Saturday, September 29, 2012

36 Report

 Just like Wheaton!  Well, more or less....

Anyhow, today was pretty much more of the same.  Of course, the Museum was open for revenue operations with the 714 and 749, the coach train, and the 3142.  Back in Barn 8, I sanded down and applied filler as needed at the #1 end, then gave it a second coat of brown primer.  Next time I can can paint it blue, and that end will be done until we're ready for the final coat.  And I spent a lot of time stripping paint and sanding down the various surfaces at the #2 end.  There are plenty of nooks and crannies.

Norm Krentel and I took some time to take an inventory of various electrical control system parts we have in storage, which was interesting.  And I had a chance to check the tarp on the 321.  Are you bored yet?  Keep reading!

Now that the Zephyr excursion is part of IRM's proud history, everybody's getting excited about the swiftly-approaching Reign of Terror!  Or maybe that's Train of Terror, I can't remember.  In any case, you'll have a frightfully good time -- if you show up.  If you don't, we'll all know you're a sniveling, lily-livered, yellow-bellied coward.  And you don't want that, do you?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chicago to Galesburg

Chuck Amstein sent us some photos of his trip from Chicago to Galesburg and back.... in 1962!  He writes:

I took #35, the Kansas City Zephyr, outbound and #12 (guess who) back.  There's a 50% chance I rode in the same car (Juno) 50 years apart (didn't record the car name then).  Unfortunately, no photos of the NZ because it was getting dark when it arrived.  I had a simple box camera with size 127 Ektachrome film.

#35 used the former Silver Streak diner-parlor-obs.

I walked over to the yard and the man in the roundhouse office gave me permission to walk around the yard, plus an employees timetable!
 #5620 on the scrap line.

 Freshly painted #5631 waiting to go to Sheridan, Wyoming.

CB&Q office car parked near the depot

#3006 had been on display for less than a year.  The gate had a lock on it with a sign "Get key from station agent", which I did...
Sorry about the dark pictures -- ASA 10 film, box camera, on a gloomy day, 17 year old kid on an allowance.
  As you can probably tell from the photos, I made the trip mainly to see the newly installed 3006.

 Used my one remaining flash bulb for the cab:

My return parlor seat ticket stub from the Nebraska Zephyr.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

End to End

 This will be brief, there's not a lot to report that's new and different.  Mostly there was just more stripping and repainting on both ends of the 36.  At the #1 end, I finished all stripping, then sanded it down, cleaned it off, and applied a first coat of brown primer.  This part will be blue.

From there we move to the #2 end, where I stripped paint on the left side of the end, as seen here.

And I did some sorting of parts and cleaning up.

So step by step, inch by inch, we're getting closer to completion.  Once the Museum is closed to visitors, I can move the scaffold out onto the paving and start stripping the side.

Visit to Mendota

 On Sunday we went for a drive through the country and wound up in Mendota, site of the Union Depot Railroad Museum.  The prize of the static equipment collection is this O-1-A Mike, #4978, a 1923 Baldwin product.  It is nicely painted and looks great.

Behind it is this wooden waycar, also in excellent condition. The depot itself has a collection of artifacts, but it was closed by the time we got there.
 They evidently give rides on these speeders along a siding.  There's also a Milwaukee Road combine, a Pullman sleeper, and a pair of IC Electric Highliners.

We found a good restaurant across the street from the museum where we could have a romantic dinner by the window, watching freight trains roll by, until the Zephyr arrived.

 These photos may not win any prizes, but I'm out of practice taking pictures of trains at high speed.  Watching it go by was worth it, though.  We then jumped in the car, but chasing the Zephyr is hopelessly impossible.  They had reached Chicago by the time we got back to Naperville.

This whole experience was so enjoyable, I've decided my next project will be to rebuild the 321 into a generator car.  Then we can take the CA&E wood cars out on the road.  We'll visit Elgin and West Chicago, then follow the route of the CA&E as closely as possible east through Wheaton, Lombard, Elmhurst, and on to Chicago.  Tickets will go on sale soon. What fun!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Old Pueblo Trolley

 David writes....

On my recent trip to Tucson, I had a chance to drive by the "car barn" of Old Pueblo Trolley.  This non-profit group was known for running streetcars on weekends on the street in downtown Tucson.  Operations have been suspended while Tucson builds a new, modern streetcar line.  The group owns five cars, but only three were at the site of the car barn.

Here we see #1511, a tram from Brussels, Belgium.

Stored behind it is #869, from Kyoto, Japan.  This car is fairly "modern" in construction date.  However, notice the Brill-type trucks, similar to what is under Indiana Railroad #205 at IRM.

In the covered work area was this car.  Research indicates that it is #524, from Libson, Portugal  It appears to a Brill product.  The group also has a Toronto PCC and two car bodies from Los Angeles, along with several busses.  The organization also has a subsidiary, the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, which is housed in the old Southern Pacific Depot, a few blocks away.  

According to the group's website, operations will commence again when the new, modern system is up and running, either as special weekend cars in-between the regular cars, or as charters.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ride Like the Wind

The West Wind, that is!  I was able to tag along for much of the Sunday Nebraska Zephyr excursion, and it was an experience I definitely won't forget.  Flying through the Illinois countryside with the speedometer pegged at 79mph is not something I had ever expected to do on our Zephyr, but the hardworking IRM volunteers and officials from BNSF and Amtrak made it happen.

I didn't take too many photos, and the ones I did take didn't turn out very well, but here you go anyway.  In the morning I arrived at Union Station early to help check in passengers for the trip.  The indefatigable Harold Krewer was running the check-in show with help from myself, Frank Nero, Mike Ramunno and Charlie Strong.  Following an authentic CB&Q announcement from Harold over the station's PA system we helped board the passengers and then clambered aboard the power car for our ride to Galesburg.  Though the trip through the western suburbs was slowed by track work that had removed two of the three tracks from service at Lisle, the train got up to track speed at Naperville and we never looked back!
At Galesburg I disembarked along with Frank and Mike so that we could check people in who were boarding for the eastbound leg to Chicago, and the Zephyr headed off for its trip to Quincy and back.  The train was on time until about half an hour before its scheduled return, when it started to get held up by traffic moving through Galesburg.  Some of it was pretty interesting, including the BNSF business train (below left) and a different Zephyr, Amtrak's California Zephyr, heading west to the Pacific (below right).

The Nebraska Zephyr finally pulled into the station at about 5pm and we got back on the train for the return trip to Chicago, which was every bit as fast and enjoyable as the outbound trip.  The customers and crew, made up almost entirely of IRM volunteers except for the Amtrak engineer and conductor, all seemed to be having a great time and it was nice to see how many people turned out trackside to watch the train pass through.  We returned to Chicago only slightly behind schedule; I headed home but the UP road switcher was already there at the station ready to couple up and tow the Zephyr back to West Chicago from whence it would return to IRM.  What an outstanding trip - and many thanks to all of the IRM people who made it happen!

The IRM of Air Museums!

David writes...

Last weekend, I was telling Frank that I was headed to Tucson, Arizona this week for work.  Frank remarked that I should visit the Pima Air & Space Museum, located just south of town, adjacent to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.  He said Pima was "The IRM of air museums!"  Boy, was Frank right.

The museum consists of several hundred aircraft, of all types, both civil and military.  Some aircraft are displayed indoors, in one of five hangars used for display.  There are two additional hangers used as shop space for restoration work.  Pima has a large and historically significant collection of aircraft, everything from a replica Wright Flyer, to a SR-71 Blackbird spy plane.  Let's look at a few examples:

For IRM member Bill Wulfert, we have this former TWA Lockheed Constellation.  The plane was built for the Army Air Force, but declared surplus after World War II, and sold to TWA, which used it until 1961.  Beside it sits a former TWA tug and a luggage cart and tug.

IRM has the streetcar loop to provide transportation around the museum campus.  Pima uses trams that look like they were converted from old bread trucks.  The trams make a loop of the property and provide a way to see the outdoor collection without baking in the sun.  Here we see the tram parked in front of a NASA Boeing KC-135, named the "Vomit Comet."  This was the plane the flew parabolic arcs to train astronauts how to work in a weightless environment, 30 seconds at a time.

During WWII, aircraft aluminum was in short supply.  As one potential solution, the Budd Company (Yes, that Budd Company) of Philadelphia designed the Budd RB Conestoga transport aircraft.  The aircraft was made almost entirely of stainless steel with fabric covered control surfaces.  Powered by the same Pratt & Whitney engines used in the C-47 Skytrain (The military version of the DC-3), the aircraft utilized Budd's patented shot welding technology, just like on the Nebraska Zephyr.  The aircraft proved to be heavier than a C-47, and as a result the performance was sluggish.  As one test pilot pointed out, it handled as one would expect an aircraft built by a railcar company would handle.  Only 17 were built before the project was cancelled.  The cargo airline Flying Tigers flew them. This is the sole surviving example, awaiting restoration.

Here we see a closeup of the Conestoga's skin, showing the shot welded sides, just like the Zephyr!

Much like the crews that polished the Nebraska Zephyr at IRM last year, the group at Pima is in the process of polishing a bomber.  Back in the restoration shop, crews are polishing a Boeing B-50 bomber.  The B-50 was the postwar improvement of the B-29.  This one has little jet engines added in pylons on the wings for additional takeoff thrust.

Here is an example of a Boeing B-52 Superfortress.  Many are still in service with the Air Force.  Pima has at least TWO on display.

A very nice example of a B-29 Superfortress was inside one of the buildings, as was this example of a Curtiss C-46 Commando.

With five display hangars, two restoration hangars and many airplanes stores outside, staff at Pima make use of a small fleet of golf carts, just like at IRM.

Needless to say, if you are in the Tucson area, you need to visit the Pima Air & Space Museum.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Ballast Scorcher

Yesterday's Zephyr Excursion was a great success and a very memorable experience.  There were a few unavoidable delays, but most of the rest of the time we were moving at track speed.  The train rides very smoothly at high speed, noticeably better than newer cars on this line, I'd say.

I started the day by taking the morning Amtrak train west at Naperville.  I met three other members on the train, and we proceeded to Galesburg to do early checkins for those passengers boarding the train there.

Here's our setup in the depot, with Colton Verzi, Kyle Merkel, and Dave Phillips ready to serve you.

We were there an hour ahead of the Zephyr, so I had a few minutes to take some quick pictures of the equipment displayed at the Galesburg Railroad Museum.  They were very helpful and cooperative, and our excursion probably brought in a number of extra visitors.  Sometime I will have to do an actual trip report.

 This museum is, of course, entirely Q-oriented.  And how could I possibly find fault with that?

A crowd of people gathered on the platform in anticipation of the Zephyr's arrival.  Many of these are freeloaders, there to take pictures, and maybe less than half are passengers. But the train was nearly full on all segments.

 Since I had work to do, I didn't take any exterior shots of the train, but there will be a million and one pictures posted in various places, I'm sure.  And watch for an article in Rail & Wire.

Here's part of the merchandise display set up in the power car Venus.  Bookstore manager Tom Blodgett (far left) handles sales, and we helped with selling and miscellaneous tasks as needed.

Here's the front of the passenger section.  This was originally a rounded bar, and you can see the curved part of the ceiling above it, sort of.  Rats, I should have taken a better picture.  Anyhow, it was later rebuilt into a baggage rack and conductor's desk, as seen here. Forward of this is access to the head end generator room, which is crowded, noisy, and almost scary when the train is running at full speed.

As I say, I didn't take many pictures.  Here we are crossing the Mississippi at Quincy, going over to West Quincy,. Mo. 

 The trip back was delayed, but once we got going, we hardly slowed down, except as required.  I think the trip back in on the racetrack was the fastest I've ever been on.  And we just managed to connect with the dinky I wanted to take home by a matter of minutes.  Overall, what a great experience!  I can't thank enough the many people, both IRM members and Amtrak personnel, who made this all possible.  Wow!

Note: As of Sunday at 11:30 AM, today's trip seems to be proceeding well.  Frank is aboard, and we'll get a complete update from him soon.