Sunday, March 31, 2013

Paradise and Pacific

 On this Easter Sunday, let's take a trip to Paradise.  This is the one in Arizona, not Pennsylvania, so the train is much smaller, but it's still pulled by steam.  So there's fun for all ages.

This 15" Mike pulls a train of about eight gons fitted with benches for people to ride, then a stock car (and the conductor just sits on the roof) and a waycar which can hold several small children.  It's meant to represent a narrow gauge prototype, so the railroad would be 5/12 scale.

The impressive thing about this operation is how often it runs.  The trip takes perhaps ten minutes or so; when the train pulls in, everybody unloads, then the next passengers are loaded, and away they go again.  There's a one-man engine crew; by 6PM on this particular day he had already made 37 trips, he said, and was going to do a couple more before they stopped at 6:30.  And he had started firing the engine at 6AM, I think.  FRA hours of service are not an issue, of course. Sounds like a long day to me!

The sun was getting low in the sky when we arrived, so these pictures are not the best.

Nice scale accessories.  The track layout is two large reverse loops with spring switches joined by a rather short single track main.  Total route length is probably about a mile.  And there's a tunnel.

Working pressure is 150 lbs.  Oil fired, of course.  I meant to ask, since I don't know much about park trains, but I would guess that box on the running board is a mechanical lubricator?

And off we go!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

In All Directions

Today people were in motion in all directions out at your Museum.  Let's see here, I think we'll start with the ordinary and move up to the extraordinary.

I painted the red stripes down the north side of the 36.  This makes a big difference.  Now of course the red windows and doors are not right, but at least the red is part of the paint scheme.  If they were green or yellow, that would be a real problem.  And I should remind you that on the south side of the car, the doors and windows are (or soon will be) all correct.

And then there was surface prep, and a second coat of red on the #1 end of the car.  Also primer on the tack molding, which will be painted black next time.

And there were a few miscellaneous tasks on the 36, as usual; I managed to free up a stuck window, sort parts, and so on.

Henry Vincent and his grandson Jonathan Soucek have been helping with door parts in the shop.  They stripped all the paint off these metal parts of one of the side doors, and I helped them along by priming the inside surfaces.  I need to reassemble the door by the time the Museum opens for visitors on April 7th.  They're also making good progress on the train door, and I talked to Bob Kutella about the lettering.  Thanks!

Lots of other members were working on their projects.  Rod is preparing new grids for the 141, several guys are working on doors and windows for the depot, the snow plow, the B&M diner, and who knows what else, Eric Lorenz and others are putting the Cleveland PCC together, and Frank, Mike, and Bill Thiel were preparing the Veracruz open car for service.

Of course, Tim Peters continues to work on the 1024.  There's a lot of work to be done on the roof of this car built in 1898, as your might expect.

Also up on the rooftop, Norm Krentel and Jeff Brady were working on the Michigan Electric 28.

But most of the people out at the Museum today were neither volunteers nor members.  There was a large film crew hard at work.  The Zephyr was running back and forth all day; they were still at work when I left.

There was a line of large trucks parked on Central Avenue all the way from Depot to the ladder, as far as I could see, and other vehicles parked elsewhere.

Down by the depot, they've constructed a loading platform on the north side of the main, with this nice little shelter.  I don't know how much of this we'll be able to keep.  In any case, I had work to do and didn't want to get in the way, so I didn't stick around.

They were also filming inside one of the bilevels in Yard 5, using this assemblage outside to mount the cameras and control the lighting, as I suppose.  It's always interesting to see film crews at work.  My wife will often see them in downtown Chicago.  It's a huge production.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action!

 I believe it's not too much of a state secret that another movie is being filmed at IRM, and this one will star the Zephyr, as usual, plus a bilevel or two.  So the advance crew was busy today.  They bring in the various materials they'll need by truck, along with various other vehicles and what not.

They set up a large heated tent over near the Schroeder Store.

And down by the depot, the carpenters are getting ready to build some scaffolding for filming.  When more details become available on what this movie will be called and so forth, you'll read it here first!  I hope.

Henry Vincent and his grandson have been making great progress on the car 36 parts in the shop.  Here we see where he has sanded down to the yellow on blue lettering, which is what we'll want to reproduce on the train door.

And then they have also stripped and primed the metal parts for the side door, which I want to have reassembled by the time the Museum opens for visitors.  Thanks, guys!!!

Jon Fenlaciki was out today; he's seen here working on the electric heaters for the 65.

 Finally, I spent the day painting the 36, since the weather was just about right.  I finished applying a first coat of the light grey on the north side of the car, and then red on the remaining parts of the #1 end.  The lower blue I can do anytime without a scaffold; the only paint remaining will be the red stripes above and below the windows.

But after taking this picture, I realized I also needed to paint the tack molding black.  That didn't take long, fortunately.

 And at the #2 end, we're essentially done.  The doors and windows on this side still need to be painted, but that will come later, probably over the summer.


May 11th marks the opening of a new gallery in the Exhibit Cars of Yard 5. Entitled "Brilliance", this gallery showcases 20 images of women who were employed in several different roles on the North Shore Line, from ticket collectors to telephone operators and clerks.

Here is a special sneak peak for Hicks Car Works readers (see caption and photo of Dorothy McLevis): Special thanks to Walter Keevil who identified all but one of the women. At this time, Gwyn Stupar is reaching out to former NSL employees to get a real-life testimonial to add to the exhibit. Both Gwyn and Joe Stupar would like to thank everyone at the museum who helped contribute to the well-being of the exhibit cars themselves for this to even be possible, especially members of the Coach Department Jon Habegger and the late Phil Stepek, as well as Max Tyms.
Dorothy M. McLevis models the new uniform for women collectors on the main line, designed after consultation with the eight women collectors then in service to incorporate their ideas. Brass buttons omitted. Used in Nov. 1944 NSLN. Keevil photo.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Time to Clean Up

 Yes, it's time once again for the Spring Car Cleaning Festival.  Anybody who's involved in operations in any way and isn't otherwise occupied with restoration work should come out and help get our equipment clean for the visitors.  Car cleaning sessions will be:
Saturday, April 6 and Saturday, April 13.  Start at 10 AM and meet at the west end of Barn 7 on both days.

I can't emphasize enough how important this is.  Everybody can help, so those who are engaged in restoration projects don't have to clean windows instead.  And you work in teams, so it goes quickly and you won't get lonely.  Here we see a couple of the guys helping out a couple of years ago: Rich Witt and Phil Becker.  Thanks!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a Scottsdale city park almost entirely devoted to railroading in various ways.  There are several full-size pieces preserved, a 15" live-steam train, several model railroad clubs, and several historic station buildings.  And I hadn't been there for a while, so I wanted to stop in.  Due to schedule constraints, the sun was getting low when we visited, so some of these pictures are less than the best. For now I'll just cover the preserved equipment.  If there's any interest, I suppose we could also take a ride on the 15" steam train.

Magma Arizona #6 is a 1907 Baldwin Mogul, in good cosmetic condition. It was built for the Arizona and New Mexico, which became part of the SP, and sold in 1922 to Magma Arizona, a mining road which was being converted from 3' gauge at that time.  There it operated until 1960, and was donated to the city in 1977.

Then there's the Roald Amundsen, a 1928 Pullman private car used by FDR prior to the construction of the Ferdinand Magellan.   Since it was late in the day, several of the displays were not open.  The park's website has good information on the locomotive and the Amundsen, among other things.

Here are a couple of the nicely restored and preserved station buildings.  They are used for various park functions, including selling tickets to the rides.  Admission to the park itself is free.

There are other freight and passenger cars also on display, some without trucks.

And Arizona's Merci car.

Close your eyes!  We're about to run full speed right past this absolute displaying "Stop"!

Monday, March 25, 2013

IRMA Update

We have been working on developing more content for IRMA, but the last couple of weeks have been busy for all of us.  In another month or so more time should be available.  And a major priority will be to add more pictures and links to the articles that are already there.  We wanted to wait until the project had official approval by the Board before going much further.

I'm told that when an iPhone version is available, it should be compatible with an iPad or smaller iPod.  This will be a little more expensive to develop, because the developer's license costs more.  When that happens, we may actually start begging for money, something we've never done before because this blog itself has never cost me one red cent.

Anyway, this has been an exciting project.  Frank and I have been discussing various ways of delivering more information to visitors for a long time, at least 15 years.  I remember visiting another museum where you could rent audio tape machines that provided narration as you toured the displays.  That was quite impressive, but....  The problem there was a huge upfront capital cost for all these tape machines, then somebody has to man a booth to rent them out, collect the money, clean them, try to fix problems, and so on.   So who's going to do that?  And then the hardware will either break down or become obsolete.  We couldn't see that ever working out very well at IRM.  We also talked about an 800 number you could dial from any cell phone, with extensions for the various recorded messages, but again that could be expensive, and somebody has to record everything.  So those ideas never went anywhere.  But with modern technology, the visitors already have their own hardware, the software costs less to install, and we happened to have a software expert who wanted to do this difficult task for his own professional development.  So Irma's time has finally arrived. 

Please let us know if you experience any problems with locating, downloading, or installing the app, or if any problems pop up during operation.  You can email me or leave a comment here.  Operators will be standing by.  Thanks!

Park Locomotives

 Here are a couple of Santa Fe locomotives on display in Arizona.

At Kingman, along the main line, is #3759, a 1928 Northern built by Baldwin.  It's an earlier and slightly smaller version of the 2900's such as our 2903.

Of course, the lettering is not quite right.  The tender has a message: "No Dogs Allowed" which I don't remember seeing elsewhere.  The retractable smoke lifter is interesting.  This engine is being very well maintained.

 It was donated to the city in 1956.

And behind it is a modern steel waycar.

In the town of Wickenburg, northwest of Phoenix, is this much older Santa Fe 2-8-0, built by Baldwin in 1900.  It was donated to the town in 1955 and has been on display along the line ever since.

Behind it is a wooden waycar of dubious ancestry.  The trucks have "PM RY" cast into them.  If this is a PM car, it's a long way from home!

Somebody thought these hardware-store light globes would look nice over the platforms.

The town depot now serves the Chamber of Commerce and is well maintained.

In this climate the sun takes a toll on paint, but for the most part, things last a lot longer when stored outside.  As a friend put it: "We get 8 inches of rain a year.  But you don't want to be here on the day we get it!"