Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eclipse Update

David writes.....


Unlike Randall or Frank, I will not have to travel to see the eclipse. We are supposed to see 94-96% coverage in Salt Lake City. 100% coverage is supposed to be in Idaho, which is packed for the event. The traffic warning signs indicate that Idaho and Wyoming have banned oversized loads on the highways until the 22nd and that there is supposed to be heavy traffic in town tomorrow afternoon, with all the people coming back from Idaho. I will definitely take light rail to work tomorrow. 

I will provide updates as the situation develops. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Milwaukee Road Day

Today's first big event was the dedication of Barn 11 and the groundbreaking for the new library building by the Milwaukee Road Historical Society.  The MRHA has been an enthusiastic supporter of IRM for many years, and has provided funds to help restore various pieces of equipment and construct a barn to hold them.


Here we are in front of Barn 11, waiting for the ribbon-cutting to begin.


My favorite inspection car, of course, was on display.




The ceremony was conducted by the President of the MRHA, Bob Storuzuk.  



The sign on the barn was preserved by the station agent at Fond du Lac when the freight house was closed, and then donated to the Museum by his son.


One of the members donated a pair of nicely restored lanterns for display on the Lake City.


And here is the actual ribbon cutting in progress:


Then we all walked over to the location of the new building to built along Main Street, which will house not only the MRHA office, but also the model railroad department and the Pullman Library, as I understand.  One of the MRHA members drove here in this car:





Much of the day I spent working on patching up the 150.  Both ends of the car are in pretty bad shape, and we'd like to make them at least look better. 


Lots of other projects were being worked on, as usual.  Here Fred Zimmerman and Jeff Obarek are finishing up work on stepwells for CA&E 451.


Rich Schauer was painting the trolley pole for the 18 (1218).


Buzz was working on details of the Sand Springs 68.


Ed Woytula and Erik Lorenz were working on the Cleveland PCC.  Here is one of the new pieces for the under-the-floor wiring ducts which Ed was carefully making to fit.






After several fittings, pieces of Masonite were carefully fitted to the end of the 150 and attached.  When painted, this will certainly look better than it did.


The 714 was over the pit and being inspected by Joel and his helpers.


Here Nick is inspecting the controller.


Some people are just overwhelmed by a chance at stardom.


Nevertheless, the stepwells looks great.



Here we see Bill Wulfert acting as a tour guide.  The two ladies are the daughter and granddaughter of Ray Neuhaus, an IRM member in the early days whom I remember well from the seventies.  Bill was giving them a tour of the property, which they hadn't seen for many years.  They also brought out two CRT marker lights from Ray's collection, which will be very useful.


I also spent some time fastening up the piping on the west end of the 321.  It may have to be moved at some point.  If I were the MRHA, I'd sure want it out of my barn.


By the end of the day, the end of the 150 looks like this.


And, here at the Governor Mansion, the Governor assistants are busy fixing a J governor.  Rich has come up with an ingenious way of fixing leaks in the valves.  This one was removed from the 1797, and should soon be back in service.  We now have only 40 or 50 more to do.


And finally, tomorrow will be the UP Employees Picnic.  I won't be there, so if anyone can send us pictures of the festivities we would be most grateful.


I won't be there tomorrow because we're heading south to see the eclipse.  My wife has a cousin who lives southwest of St. Louis, in the path of totality.  Frank and Bevin will be staying near St. Louis. Erik told me he's going down to Champaign to stay with his brother, who's a physicist at Illinois, and they will go from there.  Lorne has already gone there with his camper to see the eclipse.  Maybe we'll have a few non-railroad related eclipse reports.  IRM will always be there, but the eclipse won't.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Day at the Lake Shore

Today's projects involved more cosmetic work on the Lake Shore Electric 150.  Frank's paint job still looks great, but there are plenty of opportunities for additions and corrections to the car's structure, what's left of it.  Today I started with a first coat of orange on the car's "letterboard", which never had any letters.  




Say, do you ever have any problems with dust buildup on your window sills?  Whatever you've got, it's probably nothing compared to this.


But of course, after a little brushing, there's a real improvement.



In the Local Nostalgia department, the John McKelvey collection provides this beautiful poster from 1988 of a nearby attraction.  I would have taken the kids there, but it was gone in the blink of an eye.


Next up was making some ersatz tack molding for the 150, so the edge of the roof will look more authentic.  Since it doesn't have to actually hold tacks, I used common pine, which is inexpensive and easy to work because it's so light in weight.  I took a Museum truck over to Woodstock to pick up a couple of 12' long pieces, and then started to mill them in our well-equipped shop.   It was a good day for working inside.


Then they are painted both sides with primer.   Gloss black will be next.


And here we see some visitors from Connecticut getting the VIP treatment from our esteemed Executive Director.  That's Galen Semprebon on the left, and Kelly Buffum riding shotgun.  Galen is the President of the Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point, and we're discussing trading parts and so on.  It generally pays to be on good terms with other people in the same line of work.  And nobody is better at this sort of thing than Nick.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Diesel Daze

Frank writes...

I was at IRM on a Saturday this weekend, for a change, and it happened to be the first day of Diesel Days. Lucky me! I get to see diesels!

Above, just before the Parade of Power (why don't we have a cool name like that for the Trolley Parade?), the E5 with the Zephyr sits on Station 1 while UP 1848 and a caboose train sit on Station 2.
And the BN U30C, out of service at the moment although I'm not exactly sure why, was on display on the turntable leads alongside the two C&NW Dash 9s. A pair of modern UP "Heritage" units was also on loan and on display on the west wye. The weather, by the way, was gorgeous - mid-70s and classic Kodachrome skies much of the day.
So when I wasn't drooling over the embarrassment of dieselized riches to be had, I was working on Shaker Heights 18. Above is the former site of a badly rusted-out steel plate just inside the forward door (note that the car has only two doors, at least not counting the motorman's cab door). The door is to the right; to the left are the steps from the drop section in the middle of the car up to the floor in the front half of the car. I chipped some rust off of the framing members at this location and wire-wheeled off the surface rust in preparation for primer.
The car is over in Barn 13, so on my way back and forth on various tool-gathering missions, I observed Dave, Al, Jerry, and Tom working on getting a new sign installed on the east end of Barn 11, as shown above.
And in other sign news, above is a new addition to the Barn 4 workshop in the pit area. The CTA sign apparently came from the old West Shops complex, formerly the biggest shop for the Chicago Surface Lines and now still a workshop for the CTA. West Shops was where the CSL built a number of its own streetcars in the 1920s.
So here's the replacement piece of steel being test fit. A few minor adjustments are needed, plus I need to drill some holes where this piece will be bolted to the framing members. But definite progress is being made.
By later in the afternoon, the Buildings & Grounds crew had completed installation of the sign shown above. Barn 11 is known as the Milwaukee Road barn (half of it is, anyway) since the Milwaukee Road Historical Association has assisted financially with some of our recent barn construction.
And to finish out the afternoon, Richard Schauer and Greg Kepka helped me by meggering the motors on the 18. This is the first step in testing the electrical systems on the car and involves measuring how good the insulation on the motors is. The car's four motors meggered at 300k, 200k, 350k, and 600k ohms (motors #1 through #4 respectively) which is not great. We will try and dry them out using a light bulb left lit inside the motor case and see if the numbers improve. But none of the motors was grounded, so that's good.
And here's a shot of the 1754 showing more of the recent work by Tim Peters. He was hard at work on the car, as usual, and a few other people were working on projects in the Car Department as well. Eric and Ed were making progress on the Cleveland PCC, Bill was cleaning out the CTA "Baldy," and Buzz was doing window post work on Sand Springs 68. There's a lot happening!

Monday, August 7, 2017

A good time had by all

Frank writes...


Sunday was the annual Vintage Transport Extravaganza, and despite dire predictions of likely rain, not a drop fell in Union and it turned out to be a gorgeous day with what seemed like a strong crowd in attendance. I was particularly impressed by the turnout of antique cars; it seemed like there were about as many cars as usual including the usual fascinating assortment of trucks and miscellaneous oddities. My job for the day was running the Veracruz open car, shown above, with Chris Buck as my conductor. We ran a few trips in the morning, then a long midday break, then a few trips in the afternoon to reduce wear and tear on the car a bit. The car was extremely popular; most trips we were turning away people at some of the stops because every seat was filled.
And that's impressive given that there were three other cars on the streetcar line. During the afternoon we were following Milwaukee 972, shown above, which was only put into revenue service this year. Bob Opal was running the car and it sounds like it was pretty popular. The 3142 and 4391 were also on the car line with the North Shore train, CTA 4000s, steam coach train, and Zephyr holding down service on the main line.
I didn't get much of a chance to take photos, just a grab shot of a Model A (I think) on Central Avenue with the 3142 in the background as we were putting the open car away at the end of the da, but there are some really good shots here. Several of the car shop regulars were kept busy giving lunch breaks to the streetcar motormen, since we were busy enough that the streetcars couldn't be set out on a siding to take lunch, but they still found time to finish up inspection work on CRT 1797 and start inspection work on the 1268. They also put more primer on the trolley base for the 18, so that's much appreciated! And Norm, Jeff, and the blog's biggest fan from Ohio, Walt Stafa, were working on lining up and drilling more holes in the framing at the front end of Michigan Electric 28.