Tag Numbers

    Switching jobs working out of First Street Yard were numbered for when they went to work: 100s (7am-3pm), 200s (3pm-11pm) and 300s (11pm-7am). The last two digits indicated a zone, or tag, of where the job worked. The Patch was tag 22, thus the daylight job was 122. Tag 21 was the Canal District, north of Fourth Street, so-called because of the three Santa Fe freight houses and their long docks bordering the tracks, creating the effect of “canals.” Tag 24 was the area north of First Street up to LAUPT.  The tag shown above is a scan of the Canal tag. Click here for a list of known tags.

Where was the Patch?

    The track chart at left shows the area in LA known as the Patch. It basically is bordered by Alameda on the west, Seventh Street on the south, Fourth Street. to the north and the LA river on the east.

    The industry jobs that served the Patch pulled their cars from a track in the First Street Yard down to the RIP (Repair In Place) tracks just south of the Fourth Street Bridge. There, because of the lack of places to runaround in the Patch, they were sorted to assist in spotting at the various industries.

Patch Locomotives

    The 2310 class ALCo HH1000s were used almost exclusively out of First Street Yard for industry and yard jobs. Retired LA Division engineer Don Richardson had this to say about them: “The 2310 class HH1000s were purchased in 1939 for use at the new Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal and on the coach yard jobs between there and Eighth Street Yard. However, they had two fatal flaws for use in that type of service. Their electric air compressors did not have enough capacity to charge up passenger equipment in a reasonable amount of time and, being built with the main generator in front and radiator in back, were nose heavy, causing the number three axle to slip under a heavy pull. For those reasons, when the new S2s in the 2322 class arrived beginning in 1942, they replaced the 2310 class in coach yard, transfer, and heavy switching work whenever possible. Other than that, the HH1000s were a very successful class of engines, lasted up until almost the end of first generation diesel switchers in 1971. Up until the last few years of their 32 year career, they could be found working in the coach yard and on transfer jobs more than occasionally, but their strong suit was working the industry jobs. With their Blunt trucks and steam engine version No. 6 brake valves, they were excellent at spotting cars on slippery and uneven track. All industry jobs required engines facing towards LAUPT, meaning north at First Street and west at Hobart, so an HH1000 facing the other way was a useless as the proverbial teats on a boar.”

For additional information on modeling the Patch locomotives, click here.


Car Tags

Cars had tags on their “route or tack boards” the smaller wood boards on the sides. An industry or yard clerk would come along and tack the car tag onto the tack board.

This allowed the car to be efficiently switched into cuts of like-destinations. This was accomplished by using a switch list, a hand-written account of cars and how they were to be switched.

The tags had the zone number displayed prominently along with the car’s reporting marks and number, destination, contents and date.

Even More Patch

For more on Patch operations, including a first-hand account of working the Patch in the 1980s, visit modeler and author Bob Smaus’ website. He has a lot of neat other stuff, including cool photos of his now-dismantled LA-based 1950s SP layout.