Monday, January 31, 2011

Cooking up a doughnut

I was out at IRM on Sunday and spent a few hours working on a "doughnut," although I wouldn't recommend eating this one. The MU sockets at the ends of the 205 originally were the dash-mounted variety, bolted straight through the end of the car, unlike those on CA&E or North Shore cars mounted to the floor or under the coupler. These were not attached directly to the dash but rather were set out from the dash by a wooden ring about 1-1/4" thick. A few weeks ago I had glued together a couple of thinner planks to make a large 1-1/4" thick piece of wood and on Sunday I cut it to approximate size with the band saw, sanded the outside edge into a circle, drilled holes for some of the variations in the MU socket casting that would have to fit through the center of the "doughnut," and drilled out the center. Fortunately, for this last task Rod Turner provided a 4-3/4" diameter hole saw and quickly made the cut. After a bit of fitting, and drilling holes for the bolts that will actually bolt the MU socket through the wooden ring and into the dash, I primed both the "doughnut" and the MU socket itself. The various stages are shown below.

At left, after drilling holes to accommodate the casting; center, after drilling and fitting, with the socket itself in the background; at right, the ring and socket body in primer.

The shop was a beehive of activity: all three of the Michigan guys were working on the 28, George was working on the 810, the Windmeiers were building step boxes, Frank and Dan were working on blue-tinted upper sash windows for the Kansas City PCC, and a team including Greg, Joel and Doodlebug Dan were reattaching the unusual air valve assembly pictured last week to the 277. Following reassembly the car's brakes were tested and no trace of the former problems found - it appears that the problem may have been fixed!

As a final note, congratulations to Joe and Gwyn Stupar on moving into their first house! They made the move on Saturday with the help of a large crew of IRM volunteers including Joel A., Greg C., Scott G., Greg K., Dan M., Rod T., and Ray W. They wanted to extend their thanks to everyone who helped make everything go so smoothly.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another Step Forward

Today I essentially finished painting the ceiling in the smoker. I may want to do some touch-up later when it's warmer outside and natural light is available, but for now the ceiling is done. I installed the cord hanger and painted it, then finished the lower part as seen here.

I also put a finish coat of black on the arm rests. Here are some before and after shots.

The only thing left to do is to touch up the window sills, then paint the floor with the finish brown color.

Then it was on to the vestibule. I did more paint removal, and it's getting close to the point where one side can be completely painted with primer. Here's the trim around the bulkhead window. I also took two of the many grab irons to the shop to wire-wheel them, then they were installed and painted, so they won't start to rust.

Charlie Strong happened to pass by; I hadn't seem him for several months. He's been busy working. Jim Followell also came around to look at the 714. The plans are for him to repaint the 714 so it will be as new and shiny as the 749.

In Barn 2, the contractor has started painting the Cleveland PCC with its finish colors. Eric Lorenz (seen here) and Ed Woytula were working on the doors, as usual. This car is getting closer. And Jim will be finishing up the 451 soon.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

CA&E Photo Donated

We have just received a framed photo from the CA&E (car 419, to be exact) generously donated by Robert Campbell, who is moving out of state. He acquired it while the car was on the scrap line in 1962 and other cars were being burned. It's in very good condition, compared to others I've seen. We truly appreciate this historic gift. And the floor is now open for guesses as to the location.

Remember, if you have historic railroad artifacts, IRM can always provide them a good home!

The Electric Crane

There was more painting in the 319 today. I finished the center panels of the ceiling, as seen here. Only the part above the car cards on one side remains to be done. I had to put some primer on the moldings, so that has to wait until next time.

Here's another view of the temporary platform I stand on. I also did more paint removal in the smoker, but didn't take any pictures.

The cord hanger went to the car shop and was stripped of paint, down to bare brass. I then painted it with white primer. While there, I saw Mr. Socks and Mr. Sirinek.

But hey, I've got an idea! While we're waiting for the paint to dry, let's visit the cab of the D16, our Milwaukee Electric crane. I've never been up in it. And I'm sure Scott will chime in with more and better information.

To the right, we look in through the side door to the cab. As usual, it's difficult to take pictures of confined spaces. Directly in front is the back of the controller for the crane motor; behind it is the controller for the (missing) traction motors; that is, for actually running the crane car. To the right is the brake stand, and to the left you can see part of the crane motor, which is located inside the cab.

To me, this cab looks like an unpleasant and dangerous place to work. It's very crowded, and there are pipes and conduits running across the floor everywhere, so you have to be very careful.

Here's a closeup of the crane motor. It looks like a traction motor to me, but its plate clearly says "CRANE MOTOR." This crane car was built by Brownhoist, and it uses GE electrical equipment.

The compressor is also located in the cab. That's what I like best about locomotives, getting to sit right next to the compressor.

And here's a view of the brake stand. I suppose there must have been a seat here. You can see some of the big levers for controlling the clutches to engage the gears for raising the boom, rotating the cab, etc. There are no labels to indicate what anything does. As you can see, the winding drums for the steel cables are just above the brake stand.

And here's the view out of the cab over the boom. I'm not sure if this is the front or the back. If you were operating in the opposite direction, though, the brake stand would be directly behind you. Great. The little cab at the other end has only a brake stand but no controller -- is it missing?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cold weather work

I was out at the museum for a few hours Sunday afternoon. Despite the big game there was a fair number of people working, but most of the work was concentrated in the heated shop - imagine that! It's a good time of year for "winter work" projects to be sure. The Michigan 28 guys were hard at work on that car's rear platform and baggage doors, Frank S. was working on seats for the open car, and Joe, Greg and Joel were going over paperwork for the CA&E steel cars.

I started out working on stripping paint off the flag box and flag tray from one end of the 319. All CA&E woods have a box and a tray mounted near the ceiling in each vestibule for storage of flags and other small items. Below left, the flag box seen before stripping; below right, it is partly stripped. The flag box may have been an original "factory-equipped" item, I'm not sure, but either way both it and the flag tray definitely date back to the AE&C Pullman green era.

Then, with help from a pop rivet gun Rod procured from the Coach Department, I installed the last two metal patches on the 205 corner posts. Pop rivets are definitely not used in any full restorations at IRM but, for a cosmetic restoration like this, it saved an awful lot of time and effort and will not notably effect the appearance of the car. Below left, the hole rusted in the car's corner post before patching; below right, the patch after installation. When the weather warms up this area will be touched up with body filler and primed.

Following this I did a bit of work to reassemble the second MU socket that Rod had modified a couple of years ago so that it will be ready to install on the east end of the car and then laid out plans for the wooden "donut" which is bolted in place between the socket and the car's dash panel.
Finally, here's an interesting bit of Illinois Terminal minutiae. When the IT converted the 277 to air conditioning they also installed truck-mounted brake cylinders. As part of this project, they apparently designed and built in their own shops an air valve assembly designed to isolate and cut out a single truck in the event of an air hose failure. That assembly, pictured above, was partly clogged with gunk which may have contributed to some of this car's brake problems while at IRM. It's kind of a Rube Goldberg device and may have never been serviced since the car left the IT, but Rod disassembled and cleaned it with help from Joe, Greg and Joel.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A hack of a different color

I thought I'd post something that may be of interest to the EJ&E fans among our audience. My wife Bevin was recently in Orland Park and came across the caboose and boxcar pictured below, painted up and on display near the train station, of which she obligingly snapped a photo.
Caboose fans may notice, however, that this is not really a Wabash caboose. It's actually EJ&E 523, a cousin to the museum's very own EJ&E 529 which sees regular use by the Track Department. It was painted by Orland Park in Wabash red and put on display within the past few years. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

IT 518 Progress

As is usual on a Saturday, there was lots of activity on various projects today, most of which I won't be able to cover. Suffice it to say that a hermit wouldn't fit in.

Under Rod's direction, work has started on fixing up the 518 in preparation for the IT festival on April 30th. Here we see Danielle and her friend Kiki painting windows. I removed several inner windows on the south side of the car for them to repaint over the next couple of days, and Danielle will also sand down the north side of the car so it can be repainted. It doesn't usually show up in pictures, but one side of the car is in badly faded primer, and the car fund has enough to pay for this work, thanks to generous donations from IT fans. Like you, perhaps.

Later in the day, we see Danielle sanding down some of the outer (storm) windows for eventual repainting in place.

I also took several pictures of the interior of the 518, which will be added to the IT folder.

Nature note: I needed lights in the 518 to remove the windows, and it has been at least a year since I stopped working on this car. I put up the pole, but nothing happened, and it felt like the trolley shoe was clogged with some big clump of sh---, uh, stuff. Who would do such a thing? Joel came along, climbed up a ladder, and found it was yellowjackets. They had decided the shoe was a good place to build a nest. They're dead now, so we'll clean it out one of these days, but that was good for a laugh!

After that, it was time to retreat to the 319. I did some more sanding on the filler on the corner moldings on each side of the ceiling, then a final coat of primer. The first finish coat will be next.

And then I did some more paint removal, and sanding in the vestibule. I put a first coat of primer on part of the ceiling, as seen here. I will probably want to sand it some more and put a second coat on, but there should be more noticeable progress from here on out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fighting Cancer

My wife, who fights cancer for a living, says that the head mirror this doctor is wearing is pretty much obsolete. Most ORL's nowadays wear something similar to a miner's lamp, using LED's for light weight and good illumination. (ORL = otorhinolaryngologist, and this will be on the next test!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Inch by Inch

This would be a good job for a hermit. I only saw two people today, for a couple of minutes, and they aren't even members. I went over to the car shop to see Mr. Socks, though, and Joel was driving in as I was leaving, but that was it.

But it was a good day for more painting on the ceiling of the 319. I finished, more or less, putting filler around the section I had fixed, and more primer. Then sanding, filling, and painting on the other parts of this sector, as seen at the right. It takes a while, but the results are worth it.

Having done that, we could sit around and watch the paint dry. But let's go over to Barn 2 instead and see what has happened. Bill Greenhill and a helper were there eating lunch. He has finished putting primer on both sides of the PCC above the belt rail, and plans to start on the finish coat tomorrow, he says.

And then there was more paint removal in the vestibule. Several sections are ready for sanding and primer. Once I'm done in the smoker, I can move the space heater into the vestibule and start painting there.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

We Must Tighten Our Belts

If you weren't out at IRM today, you missed a lot of productive activity. There were many activities in progress, much of which I missed. Sorry!

I finished making roof saddles for the 319. These will support the running boards on the roof. I finished cutting them out, sanding them down, and drilling the holes. Buzz and Tim helped by putting a new blade in the big bandsaw, which cuts much better. Thanks!

Chris Buck
wandered by, so I knocked him down, sat on his chest, and choked him until.... well, no, he actually volunteered to help, so he spent much of the day painting the saddles with primer.

They look good, if we may say so ourselves. Thanks, Chris!

That gave me some time to put the round over on the bottom edges of the tack molding corners I mentioned earlier. I could have done this at home, but I'd have to buy a router bit I might never need again. Thanks, Bob!

And I spent a couple of hours with more paint removal in the vestibule of the 319. The paint on the inside of the doors is generally in good shape, so I'll just sand them down and repaint.

I also wanted to recheck the measurements for the end car cards for the 308 and 319, as seen here, before I have them laminated.

And after writing this up, I realized that in 1950 they probably wouldn't be running wood cars like the 308 in express service to Elgin. But I think that's a minor detail. Hey, nobody's perfect!

In other news, Dave Diamond, helped by Buzz and others, was working on the interior of the O'Mahony diner. Sorry, this picture just doesn't do Dave justice, now, does it?

In times like these, we need to tighten our belts. That's what Tim is doing here -- tightening a drive belt on the Fay sticker, which he was using to make tack moldings for 4000s. It would be nice if the machine had a screw adjust, but no, he has to take 1/2" pieces out of the belt until it works OK.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

IT Progress

Ed Oslowski started working on the IT 277 today. He brought out tools and supplies, and started by cleaning up the baggage/smoker compartment. He plans to start sanding down the ceiling and parts of the walls in preparation for repainting. We want to do what we can to prepare the car for the IT traction meet on April 30th. So this should be a big help. The car is currently sitting over the pit, and other department people will be working on the electrical and mechanical issues.

Ed seems to be more concerned with neatness than the slob who was working here previously.

Speaking of which, I spent most of the day doing woodworking in the shop. I finished making the four corner pieces for the 319 tack molding, as seen here. The upper edge will be rasped to shape once the corners are installed on the car. The lower edges need a 1/2" round over, but I decided the best way to do that will be with my hand router at home.

These saddles are very historic -- I made them back in 1976. We needed new saddles for the 309, and Bob Bruneau suggested I buy enough wood and make a set for the 321 as well, since I would want them eventually. I made 16 for the 309, and another four for the 321 before stopping. And for the next 35 years they remained in storage. Soon, however, I may be able to use them on the 319. I dug them out today and started cutting the rest of the blanks. I still have two more to complete, and then they can be drilled and painted.

And Frank Sirinek showed us some of the wooden seats in the Veracruz open car he has been refinishing. They look great! Of course, the lighting here isn't the best, so you'll have to take my word for it. These may look like they're painted red, but they're actually stained and varnished.