Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Springtime Sunday

Frank writes...

Okay, so it's late February and not springtime - but it felt like springtime on Sunday, with a high temperature around 60, I believe. Sounds like time for some painting!
We have four ex-Shaker Heights cars, and the two that are destined to be restored as SHRT cars are currently next to each other on track 73. (Coincidentally, the two that aren't destined to be restored as SHRT cars are also next to each other, but on track 41.) The one that's currently distracting me from the 18 is PCC car 63, shown above. I went around the car with white primer, trying to cover anywhere that the paint had popped off and bare metal was visible. Above is shortly after I started.
And here's the end of the job. I didn't do the area along the standee windows or the roof, because I hadn't gone along with a paint scraper and knocked off loose paint. That will wait for next time. Ideally, we should also source new windows for those doors; the original Lexan (roughly 1' x 5' x 3/16") is badly fogged and really ought to be replaced at some point.
We took a look at the orange paint for the 63 that the paint shop matched, but it's too dark. You can see a splotch of it pointed out by the arrow. Especially since the entire car will be painted this color, we want to it to be right. We'll go back to the paint store for another try.
I painted the four windows removed from the 18 a month ago with Bankers Cream paint. These are now ready to go back into the car and another batch can come into the shop for refurbishment.
In other news, my wife sewed some white flags, which I nailed to old flagstaffs that had shown up with the Brookins collection. The hope is that when car 18 runs this year, it will boast a fender, whistle, and flags that it lacked last year.
There were plenty of other things going on and the place was practically buzzing with activity. Some of the guys were working on inspecting CSL 144, shown here on the inspection pit with Fox River Electric 306 behind it. Others were working on rebuilding the box for the 600V overhead line cutout switches that go next to the substation, plus there was a work crew over in Barn 2 working on the 415 repainting project. The Electroliner crew was hard at work, there were people working on Milwaukee trolley bus 441 over in the Hoffman Garage, and others were working on fixing up electrical parts in the shop.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Shop Saturday

 Buzz Morisette reports:

Lots of various projects at the IRM shops on Saturday.  I helped Matt, from the Coach Dept. do some apprentice work on the little wood lathe we have. He made a replacement lift handle for a mail bag hook on the CB&Q RPO.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Wednesday Bazaar

For Wednesday we have a wide variety of activities to report, so pull up a chair.  On the way to the Museum, I stopped at the Sherwin Williams store in Huntley to pick up the recently matched paint for the Shaker Heights PCC 63.  As Frank reported last time, he's agreed to give it a cosmetic paint job.  

It's a nice color, and when Frank is finished it will certainly look a lot better than it does now.

And speaking of paint, here we see Pete finishing up the brand new baggage door for the 213.  This may be the biggest door the Car Dept. have ever fabricated.

Buzz was working on parts for the Pennsy tool car:

And Tim was installing clerestory windows on the 1808, using the magic lift.

Also, some structural repairs have been made.

Many other people were busy - Fritz, Victor, Bill, Tim, Bob Albertson, Marcus, and several more, but I wasn't fast enough with the camera.

I kept working on seats.  In the 319, there are several that are basically in good shape, but could be improved with a coat of black latex.  Here's a typical "before" subject.

So I painted several backs and a couple of cushions.  It's going to look much better.

I also finished tightening up all the screws in the backs that were installed last time.

Now for another upholstery project -- this one is a little more challenging.  Here is what the seat backs in the 36 look like.  They are covered in rattan (a special type known as "transit weave") and have two horizontal insets on each side:

...except for three of them, which were replaced with these flat backs at some point.   Instead of rattan, this is actually some sort of plastic and doesn't look at all right.  Besides being flat, the backs are too high, so they stick out like sore thumbs.  And we didn't get any spare parts with the 36, so I'd like to try to make some new ones.

The seat backs in this car are not held in place with screws or anything similar; instead, wedge-shaped castings on the backs and the brackets fit into each other.  With enough leverage, you can lift the back straight up and out.  Perhaps you can see the casting on the side of the back:

A close-up:

Notice how the pseudo-rattan is coming loose.

From measurements, it appeared that the seat backs in the 300 and similar cars are just about the right size and shape.  Of course, they're covered in fabric, not rattan, but perhaps that can be corrected.  I had taken home a 300 seat back that was in bad condition and started removing the fabric just to see what was underneath.  But here it is propped up in place.  You have to use your imagination, but it should fit right in.  It may appear a little too short, but that's because it's sitting on the cushion and not supported two inches higher for clearance like the actual seat backs.

Several years ago we acquired a couple of rolls of transit-weave rattan, and there should be plenty for this project.  Tim's expertise will be critical for success.  He has suggested starting off with a small test piece for practice.  I've got a few spare nickel seats that should be just right.

But that's not all.  I also brought home a seat cushion from the 309 to recover.  There's always something that needs to be done, so it never gets dull.  Watch this space for results!

Monday, February 19, 2024

Today's Mystery

Frank writes...

I was out at the museum on Sunday, but unfortunately failed to take photos of what I was doing. We did get some spare parts put away and took that battery box cover from Shaker Heights 63 over to the paint store to get the vermilion/orange color matched - many thanks to Good Nick for his help with that! The shop was busy with various things happening, including a switch move that saw CRT 1268 moved back out of Barn 4 just a week after it arrived. You'll need to ask Tim what's happening with that. I had hoped to put a coat of cream paint on the 18's windows, but realized the cream paint had been left at home - oops. That will wait until next time.

Anyway, we have here a mystery: this handle (brake handle?) showed up in a collection of items and we can't figure out what it's from. Anyone know?

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Saturday Report

Today I did most of the remaining work on installing the reupholstered seats in the 319.  I replaced the material on the nickel-seat cushion at home and brought it out.  



Another seat back was replaced, and the seating in the smoker is now complete. and up to CA&E standards.

Then I started installing new seat backs in the main compartment.  One interesting improvement is as follows.  At the location shown below, opposite the toilet compartment, this car originally had a stationary bench against the wall, as the 308 and 309 still do.  But at some point this was replaced by a walkover seat.  However, because of the wall construction, this seat frame is different from the rest of those in the 319, and seems to be the same as those in the earlier 300's.

But the seat back (as received) was not the correct width, and as a result the brackets didn't fit properly, so the seat was always coming out of the track, and among other things some of the wood on the arm rest got chewed up.  This has been a constant headache since we got the car.  I blame Cleveland, but I really don't know for sure.

In any case, I realized that I could replace the seat back with one from the 300 that we got from MCRM, and that ought to fit.  Here it is after I repainted it at home, and installed it today.  It seems to work perfectly, so that's one problem solved.  The arm rest needs to be replaced at some point.

Anyway, all of the new seat backs have been put in place.  Getting all the screws tightened up is very time-consuming due the tight clearances, so that's not finished yet.  Wait till next time.

Of course, several other things were going on.  Here's just a small sample from the car shop.  Tim continues working on the 1808, and here he shows off all the clerestory windows recently repainted by Fred Zimmerman.

And Bill was working on windows from one or two of the 4000's.  These cars have always put in a lot of mileage since arriving at IRM, and constant maintenance is necessary.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Doodlebug Update

 Gregg Wolfersheim continues to work on the UP doodlebug, and sends us an update of recent progress:

Work continues in the Women's room of the doodlebug. Primer on the back wall. The varnished area is where the mirror goes and the tan area next to it is the drinking cooler location. I'll leave these spots as is for the moment.

Here, the front wall is getting painted.

The rear wall painted and some of the trim reapplied.

The front wall also all painted. Next is the outer wall.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Better Living Through Upholstery

This morning six reupholstered seat backs arrived from Wisconsin, and they look excellent.  My thanks to John Sheldon for arranging this and providing the transportation.

In particular, the straps over the seams are very well done.

I needed to attach the brass handles, though, and that took some time.  Some of the original brass screws that hold these in place had broken, so that had to be fixed.   Tim helped by supplying me with replacement screws from the Sirinek Collection.

Meanwhile, John and Gerry were painting more 306 parts.

Steve and Pax were working on polishing up Liner parts, but somehow my picture of them got lost.   Sorry!

Something looks different when you wander into the old ("Lean One") shop.  The sliding door in the east wall is open...

And inside, contractors are finishing up work on the Lean-Zero.  Notice how the light fixtures are hanging from the ceiling.

Finally, I managed to get a handle on all six backs.  And then they were taken over to the 319.

While we're in Barn 8, here's some progress that Richard has made on his display of historic rails.

This is actually more interesting than you might expect.  The explanatory labels are nicely done.

I loaded the new seat backs into the car, and installed one.  That took a while, mostly because there's very little clearance between the inner bracket and the wall.  I hope to find a better offset screwdriver to make this process easier.

But the seat certainly looks nice.  Next stop, Jewell Road!

Finally, this nickel-seat cushion was taken home for recovering.  That's an easy job.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Sunday Miscellany

Frank writes...

Sunday was a beautiful day to be out at the museum, sunny and with a high around 50. It was a great day for a switch move, and when I arrived, one was already well underway.
Now that is a beautiful sight! This was the first time I'd seen the 306 outdoors since it was painted, and boy, did it look great.
The purpose of the switching was twofold: first, to move the 306 onto the pit to facilitate wiring work underneath the car; and second, to put CRT 1268 into the "Tim Peters berth" at the west end of track 42, while the 1808 was moved one berth east to the "roof booth." The 1808 doesn't need any more roof work, I don't think, but this just puts it and the 1268 next to each other.
As part of this switching, Cleveland PCC 4223, shown here, was moved one berth west and is now at the northwest corner of Barn 4. The restoration of this car is moving along slowly; I believe they're working on running wiring through the floor troughs.
I also ambled up to the depot and took a photo of our newest acquisition, Milwaukee Road "Buffeteria" 126. Read all about it here. You can sort-of make them out over the near end of the car in this image, but it's got these nifty smoke ventilators with fins on top so that they rotate like a weathervane and always point in the trailing direction regardless of which way the car is going. That may be common on passenger cars, but it's not something I'd noticed before.
Anyway, back to Barn 4. Here we see the 306 deposited on the pit, while alongside, you can see the barn skin that contractors installed on the north wall of Barn 4 on Saturday. This really makes the barn look more modern, or professional, or something. At least until it gets all dirty and cluttered.
As for me, my first priority was to get my four windows for the 18 sanded smooth and then primed. Voila. With help from Zach and Richard, I also retrieved some repro advertising cards from storage and put them in the 18's ad card racks, so that makes the interior look slightly better. And Good Nick and Matthew helped move the spare seat cushions for the 18 to the seat cushion storage area.

The switch move featured IT 1565 doing some of the switching, which was the first time in a few years I'd seen it motoring, ever since it went out of service with faulty contactors. That's exciting! Zach was working on bottle valves while Richard was working on the new display of historic rail that he's building over in Barn 8.

After dinner, I conned Nick and Matthew, shown above, into helping a little on the 63. The what now, you ask? Well, the 63 is a Shaker Heights PCC originally built for Minneapolis that IRM acquired from Trolleyville back in 2009. Long term, the car needs a lot of steel work, but for the moment it's complete and in pretty good mechanical/electrical shape. It ran at IRM briefly around a decade ago until its MG set failed. A new MG set is now on hand, and the hope is to install that under the car and get it running again, possibly this year.
I have volunteered to improve the car's appearance by painting it - not its "forever" paint job, that can wait until the aforementioned steel work gets done, but a roller job similar to what I did on Kansas City 755 some 20 years ago. And for the paint scheme, we've picked this livery, which the car wore from around 1974-1975 until about 1980-1981. It's a brilliant reddish-orange with a grey roof, ivory belt rail stripe, and maroon pinstriping. The livery is accurate for the car as it is currently outfitted, with full-height windows in the doors and a "gumball" light on the roof but no pantograph.
Anyway, all that said, Nick and Matthew went over to the car to help find a paint sample. And we lucked out - Nick discovered that the insides of the battery box doors still wear a nearly untouched coat of 1970s red-orange, which I've been calling "vermilion." So, they removed the door (in the top photo, Nick is running the screwdriver while Matthew sheds some light on things) and we brought it into the shop, as you can see. The next step will be to get this paint matched, then in the spring and summer I can spot-prime the car as needed and begin painting. Interested in supporting this effort? Every bit helps!