Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nail-Biting Time

... but rather than just sit at home and worry, I went out to IRM and did some more work on the 277.
First, though, I went to R&B in Woodstock and picked up the steel channels which they made for the 205. Now Frank should be able to make more progress on the cosmetic restoration.

On the way there, I noticed that the old Manufacturer's Junction caboose was looking worse than I remembered it, so I stopped to take a picture.

Then I spent some time painting ventilators for the 277, and finished two windows, as seen here. I also worked on cutting and preparing parts for fixing the hole in the roof of the 518, as pictured last time. And one 518 window was missing its hardware, so the correct parts were located and installed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Structural repairs

I spent much of today making structural repairs to the 205 with Bondo - or, at least, they might be called structural repairs considering how much Bondo is holding the car together these days! I did Bondo and sanding work on the second wide window post from the west end as well as the letterboard at the east end and southwest corner post. I got enough done on the wide window post that by the end of the day it was ready to prime, as show at right. I also primed half of the letterboard at the east end of the car, which is a marked improvement in appearance. (Unfortunately the east end still doesn't look "right" because the MU jumper receptacle and headlight have yet to be installed.)

In other news, I spray-painted one and a half of the HL switch group boxes under the car with a first coat of black paint before running out (below left). I also figured out that there is enough room at each end of the 205 to allow the poles to be hooked down - when the 205 was switched back into Barn 8 the poles were swung off to the side since they stick out past the end of the car a few feet. I hung a block reading "look up" at approximate coupler/floor level from the trolley wheel at the east end of the car to ensure any switch move ground personnel won't miss seeing the trolley wheel (below right, block circled). For the information of anyone who might be doing switching in Barn 8, the 205's pole can simply be unhooked and moved off to the side if needed.

It's War!

World War II will be coming to IRM next Saturday, Oct. 3rd. Most of the information you need can be found here. We're expecting a large crowd, so more help with crowd control and so on will probably be needed. Contact the office for more information. This hasn't been tried at IRM before, and I've heard opposing opinions, so we'll have to see what happens.

Incidentally, General Rosengren let me have a top-secret map of the battlefield, with a schedule. Don't let this fall into the wrong hands!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

277 Update

After all the excitement during the Museum Showcase weekend last week, today seemed rather quiet by comparison. Sort of a calm before the storm.

I installed the last ventilator on the south side of the 277, as seen here. Later, I got the rest of the ventilators from storage and started painting them with brown primer. I also put some spare window glass that had been in the 277 into storage, and did some other sorting.

And I painted two windows from the 277 and varnished two from the 518.

Finally, I started fixing the roof of the 518.

The roof is generally in very good condition, but it had one hole for some reason, as seen here. Also, the top grab iron was loose, which isn't good. There's also one missing, which I'll need to replace. I can use the ladder at the other end to get on top of the car, fortunately. The roof is entirely canvas (with some small spot patches) and no tar paper, so it's much better than the 277.

I cut away the canvas to check the condition of the wood. The wood that needs to be replaced is limited, as I had hoped, so this should go pretty fast. I have some tongue and groove boards and canvas left over from the 277 project, which I can use here.

And I showed Wally and Les the inside of the 277, which they hadn't seen for at least 20 years.

Dave's Depots -- Lead Belt Edition, Bonne Terre, Missouri

Friday afternoon was shaping up to be a quiet one around the office, then an emergency hit. The powers-that-be needed a lawyer of my ability and skill to drive down to Farmington, Missouri to argue a motion before the Circuit Court of Saint Francois County. "My ability and skill" means I was the only attorney in the office wearing a suit that day. Wearing a suit and tie on a casual Friday sticks out like spats at an Iowa picnic, and is certainly one way to get noticed by the boss.

Saint Francois County is the heart of the old "Lead Belt," an area dotted by abandoned lead mines and the resulting waste. Other than that, the area is actually very beautiful, with tree-covered hills. The weather was nice, which made the drive fun. On the way back to town, I stopped in Bonne Terre, and snapped a photo of the Frisco Depot.

Bonne Terre was the heart of Missouri's Lead Belt, and the Frisco even ran a passenger train called the "Lead Belt Special." The depot is in good shape, owned by the proprietor or the local abandoned lead mine, which is open for tours. Part of the mine is flooded, and is quite a popular attraction for scuba divers in the midwest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Showcase Weekend Roster

Let's see if we can list everything that operated on Showcase Weekend this year. I'll need your help, so email or comment with your additions/corrections.

Electric Cars:
CA&E 308, 309, 431
Com Ed 4
CNS&M 160, 714 (Sunday only)
CRT/CTA 22, 41, 1268, 4290, 4412
CSL 3142, 4391
IC 1198, 1380
IRR 65
IT 234, 277, 518, 1565
NYC 7926,7927
SS 68
On display: CSS&SB 803

Trolley Buses:
441, 633, 4020, 9553

CB&Q 504, 9255, 9911A, 9976
C&NW 411, 6847
Joy 2
WC 7525

Passenger Cars:
Nebraska Zephyr
Inglehome, DM&IR 84, 2 Lack, IC 2804, Bessemer 25, CB&Q 1923
C&NW "6", 151

CRI&P 19135, IC 9792, CMStP&P 1984, CB&Q 13572, ICG 199458

Freight Cars:
BFIX 520, CB&Q 220100, 220145, CPVX 101, DOTX flat, GATX 75470, IRCX 1277, SHPX 42, TTX 470902, URTX 37190, UTLX 17222

And the Signal Display!

Total: 67 or so. No other museum could come close.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hail to the Orange, Hail to the Blue

This year's Showcase was an unqualified success from every point of view. I couldn't possibly list all of the equipment that operated, so naturally I'll concentrate on the IT and CA&E cars. My co-conspirators can probably fill in the rest. I was too busy to take many pictures.

The IT orange cars ran all day Saturday to everybody's satisfaction. David was the conductor on the 277. Meanwhile, Frank and I were operating the blue cars with Jeff Fryman as the conductor. We also made a couple of trips after dark

Here we see the 234 on the rear of the IT train. Thanks to Stan, Joel, Dan, and everybody who helped with the inspections and getting the three cars ready. The mainline was so busy we ran in sections several times, as indicated by the green flags.

On Sunday I was out again and served as a conductor on the heavyweight train for one trip, then was transferred to work the bilevels for the rest of the day, with Ray Weart as engineer. Among other things, we had what seemed like a mile-long freight train with three units and five cabooses to contend with. Again, I believe everybody went away happy.

Everyone associated with IRM can be proud of what we accomplish!

Frank adds... I finally got a chance to upload some of the photos I took. We started off the day at 50th Avenue (Stan Wdowikowski was nice enough to run the 308-309 over to 50th so that I could delay signing in, so as not to "go dead" before night operations!) and over the course of the day got a chance to run a variety of different "routes" from both 50th and East Union. Many thanks to Chris and Dan Buck who dispatched the railroad on what was certainly one of the busiest and most varied operating days anyone has ever seen at IRM. Below left, 308-309 share the 50th Avenue platform with the IC MU cars on the west track while Charlie Strong washes down South Shore 803 on the west leg of the wye. Below right, the scene at Car Line Junction at the height of the action.

Things were certainly busy. Below left, the CA&E cars sit on Station Track 1 while the Class B brings a caboose train into Station Track 2, followed by Indiana Railroad 65 approaching in the distance. Below right, before the start of night operations the IC MU cars and the 308-309 share the 50th Avenue platform.

Below left, Kirk Warner snapped a photo of us trying to light the markers with alcohol after we ran out of lamp oil. We soon switched back to good old kerosene, provided by Charlie Strong, who also spent a while fiddling with the markers to get them to work better. Thanks, Charlie! Below right, Randy Hicks and David Wilkins (with hand lanterns) on the platform at East Union during night operations.
David adds.....
My weekend began on Friday when I arrived at the museum just after 6:00PM. After signing in, having a job briefing, I assisted Stan and Joe Stupar in helping to arrange and stage equipment for Saturday. This included staging the IC MU cars at 50th Avenue. After finishing switching operations at around 11:00PM, we signed out and headed to dinner.

Saturday was a great day weather wise, and conducting on the IT train really made me realize I was riding a "time machine." Here I was, conductor on a 3 car IT train, traveling down interurban right-of-way, with the "steam road" railroad off to one side, corn fields all around and even under IT-style catenary wire. It was as close as I'll ever get to riding the real IT, and it was a pretty close copy. Of course, the illusion was furthered by Stan wearing traditional motorman garb, and the other three members of the crew also wearing authentic conductor garb. I furthered the recreation by wearing a pair of Shuron Ronsir eyeglasses, appropriate for the era.

One one of the trips, I talked to a gentleman from Gillespie, Illinois who rode the IT many times in his youth. He even traveled on the IT to take a high school science project to Illinois State University, using the combine to carry the project. He told me that riding in the 277 was something he never thought he'd do again. Overall, it was a great weekend.

Randy adds: Here's a link to a good picture of David, if you're a member of the Illinois Terminal group.
David Responds to Randy's addition: I contend that "looking the part" is an essential part of railway preservation. Even a shirt and tie on warmer days, with the conductor hat would look thousands of times better than a white polo shirt. I further feel that looking the part is essential for special museum days, like showcase weekend. Okay, I'll get off of the soapbox now....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Have a Seat!

Dan Fenlaciki gave me a lot of help yesterday. First we spent some time checking the compressors on the 277 and 233 with the megger, to test the status of the insulation. The car has two compressors, which are needed to provide air for a multi-car train, and we need both of them to operate.

Then we spent a couple of hours installing the rest of the seats in the main compartment of the 277, so it could be ready for service. Here Dan is relaxing in the newly-finished section. He also helped with removing some of my tools and larger items, such as my vacuum cleaner and fan.

We also paid a brief visit to the Art Train, where Fred Ash is making good progress on the displays. The car currently has a display on Burnham's Chicago Plan, and it looks very professionally done -- "just like downtown!" Burnham's plan was an amazing, very grandiose document, so it bears a striking resemblance to IRM's own Main Street plan. Good work, Fred!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

205 What is it / Where did it come from?

It's time for a new feature: 205 What is it / Where did it come from? There's a wide variety of parts stored inside the 205, most of which come from the car itself (mainly interior fixtures and trim) but some of which most certainly don't. We'd like help in identifying some of these items so that, hopefully, a good home can be found for them. Please comment or e-mail if you have any ideas on what this stuff is - thanks!

For our first entry, the "where did it come from?" question has already been answered. Written in marker on this piece is "#2 end car 21," which refers to Yakima Valley Traction car 21, a Master Unit built by American in 1930. Car 21 was owned by Bob Hively, the same person who owned the 205, for years and it's likely that at least some of the mystery parts inside the 205 are from this car. The 21 is currently located in Yakima, WA, so it would be nice to return this item to that group - but what in the world is it? Any ideas? (And does anyone have a contact with the Yakima group?)

Our second entry is opposite of the first: we know what it is (is it a door? or is it ajar?) but have no idea whatosever where it came from. It's a rather aged wooden door with one rail detached; from the size it certainly appears to have likely come from an interurban (i.e. it's really small) but we have no idea what car it might have come from. It's certainly not from a Yakima Master Unit; other equipment stored along with 205 at one point or another include interurban cars from BCER and Pacific Northwest Traction, as well as the ex-Interstate sleeping car and a line car from Portland Traction. Any ideas?

Here's our third entry. My best guess is that it's a sand filler spout, but does anyone know? And what might it be off of?

For our fourth entry we have this cast junction box-looking thing. Cast into its face are "RALCO" / "CAT No 21" / "30 AMP 250 V". Any ideas? I have no idea whether this is off the 205 (quite possible) or not.

I have no clue about this one. It's a small piece of brass painted white on one side and light green on the other, shaped like a quarter circle, with a groove cut in the radius. The penny is included for scale.

What Lies Beneath!

The other day, while walking on Lemp Avenue, near my new home, I noticed this, pictured to the right. Actually I noticed it because I nearly tripped over it while crossing the street. Yes, streetcar tracks still exist under the pavement in St. Louis. My St. Louis streetcar books are packed up, so I do not know what line this was, but it is very interesting, as it appears as if the street has been paved only once since the end of streetcar service.

As some of you may know, I'm in the process of moving prior to getting married next month. After law school, I elected to live in the suburbs, just over the city limits. I'm moving back to the city, in the Benton Park neighborhood of St. Louis. Benton Park is just south of downtown, and “up the bluff” from the Mississippi River. Benton Park is near the Anheuser-Busch brewery, and also down the street from the old Lemp Brewery. Lemp, before Prohibition, was the largest brewery in the United States.

The Lemp family also owned an interurban, the St. Louis, Columbia and Waterloo Railway, which ran from the top deck of the Eads Bridge all the way down to Waterloo in Monroe County, Illinois. The Lemp brewery did not survive Prohibition, and went out of business, failing to diversify as A-B did. The interurban line folded next. The Lemp family lived down the street from my new home in a mansion that still exists. The Lemp family was marked by several suicides, and the mansion is considered to be "haunted." The Lemp brewery facility still exists, being used for many purposes. It once had a cable railway to pull cars up the bluff from the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern (MOPAC) to the brewery.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dave's Depots -- Saint Louis Union Station, Part II

One of the "advantages" of working for my law firm is that is you do not like the view outside your office window, just wait, chances are you will move. In the two years I have been working as an attorney, I have had offices on all four sides of the building, and on two different floors. My first office had a nice north view, where I could see the Merchants Bridge (Terminal Railroad Association) the McKinley Bridge (Illinois Terminal) and on a clear day all they way to Chain of Rocks and even Alton. This office was replaced by a south view where I could only see into the judge’s chambers in the Federal courthouse next door (where I once saw a judge sleeping on his couch). My last office had a good view of the Alton and Southern yard in East St. Louis, and a “good” view of East St. Louis.

The man I worked for recently made partner, and was thus given the requisite partner-sized office. This move necessitated my move from the east to the west side of the building.

The good news is that I have a great view from my new office, including a view of Union Station, the tarin shed and the rail yards in the Mill Creek Valley. As you can see from the photo, the Union Station train shed is very large. You could actually fit the new Amtrak station (which is also very nice) inside the train shed without any problem. An added bonus of the new location is that I can also watch trains on the Metrolink Light Rail system pass by, and view some of the new car wraps Metro is experimenting with. Of course, all of this watching out the window may mean a decrease in my productivity....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Alternative Fuel Vehicle

Due to the rising cost of electricity, the museum has elected to investigate the possibility of replacing streetcar service with dog carts. A test installation of this technology was authorized and was conducted in Barn 6 over the weekend, as seen below. It was generally agreed that the technology is worthy of further study, including further capacity and endurance testing as well as cost analysis comparing the price of electricity vs Alpo.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Beehive of Activity

There was a lot happening today, much of it in preparation for Members Day - ahem, Museum Showcase Weekend. One thing that had nothing to do with Members Day was the revenue operation of the 308 and 309. The cars seemed to run fine all weekend with nary a problem, today operated by our illustrious crew caller, Jim West.

I spent most of my day working on the 205. The first order of business was to sand down the rough spots in the paint and re-spray them. As seen at right, these were pretty numerous due to my lack of skill in spray-painting, but by the end of the day the situation had been rectified and the car not only had a nice smooth coat of primer, but had lost that unsightly newspaper masking.

I did some work on other areas of the 205 as well. I cleaned off and spray-primed the switch group covers under the car, as seen at left. At some point coming up I can spray-paint these black, which will help the appearance of the car considerably. On this side of the 205 the switch group boxes are the only really obvious under-floor equipment besides the trucks, on which I haven't decided exactly what to do. They'll need to get painted black one way or another though.

I also did some Bondo work - at left is seen the impressive amount of Bondo applied today to the bottom of the second window post from the west end left-side door - and some wire-wheeling. The corner post at the northeast corner of the car was wire-wheeled, as was some more of the anticlimber at the west end.

Late in the day, an exciting development occurred - the Return of the Tangerine Flyer! The 277 made its return to the high iron today after some inspection work by crew of Car Department workers, but with an improvement over its previous appearance last October: this time observation car 234 was in tow! The three-car train made quite a striking appearance on the railroad; two car line trips and one main line trip were made. The latter was the first time the 234 has ever been on the museum's main line east of Seeman Road, as the railroad was extended to its current terminus since the last time the 234 had operated on the main! Weather permitting, this train will be operating this coming Saturday, the 19th - so don't miss it!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Moving along

I was able to get a good deal done on the 205 over the past couple of days. Tuesday night I spent some time going through the car and removing objects that were obviously not needed - pieces of wooden blocking, plywood, old coffee cans and even a decrepit wooden door whose origins are unknown. Wednesday I spent some time helping switch the 205 around to aid with the 3142 motor work and also got to do some more needle-chipping. As seen in the Kirk Warner photo at right, taken of me sitting down on the job, I needle-chipped the car's two HL switch group boxes; these can now be primed and painted black.

I was also able to paint the roof ladder green to match the rest of the roof and painted the lower half of the east end anti-climber green as well. The photo at left shows the car at the Electric Park trolley bus turnaround on a "rare mileage" run courtesy of ComEd 4 and Henry Vincent; the newspaper masking is obvious, and will be left in place for the next week or two to allow me to (I hope) do some more primer spraying after a bit of touch sanding rough spots.

Overall, the 205 project is getting quite a bit closer to completion. Once the small amount of required re-spraying is done the car will be ready to spray paint orange, though at the moment I'd like to put that off until next spring so that the window post caps now on order can be sprayed at the same time. Some of the tasks I was hoping to get to this week, like cutting holes in the east end dash for the headlight, did not get done - but those can be accomplished in Barn 8. Measurements were taken for the wooden inserts over the end windows, which will not only allow for final installation of those windows but will also allow completion of Bondo work on the letterboard at the ends and priming of those areas. Roof work has been completed with the painting of the roof ladder, which is quite a milestone. The end is in sight! Thanks to all who helped out with switching and other work this week!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Miscellaneous Maintenance

Frank finished up his current round of painting on the 205 today, over by the pit. The good side and most of the ends are now nearly ready for finish paint. Here are some details. It will look great in Indiana Railroad orange!

The interior will be left as is.

The lower half of the anticlimber was green, the upper half orange.

Meanwhile, several of the guys were hard at work installing the repaired traction motor for the 3142 in its truck. The car was then reassembled, and successfully tested later in the day.

Note that these are outside-hung motors (on the outer side of the axles.) This allows a shorter wheelbase for the sharp curves on streetcar track. Interurban trucks always have the motors between the axles, for a longer wheelbase and better stability at high speeds.

I spent some time repairing seats in the 308 and 309 which had gotten out of whack. Frank and I then spent most of the afternoon switching cars in Barn 8. This turned out to be harder than it looks, but everything is safely arranged back on track 84, with the 277 and 518 at the door.