Posted on 15-06-2008
Filed Under (Calgary 1960s, CPR, Many Jobs and Trades) by Broken Rail

I learned many skills the two years I worked at Ogden shops.  I became quite proficient in soldering sheet-metal and stainless steel with an iron, brazing, and welding with an Oxyacetylene torch.  I was able to draft patterns for elbows, square to rounds, and other shapes.  I could fabricate the above plus many other items that were requested such as toolboxes, stainless steel tea mugs, and battery charger boxes.  The toolboxes would be requested from the Stores Department, they might request 12 in their order, so when I was cutting the metal for these, it was easy to add 4 more for people who requested one for home.  I would cut out all the sheets of metal required, and use a scriber to lay out where the bends and notches were required.  The bends were made with a sheet-metal brake, and seeming machine, the notches were made with tin snips. The toolbox would consist of the bottom portion with two ends, and the lid with a handle and hasp and staple for security.  The body was laid out with locks on each end, and they end pieces were bent to fit in to the locks, and were then soldered in place.  The lid was then assembled, 2 slots were made in the middle of the top surface, these were for tabs of metal that were soldered in place on the inside of the lid, and were used for part of the handle assembly.  The handle itself was made from 1/4″ iron rod about 10 inches long, and a 5 inch piece of copper tubing with a 1/4″ inside diameter to slide over the iron rod, which was then bent up at right angles at the edge of the centered copper tubing.  Another right angle bend was made at about 21/2 inches, down from the first bend.  This would leave a 1/2″ length of rod to fit in the sheet-metal tabs that were formed around it and soldered to the inside of the lid.  The edges were finished my bending over a quarter inch seam, or by hammering over a half-inch seam around an iron wire, or welding rod, which worked good for this purpose.  The hinges were made of scraps of sheet-metal folded over and riveted to the back of the toolbox.  For the padlock scrap piece of band iron 3/4″ wide and about 1/8 of an inch thick was cut 2 inches long, and a 1/4″ hole was drilled in the center on one end and the other end wasn’t evident to the front of the toolbox, and a slot was cut in the lid so the bar could go through, and the padlock could be placed through the quarter inch hole.  This extracurricular work was called “Government Jobs” this terminology properly went back to the days of World War II when the locomotive shop was converted into a munitions plant for the British Ordnance; antiaircraft guns were manufactured here during the war.  I remember a lot of the lathes and shaping machines in the machine shop had brass plaques saying Property of the British Admiralty. The battery charger boxes were part of a joint effort between the tin shop, electrical shop, and the paint shop. The electricians would get transformers from old passenger coaches that were being scrapped, they would rebuild and rewind the armatures on these transformers making them so they could charge 6 and 12 volt automobile batteries, my job was to make cases from light gauge satin coat sheet metal, the same material used to make the toolboxes, the dimensions were about 10 inches long 5 inches wide and 7 inches high, 3 inch holes were cut in the ends and a piece of brass screening was soldered to the inside wall, holes were drilled for the power switch, 6 or 12 volt switch, a power indicator lamp, and for the power cord, the lid was fastened down the sheet metal screws, the boxes were then sent to the paint shop for painting, and then to the electrical shop for fitting in the electronics. The dimensions were small enough that they could be taken home inside of a lunchbox.

Some of the other store orders I worked on was making metal tags out of 26 gauge black iron stove pipe sheet metal that came in 2 foot square’s, I would cut them into 2 inch wide strips, then cut the strips into pieces 1 3/8 inch long, these were then marked in the top center with a punch, then drilled out with a 1/8 inch drill bit on the drill press, with a sheet-metal scriber I would mark the bottom corner at a 45° angle and cut a half-inch of the metal, I then took the pieces to the folding machine in
and folded over the bottom and two sides, a cardboard card could be inserted, and the tag could be hung on a nail, I made about 800 of these, not knowing what they were to be used for until eight years later.

I made many accessories for the control stands of locomotives; one of them was a piece of 12 gauge
black iron 5 inches long by 1 5/16 inches wide, two holes were drilled and countersunk on each end, and a standard stationery clip was tack welded to one end. These were fastened to the locomotive engineers control stand, and were used to hold train orders.

Another project I was given was for the new General Motors SD-40 locomotives that the CPR was starting to buy they were numbered CP 5500 and up, on the control panel for the locomotive engineer they were many switches, one of them was a circuit breaker for dynamic brake that would trip from the voltage overload, the problem was that the circuit breaker switch was in a vulnerable position on the control panel and could be easily tripped inadvertently by the engineer, so they came up with an idea of making a cover for the circuit breaker that would shield it, and yet still be accessible by placing your finger underneath, we experimented and came up with an idea that I put into production they were made of 18 gauge black iron sheet-metal in the dimensions were 2 1/4 inches long 3/4 of an inch wide, and the height of the curved profile was 7/8 of an inch. To fabricate them strips of black iron were cut 2 1/4 quarter inches wide, and the strips were then cut into squares, additional strips were cut 7/8 of an inch wide by 1 inch, a flat pattern made out of lighter gauge sheet metal was cut out with tin snips and placed on top of the 2 1/4 squares of black iron and traced out with a scriber these were then taken to the Beverly Shear a bench mounted metal cutter with a long handle for leverage, and Blade’s about 4 inches long, they were used to cut out the curves for the side profiles, holes were drilled to mount the cover onto the control stand, and the center was cut out to allow the circuit breaker switch to stick through.  this was done by drilling a small in the four corners, and placing the blank on a large 3 ton steel table we had in the middle of our shop for fabricating, (it was very old, and had lots of scars from being used for punching out round circles and other types of work), I would use a cold chisel to cut out the rectangler opening, the rough edges would be finished on a vice using a file. The final job was to take the 7/8 x 1″ strip of black iron and curve it in our rollers, then it was welded on both sites using a small oxyacetylene torch, and welding rod

Illustrations 1.) Four photos of the toolbox that I made for myself, front view showing handle, band iron with 1/4 inch hole drilled for padlock. End view showing seams around the lid, and wire hinge on the back, also rivets used to support tool tray. Bottom view showing unpainted satin coat sheet metal that the toolbox was made from. Interior view of toolbox showing metal tabs soldered to the lid to hold the handle, supports for tool tray that was lost many years ago, originally the toolbox was painted black, but it got a little scuffed up so I had the paint shop redo it in gray. 2.) A photo of the tags showing front and back. 3.) A photo of the train order clip showing front and back. 4.) Four photos of dynamic brake circuit breaker cover, first one shows us site profile, you can see the 1 inch curved piece that was welded on, bottom view showing slot cut out for breaker switch, and holes drilled to fasten cover to control stand, top end view of cover with half hole drilled in to cover to accommodate a screwdriver for fastening to the control stand, bottom end view with large opening so a finger could be inserted to reset the breaker switch,. 5.) A photo showing the circuit breaker cover on a locomotive engineers control stand.

(1) Comment   


Dan Sharkey on 20 October, 2009 at 8:03 am #

I was a tinsmith apprentis at Ogden Shops in the mid sixties. I remember building tool boxes non stop for weeks.
It was boring. Other apprentises were Rick House and Larry. Tradesmen were Vic Ager,Les and Bob.
After a layoff I worked for Safeway for 6 years and returned to Ogden in 1973, were I spent the next 30 years in the Stores Department.