Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
We also had a "Take the Throttle" customer who was going to get to run the 309, but I had to leave before this started. Jealous? You too can always sign up for "Take the Throttle" -- call Phyllis at the office.
By the way, the next big hole in the operating schedule is that we need a motorman and a conductor for the 308/309 on Sunday, July 12th. I can probably do one or the other, so we need somebody else who's qualified. Help!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
And Frank Sirinek is now in the business of marriage counseling. It was basically "We need money, so empty your bank account. If your wife objects, threaten to divorce her." Thanks, Frank! What could possibly go wrong?
Friday, June 26, 2009
This is silk-screened, which is good. Since I had to go to Des Plaines to get some more paint mixed for the 277, we met at Des Plaines Hobbies. Thanks, Bernie!
Now I just have to determine how much it might cost to produce these in quantity. We need 20 to equip the car. I notice, for instance, that the holes at the top where it hooks onto the knobs on the seats are sort of key-hole shaped; that's got to add to the cost. Great.
Anyhow, at least I now have a new slogan:
Hicks Car Works -- stopping macassar one seat at a time!
A few nights ago, my friend and fellow railroad enthusiast Tony Pellegrino was over at my apartment. We began to discuss the “classic” railroad books. Most of the books we discussed were originally published from about 1960 to 1980, with a few exceptions. A majority of the books were originally published by Kalmbach, though Howell-North, Golden West, and Interurban Press books came up. We also discussed the “annuals” such as CERA Bulletins, some of the Interurban Press books, ERHS Bulletins, and Colorado Rail Annuals. There have been a lot of great railroad books published in the last 50 or so years. The goal of this feature is to cover, and review for the younger generation, some of the “classic” railroad books. I personally have been building a railroad library for about the past 15 years (much to the detriment of my savings account and wallet). It is my goal that these mini-reviews provide a guide for those wishing to build up their own railroad libraries, so that you may include the “classics.”
Our first installment is a real classic: John A. Rehor’s The Nickel Plate Story. Kalmbach first published this book in 1965, and it went through several printings. My own personal copy is a late 1980s reprint. The book is a real monster, 484 pages, 527 black and white photos, 15 illustrations, and a dust jacket that contains a painting by Gil Reid of NKP 765.
The book is a well-written corporate history of the New York, Chicago, & St. Louis Railroad, known as “The Nickel Plate Road.” Chapters also cover some of the railroad’s predecessor companies, such as the Lake Erie and Western, the Clover Leaf Route, and the Wheeling and Lake Erie. The book was originally published just after the Norfolk & Western acquired the Nickel Plate in 1964, so the coverage is thorough. The back of the book contains a very good locomotive roster of NKP steam, including disposition information.
Besides the technical, Rehor was a great writer. The text is engaging and interesting, or at least as interesting as a railroad corporate history can be. The research appears to be superb as well. The book covers how the railroad, originally somewhat ill conceived as the third route between New York and Chicago became a fast freight forwarder, and strong competition for the New York Central and Erie railroads. An early embrace of Super Power 2-8-4s from Alco and Lima helped the railroad compete and carve out a niche by promising fast delivery of freight from the western railroads to the east. Unlike its competitors, the NKP was a single track railroad with passing sidings, which still managed to give its larger competitors a run for their money.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Posted by Randall Hicks at 5:08 PM
In addition, Ray Bellock has a need for folks to be able to conduct walking tours as well. They will supply you with all the information you need. Thanks!
Posted by Randall Hicks at 6:10 AM
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Posted by Randall Hicks at 8:41 PM
Instead, let's look at what some other guys have been doing. Joel Ahrendt has been working on the 277's baggage racks, and here the first two have a first finish coat. They look great.
He's also working on the trolley base. Here we see it disassembled. Some of the pins holding the springs are badly worn; I managed to find one good one, but many of them in spare bases are frozen, and I was unable to get them free in the heat. I'll have to keep working on it. Thanks, Joel!
Are you a fan of the 277?
We could always use more!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
For today's installment, we take a look at St. Louis Union Station. Union Station in Saint Louis was built by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA). The TRRA is a unique operation whose owners are its users, though all of its users do not own the railroad. All users, including owners, pay the railroad for the services they use. The TRRA treats all users, even non-owners equally in regard to access to the routes, bridges, and right-of-way.
The cornerstone of the station was laid on July 8, 1893 and construction began on the $6.5 million complex. When construction was completed and the station opened on September 1, 1894, Railroad Gazette declared that the station was one of the largest in the world, in term of track facilities.
The station sits on Market Street, a major east-west street in downtown. The head house was designed by a local architect, Theodore Link, who won a $10,000.00 award for his Richardson-Romanesque Design.
Behind the station is a massive train shed that covered 32 tracks. Later, 10 additional tracks were built just west of the train shed and covered by umbrella sheds. In total, the station's 42 stub-end tracks had a capacity of around 539 80-foot passenger cars. In addition to the head house and train shed, the station boasted a power house, separate express, baggage, and mail handling facilities, and a large subway tunnel under the 42 tracks to allow quick transportation of baggage and mail wagons next door. (The subway is now used by the Metrolink light rail system).
Near the station, at 14th Street, the TRRA built an engine service facility to service locomotives that arrived at the station. Some railroads, such as the L&N preferred to service their own power at their own East St. Louis, IL roundhouse, instead of paying TRRA to use their facility. As a result, passenger trains from Louisville or Nashville would have their road locomotives cut off at Relay Depot in East St. Louis, and be pulled over the Eads Bridge into Saint Louis by a TRRA 0-6-0.
TRRA Tower One controlled all movements into and out of the station. The tower controlled 315 switches and 315 signals into the station. The original Tower One burned on July 22, 1940, forcing the TRRA to hire an additional 100 switchmen to handle the 107 inbound and 106 outbound daily departures. The new Tower One was dedicated on November 30, 1940. The shell of this structure still stands, but is largely inaccessible.
During World War II, the station handled 315 trains and 100,000 passengers every day. After World War II, the station suffered what Trains Magazine's editor David P. Morgan termed "Execution by Expressway." By Amtrak Day on May 1, 1971, only six railroads continued to operate passenger trains into St. Louis Union Station, with 11 daily arrivals and departures.
By the end of the 1970s, TRRA sold the station and its train shed to a private developer, and Amtrak moved out to a "temporary" station (which served until 2004). The tracks were torn up and the station languished until its conversion into a retail/hotel complex in the 1980s.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Stop that macassar before it stops you!
Posted by Randall Hicks at 5:19 PM
Sunday, June 21, 2009
David helped me on the 277. First, we got all the tools and spare parts I'll no longer need down off the roof - this is much easier with a helper. Then he helped me get the new saddles and roof boards up onto the roof. Next time I'll start installing them. Then we spent an hour or two sorting out parts and supplies inside the 277. It looks much neater now. Several parts were taken over to the 321 for painting, as seen here. I also carried the trolley pole over to Barn 4, where Stan is planning to replace the trolley harp, as we did on the poles for the blue cars. And there's more news to follow, so don't touch that dial.
I was out for Saturday of Chicago Day Weekend along with the rest of the Hicks Car Works blog team. I spent much of the day working on the 205, though I got to do some "fun stuff" too like help move the 308 and 309 out into the yard for photos and ride the Illinois Central MU cars on a few short test trips up and down the inspection pit lead. Most of the time spent working on the 205 was spent wire-wheeling. I did most of the remaining wire-wheeling above the belt rail, finishing off the letterboard at the west end and the remaining extra-width window posts towards the end of the car:Towards the end of the day, David Wilkins and I were able to extract the last remaining wooden end window from the car. While it was in Portland in the 1940's and 1950's, three of the car's six brass-frame end windows had been replaced by wood-frame ones. The replacement was haphazard; the car came to us with two wood windows at one end and one at the other. We obtained three "close" brass windows to replace the wooden ones (which, besides being incorrect, were junk) and installed those at the east end of the car some time back. The sole brass window remaining at the east end was removed and the paint stripped off of it at that time. On Saturday David and I were able to remove the wood-frame motorman's window at the west end of the car (at right, David unscrews the post cap before replacement and, afterwards, reinstalls the cap) and install the previously prepped brass window. The center window from this end was removed concurrently to be chemically stripped at a later time. More progress in the backdating department!
As was mentioned in the two above posts, I was up at IRM this weekend to help Randy on the 277, and provide a brief assist to Frank on the 205.
What wasn't mentioned was what happened to my right index finger at the end of the day. I was helping Randy close up Barn 8 by closing the doors at the track-end of the barn. While placing one of the metal security bars across the door, which would prevent intruders from opening the doors, the bar slipped from my hands and I pinched by finger because my right hand was under the bar.
Lots of bleeding ensued. Thankfully Frank helped me clean and dress the wound, and after a couple of bandage changings, cleaning with peroxide, it looks a lot better.
This is probably a good time to talk about shop safety. Always be aware of your surroundings, including, but not limited to, potential pinch hazards. Had I done this, I wouldn't have pinched by finger, and had to deal with the resulting bleeding/soreness, etc. In other words, don't do what I did!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I then took some time to investigate a couple of minor issues that had been reported with the blue cars. It's nothing serious, and we will be able to continue operating as scheduled if we have enough crew members sign up. So check the list.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Here is the rebuilt cross-compound air pump waiting to be installed.
The revenue service train consisted of this IC combine (L), a Rock Island commuter car like the ones we all know and love....
a flat car converted into an open-air excursion car (note the lack of benches)
and this Wabash caboose. Everything is nicely painted.
Monday, June 15, 2009
And I checked that the blue cars had been locked up properly, and mounted the signs.
I wasn't able to get out to IRM until 4:30pm today but decided to go anyway to check on the CA&E cars, which were in revenue service this weekend, and to take some quick measurements on the 205. I arrived with barely enough time to board the 308-309 for their final trip of the day. To the right is my none-too-good interior shot from my seat in the car. Jim Nauer was motorman and Joel Ahrendt conductor; Jim is seen at right below sweeping out the car after the last run. We always appreciate how well the train crews take care of the cars!
After this I headed over to the 205, where I took some measurements for window post caps. As seen at left, many of the original window post caps are badly rusted through. These caps provide part of the window track but are not major structural members. One of the solutions to this issue that was suggested was to make caps to fit over the original post caps, as a kind of sleeve. This would make for a good cosmetic appearance and would be fairly straightforward. I drew up a quick diagram of the proposed caps; we'll have a test piece made and, after any necessary adjustments, will have enough made for the whole car.
Finally, I helped out a small bit with closing up the Illinois Central MU cars, which were over at the pit being inspected. It was nice to see these cars out of the barn for the first time in a few years.