Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Getting Ready

Today was a productive day, with nice weather.  We need to get ready for this Saturday, which has the theme "How people traveled between cities before cars were really popular".  Or to put it more simply, take the train.  A large part of this will be interurbans, and we plan to run a three-car train of CA&E wood cars.  This required a good amount of switching, and Frank was able to take some time off work to help.  We seldom get an opportunity to work together any more!  The 308 had to move from the east end of the set of cars to the west, and so on.

And since they have hardly run at all yet this year, we had to take lots of pictures.  As you may know, the 308 can be run as a control trailer if required, as seen here with the 319:

Later we had a three-car blue train, pushing the 308 back into the barn:

Finally, the 319 wound up at one end of the train:

And at one point we had all four cars together, on a curve, so....

The operating train will look like this:

And here comes the 749, running revenue service today:

There were lots of other activities in progress.  Five rebuilt trucks, count 'em, five:

Hmm, let me think.  What could anyone want with five trucks?  Stay tuned for the answer.

And the walls are going up on the Multi-Purpose Building!

After all the cars had been put back in the barn, I had time to run the 309 over to the pit to finish inspection.  Most of this was the usual stuff: checking the pole clearances and so on.  I got some help from another new member, Kevin from the Steam Dept., who was looking for something to do.  His help is much appreciated.

But one new thing I wanted to try was raising a traction motor with just a long pry bar and some wedges, so we will be able to change out axle bearings with little trouble.  The motor is placed over the end wall of the pit, and with a couple of metal plates and some wooden blocks, the pry bar allows us to easily raise the motor off the axle.  If we went ahead and removed the axle cap casting, the bearing would presumably be easy to rotate out.

Here Kevin is holding the bar.  I just need to make some more blocks of graduated sizes, and we'll be all set.  Eventually.

This weekend should be a great time to bring your family and friends out to IRM.  Don't miss it!

Monday, June 24, 2019

308 Update

Bad news: It now appears that one of the motors on the 308 flashed over and grounded the commutator, so the car is out of service for the indefinite future.  We have spare GE-66 traction motors, but none of them are in serviceable condition; at a minimum, an armature would need to be pulled out, inspected, dipped and baked, etc.  This is neither easy nor inexpensive, to put it mildly.  So that's probably far in the future.

For the immediate future, on Saturday we should still have the other three wood cars (36, 309, and 319) in operation, weather permitting.  We will continue on the 309 bearing project with increased urgency, and take care of other mechanical issues as they arise.  Meanwhile, the 453 project still deserves your attention.   Thanks!

And also, our thanks to Nick Espevik for inspecting the motors for us and reporting on the results.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Sign of Progress

The Buildings and Grounds guys continue to make progress rebuilding the interior of Barn 3.  On Saturday Dave had his nephew Dylan helping out, along with Al Choutka.  They mounted a large sign  that was saved from the NYC freight house in Danville many years ago.  

The barn is not yet open to the public, but will be soon, with improvements to the walkways and displays.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Not Quite Fair

Let's start with the bad news.   The CA&E wood cars, 308 and 319, were scheduled to run today.  We pulled them out of the barn, but I realized that the 308 wasn't motoring.  So we pulled the train back into the barn, and after some testing, found that the car had blown its motor fuse.  This could be bad, very bad, but we don't know yet.  The shop guys will be looking into this, and when we have some better information, we'll let you know.  It could range anywhere from next to nothing, to a traction motor destroying itself, which can cost many thousands of hard-earned dollars to fix.  The 141 blew a motor fuse last week, but on investigation it seems to have been a brush holder flashing over to the case.  They fixed this with cleaning and Glyptal, and the car was running all day today without trouble.   So we just have to be patient.  And I'm about the last person you want to choose as a model of patience.

Anyway, Bob Opal and I got to operate the wood L cars instead.  Everything went well, and we had a fairly good crowd of visitors during the day.   As the conductor, I got to talk to lots of interesting people, and it takes one's mind off technical problems.  Still, here we have a two-car train running on two traction motors, and they never blow up.  It just doesn't seem fair.

There were several other passenger trains running.  The steel CA&E cars were running (409 and 431) without problem. 

Among others, Dick Lukin and Walt Stafa were on board for at least one trip, so we had some old friends and long-time experts to talk to, and also maybe a couple of prospective volunteers for the future.  We can always use help!

Next Saturday we were planning to run a four-car train of CA&E wood cars.  Depending on what the shop guys find, this may be reduced to three, but it will still be well worth your while to be here if at all possible.  There's going to be a lot of interesting equipment in operation.   You won't want to miss it.  And meanwhile, we here at IRM will continue to roll with the punches,

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Bring Car 453 to IRM!

When the first St. Louis cars were delivered, 451 and 453 were coupled together
 to make the inaugural trip, as seen here.   Johnson Collection

Not only was 453 on the inaugural trip for the St. Louis cars,
it was also on the last.  Oct. 26, 1958.   Robert Heinlein photo

We have been given the exciting opportunity to purchase CA&E car 453 from the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton.  This car is essentially identical to our 451 and 460, and would give us the ability to run a five-car train of steel cars.  It was initially acquired by Gerry Brookins, but never restored or used in passenger service.  But it has been stored under cover since leaving Wheaton, and is in very good condition considering how little work has been done on it.

In 2010 it was acquired by Electric City, but they never got around to restoring it, and they need the space for more locally-based equipment, so they have generously offered it to us.

The car is complete, and the interior is actually somewhat better than either of our present cars, I think.

And all of the mechanical equipment is in place.  There are a couple of known problems which we're sure we can fix.  And it has really good wheels!

The IRM Board of Directors has approved the acquisition of this car, with an important catch: "at no cost to the Museum."  That means we have to raise the necessary money for purchase of the car, movement to Union, and track space from YOU, our friends and supporters.   Frank and I will certainly contribute, but we can't do it alone.   The total cost is estimated to be about $25,000.  If you have any questions about this project, just add a comment to this post and we'll try to answer it quickly.

You can send your tax-deductible contribution to IRM, and be sure it's clearly labeled for "Car 453".

Update:  Electric City kindly gave us permission to use pictures from their website.  That includes this nice drawing:

You will note that it was drawn for PST in 1961.  Presumably they were thinking about acquiring these cars, which would have been modified the way the Electroliners later were: remove the steps, extend the floors out, remove the poles, etc.  That would have made the cars a lot harder to restore!

Wednesday Report

It was cold and drizzly again yesterday -- when will this ever end?  Work continues on the Multi-Purpose Building; they mostly seemed to be landscaping the ground around the exterior.  It struck me that we should see what the facade of the building will look like:

The Milwaukee Road society offices and library are on the left, the gallery space is in the middle, and the model railroad displays are on the right.  This will be stunning.

And in Car Department news, four of the five trucks for the Electroliner have arrived, and are temporarily stored under a tarp:  

Once the final truck arrives, we'll schedule the operation for putting the train back together.  And we'll capture it here if at all possible.

Most of the usual Car Department projects were underway.  Here Chuck Meter continues the arduous task of cleaning up every single part to the PCC truck.  And Tim Peters was working on the 1754, Pete on the 160, John Sheldon on the 306, and so on.  And Tim Wills was out yesterday and worked on cleaning up 451 parts.  Thanks!

In spite of the dreary weather, daily revenue service continues.  Ron Seavers was running the 4290.

And the 141 was in operation for training, and for limited passenger service.

All of the drop sash for the 451 were trimmed and installed, along with many of the track parts.  Now I just need to find the spring latches....

And with some more cleaning and straightening, it's starting to look better.  I think.

One interesting thing I found was this:

At first glance I thought it was a grinding wheel of some sort, but it must be the speedometer mechanism.  The metal wheel is connected to a generator via a flexible shaft, and I suppose the wheel itself must rest on the tread of one of the wheels on the truck.  This is completely different from the system on the 460, which is mounted directly to one of the main bearings and driven by the axle itself.  That one didn't work either.

In any case, I see little point in trying to get this to work, other than as a science experiment.  Of course, I like science experiments, but right now it would be nice just to put the car back together and get it to operate.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

UP With People

It's always good to have friends, and the Union Pacific has always been a good friend to our Museum.  Today was our annual UP Family Day, and so we had a lot of UP employees and their families enjoying a day at IRM.  There were several tents with various activities set up near the 50th Ave. station, and plenty of trains running.  And we even had several former and current UP employees among our volunteers running the operations.

And then, as requested, here's the floor plan for the new Multi-Purpose Building.  The building faces north (up), so the public facade is at the top of this diagram.  The Pullman Library will occupy the south half of the building, as it's not normally open to the public.  The model railroad display is in the northwest corner, and the library/archive portions, mostly occupied by the Milwaukee Road society, are in the northeast corner.  At least that's the current plan.

Construction continues on the building itself.

You unlock this door with the key of imagination.   Beyond it lies another dimension....

 As I mentioned, there were lots of trains running, despite the dreary weather.  Here the 1630 is passing the wood L cars at 50th.

And the CA&E steel cars were running.  I meant to get a crew picture of Larry Stone and Brian Patterson, but we were all too busy.

And the 411 pulling the waycar train is very impressive.

Everybody likes to look at the steam engine.

And speaking of friends, I met some new volunteers who are friends of Frank through the train show business.  Kristin and Jeremy Dummler were manning the waycars.  Welcome!

In the morning, I spent some time cleaning and sorting in the 451.

I also spent some time going around begging for money.  Not for me personally, but for the 453.  I got some (tentative) results, but more is needed.  Send in your money now, before I start haunting YOU!

And of course several Car Dept. projects were in full swing.  I was too busy to capture most of them.  Here Ed Woytula and Chuck Meter are moving PCC truck parts with the overhead lift.  

And Bob Sundelin arrived, and explained the exact requirements for a circular plate to hold the 309 bearings in place on the lathe.  This is a complicated setup, but the main thing is that we needed four holes of about 1 1/2" diameter bored through this plate, which is about 1 1/4" thick.  That's a lot of steel to remove.  So I spent most of the afternoon on the big drill press.  We start by drilling a small (1/8") hole, then bigger and bigger holes.  It takes a while, and also uses up plenty of tap fluid.

Anyhow, by the end of the day the plate looks like this.  The holes require one more drilling.  We have a big enough drill bit, but our biggest drill press won't handle it.  So Bob will take it over to the Steam Shop; they'll let us use their drill press as long as we bring the drill.  That's more than fair.  The press itself is currently set up for a job, but once that's done, we can continue on the bearing project.

So bear with us.  Hey, no, put that down!!!

In conclusion, though, don't forget the 453.  Let your conscience be your guide, but I won't take "no" for an answer!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Tuesday Report

This will be brief, as I didn't take many pictures.  Construction of the new building is progressing.

I spent basically all day working on the 451, mostly sorting parts and installing various pieces that were removed for painting, many years ago.  For instance, on this side we now have the four folding steps installed.  The machine screws will need touch-up paint.  And then we worked on sorting out the drop sash windows and things like that.

I had a new helper today: Tim Wills came out to do Car Dept. projects, and plans to be here about once a week.  He worked at IRM for a while, about twenty years ago, helping Frank Sirinek for a while, and we're glad to have him back.  When the regular motorman for today was unable to work, we had to take a break and figure out what to do.  Dan Mulvihill agreed to run the 415, and Tim went along as a helper and for orientation, since he's interested in getting into operation.  So that's good.  But I never got around to taking his picture.  

After some technical difficulties, I found a light string that would actually work, so at least we have some low-level lighting inside the car.  Being able to see what you're doing often makes the work easier.

 And I'm glad to report that we're already getting some significant contributions to the 453 fund.  We really appreciate the support.