The North Little Rock locomotive overhaul and maintenance facilities are the largest of their kind on the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and among the largest in the world. The Jenks Shop locomotive complex employs more than 1,100 skilled and dedicated workers, who perform heavy maintenance on a fleet of 7,000 locomotives that pull more than 2,000 trains each day throughout the western two-thirds of the United States.
The shop complex was named after Downing B. Jenks, former chairman of Missouri Pacific Railroad, which joined the UP family via merger in 1982.The majority of the complex is dominated by the main Jenks Shop heavy locomotive repair facility, with more than 272,000 square feet of space, 227,000 of which is devoted to the main shop floor.
In a tight cluster to the north and east of the main shop are five other structures and several designated areas, each with a special purpose, including a material storage yard, storage tracks, a load test facility, a shutdown/start-up area, a prewash building, a tank farm and a pumphouse, plus a locomotive paint shop, air brake shop, wheel shop, turbo repair shop and component remanufacturing center.
America's largest railroad system operates in weather extremes from heavy snow and ice in the mountains of the Northwest and California to the parched deserts of the Southwest, to the windy Great Plains, to the bayous of Texas and Louisiana - 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In delivering customers' freight, a locomotive often travels through three or four "seasons" on a single cross-country trip.
The paint shop has two primary structures housing three bays. The first bay is for stripping and cleaning. Locomotives are prepared and masked for painting in the center bay, and the actual painting takes place in the third bay, which is equipped with a 90-foot-long, semi-downdraft paint booth.
The paint shop was designed to meet the safety requirements of all associated state and federal regulatory agencies, and UP employees at the Jenks Shop paint facility apply thousands of gallons of armour yellow, red and gray paint each day.
The main Jenks Shop, nearby structures, designated areas and tracks are accessible via one of two 250-ton capacity, 90-foot-long transfer tables, equipped with both manual and radio controls. These provide the means for movement of the huge locomotives in and out of the main building and throughout the shops complex.
Employees were heavily involved in the original design of the facility, and their ideas yielded a safe and efficient work environment configured to suit work processes, rather than tailoring the work to suit building layout.Main shop work areas permit up to 10 different activities at once, including double truck (wheel) changes, accident repairs, power plant changes or locomotive overhauls, classified or program modifications, rewiring, three-year inspections on road power, component repairs, locomotive and component cleaning, painting and load testing. Seventy-five percent of work areas are under cranes having capacities of 15 tons or greater.
To the east of the main shop, in the direction of UP's North Little Rock freight classification yard, are two additional structures - the Phase I locomotive service facility, and the Phase II light locomotive repair facility, called "the ramp." The Phase I service facility consists of a wash rack, two service tracks, one light repair track, and pits for underside work. Each track handles up to four locomotives at a time. The Phase II ramp uses five enclosed tracks for light locomotive repair, inspection work and wheel truing.
Constructed in 1964, the North Little Rock wheelset reconditioning facility provides both locomotive and freight car wheelsets for the Union Pacific system. Proclaimed by employees as "the hub of quality wheels," this wheel shop in the Jenks complex remanufactures locomotive and car wheelsets and reconditions locomotive wheelset bearings.
The shop's locomotive side supplies both new and reconditioned wheelsets to locomotive shops throughout the system, including North Platte, Neb; Kansas City, Mo.; Fort Worth, Houston and El Paso, Texas; Chicago, Ill., and others. The automated car side has the capacity to handle up to 4,800 wheelsets per month. Output is dependent on customer demand and "just in time" delivery.
The wheel shop has its own specialized maintenance group which repairs, modifies and constructs equipment, including conversions to advanced, programmable controllers.
The air brake shop, turbo repair shop and component remanufacturing center complete the functions of the Jenks Shop complex.
The 9,000-square-foot air brake shop supplies locomotive air components to a major portion of the Union Pacific system. Here, employees receive, strip, clean and recondition all defective air components. Once tested, the parts are placed back into service within the UP fleet. The air brake shop also handles a wide range of other parts, including horns, sander relay valves, automatic drain valves and shutter cylinders.
The turbo shop is equipped with two monorail systems and three-ton overhead cranes to provide quality turbochargers at a competitive price for the Union Pacific fleet.
Since 1995, employees at the component remanufacturing center have provided power assemblies and various locomotive components used in Union Pacific locomotive repairs.