Monday, January 16, 2017

Sunday in winter

Frank writes...

I was able to make it out to IRM on Sunday afternoon. The property wasn't terribly busy but there were a few people working. To start with, Joel needed some help installing a replacement headlight resistor in the Commonwealth Edison steeplecab. These are located in a fairly difficult-to-access location inside one of the hoods, shown below. To the left is an air tank, while in the foreground are resistance grids. The resistors are mounted to the far wall of the hood; the second from the right is the one that failed and had already been removed.

Quarters were cramped. Joel snapped a photo - note the new resistor in place.
And voila, the headlight works!
Then I headed over to Barn 13 with Joel and Richard Schauer to take another look at Shaker Heights 18. We did a little bit more tidying up, took an inventory of extra seat cushions, and examined the trolley pole that came with the car. It will need some straightening but after Richard cut some rubber tubing off of it we determined that it's in very good shape. Then Joel, assisted by Richard, was able to get the rear door back onto its track so that it opens and closes smoothly. This was more involved than it sounds but it's done now. Below, Joel at work - both doors (other than the motorman's cab door, the car only has two) open into a pocket between them, and here the window on the inside of this pocket is swung open towards the camera. On its exterior the window still wears the bright yellow that these cars wore along their windows in the 1950s.
And that was about it for the day for me. But Norm and Jeff were hard at work on cutting, drilling, and forming more steel parts for the front end of the Michigan car. Here, Jeff is holding a piece of steel which will go between two of the main framing members and will hold up a steel "pan" that will itself support the insulation under the floor of the car. There's a lot that goes into a project like this that most people will never see.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tucson Streetcar

We just got back from vacation in Arizona.  I have over 500 pictures, but relatively few have anything to do with railroading.  I also have some updates about the doodlebug to present, so we'll get back on track here soon.

In Tucson, we went for a sightseeing trip on the new streetcar system.  The cars are three-unit articulateds, as seen here, with two single-truckers connected by a center section.  There are no couplers.  They operate almost entirely in the middle of the street.

The cars are equipped with an elaborate system of stanchions, rods, and standee straps, and we saw several people using them as gym equipment during the trip.   I could only hope we can keep this from happening with our nice new straps in car 24!

We were waiting for a meet where the line goes down to single track, so I could get out for a picture.

Going around a curve. 

And surprisingly enough, the line goes right by the Hotel Congress:

This one is slightly smaller than the Congress Hotel, however.

And then, the Phoenix Art Museum has a nice collection of paintings, and other art of all sorts.  In the Western America section, I noticed this large photograph, labeled "Abandoned Railway Coach Car, Rodeo, New Mexico, 2010".  Calling Nick Kallas!

So the photographer doesn't know the difference between a coach and a combine.   That's why we have educational organizations like IRM.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Men! Change to Reis Scandals!

Another 1947 advertising card out of the St. Louis Public Service bus acquired in 2015. If you ever wonder why people preferred interurbans to buses, take a look at this and then recall that CA&E cars of the era were mostly filled with liquor and cigarette ads.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Time to Blue Your Whites

Here's another ad card out of the St. Louis Public Service bus that was retired in 1947 complete with its car cards (though many have completely fallen apart since - the bus was stored outdoors for several decades prior to acquisition by IRM). Blu-White makes clothes dazzling white! It blues and washes at the same time! Ideal for handkerchiefs, stockings, undies! I must confess I had to look up what "blueing" was when it comes to laundry; I guess it's just a way to make whites whiter.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

At Leading Shoe Rebuilders Everywhere

This ad for Biltrite shoe soles - "BEST by any test!" - has seen better days. It dates to 1947, which we know because it is located in a St. Louis Public Service bus that was retired that year and benignly neglected until acquired by IRM in 2015. I'm actually not sure exactly what it says, other than the dark-colored lettering and "America's Standard of Quality" across the bottom. "BILTRITE will not something / something heels and soles" - any ideas? Just make sure you see a leading shoe rebuilder and not one of those knock-off shoe rebuilders.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A new year

Frank writes...

What better way to ring in the new year than with a trip out to IRM? I made it out to the museum around lunchtime to find that I was the only one in the car shop. You'd almost think people had been staying up late the previous night. But no matter; I spent a few minutes cleaning up some materials I had left around the 205 over in Barn 7, then adjourned to Barn 8 to spend some time on LSE 150. The weather was unseasonably warm Sunday so I took the opportunity to put some brown primer on the belt rail on the left side of the car. Requisite before-and-after shots:

These cars had a tile red stripe along the belt rail, so this primer will make it easier to paint that one once warmer weather comes. Then a second coat of orange, some touch-up, and the basic paint job on the left side of the car will be complete.

By the time I was done with this, Sunday regulars Greg Kepka and Richard Schauer had shown up. We wandered over to the Hoffman bus garage where they showed me recent progress on some of the buses and trolley buses, including the recent acquisitions from St. Louis. Several buses have been jacked up and put on blocks pending installation of new tires, giving the garage the look of a pretty disreputable part of town. However this will be a big step forward. Richard pointed out that one of the tires removed from Twin Coach Model 40, which was owned by St. Louis Public Service and retired way back in 1947, had a "AA War Tire" stamp which indicated that it was produced during rubber rationing in World War II.
Then it was over to Barn 13. A few weeks ago, someone removed the tarp from Shaker Heights Rapid Transit 18 (aka Shaker Heights 1218), so we decided to try and tidy the car up a bit. The cardboard covers that had been taped over all of the sharp corners and protuberances were removed and the interior was straightened. The car looks pretty good for having spent six years under a tarp.
Right now we're just hoping to reassemble the car to make sure no parts are lost. It's an interesting artifact. One thing we noticed was that the trolley retriever is an Eclipse, which I believe is the only example of that particular type in the IRM collection. Some cleanup was also done with the help of diesel department volunteer Jeron Glander.
So that was about it for the day. The only other interesting thing I noticed was that four rebuilt traction motors for the Electroliner have been delivered (above). Exciting times for the North Shore fans, no doubt about it!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The End is Near

At least that's what the calendar says.  But maybe I've got another one around here somewhere... ah, here it is.  Wow, what a nice picture.  An open-platform Chicago L car -- I wonder when this picture was taken?   Looks like it's from about 1913.   They sure did a nice job of colorizing it.

Be that as it may, you still have until midnight, Central Standard Time, to make a donation to IRM that will be applicable to your 2016 taxes.   Don't delay!

It's never too late to keep working on all of the various IRM projects, of course.  I spent an hour or so sorting parts and rearranging storage in the 150, and then did more sanding and surface prep in the 319, followed by some white primer.

This car is being restored to its appearance at the end of service.  The vestibule was painted red twice, and the second time they just painted around the previous lettering to save time and money.   So that's what I plan to do for the restoration.   Thus the letter L is not covered over.

Having stolen some of my paint, Tim was glad to make up for it by cutting out a piece of glass for me for one of the clerestory windows in the 150.  This is a skill which I tried to learn many years ago without success.

And the finished product matches the template very closely.   Thanks!

Tim's new doors for the 1754 are progressing nicely.

Victor and Bill continue to work on the Pennsy bobber.   They also built this nice new work table with a varnished top, built entirely of reclaimed scrap wood, Vic says.  Pretty spiffy!

Well, that's about it for this year.   Best wishes for the next!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Year in Review: Highlights of 2016

Whatever else might have been going on, 2016 was a great year at IRM.  So let's celebrate!  Be sure to chime in with comments on anything we've missed!
  • Barns 13 and 14 were completed and occupied, putting another 4000' of track under cover.
  • Track construction: Yard 15, part of the new car line, and most dramatically, double-track girder rail in a paved street.
  • The Santa Fe sign
  • Completion and dedication of NWERR 24
  • First operation of CCW 300, LSE 810, and the Metra Highliners
  • First operation in many years of Milwaukee 972
  • Operating crossing gates
  • Acquisition of the B-71 box-cab Diesel
  • In the various department shops, many projects made significant progress during the year, too many to list.
  • Under new management, Rail and Wire is bigger and better than ever.
  • And in operational news, the 1630 pulled the longest steam-hauled freight train in the country in (probably) at least 50 years: 135 hoppers!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wednesday Report

Because the CA&E wood cars are stored in Barn 8, and have been there for a long time, it's convenient to have a nearby workshop and parts storehouse available.   LSE car 150 serves this purpose well.  I got myself a new set of shelves that were on sale to help organize all the stuff that somehow keeps accumulating, and today I set it up and spent a couple of hours sorting parts and throwing out trash.

Before I cover it up, here's what a typical post looks like: it's full of screw and nail holes, from the days misspent as a flower shop.   Restoring the interior woodwork would be a hopeless task.

Anyway, it helps to have parts sorted and labeled.

Gerry Dettloff and John Faulhaber came over to look inside the 213, one of the MD cars for which they want to rebuild or replace the doors.   They needed to take some measurements and look for parts, so I had a chance to see inside.

I'm pretty sure this very historic bulkhead part is not from LSE 150, but North Shore 150, the first steel car on the North Shore Line.   It promises to be an extremely challenging restoration project, since the rest of the car is missing, but parts is parts.

But let's look at a restoration project that actually has some hope of completion, since Frank Sirinek, Steve Iversen, and Mike Stauber are hard at work on Kansas City PCC 755.   The car now has this nice herald applied.

The door over the front controls in the ceiling has been installed.

The motorman's control panel.

The car has been modified several times over the years.  There are several sets of holes in the ceiling, for instance, and part of the challenge is to determine what configuration of stanchions and so on is correct for a particular time period.

Let's take a ride to the country club!

The car currently has the wrong doors, since they were replaced by SEPTA.  Steve spent most of the day working on rebuilding correct doors from other Kansas City PCC's.   Over the years, Frank and he have collected doors of the correct type from various KC carbodies, a couple in Missouri, and one Kansas City PCC which was stored at a chemical waste dump in New Jersey.   Frank found that one somehow and got the doors from it.  He will go to any lengths to acquire the correct parts!

Tim Peters was not around today, but he has not been idle, of course.  It looks like all four doors for the 1754 have been assembled.

I think I see some sort of pattern here.

Jon Fenlaciki and Norm Krentel were working on the backup switch for the 65.  This box has a piece broken out of it and needs to be replaced.

Also, as usual there were several people from the Coach Dept. working in the shop on their projects, mostly the Rock Island cars, I believe.   But I don't want to step on Roger's toes, so I'll let him report what they are doing on the IRM blog.

Most of the day I spent stripping paint, sanding, and repainting in the 319.

It's nice and warm in here.

Finally, Henry was making nice new wooden plugs for the electrical connectors on the Rock Island coaches.   The blocks protect the contacts from the weather, and also keep people from sticking their fingers inside, much like the plugs you may have in your home to keep small children from inserting objects into them.  Not sold in stores, so we have to make our own.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Let's Have a Parade

Our local newspaper, the Naperville Sun, printed this picture from the Aurora Historical Society.   The date is said to be December 25, 1941.  What I notice immediately, apart from the marching bells, are the tracks in the street and the overhead wire.

The location is easy to determine: we're looking south on Broadway, from a point just south of Fox.  In the distance is the Burlington overpass across Broadway; above the overpass is the Firestone sign, etc.  But the date seems wrong.  The CA&E had stopped running down the middle of Broadway on Dec. 31st, 1939, two years (minus a week) before, and it seems unlikely that the track and especially the wire would still be in place.  (City service stopped in 1934.)  It would be nice to have a more definite year, but in any case, as the bells are saying, Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Greetings

Paolo de Matteis, 1662-1728