Posted on 06-06-2008
Filed Under (Calgary 1960s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades, Uncategorized) by Broken Rail

Ogden Shops History

The CPR was looking for a location to build a repair shop complex in the West. To complement their main shops at Montreal (Angus) and Winnipeg (Weston). Many communities were vying to have the shops built in their community. The CPR finally chose Calgary, as it was close to the mountains and had lots of real estate, southeast of the city. That was flat and an ideal location for the shops and the town that would house many of the employees. The city of Calgary also built a streetcar line to Ogden for employees living in the city. The shops at Ogden were named after a CPR President I. G. Ogden. Construction started on April 1, 1912 and was finished in less than a year in the middle of March 1913. I have some early postcards on the shops, construction.

The Locomotive Shop was the biggest building of the 12 in the complex, it measured 307 feet X 773 feet, taller than the Calgary Tower by over 150 feet it had a total area of 238,864 square feet. And it included the Air Brake, Blacksmith, Boiler, Carpenter, Electrical, Erecting, Machine, Maintenance, Paint, and Sheet Metal Departments. Steam locomotives were rebuilt and overhauled here on tells the last one was out shopped in 1957. By that time, the CPR had completely dieselised their fleet of motive power and Ogden’s Locomotive Shop was converted for rebuilding and overhauling diesel locomotives. This was the era. I worked in when I started there in 1965. When you entered the building from the Northwest corner and walked down the left-hand bay you found the blacksmith department which extended halfway down the shop, there they built and rebuilt locomotive springs, they also repaired and manufactured Maintenance of Way tools, such as crowbars, lining bars, spike pullers, and adzes. They also made railway spikes, track bolts, whistle posts, and other railway signs. They have a large steam hammer that they used for heavy castings. Next, we came to the Pipe Shop one of the smaller departments. It had bins to store the air brake pipes that were stripped from locomotives that were being overhauled. They also add threading machines for cutting threads in iron pipe, and benches with vices for soldering copper air brake pipes. The next department was the Sheet Metal Shop where I worked we had benches to work on light sheet metal with bending machines to make locks for projects we were assembling like toolboxes. There was a table with an acetylene and oxygen flame where soldering irons were heated. One bench was dedicated to the repairing of air filters by braising with an oxygen acetylene torch. These filters came from the doors of the locomotive hatches on diesels with had outside walkways select, and from the louvers of the units that were covered in. We had a big area, where we dismantled radiators and soldered them; we then reassembled them and tested them under air pressure in a big tank of water where we looked for leaks. We had a sheet-metal sheer that would cut a sheet of metal up to 16 gauge and 8 feet long. We had bending breaks that could put a right angle bend on sheet-metal 8 feet long. We also had tools for punching holes, and running beads on circular sheet-metal to form elbows, and other sheet-metal fabrications. The next shop was the Boilermakers department where they worked on heavier metal 1/8 of an inch; they had a hydraulic brake that could bend metal. Up to three quarters of an inch thick. They also had large shears to cut thick metal, and a large punch to put holes in the material being worked. These were old machines that probably date back to the opening of the shops in the steam era. There was also a test rack where 2 steam generators could be rebuilt and tested, the steam generators were used on the passenger diesels to heat the train, as the coaches were still equipped with steam heating pipes and appliances. The next department was the maintenance bench here a couple of Carpenters and Pipefitters worked at maintaining the buildings in the shops. The final department was the Paint Shop here, they painted the locomotive hatches, station name signs, toolboxes and any other projects that needed paint. There was some real craftsman here that could do gold leaf painting, which went back to the days of the elegant railway coaches painted Tuscan Red and gold leaf numbers and names to identify them.

Now if we cross over to the southeast corner of the building. We find a door that will take you to wheel shop, which I will talk more about later. This side of the locomotive shop contained the Electrical department that was up to ran halfway up the building on the East end there was a big degreasing tank that used Chlorothene Nu to degrease the diesel locomotives main generators and traction motors. We used to go here to degrease oil filters that had to be soldered, the machinists were here quite regularly on Fridays to clean their tools. We would watch from around the walls of the tank, it looked like a big cloud inside, until something that was covered in grease was lowered into the tank with the overhead electric crane that traveled the length of the shop, from the cloud will emerge the chemicals that removed the grease, it looked like a rainstorm coming out of the cloud to strip the grease off of the object in the tank. When removed, the item was spotless, no grease, and quite hot from the reaction. Further up the shop floor the Electricians worked at rebuilding the main generators, and traction motors for the diesel electric locomotives. The rest of this side of the shop was divided between the Machinists and Air Brake department, the machinists had all their lathes, milling machines, shapers, and drill presses. The Air Brake department had a room there, where they did laping on some of the more delicate parts of the air brake valves, they also made air brake hoses for coupling between cars. That concludes the two side bays of the Locomotive Shop, and as I mentioned previously, the apprentice school was above the fan room in the northwest corner of the shop, further down were the offices for the Boiler Shop, Pipe Shop, and Sheet-Metal foremen, underneath their offices was the Blue Room where machinists worked on Governors for the diesel engines. In the southeast corner by the degreaser was the First Aid Office and further up this side were offices for the Electrical department, and further up offices for the Machinists and Air Brake supervisors. The center bay had 36 pits where the locomotives were worked on look first two pits on the west end of the building were where locomotives were brought in to the shop, there was a huge electric crane that could pick up loads of 250 tons and was used strictly for picking up the locomotives with their wheels disconnected and moving them down the shop to another pit, where they were lowered onto blocking that supported them, and they were ready to be stripped. Also part of the shop floor near the middle was an area where the Diesel Mechanics rebuilt the diesel engines. At the east end there was a large lye tank where other large components were brought for cleaning by a character named lye tank Andy.

The Tender Shop.

The Tender and Wheelshop is a L-shaped building 80 feet by 263 x 80 x 180 feet, total area 35,480 ft.². In the steam days it was used to rebuild the steam locomotives tender (the car behind the locomotive that carried its fuel and water) and the wheel shop is where they bring wheel sets from the locomotive and car departments for inspection and reshaping. The thickness of the wheels tread was measured and checked for defects and flat spots, if they had enough tread left they were machined on large lathes that could do both wheels on their axle. Axles were also checked for wear on their bearing surfaces. Rejected wheels and axles were pressed off and loaded into gondolas for scrapping. In my time there were no more locomotive tenders to overhaul, but they did use the bays for rebuilding maintenance of the way machinery such as snowplows, spreaders, ditch diggers, and cranes. I remember one time; they brought in a crane that still had a steam boiler. It was stripped down and totally rebuilt, a new diesel engine replaced the boiler, and the cab was renovated and painted. When the job was finished after six months, the switch crew, who moved equipment in and out of came to pick up the rebuilt crane, they have a hold of three flat cars and use these to reach in and couple up and pull the crane out of the shop. Unfortunately, nobody noticed that there was a shop crane mounted to one of the steel pillars of the building, and its boom was sitting foul of the crane being moved. The boom pierced through the rebuilt cab of the crane and tore it off. So they shoved the crane back into the shop, and it took another four months to rebuild it. Besides working on maintenance equipment and wheel sets, there was a toolroom in the southeast corner of the building were machinists and blacksmiths manufactured tools for the railway. They made cold chisels, spanners, rivet sets, tinsmiths hammers and other tools.

1.) Main Locomotive Shop (includes Erecting, Blacksmith, Boiler, Machine, Air Brake, Pipe,

Electrical, Sheet Metal, Paint, Maintenance, and Carpenter Departments 307 X 773 total area 238,864 ft.²

2.) Tender and Wheelshop (L shaped building) 80 feet by 263 by 80 x 180 total square feet. 35,480

3.) Pattern Shop and Storage 31 feet by 162 feet total square feet 5,022.

4.) Foundry 80′ x 203′ total square feet 16,240.

5.) Stores Department and Offices (2 stories), 60 feet by 252 feet total square feet. 30,240.

6.) Oil House, 4,328.

7.) Coach Shop (Has electric traveling transfer table conveying coaches to and from the.

15 repair tracks 146 feet by 362 file feet total square feet. 52,892.

8.) Planing Mill, 80′ x 303′ total square feet. 24,240

9.) Power House 9,865 ft.².

10.) Freight Car Heavy Repair Shop 231′ x 303′ total square feet 69,993

11.) Mess Hall, and Apprentice Classroom, and Mess Hall Staff.

Quarters 31 feet by 269 feet total square feet 8582

12.) Scrap Dock total square feet 4400

Total square feet of buildings, 499,808

Total acres for buildings, 11.5 plus 2 acres for miscellaneous buildings, total 13.5 acres.

Approximate area of the yard housing all buildings, trackage etc. total 213 acres

The construction started on April 1, 1912 and was finished by March 15, 1913. An estimated 1200 to 1500 men were engaged on the shops construction job.

The Powerhouse had a 200 foot reinforced concrete smokestack and six 350 hp boilers to supply steam heat and steam power to drive a large heating fans installed in all shops except the main offices, oil house, mess hall, scrap dock, and other outlying smaller buildings which were equipped with steam radiators. The powerhouse also ahead, three electrically driven air compressors to provide high-pressure air to power tools used throughout the various shops. Close by was a 125,000 gallon water tank placed on a steel 70 foot tower. The planing mill, too required a lot of expensive woodworking machinery.

Advertisement from Railway Age 1913 by Westinghouse Church Kerr & Co. Engineers and Contractors 37 Wall St New York who built the Ogden Shop complex. Good view showing East end of Locomotive Shop and Lagging Shed on right hand side.

(1) Comment   


jo cullimore on 17 March, 2009 at 3:40 pm #

Hi, I am doing some family history work and my great grandfather emigrated to Calgary. He was a sheet metal worker and spend from 1913 – 1916 and then 1920 til 1922. I think this maybe somewhere he may have worked. Is there anyway of finding this out? Thank you

Post a Comment