Tuesday, June 28, 2022

It's a Stretch

 Monday saw some more progress on the 460 roof project.

To start with, I tightened up the clamps that were already attached to the canvas at both ends, added a few more, and then installed two on either side at the middle.

The canvas by now is well stretched out for the most part, and this process is going faster than it did on the 453.  I believe this is just a seasonal thing: the difference between washing and drying the canvas in the middle of winter, and in the middle of summer.

Meanwhile, we see Fred cleaning up the trolley poles for the 306:

And John gives us a picture of the perfect fit of the new saddles on the 306.

Gerry checks the fit on a new piece of steel on the 1808...

and then starts welding it in place.

Here Tim is checking the fit on a new corner post.  The power lift helps with much of the heavy lifting.

While I was outside, I noticed a large flatbed delivering a load of concrete blocks for the facade of the North Western building.

And the city sewer system is being expanded as part of urban development.

Another interesting thing that happened today was the delivery of a truckload of books, model trains, pictures, and several other items from a long-time friend of the Museum.  I helped several of the others unload most of these items.  The books go to the Used Book Store and the trains went into the "Union Hobby Shop".  I was too busy to take pictures, and mostly it was just boxes, but this item is unlike anything we'd seen before.  It's about six feet long, and ignore that cardboard box.

It's made of large pieces of driftwood bolted or glued together, and on it somehow is a complex layout of tiny N gauge track.  It looks like it could actually operate.  Rather bizarre.

This is as good a time as any to remind people that we welcome the donation of model trains of all sizes and sorts.  Of course, as with the Used Book Store, when there are duplicates the department will put some of these items on sale to benefit the Museum, to finance the construction of the layouts, pay the rent, keep the lights on, etc.  Your donations are greatly appreciated!  On the other hand, if you're looking to buy model trains at reasonable prices, the Hobby Shop has them on sale and is generally open on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday.  Stop in, and tell them Hicks Car Works sent you!

Finally, by the end of the day I had finished drilling and putting a coat of primer on all the new saddles for the 460.  Next step: finish black.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Going Green

Thanks to Richard Schauer for sending along this exciting update on CTA 9631:

This is the update you've been waiting for!  Painting has started.  The green is now complete, having been sprayed Saturday and today.  

Re-masking for white will finish tomorrow and it should be painted tomorrow and Wednesday.  The silver-gray for the bumpers will go on afterward.  The pictures are not particularly good because, of course, there isn't a lot of picture-taking room in a paint booth.

The green looks very good.  The shop's main painter unexpectedly quit last week, but they have several other guys that can do the job.  The painter we got is darn good at what he does, and is pleasant to work with.  About the biggest "oops" I saw wasn't really his fault- they painted the bulbs and reflectors for the brake/tail lights!  I saw they had primed them when they did the back end, and thought "someone made a mistake, and it's too late now."  No big deal; I can fix it when it gets back to IRM.

Speaking of that, I am working on a schedule with the shop and the trucking company to bring it back next week sometime.  More to come!

Friday, June 24, 2022

Washday Chores

Washday finally arrived, and it was time to wash out the canvas for the 460.  I was too busy most of the time to take any pictures of the process, and there wasn't anything very photogenic about it.  Here we see the 62' x 12' canvas laid out on the grass.

After allowing it to dry out, at least so it wasn't dripping wet, I rolled it up, loaded it onto a cart, and brought it around to the west end of the barn.  Tim helped a lot with loading it onto the lift, raising it onto the roof of the 460, and then rolling it out.  It then looks like this:

And I had some time to start stretching it, by attaching some clamps at each end.

This will take some more time, but so far everything is going well.


Meanwhile, of course, Tim and John were working on their projects, but I only got one picture of John's work on roof parts for the 306.  These are for the ladders onto the center of the roof, essentially mini lobster traps.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Chicago Heights Street Railway

The Chicago Heights Street Railway
by Stephen M. Scalzo

Headline image: Chicago Heights Street Railway car 103 is southbound on West End Avenue (today Halsted Street) just north of Illinois Street. Behind the car is the 120-foot tall standpipe at West End and Otto, with city hall beyond it. The stretch of track pictured hosted not only CHSR streetcars but interurban cars of two different companies. Today this scene is mostly parking lots and abandoned buildings, and Illinois Street has largely been erased. Photos from the Stephen Scalzo Collection of the Illinois Railway Museum.

Ed. Note: Chicago Heights, Illinois, is a small city located 25 miles straight south of downtown Chicago. For info on the industrial history of Chicago Heights, click here.

The Chicago Heights Street Railway was organized on March 2, 1901, with $100,000 of capital. The company had the backing of the Chicago Heights Land Association because a streetcar system would facilitate development of the city. After receiving a 20-year franchise from the city council and posting a $10,000 bond, the company initially constructed 3.73 miles of primary track and 1 mile of secondary track. Passenger service was inaugurated during September 1904 with a 5-cent fare, and streetcars became known locally as the "dinky." Electricity for the overhead wires was purchased from the Chicago & Southern Traction Company interurban system. A small carbarn was constructed for maintenance and storage at Wentworth and 11th Street. Eventually trackage totaled 5.44 miles and six closed, two-axle streetcars were purchased, of which three were used daily and three were kept as spares. That was the beginning of the golden age of streetcars, and by acquiring a street railway system, Chicago Heights was joining a boom that would last until the advent of paved highways.

CHSR car 101 poses with its crew at an unknown location. Judging from the archaic Bombay roof, these cars were probably rebuilt from older cable trailers or horsecars. The rooftop ad reads "Prices shaved - your money saved - Ascher's."

In addition to the local streetcars, the city also had two interurban systems that operated on some of the company's trackage. The Chicago & Southern Traction Company interurbans operated through the city between Chicago and Kankakee, and the Joliet & Southern Traction Company interurbans operated to Joliet.

By 1910, the city had a population of 14,525. The streets on which the streetcars operated were either ankle deep in dust or mud, depending upon the season. The city started to pave the streets in 1914, beginning with 16th Street. The company was required by the city to pay for a share of the paving costs for streets on which its tracks were located. In 1917, the system was earning only $22,468 with 381,463 passengers being carried. With the arrival of the automobile, the line ran into financial difficulties. Fares were increased to eight cents in 1918, but by that time, patronage was declining.

By 1924, with the annual deficit having reached $4,000, the company determined that it could not continue operating. On December 24, 1924, authority was received to discontinue service, and on January 11, 1925, the last streetcar operated. The interurbans continued to use the company's trackage until their service was discontinued. The overhead wires were dismantled, and the unused trackage remained in the streets until the Depression, when the Works Progress Administration removed them.

This article was edited and laid out by Frank Hicks. Thanks to Ray and Julie Piesciuk and to Richard Schauer for making available the materials from the Stephen Scalzo Collection that were used to publish this history.

Equipment Roster

There is virtually no solid information on CHSR rolling stock. The three photos known to exist depict cars numbered 101, 102, and 103, all of the same design: single-truck, Bombay roof, with rudimentary flat-panel ends. There's no indication of who built/rebuilt these cars for CHSR. Records suggest that the line also owned an additional three cars stored as backups.


This 1915 CHSR timetable is from the Scalzo Collection. Timetable points are 11th & Wentworth, the northeast end of the system at the carbarn; Victoria, the center of town at the Victoria Hotel at West End & Illinois; 26th, the south edge of town at 26th & Chicago Road; and Campbell & 15th, the west side of town. Exact routing is uncertain but it appears there were basically two routes, one northeast-to-west and one northeast-to-south. East-west service along 14th and 16th may have depended on which route a car was on or may have been single direction, with westbound cars on 14th and eastbound cars on 16th (or vice versa).

It's not terribly interesting, but this is the 1911 Sanborn fire insurance drawing of the CHSR carbarn on the north side of 11th Street just west of Wentworth near 5th Avenue.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Trolley Bus Update

Many thanks to Richard Schauer for sending along the latest news on our CTA trolley bus, 9631:

Not a lot to show for last week.  The 9631 is fully primed and the primer has been finish sanded.  I've included a couple of pictures of the front, because I hadn't been able to get any of it until now (it was almost up against the wall, and surrounded by other stuff).  They have assured me that it will get painted this week.  I did observe a number of long-time projects have begun moving along, or have been finished entirely, so I think it's logical that our time is here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Muggy Monday

Monday was another hot, steamy day, but work continues, thanks to our air-conditioned shop facilities.

Early in the morning I was able to finish most of the primer on the 460's tack molding, and with the aid of a fan, it's not too bad.

 Meanwhile, we see that the 306's roof is completely painted, and saddles can be installed soon.  John is working on tracing out the motor circuits, among other things, and Fred was working on the trolley bases.

Pete and Fritz continue painting in the vestibules of the 160.

In the wood shop, I finished sanding down all of the saddles, drilled all of the holes, plus the indents for placing them correctly, and then started on painting.

Finally, we'll look at the 1808.  Gerry and Tim have finished the structural repairs at this end, which is now on the east end of the car:

And the west end now requires more grinding, welding, and so on.

And of course Tim continues rebuilding many of the wooden parts of the structure.

If you look closely, you can see that the wooden slats in the vestibules are slightly tapered so that the floor is angled down just a bit to each side.  Presumably this helps water drain out under the doors.

Monday, June 20, 2022

In Memoriam John Faulhaber

We regret to report the death of John Faulhaber, who was for many years a faithful member of the Car Department crew.  He was a friendly, hardworking, and valuable member of the Museum, liked by everybody who knew him.  He will certainly be missed.

Funeral arrangements in his home town of Genoa will be this Thursday, June 23, and details can be found at this link:

John Faulhaber Obituary (1941 - 2022) - Genoa, IL - Chicago Tribune (cleveland.com)

Sunday Progress

Frank writes...

Sunday afternoon I was back out at the museum to take advantage of car 18 being over the pit. The big news, such as it is, is that we are going to place an order for new brake shoes for the car, which will be needed to put it into (eventual) public operation.
As shown previously, this car uses very unusual brake shoes held in with large cotter pins. Fortunately, we were able to get in contact with Don Curry of the Seashore Trolley Museum, who about 15 years ago made a pattern for these brake shoes and had a run cast for their identical car 1227. And it turned out that, as luck would have it, the foundry that made those shows 15 years ago 1) still has the pattern, and 2) is still willing to cast these shoes. Furthermore, Seashore loaned us one of the shoes they got 15 years ago to test-fit on the 18. Above, the new shoe is on the left with one of the car's old shoes on the right. The new shoe fit perfectly, so the next step is to wear it. Well, cast more and wear them.

And that's where you come in! We need to raise $1500 for a run of new brake shoes for the 18, and all contributions are appreciated. You can donate here or by mailing in a check. Make sure to mark checks for Shaker Heights 18 (as opposed to Union Pacific 18). No amount is too small to help!
So a good portion of my afternoon was taken up with an inspection of the 18's running gear, to identify any other issues that might affect our plans to put the car into public operation at some point. A couple of minor things were found, but nothing significant (nor particularly expensive to fix). So after that, I spent some time needle-chipping the paint off of the front corner post and front bumper, with the results shown above.
After dinner, Greg did some electrical testing on the marker light circuit, and confirmed Zach's suspicions from last year that the failure of the markers to light is due to a bad resistor. He removed the above assembly, which is pretty much just a tin can with the resistor inside of it that sits underneath the rear bench seat inside the car. We will need to try and figure out the value of this resistor and then order a new one, after which - hopefully - the rear markers will light.
Speaking of dinner, it was a very nice outdoor BBQ at the Central Avenue Pavilion in honor of Marcus' birthday. A good crowd of volunteers turned out, as shown here. Happy birthday, Marcus!
I pointed out to Joel that it was foolish to walk the long distance from the car shop to Central Avenue when we could take public transit instead, so he relented and a group of us took the 18 over to dinner instead. Nick, shown here, spent a while expounding upon the car's historic significance to our collection. Nathan and Mikey are in the cab.
And finally, though rewinding a bit, earlier in the day I again stopped by the bus barn on my way in. Richard and Jerry were back working on cleaning out and stabilizing the CTA articulated trolley bus. It hadn't really moved laterally since Saturday, but they had aired up the tires, so I guess it moved upwards slightly. In case you were curious, this is a pretty weird articulated because the articulation joint only moves vertically - the front and rear sections don't turn side-to-side at all, and both the front and rear axles "steer." It's definitely an oddball!

1808 In Motion

We'll have some regular news of restoration progress up soon, but Tim wanted me to post these stills and videos as soon as possible to show the 1808 in action.  Although a lot of the body has been disassembled, it can still operate under its own power, and even carry any passengers brave or foolhardy enough to ride along.  Of course, you had to be there at the right time.  The car needed to be wyed, and this was the best time to do it.

And as soon as it was back in the barn, restoration resumed.  

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Saturday Operation

Saturday provided us with nice weather and an excellent crowd of visitors, all of whom seemed to be having a good time.  Mainline trains included the 1630 pulling the coach train, the wooden L cars 1797 and 1268, and the 36 and 309.  Then the 749 was running the Union shuttle all day, plus the 4391 and 3142 on the streetcar loop.  What more could you want?

I was too busy to take many pictures, but here's what we've got:

I got to run the train for a couple of trips.  Photo by John Csoka.  As often happens, I got to meet some of our regular blog readers.

Frank and Vivian paid a visit and went for a ride.

Next operation will be on July 3rd.  You won't want to miss it.

Frank adds...

A couple of interesting things Vivian and I happened upon during our wandering around:

Over at the bus barn, Richard and Jerry had towed the CTA articulated trolley bus, the "Queen Mary," out of the barn as part of the re-shuffling project. I couldn't tell you whether I've ever seen this thing outside.

And then late in the day, Good Nick and Mikey brought the 18 over to the inspection pit. Stay tuned!