Thursday, December 30, 2010

Illinois Central MU Cars in Barrington

There are two mechanically complete IC MU trailers enclosed in a shopping mall in Barrington. Somehow we had never heard about this until a couple of weeks ago, and when I had a chance to visit the place I was surprised, to say the least. Nobody never tells me nothin'!

The 111 Grille and/or Chessie's Restaurant is an upscale bar and grill. This is car 1406, serving as the lounge. I had lunch there, and I think I'll add this to the diner page -- it's as much a diner as some of the others.

And you can rent this car for private parties, Dick!

The vestibule appears little changed, other than paint. The interior has been gutted and redecorated, of course, but otherwise the car seems to be mechanically complete. Of course, since these are trailers there are no motors or control equipment.

As you eat, you can watch trains crossing the diamond between the J and the North Western, which is only steps away.

Near it inside the mall is car 1425, which is now a store called "Girl Scout Express" and sells everything a Girl Scout could want, I suppose. It was closed when I was there, but obviously the interior is likewise gutted. It appears that the underbody equipment is all there.

The Ice House Mall includes the original Barrington station on the North Western, which was moved to this location nearly half a mile. That must have cost a bundle.

It's not obvious from the north side, which faces the tracks, but the two IC cars are behind these picture windows. On this side they have not been repainted and are still lettered Illinois Central.

On the south side of the building is this wooden waycar. The Chessie paint scheme is obviously bogus, and nobody seemed to know the car's origin. A sign on the building says only that it was built in 1879. But the same sign says that the 1406 was built as a diner, so who knows?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Year In Review

2010 was truly an exciting year. Let's look back on some of the more memorable events of this year. Sure, I admit it, this is just what struck us as memorable. So this is the year in review from the standpoint of Hicks Car Works. Sorry, it's the only standpoint we've got.
  • Of course, the year started with a bang: the arrival of the Trolleyville collection. The 36 and 319 arrived on Dec. 30th, 2009, and the steel cars a few weeks later in January. I flew out to Cleveland to help prep the steel cars for shipment. The move went well, and this has made a significant contribution to IRM's electric car roster. Work on these cars has been continuing ever since, and four of the cars are now ready for service next year. That's lightning speed by anybody's standards!
  • Frank continued to work on a cosmetic restoration of Indiana Railroad 205, and it's nearly ready for final painting next year. This is an historic part of our collection and will really look sharp.
  • In June Frank and I flew out to Connecticut, with Norm and Jeff, to swap motor trucks with the Connecticut Trolley Museum and obtain the correct one we needed for our #36. That was a productive and memorable three days.
  • And then there were many special operating days. Over Memorial Day weekend, we hosted a large-scale WWII re-enactment that went very well. July 4th, of course, was the Trolley Pageant, and this year the two three-car CA&E trains were the main attraction, I would say. Want to argue? Of course, there's also the Veracruz open car -- what a neat little thing. And then there was Vintage Transport. I didn't get a chance to help out during Thomas this year, but Frank did. And so on.
  • And when we weren't working at IRM, we managed to bring you a variety of useful information, I hope. News of other projects and progress appeared on an irregular basis. David continued to bring us depots from all over, and there were trip reports. And plenty of historic photos, trivia, jokes, and what not.
  • Of course, there were many other significant accomplishments at IRM that we missed. That's why you need to follow the department blogs. The bottom line: IRM has made great progress this year and is looking forward to an even better 2011! If you're not contributing in some way, you're being left behind.
  • Finally, thanks to those of you who continue to tune in. We appreciate your comments and hearing from you. That's what makes this all worthwhile.

Last Session This Year

Today was mostly painting the ceiling in the 319's smoker. I don't like to work from a stepladder for very long, so I set up a platform as shown here. It consists of two plastic sawhorses and a large board (part of a computer desk we scrapped several years ago). I did the surface prep and filled a large number of cracks on the ceiling part of the bulkhead, then painted it with a first finish coat.

I then started working back into the compartment. The smoker gets crowded in a hurry when you start to set up work facilities. I had a larger platform for working on the 309's ceiling, but in that case I had removed all of the seat backs so there was more space available.

I thought I took a picture of the newly repainted bulkhead, but it vanished into the ether. Here's a repainted alcove.

Then there was one corner seat frame that still needed to be sanded down and repainted. It got a coat of white primer.

I even had some visitors today. Jim Nauer was undecorating the L cars on track 83 that had been used for the Santa train, so he stopped in. Later so did Greg Ceurvorst. The more the merrier!

Before and after painting there was also the exciting task of stripping paint from the ceiling of the #1 vestibule. It's going along pretty well, and does a good job of enhancing the muscular development of one's arms. You should try it sometime -- here, have a putty knife!

Monday, December 27, 2010

319 Progress Report

There's nothing quite like cold weather for helping focus one's mind on working inside to stay warm!

Here is the last section of the upper wall, now with a finish coat of butterscotch paint.

And this included the wainscoting, the walls below the window sill. I still need to repaint the arm rests with the wall color, and touch up the window sills, which are black.

Finally, I started putting a finish coat on the ceiling, as seen here. This should work out pretty well. It appears that the ceiling panels will look fine after one repainting, without any filler or other special surface prep.

Last time I mentioned that the Jewett cars were built with cab doors. Here are the door latches on the bulkhead and on the side. Notice on the left that the grab iron would prevent the cab door from opening into the vestibule, as it must have in order for the motorman to get in or out.

Tim Peters was also hard at work today, as usual. He's making great progress on the sliding doors for the 1797.

Rod has rebuilt the switches for the door controls, as seen here. The one on the right has a new nylon sleeve. This seems like a very complicated mechanism for a low-voltage SPST switch, but that's what they had on this car. Later cars had a much simpler system, Tim says.

And Tim himself was busily painting the molding sticks for the windows when I passed through the shop.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

From all of us at the Hicks Car Works blog, we wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Are These?

This pair of trucks arrived on a flatbed today, direct from the North Pole, I suppose. I have no idea what they go to. Each truck has one traction motor geared to an axle, with a chain drive between the axles, as you may be able to see. Identify them correctly and they're yours! (to work on, that is...)

It was a beautiful winter day with frost on the trees and wires. Just right for working inside in a heated room.

So I did some more surface prep and put a final coat of primer on spots that needed it. Next time will be the finish coat on this, the last section of the wall yet to be painted.

And I put some filler on the ceiling part of the bulkhead, sanded and cleaned it, and put on white primer. Most of the ceiling is in very good shape and will only need cleaning and repainting.

And I spent some hours stripping paint in the vestibule. This may give you an idea of what the original Pullman Green paint looks like.

I might point out that the Jewett cars were built with cab doors, like the North Shore cars have. Here we're looking up towards the ceiling over the motorman's position, and you should be able to make out the upper bulkhead sections. I believe these were the only cars delivered with this feature, and the road decided the cab doors were unnecessary and removed them. The latches on the posts are still in place, but I forgot to take a picture of them.

And here's the other side of the ceiling.

Over in Barn 2, Bill Greenhill was working on the Cleveland PCC. He said he was planning to put primer on the entire blind side of the car later today, and if no imperfections were found, it would then be ready for a first finish coat.

Mr. Socks was wandering around. He's lucky -- he gets a new fur coat every year. He's quick and rather camera shy, so this was the best I could do today.

The frost on the trees had evaporated by later in the day.

With regret we note that our old friend Bill Young died last week. He was primarily a member of the Branford Trolley Museum, but was well-known throughout the museum community and traveled around quite often. He came to IRM several times to help with track work and other projects. He will certainly be missed.
The IRM and friends track team in 1978: (L to R) Jim Blower, Bill Young from Branford, Josh Leppman from Baltimore, and Ralph Weege. Photo by Tom Hunter.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Visit to Siberia

Yes, it's been a while since the last update on the 319, but other commitments have been getting in the way. Not to mention the weather. There's only one upper wall section to go, as seen here. I finished the surface prep and applied some polyester filler.

But waiting for it to set up is boring, so let's take a trip to Barn 2 and see what's happening. The red surfaces on the 451 have been sanded down and are ready for another, it appears. Under the plastic sheets, it appears it's all been painted grey, although I can't tell whether that's primer or the finish color. And there was no one around to ask.

And here's the blind side of the Cleveland PCC.

The filler was taking longer to set than I expected, so I gave up on painting for today. I worked some more on installing screws in the ceiling.

And then turned to removing more paint from the vestibule.

Finally, you never know who you might meet at IRM. Here's an unidentified lunatic who had been riding his bicycle across the frozen plains for an hour or two. He claimed to have enjoyed the trip. Feel free to post your get-well-soon messages here.

Yuletide at Union

So I asked myself, where better to spend the last weekend day before Christmas than in the freezing cold and snow out in Union? With the answer obvious, I headed out to IRM on Sunday to get a few final hours of work in before the end of the year. The first thing I found when I arrived was that Santa, in the form of Car Department head Rod Turner, had left me some gifts: three small, oddly-shaped steel plates which will be used to patch holes in the extra-wide window posts at the ends of the 205's car body.They're seen sitting atop the cardboard templates that I had given Rod a couple of weeks ago. In the background is my first project for the day, the #2 end C-6 controller cover for the 319, which I needle-chipped and wire-wheeled so that it can be spray painted red. Following completion of this work I took the steel patches over to the 205 and confirmed that they will indeed fit. The wide window posts near the ends of the 205 saw severe rust damage at the belt rail so these patches will be installed to cover those holes. Below left, the C-6 cover after prepping; below right, one of the patch pieces being test fit. Bondo work will still be needed when the weather warms up but this is a big step forward in readying the 205 for paint.

I was able to install one of the patches with the help of Joel Ahrendt; the other two will have to wait until next time. The shop was fairly active with the full Michigan Electric crew at work and several people working on the new Toledo Edison locomotive as well. The Santa Train was operating and in the evening several of us adjourned to the diner annex for some Yuletide hot chocolate and central heating. We even got a visit from St. Nick himself!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trip Report-Frozen North Edition-National Railroad Museum, Green Bay, Wisconsin

So what kind of person would go to a railroad museum, with many outside displays on a day where the high temperature was 5 degrees? I did! I did it for our loyal readers. Business recently took me to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Having a free few hours in the afternoon, I headed to the National Railroad Museum.

Fortunately for me, the museum has constructed a heated display building, which contained a number of exhibits, including the British Railways Class A4 4-6-2 Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Union Pacific Big Boy, a GG1, and other exhibits. Seeing the A4 was a very neat expierence as Frank and I constantly debate which pre-nationalization British Railway had better looking steam locomotives, the LNER or the Great Western.

The indoor display area also includes a nicely restored 10-1-2 heavyweight Pullman, and a well-done exhibit on Pullman porters.

After viewing the indoor exhibits, I bundled up, and headed outside to view the exhibits in the large open building. I probably made a record fast tour of the building and its exhibits.

If you are in Green Bay, I recommend a trip to NRM. However, I would also suggest you visit at a warmer time of the year.