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Ray’s Service: Gas, Repairs and Parking in Los Angeles

Ray’s Service, an open-air garage, apparently was located in a fortuneless area of Los Angeles when this circa-1950 photograph was taken. Gasoline was supplied by an old tall, visible glass cylinder pump, and repairs were performed at a series of workbenches just behind the telephone pole.

To the right of the gas pump is the office and behind it, the tall and narrow building appears to be an outhouse for use by patrons and those who resided in trailers on the lot. Even though the time frame was about 1950, there are only two postwar cars visible in the scene. The motorcycle with wide white walls just to the left of the workbenches is a pre or postwar Harley-Davidson “Knuckle Head.”

Tell us what you find of interest in this photograph courtesy of the Huntington Library.

Happy New Year to all of our readers, we will return on Tuesday morning after the holiday weekend.

26 responses to “Ray’s Service: Gas, Repairs and Parking in Los Angeles

  1. This looks like a film noir set , I keep looking for Bogie in the background. I think I see a Willys coupe by the flatbed truck with the gas cylinders in back and in the second picture on the far right ( on the street) I think the 2 door sedan is an early `30`s Stude or maybe a Rockne?

  2. It may be a “fortuneless” area but everyone I can see has their hat on regardless. In spite of their age, most of the auto’s appear in pretty good shape. I can make out a few Chrysler products, a couple Packards and some really rough old Fords among others. It doesn’t appear the gas pump is very accessible. I wonder what the draw was that created a market for parking in the area? Hopefully someone can add that to the information. It is a great photo. Thanks for bringing these to us each day!

  3. Second row 1st car on right with long sweeping front fender:Suggestion: 1931 Hupmobile . Chevrolets in second row 1935 standard coupe and 1934 4 door. Car getting gas: 1941 Plymouth (See Make Way for Ducklings) Car hiding behind pole with narrow grille: Nash. Last car in back row is a three window coupe with a split rear window: Suggestions Willys Americar orLincoln Zephyr. Five window coupe with rumble seat: 1937 Chevrolet. 1941 Ford in front row is last year of the blind spot convertible. In 1942 Ford added an extra window on the side, long overdue. 1930s car in front row: Dodge.

  4. What this brings to mind for me is how much maintenance cars of that era required, much of it every 1000 miles. Twenty-some grease points, including the oil cups on he starter and generator. Cleaning and reoiling the air filter. Packing wheel bearings. Topping off the battery water. I remember when gas tanks had a draincock on the bottom, to drain the condensation water out.

    The cars required enough routine work — the sort of thing that could be done on an outdoor workbench — to keep small places like this in business.

    Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I used to love doing that kind of work.

    • David, Excellent point. I do training and consulting with automobile dealers for process improvement and make that point to service departments. They can’t count on customers coming back like they used to. I use this schedule for the 1957 Chevrolet:

      Lubricate all chassis grease fittings every 1,000 miles.
      Check rear axle lube level every 1,000 miles.
      Check battery water & Charge level every 1000 miles.
      Oil battery terminals with engine oil every 1000 miles.
      Fill generator oilers (both) every 1000 miles. CAUTION! Overfill the front oiler and have the oil soak the coils, commutator & brushes.
      Check transmission fluid/lube level every 1000 miles.
      Crankcase oil drain and fill every 2,000 miles.
      Rear axle lube drain and fill every 10,000 miles or seasonally.
      Front wheel bearings, repack every 10,000 miles.
      Automatic transmission? Change fluid every 25,000 miles.
      Universal joints, repack every 25,000 miles.
      The OEM tires probably will need to be replaced before you get to 50,000 miles.

  5. There sure are some tired looking machines in this pic. I wonder if I’d feel differently if it was colorized? Anyway, Happy New Year to the readership and David. Now for some unsolicited advice….. Take an older (or younger) person out for breakfast or to get some ice cream. Listen to their stories. If it’s that bad you don’t have to do it again. Chances are you’ll both enjoy it. Your little way of making the world a better place.

  6. In both pictures, parked in front of “Fast RAY’S” shack, is a 1937 CHEVROLET Master DeLuxe Sport Coupe with a rumble seat.

    In the 2nd picture, in the foreground, is a 1941 PONTIAC DeLuxe Torpedo Two-Door Sedan and parked across the street is a ’41 PONTIAC De Luxe Metropolitan Torpedo Sedan.

    Again, wishing all the best this New Year !!

  7. Googled “Stanley Apartments ”
    May 4, 2014
    Located Charlie Chaplin in the rain
    100 years ago by 2nd street tunnel
    2nd st around Bunker Hill
    ( traffic between Hollywood & Glendale )
    Photos show same building ,
    Note unique window size / configuration .
    Could this possibly be the same vicinity …

  8. Great picture, reminds us all of LA wasn’t glamorous and wealthy. The small, uniform shanties behind Ray’s were housing built for WWII ordinance plant workers who flocked to Sourthern California. The number of pre-war cars suggest it was a low income neighborhood. Ray’s was where they could get them repaired cheaply.

    The pre-war rarities are the Willys coupe parked between the ’36 Chevy coach and the stake truck. The ’32-’33 Rockne two door sedan on the street, behind the four window ’41 Pontiac Metropolitan sedan, was an eighteen year old car by then. As such, would have been considered an “old” car, but still too good to junk so ended up as cheap transportation.

  9. Also of interest to me are the various travel/house trailers visible in this photo.Post war housing was a real nightmare and almost every company that had the ability to build trailers were producing them in massive numbers to fill the void in that market. Many of the manufacturers in the LA area produced their trailers out of doors due to so much great weather in the warmer months.
    I also notice the owner of that 3 window coupe parked at the curb might be looking for a new left rear fender or someone to straightn out that wrinkled one.

  10. In the background, is a “Boulevard” Typically a 4 lane street with signals and 5- story or more bldgs. There is no “outhouse ” in L.A. City! It is a Flush Toilet ! in ’47 and 49, Snow did fall in Los Angeles ! The ’34 & 35 Chevrolets and the “Shoe box” Ford – bring fond memories. Gravity ( sight- glass reservoir – gas pumps ) were still all over Los Angeles, but they were all up-graded from Manual “Toggle Lever” pumps to Electric Pumps to Fill the reservoir from an underground tank. Either: The Customer was buying 6 gallons of gas — Or: he had just bought 4 gallons , depending upon which one of the (two, inside the glass reservoir) “10 to 1 or: 1 to 10 gallon gauges were “agreed to” —to be read — to make the sale! Looking at the neighborhood, I would guess that the money came first — for what amount of gas. A list of prices for gallons dispensed — was posted .At this same time period, – two of the gas stations in our neighborhood had these pumps. Many stations worked in the open. The tin roof shed might be a radiator repair station. Edwin W.

  11. By using the enlargement feature of these photos, I can see that the light colored ’47/’48 Ford sedan is in fact a Fordor (not a Tudor) and is the base model “Deluxe” since it has the unadorned plain black rubber front windshield rubber seal.

    The Deluxe series competed quite well in the low cost field with both a 100 HP 239 cu. in. V8 and a second generation 95 HP 226 cu. in. flathead Six. Plymouth and Chevrolet each only offered one type of 6 cyl. engine. The famous Ford 59A flathead V8 engines were the most popular choice and were identical to the postwar Mercury V8.

    For 1948 the model 89A-73A Deluxe V8 Fordor was $1,346 factory price. The mdel 87HA-73A Deluxe 6cyl Fordor was $1,270 factory price. The Super Deluxe versions (nicer trim and interiors, more body color choices) were model 73B Fordor models @ $1,440 for the V8 model and $1,372 for the 6cyl. model.

    The 1947 year model production was extremely popular, however, the 1948 year model (virtually same) was a short production year model in anticipation of the all new 1949 year model lineup of Ford, Mercury and Lincoln cars which were announced in June of 1948 with immediate production cutbacks due to manufacturing and assembly plant retooling.

    The 1948 year models are very collectible nowadays due to their general rarity and some significant subtle features such as extensive use of aluminum sheet metal for front floor board and running boards (and many other smaller items) on coupes and sedans to conserve steel by Federal mandate, some unique interior seating wool upholstery color choices and a modern style (simpler to use) ignition switch with an ACC position. All running gear was same as 1947 but notably, tubular shock absorbers were standard (beginning late 1947). Other minor differences do exist as well, but these are just some notable differnences.

    The very old run down Bunker Hill downtown L.A. residential area as finally wiped clean with early 1960’s Urban Redevelopment which made it possible to really add modern high rise commercial and public buildings including the magnificient 3 theatre Los Angeles Music Center complex. Many more jobs blossemed in the area immediately. A few significant Victorian houses of historic value on Bunker Hill were saved and moved to a historic heritage home park area (and restored) a short distance away alongside the 110 freeway going north of downtown.

    The majority of the Ford vehicles built 1939 though early 1950s era were assembled in the “Long Beach” Plant (actually on Terminal Island in the L.A. Harbor area next to railroad lines and sea-going ship docking facilities for convenience.) This was a very significant assembly plant if you think of the historic era and massive increase in population and transportation build up in the region.

  12. I studied this photo for a long time, looking at the cars, and the buildings in the background, reading the responses, and thought I might be able to find a general location for Ray’s Park and Garage.

    I actually did find the location and more, an actual archive video about 6 minutes long of the same area. The archives also have many vintage maps LA, one of which is of the same area, and is associated with the video. The video shows a complete drive around the area, many more cars, to look at and identify.

    The “Stanley Hotel” in the background gives a positive location in”Bunker Hil” area of Los Angles. Rays was on Hope St. between Grand and Flower and between 1st and 2nd streets near the top of Bunker Hill.
    When I watched the video, I did not notice any post war cars in in the area, so it could have been taken a little earlier.

    The video drive does show about every car available at the time, a lot of nice coupes and convertibles, a 29 Ford roadster hi-boy with a guy in the rumble seat, A really nice 29 full fender roadster, wide white walls and 39 ford tail lights. This video will keep everyone busy for a while IDing all the cars.
    I can’t post the video or the maps without permission, but the are easy to fine. They are on the “Internet Archive” web site. You also find it by goggling : “A drive through Bunker Hill and Downtown Los Angles”

  13. On the fast Rays sign, between the words RAYS and Service appear to me to be a line of possible Asian symbols. Anyone else see them like that ?

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