Thursday, February 27, 2014

The End Is In Sight

Nothing too exciting today, but thanks to some of the work done by Larry Stone on Saturday, good progress was made on repainting doors and windows for the 36.  The side door was reassembled, and all remaining surfaces painted blue.  On the left is a picture from two weeks ago; on the right the final result.  It will be ready for installation on Saturday.  One more side door needs to be repainted.

And the last unrestored windows in the car were removed and brought to the shop.  23 and 24 were installed, completing the main compartment, and 27 and 28 were removed from the car.  25 and 26 got first white primer on both sides.  So the end is in sight.

And I talked to Nick about an article for Rail & Wire.  Don't let your subscription lapse!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More Homework

As part of the construction of new third-rail beams for the 36, several new metal brackets are needed to hold the copper buss fuses in place, in case they blow out. These are attached to the wooden beam with a couple of nails.  (I keep meaning to take a picture of what they look like when installed.)  But you can see how rusty the one spare original is.

So the Hicks Iron Works had its first new order in several years, after Rod ordered the metal blanks we needed.  I also was able to borrow a small sledge hammer for flattening the steel, having had no use for such a device as a homeowner. The 180º bend is the only real challenge in this process.   The work went quickly after a brief learning curve, and we now have all ten done, except for drilling the holes for the nails, which I'll do on the Museum's drill press.

But say, speaking of homework, that made me think of an interesting physics problem.  In the figure, a uniform bar is bent 180º.  What is the maximum ratio of L/R such that the bar will balance as shown?  I want an exact expression for the answer.  The first person to answer correctly gets fame, adulation, and a chance to help install them.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Electroliner Fund

One of IRM's currently active projects is the complete restoration of our North Shore Electroliner.  Tom Sharratt writes:

1. We have some good news regarding the fundraising project to complete the restoration of our Electroliner in time for its 75th anniversary in January 2016:  We have raised approximately $100,000 of our goal of $500,000.  Put in more immediate terms, we have raised $100,000 of our critical first phase goal of $150,000 which is needed to start work on the eight traction motors.  We are TWO-THIRDS of the way to what is needed to allow us to “drop” the motors and send them to an outside contractor for inspection and repair!  If we are to reach our ultimate goal on time, we need to start this first phase THIS SUMMER!  We need to find new donors and increase our individual giving to make this happen.
2.  Many of you may follow the Electroliner Facebook page sponsored by IRM.  For the past few weeks, there have been a number of new photos posted every day or two thanks to the efforts of Gwyn Stupar.  You can keep track of these postings by visiting
3.  I have, aside and apart from any official IRM “rewards” for giving to the Electroliner fund, started recognizing donors who give at least $801, chosen since it is the number of our Electroliner, as a “Friend of the Electroliner.”  One of my fan friends recommended such a program and suggested issuing a certificate to those who give at this level.  I have printed a nice certificate featuring a photo of a Liner in the snow (reminiscent of THIS winter!) on the Skokie Valley line.  I am mailing it to anyone who gives at that level, either as a one time donation or cumulatively.   IRM notifies me of anyone who donates $801 or more, but I do not have a reliable means of identifying who has contributed that much over a period of time.  If you qualify, please contact me directly with your name and address, and I will mail you a certificate after verifying your donations with the museum.  Respond to me via this site or directly to: tssharratt at gmail.
4.  It’s time to dig deep and help us reach our first critical goal.  Brian Solomon indicates that as a youngster he gave $15 to help save the Electroliner.  That’s about how I became involved with IRM way back in the early 1950s when I heard that they were saving the last two TM interurbans.  ANYTHING HELPS, and IT IS ALL NEEDED! Your donation can be made directly to the museum or by visiting the IRM website and donating at our “store.’  What are you planning to do with your tax refund?  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sorree You Didn't go? Or About the New Season

Last Saturday marked the beginning of the new year  for the operating department. The usual kickoff was with the mid-winter Sorree at Donley"s Steak House. It is primarily an opportunity to meet with friends that you may not of seen since last fall and to enjoy some railfan entertainment. It was enough to get me out of hibernation and away from our home remodeling/addition activities

Here Ed Rosengren is checking in those that had made advance reservations, thanks go to Ed and Dennis Matl for handling the registration activities

A happy hour preceded the dinner. I won't be able to name everyone but I'm sure you will recognize many faces.

Pretty soon it was time to eat and the crowd took advantage of the buffet that was set up by the Donley staff.

I'm sure the all-you-can-eat Pot Roast, Fried Chicken, Penne Pasta, Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes were enjoyed by all.The Strawberry Cheesecake was a nice topper on the meal. 

After dinner Harold Krewer touched on a few highlight of the coming year. Here we see Harold having his (microphone's) battery recharged by one of Donnley"s staff members! One significant change to previous years is that the Thomas event will only be 4 days this year. After a brief discussion of the schedule for the rules review and test as well as the safety meeting is was on to the door prizes. Thirty lucky folks had their pick from a number of items of railroadiana that were available.

After the drawing we were treated to a slide show (what else when a group of railroad nuts get together?) by Bob Heinlein. Featured were slides by John Humiston, Gordon Lloyd and Bob Bruneau of the Illinois terminal operations primarily between Peoria  and Decatur. Most of the slides were taken in the last days of electric operation. Featured were some rare views of Class C and Class D locomotives painted in the apple green colors.

All in all it was a great start to the  2014 season.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

36 Report

Although I wasn't out at IRM yesterday, Larry Stone was, and he sent these pictures to report on his progress.  The inner surfaces of the two metal plates were painted blue. 

Then he put a second finish coat on the drop sash, including the spring latch and lift.

And then windows 25 and 26 were sanded down, and should be ready for painting.

That's a good day's work.  We can always find things for volunteers to do over the winter months, and we certainly appreciate the help we do get.  Thanks!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Don't Be Sorree!

Jim West tells us there are still places available at the IRM Mid-Winter Soirée this Saturday!

We still have IRM Mid-Winter Soiree’ seats available.  We have not quite met our minimum promised attendance based on attendance of past years.  We are looking for a few more people to attend.  There is no maximum.  The deadline has passed, but that is no problem.  Just show up this Saturday, February 22, 2014 at Donley’s Wild West Town, just south of IRM at U.S. 20 and South Union Road, at 5:30 PM for cocktails and a social hour, or at 6:30 PM for the dinner, then enjoy an outstanding program by Bob Heinlein on the Illinois Terminal in 1955.  The cost is only $23.00 and anyone is welcome.
I'd love to go myself, but I have a concert that evening.  But if you're more interested in the Illinois Terminal than Mozart and Dvořák, don't miss the Soirée! 
And by the way, we'd be glad to get photos and reports of the evening.

Cold. Damp. Ours.

So now that the weather has warmed up above freezing for the first time in a month, instead of snow we have freezing rain, sleet, ice, fog, and lots of slush everywhere.  Who could ask for anything more?  And look, water is running down the sides of these cars in a thin even trickle.  But after planning to stay home all day, I finally decided to get up and do what needs to be done.

The main priority right now is to finish repainting a side door on the 36.  Frank did a great job of needle-chipping the steel plates last time, and they got a coat of primer on both sides.

And the metal strips that hold the drop sash in place got a coat of blue on the back side, so they can be attached next time:

The various pieces of hardware needed to be stripped down and repainted.  Here the spring latch and the sash lift are installed on the drop sash, and were then painted with primer.

And then the two fancy door handles were also stripped and primed.   The other cars just have ordinary round door knobs.

And windows 23 and 24 got a finish coat of interior tan.

Speaking of sash lifts, I probably have about a car's worth of spare sash lifts of this type, used on the 308, 309, 318, and 321.  Unfortunately, they are larger and the holes are farther apart.  I probably don't want to drill new holes in the window rails, and if they're attached with only one screw they'll work loose, so I don't know if this will work as a temporary solution to the sash lift shortage or not. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Missing Parts

Historically accurate restorations are often hampered by missing hardware, hardware of special types that you can't just buy at the local hardware store.  Today the focus is on window lifts.

Our friends at Mid-Continent are currently restoring their coach built by the Hicks Locomotive and Car Works, Munising #64, and they need about 20 more window lifts of the type shown here.  I've never seen anything quite like this, have you?  

Meanwhile, we are still in the market for window lifts of the type shown here, which I'll need to complete the 36.  Actually, the 319 was missing a complete set of these, and I robbed the 36 in order to put the 319 into service.  One way or the other, we need about 30 more.  I would much rather have old brass than new; reproductions never have the right appearance, and usually take a lot of finishing work just to make them useable.  Any leads would be a big help. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Washington Day

I was out at IRM on Sunday for the first time since October, as my job has had me traveling most weekends during the winter.  Fortunately I was able to celebrate Washington's birthday in an unusually appropriate way: by turning parts of the 36 that lovely CA&E color known as Washington Blue!

Above is the drop sash for one of the car's side doors, previously stripped and primed by my father and by Larry Stone as noted earlier.  Below is the frame for the door, hanging in the "lean-three."
I also spent a while with a needle-chipper, followed by a wire wheel, cleaning up the two metal panels for the aforementioned door.  Both panels are ready for primer but I ran out of time before I could get around to putting a first coat on them.
The shop wasn't too busy but Norm and Jeff were there working on roof parts for the Michigan interurban car.  I helped them get two rather long (about 36') roof boards out of the wood shop and hoisted up to the scaffolding alongside the 28.  Later, Norm was working on a smoke jack for the car that was recently fabricated by Rod.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Busy Day

It was another busy Saturday at the Museum.  Larry Stone was helping me again, and first we went out to Barn 8 to install two repainted windows and remove two more.  But our main priority was repainting the side door.  Here Larry is removing the old red paint from the door frame. 

After it was sanded down, I put a first coat of primer on both sides.  In order to paint both sides on the same day, the frame is hung from a plank between two shelves in the Lean-3. 

After more sanding and paint stripping, I was able to paint the drop sash.  So that's going well.

Striping the metal plates, on the other hand, goes rather slowly.  A combination of heat and a the heavy-duty wire wheel works, but not as fast as we'd like.

Lots of other things were going on.

Tim continues to work on the roof-mounted destination boxes and other hardware for car 24.  On the right is a casting pattern he's making.

I should point out that Scott Greig has been doing the mechanical work on the spare retrievers, while Joel did the painting.  That's what the letters SBG indicate on the back. 

And Rich Schauer and Warren Lloyd were working on trolley bus retrievers; part of the mechanism is seen here.  And in keeping with the Museum's educational mission, they were glad to explain to Larry and me how the various parts work.

And the list goes on: Eric, Bill Wulfert, Buzz, Lorne, Rod, Joe and Gwen, Joel, Bill Peterson, Vic, and others were working on their various projects.  And that's just in the wood shop.  I know the other departments were active too.  So it was a very productive day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Next Door, Neighbors

Today's progress can be quickly described.  The four windows already in the shop, 21-24, got the next coat of paint on both sides. This seemed like a good time to start on the next side door, so I went out the the 36, removed it, and brought it back to the shop for repainting.  Here's what it looks like before work starts. The outside (L) was painted red at Cleveland as part of the Columbia Park scheme, and the inside still has its final red from Wheaton.

Somehow the picture taken after disassembly vanished.  But the metal strips holding the drop sash in place, the metal plates on both sides of the lower half, and the various pieces of hardware were removed for stripping and repainting.  

These metal strips were wire-wheeled down to bare metal, and then painted with brown primer.  Everything on the side doors gets painted blue.

It will certainly be a relief when repainting of the 36, at least the exterior, is complete.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Greetings from Russia

David writes....

While watching the Winter Olympics the other night, I noticed that a familiar face was in the crowd. Our own Randall Hicks is in attendance.  You just cannot mistake that stern look and demeanor. 

Hope you are having a good time Randall!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

2 > 1

Today would have been a day like any other day, except that I had a new helper.  Larry Stone is a fairly recent member who's been on operating crews during the past year, but today he had a chance to come out to the Museum, so I put him to work.  We were refinishing windows for the 36, as usual. And we can always use more volunteers, there's a lot to be done.  It's really appreciated!

Larry got a brief tutorial on painting, and then went to work putting white primer on several frames.  He seems like a quick learner. 19 and 20 were installed in the car, 23 and 24 were removed and taken to the shop for stripping, and four windows got new paint on both sides. 

Sanding the old paint off is an unpleasant task, to say the least, so I decided to do it myself.  But if Larry ever comes back, heh heh heh.....   Anyway, things went smoothly, and with two people, the work gets done quickly.  And we can even take pictures of each other.

 I'm really not sure if there's much difference between one frame and the next, but we might as well keep them in order.

The snow appeared to be falling heavier than predicted, so rather than start on another project, we decided to leave early.  Ugh, it's like 1979 all over again!

It almost seems like half the membership have been nominated by other members for the open positions on the Board this year.  Tim Peters pointed out that my son Frank had been nominated, and wanted to know whether he, being a CA&E fan, was going to be running on a high-level platform or a low-level platform.

So if you were wondering why nobody nominated Tim (or me, for that matter), wonder no more.