Thursday, October 31, 2013

319 and More!

By now I'm sure you've all heard that the 1630 passed its hydro test yesterday.  This is great news for the Museum, and congratulations to the Steam Team who have worked so long and hard to make it happen.  Afraid we don't have anything nearly so exciting to report here, but keep reading anyway.

A lot of the work today was more of the same.  All the tacks in the flashing at the top of the lower canvas have to be pulled, and they're spaced between 3/4" and 1" apart, so there's hundreds of them.  And they're coated with a thick layer of tar, but with practice they can be removed at a reasonable pace.

And there was more woodwork on the upper roof.  I'm letting the glue dry until Saturday, and then the last section of molding can be installed.  And I did more planing and sanding on the lower tack molding, followed by painting.

A space was opened up so the scaffold can be placed at the east end of the car (#1 end) and I started removing the canvas and tack molding.

It may not be obvious, but here the tack molding is partly removed from the end.  And the next corner piece is ready to be fitted.

Now for something completely different.  In the late afternoon, I helped Rod load a pair of PCC trucks onto a flatbed for shipment to Mt. Pleasant.  Our buddies there have acquired a PCC from Philadelphia Pittsburgh, and it will be arriving tomorrow.  Its trucks need to be regauged, so in the meantime we're letting them borrow a pair of CTA trucks so they have something to put the body on.

First the trucks had to be lifted out of the mud in the rain.  And then they were loaded onto the flatbed and chained down.

And by nightfall the driver was on his way back to Iowa.

So this was a welcome break from pulling tiny tacks.

Meanwhile, our other roof projects in Barn 4 are all making progress. 

The tireless Tim Peters is applying black canvas paint to the 24.  

 The Michigan car has a first coat of canvas paint.

And the LSE freight trailer is ready for its first coat of canvas paint.  This plastic covering around the whole car is what I will need to do on the 319, since I need to protect the nice paint job.  Canvas paint is thin and tends to drip no matter how careful you are.

Work does not stop at IRM over the winter, unless the snow is so deep that nobody can get in or out.  Come on out and see for yourself.  There are always plenty of projects needing help.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Things Are Looking Black

But sometimes that's good, if black is what you want.  Today was another busy day at IRM.  Work on the 319 started with a finish coat of black on part of the lower roof, as seen here.  The corner tack molding piece was removed so the back could be painted; it's sitting on top of the roof.  Next, we'll need new curved tack molding pieces for the ends.

The new poplar pieces were bought yesterday, and here's the setup in my carefully-designed shop.  The old pieces need to be clamped down to flatten them out for tracing, and we allow another inch or so on each end for trimming. 

And once they're both traced out, it looks like this.  The big bandsaw in the shop is the best tool to use for this job, but right now it's under repair; new guides are being made for it.  Once it's in service, these pieces will be cut out and milled, and we'll be ready for intallation.

The next pain in the derriĆ©re is the toilet ventilator.  The only solution was to remove the cover inside the compartment, then bend down the tabs which had been bent up against the ceiling.  Here we are looking up inside the little room.  I should have taken a picture before I started, but here it is after the tabs were bent down.

Anyway, this is what it looks like after the lower part is finally pulled up.  At least now we can stretch the canvas properly.  As I said before, it's obvious why this wasn't done as part of the Trolleyville project.  The ventilator itself could use some work, but I'm not sure it's worth the effort to clean off all the tar and paint.

Then at the east end of the car, I attached more of the additional pieces needed to hold the upper molding strips, and cut the molding pieces to length.  They can be attached next time after the glue is dry.  And I spent an hour or more removing tacks from the lower deck flashing.  It's 1976 all over again.

If you ever want to build a PCC from scratch, we have just the plans you need.  This blueprint is laid out in the shop as Eric and his friends put the Cleveland PCC back together.

And in other roof projects, the canvas on the Michigan Electric car and both of the lower sides of the 24 have been completely tacked down and are ready for paint.  I guess we're just waiting for the temperatures to stabilize.

Today was the last day for the Trick or Treat Trolley and Terror on the Railroad, so if you've missed them, you're a chump.  Happy Halloween nonetheless!  We seemed to have a good number of visitors out today, and lots of other things were going on.  The track gang were taking advantage of this opportunity to work on the steam leads, since the usual occupants are still out on the main.  And so on.  The next big thing to look forward to is the 60th Anniversary Gala Banquet on November 9th.  You need to sign up by November 1st.  Barb would be mad at me if I didn't mention this at every opportunity.  And the consequences are too terrifying to contemplate.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just Around the Corner

Unlike most electric cars, the ends on CA&E cars curve up over the train door, so that the end tack moldings and corner pieces if any have curves in three dimensions. Getting everything to fit correctly is a challenge.
Today I started by fitting the first corner piece, and replacing a section of roof boards that was partly missing.  This takes a while, but the result looks good.  The next step will be to make the end tack moldings, and I plan to buy the wood tomorrow.  The corner blocks were deliberately made too big, so there's considerable rasping and sanding that needs to be done.

Then it was back to the toilet section.  New wood was installed on the upper roof.  I had to drill out some screws, but the ventilator was finally disassembled.  It took a while to figure out what had to be done, since everything is coated in a thick layer of tar.  I can understand why the Trolleyville guys left it in place. The lower half includes the flange and will have to be removed to install the canvas correctly, of course, but at least I can now get at the parts I need to bend in order to remove it.  The ventilator itself needs some serious body and fender work. 

With the upper part off, though, at least it's much easier to install the next section of rail to support the upper tack molding.  I also put primer on the upper edge of most of the lower tack molding, so next time these parts can be painted black.

And you can see where the corner piece was removed so the back could be painted, before it's permanently installed.  So progress is being made.

Meanwhile, the bilevels are back on the track, and the dramatic wreck has pretty much been cleaned up.  I didn't get around to taking any pictures of it, though.  Maybe Saturday.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Top Ten 60th Anniversary Banquet & Gala Myths: Debunked!

As November 9th, the date of the IRM 60th Anniversary Banquet & Gala, approaches, Hicks Car Works guest blogger Gwyn Stupar asks, do you have your tickets yet?  And in the spirit of debunkery, here's a list of the Top Ten Myths concerning the event:

1) Myth: They'll make me sit next to Nick Kallas.
    Fact: No assigned seating.

2) Myth: I have to buy a ticket online and I don't know how.
    Fact: You can buy your ticket in the museum office.

3) Myth: $60 for a warm meal?  I'd rather donate to the museum.
    Fact: A portion of your meal ticket does go toward the museum

4) Myth: Boring slideshow.
    Fact: Never-before-seen slides of the museum, courtesy of Charlie King.

5) Myth: It's only open to regular members.
    Fact: Anyone, and we mean *ANYONE*, can join us, so bring your family and friends.  We guarantee they'll have fun too!  We have great silent auction items and entertainment by our very own Bob Opal!

6) Myth: Haven't we celebrated the museum's 60th enough?
    Fact: Usually when we celebrate, it involves work, like setting up equipment, getting ready for operations, or tours.  Besides the people who are actually setting up the event (who are rarely involved in operations), you can sit back and relax!

7) Myth: Boring speaker.
    Fact: Jim Wrinn of TRAINS Magazine is well informed, engaging, and a great fan of steam!  What could be better?  We'd be remiss if we didn't add that Malcolm McCarter, founding member, will be joining us.  Get a chance to thank him for his help founding our beautiful museum!

8) Myth: They'll run out of food and make me eat the infamous "death dogs".
    Fact: Not only do you get a full meal with dessert and coffee, you get to choose between London Broil, salmon, or Chicken Marsala.  Plus, it's catered by Jameson's Charhouse.  What could be better?

9) Myth: Boy, this sounds like a fancy occasion and I feel out of place.  Do I have to wear a tuxedo?  A suit and tie?
    Fact: Wear whatever you'd like, keeping in mind we're at a nice venue and are representatives of the museum.  So let's put it this way: if you think you could wear it to your parents' Thanksgiving dinner, you can probably wear it to this!

10) Myth: Gwyn Stupar will be mad at me if I don't buy a ticket.
    Fact: Well... that's actually true...

Tickets are going fast!  Secure yours today!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Happy Birthday, Bob!

Today was a festive celebration of Bob Kutella's 70th birthday, held in his home away from home, the IRM Wood Shop.  So we had a better-than-usual picnic lunch and engaged in our customary banter.

Most of these guys I know so well I can recognize the backs of their heads.  Let's see, Max, Dave, Barb, Vic, Rich, John, Eric, Buzz....

And here Max and Roger are listening to Bob, with the food in the foreground.  Barb probably deserves most of the credit for all of this.

I hope these pictures are making you hungry.  If so, you can arrange now at this link to sign up for IRM's 60th Anniversary Banquet, which will be held in a much more elegant ambiance at Sun City, and provide better food.  Jim Wrinn, the editor of Trains magazine, will be our guest speaker, and Bob Opal will be providing musical entertainment -- you can't beat that!  Please sign up by November 1st, we'd appreciate it.

Roof Roof Roof

No, that's not the sound of your neighbor's barking dog.  But I'm afraid this 319 roof project is likely to get rather monotonous for a while.  Today I was able to insert all the screws in the lower tack molding on one side of the car, using my nice pilot drill set and a screwdriver bit with a brace to pull the screws tight.  And there are lots of miscellaneous tasks to perform, pulling up more tacks from the flashing, adding dutchmen to the carlines, installing pipe brackets to hold up the conduit, etc., etc.  Climbing up and down the scaffold is good exercise, at least.

They say brevity is the soul of wit.  That's my best hope of being witty.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

319 Report

Today was another productive day on the 319 roof project, although progress is never fast.  I removed the other piece of old tack molding at the west end, and measured them so new poplar can be bought.  By the end of the day, all of the lower tack molding was nailed in place, and I started planing it to shape with a jointer plane.

And another section of the support strip for the upper tack molding was installed.  I was about to do another, but some of the wood directly over the toilet compartment is bad, so I concentrated on removing the decayed roof boards and planning for repairing the ends of the carlines.

In fact, in a few places the wood appears to be charred, although I don't know how that's possible.  But on the whole things are going well.


In other news, Rich Witt, Paul Cronin, and Bob Kutella helped by cutting the big notches in the two remaining third rail beams for the 36.  This is greatly appreciated.

Tim Peters continues to make progress at blinding speed.  Here he is installing canvas on the lower roof of the 24.

And Bob was laying out the lettering for the newly-repainted Great Northern tank car.

In the bad news department, Tim gave me the quote he got from the foundry in Chicago for making lift tabs for the windows in the 36 -- $22 apiece, or about $700 for one car.  That seems high for small, simple castings like this, but I really don't know where else to turn.  I have plenty of free time, but living in a townhouse there's no chance I could set up my own brass foundry as a hobby.  I suppose I could cast them out of epoxy and paint them to look like tarnished brass.  Other suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Smoke Over Sangamon Valley

Last weekend we once again visited the Monticello Railway Museum to see and ride behind Southern 401 in steam.  The weather wasn't the best for photography, but it was still a very rewarding experience.

Among other things, I walked over to see their one piece of traction equipment, CTA car 53, a three-unit articulated.  It has been heavily vandalized, with doors, windows, controllers, and other parts removed, and various items torched out of the ends.  Fortunately for us, though, these "vandals" are actually IRM members who have made several trips downstate to remove parts.  Monticello has generously made this car available to us as a parts source for our 52.  The next step will be to lift the bodies off the trucks.  The aluminum bodies will be deposited in the nearest pop can recycling bin, and the trucks and motors taken to Union.

For more pictures of the steam locomotive, click here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Obligatory Trip to the Pit Lead

Regular blog readers will know that a recurring feature on Hicks Car Works is the trip to the pit, where we take one or more cars over to the Barn 4 pit or pit lead to do something on them that can't be done in Barn 8.  Sunday was the latest example of this; below, the obligatory photo of cars sitting on the pit lead, in this case the 36 and 309.

The goal of Sunday's sojourn was to needle-chip the side sills on the 36.  The exposed steel side sills hadn't been stripped since the 1920s, as evidenced by numerous layers of paint (from the top they were Trolleyville black, 1950s red, 1940s blue, 1940s black, 1930s dark red and 1920s dark red, the latter two very similar but still distinguishable).  Below, the obligatory before-and-after photo.
One of the odd things about the side sill on the "L" side (currently the north side) is that the I-beam was spliced at some point early in the car's life for an unknown reason.  We know it was early because both sides of the splice had the same paint colors going back to the 1920s.  This splice is located about a third of the way from the #1 end; the shorter piece, to the right of the splice, has "Cambria" cast into it.  Below, the obligatory close-up photo
I was only able to get three-quarters of the way down the car side before daylight started to give out on me, threatening my ability to return to the barn while I could still see what I was doing (thanks to Greg Kepka for helping get the cars out of and back into Barn 8!), but I did also needle-chip the #1 end anticlimber and part of the bumper at that end.  The obligatory overall photo of the work done is shown below.
The side sill can now be wire-wheeled, primed and painted.  It will be blue, as the 36 is going to end up in the same version of the "Early American" livery that the 308 now wears, with the notable difference that it will have a black roof.

And now for something completely different.  In the wood shop there were a couple of intriguing items on hand.  The first was a pair of CA&E third rail beams, shown below, with another one or two in lesser stages of completion.
And then there was this door, which was labeled something along the lines of "Not sure what car it's from - ???"  I'm not sure what car currently at IRM might have sported something like this.  It appears to be a cab door, due to the window shade, and is a rolling door rather than a swinging door.  Any ideas?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kankakee Railroad Museum

The Kankakee Railroad Museum is a small non-operating volunteer organization.  It includes three or four model railroads of various scales and other displays located in part of the impressive IC depot in downtown Kankakee.  They also have three preserved cars, of which the rarest is a streetcar body from Kankakee itself.

Although not a large city, Kankakee had two street railway companies.  This is car 114 of the North Kankakee company, a single-truck streetcar built in 1917 by McGuire-Cummings.  It and sister car 116 were backyard sheds until about 2003, when they were rescued.  Since that time, the museum built a display building for the car, and they have done a lot of work to restore it as best they can.  It makes a very nice display.  The 116 is now in storage at IRM.

Since the truck and all of the mechanical and electrical parts were missing, they purchased many things from Gomaco.  The controller is from a Milan car, and the seat frames from Portugal.


The wicker upholstery was done by museum volunteers, as was all of the woodwork repair and repainting.

And they purchased a trolley pole and a short length of wire from Gomaco also.


Since the correct type of truck is unobtainable, a plywood mockup serves to show how the car was mounted.

The center part of the original ceiling is missing.

The museum put a lot of effort and money into this display, and the result is very instructive for people who haven't seen a real streetcar before, such as school groups.  They have a lot of historic pictures of Kankakee in streetcar days, and the volunteers I talked to were very helpful and enthusiastic. 

Outside, next to the station, there's a steel UP caboose and a Santa Fe Budd coach.  The coach was in Amtrak service for a while, then passed through unknown hands until they purchased it from an equipment dealer.

Many of the seats were missing or beyond repair, but about half of the car has been restored to its coach configuration.

The other half has been made into a diner, displaying a large collection of railroad china.  It can also be rented for birthday parties and such.

I took more pictures of the museum, but that's enough for now.  Our brief visit was certainly worthwhile and educational.