Sunday, July 29, 2012

More Painting

Frank writes...

My primary focus on Sunday was painting more of the 205 orange.  I removed the side windows from the car and painted the entire side of the car from the belt rail up, the posts and letterboard.  With this done, the entire side of the car is now orange with the exception of the doors.  I also finished painting the retrievers with a first coat of orange and touched up a few spots on the car's ends and doors with primer.  Note that we still don't have the correct OB catchers for the car; we're using OB retrievers, which have the right look but are too large.  Know anywhere we could get a couple of correct-type catchers?
So regular readers of the blog know that there are never any photos of our regularly-operating CA&E wood cars posted on here - with so little coverage you may find yourself in danger of forgetting what they look like!  But the above photo is one I guarantee you haven't seen before.  It's the first time the 308 and 319 have ever been in Barn 9.  They were in operation in the morning but rain threatened and access to Barns 6, 7 and 8 was blocked by the Zephyr, which was undergoing welding work on the tail track.  So we stashed them in with the steam engines until the rain had passed.  I think that the only time any of the CA&E cars was ever in this barn was when the 321 was stored here briefly back when the building was still Barn 8.

There were other things happening too.  Ray Bellock (shown above with microphone) officially dedicated the Bellock Playground, which was designed and built by the Buildings & Grounds Department with funds generously donated by Ray.  And the famous "Santa Fe" sign from downtown Chicago arrived within the past week and was set next to the west wye, where our Warbonnet FP-45 was placed to be displayed alongside the new sign (below).

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tale of 2 railways

Al writes.....

I did get out to IRM on Wed and due to the heat spent time in the woodshop.  I started out the day helping Dave Rogan get some beams and other metal parts for CTS 4223 primed.  These beams will be mounted on the roof and become part of the trolley base assembly.

I also continued to work on the door for the 36, all the parts have now been primed and with Randy's work on the drop sash we will be ready to reassemble the door.  We do  have to get a new metal plates for the lower inside door pockets fabricated.  The interior metal plates on both of the south side doors were rusted through so there are 2 to fabricate.

In spite of the heat the B&G group was doing some landscaping between barns 7 & 8.  I guess I hadn't thought too much about it but visitors continue to make positive comments about how neat and clean the grounds are.  Many thanks to the B&G folks for their continued work on this aspect of the site.

Now to the second railway. Wednesdays are my busy railway days as after heading home and grabing a quick bite I'm off to my local model railroad, the Prairie Scale Model Railroad Club . Wednesdays are their group work night. I won't continue to blog on the work here but I'll give you a brief glimpse of this operation.  It's located in the basement of an apartment building right next to the CA&E right of way in Lombard.  There once was a bowling alley in that space but now is being put to much better use as a model railroad.  Only about 25% of the eventual route is operational but that takes almost 30 minutes to get around. The club is still rather new so there is still a lot of work to be done and the scenery is still rather basic.  I won't turn this into a model railroad blog but just give you an idea of how my Wednesdays are spent.

BTW Adam Robillard (who I think many of you know) lived in this building and didn't realize for several years  there was a model railroad there.

Help Wanted

We need people to sign up for the wood cars this Sunday, July 28th, including an extra trainman.

Also, the cars are scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday of the following week. More crewmen are needed then also. Sunday, August 5th is the Transport Extravaganza. You won't want to miss it!

While we're on the subject of operation, it's interesting to read the 1951 ICC report on CA&E operations; it's posted as part of the Johnson Collection under "Mechanical Dept." I was astounded to notice this:

In the make up of trains at Wheaton it was noted, at the time of inspection, an employee makes the electrical connection between the cars and couples up the air hoses after which the motorman sets the air brakes making a twenty pound reduction and opens his controller a few points to ascertain if he has brakes.

Yikes! Don't ever try this at IRM! Anyhow, the ICC persuaded them to change the procedure and visually inspect the brakes on the rear cars. That is, of course, our standard required procedure.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Side 1 Done

The first finish coat of paint is essentially finished on the first side of car 36, as seen dimly here. Both ends and the other side need to be stripped and painted, of course. We will want to do the final finish coat all at once, after the first layer is complete.

And I've started on end #1. One gets used to the steamy weather after a while. Did you know that IRM is affiliated with the prestigious School of Adversity and offers several advanced programs in overcoming hardships of all sorts? This is training you cannot get online, by the way. If you're interested, Dean Kallas will be glad to send you a brochure!

Here are some step-by-step progress shots on the drop sash for the side door, which I had talked about last time. The plugs are deliberately cut slightly too long, then glued in place with epoxy.

After the glue is set, they are rasped down to nearly flush. I started sanding all the paint off the sash, but ran out of energy.

So let's see what the indefatigable Tim Peters is up to. He's making great progress on the interior of the 1797. I had never really focused on the modifications to the ceiling inside this car. After a heater fire in 1938, it was heavily rebuilt by CRT with a drop ceiling, blocked-off clerestory, a new ventilation pattern, and bulls-eye lighting.

(L) This metal duct serves only as a mounting for the light fixtures.

(R) The framing for the drop ceiling can be seen clearly here, I hope. The original ceiling was removed after the fire, we should think, and this framing was installed. A layer of Masonite will be attached to it.

The space above the new ceiling serves as a ventilation duct. There are ventilators down the middle of the ceiling to admit air into the car, fed through Utility ventilators in the clerestory. The purpose of the oddly shaped crosspiece is a mystery. Exactly why this whole construction was supposed to be an improvement has me stumped, I must say. But Tim generously offered to help install a similar system in the 36, so send in your contributions today. Thanks!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day After Day

I was able to spend two days out at the Museum this week, and a lot of work got done. More painting on the south side of the 36, including the red striping. This side is now about 90% done. In a few weeks, we should be able to turn the car around so we can start stripping the other side once the weather cools down.

Much of the time was spent sanding down and repainting windows in the shop, where it's much more comfortable. I sanded three down to bare wood, and there were already two ready to paint. One needs some new molding strips, so four got painted with a first coat of white primer on both sides. I had to set a couple of them on top of the big pine posts that are being made for interior framing of the Russell plow -- I should have taken a picture of them. But I was careful not to get any fresh paint on the posts. If Bob wants paint on his snow plow parts, he can pay for it himself!

Al, meanwhile, was working on a side door, as seen earlier. The drop sash had a problem: evidently the screws holding the latch pulled out, so somebody drilled through the wood and attached the latch with nuts and bolts. That's kind of bogus. I drilled out the holes to 1/2", and will be filling them with hardwood dowels I got from Tim. That will be a good project to finish at home.

And I looked some more at the 36's compressor. The commutator is badly worn, would need slotting, and is shorted to ground. Ugh. I removed a cover plate for the armature bearing, hoping the shaft would have something I could put a wrench on, but it doesn't. It's not obvious in this picture, but there's a brass expansion ring of some sort that came loose and is dangling inside the bearing case. That's not good, but I couldn't get it out. It appears that this compressor has had a hard life, and probably deserves retirement. So the "Now Hiring" sign is out.

And there were various miscellaneous tasks, not worth photographing. But let's see what others are doing.

On Thursday, Rod fabricated a new resistor box for the potential relay on the 1797. Here we see before and after.

Frank Sirinek has started work towards getting the 63 operational. The electrical system was inspected today, and rumor has it that it looks very good; the contactors are like new. They're hoping to get it operational relatively soon. The body will probably need some body and fender work at some point.

Finally, here's Tim Peters spray painting the ceiling and miscellaneous parts inside the 1797. You'll notice that he's careful to have all the right protective gear and adequate ventilation. (I'm standing right next to a large fan turning the car into a wind tunnel. So we get a free demonstration of Bernoulli's principle!)

Dress For Success

Men! Are you worried about your professional appearance -- afraid it may be holding you back? Are you tired of wearing those stupid polo shirts that make you look like a caddy at a low-rent golf club instead of a railroader? Pay a visit to Henry Vincent at Henry's Fine Clothes For Men, conveniently located on Central Avenue. He has a huge selection of fine suits in dark blue and in several different sizes, available now at rock-bottom prices! In fact, he's literally giving them away! Here's a typical satisfied customer, smiling because of the huge savings. Thanks, Henry!

A DOOR able

Al writes...

I was able to make it out to IRM on both Wed and Thur.  Wednesday was slightly shortened due to evening commitments.  Many of the folks that were out were engaged in inspecting freight cars for use in the freight trains that will be operated in conjunction with diesel days this weekend.

I resumed work on the door from the 36.  On Wednesday I was able to get all the metal parts off the door and most were wire wheeled to get the paint and 100+ years of crud off of them.  I also got most of the paint stripped off the wood.

Thursday was spent finishing up the stripping and sanding down all of the wood.  I was surprised to see that some of the interior (to the door that is) wood had never seen a coat of paint.  I was then able to get both sides of the door painted in red primer.

Randy was busy sanding and priming some of the windows that have been waiting for attention.

Taking a walk around the property I found that the Cleveland RTA PCC, 63, was out in the open with its tarp  having been removed.  This car is significant in that it represents the only "conventional" PCC in the collection.  All  of the others have some nonstandard feature of one sort or another (this includes the other Cleveland PCC which was built by Pullman rather than St. Louis).  Here are a couple of detail photos to illustrate a couple of the unique operational characteristics of the former Shaker Heights system.  

The fare collection is unique in that fares are collected on boarding on the outbound (eastbound) trip, so it is enter at front.  On the reverse trip fares are collected when alighting, hence center entrance boarding on westbound.

The inner part of this operation operates over the rapid transit so the PCCs were equipped with trip stops.  The application looks a little basic but I guess it gets the job done.

 It would be very nice to see this cars restored as Twin Cities Rapid Transit as #352.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The End is Here...

...and it is orange.  I haven't had much time to work on the 205 this summer, between various family activities and time spent in operations at the museum, but I got a few hours to work on the car Sunday and got the entire east end painted orange (below left).  This is just the first coat and was applied using the slightly incorrect shade of orange that we obtained from Sherwin-Williams last year.  It looks pretty good, though the brighter orange of the finish coat will look better.  I also sprayed the west truck of the car with a coat of black; it will need another coat but even a quick paint job is a definite improvement (below right).

I also spent some time showing Charlie Lowe from NYMT around the museum including a tour of the inspection pit courtesy of Joel, who was working on routine inspections of North Shore 714 and 749.  In addition Tim and Frank were working on the 1797 and Jeff Brady was working on the roof of Michigan 28.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Various Visitors

Today (Sunday) was another good day of operation at IRM. The weather was clear, so the wood cars were able to operate. We had a good sized crowd, although nobody had to be turned away, and all of the visitors seemed to have a good time, apart from the inescapable heat.

From right to left, Jeff Obarek was the motorman, Derek White the conductor, and I was a trainman. I'd say we make a pretty good team.

And we had several visitors from far away. The Track Dept. guys were hosting a man who works for Amtrak at Philadelphia. I should have gotten a picture and written down his name but didn't. And here we see Frank with our friend Charlie Lowe from the New York Museum of Transportation at Rush (near Rochester) and two other members.

So as usual, if you weren't there, you missed a lot. Now if you're less than six years old, or know somebody who is, you can make up for it by coming to see Thomas!

We welcome Al Reinschmidt to our hoity-toity list of bloggers. Al is recently retired from a career with the AAR, and has been helping us a great deal recently. But there's a danger here, and I need your help. If we're not careful, we may start seeing articles about buses on this blog. Be on the lookout!

Two Firsts

There are two firsts represented with this post.  It is my first post as a member of the Hicks Car Works reporting team. Secondly I'm reporting on my first day working in the Operating Dept. at IRM.

I was scheduled to serve as Conductor on the CA&E wood car train on Sat.  utilizing the 319 and the 308.  However as I left home I checked the radar and noted a storm line moving NE from the Peoria area heading right for Union.

We don't want the woods out in the rain so got thinking about a plan B.  Sure enough had to stop around Elgin and put the top up on the car on the drive out.  Although the rain was not heavy, it was still wet. Got out to the Museum and met up with my motorman, Henry Vincent. Rod had decided that we would run with the steel car train (409 and 431).  I was pleasantly surprised to see visitors waiting for the gates to the parking lot to be opened in spite of the questionable weather.

The plan for the day was to operate the CA&E cars and a coach train powered by Milw 118-C. After the pre operating inspections we moved over to the station. Our first rip was about 75% full, but low and behold we had to turn passengers away for the second trip, and made that trip in a light rain.

One unexpected pleasure of the day was to watch the smiles on the faces of our passengers.  It really adds something to the job.  I did enjoy giving the car talks as well. A little quirk of the 409 that caused me a little confusion at first is the the trolley hooks are in different positions, the west hook near the center line of the car, the east end rather offset away from the motorman's side. Also noticed the slight difference in floor height between the 2 cars.

Phil from the Mt. Pleasant Iowa group had come out hoping to ride the 319 and look at the glass ceiling light globes. He hoped to have similar ones made for use in their 320.  So we walked him over to barn 8 and went into the 319 to have a look.

As it turned out the CTA El cars were outside so we had a good views of the south side of the 36.  Here you can really see the progress that Randy and I have mad in restoring CA&E colors to the car.

We made a final trip at 4:45 and after waiting for the Diesel  dept. to finishing some switching moves got the train put away at 6:30.  All in all a really great day

Friday, July 13, 2012

Don't Pull So Hard

For anyone serving as a conductor on CA&E cars, either wood or steel: don't yank the buzzer cord so hard! The cord is connected to an electrical switch that turns the buzzers on and off, and pulling it harder doesn't do any good. A gentle pull is all that's needed. Last week we had a cord get pulled out of the hook, and sooner or later something will break. I guess everybody's used to yanking the cords on North Shore cars to ring the gong at the other end of the car, but these cars are different. Thanks!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to Avoid Misfortune

After all the inspection work and operation over the last week or two, it's time for a break. So back to work painting. Al Reinschmidt and I kept going on the 36 with finish blue and grey, and the south side is now about 7/8 done with the first coat.

Here Al is finishing up the lower siding.

I removed the inner metal plate from one of the side doors; it had rusted out at the bottom. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the wooden frame of the door was not rotten at all, and this door will not need any major repairs. This is another one of those cases where wood is stronger than steel. In any event, we'll need to have two new steel plates made for us. And we looked at what Al has been doing to refinish the first side door we took to the shop a couple of weeks ago.

This weekend the 319 and 308 will be operating, unless all the rain dances people have been doing take effect. So I spent some time while Al was painting to uncouple them from the 309, and check the compressors and main journals. And make a repair: the buzzer cord had been pulled out of its hook, so I reattached it. And made sure we had the regulation red flags at each end of the train, as well as a motorman's stool. So we're as ready as can be.

Did I ever tell you I have unique psychic abilities? It's true! As I gaze into the future, I can see clearly that this would be a good weekend for you to visit IRM and bring as many friends as you have. You won't be disappointed. On the other hand, you could of course ignore my advice and stay home. In which case, you will probably fall down the stairs or meet with some other karmic misfortune. Don't say the Swami didn't warn you!