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  • I would like to see a feature article in a future issue devoted to turntables, or turtables and roundhouses.  The oriigin, the first, the largest, ones extant today in North America..


     As a sidebar, San Francisco's cablecar turntables.  How many were there bfore the 1906 fire?

    Regarding what was probably the world;s only double-track turntable, did iti have access only from the inbound and outbound running tracks on the uptown side, or were there also  parking tracks on the Fery Building side?


    Anyone else find these topics of interst?

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  • I would go a step further and request that an entire issue of Classic Trains be devoted to turntables and roundhouses.  In fact, it could be one of the Special Issues that Classic Trains publishes on occasion.


  • I would agree in principle, although it might be a bit much if an entire special were restricted to just those two.   I speak only for myself, of course, and would be happy with such an issue.  I would favour steam maintenance and servicing, to include second and third line maintenance.  There must be plenty of stories, and all sorts of juicy informative steam technical information about how problems with steaming were determined and corrected.  Some engines of a given driver configuration steamed well and the hoggers loved them.  Others of the same production run were known to be pigs.  Why?  How are drivers' tire surfaces renewed/turned, and why was it required so often?  What's the engineering?  What was involved in removing the driver sets and getting the tires to the correct profile once again?  When they were restored, why were wedges installed?  What are wedges?   What was involved in clearing the grates?  What happened to all those cinders and ashes?  Why was valve timing so important?  What was involved in valve gear maintenance and repairs?  Was the replacement of the main and/or siderods relatively straightforward?  What did we learn about lubrication of a steam locomotive?  Why is there such a thing as a hydrostatic lubricator? It goes on and on, but roundouses and turntables would feature prominently and could be covered well in such an issue.


  • All the above is of interest to me as well.   Sme has been discussed on the "team and Prreservation" threads on the TRAINS Forum,  which of course you can access, but not with the balance and depth that are typical of CLASSIC TRAINS articles.

  • So, what do we have to do to persuade Kalmbach to run a special issue of Classic Trains on turntables and roundhouses?






    Hi Dave


        Here's a picture of the Hamburg-Altona engine house during the last years of steam when they had 012 class oil-fired three cylinder Pacifics allocated for powering the heavy express trains to Westerland and to Kiel , engines having been made redundant at Osnabruck by 1968 electrification of the 'Rennbahn' ( 'race track' ) Osnabruck - Hamburg via Bremen - a fast level and straight main line .   

        The shed had two intermeshing turn tables ;  very likely this was not the original set-up but only came to be by installing larger DR standard 23 m bridges in replace of Prussian railways 20 m standard bridges .




  • Dave: Here is a link to the video of the market street cable car line March 1906. About  8:30 into the stream it shows getting onto the turntable in front of the Ferry Building.

    Rgds IGN

  • My 2 Cents fwiw  Dan Sabin on an article on his High School job on Rock Island commented on getting a crew together to shovel out the local roundhouse pit.   It was just a sentence in the article.

    I would imagine that getting the snow out of the pit could be a major pain.

    Rgds IGN

  • I agree that an issue of  "Classic Trains" on turntables is in order. During the steam era, some end of the branch line turntables were "armstrong", that is all of the train crew helped turn the engine. The engine had to be centered on the turntable to be turned with ease.

    As information: at BNSF's Northtown yard, the turntable at the Diesel Shop is from the old Northern Pacific roundhouse about three miles south of its present location. In the early 1970's, the  new Northtown Diesel Shop was built using the old NP turntable.  In short, the present timetable at Northtown turned NP steam and diesel engines and now turns BNSF power. It also can turn freight cars as needed to accomplish unloading from a specific side (if placarded UOS-unload one side only) before spotting into an industry. 


    One afternoon about 1968, I took mail to the roundhouse. The hostler asked me If I wanted to move a locomotive off the table to a diesel shop stall. WOW! After the table was locked for the stall, I slowly moved the ALCO RS Unit to its stall. I applied the engine brakes, but they did not apply until the very last second! Needless to say, I was scared, but the hostler just sat there. Finally about twelve feet from the end of the stall, the brakes applied. The ALCO RS units were know as shin busters as the steps were straight up and down and one tended to scrape shins on them. 


    Ed Burns

    Happily retired NP-BN-BNSF Clerk from Northtown   

    P. S. Freight car D/F bars also scrape shins--One fell on my left shin!

  • I was just cleaning a table off of old magazines and papers (that I should not have let get stacked that high! Embarrassed ) and found the March 2010 Issue of Trains Magazine.  The cover has a nice aerial photo of a roundhouse and turntable.  The feature article is "ULTIMATE BUILDING; The Rise and Fall of the American ROUNDHOUSE"

    Granted, not a whole issue devoted to the subject, but a nice start on one!

    Semper Vaporo


  • Juniatha,

    Thanks for the photo, its most unusual! I have never even thought of such an arangement,it looks like something a model rail without enough space would come up with! I guess it would be an eliptical house instead of a round house. I am compleatly amazed by this photo. I wonder if there was ever such an arangement here in the states? There's a queston for the special issue on turntables and round houses!

            Thanks Tim


  • I note the double-track turntable was hard up against the sidewalk against the Ferry Building without any room for any layup tracks.   Also, the double-track turntable was configured like a circular part of the street that turned, with pavement filling out the circle and the tracks and  cable-slot in pavement.   This is different than the current arrangement of the Powell-Market and Hyde-Embarcadaro and Mason-Embarcadaro turntables. 

  • Go to Google Earth and zoom in on the Panama Canal locks.  The turntables at each end for the tow-mules are also double track so the mules in the center island between the lock pairs can pull a ship one way through one lock and then reverse direction to pull a ship the other way in the adjacent lock.


    Semper Vaporo