Sunday, October 31, 2010

Visit to Ann Arbor

Over the weekend we went to Ann Arbor to visit my daughter who's in graduate school there. I was able to do a little railranning, as you'll see.

First of all, stored on a siding near the Amtrak station is this Budd tavern-lounge-obs originally from the NYC, then KCS, then Michigan Art Train (ARTX 105). So it was part of the same set as the two cars now in Yard 5.

It wasn't open when we were there; I'm not sure it's ever open any more. It's lettered "A Salute to Rail Labor" and "North American Railway Foundation".

Anybody who knows more about this car is welcome to chime in!

Nearby is this old coaling trestle with a D&M hopper on permanent display, since the track is now disconnected. It sits astride the parking lot for an office building. This is a really neat display!

And since David wasn't around, and I think this is out of his territory, here's the old Michigan Central station, now a high-class restaurant.

And finally, while walking around downtown, I noticed this historical plaque on the side of a bank. Watch out for those Michigan Rys. freight trailers, they're dangerous!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Car 460

Here's another great photograph sent in by Phil Becker, taken June 27, 1957, a week before service ended. Car 460 is westbound at Weisbrook on the Aurora branch. This car, of course, was acquired by IRM as part of the Trolleyville collection and has been restored. Phil sent it along with a contribution to the Trolleyville fund. There's always plenty that needs to be done, so you can still help!

(Copyright Phillip T. Becker. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Red Cross


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Windy City West

If IRM were a sailing ship, we would be making rapid progress on our journey home from Cathay. As it is, however, the recent strong winds made me worry about the tarps again, so I checked on the 321. It's basically OK; part of the east end had come loose, so I attached another clamp and tightened things up. No harm has been done.

Most of the rest of my time was spent sanding down two more 319 windows, as seen here. Only one to go. But it gets pretty tiresome, I must admit. I also wire-wheeled all the old paint off the wrecking tools that will be installed in the 319.

Every car seems to have had a different arrangement of wrecking tool box. Fortunately, the 308's was never touched, so I'm using it as a guide to what things should look like. The tools will be painted with the basic interior wall color.

I also looked at the interior of the 277 to remind myself of its condition. The Illinois Terminal traction meet will be held at IRM next April, and we want the 277 and 518 to be as ready as we can make them. We need to decide what can be done by then. Expert help will be welcome.

And in switching news from last Sunday, the Rio open car has been moved into Barn 8. Here it is, as viewed from the platform of the 234. Keeping a tarp on it was harder than we thought, so with some shuffling, we are able to make better use of the available indoor storage space. This is a restoration project for the future, but it's good to have nonetheless.

Monday, October 25, 2010

ARM Convention 1978 - Updated

The 1978 ARM Convention was held at IRM in August of that year. Many cars weren't running because we had suffered a serious flood on July 4th that year, and the North Shore cars were still out of service, among others. But we did the best we could and a good time was had by all.

I just received a great series of pictures of the convention taken by Alan Zelazo who was part of the Branford contingent. He has allowed us to see them here. For me, these really bring back old memories. Thanks, Al!

The 309 really looked wretched in those days. I just had no shame.

I'm probably up in the cab.

You will notice that there was no pavement anywhere.

Update: The Branford group also took a ride on the old IC MU cars on their way to IRM.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Heat, Light, and Power

As sometimes happens, we've got exciting news from elsewhere on the property, while what I personally was doing is rather drab. Well, tough!

I spent some time cleaning windows in the 319 and installing more screws as needed in the window shade tracks. The windows had a lot of signs of some sort taped to them over the years., so all the gunk has to be removed. I also worked on a window shade that wouldn't stay in place; it had glued itself together and would not completely unroll, in any case. So I went to our storage and got a replacement; after some time and effort, it was installed and works OK. For some reason the railroad rebuilt the window shade boxes in the 319 so they cannot be removed. The only effective way to replace a window shade is to remove the window and work on it from outside.

I also went to the 321 and fastened the tarp more securely. The wind was really blowing today, and that helps identify any problems with the tarps not being fastened down well enough.

Then I worked on freeing up the ventilators, some of which hadn't been moved in many years. There are ten of these Utility ventilators on each car; six of them have adjustable louvers (L) and the other four don't (R). These have sheet metal plates in them to prevent any ventilation whatsoever, which was useful in the winter, I suppose. I'll remove these plates next spring; they've been removed from the blue cars since we only operate in the summer.

The Schroeder Store has been rotated and placed over its permanent foundation, as seen here. I'm not sure what needs to be done before it can be set down.

This view down Central Avenue gives you a good idea of what it will look like when the street is extended to become Main Street. If you would like to live along Main Street, I'm now a real estate agent for the Museum and will be glad to sell you the deed to a buildable lot with all utilities included, at a bargain price!

But seriously, folks, we're saving the best for last. Today the 1630 was moving under its own power again! The air pump is still not working, so the locomotive was attached to air hoses connected to air compressors (R), sort of like a hospital patient walking down the hall connected to IV. But it moved back and forth 100' or so several times.

And as you can see below, the whistle attracted a good crowd, considering the limited number of visitors we had on this dreary day. I'm sure that steam, when it returns, will be a huge attraction. The Steam Dept. can be very proud of their accomplishments.

Fearsomely Frightening

My wife and I visited Terror on the Railroad earlier tonight, and it was just as advertised in Frank's report last week. If you haven't experienced this yet, don't delay! I was very impressed with how much work has gone into setting up the trains and organizing the actors. They really work hard!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

319 Report

Yesterday was mostly window work. Four repainted windows were ready for installation. First, I removed the last four unrestored windows from the car, and moved the four spares from the 318 into their slots. Then the hardware was attached to the new windows, and they were installed along with the repainted window shade tracks. One nice thing about the car is that all the window shades are in good condition. You will notice that the window on the right has different hardware than the rest. I can only think this must have been done by the railroad near the end of service. In any case, I have no choice but to leave it as is.

I also finished installing the new globe fixture for the ceiling light and put the bulbs back in. It was later repainted with a first finish coat. The only thing left is to put the globe in, but I'll want a helper for this job. I installed the first globe by myself and nearly dropped it in the process. That was frightening!

Later in the day I sanded down one of the last four windows. Also, Gerry is in the process of moving spare trucks out in the material yard, so I went out and marked the 318 truck for him, since we'll want that available as a shop truck.

And it was a beautiful fall day again.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

N.C.&St.L. 576

Work recently took me to Nashville, Tennessee. Located in Centennial Park, just west of downtown is Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway locomotive number 576. The 576 is a 1942 Alco product, and was one of "The Dixie Line's" J-3 class of 4-8-4 locomotives. The railroad had a couple of classes of dual-service 4-8-4s which the railroad called "Dixie" types. The ones built during World War II, like the 576 did not have the skirting of the pre-war engines, but did originally have a cone shaped smokebox front that covered the entire front, as well as a Commonwealth cast pilot with swing coupler, like Union Pacific 844. These locomotives were very successful for the railroad, but the N.C.&St.L. was an early adopter of the diesel, making the full switch by 1952, four years before its parent the L&N finally dropped the fires.

The 576 has been in Centennial park since 1952, and only recently received a covered shelter. The condition of the locomotive is fair, at best. Still, it is a very neat looking locomotive, with clean lines. There have been several attempts to "rescue" the 576 from the park and restore her to operation. The most recent attempt was announced several years ago. I haven't heard anything of recent, and 576 sits as she has for nearly sixty years.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Car 36

Here's a good picture of the 36 I just found in the archives, courtesy of our friend Phil Becker. It was taken on June 27, 1957, just a week before service ended. And it's trained with the 303. He sent it along with a contribution to the Trolleyville fund. There's always plenty that needs to be done, so you can still help!

(Copyright Phillip T. Becker. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wrapping things up

On Sunday I was able to spend the afternoon finishing up prep on several areas of the 205, defined as completing Bondo and sanding work and priming them with Rustoleum. This included the car's southwest corner post (see right); the bottom ends of all of the recently-installed post caps (below right); two-thirds of the angled dash panel at the east end of the car (below right); and the remaining portions of the letterboard at the east end of the car.

This work is more time-consuming than it looks, but the end result is acceptable, particularly given how badly rusted-through many of these components were to begin with. I also reinstalled a wooden spacer that holds one of the west end windows in place and went through the car putting away tools and closing everything up before my job largely takes me away from IRM for the next few months.

In other news, more fresh paint has shown up on the Cleveland PCC, and there was a large crew of Car Department workers including Jeff, Dan, Greg, Frank, and Joe working on North Shore streetcar 354 just a few feet down the aisle from the 205 in Barn 7. They were able to check over much of the car's complicated electrical control and interlock system with the intention of testing the car's overall electrical/mechanical condition as well as its ability to navigate the museum's trackwork with its compromise-profile wheels. At left, Jeff and Frank are looking over the car's controller while Joe looks on.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Steam at Monticello

We went downstate to see the Monticello Railroad Museum's rebuilt steam locomotive Southern 401 in operation, and also to visit relatives. A good time was had by all. Here the train is loading in downtown Monticello. A good crowd was on hand, including many enthusiastic railfans who came from all over.

(Two photos by Margaret Miller)

This is the flat car arranged for tourist service, which I rode. It's very effective. The train must have gotten up to 35 or 40 mph on the main line.

I had a chance to briefly discuss some issues with my old friend Kent McClure, who is the CMO at Monticello and was the engineer that day.

As I might have mentioned before, I was a member there in the mid-70's while I was in graduate school, and worked briefly on the original boiler for the 401. It now has a brand-new welded boiler.

This is a great accomplishment on their part. I'm glad to see that this experience will be returning soon to a museum near us!

The new boiler was designed for oil firing, for several practical reasons.

Incidentally, their Halloween operation uses a different plan than ours. Various sets are arranged along the main line. Here we see what appear to be a couple of switch heaters on either side of the track, attached to propane tanks so they burn in the dark. With a few adjustments, this would be a good way to burn old paint off steel equipment.

And here's a ghost town. The two figures next to the track are also attached to propane tanks, so they must emit fire also. Yikes!