Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hear the Wind Blow

More dreadful weather today, with cold and blowing snow howling across the frozen plains....  OK, that's enough whining, perhaps, but it is getting rather tiresome.  And Saturday is supposed to be worse.

Window work on the 36: 17 and 18 were installed in the car, as seen here; 19 and 20 got new paint on both sides, and 21 and 22 were removed from the car, sanded down, and painted with first primer on one side.  Then, because the blowing snow appeared to be getting worse, I decided to quit early and go home.  The first few miles were the worst, with near white-out conditions in several places.  But in the end all was well.

I noticed that Joel has painted three spare retrievers blue, which is more than I had expected.  Aren't they pretty?

And finally, when Rod is otherwise occupied, the Assistant Car Dept. Curator is always there to supervise the volunteers and make sure we don't get lonely.  I'm sure he's as eager for summer as the rest of us!

Monday, January 27, 2014

High-Speed Rail

Speaking of the Twin Cities, if you follow this link and click on the video, you appear to get a high-speed trip along the new light rail line between St. Paul and Minneapolis.  It looks like the photographer was riding the front seat on an LRV and taking a time-lapse video.  That's nice.

But there's a catch: the line isn't in operation yet.  What he actually did is to walk the entire line with a camera and tripod, taking a still photo every 30 feet or so.  It took something like 11 hours.  What an incredible project!  I always find it somewhat reassuring to come across somebody who's crazier than I am.  Don't you?

Thanks to Dick Lukin for the pointer!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's Not Bayonne Hope

IRM has just received another PCC car; this one is from the Twin Cities Rapid Transit by way of the Newark Subway.  This car operated in Newark until 2001, and was later stored in Bayonne for possible use on a streetcar line there.  But all of these cars have now been distributed to trolley museums across the country, in another giant operation coordinated by our friend Bill Wall.  This car was numbered 323 in Minnesota, and 4 on the Newark line.

This car was modified much less than the TCRT car we got from Shaker Heights, and is probably in better condition mechanically.

Here's the interior, with the shrink wrap tarp blocking the center aisle.

I went over to see it in Barn 6 with Bill Wulfert, Tim Peters, and Joe Reuter.  Here Bill tries out the motorman's position.

The car will be repainted in its TCRT paint scheme, and Frank believes we should be able to get it operating relatively soon.

Tour of Car 36

Our friend Ted Miles wanted to see more pictures of the interior of the 36, so why not?  There are several points of interest to look at.

Here's a spot that was stripped of its paint at Cleveland, as a test.  You'll notice that there's still noticeable paint in the grain.  Stripping the whole interior would be an awful project.

Here's the wrecking tool box.  By the way, I also received a donation of some more wrecking tools from our old friend and long-time IRM member Dick Lukin.  Thanks!

The bulkhead windows are hinged so that the inside surfaces can be cleaned.

And if you look closely, you can see that the panel over the pocket door is hinged so that the rollers can be lubricated.  First, you have to disconnect the buzzer cord, so I didn't fold it down.

At the other end, there are two light bulbs over the door.  When the dash light fixtures were no longer used, the bulbs on this car were disconnected, and replaced by a bulb over each end door.  This bulb is on if the vestibule light is off and vice versa


The single electrical cabinet is rather crowded.

The vestibules have pocket doors, and the window shades are mounted vertically, as seen here.  When the door is closed, the shade can be pulled right to left across it.

This is the only preserved wood car that didn't have the Utility ventilators installed in the clerestory.  Instead, there's a simpler system, and I don't know if it has a name.  Ventilation is controlled by opening these little doors.

Each of the window posts has a little wooden button, as seen here below the ticket clip.  I don't know what these do, or what they replaced.  They're all in place, and I'm certainly not going to try to pry one off just out of idle curiosity.  Perhaps the car had buzzer buttons at one time?

 In spite of the ice and snow, a lot got done today.  Several other members were working in the wood shop on various projects, and we all had a good time.  On the 36, windows 15 and 16 were put into place, as seen here.  17 and 18 got finish paint on both sides.  19 and 20 were removed, taken to the shop, sanded down both sides, and first white primer on both sides.

And as for gossip, we heard that Frank Sirinek was in a bad accident on 47 yesterday, but fortunately neither he nor his dog were injured.  Of course he was upset that his Jeep was badly damaged, but is taking it in stride, especially as he has a new PCC to work on.  He was sideswiped by a careless driver, and it behooves everybody to take it easy during this treacherous weather.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tamper-proof Transportation

When we acquire a new piece of equipment, it is usually not possible to put off moving it, even when it's the worst possible conditions for loading and unloading.  The Trolleyville collection is perhaps the best illustration of this; four years ago we were unloading six or seven cars in weather nearly as bad as the present "polar vortex".  So by now we can handle just about anything.

Our Track Dept. recently acquired an ex-EJ&E tamper, as seen here, and it arrived this morning via Silk Road.  Having been warned, I was dressed for the occasion, just like the other guys, and we went out to clean out the crossings and switches and generally get things ready to unload our latest acquisition.

The rear set of axles on this trailer can be moved back and forth, and for unloading, perhaps you can see how they are moved forward so the deck can be angled down, making it relatively easy to roll the tamper onto the track.

Helping on this project were Rod, Gerry, Mike A., Bob Olsen, Ralph from Silk Road, and me.  The guys from Silk Road know better than to tamper with us and so...  OK, OK, I'll stop!

And now that the crossings are clear, we'll be ready in case anything else shows up unexpectedly.  You never know.

Then I could do more painting in our luxurious heated shop, where your nose and cheeks are always safe from frostbite.  Four windows got another coat of paint on both sides.  If these pictures look familiar, you must be imagining things.

  Also, I unloaded the canvas for the 319 from the 810 where it had been stored.  Perhaps some day when it's not so cold and windy I can get some help and unroll it to check the dimensions, and start cutting it.  And I spent some time back in barn 8 working on the roof of the 319, as the sun was out and it was barely tolerable up near the roof.  At least there's no wind chill factor inside the barn.

And here's proof that our friend Joel is as good as his word: three or four retrievers now in primer, waiting for finish paint.  Having spare working retrievers in reserve will be a big help for operations.  Thanks, Joel!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

36 Progress

No school yesterday, so I was back in the woodshop, working on windows for car 36.  #12 was taken to the car and installed, 15 and 16 got a second coat of primer on the outside and first finish on the inside, and 17 and 18 were sanded down to get rid of all that ugly red paint, and then got first primer on both sides.

And then I finished installing the lower tack molding on this side of the 319.  It still needs to be planed to shape along the upper edge.  The big halogen lights seen here do a good job of illuminating the work.  If I were about 2" taller, my head would be hitting the fixture as I stand on the scaffold.

And one of the repro first aid boxes was installed in the 36.  It looks nice.  Of course, the whole interior needs to be repainted.

And I spent some time moving things around, throwing away more trash, and so on.  There are always lots of little tasks like that to keep one busy. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Today seemed like a good time to stay home and catch up on a few things around the house.  Luckily there's always some IRM work I can do at home. First aid boxes for the 36 and 319 recently built by Rich Witt still needed lettering.  After the new ones were completed, we had also found one in the Trolleyville collection, but its paint is badly worn, and it will be kept as an artifact.  Moreover, while the replacements were based on the box from the 318 now installed in the 309, this box from Trolleyville has slightly different dimensions and hardware.  Maybe no two were completely alike.

Be that as it may, lettering is not hard to do with a little practice.  One-Shot enamel is our brand of choice, and I'm using a 2/0 artist's brush, which has nothing in common with 2/0 trolley wire that I can see.  Et voilá!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Window Report

It was certainly another nice day to work in the shop.  I had to spend some time removing and installing windows in the 36, and everything I had to work on was cold.   Who would have guessed?  But the window project continued at its usual pace.
Of course, it's difficult to find anything new to say about this process.  These are opposite sides of the same two window frames.  They were sanded down, and then got white primer on both surfaces.

And another one got a final coat of exterior grey, after some body work.  For those of you keeping score at home, 13 and 14 were installed in the car, 15 and 16 were sanded and primed both sides, and 17 and 18 were removed and brought back to the shop for sanding and repainting.  12 was finished after repair work, which is why it's behind schedule.  And the goal line has a large "28" painted on it.

Tim Peters was hard at work, as you would expect, basically the only other person I saw all day.   (I saw Jan Núñez at a distance, but not to talk to.  Office work never stops.)   Here is Tim making more window and door parts on the router table.

And one of the current woodshop projects is making replacement windows for IC Mogul #3719, one of our oldest steam locomotives (Brooks 1900). Rich Witt makes professional working drawings of the entire assembly.  That counts as fine art in my book!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Nonstop Activity

Today was another productive day at IRM, with several projects being worked on.  For myself, I worked on windows for the 36.  Repainted windows 11 and X1 were installed, and 15 and 16 were removed and taken to the shop for stripping and repainting.  Now that it's somewhat warmer, it was nice to be able to work inside one of the cars again. 

And then I could work on the roof of the 319, too.  Rod ordered the screws I needed, so more of the lower tack molding was installed.  (It's really unbelievable.  If you go to hardware stores of any kind, slotted wood screws are almost impossible to find.  Nothing but bloody Phillips.  Civilization is doomed.)  But that went well, and I cut the remaining two sections to length and painted them, so they can be installed next time.

Among other projects, Fred Zimmerman was helping Frank and Mike install seats in the Kansas City PCC. They happened to be at lunch when I stopped in, but it looks like this.  This is really going to be a nice car.

In the woodshop, Rich Witt, Paul Cronin, and Buzz were busy making wooden window frames for the Pullman car Villa Falls, a Roger Kramer project. Here Paul is carefully trimming one of the pieces.

Sorry, I was usually too busy myself to get good pictures of them at work.  By the end of the day they had assembled six frames, with more in progress.

And I also painted the second third rail beam. This is the front side:

And this is the back.

 Besides all this, Lorne was painting ceiling parts for the Cleveland PCC, Tim and Keith were working on the 24, Joel was working on his locomotive, and I don't know what else.  We certainly keep busy!

309 People

Did we ever mention that IRM is a volunteer organization?  It's true! Nearly all of the work that advances the Museum's mission is performed by volunteers.  And although of course we don't get paid, the volunteers are supposed to keep track of the hours they spend on Museum projects.

Each department keeps a log sheet for volunteers to sign in and out.  Here we see Buzz Morrisette signing in, for instance.  And then the totals are compiled to help us get grants and matching funds from various sources.  Of course, somebody has to volunteer to do the processing of all these data, and Henry Vincent is one of them.  He was telling us the other day about the totals for 2013.  I forget the total number of hours, it was huge.  But he also said that there were 309 different people who signed in during the year.  The number caught my attention, obviously, but it's also much more than I would have guessed.  It's really an amazing total when you think about it. But of course there's always a lot more that we want to accomplish, and more volunteers would always be welcome.  Our next goal should probably be 400 active volunteers, and you could be one of them.  If you're not one already.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Paint by Numbers

Conditions are almost back to normal, so it was more like a usual Wednesday in the shop.  I spent most of the time painting windows, and a few other parts.  All five now in the shop got a first or second coat of exterior grey.
And I finished bolting the second third-rail beam together, and painted the metal parts with primer.  Next time it will turn black.

By the end of the day the windows could be turned over, and three of them received the next coat of interior tan.  Two are ready for installation in the 36 next time, so two can then be removed and brought to the shop for stripping.  Also, two of the new first aid boxes made by Rich Witt got their final coat of paint, and were taken home for lettering.  Since all frames have a stamped number, they can be returned to the correct location with ease.  These three are 12, 13, and 14.

Meanwhile, several of the guys were busy making window frames for the Coach Dept.  Here we see a stack of rails and stiles, with a first test fit.

And among other things, Norm Krentel and Jeff Brady were working on the running boards for the 28.  These are about 36' long each, so cannot easily be replaced.  Defective sections are being repaired, and cracks filled as needed.

Jeff mixes the filler and applies to the end of one of the boards.

We were sorry to learn that Carol Schossow died recently.  She had been a member for a long time, but had been struggling with health issues for several years.  She will be missed.