Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rising From The Ashes

An article summarizing the 309's restoration, written by Frank, has now been published here on the website. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Work on 757

I spent almost all day working on the tack molding again. All pieces are now cut to length and installed. I need to remove the newer ones and paint the backs with primer, then sand all the edges smooth; that will take less than a day, I should think.

Another thing that needs to be done on the 757 is to repair or replace the end windows; all four have wooden frames that are badly rotted, at least the bottom rail and the ends of the stiles. To the right, we see the hand of Henry Vincent pointing out the bad areas, and to the left, the man himself is starting to remove a window for repair.

One of the main reasons the 757 has been out of service is that the compressor armature shorted out. (That means the air pump which supplies compressed air for the brake system is no longer functional.) Fortunately, we have a spare which just needs to be installed. Here we see it sitting on the platform.

The interior of the 757 is generally in very good condition. Several of the seats have rips in the upholstery, but we have plans to repair these over the winter.

I also gave the originals of the 309's scenery pictures to Barb Lanphier, for storage and possible display at Strayhorn. And I checked on the 308 and 309 after they operated both days last weekend.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Operations and Door Day

Well I have been forgetting my camera a lot, but today I remembered it so I decided to go nuts. Today was the second day of regular operation for the 308-309 since the 309's completion; yesterday was the first but none of the Hicks Car Works crew was out. The train was run yesterday by Stan Wdowikowski and today by Jim Nauer, both very capable people we are lucky to have in operations at IRM. The only problem was that one of the traps in the 308 is pulling out of the bulkhead, which will be fairly simple to fix, and a few minor air leaks, which will be more annoying to fix. I took a couple of photos:

On the left, the train coasts through the "plant" at the west station track throat, while on the right the train accelerates eastbound over Boot Creek Bridge. Those cars really stand out among all the greenery! And for something different, I even took a video:

The best that can be said regarding quality is that it's slightly better than nothing, but keep in mind that I shot this using my point-and-shoot Kodak camera without a tripod. This shows the train westbound passing "Big Tree" across from the station. (I have heard that there is a new "Big Tree" location but I refuse to believe it, even though the tree itself has been gone for years!)

I spent most of my day on the 205, but started out by lettering an ammo box that Stan was kind enough to donate for use with the 308-309 handles. This will be locked up for use by future motormen operating the cars.

Back to Door Day on the 205; I decided to devote my efforts to window sticks, the little trim pieces that hold the glass in place on the car's wooden doors. When the car was acquired a lot of the windows had been broken, and Bob Bruneau led an effort to replace broken windows. These were held in with whatever window stick scraps could be found, so when my father built the new doors for the 205 a year and a half ago I asked him to run off some extra window sticks. Today I put those extras to use, cutting sticks for the lower windows on both of the closed-off door leaves at the southwest corner of the car (pictured) as well as for the lower window on one of the door leaves at the southeast corner of the car:
This project was made more difficult by the fact that the window sticks were made out of rare "ironwood" which did not go well with the finishing nails I was trying to drive through it. Note that visible through the door are the trolley hooks for the car, which were previously cleaned up and painted in preparation for installation when we mount roof boards. After this I decided to remove the drop sash that had been installed by Portland in the upper-left window of the closed-off door pair. I'm not sure what the purpose of this was, as the drop sash itself is probably about 6" wide and 24" tall, but it looks a little strange and certainly isn't accurate to the car's Indiana configuration. Shown below are before-and-after photos of this removal (before shot from inside the car, after shot from outside).

And finally, a gratuitous shot of the newly-installed North Shore Line sign at the corner of Central & Railroad Avenues:
So now that I've made an undying enemy of anyone with a dial-up connection, I promise to go easy on the photos next time... or at least to try.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

757 Tack Molding

I started installing the replacement tack molding on the 757 today. I acquired plenty of 8/4 poplar and machined it at home, then brought it out today. First, holes are drilled in the wood, but they need to clear the rivets, so I couldn't do that in advance. One change is that the original wood was attached using flat head machine screws, but I switched to round head -- partly because that's all I could find, and because they don't try to split the wood the way flat head screws do. Drilling and tapping holes in the metal was the hard part. Having worked on wood cars for so long, it's been years since I had to tap holes in steel. In any case, the first two sections are mostly done, and that's about 2/5 of the whole length. It's going together about as well as could be expected. Pete Galayda let me use some primer for priming the backs of the two pieces seen in the picture. It will be great to have this Silverliner back in operation.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Video of the 309 Dedication

The 309 dedication ceremony on July 5th was videotaped by Al Stasch, a commercial video producer. He generously sent us an 18-minute DVD of footage taken that day, and here are some excerpts. I decided to skip the speeches, which the DVD includes in full. I don't know about Ray or Nick, but after seeing the video I decided to fire my campaign manager and find some new speechwriters. Anyhow, on to the action!
First, breaking through the banner: Then, coupling the two cars together. I thought this might be interesting because you seldom see Van Dorn couplers in action: Then, we load the passengers and leave on the first trip: And thanks to Al Stasch for posting these to YouTube and helping with the html!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Little of Everything

I did a lot more work on the 757 today, limited somewhat by the heat. I finished removing all of the rotten sections of tack molding. I then used the electric grinder to smooth out the stubs of the machine screws, most of which broke off. I then put a coat of primer on the exposed wood and the metal strip above the letterboard, as seen at the left. My next step will be to acquire the poplar we'll need for the tack molding and cut it to shape at home. You may be able to see that there's a row of rivets holding the metal together; the tack molding is rabbeted on the back to clear the rivets.

Then I made a few pieces of wood for the 321. The end of the roof is covered with two layers of thin pine, each about 5/16" thick. I made some new ones out of some spare wood, and checked that they will bend easily enough. These are just ripped out of 2" stock pine - the tool marks on the original wood are obvious.

I also picked up the eight end frame castings (for the seat frames on 308 and 309) we ordered from Glenn Guerra; at right we see one of them sitting on my workbench at home. They look good. However, they still need to be drilled. Now if I only knew where to find an expert in computer-controlled manufacturing....

In other news, the contractor has installed the switch for the new track in yard 11, which needs to be installed before the barn is built, but that will happen soon. To the left, we see the "snap track" pile for the fourth track. (It needs to be put together, but this will only be about 87 times harder than what you're probably used to.) Below, the new switch (to the left) and in the distance, parts piled up for construction of Barn 11.

Condo construction will be starting soon!!! You too can have space in this desirable new building for a mere $180 per foot! Don't delay, track space is going fast!!!

(For those who came in late: Barn 11 won't actually be our eleventh carbarn, but the ninth. For various reasons, there's no Barn 1 or Barn 5. This barn will put the total track length under cover at about 2.5 miles - and that's no joke!)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Not Quite According to Plan, Part 2

The 308 and 309 were supposed to operate today, and the weather was fine, but the handles weren't in the usual location so the crew had to take the North Shore train out instead. Which brings up a question: does anyone among our readership have an ammo box like the one shown here that they could donate? These are perfect for storing handles and now that 308 and 309 are in regular service we could use one of these. Thanks!

So I was planning on spending most of my day working on the 205 anyway, and that's just what I did. A while back Bob Bruneau had given me a trio of brass window frames from the museum's stores to modify for use as end windows on the 205, and I cut those down by 1-1/8" in width to fit on the car. Portland had replaced three of the car's brass end window frames with wooden frames, which in addition to being unauthentic were also badly rotted out. These replacements will serve admirably to backdate the car to its Indiana Railroad appearance.

Sorry for the photo quality; I forgot my camera (AGAIN) and these pictures were taken using my cell phone. The wonders of modern technology! On the left one of the frames is shown on the bench in the shop, and on the right we see the center and left (from the motorman's perspective) window frames test-installed. Next they get stripped and glazed before final installation. I also spent some time helping Nick conduct a survey of the display signs of our electric cars on display.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not Quite According To Plan

The 308 and 309 were scheduled for operation today, but it was raining when I arrived, and continued dark and cloudy for most of the day, so the 714 was used instead. I let Ron Seavers and Joel Ahrendt run the car, while I mostly worked in Barn 4 cleaning up stuff. The sun came out about 3pm, but by then it wasn't worth it to change out. Typically on such days we have fewer visitors, so a single car is sufficient. I would have liked to run the blue cars, but they just cannot be run if there's any chance of rain. Tomorrow will probably be fine.

I also worked on the roof of the 321 some more. The #2 end is worse than I thought. Some of this patch work must have been done at North Chicago - I can't believe Wheaton Shops would do work like this. Some of the carlines are missing parts, and were sistered, but the sisters are just junk softwood and were attached with a nail or two (outlined in yellow on the left). And the dutchmen are no better. I'm probably going to sister many of the carlines along the roof, but I'll use good hardwood, glue, and carriage bolts. I also noticed that the two sides of the upper roof where it arches down to the end are constructed in a completely different manner. I'll have to check the other end to try to figure out what's correct. So wish me luck!

News update: They've started stockpiling the materials for Barn 11. When construction actually starts, we'll try to bring it to you here first!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Satisfaction - Pt. 2

A continuing series of picturesque car cards:

The brand-name "Satisfaction" car card (which we posted here earlier) is double-sided, which is unusual. Here's the other side. It's too bad the Rolling Stones never knew about this!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Route of the Silverliners

North Shore car 757 needs some repair before it can return to service, and I agreed to help, partly because it's currently sitting where I'd like to put the 321 for its restoration. The tack molding on part of one side of the car is rotting out, as shown to the left before I started. After some excavation, we see what's there to the right. The outer layer is tar paper (black arrow), presumably installed at East Troy. Under that is the canvas (grey arrow); in various places there's either two, one, or no layers of canvas. Beneath that is the wood, and the bottom piece (in blue) is the tack molding. Our plan is to replace about 30' of tack molding, and piece in new tar paper. One trolley board also needs to be replaced. I did about 12' in a couple of hours, then stopped because I'll need help moving some stored material out of the way.

After that, I worked on the 321. I checked the compressor and tested the brake system. The governor would need some adjustment if we were going to use it in operation, but for a switch move it's OK. The control system also tested out. We may want to run the car under its own power into Barn 4, when that becomes possible. I then worked on removing more of the roof at the #2 end, where it needs to be rebuilt. No pictures because it's so revolting. I also checked lubrication on the blue cars and sorted parts for a while.

Over the weekend I was in Minneapolis, and I had a chance to visit the Excelsior operation. Car 1239 was operating; here we see its unusual rear end gate design. One interesting aspect of this operation is that they back-pole all the way when backing up. These single-ended cars had only one pole, of course. It seems to work reliably enough for them. The line is about a mile long and has no frogs in the wire. But I promise not to try this at home!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Job Is Not Finished

Just because the 309 is back in revenue service doesn't mean we'll forget about it. There are several minor tasks we want to take care of on both the 308 and 309, and at least one major one. And you can help!

Several of the walkover seats have broken parts. The end castings on this model of Hale & Kilburn seats is particularly prone to breakage. Right now, I've fastened several pairs of seat backs in the 309 to each other with cable ties, so they can't be moved. This keeps them from getting out of adjustment, but it's not a good solution. We need replacement parts for a 100-year old mechanism.

Fortunately, parts can still be made, and Glenn Guerra has them available. The picture shows some recent samples of the correct parts. But they're not inexpensive. We'll need eight end castings at $120 apiece, and at least two actuating arms at $65 each. Please consider a generous donation to the 309 restricted fund for this purpose. Of course, all donations are tax-deductible.

Master Plan - 1979

From the Hicks Car Works archives, here's the Master Plan of April, 1979. Although this is only 11 years after the "Bright Future" document posted earlier, the plan is at least recognizable. Of course changes continue to be made, most notably the whole south 40 extension.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Trolley Pageant Recap

The 309's activities over the weekend have already been well cataloged, but I figured I would just write down an overview of the July 4th Trolley Pageant. This year's Pageant was a little different that the past ones, with the cars in a different order. The event was organized by Bob Heinlein with the help of Rod Turner and many others who greased switches, did car inspections, served as ground men and operated cars. The Pageant started at 1:08 and lasted for an hour, almost to the minute. The parade was led off by CTA 4391 and IT 415, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of streetcar service on the CTA and the Illinois Terminal, respectively. The "order of battle" was:

CTA 4391
IT 415
CNS&M 749 - 251
CNS&M 714 - 160

CA&E 431
CA&E 309 - 308
CRT 1808 - CER 1754
CTA 4290 - 4410 - 4412
CTA 41 - 22
CSL 1374
CSL 144
CTA 3142
SS 68
IT 101
IT 1565
CE 4
CNS&M 229
WEPCO L4 - CNS&M 604

I used the occasion to take photos of some of the equipment in the parade to add to the museum website; cars whose Car Dept photo albums were created or enhanced are linked above. Virtually the entire fleet that took part in the parade was photographed by Adam Robillard and can be seen here. A few photos of the preparations for the parade are above, including a shot of 1808 coming out of Barn 8, 229 sunning itself in Yard 6 while 714 and 431 wait in the wings, and an "only at IRM" shot of the 4391 and 415 with the Broad Street Subway car between them. The photo below shows the view in Yard 8 during prep for the parade. Only in Union!And finally, I'll leave you with a photo taken during revenue service on Saturday of the Hicks Car Works blog team - left to right are myself, Randy Hicks and David Wilkins.

The Ronald J. Delhaye Collection

We've been loaned the Ronald J. Delhaye collection of traction photographs by his son Jeff. These are photos never seen before, and they cover many subjects including CA&E, North Shore, CSL and CRT, Milwaukee, and even Mexico City. They are all 3x5 snapshots of varying quality; I've scanned them at 300 dpi. I occasionally use the MS Photo Editor autobalance.

Notice: These photographs are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.

North Chicago

(L) Here's CRT 1268 on July 24, 1955; evidently newly arrived at the foundry. Behind it are the 65 and 354.

(R) North Shore 607 and 354. Was the 607 ever part of the collection?

IERM had two ComEd electric cranes; these were both scrapped in 1964 to help pay for the move to Union, along with steeple cab locomotive #5, identical to our #4.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin

Most if not all of these pictures seem to have been taken on the CERA fan trip of July 4, 1956.

(L) Box motor #7, the tool car, on its siding at Wheaton

(R) Box motor #9

(L) The line car, #11, sits in front of the tin barn. It's now at South Elgin.

(R) Car 16 on the deadline at the west end of the orchard.

(L) Car 36 was preserved by Gerry Brookins and is now at IRM. From left to right: 406, 459, 36, 311, 313.

(R) Car 56 at the Batavia terminal.

(L) 209 was built as the parlor car Carolyn and converted to a coach in 1924. It was the last car to be repainted in the "Early American" paint scheme -- notice how they just painted around the road name on the letter board.

(R) Car 300 along the Fox River at Batavia.

(L) Car 310.

(R) 315, now at Rockhill, Pa.

(L) 320, now completely rebuilt at Mt. Pleasant, Ia.

(R) 415 inside the shop building.

At Wheaton: (L) Car 401 and another passing the dispatcher's towers.

(R) Car 425 on the west ladder.

(L) Caboose 1001, acquired second-hand in 1928. Note the third-rail shoe for lights in the car.

(R) GE locomotives 2001 and 2002 on the ready track.

(L) Locomotives 4006 and 2001 at Wheaton.
(R) 4005-4006 pulling a (typically short) freight train at Lakewood. Beyond is the fan trip train, and the bus to St. Charles is front of the station. Hey you, get out of my picture!!!

(L) The crossing watchman's shanty between 8th and 9th in Maywood.

(R) The east side of the main shops building in Wheaton

Views of the fan trip train, using cars 300 and 318.
(L) At State Rd. on the Batavia branch

(R) At the EJ&E overpass east of Batavia Jct., meeting an eastbound express.

(L) At the Batavia terminal

(R) A different extra train at Glen Oak, with steel cars.

Chicago Surface Lines

There are several good CSL photos in the collection. Caption data are taken from Alan Lind's book.

(L) Several pictures of PCCs from near the end of service in the late 50's. This is #4164.

(R) 4174 at the turnaround loop on Clark across from Devon Carbarn.

(L) 7183

(R) 7258. The motorman in this picture is not identified. I'd like to think it could be Ray Zelinsky. Why not?

(L) PCC 7143 beside the storage yard.

(R) Salt car AA-26. What are those devices mounted beneath the cars at each end?

(L) S-308 was originally a wooden L car, Met #2717, rebuilt to steel; by this time it was used in snow plow service.

(R) X-3, much like our X-4.

(L) AA-77 was a salt car, originally #1478, a CUT streetcar like our #1467.

(R) AA-27 was "Matchbox" #1142. Our #1374 looked just like this in its salt car days.

(L) D-4, a 1908 McGuire- Cummins sprinkler converted to a snow plow.

(R) F-30, a 1930 CSL-made snow plow. This looks exactly like our F-305, built at the same time.

Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee

Unfortunately, most of the North Shore photographs are very dark. I may try to correct some of them later. If anyone remembers the days when cameras required film, that was the way it went. Results were often unpredictable....

(L) Car 190 in the fan trip train at North Chicago Junction, July 24, 1955. This was the last day of service on the Shore Line route.

(R) The fan trip train at Highland Park, same day.

(L) MD car 215 at Highwood, July 24, 1955.

(R) 251 at Milwaukee.

(L) 454 at Highwood.

(R) Line car 604 at Highwood.

(L) Line car 606 at Highwood. This car, or what's left of it, is still at Noblesville.

(R) Weed sprayer 1265.

Commonwealth Edison #6
(North Shore #450)

This is ComEd #6, originally CNS&M #450, built by GE in 1907. It was sold by the North Shore to ComEd in 1948 and went to scrap in 1959. It is one of the earlier arch-window types. In their later years on the North Shore, 450 and 451 (identical units) had a big CP-style air compressor mounted under the cab (that's the round thing that looks like an air tank) and an equipment box just to the right of the cab, with a pig tank mounted over it. Location is the Com Ed generating station at Addison and California.

Mexico City

(L) Car 242.

(R) Peter Witt 565.

(L) PCC 2257.

(R) PCC 24??


Locations for these pictures have been supplied by John Giove of the Milwaukee Transit Archives & Museum, Inc. in West Allis and by Charles Kronenwetter of New Berlin (except for pencilled markings on the back, in bold.) Thanks!!

Car 801 was used for training at the Fond du Lac car station. This car had two poles, trolley-bus style, because the station trackage had somehow lost its ground return, they say. This strikes me as a very complicated solution to a simple problem, but I suppose it must true.

(L) 861 turning from WB Wells Street to SB PROW

(R) 882 as the employee shuttle car, parked in front of the Lakeside Power Plant in St. Francis, WI.

(L) Car 861, Route 10 on p.r.o.w. SB between Wells St. and Wisconsin Av.

(R) Car 954. This must have been the fan trip vehicle. Rt. 10 exiting Wells St. Viaduct EB at about 38th St.

(L) Car 954 again, Rt. 10 WB on W. Wells St. (at about 4th or 5th St.?)

(R) Rt. 10 WB on W. Wells St. at about 7th St.

(L) Car 961; Rt. 10 turning from W. Wells St. to SB p.r.o.w. toward
Milwaukee County Stadium

(R) Car 978; Rt. 10 WB at about 38th St. entering p.r.o.w. on Wells St. Viaduct.  #978 is now owned by the East Troy Electric RR, and currently is stored in Appleton, WI in inoperable condition.

(L) Look, there's the 966! On the back it says:
27th-National Yd.
(R) 925
Wells St. Viaduct
(Rt. 10 WB exiting Wells Street Viaduct at west end)

I can't positively identify either of these cars, but they're interesting shots anyhow. Learn shorthand in 6 weeks!

(L) Locomotive L-5 was a wooden steeplecab built on a Hicks Co. flatcar. It went to East Troy and was scrapped in the 70s.

(R) L-9 is still in service at East Troy.

St. Louis

(L) 70-Grand line, five blocks south of the water tower; (R) 40-Broadway line, possibly South St. Louis

Both bottom photos taken on the 70-Grand line just north of Sportsman's Park. SLPS caption info from David Wilkins.

Notice: These photographs are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.