Friday, October 28, 2011

Seats for North Shore Car (updated)

IRM has just been given the opportunity to acquire a complete set of walkover seats for a North Shore car at a very reasonable price. This is an exciting offer that probably will never happen again.

The seats were installed in a wooden steam road combine at the Mid-Continent Railroad Museum many years ago, so they have been protected from the weather and are in excellent condition. They look nice, but of course are not quite the right size or style for this car. So Mid-Continent has decided to have new seats fabricated to the correct design, and the North Shore seats have been offered to us. The price is $2500 for a set of 23, far less than we would have to spend to make new ones. And then there will be some expense for transportation to Union.

We can use some of these seats now to replace damaged upholstery in the 160 and 714, and the rest will help with 251 and 253, which we may want to restore at some point in the future.

Of course, you can help. Your donations now will help make this possible. If you're a North Shore fan, or have ever ridden a North Shore car, please give generously. We'll be paying for this out of the restricted fund for car #763, so please mark any donations for R763. Thanks!!!

Update: We now estimate the transportation cost at $200, for a rental truck one-way. The move will be taking place on Saturday, Nov. 19th, so we would like to have any donations by then. Thanks!

Update: John Horachek has informed me that these seats came from car 165, in about August of 1963. At that time he was in charge of coordinating the various museums in acquiring cars and parts, and directed the Mid-Continent guys to the 165. Since there was no scrap value in the seats or frames, they were given away for free. And he points out that we could have bought a lot more stuff with our $2500 back in 1963!

There Goes the Neighborhood

I found this rather disreputable-looking freight car sitting amongst our nice shiny CA&E fleet yesterday. Are there no zoning laws?

Actually, the M-37 is quite historic and is getting a new roof, which is very good. It's the only surviving example of the earliest form of intermodal transportation. The doors on each end swing open, and two containers could be rolled inside. We have one of these containers also. So preserving this car is important.

The roof is being covered with a rubber membrane. This should do a good job of protecting the car while it sits outside. It will of course need to be stretched, but once it's in place, it should last well. I don't think we have much experience with this type of covering, so I'll try to learn what I can and perhaps add it to the roof FAQ page.

This is, of course, just a temporary fix. The only permanent solution is to build a new barn. So any contributions towards indoor storage space for our equipment will be most welcome!

The whole day was spent painting the interior walls, as seen here. I started putting the first finish coat on the end bulkhead, door, and toilet compartment. It looks good, if I may say so myself. When the paint is fresh, you can see reflections in it.

I also removed two buzzer cord hangers and took them to the shop to be wire-wheeled down to bare brass.

They were then put back in place and painted with white primer.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Frightfully Good Time

A frightfully good time was had by all on Saturday, I think. I continued to slowly repaint the main compartment in the 319.

And as always, there were many ongoing projects in every department. I can only show a couple of them.

As I happened by, Mike Stauber and Dan Fenlaciki were installing the new people catcher under the west end of the 141, supervised of course by Frank Sirinek. This is one of the many underbody components that had to be re-engineered from scratch as the car is restored. The lighting made it nearly impossible to get a good picture, though. So see it for yourself.

And Bob Kutella has been lettering the newly repainted hopper. As you can see, it now reads "GREAT NO." Bob has decided that a few abbreviations will save a lot of work.

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day, with just the right sort of weather to bring people out for....

Terror on the Railroad!

I was a trainman on the Screamliner, so was unable to take pictures during the event, and in any case we're forbidden to take pictures of the actors. So here are some shots I took during the day.

The Screamliner sits on station 2, where incoming passengers board the RDC.

After a thorough ride of screams and fright, people make their way over to the Train of Terror, a motley collection of stationary equipment on the west wye. This includes a boxcar sitting on the lead to Yard 1, accessed by a wooden passageway.

I guess I could take a picture of this: Phil had the Birmingham's kitchen set up with coffee, hot chocolate, and assorted snacks for the operating crews and actors. It makes it much easier to get through the night. Thanks, Phil!

I don't know the exact totals, but we had lots of visitors and were running the train until 12:40 the next morning. What a scream!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Meanwhile in St. Louis...

David Wilkins Writes....

I spent Saturday at the Museum of Transportation helping with the ongoing restoration of St. Louis Public Service PCC Streetcar #1743. This car is a 1946 product of the St. Louis Car Company, and in 1958 was sold to MUNI in San Francisco. It lasted in service there until the early 1980s, when it was loaned to the group operating East Troy at the time. Later, it came to MOT, where it was on display, until a restoration began. The car has been an on again, off again project for a number of years, but has picked up full steam in the past 2 years.

Right now, we are at the point where we are reassembling the car's interior after it was stripped out. Work on the exterior is mainly complete, with work focusing on the front, including the distinctive "brow" sunshade that distinguished the SLPS cars.
Here we see one of the window guards that we've test fitted to the car. MUNI removed these, and we've reworked a set we took from a scrapped SLPS 1600 series car.
Of note, the former SLPS cars that were stored in St. Charles County have been scrapped. The developer that bought them went into bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy estate scrapped them. Before the cars were cut up, we were able to get a lot of spare parts, including this, the line switch cover, which was missing from our car. As you can see, when the car was in SLPS service, it had the car number painted on it, which survived through all the years at MUNI into today.

Also, I noticed we have a new graffiti removal product in the shop. I wouldn't use it though, after all isn't SoyGreen made from people?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Pain in the Neck

Today's news: more work on the ceiling in the 319. It's really a pain in the neck, but somebody's got to do it.

There was sanding and filling, then I started painting the next ceiling section with primer until I ran out of paint. (L) So I went back and started at the bulkhead, painting the ceiling with a first coat of the finish color (R), until I ran out of time. There's lots more to do, and I'm not sure how to go about making it look different each time. But hey, you can go ahead and clap. There's nothing wrong with it.

In other news, thanks to B&G, we have a nice new people door at the SW corner of Barn 8. That's a welcome improvement.

And our friend Ted Miles in California has donated an excellent IT antimacassar. Thanks, Ted! A lot of people scoff at the macassar threat, but here at Hicks Car Works, we take it seriously. Every little antimacassar helps!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dave's Depots - St. Louis Soutwestern Railway - Tyler, Texas

This week found me back on the road for work for the first time in about seven weeks. It's been a comparatively light travel year for me, as I've "only" boarded an American Airlines jet 61 times since January 1, 2011. I still need four more flights to keep my Platinum status with the airline.

Work recently took me to Tyler, Texas, the county seat of Smith County. The town is located at the crossing of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway's (also known as the Cotton Belt) mainline and a line of the Missouri Pacific Subsidiary International Great Northern Railroad. The depot is an attractive structure, constructed out of brick, with a tile roof. A local model train museum is located in the freight house portion of the depot. The main portion of the building houses the offices of the local transit authority.

Hanging on the depot wall was the original Arrival and Departure board. The Cotton Belt wasn't really known for its passenger service. Everywhere it went, the Missouri Pacific went, usually faster and with better equipment. The Cotton Belt went freight only through Tyler in 1956 and ran its last passenger train in 1959.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Randy

I'm sure you all join me in wishing a happy birthday to Hicks Car Works Head Blogger and 37-year IRM veteran Randy Hicks! He's seen here not long after starting as a volunteer at the museum, which I believe - subtracting his IRM tenure from his age - would have been when he was about two years old.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Southern Railway in Steam

On Saturday we went down to Monticello to see Southern 401 in steam and ride behind it. Here are some pictures from the visit.

And I wasn't the only IRM member who had this idea. I happened to run into Dan and Chris Buck and Dave Fullarton there.

Another barn has been constructed; the track gang was working on the leads while we were there.

And there's also this nice new section house.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Update

On Thursday there was more progress on the interior of the 319, with sanding, filling, and painting, including parts of the ceiling. Progress is seen here. Nothing too different.

Some of the other projects that were going on may be more interesting. Since all of the windows are out of the 1797, it's easy to see the interior details from the sidewalk.

Tim has been making good progress on the roof, as seen here.

And I helped Tim and Frank a little with moving a heavy piece of canvas that will be installed on the car soon. Here Tim is seen hosing it down to make sure it's thoroughly soaked.

Mike Alterio has been helping Frank Sirinek on the West Towns car for a long time. Here he is marking out a piece for the catcher mechanism under the end platform. Because this car was a body, all of these mechanical parts had to be re-engineered from scratch.

And the GN hopper has been moved into Barn 4 temporarily. As promised, it's now red all over.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicago History Museum

I had a couple of hours to spare downtown, so I went to the Chicago History Museum (formerly the Chicago Historical Society) at Clark and North. It contains all sorts of Chicago-related material, and there are many different sorts of displays celebrating Chicago's proud history of crime, vice, corruption, violence, bigotry, exploitation, and things like that. But my main interest, of course, was in the railroad equipment.

There are just two pieces of equipment in the collection, but they're both uniquely historic. It's fortunate that they're now safely housed in a climate-controlled environment, and should last forever. The lighting, as you will notice, is dim. So you had to be there.

The Pioneer is the first locomotive to operate in Chicago, on the Chicago and Galena Union, by far the oldest surviving Baldwin engine, and the only one built during Matthias Baldwin's lifetime. It was also perhaps the first locomotive selected for historic preservation. It's been modified over the years, and ran under steam occasionally until 1948, so some modifications have been made. But the basic design is unchanged.

To the left, perhaps you can make out some of the drop-hook valve gear, which uses double eccentrics, mounted outside the main rods.

This is a view of the truck, with the bottom of the cylinder; you can see the two cylinder cocks with the control rods. The frame is on either side of the boiler, attached with heavy angle brackets. You have to see it to believe it.

The cab is open for visitors, with signs explaining some of the controls. Several parts are missing, but they were probably replacements anyway. For the 1948 Railroad Fair the C&NW built a replica four-wheel tender, and it was displayed at the Villa Park CA&E station for many years, but it has disappeared.

John H. White wrote a small book about the history of this locomotive, which they used to sell at the museum but it's no longer available. I'll dig it out and update some of the history. It's a fascinating story.

And then there is South Side Rapid Transit car #1, the first rapid transit car in Chicago. It was built by Jackson & Sharp in 1892 as a trailer to be pulled by steam; it was electrified in 1897 with the new Sprague MU system, and that's the period to which it has been restored.

The car is open to the public, but carefully arranged to avoid wear and tear. The car was preserved by the CTA until about five years ago, then given to the CHM for public display.

Some plexiglass boxes were cleverly designed to keep people from sitting on the cross seats.

The motorman's cab.

The chain-driven reverser is mounted under the longitudinal seats, which have been removed here so you can see the mechanism.

The compressor. The car seems to have retained all of its electrical equipment.

The motor truck. It's completely dark under the car, and I couldn't see what I was about to take a flash picture of, so I'm not even sure what the equipment mounted just over the truss rod might be. Help?

Update: My old friend Tom Hunter sends along this picture (slightly cropped) of the South Side car when it was in storage at Wrightwood. It's in much nicer quarters now!