Monday, April 28, 2014

North of the Border

Frank writes...

I was out at IRM on Sunday afternoon; it was a pretty decent day, overcast and chilly with low public turnout but there were still several projects that were seeing action.  I briefly checked on the 319 roof progress when I arrived before turning my attention to the M-1, where I started out by-

Wait, you say, the M-what?

Glad you asked!  Milwaukee Electric M-1 is one of the many pieces of the museum's traction collection that you never see out on the railroad.  It's a steel freight motor built in the company shops in 1918; it operated on the "TM" system north of the Wisconsin border until the interurban lines there were abandoned, at which point it was one of a handful of work cars transferred to the Port Washington, WI power plant railroad.  It continued in operation there into the 1960s, was sold to the (first) museum group in East Troy in 1972, and was resold to IRM in 1988.  It's very similar to M15, which operated in last year's trolley pageant.

Anyway, unlike the M15, the M1 is in very poor condition.  It deteriorated significantly at East Troy (it likely wasn't in very good shape when it arrived there either) and the roof is shot.  It's mostly intact, though.  In 1997 my father and I worked with the late Jim Blower to give it a quickie paint job because at the time it was the worst looking thing in Barn 7.  Since then not much has been done to it, but last year it was switched to the west end of track 83, right at the front of the barn.

As can be seen above, the biggest eyesore on the car currently is the fact that the windows on the west end of the M1 are badly deteriorated.  Actually the bottom stiles on these windows have completely rotted away, causing the glass to drop several inches and presenting a poor appearance, though probably not a safety hazard.  Still, Rich Witt with the wood shop crew had offered to begin work on layout out and building new window frames for the car, and I agreed to fund the relatively minimal material costs.  So much of my Sunday afternoon was spent gingerly extracting the remaining windows, or what's left of them, and cutting plywood blanks to fill the holes.  The end result is shown below.
This is far from a high-priority project, but hopefully over the coming year we can get four new windows made for the west end of this car and improve the appearance of what is now a somewhat prominent display piece.

I also opened up the 309 for a guided tour of a photography club and joined a few other Car Department workers in a quick visit to the Steam Shop to see the newly-painted 1630 (above).  It's awfully exciting to see all the progress on this locomotive and everyone is looking forward to seeing it out on our railroad again in about month!

And of course there was progress being made in the Car Department itself, as always.  Above, Jeff Brady (left) and Norm Krentel work on installing roof access ladders on the roof of Michigan Electric 28.  Over the past couple of weeks they've reinstalled all of the car's saddles and roof boards.  The stove smoke jack and one of the twelve ventilators (fabricated a few years ago) have also been test-fit.


Anonymous said...

Is the M1 considered to something that can be made operable or is there enough wrong with it that it will be a permanent static display piece?

Frank Hicks said...

There are no plans to make it operational. It would need an all new roof, many new car lines, new flooring, new end posts, and there are some mechanical components missing. Since it can't carry passengers, and since a sister car (M15) already runs, there's really no reason to put that much work into the M1.

Anonymous said...

The M-1 actually ran at East Troy back in the early 70s.
In any case it is a nice historic car but there are many nice historic cars in the IRM collection. Personally I would like to see the original North Chicago collection restored and operating. Birney 170 is among them.
Maybe someday when I'm actually able to retire and move back to the Midwest I can rejoin IRM and pitch in..

Randy Stahl

Randall Hicks said...

I might point out that there are no trolley bases. The poles are fastened to the roof with pipe clamps, because we at least wanted it to look complete when viewed in the barn.