Thursday, January 31, 2013

This Week's Progress

Henry has continued making progress on repairing the train door for the 36.  It appears he has finished filling the inner door with epoxy, and the patch pieces for the outer door are ready for trimming.

Tim is a one-man window factory.  All of the upper and lower side sash have been finished, and are stored here.  He is now making the clerestory sash, which have three lights.


And then there's me.  I did some more surface prep and painting in the 319, as seen here.  White primer is nearly done on the ceiling, and on the walls there's still one double-window section to do.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Phil Stepek

Bob Banke sent us these great photos of Phil Stepek working on the exterior of the RDC back in 2010.  He was always busy doing something like this.  It's hard to believe he's really gone.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

319 Report

Henry Vincent is continuing to work on the train door for the 36.  I haven't actually seen him in person for a couple of weeks, but it's good to know that someone we can trust is working on his own to get the job done.  The rotted parts of the inner door have been filled, and the stiles for the outer door have been carefully lapped for the new pieces.

I spent the whole day in surface prep and painting in the 319, as usual.  First there was white primer at the #2 bulkhead, as seen here.

And then first finish tan on the wall, sectors 25-28 and including part of the bulkhead.  The first coat is thinned somewhat, partly because it's so cold.  All in all, things are going well, and if anything better than I would have expected.

And in other exciting news, the guys finished assembling both trucks for the dome car Silver Pony.  Before you know it, the body will be back on trucks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In Memoriam: Phil Stepek

It is with great sadness that we must report the death of Phil Stepek, who died yesterday after a long battle with cancer.  He will be sorely missed.  Phil was always friendly and helpful, and often seemed to be many places at once, supplying water, coffee, or snacks, keeping the first-aid kits in order, decorating, and so on.  His main focus, of course, was the train of silver cars on which he expended a great deal of energy over the years, and supervised the efforts to restore and operate them, and also keeping them open for visitors when on display in Yard 5.  He was a great asset to the Museum, and his death is a great loss for everyone.

The family has apparently decided that there will be no visitation or funeral at this time.  There may be a memorial remembrance later in the spring.  In the meantime, there is a sympathy card in the woodshop.  Please sign it if you're out at the Museum this weekend.

Update: Phil was not a publicity seeker and generally seems to have avoided cameras.  This is the only usable picture of him we've found so far, taken by Shelley Vanderschagen.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cold Comfort

 At IRM we don't let the cold weather stop us from working.  At least not completely.  And our heated woodshop is a good place to start the day.

Better living through chemistry: master gluemaker Tim Peters helps me by mixing up his own special recipe of epoxy to glue up the last two third rail beams for the 36.

Then they are clamped together with every loose clamp we can find and left to set up for a day.

While we're here in the shop, you can admire the nice new brake rods that have been fabricated for the West Towns car.  The completely re-engineered brake system is nearly complete!

Most of the rest of the day was spent painting in the 319, as before.  The heaters get it up to a convenient temperature for primer, at least, even on very cold days.

And I was even visited by some Arctic explorers.  An old friend and long-time IRM member, John Miller (L), and his friend Bill Kane came down from Wisconsin and stopped by to see how things were going.  If you're looking for cold comfort, this is the place to find it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Third Rail Beams

 Today seemed like a good day to do some more work on the third rail beams for the 36 in our well-equipped shop.  Especially since I had a willing helper, Keith Leitsch

Two beams were already glued, and the next step was to cut out the bevel that provides clearance for the truck's leaf spring.  The best way I have yet thought of is this: we nail a couple of sacrificial 2x4s onto the beam to guide a circular saw at the required 45 degree angle, then make several cuts through the wood, as we see Keith doing here.  The saw can get heavy after a while, so we take turns.

Then most of the remaining wood can be chiseled away.  The surface is smoothed out with a belt sander.  Then the ends are cut at another 45 degree angle with a hand saw.

And the result looks like this.   We did both of the first two beams.  Thanks, Keith!  Of course, there were many other projects going on at the same time, but Bob would be very upset if I tried to scoop him.  So you'll have to read the department blog for yourself.

After the hustle and bustle of the woodshop, it's a welcome relief to go back to the 319 and do some nice quiet painting. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

More Painting

 Thursday happens to be the most convenient day for me to spend out at the Museum, and most of it was more of the same: surface prep and painting in the 319, this time on the walls.  White primer on one side, first finish color on the other.

I'm also working on reattaching the ceiling in one section where it had come loose, and this seems to be going well.  By leaving the clamp in place for a while, the panel seems to be returning to its original shape, however unwillingly.  With some more glue and caulk, it ought to start looking more like the others.

 Henry has started work on repairing the train door for the 36, as seen here.  It will be good to have this fixed correctly.  Tim helped with this project also, and I appreciate their assistance!

And I took the end window from the shop and reinstalled it in the #2 end of the car.  It now looks much better.  In the doorway you can see the particle board used to close up the opening, since the train door is in the shop.

And molding pieces around the window frame got painted blue.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Picture This

 IRM is a museum that never sleeps.  Even in the middle of winter, there's always somebody around, and on weekends there are usually lots of people working on various projects.  The car shop/wood shop is a beehive of activity, but there were also people working in the steam shop, the office, the silver train, B&G, working on the trucks for the dome car, and I presume over in the Diesel shop.  I could start naming names but I'd surely leave several people out inadvertently.  And who needs more enemies?

Nonetheless, there's always room for more, and we could easily put several more people to work on productive activities.  It beats sitting at home watching TV!

I spent most of the day prepping and painting various parts of the ceiling in the 319, as usual. It's going well. 

In the shop, I also put a second coat of red on the outside of the 36's end window, followed by first blue on the inside. 

And I looked at the train door with Bob Kutella and Victor Humphreys.  We talked about how to patch in the new wood, and Victor picked out some spare pieces of poplar left over from the snowplow project.  Since the pieces we needed are fairly small, I was confident that we'd have some stock already available.  Thanks, Victor!

Bob and I are probably both in the market for new digital cameras.  I'm still using an antique (= 10 years old) Nikon model which works OK.  Bob's no longer focuses properly, so he ordered a newer model on line.  It has all sorts of problems, and he was telling us about his phone conversation with the sales rep.  The funniest part was that he complained that if you're shooting near the sun, you can't see anything in the display to help you frame the picture.  So the rep suggested that he just turn around.  Turn around?  Now how am I supposed to take a picture of what I want?  Anyhow, we'd appreciate any positive recommendations from real people who have bought cameras recently for railfan purposes.  In particular, it's important to download easily to a computer for blogging.  So let us know what you recommend.  Thanks!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

36/319 Report

 This report will cover two days, Wednesday and Thursday.  Most of the time was spent painting the ceiling in the 319, as before.  The work is progressing nicely.

  Here's a few progress shots, we needn't bother you with the details. 

Henry Vincent has offered to help on the 36, which is really great news.  His first project will be this train door from the #2 end. From the inside, it looks pretty good.

(I should point out that all of the CA&E wood cars have thick train doors, made by essentially fastening two separate doors together.  Evidently when the line started, this was thought necessary for high-speed operation.  By the time the steel cars came along, this idea was abandoned.)

However, the outside was patched with a piece of  plywood, hiding who knows what sort of problem.  With the door removed, we see that the bottom rail has rotted away and been replaced with some scrap lumber.

And when the plywood is pried off, sure enough, there's a big gap.  I believe the inner door can be saved, and replacement parts of the outer door will use it as a base.  We did something similar to this with one of the doors on the 308. 

Also, I finished filling and priming the end window that was in the shop, and today it got a first coat of finish red.  It will get at least one more before installation.  Then I flipped it over and put brown primer on the inside, which will be painted blue. 

On Wednesday Nick, Paul, and Bob Olson (L to R) spent some time assembling the trucks for the dome car.   The large pipes over the truck are extenders for the forks, and are used to lift the frame so the wheelsets with journal boxes can be slid into place.

And then Tim Peters is hard at work making new windows for the 1024.  All of the sash will be replaced, so he's making 24 clerestory frames, 24 uppers, and 24 lowers.  Here we see him mortising one of the 144 rails.


  The parts are carefully stacked on a shelf in the shop. 

Finally, I walked out to yard 14 to check on the 321.  Everything appears to be OK; the tarp is fine, and there's no evidence of leaks inside the car.  The operating position still has its half-finished, multi-color appearance.  More importantly, I suspect it's against the rules to operate a car with a tarp in the way, although that doesn't seem to be stated explicitly.  It sure would be nice if this car could be back inside a barn somewhere....

Say, did I ever tell you we're planning to build a new barn?  No, that's not just another rumor -- it's true!  And we could still use your help.  It's easy: all you have to do is go to this link to the Museum website and donate through our secure connection.  Any donations will be greatly appreciated, you can be sure of that.

Holiday in New York

Our friend Bill Wall sent us a couple of brief videos taken by Mark Woladarsky, who is also an IRM member, featuring an eight-car train of vintage New York rapid transit cars.  These cars are part of the collection of the New York Transit Museum, which is often able to run vintage equipment like this on the subway system. 

1) The denizens of New York are really living it up! 

2) Same train as viewed from a regular train.  Bill says the old equipment can actually outrace the newer cars once they get up to higher speeds.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Please Remain Calm

 OK, I admit it, I'm easily startled.  I get used to having the cavernous expanse of Barn 8 to myself, and then every so often the notorious Bill Wulfert finds some phony excuse to come over to the barn and maliciously sneak up on me.  And have a few laughs at my expense.  I'm always envious of those who are more easily amused than myself. 

Be that as it may, today was mostly spent working on the ceiling in the 319.  Lots of little detail work, but not a lot to take pictures of, unfortunately.  After finishing the installation of new screws to hold the molding at the top of the car cards securely, then filling and sanding and so forth, the molding got another coat of primer.  And then there are several seams that needed to be filled with putty, and so on.

For some reason the paint on the back of the electrical cabinet was badly cracked, so I spent some time filling the cracks and sanding it all down.  It needs some fine sanding, but the surface is actually much smoother than it looks in this picture.

Say, I know it's 2013 already, but we are still in serious need of donations to the Barn 14 construction funds.  Your help will be greatly appreciated.  One of these days we'll get an updated analysis of how far along we are.  Help Wanted!

Friday, January 4, 2013

319 Report

 Depending on one's work schedule, the holidays can offer some opportunities to get a lot done.  Of course, the weather can present a challenge.  Here's a report on the last two days.

On Wednesday, I mostly worked on repainting the ceiling in the 319.  After surface prep, all of the center panels were painted with white primer, except for the one small area where it's still loose. This part is held up with a pipe, as seen at left.  The difference may not be obvious from these pictures, but trust me, it looks a lot better.
 There were a lot of people in the shop on Wednesday.  Bob has reported on their activities in the department blog.  Here we see Jeff Brady using the big mortising machine to make new parts for the Michigan car.
These will cover large nuts for the bolts which will attach the saddles to the roof.  After talking to Jeff and reading Bob's report, I'm still not sure exactly what these blocks do.  But they must be important.

 Oh yes, and then I cleaned up the final buzzer cord hanger down to bare brass, and reinstalled it.  It was later painted with white primer.

 On Thursday morning, Bob Olson and Dave Diamond were unloading a newly arrived truckload of ties.

Most of Thursday I spent sanding, filling, and repainted the walls, just for variety.  These pictures show various sections before and after.

And finally, I filled in the remaining gaps and repainted the end window for the 36.  It's now leaning up against the wall in the shop again.