Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Payoff

The payoff for all the work we have to go through to restore the Museum's historic equipment is when we get to operate it for the public. After all my whining about inspecting the 308, it worked well and was enjoyed by a good crowd of visitors today. For technical reasons, there was no operation on the streetcar loop, but the mainline trains kept our visitors entertained.

Randy Allegrezza was my conductor, and Tom Disch was doing his line training. Sorry, I didn't get the usual crew pictures.

The Bellock Playground is not quite complete, but is accessible to the public and was being used a lot today. Ray Bellock deserves the credit for making this improvement possible.

The person who really got a big payoff today was Tim Peters. After several years of incredible effort on his part, the 1797 ran under its own power today for the first time in 55 years or so.

As I was leaving, the car was being taken out on the mainline for more test trips. But everything seemed to be going very well.

This will be another great addition to our operating fleet. Look for it at the Trolley Pageant on July 7th!

I also happened to talk to Jeff Calendine. Word must have gotten around, because even more people have signed up for this year's Steam Dept. Benefit than last year. It's tomorrow, and my wife and I will again be there (or be square...). I really don't know if it's too late to sign up, but you can try! We can heartily recommend it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Postcard from the Pit

Having a dreadful time -- wish you were here!

I astutely managed to schedule inspection of the 308 on the hottest possible day. Fortunately, I wasn't alone: Al Reinschmidt and Frank were there too, and with three people the work went quickly. And it really wasn't quite as bad as I had feared. We could at least retreat to the air-conditioned shop once in a while, and we were careful to drink plenty of fluids.

Typical activities in the inspection pit:
(L) checking that the axle cap bolts are tight; (R) inspecting a traction motor for brush holders, commutator, etc. It's enough to make you lose your head!

(Two photos by Al R.)

Most of the visitors were smarter than we, they stayed away. In the afternoon we had two cars in the parking lot. By the end of the day I was pretty exhausted, I must admit. "I am counted with them that go down into the pit, I am as a man that hath no strength."

Be that as it may, we kept at it. Here Frank is sanding down the bottom edge of a side door; it had been rubbing on the floor ever since I rebuilt the end of the car.

And here Al and Frank pretend to enjoy adjusting the brakes.

The good news is that no major problems were found; there are a few minor issues we'll have to address later.

After inspection and lubrication were finished, we switched the cars around. The 319 and 308 will be in revenue service for the next few weeks, and we will have all three cars operating for the Pageant on July 7th. You won't want to miss it!

By the way, we still need people to sign up for this weekend. On Saturday, we need another trainman, and on Sunday, a conductor. Let Jim know if you can help. Thanks!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Walk This Way

We now have this nice new sidewalk leading all the way from the annex to the grade crossing at Barn 9 North. So just follow me, and look both ways before crossing Depot St.

I continued to work on completing the second coat of primer on the 36, which included sanding, filling, and installing the metal brackets. The job wasn't quite completed, due to the heat, but I'm getting close.

My old friend Randy Anderson was visiting, and we got to talk to him for a while. And here's the door from the 36, which Al has started stripping.

And Ed Oslowski is making good progress on the interior of the baggage compartment in the 277. We talked about the window trim sticks and other details.

On Thursday, Frank and Al and I will be inspecting the 308. Once that's done, I may put it into regular service with the 319, to provide some variety and equalize wear and tear. We should have all three cars in the Pageant on July 7th. Watch for it!

Frank adds...

I was able to stop at the museum briefly on Sunday and caught a photo of my father putting primer on the 36 (right).  I also happened to be walking through Barn 3 where I was flagged down by Jerry Boguse, who had just gotten water running in the Galt House, our L&N heavyweight diner, for the first time in many years (below).  A good deal of new piping and other equipment was installed to make this system work.  There's more work to be done before the Galt House is back in service, but this is a big step forward.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fun For Everyone!

Today IRM unveiled its newest attraction, this billboard advertising the long-gone Riverview amusement park at Western and Belmont. Dave Diamond sent me this picture, and mentions that the billboard was the handiwork of Dan Marquardt, who generously had the original sign converted to an electronic format which we were able to reproduce. And of course you could ride the CSL right to the front gate. What a wonderful place that was!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

36 Report

Back home again in Barn 8, it was a good day for more painting. Al Reinschmidt was working with me again, and we now have about half of one side of the 36 painted with the first finish coat, both blue and grey. One finish coat is all I'll do until we can get the car where I can pull it outside easily for better lighting. Meanwhile, it's going well. The tack molding at the top of the letterboard is painted with gloss black also. So we take turns with the various colors.

Al had started stripping paint from one of the side doors, as you can see here, but it's more convenient to remove the door and take it to the shop for stripping and repainting.

All parts of the door, both inside and out, will be painted blue. And it looks like this metal plate is rusted out at the bottom, so we will probably need a replacement made. Al started the process by removing the various metal parts.

The original door hardware is an interesting design. The interior door handles fold down due to the tight clearances in the narrow vestibules. This feature is unique to the 36, at least among preserved CA&E cars, I believe.

And while I had the gloss black out, I painted the cutout valves for the brake and control pipe hoses on the 319. Somebody at Brookins, perhaps Gerry himself, had decided it was a good idea to paint all these valves with safety yellow, but it's not authentic, not necessary, and I thought it an eyesore. So a while back I cleaned them up as best I could and painted them with primer. They should probably be just bare metal, but that's hard to achieve without disassembling everything. So black is the next best choice, and they probably won't be glossy very long!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Visit to National NYC Museum

I recently had a chance to visit the National NYC Museum in Elkhart, Ind. Located downtown, across the tracks from the (NYC) depot, the museum has a moderately-sized collection of non-operating equipment, plus a large display area inside the old freight house.

The prime attraction is the NYC Mohawk #3001. This locomotive was sold to the T&P where it was modified, and then donated to the city of Dallas for display. Elkhart later traded a GG-1 for it.
New elephant ears are being fabricated to replace the long-gone originals, and one has been recently installed. There's a thread currently in progress on RyPN about this engine.

The cab is accessible and still has most of the appliances.

This auxiliary tender was part of the Freedom Train.

And there's another GG-1 on display. (In practice, this is partly a Penn Central museum!)

And there are several freight cars, work equipment, and passenger cars on display. Several waycars are set up and open to the public, as well as this obs car, set up as a dining car. I have lots more pictures if anyone's really interested.

Finally, they also have a South Shore car, #15. The interior is much better looking than the exterior.

And a 2' gauge park train of some sort, which wasn't running.

The freight house has several large display areas of various types, all well arranged.

And a large toy train layout, which runs only NYC equipment.

Here we have a 1" scale live steam Mohawk.

And an even bigger K4, made from 400,000 toothpicks. I kid you not. You have to see it to believe it.

And I thought this was interesting: a section of strap rail.

If you're in the Elkhart area, this museum is certainly worth a visit.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Early American Blues

Today is Flag Day, and what could be a more auspicious time to start on the "red, white, and blue" (or "Early American") paint scheme?

First, I sanded down and applied some second primer along the window sections of the 36. And I drove out to check on the 321 and look for parts. I also went to the container and inspected it. And I had to examine every gallon of paint in the car shop, but I finally found the Early American Blue we last used on the 308.
So the 36 is starting to look good! Eventually, I will have to be able to pull the car outside so I can actually see what I'm doing, but for a first coat this is probably OK.

We seemed to have a fairly steady number of visitors through Barn 8, even though it's the farthest from the depot, and both the 415 and 3142 were running, so I hope attendance is doing well. Be sure to tell your friends that if they're taking a "staycation" IRM is the place to visit!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trip Report - Back to Branford

 Frank writes...

Work had me in Connecticut last week, and I was able to take a few hours on a Thursday afternoon to stop at the Branford Electric Railway (aka Shore Line Trolley Museum) in East Haven, CT.  The last time I was there was two years ago, when a few IRM members traveled to Connecticut to swap trucks between CA&E 36 and CA&E 303, which is located up the Connecticut River a ways at Warehouse Point.  Branford has had an eventful couple of years, most notably suffering severe storm damage from Hurricane Irene in August of last year.  The museum sits on low ground near the ocean, and the storm surge flooded the entire property, rendering every piece in the collection inoperable save three streetcars that had been moved to higher ground.  Undaunted, though, the museum's volunteers have been working on getting the collection running again.

When I arrived at Sprague Station, two of the three cars that "got away" from the hurricane - New Orleans 850 and Johnstown 357 - were sitting in front of the station.  In all, 12 pieces of equipment have been returned to operation, giving the museum 15 operating cars at this time.  Inside the Sprague building, which wasn't flooded, is a very nice museum area with multiple interesting displays.  One on current collection is shown at above right.

Over at the museum property there were signs of progress being made even on a quiet Thursday afternoon.  Above left, one of Branford's members has built a shelter over an unusual electric box cab locomotive and was doing steel work on the locomotive.  Above right, a trolley bus from Philadelphia peeks out of one of the car barns.  Branford is working on becoming the third museum in the country to have an operating trolley bus line and it looked like most of the overhead hardware was already in place, just waiting for wire to be strung.
Jeff Hakner, who helped us with the motor swap two years ago, was able to meet up with me and show me around the shop.  There were a few cars in for repairs including a Montreal lightweight car that was having its motors dried out after being flooded during the hurricane.  Jeff designed two hot air blowers (seen above) to accomplish this; an industrial fan blows air past electric heating coils located in the section of tubing and into the motor casing while a heat-activated limit switch turns the whole thing off if the fan fails and it gets too hot.  Two of these have been built and it takes two weeks to dry out a motor, meaning one car per month can be done.  While motors dried out in this fashion are not "as good as new," this does seem to work to make the cars operational.  If you're interested in donating to help Branford's recovery click here.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Frank writes...

There was nobody signed up to run the wood cars on Sunday, so I agreed to run them.  My conductor was Keith Letsche.  It was a hot day, with temperatures forecast for 90 degrees, though with low humidity and a breeze it wasn't unpleasant.  The crowd, though, was quite small, and after our first trip we closed the 319 and carried all of our passengers in the 309 for the rest of the day.  A good time was had by all, though, with a steam train and a diesel coach train (complete with RPO doing photo run-by mail catches in front of the depot) operating.

It was the last day for 4-4-0 #63, the Leviathan, to operate at IRM this year.  It's always great to see steam in operation at the museum and the Leviathan is a beautiful engine that's quite popular with visitors.  I took the above photo to harken back to this shot, which I took nearly eight years ago - I certainly wouldn't have predicted then that I'd have the opportunity to catch either a 4-4-0 or the 319 at this location within a decade!  I got the below photo on its last trip of the day, by which time we were already bringing the CA&E woods back to the barn.
 In other news, there's been more progress on the Bellock Playground, as seen below left.  And until they left town midway through the afternoon, there were a couple of modern UP diesels parked on the west leg of the wye including a "gen set" with a face only a mother could love and a big six-axle locomotive painted up for breast cancer awareness.

And finally, it was the 70th birthday of IRM's Executive Director and resident wheeler-dealer, Nick Kallas!  Festivities included watermelon and chocolate cake in the office.  If you don't know Nick's story, click here for archival footage detailing his meteoric rise from humble beginnings as a Forest Park paperboy to Executive Director of the nation's largest railway museum.