Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trip Report/Dave's Depots - Bowling Green, Kentucky

On Saturday, November 28, 2009, Katy and I visited Bowling Green Kentucky. Bowling Green is home to the Bowling Green Historic Railpark and L&N Depot. The facility is housed in the former L&N depot. The purpose of my visit was for me to talk about the 728th Railway Operating Battalion, a unit sponsored by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad during World War II. The Bowling Green Daily News covered the event.

As you can see here, the station building is a grand structure. When originally built, the facility contained offices for the L&N, a ticket office, waiting rooms, a restaurant, and space for baggage and express operations.

The depot was vacated with the end of Amtrak service in the area in the late 1970s, and over the years succumbed to neglect and vandalism. I remember seeing the depot in 1995 and it was in deplorable shape. All of the windows were broken out, major portions of the tile roof were missing, and vagrants were living inside the structure. At that time members of the Bowling Green community came together and begun to raise money to renovate the structure. After CSX Transportation donated the depot and platform structure, the restoration work begun. By the time I graduated college in 2002, the major restoration work was completed. In addition to leasing some space for use by a local business, the depot houses a nice museum on the L&N in Bowling Green, a community room for events, some nicely-restored and maintained pieces of equipment.

Since then, the group has acquired 6 pieces of rolling stock, and has displayed them at the depot. As one drives to the depot, it looks as if the Memphis section of the L&N’s crack passenger train The Pan American is about ready to depart the station. Heading up the display train is “L&N” E8 number 796. This unit, a shell is restored from a former CN&W unit. Following the locomotive is a former L&N RPO car, completely restored inside and out, a former L&N 6-4-6 (6 sections, 4 double bedrooms, and 6 roomettes) sleeper Towering Pine, a former SP diner painted as an L&N dining car and a steel-sheathed business car, L&N number 353. Also in the collection is a Chessie System caboose painted as an L&N caboose.

All of the equipment is maintained in very good condition, and restoration work is actively going on. Most recently, restoration volunteers have replaced much of the steel in the sides of the Pullman car. Longer range plans are to cover and enclose the equipment in a glass structure, and continue the restoration work.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving From the Hicks Car Works Staff

From all of us at the Hicks Car Works blog, we wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving!

For those of you who are traveling, please do be careful.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Planning Ahead

Today I did a little more work on the motors; one of them had to be slotted, so I was able to do that during a lull in the rain, using the car mover again. And I cleaned out the air vents.

The barn is still leaking in a couple of places over the 277, so I need to empty out the buckets on the roof every so often. And then there was more sorting and cleaning in the IT cars.

There's no word yet on when the CA&E cars will move, but there's still advance planning to be done.

One project we'll want to start on soon is making new third rail beams for the cars from Trolleyville. The third rail equipments were never installed on any of the cars while they were at Trolleyville, but most of them were saved, and we got 11 sets. The wood is rotted out and unusable, but can be replaced. It's the metal parts that are important. We have a complete set of four beams with the 321's trucks, so they will go under the 319.

A close-up of (L to R) the air-powered sleet scraper, the shoe itself, the 700A fuse, and the cable. Note that the beam has a notch on the back to clear the leaf spring.

I made one replacement beam for the 308 about four years ago, from white oak. It took about a month, but I was doing other things at the same time. Making them in production mode four at a time should be more efficient. The dimensions are 3 1/2" x 5 3/4" x 6' (there's some difference in length depending on the truck.) So they're big and heavy, and it may be a challenge finding a place in the wood shop to store them. Oak isn't available in that thickness, so the replacement beam was made with two 8/4 pieces glued together. There are enough bolts through the wood that the joint can't possibly delaminate.

If you do the math, you'll see that we're five beams short. One car can have beams with no sleet scrapers. During the summer, the CA&E would swap out a set of third rail beams to have the scrapers rebuilt, so sometimes you'll see pictures of a car without sleet scrapers, such as the 321 here. CTA third rail shoes will be close enough.

Finally, here's a sheet from an old Rail & Wire I found while sorting parts. Bruneau used it as scratch paper to list stations for an IT roll sign, but it's an interesting look at the very beginning of the Museum back in 1965. (Note: Franches Crossing is now known as Karsten's.) We really started out with absolutely nothing.

But wait, there's more! You too can be a world-renowned and published author. Just use this handy form! Directors are standing by to take your article!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

319 Progress

It's time for a new label, because progress on the 319 is really what we're talking about.

The weather was just perfect today, so I was able to move both motor trucks out of the barn for lubrication and cleaning. The car mover, shown leaning against the truck, makes quick work of moving it by hand. I oiled up all the pins and bushings I could reach for both the suspension and brake rigging.

I also cleaned the commutators with Carbosol, so they look much better. The slots are good. By moving the truck a foot or two, the armatures are rotated 90 degrees so the entire commutator can be inspected and cleaned.

I also meggered the motors. Here's a view of the Car Dept. megger, which we've been using for at least the last 35 years. It tests insulation by generating high voltage (if the resistance is high) to make sure there won't be any breakdowns when 600 volts is applied to the motors. The black lead is grounded to the motor frame, and finding a reliable ground is often the most challenging part. The red lead can be placed right on the commutator, or as in this case, to a brush holder lead (if the brushes are in place.) You also need to check the field connections. If the resistance is much less than 1 megohm, there's a problem. All of the motors for the 319 are OK.

Finally, we had to wye one of the trucks. They were both pointing the same way after being removed from the 321, but when the 319 arrives, it won't be possible to wye the car while one end is on a truck and the other end is on rubber tires. Tom Hunter and Adam Robillard, some of our friends in the Track Dept., volunteered to bring the Burro crane over to move the truck around. So that went well. Now we're all set for whenever the 319 arrives on the property. Thanks, guys!!!

In other news, here's a view of our new light tower in the parking lot. This tower is made of Bates expanded poles., and was originally at 40th and Halsted, near the stockyards. As I understand it, the original tower had three sections and was 90' high, but we're using just two to make it 60' high. But even so, it's a nice addition to the property.

Frank Sirinek was heading up an effort to clean out the new Shaker PCC. And Buzz lettered the east end of the 972; here's a view of the work in progress. The drop light is mostly there to warm up the work surface.

Finally, we must report that Nick has bought the farm. The Siegel farm, that is. On behalf of the Museum. More details here. We are now the proud owners of 89 more acres, including this homestead. I must say it's not obvious whether it's currently occupied. In any case, it's great that we will be able to keep this property in use as farmland.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Race Against Time

Here's what's happening now with Trolleyville, as far as we know:

CA&E car 36 is presently located in the E. 55th Street shops, and the other four are in the subway under Terminal Tower. In order to move them by road, they need to go to the Brook Park shops, near the airport. Unfortunately, that's not easy to do, since keeping the rapid transit system going is, of course, a higher priority for the GCRTA. Anyhow, once the cars are moved to Brook Park, we will need to prepare them for de-trucking by disconnecting motor leads, brake rigging, and perhaps trolley poles and other roof parts. We will probably only get one or two days' notice when this happens. Stan has a list of people who will be available on short notice to make the trip. Unfortunately, I won't be able to help unless it's on a weekend, I've got to work.

Once the cars are ready for shipment, Silk Road should be able to load and move them rapidly to Union. Once there, we'll save money if we can do the unloading ourselves. Again, this will be on short notice. Of course, we would like to put them inside as soon as possible to minimize exposure to the weather. This depends to some extent on how work on Barn 11 is going.

By the way, I can't express enough appreciation for all the work the Track Dept. is doing on the new barn.

So we don't have any sort of schedule on when the move will occur, and we probably won't. I'll try to keep you informed as it happens.

Help Move the Trolleyville Cars!

We have been making arrangements with Silk Road to move the five CA&E cars from Cleveland, and due to various factors they have estimated it will cost about $13,500 dollars per car. This is the best rate Nick was able to negotiate; it will be slightly less if we do the unloading ourselves, as we plan to. In any case, it's more than we had hoped, so your financial help is still needed!

An easy way to donate $25 is to follow this link.

For a more substantial contribution, send a check to IRM labelled "Trolleyville" or call the office at 815-923-4391 x2 and make arrangements. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Motor Prep

The main agenda now is to prepare for the arrival of the CA&E cars from Cleveland. I'll have more about this later. The main thing I wanted to do was to work on preparing the trucks from the 321, which will be put under the 319 when it arrives. The more I can do now, the less I have to do when the trucks are under the car.

Here's a view of the commutator of a traction motor. The upper brush holder is obvious, part of the lower one is visible. They're 90 degrees apart because this is a four-pole motor. I started to megger them, but decided the results were not reliable. It was raining most of the day, so there's condensation on the surfaces, which increases the skin conductivity. The two armatures I measured both read about 0.8 megs, which is less than optimal. I'll try again on Saturday, it's supposed to be nicer then. I checked all of the armature bearings and added oil as needed, and blew out the commutators.

On Saturday we'll also try to wye one of the trucks; as they sit now, they're both facing the same way. And I also want to clean the commutators with Carbosol, if it's possible to move them so the armatures can be rotated.

While we're at it, let's check the gears and pinions. They all appear nice and wet, so no additional crater grease is needed.

Meanwhile, Tim Peters was working on the 1268, Bob Kutella on the 68, Pete on the 972, Frank was cleaning up the new PCC, Gerry was doing some welding for repairs on the Com Ed 4, and so on.

And the contractors were installing the ceiling in the shop extension. After finishing the first section, they blew in insulation, and here they are installing the next section.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The 728th Railway Operating Battalion in World War II

For those of you who will be in Bowling Green, Kentucky on Saturday, November 28, 2009, I recommend you stop by and say hello to me. Bowling Green, besides being home to my alma mater, Western Kentucky University, is also home to a very nicely restored Louisville & Nashville Railroad depot and museum, now called the Bowling Green Historic Railpark.

The Railpark his hosting yours truly as a guest speaker. The subject: The 728th Railway Operating Battalion in World War II. This battalion consisted of many employees of the L&N, and was instrumental in supporting the Allied advance through France in the months following D-Day. The L&N helped re-open and operate the railroad from Cherbourg, France to Paris.

The reason for the invite is more complicated. Back at WKU, I wrote my senior thesis on the 728th, and largely forgot about the subject. A few months ago, a volunteer at the Railpark was doing research on the 728th so he could give the presentation, found my thesis, and managed to find me, all the way out in Missouri.

Of note, the depot includes several restored railcars on display, and I'll take lots of photos for a new Dave's Depots feature.

UPDATE: WKCT Radio in Bowling Green is doing a phone interview with me at 1:30 PM CST on Monday, November 23, 2009. There is a "listen live" feature if you dare.
UPDATE-UPDATE-The interview is a taped one, so don't listen live.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Movers and Shakers

The Shaker PCC #63 (built as Twin City Transit #352) has arrived at IRM and was unloaded this afternoon! Here are a few pictures I was able to take; most of the time I was helping.

On Saturday, Frank Sirinek inspects the car in the warehouse at the dock in Cleveland.

The interior of the car, before Frank put all the windows back in (helped by Greg.)

This is certainly the best of the Shaker PCCs.

It arrived at the property about 3:00 this afternoon. Here the Silk Road driver waits at the entrance gate while a few impediments are moved.

The hardest part was the turn at Central and Depot. The trailer is so long that it's nearly impossible for the streetcar to make streetcar turns. But the driver was a real pro.

Here we have dropped the gooseneck and built the ramp. The car was then pulled down the ramp by the Joy; sorry, no pictures, I was busy.

Finally, here it is on the pit lead, at sunset.

People who helped unload were Nick, Warren, Tim Peters, Frank, Mike, and myself. And of course, the Silk Road driver.

Cleveland Trip Report

The distribution of parts at Cleveland went well, and we were all busy most of the time. So I don't have a lot of pictures. I'll try to add more narrative tomorrow.

Here is a view of some of the cars stored in the warehouse, awaiting shipment to their new homes. The Lake Shore group had many sections of this portable track made from square channels, about 20' long per section. It fits together with 1" steel pins, just like toy train track. Four men can pick up a section and move it around. What fun!

Here Bill Wall, who masterminded the whole complex enterprise, is lecturing the group from the boat car. His leadership made it all go remarkably smoothly. In the back row you can probably recognize Frank, Bill Wulfert, Andy, Scott, and Greg.

Next to the dock is this huge lake freighter, which has been preserved and is on display. Next to it is a Shaker PCC which had already been loaded, and left shortly after I took this picture on its way to Scranton.

Fortunately my friend Joel Salomon from Rockhill sent me some pictures he took Sunday morning:

Here Andy is piloting the boat car as it is moved into position for loading onto a trailer. It came from Blackpool in England and has already been moved to the National Capital Trolley Museum.

We look on as Bill Wall finished hooking up the Cleveland car to a forklift, so Nick can pull it into position.

Ed Amrhein from Baltimore watches the clearance as Nick edges the Cleveland center entrance car past our trailer. This trailer was being loaded with all of our parts, and will soon be at Union.

And here is the 1218 in motion, at about 2 MPH.

Thanks for the photos, Joel!

Cleveland Tourism

Here at Hicks Car Works we don't bother with the usual tourist attractions like the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. Instead, let's see some bridges and viaducts!

On Saturday night we all had dinner at an Irish pub in the flats district. As we were leaving the restaurant, bells and whistles sounded and a gate went down across the street. It was the only operating swing bridge across the Cuyahoga in action! The bridge swung 90 degrees to allow a huge freighter to pass. It must have been loaded, drawing 21'. The river seemed barely wide enough for the ship; the captain has no room for error and everybody was impressed with the skill it must take. Unfortunately it was dark and I didn't have my camera.

So early the next morning I came back to take some pictures. Here's the swing bridge in normal position.

This location is directly underneath the huge Detroit Rd. overpass.

The Superior Viaduct

This is an old stone structure that is truly a bridge to nowhere, as you can see here. It serves as a parking lot and scenic walkway in the flats area.

On top of the viaduct, there's still a couple blocks' worth of double track in the street, as seen here.

For a while, Ron Jedlicka was running a streetcar on this route, using a generator for power. Now, however, his car is parked in a nearby lot behind chain-link fence with barbed wire. This PCC is lettered "Lady Rose."

The viaduct extends as far as the power house for this bascule bridge. The railroad is long gone, so the bridge is never used.

And from this location, you can look down on the swing bridge we visited earlier.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Postcard from Cleveland

Having a wonderful time, wish you were here!

... because we could always use more help carrying all this stuff around. But I believe nearly everyone was very satisfied with how well everything went. Bill Wall is doing a very effective job of coordinating the distribution of parts amongst 14 different museum groups, and there were no arguments or confrontations; pretty much everyone seems to have gotten pretty much what they wanted. There was a huge amount of material to hand out, so people usually got stuck with more than they wanted, rather than not getting something they needed.

I won't be able to download any actual pictures from Cleveland until I get home tomorrow night. So a more thorough trip report will have to wait until then.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quick Trolleyville Trip Report

So far, so good: we've all arrived safely at Cleveland. There are ten of us from IRM here: Scott, Nick, Greg (the new guy) Kepka, Bob Olsen, Frank Sirinek, Joe, Andy, Stan, Bill Wulfert, and myself. Not much accomplished yet, but we all had dinner together at probably the best Slovenian restaurant I've ever been to. And tomorrow we're supposed to report for work at 8. I should be able to post again tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trucks and Motors

On Sunday, Stan and the crew moved the 321's trucks onto 82 and 83, as seen here, so they'll be ready to go under the 319 whenever it arrives. They're over the sidewalk (we're closed for the season, so that's OK) and I was thinking about oiling up all of the various bearings you can never get at when the truck is under the car, but the oil would drip onto the pavement, making me unpopular. Maybe I'll get a chance later.

We had noticed that the center bearing on the #2 truck was cracked. It appears to have been like this in service, and I don't know whether it can be fixed. Presumably we'll be OK with it as is; with the kingpin in there should be no problem. I took measurements and verified that the center bearings on the 318 and 321 are indeed different. Who would have thought? However, even if the 319's trucks match the 318, the carbody will sit onto the truck bolster correctly.

When the 321's trucks were rolled out, we found this wrench wedged in between a motor and the truck frame, where you'd never see it or reach it while the car was there. I'm sure I didn't drop it, and I doubt anyone else at IRM did, so it must have come to us from Wheaton, another venerated relic.

I spent most of the day cleaning and sorting parts in the IT cars. Tomorrow I'll be driving to Cleveland, as will six other guys, to sort and select parts from the Trolleyville collection. Watch this space for news from Cleveland you won't get anywhere else!

Finally, here's what the new shop extension looks like. The floor has been poured, and the next step will evidently be putting the insulation in the ceiling.

The Illinois-Missouri Terminal Railroad

While looking through some papers in the Robert E. Bruneau collection, I noticed a couple of unusual memos from the IT. The first says that on June 15, 1956, the name of the company would be changed to "Illinois-Missouri Terminal Railroad Company." Ten days later, on June 25, the name was changed back to IT. I'd never heard about this; had anyone else? What could they have been thinking?

And I suppose I could scan them in if you don't believe me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

We at the Hicks Car Works would like to say thank you to all of our current and former service men and women of the armed forces. As you may know, Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11 every year. November 11 also marks the end of the First World War, and is known as Armistice Day throughout the world.

Once again, thank you to all who have served.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Twin City PCC Acquired - Update!

The next car to arrive from Trolleyville will probably be one we haven't even announced yet. IRM has acquired another car from that collection. PCC #352 was built for Twin City Rapid Transit of Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1947. When that system was abandoned in 1953 the car then went to Shaker as #63, and then to GCRTA. It was then preserved by Trolleyville. Frank Sirinek organized the fund raising for this one, which is said to be in very good condition and should be operable. Follow this link for a picture of it at Trolleyville, and this link for a good picture (of a car at the Minnesota Streetcar Museum) of what the TCRT paint scheme will look like. Pretty sharp!

Update: Tom Hunter sent me several photos of the car at MSM which he took last spring.

Thanks, Tom!