Monday, October 17, 2016

Sunday update

Frank writes...

Sunday saw me back out at IRM for the afternoon. Things were pretty slow around the car shop, with the regular crew working on catching up with a few projects that had been awaiting attention for a while including some work on one of the spam cans. As for me, the weather was threatening rain so rather than run the 36 and 319 over to the inspection pit lead to do needle-chipping I decided to do some more work on painting the left side of the 150.

And here's a before-and-after example of the result. Fascinating, eh? Yeah, me neither. Oh well, it needed doing. I cleaned off and spot-primed the belt rail along the whole left side of the car (except for the rearmost 20' or so, which had already been done). The next step is to give this side of the car its coat of light yellow, after which the belt rail will receive its tile red stripe. This side of the car will also need one more coat of orange.
After I was done with that I wandered over to "help" Richard, Joel, Greg, and Doodlebug Bob, all of whom were taking a look at our IT Class B locomotive. The 1565 hasn't run in two or three years due to problems with its control system, problems which have been traced to faulty control resistors.
We can't get the correct type but we'll be able to modify available ones to fit. These are all original resistors and we've found on the CA&E cars that the control resistors can be a weak point in the Type M system. Actually I think they're a weak point in Westinghouse unit switch control, too, so I suppose it just goes with the territory. By the way, we were using flashlights because the trolley wire doesn't extend far enough down Track 64 to reach the Class B. One side effect of having so many operating cars in our barns is that many of the barn tracks, some of which were built with wire down only half their length, are practically full of operating cars. Even our own Track 84 has this issue and when we pull the four-car train out, the fourth car from the door has to back-pole the first few feet because the wire ends halfway down the car.
But I digress. And to digress further, Joel suggested a trivia question. What in the world is the box shown above? It's inside the Class B (the yellow arrow below points to it), mounted to the ceiling, and contains six light bulbs. No, it's not there to cast a soft, pleasing glow over the air compressors. Yes, there is a correct answer. If you win, you get a free photo of yourself standing next to the real live Illinois Terminal 1565 on your next regularly scheduled visit to IRM.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Chipping away

Frank writes...

Sunday afternoon I made it out to IRM for a few hours. It was a pretty quiet day; there wasn't anybody at all working in Barn 4 or in the car shop. Richard, Thomas and Nick E. were running the CTA 2400s while Joel was running the North Shore train. Fortunately there wasn't anything on the inspection pit lead so I was able to bring the 36 and 319 over to the shop.

I spotted the 319 within easy reach of compressed air and got to work needle chipping underbody equipment. It seems like there's always more to do, but in fact the majority of the chipping work on the 319 is done. I've got a little bit more still to do, and then the next step will be to wire wheel it all and apply primer and paint. Then it's on to the 36 to finish the same work on that car. Above, the 319 (properly blue flagged of course) sited for work.
After I'd been working for a little while, Nick the E.D. showed up with a trio of student filmmakers from Columbia College. They interviewed me about my involvement with the museum and filmed me working - rare footage indeed!
I ended up getting more of the equipment under the 319 chipped but didn't get the entire car's worth done before I had to put the train away. Oh well, at least I've got enough to keep me occupied for a while! Richard, Thomas and Nick E. helped get the train back to Barn 8 - thanks! While we were waiting on the tail track the CRT service train passed westbound. Just think: of the four wood cars meeting here, not one was operational a decade ago and now all four are in regular use on IRM's railroad. Progress!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Indiana Railroad 65

More photos of cars in the IRM collection sent to us by Art Peterson.

All Images Copyright by the Krambles-Peterson Archive

Next, we have pictures of IRM's first car.

IRR 65 

An interior view (at Muncie) by George Krambles on March 21, 1934.

In 1937, the 65 is pulling into the famous Indianapolis Traction Terminal (just out of sight to the left) from Market St.  The terminal is also serving as the Greyhound Bus Station.  The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is seen directly ahead; the state house would be behind us.  (Glenn Niceley)

Finally, in October of 1941, George Krambles took a couple of pictures of the sole survivor of the wreck of Interstate Public Service, sitting on a siding at Columbus.  When a North Shore motorman who was also a fan of these high-speed lightweights was unable to raise the money to buy the car for preservation, he persuaded the president of the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City to purchase it instead, and  the car was moved to Iowa soon after these pictures were taken.   The rest, as they say, is history.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Dealing with the Labor Shortage

Since this is a volunteer organization, it's not unusual to run into a labor shortage for operating crews now and then.  (Actually, there are always labor shortages, but that's another subject...)   So today I got to be the motorman on the CA&E steel cars, 409 and 431, seen here.  What a neat train!  

Larry Stone was the conductor, and things went well.   I forgot to get the usual crew portrait, but you've seen us both before.  Most of the time, we had enough passengers to justify two cars, and everybody seemed to be having a good time.

The CA&E train alternated with the North Shore cars, and the 3142 was running the loop.   We had four guys doing five jobs, so we switched off on a regular basis.   I ran the 3142 around the loop several times, which is always a nice change of pace.

Apart from that, I don't know what was happening back in the shop.   Tim arranged to pull the 24 out onto the railroad for picture taking, as an entry for next year's calendar.   You've got my vote!  He had several people with fancy cameras along to take pictures at multiple angles out on the main line at various places.  My only chance to join in the fun was when it was on the west wye.

The CA&E cars in the background are the best I could do.

Nearby, Max, Jerry, and Al Choutka were working most of the day on installing a transformer to supply power for lighting up the big Santa Fe sign by the parking lot.

That reminds me: we tend to get a good number of international visitors, but today more than ever, for some reason.  One of them asked me why we had the huge words "Santa Fe" mounted out in front.  Taken literally, it means "Holy Faith" but I explained it's not for religious reasons.  To any American railfan, the words "Santa Fe" will mean the Super Chief and warbonnets and Chico and the Harvey Girls (Judy Garland!) and lots of other things, but to someone who's not from around here, it might be mysterious.   At least we're educating the public!

Pacific Great Eastern Business Car

Greg Kennelly, a blog reader who's interested in the Pacific Great Eastern, sends in a question regarding the origins of a PGE business car that was bought from the Central Locomotive and Car Works, successor to Hicks Locomotive and Car.  I don't have any data that would help, but some of you out there are always coming up with answers to difficult questions, so here goes:

I am always hoping to find information regarding an official (business) car which Patrick Welch, one of the directors/contractors for the Pacific Great Eastern Railway, purchased from Central Locomotive & Car Works in 1914.  I have managed to piece together the following information from various sources:

'Business (Private) Car “LILLOOET”:
The Pacific Great Eastern Equipment Record held at the British Columbia Archives shows this car was purchased second-hand from Central Locomotive & Car Works of Chicago, Illinois for a total of $9570.28 and was received by the railway on April 20, 1914.  Private car “A-1" shows in barge records as arriving at Squamish (Newport) aboard a Great Northern barge on Monday, June 1, 1914.  All the original equipment of the railway was owned by Patrick Welch, who sold his interest in the equipment to the Pacific Great Eastern Equipment Company in 1915.  When the developers/contractors failed to meet their obligations to shareholders in 1918, the Provincial Government was required to honour its guarantee to bond holders and, by default, became the owner of both the railway and the Equipment Company.  The 1919 Sessional Papers of the B.C. Legislature include a reference to ”Business Car ‘Lillooet’, A-1",   G.T. Livingston, Resident Engineer, prepared a drawing of the car dated May 25, 1920 at Squamish.  The car first appears in the Official Railway Equipment Register in December 1920 and the P.G.E. Accounts show no further capital expenditure related to this car as of June 30, 1924.  A British Columbia Department of Railways record dated February 20, 1926 indicates that “Old Private Car Lillooet” was to have its 6-wheel trucks replaced by the 4-wheel trucks from the wrecked Hall-Scott gas car #103 and be converted into a 104-seat open observation car.  The car was converted to Open Observation #15 (1st) in September - October 1926 and is first listed as such in the Official Railway Equipment Register for October 1926 with a capacity of 104 passengers.  Its length is not specified. Observation #15 (1st) was scrapped March 26, 1936.'

A scan of the 1920 drawing of the car is attached.  In over 30 years of sporadic searching, the only photograph of the car I have come across is a general view of Squamish yard, circa 1919, in which an unidentified passenger car whose appearance matches the 1920 drawing shows in the distance against the East wall of the roundhouse.  I would be most interested in any suggestions you, or anyone else, may have regarding the origins of this car.

Friday, October 7, 2016

More IT Cars in Service

More photos of cars in the IRM collection sent to us by Art Peterson.

All Images Copyright by the Krambles-Peterson Archive

Here are the rest of the in-service shots of Illinois Terminal cars now at IRM.


It's November 21, 1943, and the 277 is at Peoria, loading passengers for the Illmo Limited to St. Louis.

The 277 and its trailer are grinding up the hill at Matheny.  (Paul Stringham)


The 415 is southbound on Vermilion St. in Danville, signed for the local run to Tilton about three miles away.  Photo by George Krambles on Oct. 6, 1934.  The Illinois Valley line abandoned service on May 13, 1934, so this is only a few months after the car was moved downstate, rebuilt, and renumbered.  But it still has the arched upper sash windows with which it was built ten years earlier.

On the same day, the 415 and 303 are waiting at the IT station, which is also the IPL office.

And in an undated photo by Bill Janssen, the 415 is "near Danville", presumably on the bridge over the Vermilion.


The Peoria is waiting for a run at 12th and Franklin in St. Louis.  Art estimates this is about 1935.  (Bob Mehlenbeck)


The 518 at Decatur, March 4, 1950.  (T. Desnoyers)  This would be the front end of the car in regular service, but at IRM it's always facing the rear, so that the pole can be used for back-up movements with the 277.


Finally, a head-on view of the Class B on the east belt line at Springfield, Oct. 9, 1949.  (T. Desnoyers)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Our IT Cars in Service

More photos of cars in the IRM collection sent to us by Art Peterson.

All Images Copyright by the Krambles-Peterson Archive

Today we start on a series of excellent in-service shots of Illinois Terminal cars now at IRM.  Most of them are quite interesting.   We'll begin with the 101, 233, and 234.  I'm trying to keep these in chronological order as much as possible.


The 101 as built had upper sash windows, as seen here in St. Louis on the turning loop at 12th and Franklin.   Art points out that the IT terminal office building in the background appears to be under construction, which would date this to about 1935.

The 101 on the streets in Granite City, trained with the 102, I think.  It's now rebuilt with the upper sash blocked off, and in orange paint.  There were five cars in this series, of which the 101 and 104 are preserved (plus the body of 103 as a house).  They often operated in two-car trains.

And here we are at Alton.  The neat part about this shot is the 206, the rail bus preserved at MOT, in the background, getting ready for its trip north along the river to Grafton.  Downtown Alton in the background hasn't changed all that much, but the area in the foreground, including the station, has been obliterated by highway construction, a levee, and so on.


This car was built by St. Louis in 1906 as a coach for planned tri-state passenger service (Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana) which never happened.   Four years later, it was sent to ACF for rebuilding into an office car.   This view shows it in 1910 at ACF, sitting on freight car trucks, after rebuilding.

Oct 12, 1910 finds the 233 at Emery.  In the foreground are Mr. Chubbuck of the ITS and a Mr. Brown of Mexico City Tramways taking a tour of the system.

And here it is on the Taft Special of 1912 on the street in Springfield.

On October 13, 1934, it's laying over on the alley track in Urbana, and appears little changed.   George Krambles takes a picture of Barney Stone at the controls.

It was soon repainted orange, however.   This shot is thought to be c. 1935.   To the right are a couple of cars of the same type as the 415.

Finally, here's a view of the 233 pulling two observation cars westbound at Main and Neil in Champaign, also in 1935.  The second car appears to be the 511, Urbana.  I can't make out the lettering on the last car, but I'd like to think it's the 234.  And no vintage street scene would be complete without a classic service station on the corner, would it?  (GK)


A steward stands at attention on the rear platform of the Sangamon as a football special lays over at Bash Ct. in Champaign, on Oct. 13, 1934.   I can almost hear the shouts echoing from Memorial Stadium.  ... we know you have sand, Illinois, rah rah!  (GK)

Here's a very scenic view of the 278 pulling the car at East Peoria, Apr. 8, 1936, about a month after it was renumbered 234.  (Bob Mehlenbeck)

At Springfield, Oct. 29, 19136.   (Bill Janssen)

At Decatur Shops with the 233 in the fall of 1938.  Note that the 234 had its upper sash covered over before the 233.  (Bill Janssen)

At St. Louis on the end of a train on Apr. 26, 1953.   (T. Desnoyers)

Streetcars in the Valley of the Sun

Frank writes...

A family wedding took my wife and me to Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend and while there I (of course) had to do some railfanning. I rode the still-kinda-new light rail line and even got a chance to visit the Arizona Street Railway Museum, also known as the Phoenix Trolley Museum.

You can be excused for not being familiar with ASRM. It is, or at least was, one of the smallest operating trolley museums in the country, with about 200' of track, one switch, a two-stall barn, and three pieces of equipment. The photo above shows John Drury, an ASRM volunteer who was kind enough to show me around, in front of the barn. The museum was open but it's been a few years since they operated anything. The museum sits on city property behind a historic house museum, which John offered to show me through, but I have to admit I declined. I mean, it's a house, I have one at home.
Here's the pride of the fleet: Phoenix Street Railway 116, built by American in 1928. It's a double-truck, double-ended safety car, basically a Birney but with bigger end windows. It also has doors at all four corners similar to the Milwaukee 900s.
Car 116 was retired in 1948 when streetcar service in Phoenix ended and the body was acquired by the museum in 1977. The restoration work that went into the car is pretty impressive given that the volunteers who did the work had limited resources, virtually no spare parts, and none of the institutional knowledge that we sometimes take for granted. Overall the interior of the car looks rather nice and, overall, appears pretty authentic give or take some details.
That brings us to the car's mechanical state. Remember that "no spare parts" thing? Well when ASRM was restoring the car body they had no trucks, motors, controllers, etc to actually make the body into a complete car. What they did have was a whole bunch of stuff from Phelps-Dodge, which had just shut down a 250-volt rail operation at its smelter in Douglas. So car 116 was made operational - sorta - using 250v equipment from Phelps-Dodge. The resulting motorman's position is shown above. It doesn't look bad.
The last time I was in this car was maybe 20 years ago and it was running, after a fashion. This photo, which was printed and hung along the wall of the barn together with some other shots from the restoration of car 116, shows one of the trucks that it sat on. The Douglas smelter didn't have any equipment with normal streetcar trucks so ASRM built a pair of arch-bar trucks using some parts from Bettendorf freight car trucks and put car 116 on them. One truck carried the brake rigging and the other truck was connected by chain to a traction motor mounted to the frame of the car. Curves aren't a problem on this route.
As bizarre as this arrangement was, it worked and the car was made operational and ran back and forth for some years. But I suspect the ASRM folks always wanted to improve on this setup and in 2008 they were able to do just that. The car now sits on Brill streetcar trucks, as seen above, which are correct Brill 177E1X's or something extremely close. Unfortunately it still needs more work to be made operational; it lacks correct controllers, grids, brake rigging, air tanks, and compressor. But one of these days it should make a really nice operating car.
In additional to car 116 there are two other pieces of equipment at ASRM. One is car 504 (originally 108), shown above, which is from the same series as car 116. This car is probably unique among preserved streetcars in that it was a monkey house at the zoo for a time, but in 2001 the body was acquired in fairly complete condition. For better or worse it was then stripped down to the condition shown above, but the components are in storage and the template is sitting on the next track over.
And then out in front, at the east end of the 200' main line next to the house museum, is Phelps-Dodge locomotive 17 from the Douglas smelter operation. This locomotive was operational as recently as about five years ago, John said, and is still presumably fully functional. It may be low-slung but it is standard gauge. According to the builder's info cast into its frame it was built at the works in Douglas, A.T. in December 1906.
I thought this was kind of interesting: a chronological display of different types of track, starting with some really lightweight old stuff and moving forwards to the end of the Phoenix streetcar era.

The Bad News

The bad news is that ASRM has lost its lease, and after a few decades here in the city park it is being evicted in September 2017. They are looking at options but they have few financial resources and a small volunteer base. Ideally the museum would like to co-locate with some other attraction, to increase foot traffic, but at the moment it's not certain where exactly that would be. Hopefully ASRM is able to find a good home - they're certainly working hard on that now - but this is yet another lesson in why a museum must own its own land. Too many railway museums are on the precipice because they're on leased land. It's another thing we at IRM take for granted - that our entire museum cannot be snatched away from us at someone else's whim - but that scenario is the current reality for ASRM.