Friday, February 29, 2008

Useless Parts Installed on 309

Today I spent some time installing latches on the exterior clerestory sash. When the 309 was built, these windows were designed to rotate inwards to provide ventilation (and also to provide rain or dust, I suppose.) About 1925 the windows were fastened shut and "Utility" ventilators were installed in some but not all of the clerestory frames (a ventilator is on the right in the picture below.) However, many of the original spring-loaded latches were left in place. Since all of the woodwork in this area is new (c. 1985), I needed to replace the hardware, although it's completely non-functional. But it's historically correct, and even sort of decorative. I installed several sets of these latches, and also some more wood parts that never quite made it onto the car.
After that, the inside had warmed up so I painted some more trim pieces on the ceiling. And the new clerestory parts were painted with primer - they will eventually be painted grey like everything else on the roof.

Chesterfield King

This is one of my all-time favorites, maybe the goofiest car card ever. "Everything" includes a flunky to offer his top hat as an ashtray, a pet lion, and a midget. What more could you want?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Work on 308 Windows

Today I started by going through the 308 and adjusting the two or three remaining windows that weren't working properly for whatever reason. Usually this involves disassembling the window shade tracks, removing the sash, sanding or planing, or what not. Also some latches had worked loose and had to be reattached. Now all is well.

This is the interior of the 308 - unlike the 309, everything is painted. There's no varnished wood left. Jack Biesterfeld helped with much of the restoration here in 2003-2006.

Here's a 308 window close up. This is as high as the windows will go, due to a railroad modification. I don't know why they did this; the 309 and 321 were never changed.

After the 309 warmed up I spent the rest of the day on stripping paint remnants from the clerestory sash, then staining. Then it started to snow so I left early. The weather, of course, has been dreadful.

Interior of North Shore 253

People were asking about the interior of the 253 on the North Shore list, so since I was working in Barn 8 I decided to go over and take a couple of pictures.

The interior of the coach section isn't too bad; it could be cleaned up.

The ceiling in the baggage section is falling in, however.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Summary of 309 Restoration

The second restoration of the 309 from Sept. 2006 to July 2008 has included:

  1. Adding the necessary trim to the ceiling (where it was replaced due to the 1971 fire) and replacing some of the paneling
  2. New arched trim pieces over the stained-glass windows have been fabricated and installed
  3. Correct inlay strips added to wall panels as needed
  4. New linoleum where it was damaged by the fire
  5. All arm rests, window sills, and baggage racks were stripped of their black paint, then stained and varnished. (We learned from paint shop records that this is correct for the blue paint scheme.)
  6. All windows were removed, repainted and varnished, and repaired as necessary
  7. Painting the floors brown
  8. New paint and varnish on all interior surfaces
  9. Complete repainting of the exterior

Read more!

As of February, all of the woodwork is complete, and only the final repainting steps remain to be completed when the weather warms up.

(I added this mostly just to check my new html for expandable post summaries.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


"Hello, central? I'd like to report an incoming.... Sure, I can hold."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Painting in 309

Over the past few days the entire floor of the 309 has gotten a first coat of the finish brown color. Here it is in the main compartment; the paint is still wet in the photo so it's shinier than it will be once people have walked on it. The movable foot rests under the seats are also painted the floor color. This is the same paint we used on the floor of the 308 and it has held up well.

While the car was being warmed up, I also stripped the molding under the exterior window sill on one side, where the old paint had never been removed for some reason. As a result the paint job was alligatored. When it warms up this needs primer, then it will be painted red as part of the complete exterior repainting.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Scenery Photo Reproduction

This is a side-by-side comparison of an original photo from the 309 (left) and the reproduction (right). Julie Johnson supplied the photo itself; I made two new frames. The reproductions will be installed in the car when it's ready for service.

Think summer!

Worship This Week

One in a continuing series of picturesque car cards.

I suspect that the three buildings are meant to represent a Catholic church (left), a Protestant church (upper right), and a synagogue (lower right).

Painting the Floor in the 309

I started by dropping off one of the original scenery pictures from the the 309 for Julie Johnson to photograph and reproduce. I'll have some more about this project shortly. Thanks, Julie!

While the car was being warmed up, I installed the last couple of quarter-round moldings on the #2 train door, and later painted them with primer. When it warms up I'll touch up all of the blue in the vestibule. I believe this door was rebuilt at North Chicago, but it was never quite finished - until now. Hey, we'll get around to it eventually!

I then put second primer on all of the new linoleum in the main compartment. I also put a new coat of varnish on the wainscoting (the side wall panels below the window sill) in the smoker. The smoker was also swept and cleaned up, and the whole floor there got second primer. Every surface in the smoker has now been repainted or revarnished. The entire interior floor has two coats of primer, and I'll be ready to start on the first finish brown. Then I finished by putting first primer on the floor of the #1 vestibule.

Max connected the new DC power switch in Barn 8 today, and he also confiscated the hot stick. This is a great improvement; it's much easier to turn the power on and off. In the winter, it's often been a real struggle just to get a door open to be able to reach the switch on the pole. Thanks, Max!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Car Card

This is surely the most ironic car card in the 309 - notice the smoke stains. One of the helpful hints at the bottom is "Be careful with oil stoves!"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Linoleum Installation Completed

Today I finished installing the new linoleum, something I've wanted to do for thirty years or so. Here it is in the main compartment before painting started. After nailing it all down, I swept and vacuumed the floor and put on a second coat of primer. The main compartment now has its second coat of primer everywhere except the new linoleum.

With some extra time, I did the usual straightening and sorting, oiled some seat frames, and installed a couple of refinished arm rests.

Max is too modest to toot his own horn, so I'll mention that he was working in Barn 8 on the new DC power switches in spite of the cold. When I walked over to the far corner to turn off the 600, I could see through the open door that he appeared to be lying motionless on the ground. I knew he'd been working on a ladder up against the building, so I was very scared. I shouted "Are you OK?" and ran over there. He was fine. He was just lying there to work on a new ground connection for the power supply. "It's actually kind of comfortable," he said, "I'm well insulated."

Van Dorn Link

A friend asked for a picture of a Van Dorn coupler link:

It's 2" thick and about 22" long. Here it is mounted in the coupler:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ten, Twenty, Thirty Years Ago

1978: - Bob Rayunec and I were working on the 309, completing the roof boards and attaching the cables, fuse box, etc. to make the car operational again. Cars were in Barn 4.
- I helped move the 50th Avenue station from Chicago. IRM volunteers were just given orange vests and allowed to work around the third rail with trains going by every few minutes. Wonder if they'd let us do that nowadays?

1988: I did lettering in the 309's vestibule, and worked on replacing glass in the clerestory windows. Cars were in Barn 2.

1998: Frank and I mostly worked on the 321, doing some sanding and woodwork in preparation for repainting the "good" side. Also a little on the 309. Cars were in Barn 7. We also pulled the tarp off the D22 so it could be repainted.

Sure, this is just filler, but it's the best I can do while my writers are still on strike. :(

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Helping out elsewhere in the department

I was able to visit the museum today for the first time in over a month, but with the temperature hovering around zero I wasn't about to spend my time out in un-heated Barn 8 working on the CA&E cars! When I arrived the only activity was Joel Ahrendt and Joe Stupar working on North Shore 714, so I spent a few hours helping repair that car's heater circuit wiring. Of the car's three heating circuits only one had been working; they had gotten the second circuit working previously and today I helped them in replacing bad wiring in the third heater circuit. We also replaced the wiring to one of the car's three thermostats, though we didn't actually hook the thermostat back up (in this system, the heat comes on when the thermostat contacts are open so its presence isn't required for testing purposes). At the end of the day the bad wiring was replaced and the heaters were all successfully tested. North Shore 714 is one of our regular service cars and will probably be operating quite a bit during the year, including April and October when working heat will come in handy.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

New Linoleum Installed in 309

New linoleum was received today, and the first section is being installed here. The new material is nearer the camera, with my hammer and tacks; the old material farther away already has a first coat of the finish brown color. After installing the first 18 feet, I started painting it with brown primer. Slightly more than half the main compartment floor now has two coats of primer.

And after I ran out of paint for the floor, I went back to sanding some of the mahogany molding strips where refinishing is in progress.

Here's what the main compartment looks like, with the platform for working on the ceiling. It's just a piece of 3/4 plywood framed with 2x4s, sitting on four plastic sawhorses. Much better than trying to work from a ladder.

A couple of views of the ceiling. This whole area was burned to the carlines in the 1971 fire, so all of the woodwork here is new.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Operating Schedule for 2008

The operating schedule for the 308 and 309 for 2008 has been set and the crew caller is accepting sign-ups. The 309 isn't due to be outshopped until July, but the 308 will be operating out of the 50th Avenue "L" station in Jefferson Street Shuttle service on Memorial Day. In addition to special events on July 4th and 5th, the two cars are scheduled to operate together on July 19-20 and 26-27 and September 1, 6-7, and on Member's Day on September 15.

Here's the link to the crew caller book:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Current Projects

  • SCENERY - Some CA&E cars had large framed photographs of scenic views mounted at each end of the passenger compartment. The 309 may be the only preserved car with these pictures still in place. Unfortunately, the original material is fragile, and one picture started to rip while the car was in service. So they need to be replaced.
  • Julie Johnson, a graphics expert, got a couple of these photos scanned and reprinted on heavy stock. They look great - thanks, Julie! I'm making new wooden frames so I don't have to disassemble the old ones. When this project is finished, they should look like this original, currently hanging in my office for safekeeping.
  • LINOLEUM - The wood cars all have a strip of old-fashioned "battleship" linoleum down the center aisle. It's about 18" wide. Part of the linoleum in the 309 was burned in the fire and had to be removed. All of it in the 321 was removed for some reason when the car was converted to storage. Replacement material made in Germany is now available (it wasn't for many years) and I ordered enough for both cars. It's arrived at Hicks Floor Covering in Geneva (good people to do business with!) and I'll pick it up on Saturday.

New Inlay Strips Installed

As a start, here's a picture of the new inlay strips which were installed in the 309 a few months ago. On the left is a door built in 1907 by the Hicks Locomotive and Car Works; on the right the panel includes the inlay I installed in 2007.

Details: This section was heavily damaged by fire in 1971. The door is a replacement from sister car 310. The paneling around it I installed about 1985, but I was unable to find the correct type of inlay until recently.