Monday, December 29, 2008

From Top To Bottom

It was sunny again today, so I took the opportunity to put a first coat of primer on all the exposed roof boards on the 277. The solar panels on the roof of the barn work pretty well. Here we see it when done. I'll want to put on a second coat of primer and probably some sort of finish coat. It then gets covered with roofing paper before the canvas goes on.

Now that I have all of the new seat frame castings drilled, let's see if they will really work. Here is one of the broken castings on a seat in the 309, after removal of the cushion and back. The arrow points to the missing piece of the track. The bracket for the seat back derails whenever it reaches this spot.

I removed the entire seat frame at this location. Here it is standing on end, with the broken casting removed (at the top). A test fit verified that the new casting will work just fine. But this particular seat has more than one problem. There are two arms (yellow arrows) connected to the center rod (red arrow). These arms mesh into the brackets on the seat back and should keep it straight. But one of them is bent, and the other is loose on the rod - notice that they don't line up the way they should. I will disassemble this frame and take the center rod assembly to the shop to be fixed by our metal-working experts.

These seat frames are more complicated than one might expect. The center rod has six castings attached, which rotate when the back is moved: two to keep the back straight, two to move the seat cushion, and two to move the foot rest. And the whole assembly seems to weigh slightly less than a ton!

The seat across from this one also had a broken casting, so I removed it too. I took the frame into the 321 for disassembly and replacement of some broken parts, for which I had spares. I evidently need to order some new hardware, too: 3/8 x 1 1/4 machine bolts with square heads and nuts. But I'm encouraged. It appears that these seat frame repairs should go pretty fast.

Between a seat frame and the wall I found this little relic of Tag Day 1939. It's a piece of cardboard about 3" square. On the back it just says "Thank You". I think the missing word is probably "Charities" and that this was some sort of annual fund raiser. Does anybody remember Tag Day?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Roof boards installed

The big project on the 205 for today was finishing initial installation of the roof boards. I cut the two roof boards for the middle third of the car to length with some help from Kirk Warner, hoisted them onto the roof and screwed them down. Voila!It took longer than it looks, due mainly to the need to make repeated trips between Barn 8 and the wood shop. The boards are not all perfectly level due to issues with the saddles, so I will be making up some shims to account for this, and the plan is to replace the lag screws with flat head screws once everything is even and level. Thanks also go to George Clark for helping locate drill bits and wrenches.

When I was done with this, I got our trolley poles from the corner of Barn 4 and spent a few hours wire-wheeling the rust and paint (mostly rust) off of them in preparation for priming and painting. One of the poles is shown below; this one is bent slightly at the end where it goes into the trolley base, but that should be easy to fix using the IRM-patented trolley pole straightening machine: a hole drilled in one of the posts in Barn 4.
In the foreground next to the trolley wheel is some protective headgear; safety first, as always! In other news, Jon and Dan Fenlaciki were out today, so I put in an order for a gallon of official Indiana Railroad orange, which they had gotten matched. This will allow us to paint the new doors for the 205 prior to installation, and in the spring we can start painting "finished" parts of the car orange.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill!

On the third day of Christmas
My true love gave to me...
Permission to go out to the Museum. Woo hoo!

It was raining all day, so it seemed like a good time to work in the car shop. It's a lot less lonely! I drilled out all of the new seat frame castings I had received from Glenn Guerra previously, as mentioned here. I made a simple jig out of scrap lumber and used it to drill all the holes in the eight new seat frame castings. Each one has 15 holes, 12 of which are countersunk for FH wood screws. It took several hours, but at least I could do most of this job sitting down.

Here (R) is the final product, with all of its holes drilled.

I then worked on the new harp assemblies, and got two of them completed. Here's a picture of one. Two of them, however, will require thicker inserts than the ones we have. In any case, I'm sure these will be an improvement.

There were a lot of people out today: Bob Kutella, who took the picture of me above; Shelley was working on her seat frames, and her father on one of the Rube Goldberg machines. John Baletto was doing needle chipping on the 757. Mike Stauber and a friend of his who wishes to remain anonymous were working on a streetcar which wishes to remain anonymous. Stan and Christine worked on parts for the L4. Joel was doing drainage work and switching. And there were several others, I can't remember what each of them was doing.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Preservation Update

Last April 1st, we had some fun discussing the possibility of moving this passenger car to Union along with the huge concrete coaling tower. I just noticed this article in Flimsies on RyPN. The car they're talking about can only be this one, I believe, so it's found a permanent home. Maybe I can get a picture of it next time we're driving through Decatur.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas from Hicks Car Works!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let's Have a Party

Today was the annual Christmas party for the Wednesday group, with plenty of good food and desserts, preceded by a rousing chorus of "Jingle Bells." Here we come a-wassailing...

I began studying the control system for the Charles City Western locomotive in earnest. This is going to be more of a challenge than I had hoped. Many years ago, a couple of well-meaning neophytes disconnected and disassembled much of the wiring in the cab without making any diagrams, and then left. So putting it all back together is puzzling, to say the least. Much of it is familiar from the GE control systems for interurban cars, so I have some experience to go on, but there are differences in locomotives for which I'll probably need to study the Com Ed 4. For instance, there seem to be no control fuses. How can that be?

Here is one of the controllers. I traced all its connections back to the header panel in the contactor group, and the controller itself seems to be in pretty good condition. So that's a plus.

To the right is the contactor group back under the hood. There is no way to open the hood. I was able to crawl back through there, but I don't want to be next to it when there's 600V present, so I'm not even sure how to tell which contactors are energized when (called"sequencing" the group). It's so much easier on passenger cars where the group is located under the car and can easily be accessed.

The big circuit breaker located inside the cab. It must be exciting when this opens under load!

Part of the time I was helped by Project Manager Pete Galayda, and part of the time by Dan Fenliciki.

The sun was shining, so I worked on the roof of the 277 some more, installing saddles temporarily. We've run out of the correct screws, so I'm ordering some more.

I also started sorting the parts stored in the main compartment of the 277. This had been used for parts for all of the various IT cars; some of them I will move over to the 321. I moved a worklight into the car, and I'll need a couple more.

Mr. Socks is clearly annoyed, even bitter, at all the attention that has lately been lavished on his arch-rival Alco. But some of us are still friends of the undercat. Here he is, sulking in his own personal file drawer, filed under C for cat.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Comment on Comments

We welcome constructive comments on any of our blog articles. I moderate all comments submitted, but they arrive through Blogger and I have no way to reply. If you want me to respond via email, or want to know why your comment didn't appear, you need to send me your address via a private email message (see the bottom of the right hand column on this page.) That's also the way to go if you have a question for me that's not of general interest. I generally won't post another comment just to say "thanks" so in any case, thanks to those who contribute!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Back On the Saddles Again

There was plenty of sawdust and noise in the woodshop today as I was making new saddles for the roof of IT 277. These were made out of white oak, and I can tell you that 8/4 white oak stock is heavy! Making the saddles required jointing, ripping, some cross-cutting on the radial arm, cutting to shape on the big bandsaw, and belt sanding. At least there was no planing. I made 15 saddles to support the running boards, and two for supporting the fuse box, as seen here.

Bob Kutella looked at the material that the IT put under the saddles, and we decided it's not leather but probably neoprene. So that's what I'll plan on using when the new wood is installed.

Later I started placing some of the saddles in position. I need to buy the correct size of wood screws for installing them. I made final measurements to determine the size of running boards I'll need.

The weather was terrible today - cold, rainy, and gale-force winds. So I didn't do any painting, as I had hoped. Too bad for the Santa trains.

In other news, the planets finally aligned just right to get the benches out of the 321, as mentioned earlier. Here we see Phil Stepek and Shelley von der Schagen resting after their labors in squeezing the furniture out of the car. The benches will be stored by the Coach Dept. until they can be refurbished for use in a parlor car.

And Rod Turner and Stan Wdowikowski looked at the trolley harps for the blue cars with me. Some adjustments will be necessary, and Stan will get another kit for me to complete the set. Thanks!

Currently the North Shore line car #604 is over the pit for inspection. You've probably never seen a picture of its underbody equipment before!

Rod Rejects Calls To Resign

Dismissing allegations that he is corrupt, incompetent, and "unfit to govern" as "partisan political BS," today Rod repeated his determination to "do whatever it takes" to remain in office as long as possible. "I'm going to continue to fight to protect the interests of the people of this great museum," he shouted, "and besides, I need the money!" That sort of left us scratching our heads -- what money? Anyhow, he spent much of the day shoring up support from key interest groups and networking with other branches of government, such as B&G.

In an attempt to garner sympathy from voters, today he even brought out his sister and her dog to pose for photo ops -- but I didn't have my camera. Sorry! How well this will play in Peoria will not be known until the results of the next Reuter's opinion poll are published, with its usual margin of error of 50% or so.

In the midst of this political turmoil, he also took time from his busy schedule to help me with the new trolley harp kits. So our position is clear: in these times of fiscal crisis, there's no margin for error. We here at Hicks Car Works remain 110% firmly in support of the Turner administration!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nailing, Pt. 2

Today I was able to finish installing the new roof boards to close up the major section where they had to be replaced, as seen here to the right. There are also two places where short pieces need to be patched in. I later started painting the new wood with brown primer. Having the new lights available again is a big help.

Compare this to a view of the same location taken a month ago.

To the left is a better view of the "workbench." The end of the old running boards makes a convenient place for cutting. New running boards will start from here and go back.

Mr. Socks seems to be pretty lonely these days -- when I went over to the shop, he even acted friendly towards me. That's new! I didn't have my camera along, or I would have taken a picture of him.

Update: Here are the new trolley harp kits for the CA&E cars; only the one on the right is fully assembled. The inserts still need some adjustment on the grinding wheel in the car shop.

These contacts are designed for use on mining locomotives. Although such locos are small, they operate on lower voltage, and therefore require at least as much current as our interurban cars.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008: A Day Which Will Live in Obscurity

Most of the afternoon was devoted to installing roof boards on the 205. I had to go to Marengo and purchase some hardware, but I was able to get three of the roof boards fully screwed down and a fourth fixed in place. The two roof boards in the middle will be mounted last. Following this, Dan Mulvihill and I installed the Bob Hively-built roof ladder previously alluded to in early November. This is a very good stand-in for the car's original roof ladder, and just as importantly, will make it much safer to get on and off the car's roof. Below left is a view of the roof boards being test-fitted; below right is a picture of the roof ladder (to be painted green in the spring) with the newly-installed roof boards in the background. It may look like I've been spilling popcorn all over the roof, but that's actually sawdust from drilling holes in the boards. It should also be mentioned that the above work was possible because Max Tyms installed a switch allowing us to turn on the barn lights; thanks, Max!

Many thanks to
Rod Turner, who modified our MU jumper receptacle since the last update; the finished product is shown below, needing only primer before it's ready to install.
I also took a look at a pair of trolley poles, complete with trolley wheels, that Bob Bruneau had fished out of a storage car for us. One is slightly bent and will have to be straightened, but other than that they can be painted and used as-is.

Finally, this was the inaugural weekend for the Santa Train, complete with "spam cans in the snow" (below) and a variety of Christmas lights adorning the center of the property.

Illinois Terminal Photo Album

The elevated line in St. Louis, August '95.

Note: All photos from the Krambles-Peterson Archive are copyright
and may not be reproduced without permission!

Most of the rest are mine unless otherwise noted.

Bement to Urbana (Nov. 2008)

The substation at Bement is being used by the highway department, I guess. The main line made a 90-degree bend around this building. See this picture from Don Ross.

Not much is left of the IT trestle over Camp Creek, just south of the MRM site. One could still walk across it back about 1975.

The Bondville substation is in good condition.


This is the old IC/Wabash station in Urbana, which was also used by the IT when passenger service was routed onto the bypass. The IT ran along the other side of the depot, where the brick warehouse is now located. The depot is used by a theater group, which explains the plywood stacked against it.

This bridge in Urbana was part of the IT's freight bypass around Champaign-Urbana. The rest of the line is pretty much obliterated.

This was the Railway Engineering lab at one time; it had a track entrance through this door for a spur off the old IT main line, which ran through the foreground. The University's interurban test car was stored here. It's long been used as an aeronautics lab. The overhead crane is still inside.

The Transportation building next door is decorated with these snazzy flanged wheels and wings.

A couple of waiting shelters still in existence: 1) for the University. At one time a car line ran right across the Quad.

2) For the old County Home east of downtown Urbana.

One of the earliest ancestors of the ITS system was the horsecar line between Urbana and Champaign. The only remaining part of this little system is this bridge over the Boneyard. I believe this part of the route was abandoned when the line was electrified, so the bridge's survival is amazing. It was in somebody's back yard for many years.

It's been refurbished and is now part of a city park. The layout of the park completely changed the landscape. The creek doesn't actually run under the bridge anymore, and the fill over it has been removed. But it's nicely preserved.


Two recent photos by Tim Fennell.

2007 pictures by Jim Vaitkunas.

(L) This is a diamond in the rough.


Pictures taken in 2007 by Jim Vaitkunas.

The substation at Danvers is now in use as a private residence.


The abutments for the IT's famous bridge over beautiful Lake Decatur are still standing. June 2009.

The Decatur station along the freight bypass route is now in use as a church.


Harristown is the next town west of Decatur. Here is the substation, now being used as a furniture store, with the body of car 535 behind it, used as a residence. May 8, 1998.

It doesn't look that much different today, I believe.


Here are several pictures of the IT main station in Springfield.  These were all taken by Tom Hunter in April/May 2013, shortly before the building was demolished.


This substation is now in use by a gardening supply store. Notice (R) that the rails are still in the street, for a couple of blocks through town.

For an in-service picture at this same location, see the top photo here!


Pictures taken in 2007 by Jim Vaitkunas.


Pictures taken in 2007 by Jim Vaitkunas.

Where'd all those trees come from? They sure weren't there when this famous substation was in service!

The Mackinaw sub is used by several businesses and is well maintained.

Pictures taken in 2012 by
Chuck Amstein.


Just to keep everyone confused, there are (at least) three Unions in Illinois. This is the one in Logan County along the IT. It's about 170 miles south of IRM's Union in McHenry County.

The Union sub is abandoned and derelict.

Pictures taken in 2012 by
Chuck Amstein.

(East to west)


Here is the Minooka substation,which is still in use by a machinery company (and possibly as a residence?) It's located on Wapella Street. I now regret not taking pictures of the Wapella substation before it was demolished four or five years ago. (Wapella is between Decatur and Bloomington.)

Bridge abutments for a small creek just west of Minooka.


The Morris sub is partly a pizza place, and partly empty, it appears. Tenants come and go. Adaptive reuse is the only thing that keeps these buildings from being razed. The two buildings are nearly identical except for the revolting paint.

A few blocks west of the substation is this bridge over another creek, with a park path over it.


This is the hydroelectric plant at Marseilles. (L) The south (river) side; (R) the north side.

Details of the north side. The trestle in front of the plant appears to still have rails on it, but there's no way to get closer. The area is fenced off and dangerous.

Canal Bridge at Ottawa (Sept. 1980)

The Illinois and Michigan Canal crossed the Fox River at Ottawa on this bridge. When the canal stopped operating, the IT's Illinois Valley Division relocated onto the old towpath.

Here's where the track ran. The trolley wire supports are still in place. A bicycle/hiking path has been built here, but otherwise the bridge is largely unchanged since 1980.

So let's imagine piloting the 415 on this route!

This is the canal part of the bridge. They say it's the largest bridge of its type in the world.


This building at one time housed the CO&P ticket office on the ground floor and company offices on the second floor. The ground floor, at least, has been heavily remodeled.


The battery sub at Utica, which of course hasn't moved but is now in somebody's back yard.

This must really impress any guests -- who else has something like this in their yard?

Car 101

At Fehling Road in Granite City, Nov. 13, 1949. Photo by George Krambles, Krambles-Peterson Archive.

At Wood River, Oct. 11, 1952. Photo by William C. Janssen, Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Car 234

Let's take a tour of the IT business car 234. This is the only surviving product of the Danville Car Company, and one of only a few interurban observation cars preserved. Let's start at the rear and work our way forward.

Here's the rear platform. President Taft stood here while campaigning for reelection in 1912.

Through the open door, we enter the main compartment. There are parlor car chairs for about ten people, plus tables for drinks and snacks.

Notice the rods in the ceiling, so curtains could be hung to provide additional sleeping space in emergencies.

Further forward, there are sections that can be set up either for sitting or sleeping. However, unlike Pullman sections, the upper berth is created by folding up the seat backs, which are hinged at the top, and installing a steel rod to hold them horizontal, as seen here.

Let's look into the tiny kitchen compartment, just big enough for one man. So it's hard to get good pictures. On the left is the sink and metal countertop, with the ice box above it. On the right is the coal-fired stove.

Here's the rear platform, one side of which has the hot-water heater compartment. Watch your step as you exit via the front stairwell.

Car 241

This was the earliest piece of IT equipment selected for historic preservation, I believe, and one of the earlier interurban cars preserved. It is now stored under cover at MOT near St. Louis.

Photos 7/11/09 by Frank.

Car 277

This is a standard IT combine, built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1913, preserved at IRM, the only one of its kind.

E. Peoria c. 1952, photo by William C. Janssen, Krambles-Peterson Archive. Note the ex-C&LE freight trailer the 277 is towing.

At Danville, Apr. 20, 1952. Photo by Henry M. Stange. Krambles-Peterson Archive.

At E. Peoria, Aug. 22, 1952. Photo by George Krambles, Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Meeting the 276 at Chatham, Oct. 12, 1952. Photo by William C. Janssen, Krambles-Peterson Archive.

At North Chicago, Sept. 1956. Photo by Glenn Andersen. Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Here we see it in operation in September 2008.

Let's take a look inside the cab. One at a time, please, there's not much room here. First we see the controller and brake stand, as well as the hand brake on the right.

The supplemental reservoir for the M-22A brake valve is located inside the cab over the motorman.

And here's one of my favorite features on the 277: the reverse lever (red arrow). What do you do if the air brake system fails? Reverse the motors by throwing the reverser. On multiple unit (MU) cars, the reverser is located under the car and is thrown electrically. But what happens if you have also lost DC power, such as if the pole has dewired? On the North Shore or CA&E cars, you'd be out of luck. So the IT installed a home-made mechanical linkage to the reverser. The motorman could pull back on this lever and throw the reverser in an emergency.

Now let's look at some of the interior. Here's the water heater compartment. The coal scoop is on the door, and at the lower left is the steel box which still holds IT company coal. To the right is the Peter Smith hot water heater.

At the rear of the main compartment, the last seat has a desk for the conductor to do his paperwork on. There are four slots, but they're not labeled, so I don't know exactly what they're for.

It would be nice to have some cold water. Ah, here's the spigot. But what's behind that door above it?

That's strange, it's just another door. It says "ICE HERE".

It folds out and down, instead of to the side, and look, it's an official "Ice Door" made by the H G Co., whoever they were.

Then here we have the thermostat , first aid box, and controls for the car's primitive air conditioning system, c. 1940.

Inside the washroom compartment, on the right we see the back of the ice box we looked at earlier. (On top of it is a loose piece of wood, not part of the system.)

And finally, here's some sage advice from Illinois Terminal. The town you flush in might be your own!

Car 415

On the viaduct at St. Louis, Dec. 22, 1956. Photo by Bob Mehlenbeck, Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Car 518

See the detailed car history here. This is the interior as of Oct. 2008.

Most of the interesting features on this car are at the front end (which would usually have been the rear end on the IT.) Here's the wreck tool box over the vestibule door.

This is the Peter Smith water heater. Originally there was a wooden partition between the heater and the seat; this seems to have been removed when the car was in use as a classroom. We have the original drawing, and I plan to build a new one when I get a chance.

The stained glass window in the toilet compartment is still there, although covered over by the exterior sheet metal. You can barely see it in this photo.

It's difficult to take a picture of such a small room. It's in good condition, and used for storing spare items such as an oil can.

Locomotive 1565

Victor gave me a copy of this hand-colored postcard of the brand-new 1565 pulling a freight train back in ITS days.

At Forsyth c. 1953, photo by William E. Robertson, Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Locomotive 1575

Preserved at MOT in St. Louis. Photo 7/11/09 by Frank.

Line Car 1702

Don't be embarrassed if you don't know what a line car is. Back in 1960, when this car was acquired for the Museum, it was to be sent on its own wheels over the railroads to North Chicago. But nobody on the major lines such as IC or C&NW had any idea what a "line car" was or what it might look like. So it got lost, being shuffled from yard to yard as the various yardmasters wondered "What in the world is this thing?!?" So Bob Bruneau got on the phone and started calling around. Finally he got the reply, "Well, we've got this thing that looks like a house on one end and a porch of some sort..." "THAT'S IT!!!" he shouted. "It's supposed to go to North Chicago!"

Photos from the IRM Collection.

Answer to the riddle: This car is equipped with everything needed for working on the overhead lines, such as a movable platform on the roof, ladders, wire reels, and tools of all sorts, hence "line car."

Rail Bus

This, of course, is the Illinois Terminal's little rail bus #206, which provided service to Grafton. It's now on display at MOT near St. Louis. Photo by David Wilkins, taken in January 2005 right after completion of a cosmetic restoration. It was then placed under cover, where it is now on display.


All of the documents displayed here come from the Robert E. Bruneau Illinois Terminal Collection unless otherwise noted.

The Illinois Terminal hopefully started showing off its new streamliners in the fall of 1948. There was a brief epidemic of optimism about passenger service among many railroads immediately after the war, but the IT was the only interurban line to be infected.

Advertising flyers, about 6 x 10.

Oops, there must be something wrong with these new trains....

A couple of 5 1/2 x 7 calendar cards.