Monday, October 29, 2012

Economy Class

The only good thing one can generally say about economy-class accommodations is that they save money.  Otherwise, conditions are usually cramped, stuffy, poorly ventilated, and bad for one's health in the long run.  We've probably all been there at one time or another.

This is our version of economy class.  A tarp offers protection from rain, snow, and sun, but doesn't last very long, requires constant maintenance, and provides no opportunities for display or restoration.  That's why IRM is right now planning to build another storage barn to enable us to upgrade much of our historic collection currently in economy class to covered storage.  And that of course requires money, as we keep pointing out.

Your contributions can make a big difference.  We urge you to donate soon, so that construction can begin.  The magic code word RISWEC identifies the fund for Electric Car Department indoor storage and work space.  You can send a check to this address:
Illinois Railway Museum
Box 427
Union, IL   60180

or you can donate online through our secure website at this link.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Clear the Track

Track 82 is currently a solid line of seven 6000-series L cars, and they all needed to be rearranged in a switch move today.  That gave me an opportunity to take a picture with the entire track empty.  Here we see the varied collection of cars on 83: L cars, interurbans, work equipment, and a streetcar.  In contrast, 84 is a solid line of six wooden interurban cars, three of them built in 1906.  And this is just a small sample of IRM's vast and varied collection.

While the 6000's were being switched, it was a little like working in a subway tunnel, but no matter.  I stripped, sanded, and repainted another three sectors of the lower siding.  The chalk marks indicate various holes I needed to fill with body filler.  In the center of the car is a circular pattern, showing the screw holes for one of Gerry's old covered wagon emblems.  I wonder where those wound up?

Here's the first coat of primer on sectors 22-24.  Let's see here, that gets me up to five sevenths of one third, right?  Slightly less than one fourth.  I then did some more stripping on the window sills and posts.  I basically never left Barn 8, but we had several visitors wandering through, several of whom I talked to about various things.  Max was working on the wire outside the barn, which is very good. 

I'm sure lots of other projects were being advanced, but you'll have to look elsewhere for news.  Don't forget to check the department blog regularly, it has all the news we somehow missed.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Buy It Now

The push is on to build the next car barn, and the main way this is done is sell barn space, sold by the foot.  Most of the space in Barn 14 has already been sold, and the rest is being distributed quickly.  Once the entire barn has been allocated, construction can begin.  But by that time it will be too late to buy more space, and if you have something you want to go inside, you will just have to wait until the next barn.  Whenever that might be.

Barn space can be purchased by restricted funds for specific pieces of equipment, or by departments.  When a department purchases barn space, the department head decides which pieces of equipment to move inside, usually by consulting the members of his department, of course.  That's why we're urging you to contribute to the Electric Car fund RISWEC.  It allows the department the flexibility to do what is in the overall best interests of the collection.

At current rates, it may only be a few months before all of the available barn space has been allocated, and the window of opportunity will close.  That's why we need your contributions now.  Be sure to specify the Electric Car fund RISWEC.  Current charges are $215 per foot, so think in terms of feet if you can.  But amounts of any size are welcome.  You can mail your check to:
Illinois Railway Museum
Box 427
Union, IL   60180
or pay online through the Museum store at this link.
As an example, here's one of the cars for which I'm the Project Manager: CA&E 321.  It was bought by the Museum in 1962 and was stored inside starting with the construction of Barn 2 in 1976.  So when the current system of track space and barn space charges was instituted, it was "grandfathered" in. In 2009, it had to be tarped and stored outside to make room for the Trolleyville collection, along with several other cars.  It's still under a tarp, as I mention every so often.  Your donations will make it possible to bring cars like this back inside so it can once more be on public display.  Thanks!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

One Half of One Third

Another day of paint stripping, sanding, and repainting the lower siding brought me half-way down the side of the car.  So progress is slow but steady.

For a break, I hiked out to Yard 14 to check on the 321, and looked through the car checking for leaks.  Everything appears to be in good condition.  But we can't keep this up forever.  Hmmm, I wonder if there's some better way to preserve these cars?  I also checked on one of our containers.

And then, making sure I don't get too puffed up about what I've accomplished, there's Tim Peters blasting along on the 4412.  All of the new tack molding is in place and he's busily attaching the screws to fasten it down.  He's planning to soak the canvas tomorrow and put it in place on the roof on Saturday, when there will be plenty of people around to help.  OK, count me in!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Train of Terror

No, this isn't the annual Train of Terror at IRM.  But sights like this will become more common, unless you act to help out now.

Hopeless wrecks like the one above are the inevitable result when there's not enough indoor storage space for vintage railroad equipment.  That's why we're making a major effort right now to build another carbarn soon, before it's too late for some of the irreplaceable cars in our collection.  Of course, that's expensive, and the cost can only go up with the passing years.  Right now the cost for indoor storage space is $215 per foot of track.  That's probably a reasonable goal for most of us, one or two feet of space.  

Your Museum needs to have sufficient money in hand to contract out the construction of the next barn.  We here at Hicks Car Works would suggest you contribute to the Electric Car restricted fund for indoor storage.  This fund has the code name RISWEC, which stands for Restricted -- Indoor Storage and Work (space) -- Electric Car. There are several other restricted funds which will also be used to pay for barn construction.  If you pay by check, be sure to include the restricted fund code, and mail to:
Illinois Railway Museum
Box 427
Union, IL    60180

You can also pay online by going to this link and choosing the correct department and amount.  It's that easy!  And of course, either way it's tax-deductible.

Anyone who might be interested in making a substantial contribution, or has specific questions, should probably contact our Executive Director, Nick Kallas, at the Museum.  You can call him or email nkallas at irm dot org.  

And by the way, if you want to ride the actual Train of Terror, this weekend will be your last chance.  I'm afraid, I'm really afraid, that you might miss this thrilling experience.  Don't let it pass you by!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dig Deep

As Frank has mentioned, the push is on to start work on the next carbarn.  And we can't emphasize enough how important this is to the preservation of our collection.  There's a lot of valuable equipment still sitting outside.  Although Barn 14 won't be able to hold everything, it will be a giant step forward.  But the Museum cannot commit to beginning construction until sufficient funds are on hand.  And that's where you come in, of course.

There's another point that we probably haven't repeated often enough.  The Trolleyville collection was acquired nearly three years ago, and it was worth every penny, yet all the debts incurred have not been paid off.  The Trolleyville fund is still deep in the red.  We had to pay for actually buying the cars and equipment, then loading and transporting them, and now we still need to pay for track and barn space.

This is not cheap, but you can still make a big difference.  Think in terms of feet.  Barn track space currently costs $215 per foot.  The cost of putting a single 50' car inside may be way out of reach for most of us, but a foot or two certainly isn't.  We urge you to dig deep into your pockets and put your best foot forward.  Your contributions are, of course, tax-deductible.

Donations can be made on-line through the IRM home page, or of course by check or money order to fund RISWEC.  Those of use who are actually doing the restoration work are contributing to this fund, and we'd appreciate any help you can give.   Thanks!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

PCC on the Pit

Friday and Saturday I got the opportunity to help out a bit with inspection work on Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority 63, a PCC car built for Minneapolis and later sold to the Shaker Heights line in Cleveland.  It was acquired by IRM from Trolleyville in 2010 and has had its interior refurbished by Frank Sirinek and Mike Stauber.  It was acquired complete, and had operated at Trolleyville, but had not been fully inspected at IRM.  However Jeff Hakner, an IRM member from Connecticut who also moonlights as Chairman of the Board at Branford among other duties at that museum, was visiting this weekend.  He has worked on PCC cars with GE control (all of the other PCC's at IRM, besides 63, have Westinghouse control) and agreed to help take a look at the car.

Above (L-R) Frank Sirinek, Jeff Hakner, and Eric Lorenz discuss the wiring on the 63.  We lack a wiring diagram for this car, which was built as a single-unit PCC and rebuilt for MU service at Shaker, so if any blog reader knows where we might be able to find one, we'd greatly appreciate it!

Above left, Dan Fenlaciki installs new batteries in the car; above right (L-R) Bill Wulfert, Eric Lorenz and Richard Schauer look over wiring diagrams for other GE PCC cars looking for points of comparison.  Eric and Richard are our two PCC experts and they took point on helping Jeff to diagnose car 63's issues.  By the time I left, at about 4pm Saturday, they were working on sequencing the car on low voltage but had encountered some issues with the mechanical pedal linkage and with the line switch.  With luck and more work, this car could be an addition to IRM's operating fleet.  This would make it the first PCC other than the 4391 to operate at IRM in about a quarter century.

I also helped a bit on the 36 project.  Above left, my father works on stripping more paint; above right, the rear of the Knutsen 5B retriever from the 36 that I needle-chipped.  I thought it was slightly interesting that the CA&E apparently assigned this one the number 70.

In other news, I was told that at the board meeting Saturday fundraising efforts for the next barn, to be built over Yard 14 I believe, were approved.  Several of the cars acquired from Trolleyville still don't have their track space money paid off, and until that is taken care of, cars like the 321 can't go back inside, so please be generous and donate to track space for the 319 or 36.  As always, all donations are tax deductible and are greatly appreciated!

UPDATE: Check the comments section on this post for "the rest of the story!"

36 Report

 Most of the day was spent stripping, sanding, and painting another two sectors of the lower siding on the aisle side of the car.  I wanted to do more, but the cord on our heat gun gave out, due to the constant use we've been putting it to, I suppose.  They just don't make 'em like they used to. 

And Frank needle-chipped one of the retrievers, and it was later painted with a first coat of brown primer, at the same time as the siding.  And we looked at the underbody some more, and I checked what needs to be done on the roof.

Our friend Jeff Hakner was visiting from Branford, and Frank will have a much longer post on what he was doing.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Loose Ends

 Let's not leave any loose ends lying about, we might regret it.  See, I always try to provide useful advice that will improve your life.  And at no charge -- what more could one ask?

In this case, I had noticed that one end post on the 36 was loose at the bottom, and it was noticeable when one pulls on the attached hand rail to get up into the car.  Last time, I had drilled a hole and started to insert a large lag screw to hold the post in place, but I needed to drill the hole out a little more.  So I started out by doing that.  It's fortunate we had a 12" lag screw of the right type for this purpose; it's lying on the end of the car in the picture.  The pipe clamp pulls the corner post into position while drilling and inserting the screw, which goes straight up through the floor..

Most of the rest of the day was taken up with surface prep and painting, as usual.  The first two sectors of lower siding on the aisle side were stripped and sanded, and then painted with a first coat of brown primer.

Now that's what I call real, tangible progress, progress that provides hope for the future - getting rid of green and replacing it with brown. I'm running on an anti-green platform.  Or at least standing on it.  My platform is too small for running.  In any case, my name is Randall Hicks, and I approved this message.  Such as it is. 

Then I put a first coat of finish blue on the #2 end, and black on the tack molding.  Sorry, I'm afraid a lot of posts are going to look like this, stripping and repainting a little at a time.  But that's the way things get done. 

 Let's see what Tim is up to.  All of the roof hardware has been removed, and he's hard at work making replacement wood pieces where the originals were rotted out.  Other sections have been filled with epoxy.  As usual, he's making progress at a remarkable rate.

And while we're up here, to the left our little open car is patiently waiting for next summer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Visit to St. Louis

 Over the weekend we went to St. Louis to visit various friends and relatives, including David and Katy.  Mostly we toured Forest Park and visited the art museum, the history museum, the zoo, and so forth. 

In front of the history museum is this car from Milan, Italy, on display to promote the Loop Trolley project.  Whether this will ever actually get built is anybody's guess, but the car itself needs some repair.  The canvas is pulling out around the edges.  And notice that the windows have no frames; they're just pieces of Plexiglass or something with the latches fastened to them.  The loop will run from this location through the streets to a place near the University, where a similar car is also on display.

  1. In other news, Randy Anderson sent me a few more pictures from Cleveland.  It sure would be classy if the 36 still had these nice drapes in the windows.  I wonder what happened to them?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Car 36 at Cleveland

Randy Anderson sent me a number of photos of car 36 soon after it arrived at Cleveland, and was being overhauled at the Cleveland RTA's main shop.  These pictures were taken by Dan Collins, who was a line supervisor for the RTA at that time, and is since retired.  The date is June 11, 2003, about a month before it was put into service for a day or two on the RTA.

The man on the left in this picture is our old friend Tim O'Donnell, whom I met when he was working for Gerry Brookins back in the 70's.  The others I wouldn't know.

And one can only guess what these guys had to say when they started looking into this 101-year old technology, after maintaining modern equipment for a living.

The shop at Cleveland seems to have slightly better facilities than we do in Barn 4.  In the photo at the top, notice the nice elevators that lift a truck straight up, with or without a car on it, and the turntables for easily moving trucks from one track to another.  Your tax dollars at work, I guess.

Here Tim seems to be lubricating the axle cap bearing surfaces by hand.  The personal touch always helps, I believe.

Here are a couple of views of the motor truck and the body bolster, with the kingpin.  This is definitely the original motor truck, the same one which is now under the car.

What's At Door #2?

Of course the scaffold is still in the way, but the #2 end now has a first coat of finish blue on the plate, and first finish red on all of the trim around the windows and door.

And the green paint is slowly being eaten away by the malevolent combination of heat and pressure.  In another few months this paint scheme will be history.  But it won't soon be forgotten, for there are only about 1,000,001 pictures of this car at North Olmsted floating around.  They used to park it out on the display track quite often.  And for that matter, I'll soon be posting some pictures of it you probably haven't seen before.

Well, thanks for stopping by.... Say, did I ever mention that IRM never closes for the winter?  Sure, we're no longer open for visitors, but volunteers are working throughout the year, unless the roads are completely impassable.  We have a large heated shop so you can work in comfort, no matter how cold it might be, and there are always lots of projects to work on.  I have plenty of windows that need to be repainted, for instance. If you're a member, you're welcome to come on out and do something productive.  See you soon!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Blast from the Past

 This is the 309 Team in 1978.  We're in the smoker of the 321, which served as our workroom.  If I remember correctly, we were working on a project to keep birds from building nests in the ventilators by soldering on some copper wire screen that we had gotten at Tugboat's.  Behind Bob is the case for a lightning arrestor, and which was then used as another storage bin.

Below, the cars are at the southeast corner of Barn 4; the 321 was located where the 306 is now, and the 309 was where the 810 is.  Behind us is part of the scaffolding for working on the roof of the 309.  Our friend Steve Hyett recently dug up these slides and allowed me to borrow them.  Thanks, Steve!  Ah, I remember those times as if it were only yesterday.

Note: These images are copyright by the photographer, Steve Hyett, and may not be copied, reproduced, edited, or modified for purposes of blackmail, ridicule, or other malicious trickery.

Roof Rush

Monday was Columbus Day, so no classes.  And thus another day of sanding and painting on the 36, including some paint stripping on the one remaining side of the car.

But a more interesting project, I must admit, is that Tim Peters has started replacing the roof on the 4412.  The car's present roof dates back to CTA days, and has always been questioable.  It was switched into Barn 4 on Saturday, replacing the 1797, and on Monday Tim started removing the old canvas and all of the tack molding.  Frank Sirinek and Fred Zimmerman were helping remove and dispose of all the material.  They also visited the 36 while taking a brief break.

 Roof jobs always seem to take longer than you expect.  But Tim is hoping to get this job done by Thanksgiving, so he can then start on the 1024.  If anyone could possibly do a complete roof job in that time, it's him.  Here he is on the platform, applying epoxy to solidify the underlying roof structure.

To be sure, there are quicker and easier ways of putting a new roof on a 4000.  I doubt this is what Tim has in mind.  It's an idea, though.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

36 Progress

 On Friday evening I was a trainman on the Screamliner, as promised.  Things went smoothly and we had a reasonably good crowd for the first day of the event.  The other crewmen were Joel, Mike McCraren, and Mike Stauber, with Jamie and Roger on the engine.  It was quite cold, but there are heaters in the Birmingham at least.  And Phil provides hot drinks and snacks for the crew and the kids, which is greatly appreciated.  We can always use more help, so sign up if you can.  It's an interesting contrast with our usual operations.  Of course, they don't want us taking unauthorized pictures of the interior or the actors, so you will just have to see it for yourself.

Saturday was another work day on the 36.  Stripping paint (L), sanding, filling, more sanding, and finally a first coat of white primer on the areas that will be red, on the #2 end of the car (R).
 The next step will be to remove the motorman's front window at this end so it can be repainted.  On this side, there are several pipes, wires, and other odds and ends in the way, so getting it out will be more difficult.  It may not be obvious, but part of the windowsill is missing, so it will have to be replaced.

And on the right, look at this.  Underneath one of the molding pieces are these two wires twisted together and held in place with insulated staples.  These were part of the 600V lighting system and carried current to the dash light, which was later removed.  So luckily they're no longer part of the system.

I am hoping I will not have to disconnect the brake valve to remove the window; as that often results in air leaks.

And visitors from far away included Scott Davis from the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, and my long-time friends Randy and Betty Anderson, who now live in North Carolina.  It's always nice to show off what we've been doing!