Friday, March 23, 2018


This year's first car cleaning session will be TOMORROW -- Saturday the 24th -- meeting at 10AM at the west end of Barn 7.  All are encouraged to help, and you will be most appreciated!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

North America's Transit System of the Year - Part I

Our Toronto Field Reporter Thomas Slater sends this report, the next chapter following Zach's story of a trip to our neighbors to the north...

After spending Saturday at the Halton County Radial Railway museum, the car shop crew spent the day in Toronto to experience what the city had to offer in public transit. As a continuation of the Winterfest festivities, we went on a tour of one of the Toronto Transit Commission’s streetcar shops. So, after waking up bright and early and grabbing breakfast at Tim Horton’s, we made our way to the city and the Leslie Street car barn on the east side of the city.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a line of the TTC’s newest streetcars, the Flexity Outlook, all waiting for their operators to go into service. The Flexities were built by Bombardier with the first car going into service in 2014. These cars are still being built by Bombardier to eventually replace all the older CLRVs and ALRVs on the system.
Leslie car house is the newest and most state-of-the-art shop on the TTC. The front entrance of the building gives the impression of a new, modern shop. But the real treat was inside the shops themselves.

As you can see in these photos, Leslie car house is quite impressive. It was built specifically with the intention of being equipped to service the new Flexities on the system.
This car had just been freshly delivered and has not yet seen a day of service. It’ll never be this clean again!
The first track in the barn is dedicated to truck maintenance. Here we see several of the Flexities trucks.

For comparison, the first truck is off of a CLRV while the second is off of an ALRV.
Here we see the pit and the overhead walkways for servicing the cars.
This section of the shop is dedicated for prepping cars for painting. Although the cars are soon destined for the scrapper’s torch, one of the aging CLRVs is seen here taking a trip through the paint shop, presumably for some touch ups. Out of view of the photo was the paint booth which was closed while we were there, so nothing to see really.
Although, you could take a selfie with the gray paint booth door.
The last track in the building contained the wheel lathe for truing wheel profiles. Our docent told us that the track was the designed to be long enough that a Flexity could get each of its 3 trucks worked on without opening the end doors.
Another interesting aspect of the shop was the Flexity training simulator including a replica operator’s cab and several large rear-projection screens.
Outside the car barn was their storage yard. A number of CLRVs and ALRVs are stored here. And while they may look decent from a distance, a closer inspection revealed that these cars will likely never turn another wheel in service.
Many of these cars are being picked over for parts to keep to healthier cars in service. Note some of the poles are up on a few of the cars. You could hear a few of the car’s converters humming away to keep the batteries charged.
A humorous mishap was pointed out to us in the storage line. Car 4239, an ALRV, was shopped and painted about a year ago. But within a day and a half of service…
It met a car the hard way and bent the frame, making it unfit for service. It looks great though!
While walking through and inspecting the cars, we managed to stop and get a group photo.
As it neared lunch time, so did the end of our tour of Leslie Barn. But, our day in the city was not over as we then ventured into downtown Toronto. Stay tuned for part 2!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Down to the Buzzer

It was too cold today for further painting on the 308, so I turned to fixing a few minor problems on the 319.  First of all, the buzzer at the #1 end was very weak.  You could usually hear it if the car was stationary, but not if it was running.  That's not acceptable.  Unfortunately, it's mounted in a tight spot, as seen here.  The barrier to the right is what's left of the as-built compartment around the cab.

Removing the buzzer was difficult.  I finally got a large soldering iron from the shop and used it to heat up and free the screws holding the buzzer in place.  Once it was free, it was easy to remove.

And while we're at it, we might as well remove the cover for the headlight switch and repaint it.  When the cover is removed, you see this nice big DPDT knife switch.  The DPDT switch is a relic from the original use of carbon arc headlights.  The direction of the current through the headlight was reversed when switching from bright to dim.  That's still the case, although of course with incandescent bulbs it makes no difference.

This cover was relettered in yellow while it was in Cleveland.   Apparently by a five year old.

But with some careful sanding, we can recover the black lettering that's correct for the red paint scheme.  The cover was taken home for repainting. 

And a refurbished buzzer was temporarily installed in the circuit and tested.  It works nice and loud.  It was then taken home for painting.   Next time, I'll have to bring along my soldering gun so it can be permanently wired in the car.

I also spent some time retrieving and sorting various spare parts in storage.  And I removed a buzzer from the 321 and took it home for testing and repainting.

Then I helped John Faulhaber for a while with mounting the new baggage door on the 213 and trying to get it to operated properly.   It still needs a little adjustment.

But it certainly looks nice.  It will eventually be repainted to match the rest of the car.

Pete was using the new spray booth that Buzz constructed.  The exhaust fan helps keep things clean and removes unwanted fumes.

On my trip over to the 321, I found Bob Olsen working on window parts in the 109.

A selection of newly-built windows, although I don't remember which car they're for.

Jon is painting roof parts for the 65.

Ed and Norm are taking a break from their respective projects.

Jeff is working on flooring pieces for the 28, assisted by Rich.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Spring is Here

Frank writes...

Well, spring might not quite be here, at least not for a few more days, but Sunday was a pretty nice day anyway. It was sunny and the high was 50 or so, not too bad for mid-March. As mentioned in my father's post it was nice enough for some painting.

Smiling Volunteers Part 1: here he is adding some fresh "Fleet Grey" to the 308 over in Barn 8. When I showed up he was already hard at work. I figured I'd try and finish what I started so I removed the air gauge from the #2 end of the 308 and took it to the shop for testing. This end of the 308 is rarely used, mainly because it has a unique (among our CA&E fleet) motorman's valve which only has two apply positions. Whereas most M-15 valves have three apply positions - slow, medium, and fast - the one at the #2 end of the 308 only has "fast" and "faster".  That makes it a bit trickier to run with. Why this is, we have no idea, only that it's what was on the car when it was in service so of course it's only proper to leave it in place.
Of course I neglected to get a decent photo of the #2 end gauge (oops) but it's fairly similar to this one, which we acquired as a spare a few years ago. Both are from a different maker, Star, than the Beacon gauge at the #1 end of the 308. Note these only go up to 160 lbs rather than up to 200 lbs like the Beacon gauge. Even this differs from the #2 end gauge in the 308, though, in arrangement of the lettering and attachment screws. But I digress.
The inside of the #2 end gauge was remarkably clean and only needed a little cleaning and oiling of the gear teeth to get it ready for service. Thanks again to Richard for his help and advice with this.
That didn't take long, so I left to help (or maybe I should say I went to "help") with the crew working on Milwaukee 972. This car was cleared for limited service last year but concerns about side bearing clearance on one truck had been raised. So raised it was, on Sunday, this time on jacks. Joel, Richard, Greg, Thomas, Nick, and myself all helped with this effort. Here Nick peers down the length of the car as this end sits raised a few inches on jacks. We just needed to get the car high enough to put some fresh grease "cookies" into the center bearing bowls and pull some shims from one of the side bearings.
Smiling Volunteers Part 2: Richard looks in on the center bearing. If you look closely (directly over the square nut with cotter pin in the very foreground) you'll see that the body half has been raised above the bowl, attached to the truck bolster, so that Joel can drop in the grease cookies from inside the car through the motor motor inspection hatches.
Won't you all give Joel a hand, ladies and gentlemen!
After this the car was pulled east and the other end jacked up to repeat the operation, though no shims needed removal at that end. After a test trip or two around the car line measurements were taken again and were satisfactory, so with the completion of annual inspection items the 972 should again be cleared for limited service. It's still in the "running-in" phase so the shop workers will be keeping a close eye on it for a while, but look for this car on the car line on a few days this coming season.

As usual, there were other projects being worked on as well. Bob Sundelin, our resident machinist, had an unusual bolt for an RPO (I think) on the lathe and had also been making parts for the grinding machine out in the barn, while Thomas and Nick were still slaving away at getting the 4410 ready for service, repairing more leaky air valves. And in other good news I ran into Mark Secco, who is working on repairing the CGW wrecker. Once that's done it can be moved and Shaker Heights 18 can be brought up to Barn 7.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Painting the 308

Usually I work at the Museum on Saturdays, but it was icy in the morning and Sunday was predicted to be better, so I went out there today.  It's time to start repainting the grey and the red on the 308. 

As we look back on it, these colors on the car's exterior probably haven't been repainted since 2002, and the grey in particular has become rather discolored with age.  None of the paint has started to peel, so it's just a matter of sanding it down and putting on another coat.  Or maybe two.

Before and after:

Removing the windows would be a time-consuming task, and it appears the railroad did this very seldom during the car's service history.  So we will just paint the windows and trim from a ladder, moving the windows up and down as necessary: 

And by the end of the day, about 2/3 of one side has been finished.

Of course, there were many other things taking place today, but I'll let Frank cover them.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Visit to the General

Kennesaw, Georgia, is the home of the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.  Among other things it contains perhaps the most famous engine in U.S. history, so it's well worth a visit.  This museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian, and therefore has a very professional ambiance.  As you would expect it's clean and well laid out, with good information, dim religious lighting, and signs prohibiting flash photography.

The museum is of modest size and is divided into sections with different subjects.  First, there is some general Civil War history, including displays of weapons, uniforms, items about the progress of the war, freeing the slaves, and so forth.

The "locomotive history" part of the museum is pretty much confined to the Civil War period.  There are some exhibits of various railroad artifacts from that period.

Another part of the museum is devoted to the Glover Machine Works, which was located nearby in Marietta, and which manufactured locomotives and many other types of machinery.  All of this material was saved when the plant was demolished many years ago, although it's just a small part of the total.

I like the way the floor is decorated here.  We should reproduce this in our Entrance Building.

Finally, of course, the major focus of the museum is the Great Locomotive Chase, which started just across the street.  In 1862, the town of Kennesaw was known as Big Shanty, and Andrews' Raiders met here to make history.  There's a theater showing a 30-minute video re-enactment of the raid, which is historically accurate and not to be confused with the Disney movie starring Fess Parker, though it was my favorite movie when I was about eight.

Everyone connected with the raid on one side or the other is memorialized here:

And the General itself is on display in the hall.  Of course, this is almost entirely a replica -- very little of the original fabric of the locomotive is left.  Exactly what might be original seems to be a matter of dispute, and I haven't taken the time to study up on the controversy in detail.  But the locomotive was last rebuilt for use in the centennial celebrations of 1962, and has been on static display ever since, I believe.

And then there's a balcony from which you can look down on the engine.

Notice anything unusual about this passenger car?

Across the street is an old wooden depot.  I could not find any information about the history of this building, and the museum was already closed so there was no one to ask, but I'm sure this is of post-war construction.  Whatever was located here in 1862 was probably destroyed during the Atlanta Campaign.