Sunday, May 28, 2017

More Pictures from Saturday

Chris Buck, who was one of the operators on the 409-431 yesterday, sends us these photos he took during the day.  Thanks!

Crew of the 101:  Joel Ahrendt and Zach Ehlers.

And on the Belt Line caboose, that's Henry Vincent.

By the way, are you looking for a good place to have lunch tomorrow?  The Zephyr will serving lunch in the diner Ceres.  Space is limited, so don't delay!  Our unbiased panel of culinary experts have placed this among the top tier of dinner trains in the state.  And the hard-working crew of the Zephyr will appreciate your patronage!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Down By the Station

Another busy and productive day at the Museum.  Most of the activity centered around revenue service, so most of these pictures were taken down by the station.   First of all, Illinois Terminal car 101 was running.  This doesn't operate very often, partly because this is the only one of its type.  It's flying black flags in memory of the late Bob Bruneau, who purchased this car for the Museum back in 1956 and guided its preservation and restoration.

I did some work cleaning up and checking various parts of the CA&E train that will be operating on Monday, but not a lot to take a picture of.  At least the car has its classification sign and its 48-star flags. 

And the electric bus from Seattle was in operation.

Work continues rapidly on the 1754.

The CA&E steel cars are waiting on Station 1.

More Chicago transit:

The Decapod is steaming up on the turntable leads.

Meanwhile, out in the fields south of Barn 8, the Track Dept. and B&G crews are cleaning up the material yard.  There are two crews at work, arranging parts to be saved and filling up a gon with scrap iron.  This will make a big improvement to the property.

Once the locomotive starts to move, people are lining up to take pictures.

The caboose train now has five cabooses, and is very popular.

And as the 1630 pulls into the station with its train for the first run, everybody wants to take pictures.

Finally, views of the interior of the 101.

Tune in again on Monday for more colorful and informative news from IRM!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Help Wanted

Summer is almost here, and that means we need operating crews!  In particular, for the wood cars:

Sunday, June 4: Need a trainman
Saturday, June 17: Need a trainman
Sunday, June 18 (Father's Day): Need a complete crew (I should be available)

Who can help?  The motorman must be qualified on the wood cars, of course; the conductor must be rules qualified on the main line sub; and any Museum member can be a trainman.  That probably includes you!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wood Car Training

Today's first task was training.  Larry Stone was trained on the wood cars, although we were worried about the weather.  But it never rained, so that was good.  We needed to switch the order of the cars again, as we're planning to run the 36 and 319 (the "Brookins Limited") on Monday, Memorial Day.  So Larry got a chance to run all four cars, which is important because they all have minor differences.  And then we had a chance to make up the train, and take it out on the road.   And here he is down at the east end.  

He did well, and so the next step will be to sign up for line training at some time soon.

Meanwhile, Ed Oslowski was hard at work cleaning up the interior of Illinois Terminal 277.  They're planning to run the three-car IT train on Monday in honor of the late Bob Bruneau, so Ed wanted to clean things up somewhat.  He's been working more on the Electroliner lately.  But at least the main compartment will be ready for passengers.

And this is the front smoking/baggage compartment:

On Memorial Day, there will also be a dedication of the Robert Bruneau Car Shop at 1 PM.  

While running the 36 and 319, we found there was a problem with one of the retrievers on the 319.  It was not always taking up slack on the rope.  I left it on the table for retriever repair with a note, and I'm hoping we can get this fixed by Monday.   Otherwise we can take a retriever from the 309, and hope nobody notices the odd color.

I also spent some time discussing the casting of new bearings with the Department experts.  The next step will be to start shopping around for a foundry we can work with, preferably within our area.

After all that work, I'd say it's time to relax with a good cigar.  Buzz is fixing up some of the Museum's collection of parlor-car ashtrays for display in the Lake City and other Pullman cars.  Just don't drop your ashes on the floor, please.

Finally, my old friend Jack Biesterfeld has been working hard on the GB&W 110.  It's a big project, but Jack always works hard and efficiently.  He's been doing a lot of paint stripping on the interior.

Below is the original ceiling color, a light green.  It's been covered up with several different layers of paint of every sort.

Much of the interior woodwork is still in pretty good condition.

They have found a builder's photo of the interior of this series of car, which is a great help.

One of the original clerestory windows.

In one place, Jack also started removing the exterior sheet metal that covers up the upper sash.   Underneath, you can see the arched stained glass windows, almost all of which are still there.  That's quite interesting.

Finally, Jack demonstrates how after letting the stripper sit for several minutes, the original woodwork appears.  There's just a lot to do.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pattern Making Made Cheap!

As mentioned before, we have a problem with the #1 truck on the 309.  The bearing surfaces on both axles were turned down at some point, which would require thicker bearings.  But none of the bearings we have available are thick enough, so there's too much play between the axles and the motor mounts.  This needs to be corrected.

Here's what an axle bearing looks like.  It's in two halves: the one on the left I'll call the inner half.  It fits up against the motor casting and has no holes, but is completely solid.  The other half is the outer half, and is held in place by the axle cap, which is bolted to the motor.  There's a large oval hole where the waste rubs oil onto the bearing surfaces.  There are also holes for pins to keep the bearings from rotating relative to the motor.  There are four holes, but only two pins, so that the bearings are the same for either left or right.  The thicker end of the bearing, which is sitting on the table in this picture, butts up against the wheel or the gear and takes the stress of lateral movement by the motor.

For this particular motor, the GE 66B, the outer surface of the bearing has a diameter of 7 1/4".  The nominal axle diameter, and therefore the inner diameter of the bearing, is 6 1/2", but on this truck we're talking about, that's been turned down to as little as 6 1/8".   Therefore, we need to make two patterns for new brass castings that will be thicker.  After casting, they can then be machined to the correct diameter for each axle.  And the spare brass castings are an excellent basis for patterns.

Tim Peters pointed out that we had some leftover pieces of 6" PVC pipe.   The inner diameter is 6", of course, and it's 1/4" thick, so the outer diameter is 6 1/2".   That means it fits almost perfectly into a spare bearing.  So I took it home and started to cut it to size in an obvious fashion.

I prefer to use an ordinary hand-held hacksaw.  It won't get away from you like power tools can.

The next step will be to attach the PVC with contact cement, and carefully smooth the edges flush with the brass, using a rasp.   First, though, I want to check with the experts in the car shop before going any farther.

In any case, we should have usable patterns at basically no expense.  Pattern making is often a large part of the expense of casting, and if we didn't have these spare bearings available, it would be an extremely challenging task to make them out of wood, or whatever.

Once the patterns are done, we will get quotes on casting new bearings, then start passing the hat.  I promise to do my best to make you feel guilty.   It's the least I can do.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Wet By North West

Today was our Chicago and North Western extravaganza.  It turned out to be remarkably cold and wet for late May, but that's the way things go.  Still, there were a lot of people around for the festivities.  Railfans are not easily discouraged.  

Here's the groundbreaking ceremony for the North Western Historical Society's archives building.  It had to be held under a tent, and as you can see there was an overflow crowd.  Dave Diamond was speaking as I wandered by.  The society is still in the fund-raising mode, but they've made an agreement with the Museum to construct an 8,000 square foot archive building along Central Avenue.  The front of the building will look like a North Western ticket agency.  

All of the trains today were being pulled by North Western locomotives.   These two, parked on the wye, are not actually part of the IRM collection but are being stored on our property for a while.

Down by the station, it looks a lot like Wheaton, although the CA&E and C&NW didn't share the same track, of course.

The 4160 is idling here; it later pulled a demonstration freight train which I missed.

The coach train is pulled by this SD-40.

And behind it is our North Western combine.  Behind that were coaches from somewhere else, I forget.  Some island or other.

Phil Hehn is enjoying his job.

And then the bilevels come into view, pulled by the 411.   Just like the good old days!

And the fans are lined up to get pictures of the next North Western train to pull in.

I always like to take pictures of other railfans taking pictures of other railfans....

And the caboose train pulls in, with the RSD-5 on the head end.  It's easy to be a North Western fan for a day when you've got lineups like this.

Most of the day I was trying to diagnose a problem with our Illinois Terminal car 277.  Nick Espevik was a great help, and at least we have the problem narrowed down.  We got to the point where we decided we need to drop the contactor box cover completely, which will have to be done over the pit.  Joel and the guys should be able to get to this soon.  But I didn't take any pictures of this process.

In other news, the 1754 is falling apart.  As you can see here, the end of the car just fell to the ground while nobody was looking.

But Tim decides to ignore that and work on the roof instead.  

 And there were several other projects in action that I didn't get a chance to photograph.  The new door for the 213 has been turned over so the other side can be finished.

 And outside the shop, Dave and Jerry install a new sign in honor of Bob Bruneau.

Finally, at the end of the day, I did some work on preparing patterns for new axle bearings for the 309.  Tim gave me some excellent advice which will make the process much easier.  I took the parts home to work on them there, and I'll have a report on that soon.   So stay tuned!