Hicks Car Works
News and views of progress at the Illinois Railway Museum
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Although the 36 has been in service for two or three years now, there was still one part of the electrical system that needed to be fixed. I had to replace all of the wiring to the control jumper receptacles, and one receptacle at one end wasn't completely connected. Due to a miscalculation, several of the wires were too short. Since there are two receptacles at each end, that isn't a fatal defect, but I wanted to complete the job. So this morning I got to work.
Things went well until it was time to solder the connections. I was planning to use my old soldering gun (originally my father's) but it just didn't get the connections with these heavy wires quite hot enough. So it's time to drop the gun and move slowly away. Luckily the Museum has some nice big soldering irons that can do the job nicely.
And after some work, all the connections are in. It looks like this when completed; we're looking up at the bottom of the floor of the vestibule.
And with the ringer, seen sitting in front of the train door, I test that all connections are made, from one side to the other. Because this end of the car is at the door, I wasn't able to completely test the new wiring in operation, but I did run the control system through its paces to check for shorts. And we'll have to remember to check it out before using the car in service.
And so it's back to painting. First, the usual projects are active in the shop. Tim continues on making windows for the 1754. Notice the nice new hinges.
And John Faulhaber was working on fitting the new bottom rail to the replacement door for the 213. By the end of the day it was fitted in place. Many other people were working also.
In the #2 vestibule, I masked off various parts for spraying white primer from a rattle can.
And in the #1 vestibule, more finish painting. In the first picture, the ceiling and upper panel have been painted with a first coat of the final red, but the side door is untouched.
After painting, it looks like this. Getting good pictures in this confined space with the available lighting is difficult. I admit these pictures are not up to Rail & Wire standards.
And here's the vestibule door after painting.
And that was it for today. But don't go away, we have more feature articles coming up.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Another quick update on the UP doodlebug from Gregg Wolfersheim, who writes:
The water tank in M-35 was painted on Wednesday. Still a little fill-in work to go, and then put the glasses back in. This is NOT a fun place to work in! Also, another carline was installed. Hopefully two more will be added soon, with pictures to follow.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Spring is here, and that means inspection season is in full swing, and that means it's time for the annual sermon, O brethren. We always need more help with the inspection process, and on any Saturday or Sunday you can show up and talk to Joel or Gerry or whoever is on duty, and find useful things to do. It's interesting: nearly every car is different from every other, and I believe it's very important for motormen to have a good hands-on understanding of how all the various parts of a car's mechanism work.
When I arrived yesterday, on the other side of the walkway Tim Peters was already at work inside the 1754, sorting and collecting parts, particularly parts from the old doors and windows to be installed on all the new ones he's made. The inside looks a little grim, but much better than the 309 was when I started. For what that's worth.
Here are stacks of old windows, for instance.
In the shop, here's a new door. Of particular interest are the wooden channels on either side of the window opening, which serve as window shade tracks. They are rather complicated.
And Tim continues to harvest parts from old windows.
Frank Sirinek and Mike Stauber are working on new doors for the Kansas City PCC.
The 277 and its train are over the inspection pit. Say, did I mention anything about inspection? The panels are to keep the pit a little warmer. There were several people helping on this car, including some of the new guys. The train is planned for service on the Sunday before Memorial Day as a tribute to Bob Bruneau.
Back in the 319, I more or less finished cleaning up the #2 controller cover.
Last week Greg and I started on the #1 vestibule, and here's part of the ceiling with a new coat of paint.
And this is meant as a before (R) and after (L) comparison:
And back at the #2 end, here's the train door. Backlighting through the window makes the photograph have poor contrast.
On the other hand, this picture of the motorman's window turned out better.
And I cleaned up the controller handle and part of the clock over at the shop. It seems the handle should be entirely red, including the throttle button parts, unfortunately.
I had to leave early because I wanted to go to the visitation for Roger Smessaert in Woodstock. There were many, many IRM people there, most of whom had known Roger for 40 or 50 years. He will certainly be missed.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
SOOTHSAYER. Beware the Ides of March.
CÆSAR. He is a dreamer; let us leave him; -- pass.
It was nice to get back out to IRM today, defying any prognostications of doom, and a lot got done. Greg Ceurvorst came out to help and worked hard all day, with excellent results. I put him to work on the #1 vestibule of the 319, which needs a final coat or two of the correct shade of red. This vestibule was repainted four or five years ago.
Greg managed to sand down all of the red paint in the vestibule for recoating, which is a lot of work.
Under the metal plate warning you of the dire consequences of tampering with the car is the earlier lettering of yellow on blue. Usually they're in nearly the same location. Not only is every car lettered differently, often the two vestibules of a single car are different.
He also went to the trouble of cleaning up the builder's plate on the controller, although it will have to be repainted. But before that happens, you can read a fascinating list of patent dates. Thanks, Greg!
I was working on more sanding, scraping, priming, and painting in the #2 vestibule.
Greg then started on a first finish coat.
It looks great. Somehow I forgot to take any more pictures of my own work.
So now let's see what the other guys are doing. Here we have a rather worm-eaten piece of sheet metal from the 18, which Frank removed last week. Tim has some new metal left over from his door project, and he said he'd be glad to let us use some of it to replace this piece. It appears to be the correct thickness.
And Tim himself is hard at work painting the new doors and windows for the 1754.
He says he decided to paint them green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I'll drink to that!
Jeff and Norm were working on the Michigan car again. Progress is steadily being made.
And here's a picture from the Anderson Car House.
In the Cleveland PCC, the new floor has started to go in. Pieces are being welded in place.
Lorne shows off the next piece that needs to be checked and then welded.
John and Gerry look at the replacement door that they are rebuilding in the shop for use on the 213.
This is what the door will replace: the one there now is rotted out and missing its glass.
Pete was out too, but the 300 is now over in Barn 7 so I didn't get a picture. And there were several other people working on various things. So all in all, a very good day.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
One place I really wanted to visit in Florida was the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, but it's closed to the general public for three or four weeks due to DOWT. Why that should be necessary escapes me.
So we headed out to the Keys. The extension of the Florida East Coast all the way to Key West was one of the greatest accomplishments in railroad engineering of all time. It was completed in 1912, and lasted until probably the worst hurricane in modern history struck the Keys on Labor Day in 1935. Hundreds of people lost their lives, and destruction on some of the islands was nearly total. This coral limestone monument was dedicated in 1937.
In front of it is a crypt with about 300 remains, covered by a mosaic map of the Keys. Many of the dead were WWI veterans working on WPA projects. One train was caught out on a causeway and was swept into the sea. The story of the disaster has been told many times. This is a very somber and moving memorial.
Most of the concrete structure of the bridges survived the hurricane, but there was so much damage to the railroad infrastructure, coupled with the effects of the Depression, that it was uneconomic to repair, and the line to Key West was abandoned. But it was then converted to a two-lane highway, many remnants of which remain as an interesting example of adaptive engineering. Fortunately for us, the old road has been replaced by a newer and much better highway.
Here's an example of the concrete causeways. The original line was single-track, and you can see how the original abutments were later filled in. The track was supported on transverse steel beams from side to side on the concrete arches.
Of course, this is too narrow for a two-lane road, so there were extensions on either side supported by angle brackets, with little steel railings on either side. They've been removed in this section. The whole road appears to have been rather flimsy by modern standards, at least to me, and it may have been OK for auto traffic, but there must have been serious limits on truck weight.
You can see the extensions in some places, but it's impossible to get to. I had to take these pictures from a moving car.
Most of the line was either concrete causeways or deck truss bridges, but in one section there was a long series of through trusses. This is my favorite part. Because there was no way to widen a through truss span, the road was perched on top of them. In the first picture, the deck girders on the approach were jacked up at an impossible angle and supported on spindly columns, to raise the road up to the top of the trusses.
Then it runs over the trusses, with extensions on either side, and those little railings to keep you from falling into the sea.
And some trusses were higher than others, so it's not even quite level. Driving along here must have been a hair-raising experience.
On land, there's hardly any remnants of the railroad. I did notice this old heavyweight being used as an office, but didn't bother to investigate further. I imagine it was brought in by truck.
They told me you could take the train to get around Key West, and sure enough, here it comes.