Saturday, December 31, 2011

Forward In Reverser

With a few hours' work, we were able to complete most of the work required on the reverser for car 36. Rod Turner supplied some special putty for building up the broken part of the insulator board, and fixed and reassembled it. It looks good and should be strong enough to stand up to the forces imposed by the fingers as the frame rocks back and forth.

I sand-blasted all of the surface rust and crud off the rocker frame itself, as seen here. It was probably always bare metal, but we decided it couldn't hurt to paint it with Glyptal, an insulating varnish. I also scraped all of the old Glyptal off the transite boards and repainted them, as seen here.

And I polished up all of the brass fingers. With a couple of trips out to the car, I managed to free up a frozen rocker arm, so all the moving parts now move freely. Here the kit is laid out on the table.

Finally, the rocker assembly was put back together, and looks like this. Notice that the spray version of Glyptal has a different color than the brush version. But it's ready to go back on the car.

I hadn't been out to Barn 2 for quite a while. Repainting of the 451 is nearly complete, except for one end, and it looks great!

These pictures are the best I could do with the ambient lighting. Note that this is the original 1945 paint scheme, so the grey color is different from the other red cars, more like the grey on the blue cars. It will be an interesting contrast. And Jon Fenlaciki is still working relentlessly on the windows.

And here is Jim West, needle-chipping the CGW combine, als0 in Barn 2. What a huge job!

So in conclusion, we wish everybody a safe, prosperous, and happy New Year! Stay well, and don't do anything I would do!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Time Is Running Out

Time is running out to do everything you needed to do this year, such as make contributions that can be deducted on this year's taxes. And think of some New Year's resolutions that might actually be achievable.

My resolution for next year is to get the 36 running, in between putting the other three cars in service. I finished disassembling the moving parts of the reverser, more or less, and took them to the shop. Here they are, laid out on the bench:

The square frame is the rocker arm, with its two bearings. In front is one of the insulated contact boards, which was removed at Cleveland because it had a piece broken off at one corner. And then there's a pile of the contact fingers.

With Tim's help, I mixed some epoxy and glued the piece back together; the break was at the upper left corner. It was left to set up on the table.

The metal parts all need to be cleaned, and the contact boards need to be repainted with Glyptal. Then it can probably be re-assembled.

After that, I started sanding down the side of the car. I did all of the lower siding, and started on the letterboard and upper siding.

(R) For this job, you need to protect ears, eyes, and nose. And keep your mouth shut. The Museum has a nice big sander for me to use. It's heavy, but this sure beats the way the CA&E did it. Bob Bruneau told about how he would visit Wheaton, and during the summer they would hire high school kids to sand down the cars by hand. There would be several guys standing on a scaffold just pushing sanding blocks up and down all day. Ugggh!

Monday, December 26, 2011

World's Greatest Hobby

OK, folks, now that Christmas is over and you've taken most of your presents back to the store to trade them in for what you really wanted, it's time to start thinking about the next exciting IRM event: the World's Greatest Hobby Show is coming to Schaumburg, and our Museum will be one of the exhibitors there. The dates are January 14 and 15, and we need people to man the booth on both days. Ed Rosengren is in charge, and you can contact him to sign up. I'm planning to be there. The show is sold out to exhibitors, so we were lucky to get a complimentary booth. It's a good thing I happen to know someone who works for WGH. And by mere chance, we'll be at booth 309. I just hope I can remember that number....

We did this four years ago, the last time WGH was in the Chicago area, and had a lot of fun, as you can see here. That was so long ago, it's before this blog started. Mark your calenders now, you won't want to miss this exciting show!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Greetings

This report will cover two days this week, Wednesday and Thursday, since I'm on break for a couple of weeks. First, let's look at some of the other things that were going on.

On Wednesday, the Kershaw ballast regulator was loaded onto a flatbed by a rented crane, as seen here. Nick Kallas supervises the rigging to lift the machine; at right it's suspended a couple of feet over the trailer before being let down.

Sorry, don't know where it was going or why.

As I was making a list of things to do, I realized that the steps and pilot for the #1 end of car 36, as well as its trolley bases, were still sitting outside on a pallet. That's not good. So I got some of the Wednesday guys to help move these parts to a container, where we have spare traction motors and seat frames. Here Gerry Dettloff lifts it with the skidder; John Faulhaber and Pete Galayda (not shown) helped with unloading it into the container. Thanks, guys!

Gerry also showed me the work they're doing on the interurban freight trailer 810. New truss rods have been fabricated and are being installed. Here's a view of part of one, now mounted and tightened, with a queen post.

On the other side the rods need to be bent so the turnbuckle can be installed. I thought this was quite impressive.

Over the course of two days I was able to finish stripping the letterboard and upper siding on the south side of the 36. The next step will be to sand it all down; I also need to do all of the window openings. For this step, wooden blanks are required. It's a lot of work, but I'm hoping to get it ready for painting one side in the spring.

I also started disassembling the reverser. The rocker arm is frozen, but I should be able to remove it so it can be cleaned and lubricated in the shop. We have at least one spare DB-20 on hand, and I had thought about replacing the whole mechanism, but it now appears I'd have to disassemble the original item first, so I'll just fix it. Everything appears to test out electrically. The reverser is the first part of the control system to be energized, in effect, so it needs to be working before the rest of the system can be tested.

On behalf of Rod Turner and the entire crew of the Car Dept., we wish everybody a joyous holiday season, and a safe and productive New Year! Remember we have a heated shop open year-round, so we can always find something for you to do!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

L Cars for Sale! L Cars for Sale!

In what has to be a first for this blog and for IRM, our resident artist Zach Ehlers created this image of the infamous "Nick's Used L Car Lot" taken from the equally infamous 1970s silent film that makes the rounds at IRM on occasion. Zach has his own blog, which can be found here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ask Xerxes

It’s not widely known, but besides this blog, I also have a syndicated advice column that runs in hundreds of local papers across the country. My nom de plume is “Xerxes” and people write to me with their problems. People have problems with their relationships, with their careers, with their finances, with their physics homework: whatever it is, I can help them. Or at least baffle them.

So if your local paper does not carry “Ask Xerxes” please write and ask them to get with the program. Thanks. Here’s a sample from recent columns:

Dear Xerxes:

I have a problem: my tax adviser recommended that I make some charitable contributions before the end of the calendar year to reduce my tax burden, but I’m not sure what non-profit agencies would make the best use of my money. I’ve read that some of the best-known non-profits have huge overhead expenses, such as officers who make up to half a million a year. Where is there an organization that would use 100% of my donation for the stated purpose? (signed) Wondering in Woodstock

Dear Wondering:

I’m glad you asked that question! As it happens, I know of one quite close to you there in McHenry County. The Illinois Railway Museum is run by volunteers, so the Board of Directors and other officers serve on a volunteer basis. And I happen to know all of them, and can tell you they are as honest as the day is long. 100% of your contribution to a designated fund will be applied to the intended purpose. And your name will appear in genuine print in the nationally-distributed newsletter. What more could you ask?

Dear Xerxes:

I have a problem: my wife says I’m lazy and useless. She says I just lie around all day watching TV and drinking beer. She says I need to exercise more, but I just hate that stupid treadmill and things like that. She says I need to find something to do, or I’ll have to live in the garage. She says I’d better do it soon, or else. What would you suggest? Nagged in Niles

Dear Nagged:

That’s another good question. Obviously, you need a hobby. I've talked to experts, and they all recommend a hobby that combines healthy exercise, learning new skills, working with people, and doing something that benefits the community. If there's a volunteer-based railroad museum near you, they probably have just the program you need!

Dear Xerxes:

I have a problem: a block of mass M is placed at the top of a frictionless hemisphere of radius R and given a slight impulse. At what height above the ground does it leave the surface of the hemisphere? Stumped in Steubenville

Dear Stumped:

First, I hope you understand the basic principles involved. Obviously, the mass will pick up speed as it slides down the surface. Its speed at any height can be found using the conservation of energy, since we’re assuming friction is negligible, and non-conservative forces do no work. So the kinetic energy is equal to the change in gravitational potential energy. The block will remain in contact with the surface as long as the normal component of the gravitational force is greater than or equal to the radial force needed to keep the block moving in a circle of radius R, which is just Mv^2/R. I’m not going to solve the problem for you, but the answer is a simple fraction of the radius, independent of the mass.

Dear Xerxes:

I have a problem: I have more money than I know what to do with. I need to find something useful to do with all this wealth I have lying around. What would you suggest? Midas in Midlothian

Dear Midas:

By now, the answer should be obvious. IRM has many worthwhile projects that need serious financial support. Just off the top of my head, there’s the Land Acquisition Fund, the Carbarn Fund, the Infrastructure fund, the Mortgage Fund, the various departments…. the list goes on and on. You could do a great deal of good!

Dear Xerxes:

I have a problem: I just can’t figure out who to support for President in the upcoming election. There are so many issues, and it’s all so complicated! Baffled in Berwyn

Dear Baffled:

And you’re asking me? What, are you crazy?!?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yule Like This

Phil Stepek helped me unload the items I had picked up last Saturday, and stored them so the Steam Dept. can pick them up this Saturday, when I won't be out. Thanks, Phil!

After that, most of the day was spent stripping paint from car 36. This picture gives a view of most of what was accomplished. It just takes a while.

The kingpin at the #2 end has never seated properly, and was sticking up as seen here. This is a serious accident hazard, since the lights are usually not on in the car. The car has been moved several times, and I kept hoping it would drop in, as they usually do, but no. So I got a large hammer and finally got it loose and removed it. The bottom end is slightly bent, somehow, so I'm hoping my buddies in the Steam Dept. will be able to straighten it out. That shouldn't be very hard. The kingpin is 2" in diameter, almost 3' long, and weighs a lot.

It was too damp to paint in the 319, but I cleaned off another cord hanger and did some more surface prep on the ceiling.

I also discussed some of the electrical wiring on the Charles City locomotive with John Nelligan and Rod. There appears to be no provision for access to the contactors and reverser under the hood, other than by squeezing yourself into a very tight space, where there's no room to move your arms. What an awful design. Simple things like sequencing the contactors and replacing tips are next to impossible. So we're trying to decide on a solution.

But today was also the holiday party for the Wednesday crew! This year's was bigger and better than ever. And a large number of people showed up to eat.

Here we make good use of the big bandsaw as a picnic table.

Everybody went away happy, I think, and probably heavier than before. It's that time of year!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Early Christmas Present

We have just received a donation of several valuable items from an anonymous donor. First of all, we have the headlight, builder's plate, and number plate from a steam locomotive at Sterling; I believe this was one of the GTW 0-8-0's, although the people I was working with didn't know the details. Here's a quick snapshot of them in my trunk, where they'll stay until I can unload them at the Museum.

And there is this nice Pullman ladder, used for access to upper berths in a sleeping car. And also about two tons of old Trains magazines, which are destined for our bookstore.

On behalf of the Museum, we greatly appreciate this generous donation. Our thanks to the donor, and to those who helped get this material to IRM. If you have similar items you no longer need, or know someone who does, the Museum will be glad to make arrangements to pick them up for preservation.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winter Work

IRM has never allowed the cold weather to stop progress - work continues throughout the winter unless the roads are completely impassable. I had Thursday free, so this is what happened.

The space heater was able to get the 319 up to a workable temperature, so most of the time was spent sanding, filling, and then painting the ceiling with white primer. I also painted some other sections with a first finish coat. I have almost got one half of the main compartment covered with a first finish coat; the final prep and second finish can be done relatively quickly in the spring.

And a good alternate project is stripping paint from car 36, mostly the window sill molding strips and window posts, as seen here. At least in the center aisle I can turn on the lights.

And lots of other things have been going on. The Schroeder Store has been rebuilt by contractors; the front framing has been replaced, and the window openings boarded up to protect the building's interior.

The diner is nicely decorated for the holidays.

In the truck shop, this is the current state of the 972 truck kit. I think maybe the guys had to run to the hobby shop for another 2oz. bottle of Floquil.

And as surely as the sun rises in the east, Tim Peters will be working on Chicago wood L car 1797. Here he is making window molding strips, helped by new member Frank Kehoe. Our shop facilities are heated and available for use year-round. You can come out any time and find something useful to do!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

319 Report

Work is continuing on the 319, although I haven't managed to take any pictures recently, for various reasons. But any pictures of the progress would be pretty much the same as the ones I've already posted. I'm now about half-way along in repainting the main compartment. And when it's too cold to paint, I can continue on stripping the exterior of car 36.

In other news, the Happy Holidays operation was in full swing on Saturday, despite the rainy weather. Ticket sales have been going very well. Thanks to all those who have organized and are helping with this attraction!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time to be Cool

These people are just so cool. Back when I was in college, dorky guys like me were filled with despair because we knew we could never be quite like this hipster here. It was awful. But I guess I got over it. (Photo from the IC 1380 by Frank Hicks)

Note: Hicks Car Works does not actually endorse trying to be 1970s-style cool by smoking Lark cigarettes or by any other means.