Here is another story to go with this photo. Folks who know Chris probably know him for his film work, but he also held a job on the CB&Q railroad in the summer of 1966. I tagged along as Chris worked at Galva, Barstow, and Moline, Illinois as a relief telegraph operator, substituting for the regular operators as they took their vacation time off. We would sit in the station at Galva, Chris would be in communication with the train dispatcher, and would write train orders and hand them up to passing trains using a hoop (actually, a Y-shaped device). The trains didn't stop, and it was Chris's duty to stand close to the tracks and hold the hoop in such a fashion that a crew member could reach out of the passing train and grab the orders. This would happen twice per train, the locomotive crew and the conductor behind would both need to grab orders, so Chris had to throw the first hoop aside after the first set of orders were picked up and get the second hoop into position. This produced a lot of excitement in a short period of time, usually followed by a few hours of utter boredom as nothing happened until the next train passed. One of the interesting things we did to pass the time was to make wagers as to when the next milk can would explode. Local farmers would bring their milk to the station in Galva in those large cans that are now collectible antiques. If the farmer was late and missed the train, the cans would sit out in the sun most of the day. On a really hot day, the top would blow off a can from the pressure of heated milk, and the station and platform would be covered in some of the foulest smelling substance we ever experienced. It certainly wasn't milk when it erupted from the can. Just to survive, we hosed the mess down with water. When Chris was assigned to Galva, we would eat at the local diner. There we met two young women, and struck up an acquaintance. Although we were both 18 at the time, neither of us knew what to do next. Chris was more worldly, since he went to a co-ed high school. But I was in prep school at the time, studying to be a Benedictine Monk. That didn't pan out, but I didn't know it at the time of this photo. In fact, the few weeks spent with Chris on the railroad that summer probably changed the course of my life.
While a properly maintained OP is a smooth and reliable engine, they tend to develop one distinctive characteristic: blue smoke on acceleration. This is the result of two potential causes, which are usually mixed to varying degrees. The first is lubricating oil. While the bottom crankshaft lives in an oil-filled crankcase (like an EMD), the top crankshaft is in a "dry sump", lubricated by pressurized internal passages and a surrounding spray of oil (like the top deck valve chamber of an EMD 567). When the OP idles or shuts down, some of the top sump lube oil will drip down the cylinder walls above the piston, and if the walls are scored or the piston rings are worn, the lube oil will get into the firing chamber and often pass unburned into the exhaust manifold, where it can ignite in a smoky pall when the engine is revved up. The other cause of smoke is the cooling water seeping into the cylinders from the seals where the injectors pass through the water jackets around the cylinder walls. This will also cause smoke. You could tell how well an OP is being maintained by its penchant for smoke upon acceleration.
Amplified with 174 additional chair car seats (provided by a pair of 52-seat cars and one-of-a-kind 70 seater SILVER LEAF, the latter built for the General Pershing Zephyr), No. 1 (the Denver Zephyr) gets out of Chicago behind E5s SILVER SPEED and SILVER POWER on August 21, 1949. Passengers aboard the amplified portion of the Colorado-bound Zephyr will drink and dine aboard 36-seat diner SILVER SPOON riding first-out behind the E5B. Meanwhile, Gulf Mobile & Ohio Alco S2 No. 11 gathers head-end cars for spotting at the mail terminal (they'll go south tonight on the Advance Midnight Special to Saint Louis) as a GM&O E7 (visible immediately above SILVER SPOON's rooftop kitchen vents) awaits its next call to duty in GM&O's tiny Harrison St. yard. Photographer Jim Scribbins recorded the action from the Polk St. overpass.
Number 15 was built in May 1941 ( c/n 1242 ), retired and traded to EMD in June 1968. Note it was equipped with a visor over the headlight, which I believe was installed to make the light less noticeable from the air, the fear being air raids from Japan during World War II. I count 11 men servicing the locomotives, although one man is carrying a grip bag, so maybe he is part of the locomotive crew. Also of interest ( to me ) is the man on the right stacking white bags on a baggage cart, and he is standing on something that is covered with a white fabric cloth.