Tuesday, July 16, 2024

A Sunday on Sodor Tramways

Frank writes...

I spent the first Sunday of 2024's Day Out With Thomas event on the streetcar line. I started the day running the 3142; due to volunteer shortages we began with just two cars out, but additional volunteers arrived around lunchtime and that allowed us to reallocate resources. I moved to the 144, which I ran for the rest of the afternoon, and the 144 crew took out the 4391. It's always nice to see this many Chicago cars out.
Above, here's the 144 on its way back into Barn 7 late in the afternoon.
And here's your requisite crowd shot. Overall, the event seemed like it ran very smoothly on Sunday.
While I was grabbing lunch over by the future site of the gas station, I happened upon our new Visitor Center display board. Pretty nice, eh? You can learn more at www.irm.org/visitorcenter.
After operations wound down, Zach brought out a sign that was just discovered among some miscellaneous items. It's a wooden sign proclaiming "Green Road," which of course is the terminus of the Shaker Boulevard line on Shaker Heights Rapid Transit. Lo and behold, it fits perfectly in that mysterious little sign bracket between the doors of the 18. Eureka! The question now is, what role exactly did this sign fulfill? Zach speculated that when these cars ran as a five-car set, the platforms may have been too short to accommodate the entire train, so riders may have chosen which car to board based on their destination - indicated by these little signs. Or maybe it was something else. Anyone know?
After that, Zach and I loaded up the newly reupholstered seats for the CA&E curve-siders and used the new Taylor-Dunn "golf cart pickup truck" to move them to temporary storage in the 451. Above, Zach has the first load leaving the car shop.
Door-to-door, "last mile" service! Here the Taylor-Dunn takes the second load down the aisle in Barn 8. Thanks also to Greg and Bob for helping load these into the 451. As soon as time permits, I'm hoping to start installing these in the 460.
So, what else was going on? Joel was working on some maintenance items on North Shore 749 during the day. Above, one end of the car has been jacked up a little bit, just enough for the center bearing to clear the truck. The purpose was to put grease "cookies" into the center bearing to keep it lubricated.
Over in Barn 7, I saw that when Steve was out a couple of weeks ago, he got three new center doors installed on Kansas City PCC 755. This is really coming along! Three of the center doors and two of the front doors have now had their Philadelphia plywood doors replaced by correct steel doors that match the profile of the car side.
And out behind Barn 4, a number of pallet rack stringers were laid out on the tracks. At some point these will be painted, and then we'll start assembling pallet racking in the new Barn 4 extension so that we can store large items like motors, air compressors, etc., inside.

Monday, July 15, 2024

Thomas with Pictures

(Technical issues have been resolved, so here we go!)

Saturday was the first day of Thomas for this year, and everything seemed to go very well.  Ticket sales have been very good, so the first trip of the day was moved up to 9:30.  Operations went smoothly, due to the expertise and experience of our Operating Dept. members.  It's always nice to see the campus crowded with people.  And Barn 3 was open so visitors had some cars to go through.


Percy's helper!


By the way, here's a stack of reupholstered seats for the CA&E St. Louis cars.  Jon Fenlaciki has been doing yeoman work transferring these to and from the upholstery shop:

Since I was on Streetcar Relief, I had some free time.  And I visited the C&NW Historical Society building for the first time.  

Inside the visitor's center

Just a tiny fraction of the documentation they possess

Ticket window from the old North Western terminal in Chicago

  The people there were very helpful and friendly, and I got a tour of the back rooms.  There are some nice displays of various sorts in the front, but behind that are the archives, with an astounding amount of historical documents, much of it going back to the 19th century.  There are photographs, detailed maps of every town the C&NW went through, accounting ledgers, and more.  In some cases they documented every tie that got replaced.  The volunteers are in the process of cataloging and organizing all this material.

Anyway, it's an interesting place to visit.  Right now, it's on the west edge of town, so they don't get as many visitors as they ought to.  But urban development is headed that way!

Friday, July 12, 2024

A Sign of Progress

In the case of the Jewell Road shelter, we have what's left of the structure itself, but one obvious thing that's missing is the big station sign that would have been mounted over the door.  That needs to be replaced.  Fortunately, we have several examples of this type of sign on display at IRM.   In particular, the Geneva Road sign is very close.

Reproducing the sign itself was not difficult.  And after tracing all of the letters we needed, it was possible to lay out our best determination of what the original lettering must have looked like.

Now it just needs a couple of clear coats.  The main difficulty will be to carefully transport it from my basement to the Museum and install it on the building.  But the results will be worth all the effort.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Progress Resumes

You might have wondered why there hadn't been any progress reports for a while.  The answer is mainly that we had a family gathering so the cousins could all see each other.  We even went to IRM one day and had a ride on the 309. 

 And here they are all sitting on the bench in Barn 9.  Everybody wave!

Well, that was fun, but now it's back to work.  I wanted to trace the lettering on some of these station signs in our collection for use on Jewell Road, but with the rotary converter immediately below I decided I had no really safe way to get at them.  

But the Warrenville sign is sitting on the ground, so that served to provide most of the letters I need.

And then I finished painting the west wall of the shelter.  Now we just wait for moving day.

And then I spent some time in the 451 removing a couple of seat backs.  The seats in this car will go to the upholstery shop, and the refurbished ones will be installed in the 460.  In this picture, you can see a reupholstered seat back covered with plastic.

That's going to be a big improvement.  Our thanks again to everyone who has helped with this project!

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

See Us on YouTube!

We were recently contacted by Jeffrey Ornstein, who manages a YouTube channel that examines interesting and unusual transit (mostly rail transit) designs of the past. He was interested in using our article on Chicago Surface Lines 4001 as an information source for a video feature about the car. We were happy to oblige, as was the museum when it came to permission to use photographs in the IRM collection, and he just posted the resulting video yesterday.

It's an excellent overview of car 4001's history and significance. The only thing I realized was that I haven't updated the blog article's "current status" for the car! The history article still says that car 4001 is tarped and stored outside, but in fact it's been in Barn 13 for several years now. Oops.

Anyway, if you're interested in reading more about car 4001, click here. And you can find all of our car-specific history articles here. Many thanks to Jeffrey for the great video on CSL 4001, for the greatly appreciated credits and plug in the video, and helping to "spread the word" about this unique car's history!

Monday, July 1, 2024

Moving the Berlin Sander

 Buzz Morisette sends us an illustrated explanation of how the Berlin sander was moved out of the car shop!  He writes:
After acquiring a newer, more powerful Delta Unisaw last year a decision was made to have both our saws set up in the wood shop. With no more space available, and the very limited use of the big Berlin sander, we decided to put the sander into storage. At a total weight of close to 5 tons it involved some big help.
At the same time, our track department scheduled the replacement of barn track 34.  And the shop storage car, the B&O 374065 wagontop boxcar on display in barn 3 would be outside, making it easier to load into.
So in April, Tim and I disconnected the Berlin sander and packed up the components.  Several shop helpers were there to help stage it in the new barn 4 addition.
It took a few months to have the weather, yard clearance, switch crew, and big lift people available at the same time. On Saturday June 29th all came together to safely store the sander away.  Special thanks to all involved.
Long range plans for an interpretative historic shop display or building could be the Berlin's final destination.

On blocks

At the shop door





Almost there...

Motors go in first

And it just fits!

Shaker Progress

Frank writes...

Sunday was gorgeous, a sunny day in the mid-70s. Due to family commitments, I changed my usual schedule and was at IRM from late morning until I skipped out mid-afternoon. I still managed to get some stuff done, though.
I spent most of my time putting more orange paint on Shaker Heights 63. The brush work is the slowest part of the job, but it's necessary because I can't get into all the corners and along edges with a trim roller. As shown above, I completed the trim work on the front end, including the bumper.
This photo was taken midway through the work, but I ended up completing nearly half of the left side of the car above the belt rail. This is not going to be a "one-sided" paint job! I am running low on paint, so I need to get another gallon of vermilion/orange, but I should have enough to finish the brush work on the rest of the car. Then the second gallon will go toward rolling all the flat surfaces.
I also had a few errands I needed to run. The most pressing was to make up the train for Thursday, when the 309 and 319 are on the schedule. The cars had been run together but weren't coupled, so I just needed to back up the 309, insert a link, and run them together again. And voila; note that when "stretched" there's about 3/4" between the coupler faces. I also checked the oil in both cars' air compressors.
Then, I dragooned Richard Schauer into helping me attempt to figure out what was causing the 18 to ride up on the frog at the South Junction facing point switch. The switch is shown above. We found that a few bolts holding the guard rail to the near (inside) rail, in the foreground, were loose. We're hopeful that tightening these may solve the problem, if it pulls the guard rail closer to the running rail. You'll recall that the 18 didn't pick this frog the last couple of years; the problem only started this year. But only time and testing will tell. Stay tuned. And thanks to Richard for all his help with this!
And in a final bit of good news, we have a photo of the first newly reupholstered seat for the 450s! The first example to be completed by the upholstery shop was delivered and test-fit in the 451, as shown above. This seat will probably actually be installed in the 460, and the 451 is dirty enough inside that I left both the seat back and cushion in their protective bags, but it looks like they should fit just fine. More seats have been completed, which means we need to remove the rest of the seats from the 451 and send them in for refurbishing as well.

Finally, before leaving town, I took some measurements of a spare Tomlinson coupler that may work to replace the one under the 453 that's missing some parts, and I snapped a couple of photos for the new signal roster. The what, you say? Here you go.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

IRM Before 1970

Many thanks to Art Peterson, who has sent along another terrific trove of photos. In this case, they're from a railway familiar to us all: IRM itself, taken in the early years in Union between 1964 and 1970. Some photos were taken by a young Art Peterson himself. Enjoy!

All photos are copyright Krambles-Peterson Archive and may not be reproduced without permission.

Back when the museum's entire collection was lined up around where Schmidt Siding is now, this shot of Public Service 7 followed by the "Ely" and a couple of C&NW baggage cars was a popular view. This view dates to August 1966, just after the first car (IT 415) operated. Photo by Glenn Andersen. Gregg Wolfersheim adds that this image may have been turned into a postcard that was sold in the gift shop.

The pride of the fleet! It's October 18, 1969, an auspicious day to be sure, and the 309 looks to be on the west track in Yard 1. The 354 is next to it and behind it are a CRT 'L' car, the 101, and a couple of IT orange cars. Photo by Art Peterson.

On June 5, 1966, George Krambles snapped a couple of photos inside the 309 while it sat in the lineup at the west end.

Interior shots of the car before the fire are rare, but then again, it pretty much looks like this again today - after only about 30 years' worth of work.

On that same day, June 5, 1966, George also shot the 321. The car was painted green before leaving North Chicago because it looked so unsightly.

Art Peterson took this photo of the 431. The photo is dated May 21, 1968. Gregg Wolfersheim: This is on the main line in front of the depot with the "big tree" visible.

This photo of the 431 westbound at Olson Road was taken May 26, 1968, by Tom Desnoyers. Of course, where the photographer is standing would probably be in the gauge of the station track lead today. That may be Howard Odinius in the cab, but I'm not sure. Gregg Wolfersheim: Definitely Howard in the cab.

Another Desnoyers photo from the same day, I believe this was taken about where Car Line Junction is today. IRM's main line is off to the left and in the right distance you can see the substation shelter. Behind the 431 is the 65, then the X4 - just arrived from ERHS and possibly with someone working underneath it - followed by a North Shore caboose (1002 or 1004), the C&NW wood cupola caboose, and CSL E223.

On October 18, 1969, Art Peterson took this photo of CRT 1024. In those days, the 1024 and 1808 often ran as a set, so they're probably changing ends here to head back to the depot. Gregg Wolfersheim: This is at Karstens, at the longtime east end of the railroad.

It's the same day, and Art also snapped this photo of the 1808 pulling the 1024 at the west end of Station Track 1. In the left background is the 144 on the west wye; to the right is the 431 and the Pennsy doodlebug is sitting over on the main.

A year or so earlier, the 1808 is sitting on the west switch as it's passed by a C&NW freight train led by GP7 1564. This seems like an odd place to spot the car, but both poles are down, so go figure. Photo dated May 26, 1968, by Tom Desnoyers.

Restoring CSL 144 to operation was a major project, as can be seen in this Tom Desnoyers photo taken July 9, 1967. The car is on one of the newly laid tracks in Yard 1 with the 65 spotted behind it.

Speaking of which, here's the "mother car" on May 28, 1967, in a George Krambles photo. It clearly still wears most of its yellow CRANDIC paint but looks like it's got a new roof.

The notorious Illinois Terminal tower car shown here helped string the museum's first trolley wire. The thing in between the wheels is a clamp to hold the car to the rail; woe betide him who forgot to affix that! This photo was taken by George Krambles on June 5, 1966, just a few weeks before the first car operated. I'm not sure who everyone is but I believe that's Bill McGregor up on the pole.

On July 6, 1968, George snapped this photo of the "Tangerine Flyer" - the 233, 518, 504, and 234. All except the 504 had just arrived from Champaign; the 233 still has UofI blue windows and doors and is lettered "Urbana."

The first operation at IRM was July 17, 1966, and this photo of the 415 was taken one week later, on the 24th. I believe this is east of Olson Road only because I can see a switch - er, the switch - behind the car. Photo by Tom Desnoyers.

Just a couple of months later, in September 1966, George Krambles took this photo of the tidy loading platform that was hastily set up on the west side of Olson Road. This is really an interurban-style platform: vertical boards around the edges with crushed stone fill.

Less than three years later, IRM has changed dramatically, and we see the freshly painted Class B on the west leg of the wye while the 1808 loads at the depot in the background. William Janssen took this photo on June 14, 1969.

The first steam engine to operate at IRM was Shay 5, shown here passing the west switch with two of the Burlington coaches in tow. Photo by Art Peterson.

This must be the early days of Yard 1, with the 354, E223, and one of the North Shore cabooses (either 1002 or 1004) in sight. Photo by Tom Desnoyers, July 4, 1967.

North Shore line car 604 is spotted on the main line, probably in front of the depot, on May 19, 1968, in this George Krambles shot.

The very first car in Yard 1 was Sand Springs 68, which was put there as soon as it arrived in 1967. The car's sad condition upon arrival is clear in this September 5, 1967, photo by Art Peterson.

The 972 was one of the regularly used service cars in the early days. Here, it's parked in front of the depot on May 26, 1968, with one of the wooden C&NW baggage-RPO cars behind it. Photo by Tom Desnoyers. Gregg Wolfersheim: Behind the 972 is the gift shop car. Later, it would reside on the west wye.

For years, the south end of Yard 1 (where the 50th Avenue headhouse is now) was usually the home to the "Juno" and the IC MU cars, among others. But in this May 26, 1968, photo by Tom Desnoyers, those pieces of equipment aren't at IRM yet - the Zephyr won't show up until September and the IC MU cars will be carrying commuters into Chicago for another four years before adjourning to Union. Here we see the "Menominee," still thought at the time to be the "Mendota," with the 1129 behind it still in green and yellow. To the right is the "Ely" while the 1024 is to the left.

That's a young Art Peterson on the right inspecting the "Queen Mary" in this June 5, 1966, photo. The vertical hinge in the middle of the bus is pretty obvious. Photo by George Krambles.

Here's a wider shot of the bus lineup, taken in August 1966 by Glenn Andersen. The "Queen Mary" is on the left, followed by CSL 192, Cleveland 874, Milwaukee 269 and 441, and a lone "Old Look" diesel bus from Milwaukee, one of several we later scrapped.

It's November 1965 and the Boot Creek Bridge has been built, but there are no rails leading to it yet. Line poles have been set and bracket arms affixed as well. Photo by Glenn Andersen.

This photo was taken on March 27, 1966, by George Krambles, showing construction work on the right-of-way. I'm not certain of the location but I think this may be just west of Karsten's Crossing, which for many years was the east end of the railroad.