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Service for Side Rods

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Workers servicing the side rods of a Union Pacific steam passenger locomotive
Two members of a Union Pacific crew lubricating the side-rod bearings on an intermediate drive wheel of a 4-8-2 attached to the Overland Limited at Laramine, Wyoming. The worker on the left is feeding grease cartridges into the automatic grease gun and the worker on the right is holding more cartridges. The men wear caps; the one on the left wears bib overalls and a dark shirt and the one on the right wears coveralls.

Compressed air-actuated grease guns replaced the "mutton tallow smear" that originally lubricated the running parts of locomotives. On transcontinental runs, the service crew was still required to use their own hands to lubricate the moving parts, but now with grease cartridges, not with buckets of grease. The pictures captures this activity, repeated many thousands of times by crew members over their careers.

Pictures an alemite gun, a handful of cartridges, locomotive drive wheels, air cylinders, and rods.

Beebe managed to find bright light that illuminates the concentrated face of the crew member handling the alemite gun. He thus created a chiaroscuro effect with the mechanism of the locomotive in partial shadow. The vertical elements of the locomotive match the vertical posture of the workers, and the horizontal elements of the drive wheel match the raised horizontal planes of the workers' elbows and alemite gun. Beebe seldom photographed workers, but this is an effective effort.
Alternate Title Lubricating Side Rods on the Overland Limited (editor's title)
Source California State Railroad Museum
Coverage Spatial, Laramie, Wyoming; Temporal, c. 1938-39
Rights California State Railroad Museum
Date Created c1938 - 1939
Resource Type
Extent Not available
Depicted Railroad
Location Laramie, Wyoming
Depicted Occupation
Image Type Industrial portrait
Train Type Passenger train
Equipment, Locomotive 4-8-2
Creator Description Lucius Morris Beebe (1902-66) popularized railroading and its appeal beginning with his 1938 picture book, "High Iron." He was a flamboyant writer, photographer, and socialite who ultimated published 27 books about railroads. He came from a prosperous family, was expelled from Yale for troublemaking, and was graduated from Harvard in 1926. He wrote for the"New York Herald Tribune," beginning in 1929, covering cafe society, a term he invented, and was featured on the cover of "Life" magazine in 1939 wearing top hat and tails. He fell in love with railroads and began documenting them in the 1930s. He moved in 1950 to Virginia City, Nevada, with Charles M. Clegg, his partner and collaborator. Clegg, too, was a photographer.
Collection Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg Collection
Train Name Overland Limited
Image ID BC negative 805
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