padding that seems to be sitting on the business end of the jack.

Not just trucking around

There probably is another jack out of view to the left. He'll be removing the whole truck (both and all 4 wheels). If he was just removing one pair of whhels he'd have to support the truck somehow instead of the frame of the car.


When they told him to go get a Duff he thought they meant Beer.

Treble Memory

I believe both wheels shared a common axe. So to make a change he needs another jack. Quiz time: why were the outer rims tapered?

[That axe never stops sharpening. - Dave]

RIP: 1942

Delano caught it on one of the RIP tracks. Repair In Place.

SHORPY OLD 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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