Wednesday, July 27, 2011

San Francisco Electric Cars

As most of you probably know, Muni's F line has a collection of PCC's which they have painted in various historic paint schemes from all around the country. Yes, I know either the doors or windows aren't always correct, but it's still a lot of fun to see and ride.

My favorite, of course, was the Chicago car. I'd say the colors are very good, although it may not look quite right on your screen.

And then there's Birmingham.

The city is crowded and busy, so I saw several I couldn't get a chance to photograph well.

And of course, there's an Illinois Terminal car.

The operators kept telling us the F line is a favorite location for pickpockets. So beware!

And for older standard equipment, there were a couple of cars from Milan, Italy in operation.

And for a change of pace, our train from Denver to SF had this Metroliner car on the rear end. It's being used to measure track geometry. It's unusual to see a car with a pan on the end of the train!

Going Green Gone

We've just returned from California, where "green" is very popular. Every business is proud of how green they are. Not me. I'm getting rid of this green paint as fast as I can, though in a green way, of course. I finished stripping the siding on car 36 below the belt rail on the south side, as seen here. But then I needed a platform to do the rest. Since I don't anticipate needing our portable scaffold in Barn 8 any time soon, and it's usually just in the way, I disassembled it and moved part of it to the center aisle of Barn 6. I was then able to start on the letterboard and the rest of the siding. But in weather like this, one sooner or later has an energy shortage.

I also checked with Bob Kutella and Rich Witt who are helping with refinishing the windows for the 36. Thanks! And I installed the second recovered seat cushion in the 308, and made sure everything's ready for operation this Saturday.

That reminds me: the wood cars will be operating this weekend. Update: We need another trainman for Saturday, and for Sunday there's only a conductor signed up so far. On Sunday I can be part of the crew if needed, but we still need another person, either motorman or trainman. And for next weekend, we need a full crew for Saturday. Help!

We're always encouraging people to donate to IRM, of course. So today two visitors came along and handed me two large plastic bags full of coins, a year's worth of spare change, I guess. Our office manager, Jan Núñez, graciously accepted this contribution and is hoping the bank will have an automatic change counting machine. Well, every little bit helps, but if it's all the same to you, we'd prefer checks.

And since I'd been away for a few weeks, it was time to make the trek out to 14 again to check on the 321, after all the rain. The tarp is basically OK, but I was disgusted to see that the tie-down straps I had installed about a month ago had already worn through and broken. Note to self: don't buy any more sale merchandise from Ace Hardware.

Finally: I didn't have anything to do with this, of course, but it's great to see that the Burlington express car is painted and lettered. And this means that now everything on track 54 along Central Avenue is nicely painted. The whole line of equipment looks great!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Visit to Georgetown Loop

While in Colorado we had to visit the Georgetown Loop railroad, which is running steam again on a very scenic narrow-gauge route. I wanted to ride, and we got there early in the morning, but tickets were sold out until 3pm that day, and we couldn't wait that long. Next time we'll plan ahead. So that was unfortunate, but it's good to see that the operation is very successful in attracting passengers. Here's a brief view of the operation.

Service is being provided by 2-6-2 #12. It's a long steep grade up the mountain, with many curves, so the engine really has to work.

The upper end of the line is at Silver Plume, where the shops are located. You can just see the barrel of the Shay inside the building, with the trucks sitting outside. The Shay is being reworked for operation, with extensive boiler work in progress. Here we see a brand-new superheater assembly which just arrived. The running gear is basically in good shape, with new brasses for the drive train planned.

The display building has three historic passenger cars. All of them ran on the C&S, and were displayed by the Burlington at the NY World's Fair and the Chicago Railroad Fair. They operated on the Black Hills Central from 1956 to 1988, and were then moved to Silver Plume for display. This business car was built in 1872 by the UP.

The coach was built for the C&S by ACF in 1900.

Finally, this narrow gauge RPO was built in 1880 (builder not specified).

And there are several pieces stored outside in the yard at Silver Plume. For luxurious accommodations, there's nothing quite like a narrow gauge box car made into a sleeper.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Nebraska Zephyr at Train Fest

Our friend Chuck Amstein just returned from the Train Fest at Rock Island, where the Nebraska Zephyr was one of the stars of the show, and has these pictures of the action. Enjoy!

Pictures copyright by Chuck Amstein and may not be reproduced, etc.

NZ backing in to pick up passengers.

This is IAIS CEO Henry Posner III greeting the attendees.

Getting the diner ready for lunch.

The conductor has to get tough with unruly passengers.

At Bureau.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Greetings from Pismo Beach

Near the entrance to popular Pismo Beach, California, is this Rock & Roll Diner in Oceano. It consists of two streamlined passenger cars: a smooth-side diner and a fluted Budd obs-lounge. The cars are still on trucks and seem to have most or all of their underbody equipment, but the interiors have been modified, of course.

I was unable to learn anything about the identities of these cars from the man running the restaurant. But food was good, the music is non-stop rock & roll, and you can watch trains roll by on the coast route across the street. What's not to like?

Illinois Terminal PCC

This is #1015, one of the famous Illinois Terminal double-ended PCCs, now nicely restored and operating again in St. Louis. And in the background, you can see the McKinley Bridge over the Mississippi.

I just got home, so there will be many more photos from my vacation as time permits. With similarly informative captions.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Diesel Days

It was a hot time in the old museum on Sunday, with temperatures in the 90's, but the annual Diesel Days event seemed to go off without a hitch. I did some surface prep on the 205 and spoke with Rod about getting our paint color corrected; the paint we obtained last weekend is extremely close and just needs a little work to be spot on. The plan is to take our gallon of paint and our various samples in to the paint store during the week sometime, when their manager is there, and get the mixture corrected. Then the orange-ifying can begin!

I ended up spending most of the afternoon back on Veracruz 19, our single-truck open car. I was assisting Frank Sirinek, the motorman for the day, who had tired of baking in the 3142. The open car was popular as always and it really made the hot weather much more bearable. After we put the car away around 4:30 I headed up to the depot and took some photos of the some of the diesels.

One of the stars of the show was Green Bay & Western 2407, our ex-Santa Fe Alco "Alligator," which was just made operational for the first time at IRM a week ago. It needs a bit more work before it is ready for regular use but it was operating under its own power for the diesel parade.

The Nebraska Zephyr, the jewel of the collection if there ever was one, was out for the first time since Diesel Department workers spent weeks painstakingly scrubbing and polishing the stainless steel on the entire train set and the E5. The results are stunning - the train was practically blinding in the sunlight!

Other stalwarts of the diesel fleet were out too, including the C&NW F7, which will be going to Train Festival this week along with the Zephyr and our CB&Q switcher.

Then I spent a couple of hours helping Rod, Joel and Greg with some switch moves to put freight cars away that had been pulled out of the south yards for demonstration freight train duty. I spent much of the time buzzing around in the golf cart opening and closing barn doors, fetching water and the like. Joel pointed out that some of the last switch crews working at the end of the day were made up of Track Department and Electric Car Department volunteers. Who says the departments don't work together?