Archive for the ‘ Access covers’ Category

Standard Gas Engine Company

22 September 2017

The Standard Gas Engine Company was a major player in the Bay area, a center of innovation that dominated the Pacific coast in pioneering internal-combustion engines for marine applications. It was founded around 1900 but relocated to Oakland in the wake of the 1906 earthquake, on property it had fortuitously leased from the Port of Oakland a month earlier.

It thrived at this location, on the shore of Brooklyn Basin at the foot of Dennison Street, where ships could have their engines installed or repaired at the company’s wharf. The Standard Gas baseball team was part of the Industrial Intercounty League in the mid-teens. The plant expanded in 1916 after the acquisition of the Corlis Gas Engine Company. In 1917 the Tribune reported that the company was paying its employees a quarterly dividend from its profits. (Labor activists regard this kind of “company union” as a typical management trick to prevent real unions from forming.)

In the 1920s the Ford Motor Company contracted with the company to build parts for its products, such as the new Hamilton transmission for the Fordson line of tractors. In 1933 it began making engines for the American Diesel Engine company. The last reference to the company in the Oakland Tribune was in 1942.

Standard Gas Engine made stationary engines as well as boat and vehicle engines. Perhaps one of those, possibly a water pump, lies beneath this access cover.

Access cover “D”

8 September 2017

This fine piece of steel is E. 27th Street at Garden Street. If anyone has an idea what “D” might be, I’m all ears. The pattern is cool even if the owner is obscure.

EBMUD Special District No. 1

23 June 2017

These handsome access covers are few and far between. They’re part of East Bay Mud’s sewage service.

Special District No. 1 was established in 1944 by elections in six East Bay cities and started operating in 1951. It serves a smaller area inside the region where EBMUD provides water service, as shown on this map from the utility’s site.

Wastewater from nine East Bay cities flows from city sewers to the District’s interceptors — large pipes that carry the water to the treatment plant near the Bay Bridge. From there the treated water goes into the Bay.


26 May 2017

This utility hole cover sits on Keswick Court, on the south side of Shepherd Canyon. My searches for any information about SPSD have drawn a total blank. It might stand for the San Pablo Sanitary District, which existed from 1921 to 1978 when it became the West County Wastewater District. Maybe whoever installed the sewer line down Keswick bought SPSD’s outdated hardware, or the Empire Foundry had a stack lying around. I mean, who would care?

I have few other clues. Keswick was shown as unpaved on the 1947 topo map and paved on the 1959 edition, so the lid may date from the fifties. And yet Beaconsfield Road, just up the hill, contains a water main cap from People’s Water Company, which ceased to exist in 1914. I can only assume that EBMUD used old PWC inventory when it pushed water service into the area.

For more clues, I must rely on the kindness of my readers.

Access cover anatomy

5 May 2017

This large and elaborate East Bay MUD access cover, on San Leandro Avenue in deep East Oakland, displays a lovely radial design. It also includes good examples of some typical features of access covers.

At the top and bottom edges, at 12 and 6 o’clock, are lifting notches, where a worker attaches the hooks to raise the lid safely. Halfway out from the center is a ring of aeration holes, arranged on the major compass points. They happen to be filled with dirt, except for the one marking Northeast. Their function is to equalize the pressure between the hole and the atmosphere, guarding against the effects of unusual events, like a tornado in the air or a sudden flood or explosion down below, that might push the lid out of its rim.

The smaller lid on the right side has its own lifting hole. Presumably it allows access so someone can monitor conditions in the shaft without going through the chore of pulling off the large lid. Because a smooth finish could present a slipping hazard, the secondary lid was textured by a welder. Perhaps there’s an arcane pattern in it representing a message, but it’s more likely to be a random set of metal bits, a scribble arranged by eye and intuition.

The A.C.F.C. & W.C.D.

28 April 2017

The owner of this access hole has a name that rolls off the tongue: the Alameda County Flood Control & Water Conservation District. They’re the people who manage much of the East Bay’s runoff. One of our streams is buried here, along San Leandro Avenue — probably Stonehurst Creek, the little branch of San Leandro Creek that runs along the railroad tracks by 105th Avenue.

San Francisco Gas & Electric Company

31 March 2017

If I recall correctly, this access lid is on Jefferson or Martin Luther King down around 10th Street. It belonged to the San Francisco Gas & Electric Company, which was in existence from 1896 to 1906. SFG&E merged with the California Gas and Electric Corporation to form Pacific Gas & Electric, still in business today as PG&E.

The company opened a gas manufacturing plant in Oakland in 1905, down where Howard Terminal is today.

The six cleverly placed lifting holes are a nice touch.