Thursday, November 29, 2012

36 (I Hope) Report

 Today was mostly spent painting various parts of the 36.  At least I hope it was the 36.  The last of the numbers had mysteriously vanished, so I just had to make my best guess as to which car to work on.

Here we are looking at a second coat of brown primer on the letterboard and upper siding for the entire length of the car.  Saturday is supposed to be even warmer, so I plan to put on a first coat of the finish blue.  

While I had the primer out, I also did a little work on the 319.  Some parts of the truss rod had been cleaned off a couple of years ago, while it was in Barn 2.  I cleaned off the surface rust with a chain and painted it with brown primer also.

And then later, I put some body filler on parts of the lower siding, and then extended the second primer for about four sectors. The details are less than exciting, but the bottom line is that it's getting closer to being completely repainted.  The goal, of course, is to have the car completely repainted and lettered for the Trolley Pageant next year, celebrating IRM's 60th Anniversary.

And it was a nice day for a stroll out to 14 to check on the 321 and collect a couple of parts.  As we gaze out over this assortment of cars and locomotives, wouldn't it be nice if we had a sturdy new building to protect everything from the weather?  You can help!

Going, going, almost gone or car 36 where are you?

Al writes…

Been having nightmares about a large slab of green wood. This led me to venture out to the museum yesterday to remove that last expanse of green paint on the side of 36. I was able to complete removal of the green below the belt rail by the end of the day. And as Randy often says it's a day of scraping, sanding and painting.

With this progress we are coming close to removing all vestiges of the car's "Cleveland" identity. Somehow I couldn't resist the urge to leave the painted number on the side of the car to the very last. I felt like there should be a little ceremony as I removed that last "Cleveland" identity item. So I held a little ceremony with the barn cats( oh wait there are no barn cats in barn eight ) as that identity was removed. I believe that was the last vestige of Columbia Park and Southwestern identity remaining.After sanding I was able to get a coat of primer on the car,

Speaking of residents of barn 8, 4412 has joined the group and is shown here wearing its new hat.  Tim Peters did meet his Thanksgiving deadline.

As always there was a lot of activity in barn 4 and the wood shop on a Wednesday. Spent a little time observing the manufacture of new windows. Bob Katella does a good job covering those activities in his blog so I won't repeat them here.

One activity that was unique was continued attention to stringing trolley wire over the connection just east of the barns.

This blog entry is brought to you by the Shameless Prodding Division of Hicks Car Works. Please remember to consider a donation to the Barn 14 fund. And remember the matching contribution program offered by the Hicks car works.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Matching Grants

We've been reminded that if you have a job, you should check with your employer about charitable matching grants.  They can make a big difference, usually doubling the amount you contribute to a tax-exempt organization such as IRM.  And they've got deeper pockets.  (Unfortunately, I myself happen to work for a university that is usually asking me to contribute to them.  Fat chance!)  Your employer may have such a program they don't choose to advertise very much, so check with the appropriate HR people if you can.  Thanks!

We've received word of donations to indoor storage from several more individuals.  If you'd like to see your name in print, let us know.  A donor to the Electric Car fund writes:

"My background is in History, although I really don't directly use my degrees to make a living. I'm a big fan of museums and IRM is my kind of museum. I've been a railfan (not a foamer) for as long as I can remember, digesting back issues of Trains and Model Railroader as a kid and still lamenting the passing of the original Passenger Train Journal. Union is a bit of a hike for me, so I visit a couple times a year and have recently started to maintain a membership and annual contributions. Why? Well partially because my family history includes ancestors who worked for the CNW in Boone, IA and the Rock Island in Blue Island, IL. I also had a grandfather who was a bus driver for Chicago Motor coach during the Depression. Partially because I think preserving history is important. And partially because I want to support the many volunteers who I see toiling to restore and protect the IRM collection. The IRM blog and your blog are key to getting the word out that IRM is serious about restoring and maintaining its Museum in Motion. I wish that I could do more, but welding isn't in my blood and I'm too big and creaky to reach the tight spots. Computers and writing are what I do, so perhaps I'll find a way to contribute there at some point.

"Best wishes and thanks for all that you do."

Again, we are of course very grateful for the efforts of all our IRM contributors. 

Hidden Compartments

Tim is continuing his industrial archeology project, finding all the hidden details of the Bowling Alley that were long forgotten.  The cab floors are raised about 4" because there are electrical cabinets underneath.  At the motor truck end, we're looking down at the open cabinet.  1 is the controller, 2 is the contactor cut-out drum switch, 3 is the switch and plugs for the portable cab heater, and 4 is the set of control fuses under the floor.  Mice decided this was an excellent place to nest, so it's full of debris.  We can only hope they didn't start eating the insulation for hors d'oeuvres.

At the other end, there's less to see under the floor, but you get a better picture of the C-36 controller.  Cars this old were subject to so many changes over the years, it's often hard to tell what was done when, and why.  But it's an exciting challenge!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Money, Money, Money

You've probably known people who are obsessed with money.  Money seems to be the only thing they can talk about.  Well, I guess I'm now one of them.  So if you haven't done so already, read about our incredible donation matching offer here.

Donations continue to come in.  For instance, Tom and Sharon Sharratt have donated $100 for coach storage. I think I'm keeping up with the correspondence, but let me know if you haven't gotten an acknowledgement.

And the brass hats have been heard from.  Jamie Kolanowski and Nick Kallas have recently made substantial donations to the Diesel Department indoor storage fund - thanks!  And then Jeron has threatened to send in even more.  So I guess I'm buying myself several hundred dollars' worth of good will from the Diesel Department.  I just hope they remember who I am.  I'll need plenty of expert advice and assistance when the time comes to install a Diesel generator in the 321.

Update:  The Diesel guys just don't quit.  Martin Both and Laddie Vitek have submitted big contributions.  It's a conspiracy!  What's happened to our buddies in the Car Dept.?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Just Like Downtown!

 One of the things that keep this restoration business interesting is that there's always something new to learn, something we didn't know before.  For instance, a few years ago I published an FAQ on Canvas Roofs.  But I'd never seen anything quite like this.  Tim has started removing the canvas from the 1024.  The roof was last repaired while it was still in service on the CTA.

The end of the upper roof was patched in two layers; the upper layer is later and appears to be made of egg crates.  When the illuminated sign boxes were removed the wires were left in place and just covered over, and there are patches at odd angles.  This I've really got to see in person.

So in the future we should probably try to emulate the best professional repair practices as shown here.  Just like they do it downtown!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

From the Mailbox

If you haven't done so already, read about our incredible donation matching offer here.

Donations continue to arrive.  Sam Polonetzky recently made a donation to the passenger car fund, and we have another from an anonymous donor.  We certainly appreciate all the support.  The total reported so far is approximately $1,500, so you can still partake of the largess!

And there are a couple of interesting recent comments.  Note the one from a member of the Wabash Railroad Historical Society about the replica locomotive we acquired back in May.  I'm not sure who's in charge of that project, but somebody should probably reply to Mr. Holzmeier.   And then an anonymous comment pointing to the construction of a new carbarn at the Sydney Tramway Museum in Australia.  Railway preservation is faced with much the same sort of problems all over the world, I guess.

Please keep those cards and letters coming.  Thanks!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Bowling Alley

 I spent most of the day, as usual, working on the 36.  I finished surface prep on the window sections and end door in sectors 15-16, and painted them with white primer, as seen here.  After some body filler and a second coat of primer, these parts will be painted either red or light grey.  And I discussed the third rail beams we're making with Bob Kutella.

But perhaps a more interesting project was moving the 1024 from over the pit to the west end of track 42.  Here we see it out in the sun, at the diamond (L) and at Depot St. (R).  Rod Turner is running the locomotive.

And here it is in Barn 4, at the door.  This is our 1898 Pullman-built gate car, one of the first order of cars built for the Northwestern Elevated.

But hey, as long as we're here, let's look inside!  I hadn't been inside the car for a long time.  I can remember riding it a few times back around 1975, though.

 Of course, the interior needs some cleaning and straightening.  But I think you can get the general idea. Cars like this with longitudinal seats the length of the car were known as "bowling alleys".  This is the only surviving bowling alley from the Chicago L. 
 Because it has open platforms, the cabs are inside the car.  The cab at this end is larger than the other, because the compressor was located inside.  Being inside a GE locomotive with the compressor running is bad enough, but this cab is even smaller.  It must be awful.  I'm surprised the unions didn't demand this situation be changed.  Anyhow, we should be able to run the car in a train so this cab doesn't have to be used very often.

And it's just big enough so we can get a good view out the window.  Tim is planning to restore the car to the 1913 period, at the time of the consolidation of the four elevated companies into Chicago Rapid Transit.  He says that for a while the car would have displayed both its old number (24) and new number (1024).  Confusion like that always helps liven things up.

And here's a view of the other cab.  At this end, there's not even a window into the car, so the motorman would have no way of seeing back into the car.  As I recall, we would operate the car with the cab door open, so the motorman could actually communicate with the conductor when necessary.

Tim also says, based on his inspection of the underframe while the car was over the pit, that it's not as bad as he had feared, and he believes that structural repairs will be easier than we had thought.  There's no timetable for how long this restoration might take, but we'll keep you informed as it progresses.

By the way, I'm sorry that some spam comments have gotten through.  Until recently, Blogger was very good about rejecting them, but the spammers must have figured out some new trick.  Spam comments should usually be obvious, with their generic "what a great blog, your posts are so informative" BS and often crummy English, so don't click on any links.  We'll delete them as soon as we can.  Comments from actual readers are welcome, of course, but please identify yourself.  That helps.  Thanks!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Plan Ahead

If you haven't done so already, read about our incredible donation matching offer here.

Our friend Ted Miles makes an excellent point.  When Gerald Brookins started collecting electric cars, he planned ahead.  He constructed storage barns for the collection, so that the restored cars would be protected from the weather and survive in good condition.  And as a result, nearly all of them are still in great shape and are now prized artifacts in several museums around the country.  Above, we see CA&E 409 at North Olmsted in 1979, and as you probably know it's now part of the operating fleet at IRM.  Mr. Brookins was a successful businessman and had financial resources none of us as individuals can match, I suppose.  But acting together, we should be able to accomplish the same thing.

Now at the same time, back in 1979, Gerry was nice enough to allow another trolley collector to store some of his collection at the North Olmsted location. That individual, on the other hand, had failed to plan ahead.  (And as long as I have him to kick around, I'll never run out of material!)  This Ohio interurban body was stored there near the shop.  Gerry soon tired of having these eyesores on his property, when everything else was nice and neat, so it was evicted.  And since this rotted-out hulk could not be moved, it was scrapped.

The lesson should be obvious.  IRM is planning ahead, planning to have our entire collection preserved and eventually restored.  To do this, we need your help.  By now, you know the rest.

Update: Roger Kramer is planning ahead.  He just made a substantial contribution on behalf of his favorite car, the Ingramport, which needs indoor storage. Thanks!


If you haven't done so already, read about our incredible donation matching offer here.

More donations have been received, along with some great essays.  A $25 donor from Ohio writes:

"Time has proven in railway museum world that a barn is the other half to saving any piece of equipment. Unlike Lake Wobegone, where the decades cannot improve the town, decades outside make a piece of railway equipment only a full size pattern of rotted wood and iron oxide. Thousands of rotted out caboose cabins and sheds around the country  prove the need for real cover."

Other recent donors include Charles Kronenwetter and David Cook.

And then our own Bob Kutella says:

"I believe the core collection of IRM equipment is essential to the fabric of IRM.  Some of these cars are wood bodied and fragile, and have been under IRM stewardship for over HALF A CENTURY!  Yet they are largely forgotten in many cases.  Just because a piece of equipment has been acquired by IRM, it cannot be considered SAVED until under a roof.  If we are serious about preservation we should all work to fill up Barn 14 and get another 2000 feet of track filled up and under roof.

"That is the only way to really save this equipment and help assure it will be preserved for the future.  Many are not restored, but if allowed to crumble to dust under the relentless onslaught of mother nature, there will be nothing left to work with for the restorationists of the future.

"I have perhaps a more personal commitment to saving these cars as a Collection Curator, but all should consider helping in any way, as their circumstances permit.  If I had a sudden windfall of disposable income I would surely consider working to start at once on a seond Barn.  It is that impoortant to me.  Put aside any special interests or favorite departments. All equipment now outdoors needs help in getting inside. Even one more car inside is important, whatever your favorites might be or where your interests lie."

And he backs up his words with a $100 donation to the freight car fund RISWFC.  Also, see Ray Bellock's recent comment about checking with your employer about matching funds.  Excellent point!

Thanks, everybody!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Breaking IRM News II

 Tim reports that the 4412's roof is now complete except for the gutters and vents.  And the 1024 has had its motor truck replaced with a shop truck.  The truck swap was completed just before the rain started!  The plan is to move the 1024 over to the west end of 42 on Saturday, so that should offer some great photo ops.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Every Bit Helps

If you haven't done so already, read about our incredible donation matching offer here.  Don't let this opportunity pass you by!  Our objective, of course, is to persuade people to donate more and sooner.  I was out at the Museum today, and several of the regular workers had questions and comments about the offer, so excitement is building.  And we're already getting results.

For instance, Jason Maxwell writes:

"Thanks for your generous offer to match contributions to indoor track space.  I just donated $25."

Thanks, Jason!  Every bit helps.

And for that matter, every bit helps when there's a complete restoration job to be done.  Most of my time today was spent stripping paint from the window sections on car 36, as seen here.  There are lots of molding strips and various surfaces to be prepped, so it takes a while.  I did most of about three sectors.

And then, for variety, there's the "Red Green" project.  Cleaning off the brass plate was not very difficult, as expected.  I installed new screws to hold it down with little difficulty, so I still have no idea why duct tape was thought necessary.  But I'm thinking that careful applications of moderate heat may make the job easier, without damaging the linoleum.  In any case, the floor will be completely repainted, so it doesn't have to be perfect.

As usual on a Wednesday, there were lots of other people about, working on various projects.  I don't always have my camera with me, so some get left out.  But here we see some more progress on stringing trolley wire over the connector.  The wire is held up by pulleys connected to the bracket arm span wires.  Max is starting at the south end and working north; at each arm the wire will be attached with the normal trolley wire clamps.  This will be a real improvement when it's finished.

Finally, it's time to examine your conscience.  What have you done for IRM lately?  Stumped?  If so, there's a quick and easy solution!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dollar for Dollar Challenge

We've had plenty of pleading, cajoling, and explaining.  It's time for direct action.

We here at Hicks Car Works are offering a dollar-for-dollar matching challenge for contributions to Barn 14 construction.  You make a contribution to any Barn 14 fund, we'll match it -- within limits.  Minimum of $25, maximum of $500 per person up to a total limit of $5,000.  We want this barn to get started NOW.  This offer is good for exactly one month, until December 20, 2012.

Here's how it works.  You donate to any fund to be used for Barn 14 construction, such as RISWEC.  You can send a check to this address:

Illinois Railway Museum
Box 427
Union, IL   60180

or donate online through our secure website at this link.

Send an email to randallhicks at wideopenwest dot com to notify us with your name and the amount.  Include "Barn 14" in the subject line.  We'll confirm that your donation has been received, and match it.  Your money does double duty.

Let us know if you want your name mentioned -- we'll be glad to give you some free publicity -- otherwise we won't.  You can also include a brief essay on why you're contributing to this cause, which we'll publish.  You won't find a better deal at any other museum!

Employees of Hicks Car Works and their families are not eligible for this special offer.  Please do not send cash or stamps.  Void where prohibited or taxed.

We Get Results

Well, that was quick!  A $200 donor writes:

"Thanks for all of the work that you and the team have done at IRM.  I can see the thousands of man hours invested in all of the restorations at IRM.

"I’m not a member but I appreciate the work that you and the other members of IRM do.  We took my son up for one of the “Day out with Thomas” weekends and were very happy with how well things were organized and laid out as well as the pride that the members took in not only their areas of  specialty but also making the littlest ones feel welcome.  We took a trip around the loop on one of the trolley cars and the driver was kind enough to explain a little bit about how the car worked and some of the areas we were passing.  We definitely appreciated it."

And Frank Nero, an IRM Diesel engineer, has contributed $50, which will also be matched.

Now it's your turn!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Breaking IRM News!

Tim Peters just sent us this picture of the 1024 over the pit.  The motor truck will be removed so the motors can be installed, and other necessary repairs made while the body is being worked on.  The car will then be put on a shop truck.  Remember, you saw it here first!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Let's Fix It With Duct Tape

 "Let's fix it with duct tape" is not an approved method of repair at IRM, for good reasons.  But we'll get to that later.
The weather was just right for painting today, so the morning was occupied with finishing up the surface prep, and then applying the first coat of primer to the rest of the letterboard and upper siding, as seen here.  And I did some more paint removal on the corner post.

Then as sort of a change of pace, since I had the tools available, I started removing the old paint from the bumper at the #1 end with the big wire wheel.  On the flat parts of the bumper it goes pretty quickly.  I then found, however, that with the attachments we've got it's not possible to get all the inside parts of the anticlimber.  I will try to find a wire brush attachment that will work in smaller spaces.  Otherwise, we can do needle chipping, but the car would have to be moved over to Barn 4 for that to happen.
I went ahead and finished all the areas I could, and primed them also.  These parts will be painted blue.

By the way, when looked at closely, the bumpers are not very flat.  They must have bumped into a lot of different things over the years.

 The 4412 is making great progress.  Here Tim is bolting grab irons onto the roof, helped by Bill Wulfert inside, who's holding the wrench on the nuts.

And most of the roof hardware is in place.  The bases have been lifted, but not yet fastened down, so the poles are just lying there.  But it's getting close!

Ever since we acquired the 36, the kingpin at the #2 end refused to drop into place for some reason.  It appeared to be slightly bent, so a while back I took it over to the steam shop, and our buddies there straightened it out for me on the big press.  But that didn't help.  It was still sticking up a foot or more, a real accident hazard.

The answer, as all too often, turned out to be greater violence.

I found a large plank of wood in the barn and out of frustration tried using it as a drop hammer, and miraculously the pin started to go in!  After a  few more blows it was all the way down, and I reattached the cover plate with screws.  Of course, once it's out of sight there's not much to see.  But that's a great relief.  I was always afraid of stumbling over it in the dark.

So let's look at the other end of the car.  The kingpin was no problem, but for some unknown reason, while the car was at Cleveland, the cover plate was fastened in place with multiple layers of duct tape instead of screws.  That's great -- Cleveland Chrome. By this time, the old duct tape has vulcanized and is very hard to remove.  I don't want to use heat or chemicals on the floor, as that might damage the old linoleum.  (The brass cover plate shouldn't be much of a problem.)  But it's down to scraping the tape off with a putty knife.

This is really annoying, another one of the unnecessary indignities the car suffered as a result of the preposterous scheme to run it in revenue service on the RTA.  Oh well.  At least the car has always been stored indoors, under cover, protected from the ravages of the weather.  That's the important thing, isn't it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

36 Report

There was more steady progress on the 36 today, and the end of the paint removal process is in sight.  I managed to finish stripping and sanding the letterboard and lower siding, six sectors in one day.

This picture makes the place look a lot gloomier than it really is.  The Barn 8 aisle lights do a very good job of illuminating the equipment -- I just haven't figured out a way to photograph the work.  And even when it's cold outside, our barns have an efficient solar heating system, at least when you're closer to the roof than to the ground.  But by the time surface prep was complete, the sun was going down, so painting will have to wait until Saturday.

Taking a break, I checked out the work the shop guys have done so far on the third rail beams.  You can see here the slot they have made.  The sleet scraper is attached to a steel shaft about 1/2" x 2 1/2" that will run down through this slot.  Now I just need to buy enough epoxy to glue all four beams together.  Thanks to all those who have been helping with this project!

And Tim is making quick work of the 4412 roof project, even as the seconds are ticking away on the contest clock.  With a week to go before the Thanksgiving deadline, here we see him attaching the running boards to the saddles.  He painted the poles earlier, and hopes to lift the bases into position on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

50% More or the End Is In Sight! Plus a bonus feature!

Al writes...

After my success last Tuesday I decided it was time to try again yesterday. As Randy stated in his last blog entry "Another day, another few feet of wooden siding stripped, sanded, and primed. " I was feeling a little bit better this week than last, so my efforts were able to cover one and a half windows for a 50% increase in the area prepared for future painting. Although today was chilly, working in barn 8 with a heat gun was not entirely uncomfortable.

 One feature about the 36 is that it was apparently varnished initially and when scraping the sides using a heat gun the varnish tends to gum up on my scraper and requires fairly frequent cleaning. As you can see at the end of the day we are within striking distance of completing the car side below the belt rail. It sure would be easier if Randy would figure out that dipping process.

As it was last week, things were rather quiet around the campus. I didn't have time to go exploring but some of the usual characters were seen on site including Rod, Frank, Nick, Ed and judging by the music coming from barn 4 Tim Peters was hard at work on the 4412. Of course Jan and company were keeping the lights on in the office. And hearing equipment moving about the site I assume Dave was hard work on B&G activities as well.

Bonus feature

It seems that we have a new face at IRM. Seen arriving was this three unit set of Miniature Train Company locomotive and two cars. This appears to be an MTC G12 model  12" gage amusement park train. For those of you not familiar with the Miniature Train Company it is probably best known for its F3 like locomotives on 14", 15" and 16" gage track, that were used in various amusement parks around the country. The Chicago area had at least five MTC G 16 train sets that I am aware of. There were two at Kiddieland, two at Riverview and one at Lincoln Park and I understand one is in private hands not too far from IRM.This train set is a smaller model than those and may be familiar to some of you babyboomers as similar to the one that ran in the Fair Store (note the early history of MTC was building trains for use in in Dept. stores) on State St. during Christmas (electrically operated I assume). Also arriving with the train was a truckload of 12" gage "snap track".

The miniature train company was a local supplier of amusement park trains. It was a small enough company that there does not even seem to be a Wikipedia entry for it. However a brief history of the company can be found here. I guess we will need to watch IRM cyber space closely for further developments.

My only question is what relationship did the Rattlesnake Island Railroad have to the North Shore?

This Blog entry was brought to you by the Shameless Prodding Division of the Hicks Car Works.

Remember indoor storage is the only long term solution to maintaining our equipment and ensuring that the preservation efforts of our volunteers do not get undone by time and weather.

YOU, yes you are being prodded to do something about it!  IRM is in the process of raising funds for Barn 14.  There are several funds you can donate to, but we here at the Hicks Car Works ask that you donate to code name RISWEC for cars in the Electric Car Department Collection.  Make a minimum $25.00 donation today!  You can mail your check to this address:

Illinois Railway Museum
P.O. Box 427
Union, IL 60180

If you want to, you can donate through this secure online link.

Any bit helps, so donate today!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Par for the Course

Another day, another few feet of wooden siding stripped, sanded, and primed.  I keep telling myself this has got to be the last time we will have a car that has to be completely stripped down to bare wood and repainted.  First there was the 309, which I joined when it was already partly done, then the 321, then the 308, and now the 36.  

Furniture restoring shops will sometimes have a large vat full of paint remover into which furniture can be dipped, greatly speeding up the process. I have not yet figured out a feasible way to scale this idea up.

I finished stripping four sectors of the letterboard and upper siding (19-22), then sanded it all down and applied first primer.  I then went back and started doing a complete job on the window sections, as seen here.  This part is the most challenging; there's less square footage, but lots of angles and corners.  Much of it must be sanded by hand. 

Thursdays tend to be lightly attended.  The usual suspects were seen lurking about: Rod, Tim (of course), Buzz, Max, and Roger.  And me.  Nick seemed to be AWOL -- be on the lookout!