Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On the Move

When the 319 is on the move, the brakes work, but it seemed to me they were a little sluggish to apply. So I decided to remove the triple valve for cleaning and inspection.

Here is the M-2-B triple valve sitting on the bench. This is the mechanical brain of the brake system; it monitors the pressure in the train line and decides when to apply the brakes and at what pressure.

And here it is with the top cover removed; there's a gasket, and you can see the top of the piston for the slide valve mechanism.

The slide valve itself is seen here; it has several ports for graduating the transfer of air between the various parts of the system. It may not be obvious, but the slide valve has two parts which slide relative to each other also. Basically it looked OK; I cleaned everything up and then lubricated it with graphite.

We have a brake test stand which could be used to test the triple valve, but I'm not sure how to use it, where all the correct parts are, and couldn't find an instruction manual. Where's Jeff Hakner when you need him?!?

So the 319 itself has to be the test stand. We have a good supply of the correct gaskets, so I replaced the gasket between the valve and the bracket, as seen here.

And here is the installed valve. It seems to work somewhat faster; I don't have a good way to time the process. I decided not to take the car out for a test trip since I was by myself; maybe next time.

Next, it's back to work on the windows. We still have eight of them to strip and repaint. Nobody could find the big pad sander the department used to have, so I used my own sander. I finished sanding down two frames; a partly done one is seen here.

Another thing that's on the move is the shop's old planer. We now have a newer and better one, so this one's for sale, as you can see from the label. Make Bob an offer!

And saving the best for last, the Schroeder Store is finally on the move! This building was most recently an antique store in downtown Union; the Museum acquired it in 1991 and moved it to its present location next to Spaulding Tower. The original plan was to have a string of buildings on the north side of the parking lot along the main line ROW. But in 1995 we were able to buy the Knut Olson farm and the IRM Master Plan changed. The store will now be along the new Main Street extension.

Here we see Nick Kallas (L) and Dave Diamond (R) busily excavating for the concrete foundation on which the store will sit.

I'll bet the Executive Director of MSI never has this much fun!

This will be the first permanent construction along Main Street, so it's quite a milestone!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The truck is ready

Yesterday when I arrived at the museum, Norm Krentel was hard at work on the motor truck for the 36. You'll recall that this is the car's original motor truck which was obtained in trade from the Connecticut Trolley Museum earlier this year. Over the last month or so Norm, Jeff Brady and Ray Schmid have been working to re-pack all of the motor armature bearings and axle cap bearings, which will be more difficult to access once the truck is under the car. They also replaced a damaged brush holder with a spare from stock. I helped Norm make a few final waste bundles for the last axle cap, after which we oiled all of the axle caps, topped off the motor armature bearings, and cleaned up our tools. "Doodlebug Dan" Mulvihill helped with the oiling job. The truck (seen at right) is now ready to go under the car!

After this was completed I headed over to Barn 7 and the 205, which hadn't seen much activity in a while. I was able to unscrew and move aside the interior wall panel under the center window at the east end of the car, allowing me to access the back of the car's exterior dash sheet. Rod Turner had drilled a large hole in the dash a few weeks back for the headlight, and with the help of Greg Kepka I was able to bolt the headlight to the east end dash. At left, Greg is seen with the newly-installed Golden Glow headlight that had been provided to the project some time back by Bob Bruneau. The final backdating step at this end of the car will be installation of the MU jumper socket, which is also on hand.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Open and Shunt Case

Last Saturday, while running the three-car wood train on the mainline, we had noticed a problem with the 319. The #4 motor was running hot, and indeed it started smoking a little. There was a noticeable odor. Tim O'Donnell and Alex Bruchac from Cleveland were along for the ride, and helped me identify the problem. We cut out the motors and ran the rest of the trip using only the 308 and 309 for motive power.

Obviously, that's a worry. On Wednesday I disconnected all the motors and meggered them again. They were all consistent, so evidently no permanent damage to the motor was done. I also started ringing out the wiring circuits on the car, since I had surmised that it must be a wiring problem on the 319 itself. I know that these motors worked just fine when they were under the 321. I traced the motor wiring back to the field tap control and the motor cutout switch, and everything seemed to be OK. So I was stumped. How embarrassing!

Today I started by going out to Yard 14 to check on the 321. Its tarp is still OK. Another picture of a tarped car isn't very interesting, so I took a random shot (L) of the underbody.

Be that as it may, I wanted to solve the problem with the 319. I opened the motors. The brush holders and brushes are fine, and there are no obvious problems. I then started meggering the motor circuits, starting from the reverser as Tim suggested.

Warning: If you're not into mechanical or electrical details, stop here!

Two motors (#3 and #4) should have direct ground connections through the reverser, but I could only find one. There's a single ground wire coming into the reverser. And I quickly noticed that one of the fingers on the right side had no connection at all, as shown by the yellow arrow at right. That can't be right.

There is a copper shunt between two of the fingers, as seen below (green arrow) but after checking the wiring it doesn't make sense.

On the other hand, if this shunt were on the other side, it would provide the ground connection that is so desperately needed for motor #4. So I hiked back out to the 321 and opened the reverser.

Sure enough, the shunt (green arrow) is on the right side where it belongs. So I removed the shunt and fingers on the 319 and moved the shunt over to where it should be. Then I reconnected the motors (a job in itself) and disconnected the 319 from the blue cars.

This snafu explains exactly what was wrong. Motor #4 had no current flowing through its field windings, and thus there was no magnetic field in the motor, and no backvoltage being generated in the armature. The armature was just a rotating resistance bank, and heated up more the faster we went. I don't know when or how this happened, but the car can never have operated properly since then. I guess we're lucky anything we bought from Trolleyville is still in operating condition.

Having fixed the problem, I naturally wanted to test the 319 out. Since I personally have no sense of smell, I also wanted people along to notice if anything smelled wrong. Luckily, Bob Heinlein, Tom Disch, and Bob Sundelin were nearby working on L cars, and they graciously agreed to help. We ran 319 back and forth in the yard a couple of times, and it worked much better than before, in both directions. We then took it out on the carline for two trips. No problems were found.

Here we are at McCormick Place. Bob Heinlein is carefully checking for any overheating. The grids are warm, of course, and the brake shoes to some degree, but that's it.

That's a huge relief. I would like to have the 319 in regular service next year, and alternate between the two blue cars. The steps on the 319 are much easier for passengers than the awful design on the 308 and 309. We were very fortunate that the motor was not damaged. And once the wiring was fixed, this car really wants to get up and go!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Give Fire a Place To Start

Is it just me, or does that kid look like a born juvenile delinquent to you too?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Amstein Showcase Photos

As promised, here are pictures taken on Saturday by Chuck Amstein. May not be reproduced without permission.

I guess we probably don't need captions for most of them. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Showcase Success

Updated - scroll down

The Museum Showcase weekend got off to a great start on Saturday, an unqualified success.

As usual, we were at the mercy of the weather. It started by raining from 9 to 10 or so, and we were beginning to worry it might be a washout, as it was two years ago. The rain stopped, but the skies continued to threaten throughout the day.

We had planned to run the three CA&E wood cars all day, but instead decided to take out the North Shore train. Greg Ceurvorst and I ran the 749 and 714, while my other two crewmen, Frank and David, served on the CA&E steel cars. This was the first time I had gotten to run the 749 in service.

It's a beautiful car -- at least until the motorman gets in the way.

The Veracruz open car #19 was running, and is always a crowd pleaser.

And here is the silver train coming in on track two.

Train Time At Wheaton

We started the day running the CA&E cars 409 and 431. That's David Wilkins in the doorway, changing poles. Then the 460 was brought out from the shop to make up a three-car train for the express run to Chicago.

One of the shop men at Wheaton brings out the necessary jumper cables.

The cables are hung over the fence between the tracks for easy access once the train is coupled together.

Another shop man (Joe Stupar) brings the 460 up to the 431, carefully watching the couplers.

Another shop man (Stan W.) installs the jumper cables over the door; one for the 600V bus, one for the buzzer circuit.

And the conductor (Frank) starts loading passengers at Wheaton for the run to Chicago.

By 3 I decided it had cleared up enough, and the three wood cars were brought out. Here are six CA&E cars lined up in front of the Wheaton station: 309, 308, 319, 460, 431, 409.

We put in a lot of money, time, and hard work to make scenes like this possible, but the results make it all worthwhile.

At supper time we had a barbeque at the Central Ave. pavilion and were entertained by the ever-popular West End Jazz Band. Good food and fellowship were had by all. Then it was time for our annual night runs.

Night Trains

The CA&E steel cars, the North Shore cars, two 4000s, the Zephyr, and the silver cars were running, as well as the VC 19. The South Shore sign and the signal display are especially effective after dark. I should have brought a tripod but didn't, so these photos aren't the best. As always, I'm counting on our friend Chuck Amstein to supply me with better pictures.

In any case, we all had a great time!

Update: I should mention that, as usual, there were many visitors from various places, including Orange Empire and Rio Vista. Tim O'Donnell and Alex Bruchac were visiting from Cleveland and were very helpful. We met Lee Wells, a CA&E enthusiast. Long-time member Pete Schmidt was there, and several more! And of course it's always nice to hear words of encouragement from the onlookers.

Frank adds...

I spent most of the day working as Julie Johnson's conductor on the CA&E steel train. We started out with two cars (right) but after the first trip the 409 and 431 were brought onto Station Track 1 where they were joined by the 460, fresh from having its numbers painted on over in Barn 4 (below left). The three-car steel train (below right) made quite an impression on the crowd. We made two more trips, both of them packed to the gills. If only the CA&E itself had been this busy in the '50's!

After the first trip, the steel cars were joined on Station Track 1 by the three-car wood train. Here the woods are seen speeding west past the depot. Click here to see a video of the woods coming into the station with the Zephyr passing by in the background.
After the day's operations were through, we ate at the members' dinner and took a look at a couple of the other restoration projects on display. Below left, Chicago Rapid Transit 1797 is showing tremendous progress courtesy of Tim Peters. Below right, while the rest of us enjoyed BBQ under the pavilion, David - as befitting his profession - dined on steak in the posh Boston & Maine diner being restored by our good friend and "Project 308" alum Jack Biesterfeld.

And finally we ended the evening with night operations. I was conductor on the first trip of the steel train, after which I bowed out for the remainder of the evening. A great time was had by all!

David adds.....

No photos. I left my camera at Randy's house. However, had I brought it, I wouldn't have had any time for photos. I managed to be conductor on 4 trains during the course of the day, as I got shifted around to meet operational needs. The four trains I worked on over the course of the day were the North Shore train Randy ran in the morning, the CA&E steel train, the CA&E wood train, and the Vera Cruz streetcar at night (complete with butchered Spanish announcements). During the course of the day, I punched a lot of tickets, walked the aisles many many times, chatted with passenger, changed poles, and whatever needed to be done. Joe, Stan, and Nick said I had the perfect "serious" conductor persona for the era. My feet are still a bit sore from all of the standing. Also a big thanks to Henry Vincent and Chris Buck who helped me man the 3 car wood CA&E train for their run.

I did, however, meet some IRM members from the St. Louis area, including a family who drove up specifically for the weekend. I also met a gentlement who reads the blog, who currently lives in Chesterfield, MO. If he's reading, please contact me off-blog! Overall, it was a great day. My one "joy ride" of the day was a ride in the Zephyr for a night run.