Friday, March 28, 2008

Early Days at IRM

Recollections of what things were like in the mid-seventies:

I first visited IRM in 1964 right after it had moved to Union. Evidently my father read about it in the paper, and we went for a Sunday drive in the country, a common occurrence. He didn't tell us, though, that there was anything special we were going to see. I can still remember how we were driving east out of town on Jefferson Street. I was looking out the window watching the passing countryside, when I suddenly noticed a line of old railroad equipment back in the trees. An observation car was at the west end of the string. I started shouting "Look at that!" and Dad acknowledged that was what we had come to see. We parked along Olson Road and walked back along the narrow path which led past the cars. My dad took several slides on that visit, including one (somewhat obscured by all the weeds) of the three CA&E cars. Another shows me standing on the Com Ed 4. We visited IRM every two or three years after that.
I joined the Museum on July 28, 1974, since I had just gotten my first car. And here's my ticket from that day.  Some of the people I met that first day included Nick Kallas, Herb Hanson, Jim Johnson, Frank Sirinek, and Jeff Brady.

My first project at IRM was helping Jeff fix the Big Pig. Part of the fender had fallen off while he was driving it. In theory, the principle was: if it breaks while you're using it, you fix it. Jeff is one of the few people to take principles like that seriously. I then worked for several weekends that summer on odd jobs, such as helping repaint the depot white, and track work. In September I went back to Champaign for graduate school, and didn’t return to the Museum until about April of 1975. While in Champaign, I'd work sometimes at Monticello, but that's another story.
At that time the only buildings were Barn 4, the trolley bus barn, the steam shop, the depot, and the wood shop (the south half of the present office building). The wood shop was the only heated area, and served as the Museum office. Restoration facilities were limited. Dennis Storzek was repainting one of the North Shore cars (714?) and had to set up a scaffold at the south switch of the wye, about where the pavilion is now. Then, of course, he had to move the car whenever a steam engine came in or out. The first real Car Dept. project I worked on was helping the late Glenn Monhart, of all people, on the 518 one day. He was using a propane torch to burn paint off the sheet metal sides, and managed to start a small fire in a rotten part of the window sill. That was briefly exciting. I also worked on the 354.
There was no car shop as such in those days, before the lean-to was built in 1983 or 1984. In the absence of Safety-Clean, there was a tank of Diesel fuel on the east side of the wood shop. You drain a little Diesel fuel into a coffee can and soak your paint brushes or other parts in that. And in the absence of any real woodworking facilities, the thing to do was to sign up for an evening woodworking course at a local high school. I did this a couple of times in conjunction with Bob Rayunec and Randy Anderson. We’d help each other with projects and could get quite a bit done.
And because the old Wood Shop was the only heated building, that’s where everybody on the property would gather at the end of the day, at least during the colder months. Then we’d all go out to eat together in a large group. There also seems to have been a lot more drinking in those days. In any case, one result of this is that we were more aware of what was going on in other departments. Nowadays I almost never get to see or talk to the steam guys, for instance. The place is just too big.
Remember the soap? We used to get the used soap from a local motel; every day they'd collect the tiny partly-used bars of soap and give us a box of them every so often. So that's what we had for hand soap - because it was free! Of course, now we have nice new sanitary dispensers.
Then there was Schwabenfest. This was an annual celebration of Union's proud heritage as a town of bootleggers and booze, a town that Prohibition could not shut down. In the early days it brought a lot of visitors to town and so was one of IRM's busiest days, but it faded away by 1980 or so.
For a long time, from 1964 to about 1978, the west end of the main line was about 400’ east of Jefferson. When I started, we could only operate a few hundred feet west of Olson Road, because the original track at the west end was in such bad shape. The west end has been rebuilt several times. You'd never guess what that area used to look like - it was all trees, and the track went through a cut or two. Of course the trees are mostly gone and the land has been graded smooth. When I joined, the west end was being re-laid with 78 pound rail, a type which was unique to the New Haven, I believe, and which had been donated by Elliot Donnelley for some reason. We had parts for only one 78-pound switch, and had trouble getting enough angle bars and other parts. This oddball rail was later replaced, of course.
Herb Hansen was then the Museum President. He believed in doing everything by hand and resisted the introduction of mechanized equipment for track work, not that we had very much anyway. Sometimes I would spend what seemed like most of a day bucking ties while he drove spikes by hand. We'd switch off occasionally, but he did most of the pounding. It was impressive how a much older man than myself had so much stamina, even though I was still in the Army Reserve at that time and in pretty good shape. Herb also occupied himself by painting the tops of the (already installed) ties with Creosote. This did nothing to preserve the wood, but made the railroad look better, I suppose.
The 1630 operated for the first time in 1972, I think, although the cosmetic work was not completed until 1975. At that time it became the primary steam locomotive. Previously, steam trains had been handled either by the 101 or the Shay, although the Com Ed 5 was also used occasionally. Herb’s three Burlington coaches, with the Inglehome optional, were probably the most common consist.
In 1974 the most commonly used electric cars were the 415, 972, and 144, the 431, 160 and 714, and the 4412, at that time our only 4000. The 4410 was acquired in April of 1975. The wooden El cars and the 277 and 518 could be operated occasionally.
One of the big events during the summer of 1975 was the first operation of the 4391. It may sound implausible nowadays, but the test track was the center track of Barn 4, which had been cleared out. Until the Diesel era started in the early 1980’s, most switching was handled by the electric locomotives 4, 14, and 1565, using a long string of idlers if necessary.
Switching was always a challenge. Yard 1 and Yard 3 always had crummy switches, and derailments were common. For that matter, Yard 2 was also pretty poor, but it seems to me switching it out was rare. Yard 4 had good track but very sharp curves, of course; it’s never been changed.
In the spring of 1975 I started training on the 415 and 144. Bob Opal was the training director; Roger Hewett and Ray Zelinsky, an old CSL motorman, did my line training. During 1975 I operated the 144 several times, including the first day the 354 was used in regular service. Jeff was the motorman, of course. On the second trip the car derailed on the west switch, trying to spring through, the way everything else did. Luckily he wasn't going very fast and there were no injuries. So I had to run the 144 up to the switch to pick up the passengers. After that the 354 was restricted from ever springing through.
In those days there was no entrance booth, and no charge for admission to the property. Tickets on a per-ride basis were sold at the window inside the station, much as they still are at South Elgin. The dispatcher sat there and answered the phone. We had no radios, and proceeded on train order and signal indication. Line side phones were available in emergencies. And since the main line only went to Karstens, being the dispatcher was pretty easy. I did it several times when no one else was available. And the dispatcher was often also the ticket seller.
Up to three electric cars could be on the main at one time, but they all had to return to station track 1 for the steam train to leave. The 1630 had to back west out of station track 2 onto the main, since there was a curve at the east end around the old generator shed, back to track 1 about where the electric switch is nowadays.
During the summer of 1975 I noticed that the 309's exterior paint was slowly being stripped, although I never saw anyone working on it. I asked Nick about it, and he explained that Bob Rayunec and his girlfriend were working on it, although it was an "illegal" project. Nick said: "He'll never get that car done anyhow - it's junk. The inside's all burned out. Forget about it!" Instead of taking his advice, though, I managed to meet up with Bob and Barb one day and joined the team. That set the course for the rest of my career at the Museum!
For most of 1976 I was living in Champaign doing my graduate work, but I had time to spend a day once every few weekends at the Museum. The schedule was as follows: I'd wake up at 6am on Saturday, get ready, and go have breakfast at Sambo's right down the street. Then I'd hit the road at 7am and drive to Union, straight up Route 47. The drive took three hours. So I'd arrive at 10am, work until 9pm, and then head home, arriving in Champaign about midnight. A quick dinner at Steak n' Shake (open 24 hours), and I was done. I was younger then - I could never do this sort of thing nowadays!
One Saturday I was working, as usual, on the roof of the 309, standing on a step ladder removing old tar paper, canvas, and tons of nails. About noon, Nick came through the barn rounding up people for a track project, another routine activity. In this case, we just had to load up some ties which we had sold to a landscaper. Nick and I and two other guys (don't remember who) loaded the ties into the man's truck. Nick collected whatever the man was paying for the ties, and then suggested he give us an extra dollar so the four of us could each have a pop. So I said: "And for two dollars, we could each have a beer!" In those days, a draft beer at Clasen's was only 50 cents. The man laughed and handed us the two dollars. So we drove into town and had a beer at Clasen's. Then it was back to work.
About 5pm or so, Bob Konsbruck showed up with some friends of his. He was planning to take out the two Illinois Terminal cars (277 and 518) for a fan trip. (In those days things were basically unregulated - if you were qualified, you could pretty much go fan tripping whenever you wanted.) The cars were stored on track 41 at the west end of the barn, while I was still working on the 309 at the southeast corner. I noticed he was getting the cars ready and went over to see what was happening. I volunteered to help him on the trip and run the tail hose on the 518. By this time I had completely forgotten about the quick trip to Clasen's. So we pulled the train out of the barn, and made two or three trips on the main line. Bob let me run one of the eastbound trips on the 277 - what a blast! We put the train away, I did some more work on the 309, and then headed home. It wasn't until I was eating at the restaurant in Champaign and thinking over what I'd been doing that I realized "Oops – I violated Rule G!" Of course, I wasn't exactly staggering under the influence while running the 277, but I've made sure it never happened again!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Progress in Barn 8

Today I started by painting several sections of the outer window sill with grey paint. These are parts which had been sanded, caulked, and then primed last year; this is a first finish coat. I did about 2/3 of one side.

I then lettered the ceiling bulkhead in the smoker with '309' as shown. I also did some more gluing of veneer panels in the main compartment, and cleaned up the parts done last time. I also spot primed the plugs installed last time.

I also made a visual inspection of all six traction motors for the blue cars. In the motor that failed in 2006, the string banding to the left of the commutator came loose and got jammed in the brush holders. I believe this was a cause and not an effect of the failure, but I'm not sure about that. In any case, I want to make sure it doesn't happen again. My intention is to inspect the motors after every day of revenue service this year if I can, or after every weekend otherwise. It's not much fun, though, let me tell you.

Let's look at the electrical cabinets. On the left is the #1 end. It has two big knife switches, for third rail and motor. I have removed and stored the blade for the third rail switch, so the third rail shoes cannot be energized. Then there are the control switches, contactor cutouts for the #1 end truck, and an inductance coil to suppress surges in the control circuits. On the door are spare fuses, boxes for CA&E report forms (which are also in storage), and hotbox coolant.

On the right is the #2 end. It has the interior lighting switches at the top, then the headlight switch, a knife switch for the compressor, contactor cutout for the #2 truck, and the heating circuits. All the fuses are out because the heaters do not work.

AND Max and Roger were working all day in Barn 8 installing conduit and boxes for lights and outlets along the southeast wall. Thanks guys!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Forest Fires

While driving around northern Arizona, we came upon a couple of areas that had recently been burned out by forest fires; they covered several square miles, but only a fraction of the total area. Anyhow, it reminded me of this:You idiots! Look what you did to my tree!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

309 Report

Today I started by making some hardwood plugs from a 1/2" dowel. The drip rail on the 309 is held by countersunk screws, and the holes are then plugged. This wood was added as part of the rebuilding in 1941 that removed the streamer sash. Several plugs had fallen out over the years, so they needed to be replaced. After the glue was dry, they were rasped and sanded flush, and will be spot primed next time.

Then I started fixing a few more places in the main compartment where the veneer had come loose. The picture below shows the wall-to-wall clamp I use for setting wall panels, which I made in 1979 for the first restoration.
Veneer on the end walls requires some ad hoc solutions for clamping.

Then I made some more quarter-round trim pieces for the clerestory window frames; there are still many missing, and it's a time-consuming task. But at least I'm getting down to the small details.

I also cleaned up and lubricated some seat frame brackets.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Life's Railway to Heaven

Here's an Easter present: the only railroad-related hymn I know of.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Inspections, Everyone (An Editorial)

The inspection season is now in progress, and every electric car needs to undergo a thorough inspection prior to revenue service. I strongly suggest that everyone involved in electric car operations - all motormen and conductors - should spend at least one day a year helping on inspections. This is not just because we could use the help, but because this is the only effective way for crewmen to be familiar with all the mechanical parts of the car, and what most often goes wrong. In the past, we have occasionally had problems because operating crews didn't realize anything was wrong until severe damage had occurred. This is not meant as personal criticism, it's a lack of education. Classroom-type training is good, but it is not an effective substitute for hands-on experience. You'll be glad you did!

Feel free to use the comment feature to reply!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Five, Fifteen, Twenty-Five Years Ago

March, 1983: I was living in upstate New York; I made several new window frames for both the 309 and 321 over the course of a few months in a BOCES wood-working evening class.

1993: I made new trap doors for the 309, with all new wood but re-using the metal parts. Touch-up work was done to complete the interior restoration.

2003: The #1 truck from the 309 had had its motors removed, and the truck itself had been moved to the Diesel shop where Frank needle-chipped and repainted it. It then returned to Barn 4 to check the mechanical condition. The 309 had one shop truck under it. Dave Shore checked on the two motors for the 309 which Steiner was rebuilding and was very impressed.

Meanwhile, the compressor cradle from the 308 was moved to the Diesel shop for repair. I worked on finishing installation of the control and brake equipment in the new vestibule at the #2 end. We also did paint matching for completing the interior paint job. The goal was to get both cars ready for regular service by Memorial Day weekend (which we did.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Back from Vacation

Posting has been on hold the last two weeks because Frank has been working like a dog, and I was on vacation in Arizona, heh heh. Not much railfanning, though; we spent our time visiting mountains, canyons, craters, petrified forests, cocktail parties, and things like that. But now, back to work!

I started by looking through our store of spare parts, and I found the window latch track I was looking for. This part was a spare from the 318, which IRM acquired for parts back in 1977. So I installed it in the 308, which had been missing one of these when we got it. Now all the windows are complete. Here we see the 308 patiently awaiting its return to service. Inspection of the car has been scheduled for Saturday, May 10th, and it should be operating on Memorial Day, May 26th.

Then I spent several hours sanding down one side of the 309, in preparation for completely repainting it. The car will have not only all new paint, but improved numbers and lettering when we're done. After all that sanding I felt kind of blue, but luckily it washed right off! I then worked on repainting the wall panels in the main compartment with a new coat of green.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ready for College

Yet another antique car card: this is one of the many public service announcements.

Unfortunately, I haven't yet figured out how to restore these things. The printing comes off the card if you rub it at all, and the cards break or tear easily. They obviously weren't meant to last for the ages. Of course, there are various ways of making reproductions, but there must also be restoration techniques available at a high price. If only I could claim this was fine art....

309 Report

Today I started by making some more filler pieces for the outside of the clerestory. When the cap pieces were made, they had a gap on one side so the clerestory window frame could rotate, as explained last time. When the windows were fastened shut in 1925, small filler blocks were nailed in. However, over the years many of these have split and fallen out. So I installed several new ones on the north side of the car to correct that.

Then I did some more interior work on the ceiling molding strips; the task of setting all nails, filling, sanding, and staining is nearly done.

I also worked on some of the seat frames. The picture shows one which has a piece broken out of the track in the end casting. This makes it impossible to reverse the position of the seat backs, which is very inconvenient. Our friend Glenn Guerra has made the castings for complete new H&K 197 seat frames, and I have several replacement end castings on order.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Radio Free Europe

One in a continuing series of picturesque car cards:

Back about the time I joined IRM, I didn't think I'd ever live to see the end of the Soviet Union. I believe most people thought the Cold War would go on forever --- if we were lucky. I suppose those "truth dollars" may have helped!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Helping out around the department

I went out to the museum without any particular projects on the CA&E cars planned, and ended up helping Joel Ahrendt and Joe Stupar on North Shore 714 again. This involved reattaching some heater covers (shown at left), re-securing some door latches and other fixtures in the vestibules that were starting to come a little loose, and assisting with sequencing the car as part of its annual inspection. North Shore cars use Westinghouse HLF control, which is electro-pneumatic, unlike the electro-magnetic General Electric Type M control used on our CA&E cars. Also pictured to the left is the switch group under the 714. The pneumatic magnet valves that activate the contactors are located along the bottom, with the arc chutes above them. This box is much more compact than the ones under the 309, which has GE DB-15 type contactors designed in 1901, but is comparable in size to the more modern contactor boxes under CA&E 321 or 431. It has undergone a great deal of preventative maintenance and rebuilding, though, so it is much cleaner than the contactor boxes under the CA&E cars.

In other news, we've started talking about options for moving the 321 into Barn 4 for the commencement of serious restoration work in a few months (for details, see the project info listing on the right side of the blog page). Stay tuned!

History of CA&E 321


Wood was one of man's earliest building materials, and the only one that was useful for transportation purposes. When carefully chosen and properly seasoned, it is strong, durable, lightweight, and easily repaired. On the water, the first crude rafts evolved into the magnificent wooden clipper ship; on land, wheeled vehicles developed from primitive carts into the final wooden passenger cars with their decorative moldings, inlaid marquetry, and graceful arched windows. And it was not until well into the twentieth century that wood was finally replaced as the basic material for railroad car construction. The last wooden cars were the pinnacle of a long development process, and the survivors are valuable examples of the woodworker's art.

The subject of this study is the last of a group of six cars ordered from the Jewett Car Co. in 1913; the 321 was delivered early in 1914. It ran for 43 years in daily revenue service, and was still in use on the day the railroad suddenly stopped passenger service. All of the cars in this order were preserved when the CA&E was abandoned.

The single most important event in the development of the passenger car was the transition from wooden to steel construction. By 1914 steam railroads had been ordering all-steel cars for several years, and many interurban lines had also begun to do so. Thus when the Aurora Elgin and Chicago received new wooden passenger cars at this late date, they were almost immediately obsolete. They survived in regular passenger service as long as they did, however, because the railroad could never afford to replace its obsolete equipment.

The 321 represents an interesting stage in the transition from wood to steel. The side truss is a ¼" steel plate that extends from the floor nearly to the belt rail, the entire length of the car side. This replaces the earlier forms of wooden compression trusses built into the side of the car, as on the 308, 309, and other older wooden cars. There are also steel angle plates built into the car at the corners.

It is instructive to compare this car with two others in the Museum's collection: Michigan Electric #28, built in 1913, and North Shore #160, built in 1915. Both are of steel construction with arched roofs, and much more modern in appearance. Another point of comparison is with Illinois Terminal #277, built by St. Louis in 1913. This car presents a different type of transitional design. On the 321 wooden siding conceals the partially steel structure, while the 277 was built with sheet metal sides concealing a basically wood structure. (Like the 321, the 277 originally had arched stained glass windows in the best interurban tradition, but these were covered over in a later rebuilding.)

The Jewett Car Company was founded in 1894 and originally located in Jewett, Ohio. It relocated in 1900 to Newark, Ohio. Jewett was known as an interurban specialist, and its equipment was widely used on lines in the Ohio-Indiana network. The firm also produced a large quantity of rapid transit and street railway cars. The 1917-1918 period was difficult due to a combination of circumstances: the secular decline in the interurban industry, lack of orders due to war-related uncertainty, and the general inflation caused by the war. Several car builders went out of business at this time, Jewett among them[1].
There are at least 41 cars built by Jewett presently preserved in North America[2]. These cover a wide range of designs; some are stored inside and in good condition, others are in very poor condition due to neglect.
CA&E #321 is one of six Jewett-built pieces currently in the IRM collection. They offer a good look at the variety of equipment the firm produced.
· CA&E #319 is from the same order of cars, and was identical to #321 as built.  However, it was modified in several different ways, and was maintained in good condition after retirement.  It is currently used in passenger operation on a regular basis.
· Chicago Surface Lines #2843 is a 1903 deck-roof streetcar that was completely rebuilt (at least once) while in passenger service, and then converted to salt-spreader service. It is on display, but not restored or operable. (It is equipped with the CSL's streetcar wheels, and so cannot be operated on the Museum's standard railroad tracks.)
· Chicago Rapid Transit #1754 is a wooden rapid transit car, also from 1906. It is currently undergoing an intensive restoration project.
· Finally, shortly before going out of business, in 1917 Jewett built an order of steel interurban cars for the North Shore, which included seven combines. The 251 and 253 are the only combines from this order to survive. Railroad modifications to these cars were relatively minor, mostly involving moving the bulkhead to adjust the number of seats vs. baggage space. The 251 has been repainted in its Silverliner paint scheme and is operated occasionally; the 253 has been cosmetically restored and is on display.
All of these cars were used in railroad service for at least forty years before acquisition by the Museum. Thanks to the North Shore's meticulous record keeping, we know that combine #251 ran over 3,300,000 miles in service, more than any other car in North Shore history.
It should be noted that while the Chicago Aurora and Elgin was the last American interurban to operate wooden coaches in regular service[3], these cars were generally modified much less than similar cars on other interurban lines. The Museum has several examples of wooden cars that were completely rebuilt. Some were covered with sheet metal to make them appear to be constructed of steel. (Often, the sheet metal was attached with round-head wood screws; the slots were then filled with putty to make them appear to be rivets.) Railroad (clerestory) roofs were converted to arched roofs, doors removed or added, and single-end cars reversed in the process of making them operable by one man. Trucks, motors, and control were often changed.
For the most part, the CA&E did not do these things. All wooden cars had the streamer sash removed. Otherwise, two wooden parlor cars were covered with sheet metal, received new couplers and control, and were used as part of the steel fleet. The 321 is one of only three wooden cars that received new motors and contactor groups. The rest continued to operate until the end in their original configuration, with the same mechanical equipment they had been built with.
A total of eighteen passenger cars and one work car from the Chicago Aurora and Elgin have been preserved at six museums, four of them at IRM. All of these cars are now stored inside and well cared for. Currently, about ten of them are in operable condition; the others are being restored as conditions permit.



As mentioned above, the 321 was used in daily revenue service for over 40 years, from 1914 until passenger service was stopped on July 3, 1957. The car could operate singly, of course, or in trains of up to eight cars (limited by the length of station platforms). The 321 could train only with other wooden cars, not the steel equipment, that had different couplers and type of control system.
Before the arrival of steel equipment in 1923, this type of car was used in both local and express service over all parts of the railroad. (Except, perhaps, the Geneva branch. Pictures of this branch during the wood car era seem to show only "shorties". If so, this was probably due to sharp curves in the streets.) After that time, it was generally used only in Chicago to Wheaton service. Most often, the 319, 320, and 321 were used in express service to Wheaton, generally with trailers 105 and 209 sandwiched in. Particularly in the last few years, the car would have made only rush hour trips.
The cars were probably delivered to Wheaton on their own trucks. Unlike previous orders, they came equipped with the dash lights and folding destination signs, also the bus jumpers and anticlimbers (based on the advertisement picture of the 318). The railroad probably had little to do before putting them in service. The cars were stored outside in the yard at Wheaton when not in use (or, during the day, at other locations); there was no inside storage except when in the shop. As a rule, the pumps and electric heat remained on so the cars would be ready for service. (Pictures always show a pole up when under wire.)
The car was completely resided at least once during its service life. As detailed below, it was completely repainted about once every ten years, and the roof canvas was probably replaced about as often. The upholstery fabric was replaced at least once, but the seat cushions and frames were unchanged. The structural members and interior finish of the car are generally as built in 1914, with the exception of the platform ends. All surviving wood cars have new wood spliced into the door posts in the vestibules.
It was the practice to turn the cars around on the loop at Wheaton once a month to equalize wear and tear on the paint job and running gear. After 1953 this was no longer necessary since the cars turned around on every trip to Forest Park. In the absence of detailed mileage records, the total mileage this car accumulated in regular service can only be estimated; it was probably between 1.5 and 2 million miles.
The 321 was used on a CERA fantrip in 1939, coupled to car #10 (i.e., the first and last wooden cars). It is this period to which we are restoring the car. It was also used on an early fantrip coupled to two box motors, which would have required an adapter coupler, of course.


1. Removal of window guards (between 1915 and 1925)
2. Removal of coupling chains (between 1915 and 1925?)
3. Removal of motorman’s cab doors
4. Motors changed to GE-254A, control system changed to single contactor set with DB-260 contactors, DB-409 reverser, and automatic field tap control. (c. 1923) [This car originally had GE-66B motors and double control equipment, like all the other wood cars. The same applies to the 319 and 320.]
5. Installation of retrievers (c. 1925)
6. Installation of clerestory ventilators, clerestory sash fastened shut (c. 1925)
8. Streamer sash removed, replaced by arched trim over siding (before 1932; possibly this was done at the same time as item 7).
10. Dash light lenses removed, replaced by painted wood or metal inserts (before 1936)
11. Trolley wheels replaced by shoes (between 1932 and 1936)
12. Sheet metal plates installed on ends over the door/windows (between 1932 and 1938)
13. Side doors replaced by CA&E design (1935-1940; motorman's side doors were done first)
14. Trim replaced, arches removed; outer windows replaced (Jan. 3 to Jan. 27, 1941)
15. Pilots modified to provide better third rail clearance (second bar from the bottom was shortened, 1941)
16. Oval window (on side ‘L’ only) replaced by square window (c. 1950)
17. Flag/marker light brackets were moved down about 15" (c. 1950)
18. Headlight plug receptacles in door post at each end replaced by wooden block (c. 1950?)
19. Removal of dash lights and folding signs (between 1952 and 1956)
20. Interior repainted tan (Jan. 13, 1954)
21. Glass globes removed from ceiling light fixtures
22. Controller changed from C21 (probably C21E) to C6K (between 1952 and 1957)[4]
Most of the dates for these modifications were inferred from the photographic record.


There were five or six basic paint schemes during the car's service life:
1. Green: Entire body was Pullman Green; doors and window sash were brown; gold leaf lettering and striping. Roof color was probably buff. The vestibule interiors were also Pullman Green. All interior walls and trim were stained and varnished mahogany; ceiling was light yellow, with extensive stenciling around the edges of each panel. As built, until 1921.
· The vestibules preserved the Pullman Green finish in good condition. This finish is extremely difficult to remove, and in most places we have stripped the paint over it, sanded it down, and painted over it again.
2. Red:  December 1921.  Entire body was red; doors and window sash were brown; gold lettering with black outlining. Roof color was probably also red. On this car, the “Sunset Lines” herald had no background. No change to interior walls. The rebuilt ceiling was probably painted the same yellow as built. Until c. 1932.

3. Maroon ("coffee and cream"): Body and window sash were maroon, except for the letterboard, end windows, and window sills that were cream; doors were light brown or tan; gold lettering with black outlining. The "Sunset Lines" herald on this car had a black background. Roof was painted maroon. Until 1941.

4. Blue ("red, white, and blue"): January 1941.  Body was dark blue; side windows and posts were light grey (not white); ends were bright red, with red stripes below the belt rail and over the windows; yellow lettering without outlining. The end buffer plates were black on this car. Also, the "Sunset Lines" herald on this car was painted with no background (i.e., over the blue). Roof was light grey. The interior walls were painted green at this time. The vestibule interior was the same blue as the exterior. Until 1954.

· Note that the red is not the same red as in the final paint scheme - although it's close.
· This car was in the shop for three weeks before painting started, so it was probably resided. It appears it was then painted blue without primer.
Car 321 in house 1-3-41
Remove varnish inside from card Moulding to capping to floor in Main + smoking compartments
Start 1-27-41
Remove entire varnish from card Moulding to sill and part of lower half remove varnish on all doors + sash. Lost 3 days account last minute making new storm sash.
Top White
Center Green
Bottom Stained + Varnish
Sash “ “
Completed 2-17-41[5]

5. Scarlet: January 1954.  Ends, doors, and sides below the belt rail were bright red ("Pimpernel Scarlet"), windows, posts, and letterboard were a light blue-grey. Yellow lettering with black outlining. Roof was black (coated with “Lucas” paint, a tar-like substance). The vestibule interior was the same red as the exterior. The entire ceiling was painted white, including the molding strips. The interior was painted tan, including the stained glass windows and all woodwork. Until end of service; car was in this paint scheme when acquired.

· The railroad sanded down the car, but not to bare wood; a coat of brown primer was then applied over what was left of the blue paint scheme. Then this was painted red.
Sand int. Head lining + sides

Head lining 2 coats white, side 2 coats buff
Floor 1 coat 61 P + L Brown floor paint
Back + cushions 1 coat Black Fibroseal
Rack 2 coats Aluminum paint
Exterior Sand putty + Glaze 3 coats Brilliant Red
3 coats Gray Roof 1 coat Lucas Black
Completed 1-13-54[6]


Several other modifications were made, some of which may no longer be apparent due to collateral damage or restoration work.
It is possible that the vestibules were rebuilt by the railroad to narrow the ends of the car slightly, presumably to provide sufficient clearance for the high level platforms on the elevated. The end doors taper inward about two inches, unlike the earlier wood cars in our collection. Since the Jewetts are longer than the earlier equipment, perhaps the railroad found it necessary to modify them. Because of the various rebuildings that were constantly taking place, it is difficult to know what the original design was in this case. The steel cars, which are even longer, have a much greater taper to the ends.
As part of rebuilding the ceiling, the light circuit wiring was changed. The wiring for one side circuit on each side and the center circuits originally ran in wooden troughs on either side of the Empire arches; these were changed to go through holes in the new blocks under the carlines that support the flat ceiling.
There was some extra wiring (detailed in the journal) that was removed during restoration. This was evidently installed by the builders but never used; it was disconnected when the ceiling was rebuilt. Two wires ran in grooves behind the 89” molding from end to end of the car. At each double window post a wire connected to one of these two ran down behind the wall to about the level of the light fixtures, then ran back up and connected to the other. This wiring could have no function unless these loops were cut at the bottom and connected to something. The only obvious possibilities are another light fixture (for low voltage battery lighting, presumably) or a button for a buzzer system, as on a streetcar.
Like the 308 and 309, the 321 originally had a fare register system; the hole for the rod is still apparent in the smoker bulkhead. It also had coat hooks under the side lights.
When the oval window was squared off, there were no extra ventilator parts available, so the storm window at sector 27 (for some reason) had no ventilator. This change has been undone.
The folding signs on this car had an unusual semicircular notch cut out of the upper right hand corner. I believe that this happened because the Kuhlman cars were built with the GE control jumpers located on either side of the train doors in the end walls (they were later relocated under the floor, as on all the other cars). The signs for these cars therefore had to be notched to clear the jumper. A set of signs from one of these cars was transferred to the 321 while in the shop. This transfer evidently happened between 1936 and 1939, and the 321 kept these signs until the dash lights were removed between 1952 and 1956.
The headlight wiring was probably changed by the railroad in the same way as for the 309. Of course, the electrical cabinet wiring changed quite a bit when the control system was replaced.
Finally, although this is certainly not a deliberate modification, I should note that the entire carbody is noticeably deformed. Viewed from the outside, side "R" is slightly concave and side "L" is convex, to a greater degree. The body posts near the center of the car are bent in the area of the belt rail. In the area of window 19, for instance, the body posts are bent out by about ¾" at the belt rail. This cannot have happened merely due to years of sitting out in the rain, and is presumably the result of an accident on the CA&E. This doesn't show up on photographs, so exactly what happened and when can probably never be answered.


The 321 was purchased by Tom Jervan and Bob Bruneau on behalf of the Museum in 1961 in order to provide trucks, motors, and control for the Milwaukee Electric #1129. It was shipped on its own wheels to the Museum's temporary site at the Chicago Hardware Foundry in North Chicago. It was moved in a special train via the North Western, along with the two cars slated for preservation, on March 31, 1962[7]. At this time it was still complete, and was moved with its trolley poles in place. It was operated under its own power along the North Shore siding (just once, I believe) before conversion started[8]. It was decided not to scrap the car immediately but to use it as a workroom and warehouse on wheels. The following changes were made:
1. Removal of all side walls in the main compartment, and most of them in the smoker[9]; some of the baggage racks and light fixtures were retained in storage, but most of them disappeared.
2. Removal of all main compartment ceiling panels; the ceiling light fixtures disappeared.
3. Removal of all stained glass windows; the disposition of these is not known.
4. Removal of all seats and seat frames, but a few of them were retained in storage. The fixed seats in the corners remained in place.
5. Removal of the roof cables, trolley boards, etc.; the roof was then covered with tar paper. The holes where the roof cables enter the attics were enlarged, and as a result the wood here is badly damaged.
6. Removal of most of the electrical cabinet fixtures and wiring. However, none of the underbody equipment except third rail beams was affected.
7. Removal of the third rail beams.
8. Installation of shelves in the main compartment along the 19-28 side. A caboose stove was placed by window 18A, and a hole was chopped in the roof for the chimney pipe.
9. A workbench was installed in the smoker, as were several wall lockers. An old lightning arrestor box, designed for mounting on line poles, was attached to the back of the electrical cabinet in the smoker, and used as a cabinet for storing tools and Tom Jervan's collection of interchange rule books. Some haphazard rewiring was done, so parts of the lighting system could be used on 110V AC.
10. Before moving to Union in 1964, the exterior was painted dark green, signifying work service[10].

During the move to Union in 1964, the drawbar at the #2 end of the 321 was pulled out, stripping the threads on the end of the drawbar. Thereafter, the car had only one coupler until 1993. Upon arrival at Union, it remained on the main line west of Olsen Road for a couple of years, like the rest of the equipment, and was then moved into Yard 2. There it sat until Barn 2 was constructed in 1976. During these years no real maintenance was done on the car, and several bad leaks developed in the roof. The 15-28 side faced south all this time, so it deteriorated more rapidly. The #1R corner is particularly bad as a result. At one point somebody (either John Woytash or Steve Michael) started painting the car white, but never finished. About ¾ of the car was white below the belt rail by 1975. Also, several control resistors were removed for use on other cars over the years.

The 321 was still scheduled to be scrapped, and indeed was next in line on the rip track; the main thing preventing this was the work and storage space that would be required to unload all the parts stored inside. Bob Rayunec had definitely planned to scrap the 321 next after the two Northwestern Elevated cars, but never got anyone to help unload it[11].

It was during 1976 that I started lobbying to have the 321 preserved, and assigned to the 309 team, so to speak. This only became a reality when the 318 was made available for purchase early in 1977. As a result, the 321 was moved into Barn 2 for a brief period, where it was finally unloaded of most of its contents, and then switched into Barn 4 next to the 309, at the east end of track 43. Here we were able to move the 309’s parts into it. Just getting the seat cushions out of the 309 was a big step forward.


Restoration began in 1979, and has been documented in a log book that was started at that time; since 1993, the log has been kept in electronic form. Work first concentrated on replacing the rotted and missing siding below the belt rail on both sides of the car. Some paint stripping and repainting was done; it was planned at this time to repaint the car in the blue paint scheme to match the 309. I also worked on getting the brake system working and tested out the control system, so the car could be used as a control trailer with the 309. It could be operated from the #2 end only (as the coupler at the #2 end was missing, and some of the brake piping at the #1 end had rusted out and had to be removed). The car was first operated as a control trailer in 1980, and ran a few times thereafter, such as Members’ Day of 1990.
There were two spare third rail beams available[12], and these were mounted on one side of the car in 1979. We were not able to acquire a complete set until 1998 (see below).
In early 1981 the car was moved outside and tarped for about two years. It was later moved into Barn 8 (now known as Barn 9) briefly, then finally moved into Barn 2 in 1985 and reunited with the 309. It was then that the blue paint scheme was more or less completed, though without letters or numbering. While in Barn 2 I completed the woodwork for the reconstructed oval window where window 18A had been.
In 1993 we took one of the bent couplers from the 318 to the Steam Shop, where Ed Beard straightened it out using the Steam Department's large press. It was then installed at the #2 end. The brake hoses and piping were then replaced, so that the car can be coupled at either end. In October of 1993 the 321 was moved to Barn 7 on track 73.
In 1994 I was able to purchase a container to store parts from both cars. This enabled us to unload most of the parts still stored in the 321, most notably all seat cushions and backs. I was then able to finish disassembling the old shelves along the 19-28 wall, some of which were reassembled in the container. In 1995 the workbench was removed from the 321's smoker also and installed in the container.
In 1997, after study of pictures of the car in the 1930's that had recently been made available to us, Frank suggested that we repaint the car in the maroon paint scheme and reconstruct the arched trim that was used during that era. We matched the maroon using clerestory parts from the 309, which we verified to be identical to fragments on the 321; the cream paint we matched to a good sample from a window sill of the 308 (the end which was disassembled at IMOTAC). The tan paint was matched to a sample provided by Don MacCorquodale of the Fox River Trolley Museum.
After several attempts at getting the control system working, which never succeeded because I didn't have enough replacement resistors and was unsure what value they should be, I decided the only way of solving the problem was to study the 320's control system in detail. On May 9, 1998, Frank and I went to Mt. Pleasant, where we were able to measure the control resistors; all nine of them were 125 ohms. We also looked at the field tap control. Unfortunately 600V was not available, but we learned enough to fix the 321's control system. There were no spare control resistors available, but I was able to order new tubes and mount them in old hardware. To my surprise, all contactors sequenced properly once these resistors were installed. The 321 was then pulled outside, and operated under its own power for the first time on June 20. We used a stinger for testing, and since then it has received power via bus jumper from the 309. The two-car train, running on six traction motors, operated also on July 4 (the Trolley Pageant) and September 26 (Members' Day), 1998, and several times since then.
Also in 1998 we were able to arrange a trade with the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Orbisonia, Pennsylvania, otherwise known as Railways to Yesterday. For some reason, IRM had acquired eight interior stained glass windows from one of the 311 series Kuhlmans, and these windows remained in storage. Meanwhile, the 315 at Rockhill was missing four of these windows in the smoker, where they had been replaced by Masonite panels. The Rockhill museum had acquired a set of four third rail beams with the 315, but never installed them because the equipment wouldn't clear their loading platforms. I therefore agreed with David Brightbill of Rockhill to trade four windows for the four third rail beams. Unfortunately, they could only locate two beams; the other two are still missing. However, we decided we really needed the two, and should not wait lest they change their minds. In August, Frank and I drove a Museum truck to Orbisonia to deliver four stained-glass windows, and received the two third rail beams in exchange. These have now been mounted on the 321, so all four of our cars have a complete set.

In November, 1998, restoration of the 308 became the first priority, since it was much closer to completion. Work on the 321 has mostly been painting and lettering. In December, 2000 the car was moved to Barn 8 and stored on track 84. It has been operated occasionally.

In the summer of 2004, since both the 308 and 309 were in regular service much of the time, cosmetic work was done to get the body of the 321 to some minimal standard for occasional use. Also, a complete mechanical inspection was (finally!) done. We also located another bus jumper and control jumper. On June 13, we operated a three-car train for the first time, with all cars powered; the train was then run for the Trolley Pageant and for Members’ Day.

In 2004 we also had three sets of folding signs made; two of these I modified with the unusual notches for use on the 321. They were then painted and installed. In 2005 the painting and woodwork on the convex side of the car were essentially completed.

In 2006 it was operated for the last time (probably) under its own power. When the 309 failed on Member's Day, the three-car train was returned to the barn. There the 321 remained until late 2009. Due to the acquisition of the 319 from the Trolleyville collection, the 321 was no longer a restoration candidate, and its trucks were removed for use under the 319. It was then tarped and stored outside.




140 HP


SB 2522






Previously C21

Control Resistors

125 ohm
130W 6½” x 1¼” O.D. tubes

Field Tap Control

Field Tap Resistors

1250 ohm

Motorman’s Valves


Triple Valve


Triple Valve Gasket


Feed Valve

Located under seat #1


8.44 HP


WH Type J
Located under seat #28

Brake Shoes



Notes: 1) The 321 had C21 controllers at least until 1952, judging from photographs. We will replace the currently installed C6 controllers if possible.
2) GE-254 recommended armature bearing oil depths: 3½” (pinion side); 2¼” (commutator side).


· Car 318 was acquired by the Indiana Railroad Museum, which was then located in Westport, Indiana. (This organization has since moved to French Lick.) At Westport the car was not operated under electric power, but pulled by a small steam locomotive[13]. It was repainted twice, and both times the entire car was painted orange. Nonetheless, it was stored outside and evidently deteriorated badly. While at Westport, several of the interior side wall panels were replaced with panels of unpainted fir plywood cut to shape. The car retained its trolley poles, even though there was no overhead wire and it was being pulled by steam.
In 1971 it was acquired by TWERHS[14], and shipped to East Troy on its own wheels[15]. During shipment, however, the Penn Central crushed it between two freight cars in a switching accident at Indianapolis, and both vestibules were demolished. The steel beams that support the platform floors were bent downward and in, and these caused the floor inside the car (between the end sills and the body bolsters) at each end to be buckled upwards. The #2 end was evidently struck by a box car or reefer, so the roof was sheered off to the bulkhead. Most of the platform control equipment was damaged, both couplers were bent, etc.
The 318 was then loaded onto a flat car and shipped to the Iowa Terminal at Mason City, Iowa, for evaluation and possible repair by Ed Allen, who was then the line’s master mechanic. He quoted a price for repairing the damage that was beyond the resources of TWERHS, and so it sat on the flat car in Iowa for several months, and was then sent on to the Phantom Woods carbarn and unloaded. In January 1977, while I was in England, TWERHS sold it to IRM for $2,500. IRM members traveled up to East Troy to remove everything possible from the car; the body was then removed from the trucks and the trucks were also moved to Union. The headlight, one stained glass window, and some baggage racks and other parts, however, were in the keeping of a TWERHS member whose name I do not now recall; the late Ray Neuhaus and I drove up to Milwaukee in April 1978 to retrieve them.
The motors from this car are spares for the 309 (two were rebuilt in 2003 and are now in use under the 309), and the 318’s tool box, first aid box, and a few other parts have been installed in the 309; nearly everything else serves as replacement parts or spares for the 321. Unfortunately for us, the car left Wheaton without its third rail equipment.
After all usable parts had been removed from the 318 at Phantom Woods, the body was trucked off to be scrapped. However, rumors of its survival seem to have started while it was still on its way to the junk yard. The first mention in print appeared in the newsletter of the CA&E Historical Society. The following note is not signed, but was presumably written by Steve Hyett:
The latest report on #318 was that it had to be out of the East Troy Trolley Museum by July 1. On June 27 its hulk was aboard a flatbed truck and left the museum grounds bound for the local scrap yard. However, it never made it! A member of the East Troy Museum reports that the old wooden body never got to the junk yard but instead was left by the side of a lake somewhere in Wisconsin to be used as a summer cottage! Absolutely everything of any value was stripped off 318 by the people from Union for use on 309 and 321. But, can you imagine what will happen in 20 years when someone “discovers” 318, tries to figure out where it came from and wants to restore it?! [16].

When the survival of the 318 came up in an on-line discussion group in 2005, this message was posted by John Cloos:

I wondered about that as well.
I somehow convinced myself that logic dictated that the car wouldn't have gone too horribly far, so based on that I had an arbitrary mental note that it would likely be in south/southeastern Wisc, basically somewhere in the East Troy/Lake Geneva area. I've never seen any trace or heard any word, so my best guess may have been off.
Would be interesting to know, if for no other reason than just putting the whole "Interurban car found stored in a barn" type legends to rest. It's been almost 30 years, probably too much to hope for it's continued existence, much less in any type of decent condition.

A reply by Jack Franklin:

I love urban legends! This one about car 318 resurfaced when the Stark and Weller book came out[17] and perpetuated this myth. I was involved with the East Troy museum at that time, so my interest was piqued. Maybe it was true!
As one would do in any historical research project, I first researched the literature, including county plat records. After that, I talked with persons who supposedly had some knowledge of the car's existence. You know, the kind: "A guy told me that a guy told him..." The names of a father & son team came up often, (Not the Hickses) with the mysterious proviso that they couldn't tell where the car was located, because the owner of the property where it was located had vowed to destroy it if any railfans came snooping around. Then, I did what any serious researcher would do, I talked to the people who were actually involved in the movement and disposition of the car. Their comment: "It's gone."

I then spent the better part of a summer and fall doing empirical research in the field. Using GPS and Mapquest, I plotted the areas where it was most likely to have been taken. Then, I was on the Wisconsin backroads for hundreds of miles, checking any likely spot to which it could have been taken. I did find a TM sweeper body in Germantown, but that was it. Any time I found a likely structure which could have housed or been part of an interurban car, I essayed to talk to the property owner. Most were friendly enough and probably thought I was nuts. (Right). It was a fun project, but I don't think I'd ever do it again.

Conclusion: It doesn't exist. (Except in a few fevered imaginations.)

[1] Hilton, George W. and Due, John F. The Electric Interurban Railway in America, Stanford University Press, 1960 (1st ed.), p. 424 (appendix "Principal Interurban Car Builders")
[2] See Hicks, Frank Roster of Preserved Electric Equipment; Hicks Locomotive and Car Works, 1999 (publ.)
[3] The best and most comprehensive treatment of this railroad and its operations is found in: Plachno, Larry Sunset Lines (2 vols.), American Bus Trader (publ.), 1986 (vol. 1), 1989 (vol. 2). Note that until 1923 the company name was Aurora Elgin and Chicago (AE&C).
[4] CERA (Central Electric Railfans' Association) Bulletin #5: Chicago Aurora and Elgin, 1940 (out of print)
[5] Paint Shop Ledger fromWheaton Shops, 1937-1956 (unpublished manuscript from the Ralph Taylor Collection), p. 92.
[6] Ibid., p. 284.
[7] Rail and Wire Issue #19, June 1962.
[8] Thomas Jervan, private communication.
[9] "Removal" in these cases was done very roughly, probably with an axe. There was a lot of collateral damage.
[10] Robert E. Bruneau: Before the move I made sure that everything was painted, so the collection wouldn’t look like a scrap yard on wheels. A museum in Oregon had recently moved to a new location against the wishes of the locals, and two of their wooden cars burned to the trucks one night. We didn’t want this to happen to us, and spent a lot of time in the Union taverns making friends with the neighbors. I guess it didn’t occur to us that not everyone frequented the bars, but it worked out OK.
[12] The reason there were only two is as follows: all four of the 321’s third rail beams were acquired with the car. About 1972, Norm Krentel requested the sleet scrapers from two of them, that he would eventually need for the Michigan Electric #28. Bruneau gave him two complete beams, and he took them home. But while he was serving in the Navy, his parents threw them out.
[13] See Ziel, Ron The Twilight of Steam Locomotives, p. 70
[14] The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society; this was a completely different group from the one that now operates the East Troy line. Ralston Taylor provided information on the 318's detour to Iowa. See also Weller and Stark, pp. 152, 162-163; their account of the 318 came from Mr. Allen. The 318 was traded for two Erie Stillwell cars and two reefers. Information from Don Leistikow and Paul Fischer, officers of TWERHS.
[15] And duly stencilled “DO NOT HUMP” (!)
[16] Chicago Aurora and Elgin Historical Society, Vol. 2, #2 (Summer 1977)
[17] This book was published in 1999.