Saturday, January 13, 2018

We'll Keep Working

... until either hell or IRM freezes over, whichever comes first.

Another cold wave has arrived, so it's not surprising that there were fewer people than average out today.  Furthermore there was a Board meeting and some other meetings scheduled, just to provide a distraction from actually working.  One of the best things about being retired is that you never have to go to meetings.  But I digress.

I am working on refinishing one of the train doors from the 36.  Today the rest of the paint was removed and the outside surface was sanded down.  This door was still in good physical condition, so no woodwork needs to be done.

Everybody who walks by comments on how thick and heavy these train doors are.  All of the CA&E wood cars have train doors like this.

An ERR article about the 309 explains the thinking behind this:
The construction is of a very substantial type, comprising, in fact, two doors separated with filler pieces and securely mounted, so that they may be supported on one set of hinges.  Inasmuch as the air pressure on the door at the head end of the train is very severe at high speeds, this solid type is demanded.

Of course, the North Shore cars don't have doors like this, and by the time the CA&E steel cars came around, this idea had been abandoned.  You will also notice that the bottom of the door had never been painted; when the cars were repainted, it appears Wheaton never bothered to disassemble them very much.  I decided, however, that while we're at it, the door might as well be painted everywhere.

And by the end of the day, all of the outside parts were in first primer.  The sides will be painted blue.

Many of the regulars were hard at work also.   Here Tim Peters is applying epoxy to rebuilt doors for the 1754, being carefully supervised by Mike Stauber.

You asking for a punch, buddy?!?  We've got one right here.

Tim has put some effort into sealing up the east vestibule on the 1754, so he can continue to strip paint even during the current Arctic conditions.

From inside the car:

Several layers of paint have to be removed.

Buzz set up the mortising machine and was making stiles for window frames, but I never got around to asking him which car these were for.  Anyway, the mortiser is always fun to watch.

Once the 36 door was painted, I ran out of things to do in the shop.  So I started resorting the spare seat frames that we got a couple of years ago for the 309.  It's too cold to actually work on reinstalling frames, but sorting them out is a start.  The most common defects are that the arms attached to the center rod won't stay in the slot in the seat bracket, and that the end castings have pieces broken out where the brackets have been forced out.  (It's easier to see in person than to explain in words, I know.)  This one illustrates both:

Most of these defects can probably be fixed.  But we only need a couple more seats in the 309 to be replaced at present, so I might as well put the worse ones into storage in the 321.

Our golf cart is well designed for tasks like this.  Much better than having to load them into the trunk of my car.  And lifting weights is a good way to keep warm.

The 1797 has been over the pit for inspection.   We have so many operating cars now that inspection is getting close to a year-round activity.  But the car was pulled out today....

And here it is passing our South Side Rapid Transit car from 1893:

On its way to pick up the 1268 and put it over the pit.  Nick is the motorman.

And of course there were many other things going on that I didn't photograph.  Bill Wulfert, Roger Kramer, Jeron Glander,  John Faulhaber, Victor, Bill Peterson, Jerry Lynn, and others were there.  As I say, we'll keep working.    

Memorial for Al Reinschmidt

A memorial gathering for Al Reinschmidt will be held at Brust Funeral Home, 135 S. Main St., Lombard on Saturday, February 10, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.  In lieu of flowers, donations to the Illinois Railway Museum would be appreciated.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday Report

A typical Wednesday at IRM involves a good number of people working on various projects.  This is only a sampling, because I have other things to do.

John Faulhaber is painting windows for the Sand Springs 68.  Here he is explaining why the windows are being repainted.

Henry is finishing up the black paint on stepwells for the 451.  Gerry (not shown) was needle-chipping the support brackets out in the shop.

I started by making a piece of plywood to protect the window in the 36's train door.  Then I could burn paint off without risk of breaking the glass.

I had wanted to remove the grab iron, but that could not be done easily, so I was able to wire-wheel it in place without much trouble.

And it was not possible to detach the wire connection to the headlight bracket, so that also got wire-wheeled in place.  The bracket was painted red at Cleveland, and I had quickly put a coat of silver over it before the car entered service, but the red was starting to show through.  That won't happen again.

Finally the kick plate was cleaned up out in barn.

The inside of the plate was badly rusted, but it won't show.

Later, John was cleaning up the pilots for the 451.

And Jon Fenlaciki continues work on roof parts for the 65.   Let me think, what else?   Buzz installed new tubes in the overhead light fixtures to improve the illumination, as well as helping Jon with his woodwork above.  Norm was bolting up pieces on the 28.  Victor and Bill were working on the Pennsy bobber in Barn 10.  Roger Kramer and Jeff Button were working on windows for the 110; Roger was giving Jeff advice on stripping wood, or maybe the other way around.   I'm not sure.    And so on.  Sorry, no pictures.   You had to be there.

By the end of the day I had the door latch and the kick plate installed with new screws, with the inside surfaces already painted.  The back of the headlight bracket was painted to keep it from rusting any more, and next I should be able to finish stripping and start painting the outside.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Guys Who Came In From the Cold

In spite of the bitter cold, life goes on at IRM, with plenty of people showing up to work on various projects in our nice cozy shop.  Of course, nothing can get accomplished without tools.

This is only part of the Car Department's vast collection of screwdrivers, which are getting repainted.  And several parts of the shop are being reorganized.  That's always a good activity for the winter months.

I went over to the 321 to check on various things, and collected some parts that had been left in the car and needed cleaning.  These include some controller parts, a spare buzzer, and some gauge light bulbs.  I don't suppose they make these bulbs any more.

Bill Wulfert and Keith Letsche are cleaning up the trolley hooks for the 1754.

Jon Fenlaciki and Mike Stauber spent several hours carefully cleaning up one of the trolley boards from the 65.

Jack Biesterfeld and Roger Kramer were working on refinishing windows from the GB&W 110, our wooden coach.  This is a very unusual design; there are two nested window frames.  The outer one can be raised as usual, but there is a second frame hinged to it, which can swing out into the car.  Nobody has seen anything quite like this before.  It's undoubtedly a railroad modification, but the purpose is not quite clear.  

My next job was to start work on the #1 end train door from the 36, which had never been repainted.  First, we need a temporary door to keep the birds and any other unwanted visitors out.  When put in place, it looks like this:

Keith helped me lift the heavy door out of the car and bring it back to the shop.  The inside has been repainted and looks pretty good.

The exterior was last repainted in Cleveland and needs work.  The grab iron and door handle are not supposed to be black, and all of this paint is in bad shape.  So that will be a good project for work in the shop over the next few weeks.

Later in the day, the 65's trolley board has been completely stripped, and with the help of Buzz various places that were rotted or cracked are being epoxied.  Bob Sundelin checks out the progress.

Nick is carefully rebuilding the governor from the 4410.  A lot of work has gone into repairing the control system and several other parts of the car, and the L car group are hoping to have it back in service later this year.

I removed the door handle from the 36's train door and stripped it, and then the kick plate.  I was afraid the door might have started to rot underneath, but the wood actually looks quite good.   The plate itself is somewhat rusted out on the inside, but is still probably usable.

Buzz is working to get this "new" planer into operation.   He bought it for the Museum at the last woodworker's convention.  This will enhance our ability to machine large pieces of wood.

And as usual, there were several other things going on that I missed.

Finally, we have a challenge.  This object turned up during the shop cleanup.  There are two pieces of metal held together by a bolt and two roll pins, one of which is missing.   No one knows what it's for, so send in your best guess.  Whoever comes up with the most preposterous explanation will win a prize.

In Memoriam Albert Reinschmidt

It is with deep sorrow that we must report the death of Albert Reinschmidt, who died yesterday after a long struggle with cancer.  Al was a good friend of all who knew him, a hard-working member of the Museum, and he will be greatly missed.

I first met Al back in 2009 when IRM was planning how to move the Trolleyville collection, and he wanted to help in any way possible.  Since that time he became one of our fellow bloggers and worked out at the Museum whenever possible.  Professionally, he was an internationally-recognized expert on track construction ("Dr. Track") and often was a consultant on new railroad construction all over the world.  He also had a great speaking voice and often put it to use for our benefit, such as during the Thomas events, when he and Harold would take turns being the announcers all day.  That's not as easy as it sounds.  Most recently, his recording of "A Night Before Christmas" was being played on all of the Happy Holiday Railway trains.  His death leaves a great void.

When funeral arrangements have been made, we will pass them on.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

In the Bleak Midwinter

Our midwinter weather so far has been bleak, to put it mildly, but that doesn't stop the Car Shop regulars from coming out and filling up the available space with active projects.  Let's have a look.

John the pharmacist has been working on rebuilding doors for the MD cars, and here's one with a fresh coat of paint.  He gave it a second coat later in the day.

Gerry is needle-chipping the second pilot for the 451.  This will probably be our next car to be put into service.

The remaining two stepwells for the 451 were in primer when I arrived.

A window for the Mt. Harvard is being rebuilt by Roger and one of his friends.  Sorry, I didn't get his name.

Pete Galayda continues work on windows for the IT Class B locomotive.

Tim shows some of the new seat frames he has built for the 1754.

As well as roof saddles:

And while looking around the shop, I noticed the retriever from the 319.   I conjecture that OKFS means "OK For Service" and take it back to be put on the car, so it isn't in the way.  As Frank already mentioned, the shop is being rearranged for greater efficiency.

Gerry shows off how Joel has sorted out our vast collection of hammers, so you can more easily find the type you need.

Henry Vincent and I went to work painting the 451 stepwells with a first coat of finish black.

Jon Fenlaciki is stripping old paint from roof parts for the IRR 65.

Museum President Norm Krentel was working on the Michigan Electric car, as usual, but also was walking around taking pictures of the various activities.  I told him he should start his own blog, but that advice doesn't seem to have registered.

Vincent and Bill were also doing woodwork for the Pennsy bobber during the day, but I somehow failed to get a picture of them.   And there were others who also were missed.  Sorry!

Anyway, I was able to warm up both vestibules of the 319.  The conduits that were painted with primer last time got a first coat of finish red.  

Tim was also stripping paint from doors for the 1754.

While the paint was drying, I went over to the 321 to straighten up some more and look around.  I got a new space heater for Christmas, so this surplus one was taken to the 321.  It can't really heat up the car much, with all the gaps in the roof and so on, but at least it looks a little more like home.

One of the main problems is that during the years the car was outside, roof leaks pretty much destroyed the ceiling in the smoker.  It's bulging downward badly, and needs to be removed.  I'll have to bring out a ladder and a helper or two at some point.  I removed the old carpet from the smoker and swept up the floor.

Finally, I might point out that at IRM the brass hats are accustomed to working alongside the rest of us.  Here Gerry, the Car Dept. curator, is needle-chipping more of the pilot seen earlier.

And Paul Cronin is the General Manager of the whole place, but here he is stripping paint from one of the windows from the GB&W coach 110.

Getting bored sitting at home watching TV?  As long as the roads are passable, we can always find things for volunteers to do, without risk of frostbite.   Give it a try!