Monday, December 30, 2013

36 Report

Today was certainly a good day to work inside. Outside, it looked and felt like Siberia.  All the snow and slush had turned to ice, and just walking down the street was very treacherous.  So a few diehards, such as Rod, Tim, Buzz, Warren, and Frank S. were very glad to have a nice heated shop to work in.

There's always more painting to be done.  I finished the mortises and sanded down the next third rail beam for the 36, then painted it with primer.

Then there's the almost-never-ending supply of windows to be repainted.  We had three old ones, which I finished sanding down, and then put first primer on both sides of them.

And also two new ones, which I had made earlier this year.  They already had primer on both sides, so they got a first coat of grey on the outside (L)  


and the finish color (R) on the inside.

And then, by the end of the day, the second third rail beam was mostly assembled.  The metal parts need primer, and then finish black, and so on.

So the moral of this story is that we can always find things to do, even in the dead of winter, without freezing our fingers off.  That's good to know!

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Teamwork is essential to making an operation as complicated as ours run smoothly.  I can't possibly name all the people who do the various tasks needed to keep the Museum running, even in the dead of winter.  Even on a specialized project like mine, there are always things I can't do by myself.

So to begin with, Rod helped me by heating up the rusted bolts holding the sleet scraper cylinder to what was left of the wood.  When freed, it looks like this.  

But since the sun was shining, it seemed like a good time to keep working on the clerestory flashing on the roof of the 319.  Boring as it may be, good progress is being made, and by the end of the day, about 6/7 of the roof has been completed.

Bill Peterson and Rich Witt spent much of the day making some new molding strips for the dome light in one of the vestibules on the 319.  Here Bill is sanding his handiwork smooth.  This help is greatly appreciated.

 I have a new digital camera, and among other things, I may try to start including more videos.  Here we see a brief shot of Tim Peters trimming the wood blocking for the rebuilt end platform on the 24.  He probably didn't realize I was recording, so we continued our usual idle chit-chat.


By late afternoon, it was too cold to work on the roof, so I wire-wheeled the cylinder.  When mounted on the beam to mark holes, it looks like this.  I then drilled the holes.  Next time I'll paint the various parts with primer.  Monday is supposed to be cold, so it will be a good time to work in the shop. 

Jim West came out to Barn 8 to remove the decorations from the L cars, so I took the opportunity to see what they look like before they're gone for another year.  It looks quite festive!

And while we're on the subject of holiday decorations, here's our Christmas village at home.  I supply the trains, tracks, and accessories, and  my wife supplies everything else.

This year's layout includes the 751 log unloader and the 755 animated station.  I hope everybody is having a merry holiday season!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Plowing Ahead

As you may have noticed, IRM is constantly plowing ahead.  Here we see Dave Diamond  proudly running the big dump truck to keep the streets of East Union clear.  This is a village that is always active.  Warren Lloyd was using his pickup to help with plowing, Buzz did some shoveling by hand and then returned to work on the Ely,  of course Jan was in the office, Ted Anderson and Norm Krentel were working, and there were others too.  So it doesn't get lonely.

And just for our friend Ted Miles, here are some CA&E third rail parts sitting on a bench in the shop, waiting to be refurbished for use out by the 50th Avenue station some day. We haven't forgotten!

As for me, I started installing the lower tack molding on the side of the 319, until I ran out of the right size of screws.  To be continued next time.  Also, the corner piece was fitted, which takes some time.  It was later painted with primer in the shop.  The upper edges still need to be planed to shape.

And then the sun came out, so it was warm enough to work on the flashing at the clerestory.  By spring, we should be ready for canvas. 

And while we're up here, you can look down on the end of the 308, which should be in regular service again next year.  I can't tell you how thankful I am we have indoor storage for these cars.  Otherwise it would be hopeless.

You, sitting there in your easy chair.  You need to make a New Year's resolution to be more active and get some exercise.  Limber up those unused muscles.  You could, of course, join a local health club, but that's so boring and just plain ordinary.  Instead, you can volunteer out at IRM.  It costs less, you can learn new skills, and you can actually accomplish something permanent.  Give it a try!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Cheer

Wednesday was the annual holiday party in the woodshop for all of the Wednesday volunteers and employees.  As always, there was plenty of good food and fellowship. 
Of course, Bob Kutella could not be there due to his recent accident, and it's not the same without him.  On the other hand, George Clark, who has been out for a couple of months with health problems was able to attend, so it was good to see him again.  There was plenty to eat.  The Hicks Car Works brownies disappeared, so they must have been popular.  I need to find some way to imprint the company herald on them.

OK, back to work.  The bolts that hold the third rail shoes to the beams have these metal inserts to prevent the bolt head from turning in the mortise.  I don't know if these have a name; I've never seen them apart from this specific application.

After a lot of chiseling into the iron-hard white oak,  it looks like this.  They later are covered with a thin piece of wood for insulation.

By the end of the day, the assembled beam looks like this, and all the metal parts were painted with primer.  Jon Fenlaciki helped me attach the scraper; it's not easy, because you have to pull the rod out against the spring inside the cylinder.  So it's a two-man job.  And I did some more work on the roof of the 319.

And work has started on preparing the parts for the next third-rail beam, including the mortises.

On Thursday, the first beam was painted black, and is essentially ready for installation.   Also, the lower tack molding strips for the 319 were painted so they can be installed next time.  And I kept going on the flashing on the clerestory, so the lower canvas can be installed.

It's hard to believe the year is almost over.  The time to send in your tax-deductible contributions to the Museum is now, friends!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Visit with Bob Kutella

My wife and I visited Bob Kutella this afternoon at the Northwest Community Hospital; Rich Witt was there also.  We left as they were getting ready to transport him to a nearby rehabilitation facility.  This accident has certainly been a very dreadful and traumatic experience.  But Bob remains determined to recover, and will do whatever it takes pull through.  He hopes to be in the rehab facility only a couple of days, and can then return home.  Barb should be returning Monday evening, and will be providing the extra care he needs.  And he is very grateful for the encouragement and support he's gotten from his many friends.  It may be several months before he can return to the Museum.

He also wanted me to point out that he probably won't be able to send out Christmas cards this year.  We're sure you'll understand!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Let It Snow

I really should have gotten some pictures of our snow-fighting operations.  It was snowing steadily this morning, but by the time I got there our B&G guys already had the situation well under control.  The big dump truck with its plow went by, but before I could react it was out of sight.  They really put a lot of effort into making sure the property is cleared for volunteers and visitors alike.  I can't imagine anybody else in this business has a snow-fighting capability like ours. 

And of course our Happy Holidays Railway operation was going on as usual.  The barns are not open for visitors, but the train was running and the Annex is open.  If you're in the area and have small children, don't miss it!

A cold day like this seemed like a good time to heat up some bolts.  Many of the nuts on the third-rail equipment from Trolleyville were badly rusted.  Rod made quick work of heating them up and removing them, with a little help from myself.  Here's the first scraper cylinder mounted on its beam, so the holes could be marked for drilling.

The vertical holes have to be drilled from both ends, sort of like drilling the Cascade Tunnel, since we don't have a drill press with a 6" travel.  If it's done carefully, the holes will line up almost perfectly.  It even turned out better than expected.

 And after all the through holes are drilled, it looks like this.  Following this, it was time to work on the roof of the 319 some more, since the snow had stopped and the sun was out, more or less.  No pictures, it looks just like last time.

Later, I painted the first beam with primer.

Then I dragged the next beam into the shop and partly demolished what was left of the wood.  It too needs to have bolts torched off.  So we'll keep going.  And after the 36 is done, we'll need to make three more sets of four beams apiece for the steel cars.

December is nearly half over.  Where does the time go???  Before the end of the year, you need to make sure you have gotten your tax-deductible contributions in, so don't delay.  Remember, Santa is watching!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Inch By Inch

In order to replace the 319's roof canvas correctly, the copper flashing along the clerestory needs a lot of detail work.
Here's the "before" view.  The black material is what's left of the last Wheaton canvas job; the canvas is covered with tar (Liquinoleum).  At the bottom edge of the clerestory, and extending out an inch and a half, it's covered with a copper flashing, and over that is more tar and paint.  The tar can be pretty thick, at least 1/4" in places. So the nail heads are hard to find. 

In this cold weather, however, it may actually be easier, since the tar becomes brittle and peals off the flashing more easily, I think. 

After a lot of work, the canvas is gone, all the nails are removed, and most of the tar over the flashing is gone.  The new canvas can be shoved under the flashing and nailed down.
 I did about four windows worth of flashing, about a fourth of the length of the car on this side, so it should not take too long to finish the rest.

The next thing I'll need to do is install the lower tack molding.  We have all the wood on hand, I just need to finish painting it prior to installation.  Here it is in our nice warm wood shop.

And as long as we have the primer out, I might as well paint the third rail shoe assembly that was wire-wheeled by the Buck brothers last week. It may be hard to see in this picture, but the shoe is heavily worn.  Luckily that won't really matter.

It's so cold out, it seems like a good time to think about sleet scraping.  This sleet scraper from Trolleyville was attached to a beam that was almost gone.  I managed to drag it in from the snow, and after a little chopping all the rotten wood was easily removed.  Now it just needs to be wire-wheeled also.
Here you get a better view of what it looks like from the inside.  

And while we're on the subject of third rails, here's our vintage gauge for checking whether interchange freight cars will clear the third rail.  What a nifty device.

In more somber news we were saddened to hear that Bob Kutella is in hospital.  He was badly injured at home while shoveling snow.  Let us all hope he can recover quickly.

Finally, here's a picturesque sunset, looking out over the frozen fields.  Stay warm!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Don't Fence Me In

Frank and I happen to know someone who has an interesting view from his rear balcony:

This isn't IRM, of course.  And we will never have high-rise apartments looking down onto our depot, or our shop buildings, or the Main Street scene.  But that's only because of the generosity of past donors, who made sure we had the resources to buy up buffer parcels around our main campus.  And there are still some plots of land we want to purchase when the opportunity arises.

So as the end of the year approaches, remember that this is only one of the many valuable and even vital restricted funds that your Museum has set up, and which we need to continue to develop and further our mission.  Please give generously!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Good Riddance

It took most of the day, but all of the old tack molding and nearly all of the canvas have been removed from the 319.  Removing the lower tack molding has to be done very carefully, since we don't want to damage the beautiful paint job in any way.  There's still a lot to be done on this side, to be sure.

The black material in front of the clerestory windows is what's left of the canvas from the last Wheaton roof job.  It's fairly brittle, but still hard to remove completely.  On this side, for most of its length this was covered (at North Olmsted) with a thin strip of wood that they caulked down over the new canvas.  I was able to pry up all of this wood, in pieces, but most of the screws that held it in place still need to be removed.  I hate Phillips screws.  

 At this corner there was a hole in the roof.  Evidently at one time the main roof cable came up through this hole, before they astutely realized it was better to run the cable out over the edge of the roof, so that there are no holes in the canvas.  In any case, it's nice to be able to make steady progress.

It was time to make another trek across the frozen tundra to check on sister car 321, what's left of it.  The tarp is holding up well, and there is no evidence inside of leaking.  We can only hope that when Barn 14 is completed and the 321 is put back inside that it will be no worse than it was back in 2009.  (On the right you can see part of a stained glass window from one of the IT sleepers, but not the same type as the Peoria.  I mounted it there for safekeeping, and it's still as good as any other mode of storage, I think.)

Bridges to the future.

 In other news, I won't be at IRM this Saturday, because the Messiah is coming.  As we have for the last 135 years or so, the Apollo Chorus will be presenting Handel's Messiah in all its glory at Orchestra Hall.  Don't miss it!