Monday, March 31, 2014

Trying to Scrap the 321

Bill Wulfert gave me copies of some interesting letters from the IRM files.  These concern the 321, which as you may know was originally acquired as a parts source for the TM cars.  Bill is always finding new things I haven't seen before. First is a letter sent by Warren Cobb in November of 1961 to Frank Sherwin, the owner of the foundry where the Museum's collection was stored at that time.

At first, they wanted to scrap the 321 at Wheaton, but when that wasn't allowed, they wanted permission to scrap the car at North Chicago.  Of interest is the statement that (in 1961) "The car body is in very poor condition which all but precludes restoration."  In the following 53 years it hasn't gotten much better, I'm afraid.

About eight months later, in July 1962 the three CA&E cars had been moved to North Chicago, and plans for the 321 had changed:  So Warren writes to Mr. Sherwin again:
Of course, the plan to block off the windows, install baggage doors, and make the car look like a Sacramento Northern combine (!) never happened.  Maybe they didn't realize that underneath the wooden siding the body contains 1/4" thick steel plates about 2' high which they would have to cut through without setting the rest of the car on fire.  Good luck with that.  

In the end, the car wasn't scrapped, and when the next barn is built and it goes back inside we will probably do some more cosmetic work on it, as an interesting display piece.  But restoration to actual service is probably no closer now than it was in 1961.  At least we won't sell it to the Diamond Scrap Co.!


Anonymous said...

There was also an unsuccessful attempt to trade the 321 for electrical parts (from one of the almost-overhauled Pullmans in the shop) before the cars left Wheaton. An early Rail & Wire article mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know the TM cars are no closer to restoration 58 years later either. I see a flawed plan back in 1961...

Randy Stahl

Anonymous said...

what is the condition of the TM cars? Are they considered restorable?

Randall Hicks said...

The two TM interurban cars, 1129 and 1135, are still restorable, but these will be major projects, to put it mildly. Both cars have structural problems, and need various L&PS modifications undone, apart from the usual effects of age and weather. I'm sure Scott Greig can give a more detailed answer. But I would hope that eventually at least one of them might get worked on. Unlike the 321, they are unique, and the only TM interurban cars in existence. But until that happens, at least they remain safely inside as static displays.