Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, and we concluded our three-day World War II re-enactment. Things were off to a slow start due to the thunderstorm that passed through early in the morning.

At 1 PM there was a memorial service in front of the War Memorial, led by a WWII chaplain. It was quite moving. An Army chaplain spoke, then his son recited the life story of a soldier who died in France, followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of "Taps." This really makes it all worthwhile.

The 308 and 309 were running again, of course, and everything went well. As seen at right, Dan Buck was the motorman, Jeff Kepka the trainman, and I was the conductor. I hadn't met Jeff before; he's the brother of Greg Kepka.

Everybody seemed to be having a good time. The West End Jazz Band was playing at the Pavilion.

These pictures explain themselves, I think. Everybody was glad to see the Zephyr out.

Most of our trips were pretty full. We didn't have any military detachments today, but we did have a family of Italian refugees riding the CA&E. They must have really been lost!

And it always helps to have some pretty girls!!!

In other news, Jim Followell painted the south side of the 319 with the grey paint yesterday. (R) If you look closely, you can see my reflection in the new paint.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Finest Hour

So far, at least. The first day of our WWII re-enactment went very well, from what I could see. We had a very good crowd of visitors., and everybody seemed to be having a great time. If you weren't there, evidently they know something you don't!

There were more participants, more battles, more planes, more horses, and probably more of everything. I was running the blue cars and we were really busy, so I didn't have time to take any good pictures. I'm hoping others will provide them.
It was startling when I suddenly realized that one of the daredevil stunt pilots was pacing my train a hundred feet away, only a few feet above the ground. The next time it happened, though, it just becomes part of the job!

Henry Vincent and Dan Buck were the train crew, and everything went well. I'll be back Monday; Dan will be the motorman and I'll be the conductor.

My only complaint is that I seemed to get more than my fair share of grade crossing incidents, near misses where people drove in front of the train long after I started whistling. I'm not sure what makes people act so stupidiously. But I'm sure all you readers of this blog are a lot smarter than to do anything like that!

Update: Here are some pictures submitted by Joseph Blidy, who visited with his son and reports having a great time. Thanks! And thanks again to all those who put so much time and effort into making this re-enactment a success.

(L) Here's a great shot of the plane pacing the 309, and reflected in the standing water.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Be Prepared!

We're getting ready to paint the 319. Surface preparation is the most important part of this job, and today there were three people working on it: Jim Followell, the contractor, his helper Cody, and Cody's girlfriend.

Jim had started sanding down a door panel, and feathered it nicely to show all of the various layers of paint. This displays the history of the 319 just like rings on a tree. From top to bottom:
  • Bare metal (and perhaps some primer?)
  • 1940: Washington Blue #1
  • 1950: Brown primer
  • 1950: Washington Blue #2
  • 1953: More primer
  • 1953: Brilliant Red
  • c. 1963: Brookins Blue
  • c. 1995: More primer
  • c. 1995: Cliff Perry's orange/tan
The Brilliant Red is what we will be matching.

Here they are at work.

(L) Cody (R) OK, I should've written down her name....

The surface prep is nearly complete; one end still needed some work when I left, but the grey paint will be applied first.

We also looked at the grey color some more, along with Jamie, and made a final decision on matching. This was later ratified by Rod. Jim went and got two gallons, which he believes will be enough to put two coats on both sides of the car. He plans to paint the grey tomorrow or Sunday, and the red some time next week. Rod looked at what has been done on the 319 and discussed what needs to be done on the steel cars. So we're moving ahead rapidly!

In other news: it would be nice if we could all just get along, but no.... everybody seems to be preparing for war. It should be exciting to watch, though!!!

The blue cars will be operating all three days, you know!

So my uncle says: "Hey. Youse guys better be there, ya see? Doan' make us come after ya. Remember, we know where youse live!"

Happy Birthday, Frank!

Frank is celebrating his birthday on his honeymoon in the Caribbean. Here's an earlier birthday when he only got to go as far as IRM!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Painting the CA&E Cars

IRM has hired a painting contractor to paint four of the CA&E cars from the Trolleyville collection. This is an important step in getting the cars ready for revenue service, so keep reading.

Charlie Strong, one of our volunteers, was planning to do much of this work while he was laid off from his regular job on the railroad, but he was called back and is now working full time. That's important for him, but as a result we need to find some other way to get the cars painted.

We have hired Jim Followell to do the painting; he's done work for IRM before. He will paint the 319, 409, 451, and 460, all in the final red and grey paint scheme. There's a bonus if he gets the job done by July 4th, which he believes he can. The 319 will be painted first. Everybody, including me, wants to see the 319 get painted so its place in the Diesel shop can be taken by the 409. Jim has quoted a price of $2200 for the labor including surface prep and painting the sides of the 319, not including underbody, roof, or lettering. This seems reasonable to me. Julie will pay for the three steel cars, but the 319 is my project, so I need help. Any contributions will be most welcome, and of course you will still be eligible for our own "Take the Throttle"-type runs when the 319 is operational. I'm sure we'll have the 319 ready for service by July 4th.

Charlie has already done quite a bit, of course, but Jim started today on surface prep for the next coats of paint. Here we see Jim (L) and his helper Cody (R) hard at work on the car, in spite of the brutal heat outside. (Sorry, I brought my camera but not the battery, so these are cell phone pictures. Anyway, it's proof that they're working hard!)

And I should point out that work on the steel cars is continuing, thanks to Stan and the rest of the guys. The 460 has its trolley poles installed so it can run by itself, and more work was being done today. Rod, Stan, Joe, and several others were on hand for the TV gig, and continued working on various projects as time allowed. A lot is getting done!


Today Channel 9 came to IRM to take some footage for the feature "Cruising Illinois" which appears on the 9 o'clock news on Thursday. I even got to meet Julian Crews! Many of the service cars were pulled out and the newsmen were taken for rides on the open car, the 749, and maybe others. We'll post the information on when the segment will air if we can. Let us know!

I pulled the blue cars out and did some final inspection and lubrication work so they'll be ready for service this weekend. And I also did some work on the 319, getting it ready for painting. See the next post.

And excitement is building for the World War II re-enactments on Memorial Day Weekend. Colonel Klink says: "You muss be zere or elssss!"

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Congratulations to Bevin and Frank who were married yesterday, and are now enjoying their honeymoon cruising in the Caribbean. We wish them the best of luck!

Auto Racing at Exposition Park

Here's another card; this one advertises auto races at Exposition Park in Aurora, which was served by the Fox River interurban line until 1935, and buses afterwards. The design is a little strange, with printing right across the man's forehead. The date was originally June 2, and a piece of paper is pasted over it moving the date up two weeks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

319 Report

Today's progress was basically more of the same. I spent a couple of hours painting the floor with brown primer; about half of the main section is done.

I also installed both of the new trolley hooks which Rod had made. This required drilling new holes. (I thought about reversing this picture to see if anybody noticed, but decided against it.)

And I took home a couple of seat cushions to recover. I also did some masking on the 319 in preparation for painting, and a few other minor things.

In other news, Volkman was replacing ties under the east switch. I don't think anybody else has track standards like ours.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Join the War Effort!

I hope everyone out there is planning to do their patriotic duty to help as much as they can with the World War II Living History Days over Memorial Day Weekend. Be sure to tell your friends and neighbors about it, and root out the slackers! To get us in the mood, here's a picture from the archives of my uncle (L) and my father (R) in their spiffy Army uniforms, while on leave back home in Batavia.

Here's the link: The Anzio Express and the North Platte Canteen

Monday, May 17, 2010

Drying Out

IRM had some heavy rains over the past few days, and there's still a few extra swamps around, but we're drying out and as far as I know, there's no damage.

The birds, at least, are enjoying themselves. Spot the red-wing blackbird.

First of all, some exciting news from over the weekend! I couldn't be there because my daughter was graduating from college, but lots happened anyway. (Or maybe because....) After the Car Dept. team finished replacing a broken truck spring on the 415 on Saturday, they had time to bring the 36 over and swap trucks. The 303's motor truck came out from under the 36, and a spare 4000 trailer truck went in to hold the car up.

On Sunday the rebuilt motors were put back into the truck, as seen dimly here. I think we're actually ahead of schedule, so thanks to everybody who helped! That includes Stan, Joel, Ray Weart, Dan, Greg K., Warren, and Nick. As mentioned before, we'll be going out to Warehouse Point on the weekend of June 19th to swap trucks under the 303.

And if everybody's interest in the Trolleyville cars wasn't flagging, who knows what might have been accomplished? :)

I started by vacuuming out the 319 as best I could. I finished putting a first coat of finish black on the remaining window sills, then started painting the floor with a first coat of primer. This is pretty close to the finish brown, which will be the same as we have on the 308 and 309.

Before we leave, let's see what Tim Peters has been accomplishing. He has spray painted the numbers on the 1268 and outlined them by hand, as seen here. He is also nearly finished with the interior. He plans to have the car in service by Memorial Day, at which point it will probably move back to Barn 8 to free up a slot in Barn 4. It looks great!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Uncertain Fate

Here's another newspaper article in the Hicks Car Works archives, from the Tribune of November 1957. Most of the information is reasonably accurate. (The idea of adapting the cars for subway service by cutting in new doors is obviously impractical.) The company was valuing the cars at $10,000 apiece; of course, none of them were sold at that price. As you probably know, most of the cars sat outside for the next five years deteriorating, and we're lucky twenty of them were finally preserved.

And stop stealing the trolers, you thieves!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Modern Living

These are examples of the advertising cards, about 15" x 22", that were hung from clips on the bulkhead between the two compartments. They usually advertised specific events such as this, so they weren't installed for very long. We're hoping to make some reproductions, since these originals are too likely to get damaged in regular service at the Museum.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Car Men Working

At least that's what the blue sign says. Today I did the inspection on the 308, and everything got finished. Tim helped for a while by running the pump for lubricating the armature bearings. I should have taken some pictures of what he's doing on the1268; today he laid out the numbers on the sides of the car, among other things. After the lubrication was done, I pulled the 309 out and made up the train in preparation for revenue service. As mentioned before, we'll be running all three days over Memorial Day weekend. Here's a couple of close-ups showing how a Van Dorn coupler is mounted, if you were wondering. I measured the springs, and it appears either one should compress no more than 2". Somehow it seems like a lot more than that when we're switching!