Monday, August 31, 2009

The 205 Out and About

I was out at the museum yesterday afternoon to get some preparatory work done on the 205. The plan is to tow the car over to the Barn 4 pit lead next weekend and spend a couple of days getting it ready for spray painting, which I hope will happen next year. In addition to the sanding and priming of the side sheets, I'm hoping to get at least some of the following tasks done:

- cut holes in the east end dash for installation of headlight and MU jumper
- make and install wooden backer to MU jumper for east end of car
- priming of roof ladder, touch-up painting on roof
- complete needle-chipping, wire-wheeling and priming of west end anticlimber
- Bondo work on letterboard at each end
- make and install wooden letterboard inserts to go over end windows
- install trolley poles

As seen above, the 205 was switched outside on Sunday; Joel Ahrendt ran the ComEd steeplecab in what ended up being a fairly challenging job, swapping the IT cars with the 205 so that the latter is now at the door and ready to head over to Barn 4. This was the first time the 205 had been outside since roof work was substantially completed earlier this year. If you're planning to be out at IRM on Labor Day, and would like to lend a hand, any and all help would be greatly appreciated!

Above left, we see the test piece for the new window post caps we are having fabricated by R&B Metals in Woodstock. These will be installed over the existing window posts, most of which are badly rusted away. And below, we see part of the lineup of CB&Q engines that was set up at the west end of the station tracks late in the day for photography. This photo was taken before the Zephyr arrived and before the 504 and 9255 were uncoupled. This sure is a good-looking trio!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

CA&E Car Inventory of 1922

In 1922 the bankrupt Aurora Elgin and Chicago was split into two parts, the third rail division and the Fox River division, and the third rail division was sold to a new company, Chicago Aurora and Elgin, which started operations on July 1, 1922. (The whole complicated process is detailed in Plachno's book.) As part of this process, an eight-page inventory was compiled for each car in June 1922, and we recently received copies of these sheets from the Wendell Dillinger collection for our three cars. (The 431 was built in 1927 and so is not included, of course.)

There's a huge amount of data here, some of which is quite interesting, some of it is just puzzling. Who outside a couple of shop guys would care about the dimensions of truck live levers or swing link shafts? The information on painting is valuable. The 308 was repainted green in Jan. 1919, while the 309 was painted red in July 1921 and the 321 in Dec. 1921. I hadn't realized the red paint scheme started even before the Conway group took over.

In 1922 the cars still had "cash registers." A couple things I didn't know about were coasting clocks and disinfectant holders. To see the documents, go here. And there it is: everything you ever wanted to know about CA&E cars, and more!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Boiling Water!

We'll start with something more exciting than anything I could accomplish. The Steam Team test fired the 428 today, and it was great to see smoke rising into the air and hear the steam whistle blowing. Tom Schneider and all of his crew can be very proud of their accomplishments so far.

Watch out! We're blowing down the boiler!

It struck me again how much more involved this whole process is than just meggering a few motors and putting oil in the armature bearings. Congratulations!

Sorry, that's as good as it gets. I started the day by installing two of the repainted ventilators on the 277 with a combination of screws and nails. There are two more ready to go, but I ran out of caulk.

These ventilators don't actually ventilate anything due to the installation of air conditioning, but they were left in place until the end of service. They were removed when the roof was covered with tar paper. However, it was then no longer possible to know where the holes in the roof were, so over the years klutzes like me broke holes in the tar paper, as you can see here. So until the ventilators are reinstalled, there are huge holes in the roof covering, making it dangerous to run the cars if there's any threat of rain.

I got three more ventilators out of storage and put a first coat of primer on them. They're generally in good shape. We're lucky to have a complete set --it's amazing how many different forms of roof ventilators there were for such a simple function.

I then spent several hours repainting window frames and stripping others for the 277.

I spent some time showing visitors through the 309, after they started asking questions about the wood cars. Hey, it beats working!

Frank Sirinek gave me a copy of some interesting CA&E documents he got from Wendell Dillinger -- these are detailed descriptions of the cars from June 1922, about eight pages each, of our three wood cars. I'll have more about these after I've had a chance to analyze them. In return, I gave him (well, not him personally, IRM) a West Towns switch lock and key which I found in an antique store in Upper Michigan while on vacation. Who would have thought?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dave's Depots -- Maryville, Illinois

Today's installment of Dave's Depots takes us to Maryville, Illinois. This depot is the standard "Amshack" that Amtrak erected in the 1970s in places like St. Louis, Cincinnati, Bloomington, IL, and other places.

I don't know which railroad owns the mainline that the depot sits on, as there is a lot of varied traffic, from steam, diesel, to even this RTA commuter train from the early 1980s. Railroads of all eras seem to pass by this depot, from modern BNSF unit coal trains, to L&N 2-8-2s and IC 2-10-2s moving manifest freights through town. More recently, I've seen a freight travel through town pulled by one of the Union Pacific Turbines.

Most passengers feel that the depot is a bit small.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Part I

While traveling on business last week, I had an opportunity to pay a quick visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg. This is one of the few state-owned railroad museums in the country, and as such has benefited from infusions of government money to promote capital projects. Most notably, it more closely follows the "professional" museum model of having a smaller collection of very well presented artifacts in a setting designed for viewing, with unrestored equipment kept out of the main museum (though still accessible in their outdoor lot).

The indoor portion of the museum includes, in addition to some model railroads and display cases with railroad artifacts, a large display hall four tracks wide with ample space between tracks. There is an overhead walkway from which all of the trains in the hall can be viewed. Some of the equipment is arranged in realistic trains; in the photo to the left, a pre-1950 freight train is at far left, with a 1920's passenger train beside it, a short hopper car train in the left foreground and a c1900 passenger train on the right.

The museum has some extremely historic equipment on display. Below left is a replica of the "John Bull" followed by one of the oldest preserved railway passenger cars, Camden & Amboy coach 3, built in 1836 and on loan from the Smithsonian. Below right is PRR 7002, the famous E2 Atlantic that operated as recently as the 1980's.

Among the trains in the main museum shed are several very interesting displays, shown below. Clockwise from top left: an exhibit showing ice blocks being loaded into a reefer by mannequins; a position light signal that can be operated by visitors; a below-ground pit for visitors to walk into to see the underside of a steam engine; and a locomotive simulator donated by Norfolk Southern that seemed especially popular.

Next up: a trip to the "out back" sections of the museum!

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Part II

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has a sizable collection of equipment stored outdoors, most in generally good cosmetic condition and much of it quite historically significant. Below left, two of the most historic electric locomotives preserved in the country are side-by-side. On the left is PRR 4800, "Rivets," the first GG-1 ever built; on the right is the only surviving DD-1, 3936-3937. This two-unit locomotive was built in 1911 for operation under the Hudson River into Manhattan and operates using a single huge electric motor in each unit, driving the wheels via side rods like a steam engine. Below right is PRR E6 Atlantic 460, the engine which famously headed the "Lindbergh Special" in 1927.

Below left is an odd little critter, an ancient side-rod Vulcan industrial switcher spotted next to the museum's turntable. And below right, proving that not everything at the museum is pre-1950, the only preserved Amtrak E60 locomotive heads up a short train of streamlined cars. With an impressive selection of PRR, RDG and Amtrak electrics, the museum has by far the best collection of mainline electric equipment in the country.

Across the street from the museum is the Strasburg Railroad, a privately owned tourist line known for its terrific steam program and fleet of wood passenger cars. Below left is the only *other* operating Decapod in the country, Great Western 90, backing down past its train; at right is the Strasburg yard, full of wood cars as far as the eye can see. What a fantastic place!

Finally I had to leave Strasburg for my meeting, but before leaving the area I was able to check out a couple of odds and ends. At left is a Philadelphia Peter Witt preserved in pristine condition on private property near Mount Hope, Pennsylvania, north of Lancaster; at right is a PRR cabin car situated next to the Phoenixville, PA Reading station, which itself has been maintained in good condition and now houses a catering company.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dave's Depots -- Illinois Central Depot -- Murphysboro, Illinois

Just down the street from the previously-featured Mobile & Ohio Railroad depot, sits the Illinois Central Depot. Like the M&O, this secondary mainline of the Illinois Central is long gone. Actually, it appears as if the line through town ran right down the middle of the street.

The depot is large and ornate, almost as large as the Carbondale depot. Though, not on the mainline, Murphysboro is the county seat of Jackson County, and thus deserving of a nice depot.

The depot and adjacent freight house are in excellent condition, used by a local adult rehabilitation center.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dave's Depots -- Mobile & Ohio R.R. -- Murphysboro, Illinois

Today's installment of Dave's Depots takes us to Murphysboro, Illinois. Murphysboro is the county seat of Jackson County, and as such, has two impressive depots, both of which are along abandoned right of ways.

Today's depot is the Mobile & Ohio Railroad Depot. This depot is about 4 blocks west of the Jackson County Courthouse, along Illinois Route 13. The structure is in very good condition, but it appears as if the last business in this building, "The Depot" eatery, is no more.

Sources indicate the depot was built in 1888. Also, the M&O maintained a large shop complex adjacent to the depot, until a tornado struck the facility in 1925. This depot is along the same M&O line as the previously-featured Sparta, Illinois depot.

The structure is on the national register of historic places.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ventilators, Windows, Visitors

Today I decided to start on the 277's ventilators. Bob Bruneau had painted four of them with primer many years ago, and they were stored in the 306. So I brought them over to Barn 8. Two I lifted onto the roof, but the other two were partly rusted out and needed to be fixed, as seen here. This is just what Bondo was made for! The clamps are holding the wood backing prior to application. The paint sticks which Diamond hands out like candy are just right for this purpose.

After the filler has set and has been sanded, another coat of primer is applied and they look like this:

I might point out that these ventilators no longer function, due to the installation of air conditioning. But they may eventually keep rain from running into the car through the holes in the tar paper!

Then I cleaned up two windows for the 518 and installed them. I also loosened up a seat frame which was stuck in the middle, and got it to move, so I could install the seat cushion. Seating in the 518 is now complete.

Next, some more windows. This is one of the 277's storm windows, which I had epoxied last time. (L) After stripping the first layer of interior paint, we see the light green with which it was first painted. (It is light green, you'll just have to trust me.) And by the way, that light green looks strangely familiar -- where have I seen that before?

After complete stripping, (R) a first coat of white primer. Since this window will always be stored in the up position, I decided to leave the original paint on part of it, in case anybody in the vast future is interested.

And after some more body work, a coat of brown primer on the exterior.

I was pleased to note that the Museum was quite busy for a weekday. The diner was crowded when I went over there, and we were running a two-car North Shore train. Some sort of blue tank engine arrived on a trailer, but it had a mask over its face so I couldn't see who it was....

Finally, I met some visitors from the Kentucky Railway Museum, Ned Brown and Willy Ward, old acquaintances of our own David Wilkins. Ned is the Safety Director there. I showed them the interior of the 277, and we talked about L&N steam engines, FRA inspections, David Wilkins, and other topics of interest. It was all good, though. We're always happy to see visitors from other museums!

The Red Ox

The Red Ox is a steakhouse-type restaurant located about ten miles straight south of the Museum in Hampshire, along route 72. It has a very extensive menu. Entrees are generally in the $15 range, somewhat more for some steaks. This includes soup or salad, vegetable, and potato or rice. I had the broiled grouper with parmesan crust, which was excellent. Next time I'll have to try a steak. Service was excellent, and the ambience is quite pleasant.

Here's a view of the outdoor patio; the air was rather humid, so it was more pleasant inside. There's also a full bar. The Red Ox is highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Help Buy the Trolleyville Cars!

A large collection of electric cars from the Trolleyville collection has been put up for sale, and of course IRM is very interested in acquiring several of the CA&E cars, possibly others. These cars are all in excellent condition, and can be operated in revenue service with very little work. They do not need huge long-term restoration projects like most of the acquisitions that become available.

$$$ But obviously this will be expensive, so we need your help! $$$

IRM will need money not only to purchase the cars, but to pay for their transportation from Cleveland, which will probably be nearly as much, and for indoor storage and track space. For more details, see the documents posted here, particularly the "Trolley Car Auction Letter." (Warning: link requires membership in IRM list on Yahoo.)

We need to submit our bid by October 1st at the latest, so donations to the Trolleyville fund are needed soon, or at least firm commitments.

I think you'll agree that IRM is the best possible permanent home for the CA&E cars. And as a reward, I'm ready to start running "Take the Throttle" type trips for anyone who makes a substantial contribution to the Trolleyville fund, either with the 308/309 we currently own, or with the new cars when we get them running.

Contributions should be sent directly to IRM. Be sure to indicate that this is for the Trolleyville collection. Write the word "Trolleyville" or "Brookins" or "Cleveland" on the check -- that ought to be clear enough. Thanks!!!


Randy is heading out of town for a much-needed and well-deserved vacation on Thursday. We expect him to be gone for about two weeks. To our loyal readers: do not worry. The Hicks Car Works blog will be in the "capable" hands of Frank and your humble author. Expect to see "Dave's Depots" posts book reviews, 205 progress reports, and other exciting, interesting, engaging and informative content.

518 Report

I spent most of the time working on windows, since I had some fans going in the 321 to make it more comfortable. Mostly these were windows from the 518; a couple needed varnish (on both sides), a couple needed paint, and one from the277 needed some woodwork and expoxy. Not a lot to take pictures of.

In the 518 itself, there was an extra walkover seat frame, so I managed to remove it and take it over to the 253 for storage. And another one was loose, so I fastened it in. And I repositioned a seat frame in the 277 securely.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

More of Everything

The first thing to do was to reposition a bracket on the roof of the 277. I then started working on the trolley pole in the shop. With some help from Bob Heinlein and Dan Bixler, we removed the old shoe, fixed up some of the parts, installed new shunts, and put it all together.

Then I did more painting on the interior. The rear of the main compartment has an aisle between the heater compartment on one side and the toilet compartment on the other. I put a finish coat on all the sheet metal parts. It's difficult to take good pictures in this confined space, so I hope these before and after pictures help.

The next project was to mop the linoleum floor in the main compartment, and then apply two coats of wax. Again, this is hard to photograph. But it looks much better and helps protect the historic linoleum.

I also found the right ladder and installed several more screws to hold the lobster trap in place. The 277's rope guard is missing, so we'll have to have a new one fabricated, but it's a fairly complicated assembly. But the lobster trap will serve temporarily as a rope guard to keep the trolley rope from rubbing on the bottom of the canvas.

In other activities, Stan and Warren moved the recently-arrived trucks for the South Shore line car into Barn 8.

And here's some inter-departmental cooperation, as the 3007's bell is mounted for a photo op later in the day.

The 3007 and some other Burlington equipment were posed out on the station tracks in the afternoon. This just wouldn't be complete without a picture of other railfans taking pictures....

In crime news, I noticed that somebody had pulled the 309's pole out from under the hook. But because the rope was securely cleated to the retriever, the crooks were baffled and no harm was done. This just shows how important it is to cleat the trolley ropes when cars are stored in the barn, per Car Department policy.

So I called the Union cops, the state police, and the FBI. They're hard at work on the case, and arrests are expected soon.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dave's Depots -- In the Heat of the Night Edition -- Sparta, Illinois

This edition of Dave’s Depots takes us to Sparta, Illinois. Sparta is a town in Randolph County, Illinois. The depot sits along the old Gulf Mobile and Ohio line south from St. Louis. The line active through Sparta, no longer as a mainline, but as a branch to a coal power plant north of town on the Kaskaskia River. The line north of the power plant to St. Louis is abandoned, and part of the right of way was reused as a new path for Illinois Route 3.

Many of you may recognize the Sparta depot, and the entire town, as the setting for the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night. The movie starred Rod Steiger, Sidney Poitier, and Lee Grant. Sparta became “Sparta, Mississippi” for the movie, and many local buildings were used. The movie is actually a pretty good one, winning four Academy Awards that year. The Sparta depot is featured in several scenes. In the opening, Poitier disembarks the train in Sparta, to await a connection. At the end of the movie, Poitier boards the train again to leave town.

The movie also featured trains of the Missouri Pacific. Early in the movie, an escaped convict is running from the police and the requisite hound dogs, when he crosses the MoPac tracks near the Mississippi River and then attempts to flee to "Arkansas" over the river on a highway bridge. This part was filmed in nearby Chester, Illinois. You can still drive across the bridge today.

Ironically enough, in the movie, Poitier is supposed to be heading back north when he boards the train at the end of the movie. In real life, he’s heading south.

Today, the depot is in good shape, used as a local art gallery.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

277 Update

I started by putting primer on the rest of the surfaces of the lobster trap, as seen here. After about four hours, it was dry to the touch.

Meanwhile, I did some more painting in the interior. The parts of the duct I had scraped down earlier were rolled with a first finish coat, as seen here. And more of the smoker bulkhead was painted. I also did more sorting and cleaning inside the car.

Finally, Gerry Detloff helped me raise the lobster trap onto the roof. It's hard to take a good picture inside the barn, at least from the ground. I'll need the right size ladder to install the rest of the screws holding it to the roof.