Thursday, November 15, 2018

Grinding Away

To begin with, the big news is that the first pair of new bearings for the 309 should be ready today.   Frank Kehoe, who lives near the foundry, will pick them up and bring them out to the Museum.  Then we can start on the machining process.  I can hardly wait!

But since waiting is necessary, most of yesterday was spent working on the 306.  There's still a lot of parts to be sorted out, and among other things we found a number of window shades and parts from other cars, such as the 972 and 354.  These were set out so that they can actually be used one of these days.

And we were greatly helped by a new member, Chuck Meter.  He's been out for a couple of Saturdays, and since he's recently retired he has weekdays free, so Wednesday is a good time to come out and help.   Here he is placing new tongue and groove floorboards found in the car in temporary storage.

I used the lift to store several parts from the 306 on one of the top shelves.

Meanwhile, Chuck did some more vacuuming inside the car. 

And the end got washed, a little.  It actually used to be worse.  Note that the car has the all-important can crusher mounted again.

And here's a view of the roof from the scaffold.  Most of it looks pretty good, at least from a distance.

Except that the #2 end needs to be patched.

The #1 end is still complete.

Speaking of roofs, next door Jon Fenlaciki is working on the 65.

He writes:  Attached photo shows work being done to the roof boards. After nearly 85 years, many nails and screws have rusted to  a point where they can easily be pulled out with your fingers. As a result, many boards are popping up. So new screws are replacing the rusted screws to secure the boards. 

At Gerry's request, Chuck and I then started removing rivets so rusted-out metal can be removed and new pieces installed, with welding being done as needed by Gerry.   We started on one of the arched windows at the end of the car.   This took a while, but we're making good progress.

Here Chuck is running the grinder.

And in a photo by Jon, I'm taking a turn at it:

And after punching out what's left of the rivets, it looks like this.

Meanwhile, as usual other projects are being worked on in the shop.   Jack has a large pile of window frames from the GB&W car, and Rich Witt is helping him repair them.

Buzz demonstrates the use of a cordless drill.  If you want your picture on this blog, all you have to do is ask.

And so on.  The main take-away from today's lesson is that we can always use more help, and welcome new volunteers who are willing to work.  Any questions?

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Winter Is Here

Like it or not, winter seems to have arrived, since our "Indian Summer" has missed the boat again this year.  But enough of our usual kvetching about the weather.  Here at IRM, we don't let that stop us.

Right now there really isn't much to do on the CA&E wood cars, other than wait for the new bearings to arrive, so I spent much of the day working on the 306.   It's the next best thing.  Fred Zimmerman and I spent some time trying to sort out the various parts and debris left in the car.  There are lots of things we can't identify, and we don't want to throw anything out if it might possibly be useful, so....  it's a challenge.  

Next, John Sheldon asked Fred to do some prep work on the frames for the arched windows at the #1 end.  So he used a heat gun to remove the old putty.  I must apologize for the next photo.  It may appear that Fred is subject to camera fright, but that's actually not the case.

Anyway, we then wire-wheeled the old finish off the metal frames on both sides at this end.  I think all of this will eventually be covered over by wooden parts of the interior.  

And we did more sorting and moving of parts in the barn, to provide some space to unload things from the 306 so we'll have room to work.  I even spent some time vacuuming the floor, which was very dusty.  Believe it or not, this is an improvement.

The 306 will require a lot of work, but at least we're making some progress.

Meanwhile, several other people were at work.  Here Bill is spray-painting L car parts in the booth.

 And Tim is installing the new floorboards in the 1754.  He has chosen to put them at a 45 degree angle, which makes it more of a challenge.   I wonder why?

Next, this is perhaps revolting, but the toilet chute on the 319 was rusted out at the bottom and very unsightly, so I decide to install a new one.   It's not functional, but we would like the underbody equipment on the cars to look good, and this is a part of it.

I made a new tube at home, using galvanized metal meant for air ducts, and placed it around the old tube.  It will need to be painted next spring.  But it's an improvement.

And then there's the ongoing cosmetic work on the 150.  The ends of this car are particularly grim.  Ever since we got it, the board under the entrance door has looked like this.

So I had some time to chop it away, and install a new piece of 2x6 that was in the scrap wood collection.  Next, the corner blocks to the right will need to be replaced.  The whole car is hopeless in terms of restoration, but it has a nice paint job and could certainly be made more presentable.

Somebody asked about the wiring on the 460.  The answer is simple: those wires went to the third-rail beams on the trucks.  At Cleveland, all the third-rail equipment was removed, and most of the conduits on the trucks were torched off.  And the wires were just cut off.  At some point, we need to make new beams for the steel cars for the sake of appearance, but that will take time and effort.

There were many other people at work today.   The Cleveland PCC crew were there, getting ready to jack up the car to complete work on the underbody equipment.  Eric explained to me that they need to create three new compartments for the various parts that it needs, and so on.  The McKays were there, helping with cleaning and sorting parts, and so on.   And then they got to start stringing lights!


Happy Holiday Railway is on the way.  Among other things, the PA system was being tested with its usual holiday music and public service announcements.  And decorating is going on all over the property.  This is going to be a big boost to the Museum, so it's time to get in the holiday spirit!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Trip Report - At The Hop

Many thanks to Nick Espevik, our intrepid cub reporter, who has sent in a report about the new streetcar line that just opened in Milwaukee. Nick writes...

On Sunday, a group of us from the Electric Car Department decided to take a short trip north to visit Milwaukee, specifically its new streetcar system. Friday was the start of the opening weekend for "The Hop," as it's been named, and is a culmination of quite a bit of work up there to bring a streetcar system (back) to Milwaukee.

It took our group just under two hours to get there. We found parking right next to their shop, and soon made our way to the start of the line. We hopped on and started our tour. It's free to ride for the first year. As you will notice in the photos, they currently have a large sponsorship from the Potawatomi Casino.

And now a word from our sponsor

Logistically speaking, there is currently one line and five cars. The line that is running is called the "M-Line," and they do have plans for another one called the "L-Line." The M-Line basically runs between the Amtrak Intermodal Station and what's known as Burns Commons. It winds its way through some bustling areas like the Historic Third Ward and past City Hall. On a Sunday afternoon we made a round trip in about 20 minutes. At each end, the operators change ends and prepare for the return trip -- no turning loops used. The L-Line is largely built, but there is one section left to go. It will follow a similar route as the M up and down Milwaukee and Broadway Streets, except it will make an Eastward jaunt and back using Michigan and Clybourn Streets.

Advertising the competition?

The cars are newly built from the Brookville Equipment Corporation. There are five cars total, and they are three-section articulated units. They use pantographs and are powered off of 750 volts DC. Interestingly, they can also run off of battery power, and they do regularly! There are parts of the system that do not have wire over it. In some cases the lack of wire was a cost savings measure, and in other cases due to regulatory issues. In fact, their shop facility doesn't have wire over it. It is located underneath a highway bridge, and the state did not want wire being strung underneath it. Consequently, one can notice "Pan Up" and "Pan Down" signs on poles along the route. We were told that the cars can make a few entire round trips on one charge, if needed. The cars are adorned with all the features one might expect from these modern vehicles: LED lighting (with automatically adjusting brightness based on ambient light), security cameras, HVAC system, automated announcements, and even hooks to hold your bicycle while riding. We were amused by the announcement that kindly said "Please hold on."

"Pan Down"

Where the wire ends

The shop under the highway

After our full round trip, we decided to ride back towards the Historic Third Ward for lunch. We found the Public Market, which was quite busy but had lots of tasty options. We enjoyed watching the pans slide by the second story windows as we ate. The cars were making nice headways through the afternoon. They usually only have at most four of the five cars in service at a time, and we figured one would only have to wait maybe ten minutes or so at a stop before the next car showed up. We noticed that for a rainy Sunday afternoon, there were many interested riders. Of course, this was the first weekend of operation, so we will have to wait and see how the numbers are after the system has been in operation for a while.

Finally, a trip to Milwaukee for Electric Car fans wouldn't be complete without a visit to the parking garage located at 6th and Clybourn. Why here? Well because this used to be the location of the Milwaukee terminal of the North Shore Line. The area obviously looks quite different today, but you can still see one of the old hotels standing in the left background. The famous Schroeder hotel is still standing behind the garage, too, though today it's a Hilton.

Here there were interurbans

That pretty much concluded our day in Milwaukee. It was definitely neat seeing a new streetcar system and riding it in service! Anyone in the area should check it out.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

March of Progress

On today's version of the newsreel, we have lots of different examples of progress on the march.  Of course, there is always room for more, if we have the people.

Ed looks up at the Electroliner ceiling, which has had another new panel installed in the middle, with only one more to go.

Over in Barn 11, I happened to see my old friend Jack Biesterfeld still hard at work on the GB&W car.  He's made a huge improvement to the appearance of the interior, as you can see here.  Most of the windows are out, and he plans to work on them over the winter in the car shop, if he can find the room.  The ceiling is amazing.

Among other things, I finished lettering the remaining train door on the 36.

Meanwhile, also in Barn 8, John Faulhaber is working on replacing the wooden parts of the deck on the 213.  The problem, of course, is that it's quite a walk from here to the car shop, in case major adjustments need to be made.

Jon Fenlaciki continues work on the roof of the 65.

And what did our roving camera miss?   Lorne working on the Cleveland PCC, Tim working on the 1754, Pete on the 300, the freight car guys on the Pennsy cabin car, Henry on various projects, and maybe more.  You just had to be there.

And the 460 happened to be over the pit for its annual inspection.   We have so many operating cars that inspection is now an almost continuous year-round process.  

So I took several pictures of its underbody equipment, much of which is noticeably different from the wood cars.  Such as the MG set:

And the grids:

And the motor axle bearings:

The motors themselves are noticeably smaller than earlier designs.

And I don't know enough about the trucks to explain what's going on here.   I know the original design was modified somehow after a short time in service.

If you have wondered about the 306, like our buddy Kirk, don't worry.   Here we see John Sheldon and Gerry Dettloff sorting out parts in the car.   John is planning to work on it over the winter, and there's at least one other regular member who wants to help.  So we should see some progress.

Among other unwanted things stored in the car was the pattern for the anchor casting for the 150.  Right after we got the car, Bob Bruneau decided to have an anchor casting made so the car could more easily be switched around with a tow bar.  And the pattern was left in the 306.  I did my part by taking the pattern and storing it under the 150, which hasn't moved now for quite a while.  

And this is what the actual casting looks like: 

Meanwhile, out in the cold and wind, Max is checking out one of the manholes.  These were installed a few years ago when the street was paved, but not all the wiring is installed yet.

This particular manhole will provide electric service to some new decorative streetlights, and Max wants to have this ready for Happy Holiday Railway, when we'll have lots of visitors after dark.  He also wants to wire up at least one operating antique stoplight at the corner of Depot and Central.  That will be impressive; I don't know of any other museum with its own working traffic lights.

And speaking of Happy Holiday Railway, buy tickets now before they're all gone.   Don't say we didn't warn you!