Saturday, May 31, 2014

Track Inspection Car

Today I had a chance to visit our Milwaukee Road track inspection car in its temporary location.  It's being stored off-site until acquisition is approved and we can arrange for proper storage at IRM.  In the meantime, YOU need to donate to the Milwaukee Road 30 fund to help pay for track space and eventual restoration.  Thanks!

First, let's look at the wheels.  Behind the tire is a steel flange, which might be easy to miss.  Of course, where the rubber meets the rail, it compresses so the flange should be more than adequate. 

We also noticed that these are Firestone "Rail Type" tires!  Who's ever heard of that?  We're sure they're  no longer made, but these particular tires are still holding air!  Perhaps we should make Firestone the official tire of Hicks Car Works.  (I'm no expert on tires, to be sure, but I would say that TV has been a vast wasteland ever since "Voice of Firestone" went off the air.  That was a wonderful program.  If I could tell you....)

Under the middle of the car is the turntable, a hydraulic foot that comes down to lift the car so it can be rotated.  The hydraulic jack is mounted on the front bumper.  


Under the front bumper is one of the beams to support the car if it were to come off the rails.

Here's the back seat, with the jump seats folded out. 

If my calculations are correct, this car should actually seat eight people.  But two of them must have freakishly small legs.

Here's the engine compartment, with its flat-head six.  It doesn't look like a very hefty engine for such a big car.  In the foreground is the 6V battery, or what's left of it.

And here's the horn, in front of the radiator.  I can't wait to get this operating, at least!

And in the trunk we have a spare tire, complete with steel flange.

This is going to be a wonderful display piece, and our friends in the Track Dept. will do their best to take care of it, when they're not busy with all of the essential tasks they perform on a regular basis.  But of course money will be needed to make this car presentable, so your help will be greatly appreciated.

Monarchs of All We Survey

 Look closely, grasshopper: what's new in yard 14?  That's right, survey stakes!  We're making preparations for the construction of two new barns, and it's a more complicated project than you might think, but it will get done.

The usual reason I'm out here is to check on the 321.  The interior is dark and dank.  I'm surprised I'm not attacked by bats when I enter, but for the most part everything is is its same old dreary self. 

 The rebuilt wooden beam for a seat frame in the 36 was installed, and it seems to work just fine. 

I also had a chance to visit the track inspection car, but more about that later.

Most of the rest of the day was spent installing woodwork for the upper canvas on 319.  I installed the tack molding base for a little more than half the car, as seen here.  Sorry, after looking at the pictures, I realise I should do a better job of cleaning up after myself.  As usual.

By the way, tomorrow is the dedication ceremony for the West Towns car 141.  Frank Sirinek was the driving force behind this huge effort to make an operating streetcar out of a derelict body.  A lot of the mechanical and electrical systems had to be re-engineered, and everyone who helped on this project can be justly proud.  If you can, be there!

Friday, May 30, 2014

36 Update

With a little work, the original piece has been expoxied back together, with two Masonite sisters to help hold the joint solid.  If that doesn't work, I've started on new replacements.   It's going well.

Inspection Car Update

Our friend Bill Buhrmaster at Mid-Continent sent me some documents dealing with the group's acquisition of the Dodge inspection car back in 1960.  At that time it was out of service and stored at the South Beloit roundhouse.  The bid was revised down from $40 to $25 when they found that several motor parts were missing.  Of course, this is in 1960 dollars, but still....   However, the car has already been paid for and removed from Wisconsin, so I guess it's too late to revise our bid!  

And while we're on the subject, I'd like to know more about how the car was used when it was still running.  Where was it stored when not in use?  Was it always based out of South Beloit?  Anybody who knows anything about the Milwaukee Road is welcome to help out!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Plenty to Fix

Summer is here!  As usual, I had several projects to work on today.  The first was to install more sisters to the ends of the carlines on the roof of the 319.  They look like this.

After that, I started on fixing a broken seat in the 36.  The seat frames here are older and of a different type from the other cars, so there was much to learn.  The most obvious difference is that the transverse beams are made of wood, not steel.  And on this one, the end is broken (red circle).   Actually, given the design, it's a miracle there aren't more broken pieces.  But since it's wood, it's something I can either fix or replace.

And with this design, the seat back can be removed just by pulling upwards hard enough.  Luckily this particular frame doesn't have foot rests, so it's relatively simple.

The arm rest and outboard casting assembly are held to the frame with two large machine screws into the transverse beams.  Here you can see how the end of one beam is still in the casting. 

After the various loose parts are carefully removed, we're left with the two beams bolted to the pedestal and to the wall casting.  The wall casting has to be removed in order to detach the beam.

With the end casting on the floor, the two beams stand straight up.

Turned upside down, perhaps it's easier to see how this works.  A hole is drilled from the end down the axis of the beam about 4" in.  Then there's a mortise into the bottom of the beam to insert a square nut, into which the machine screw threads.  This is a rather Byzantine design which inevitably weakens the structure, but as I say, they hold up better than expected. 

Finally, we're left with the broken beam.  The two pieces still fit well, so I hopefully took it home to try to epoxy it together.  And I will start making a couple of replacement beams.  The biggest challenge will be to drill the hole exactly parallel to the axis.  This will have to be done at the shop, since I don't have a drill press at home. 

Maybe these pictures were more confusing than instructive, but it was very interesting for me to see an earlier version of the design I've been dealing with for so long.

That went pretty quickly.  Then I spent a couple of hours fighting with the windows.  Several are either stuck or harder to lift than they were when installed last winter.  After some work, most of one side is working pretty well, although in general they drop down a lot easier than they lift.  But so it goes.

Meanwhile, work on the property continues.  Our contractors are still working on roads and grading and so forth.  Here we see fresh oil on South Depot glistening in the midday sun.

In the afternoon I made some more molding strips for the 319's roof, and then painted them.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, Frank!

 Member's Day, 1987.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Busy, Busy Day

Today was a busy day.  Who could have seen that coming???  We had a good crowd of visitors, but the steam train and the 308-309 were the only mainline trains running, so we had little time for relaxation or even picture-taking.  Bob Opal and Dave Cole were my fellow crewmen and did a great job, but I never even got around to taking the obligatory crew picture.  So sue me.   

For technical reasons, there was a single 4000 operating in Union shuttle service, and two streetcars.  Attendance was good, so the crews kept themselves occupied throughout the day, in spite of the threatening weather.  It's good that we have three different routes to offer in this case.
 This couple happened to catch my attention, of course.  I was tempted to ask them if they were related to David Wilkins, but decided not to.  Maybe they're just from Kentucky.

This picture didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, but here we have passengers on the 309 eagerly watching the 1630 as it passes us at Johnson.  Everybody seemed to be having a good time.

This was a good day for bird-watching, too.  I saw a couple of red-tailed hawks (my favorites), a crane, and a pair of cardinals, as well as the usual assortment of redwing blackbirds, meadowlarks, and so on.  Meadowlarks have got to be the lowest-IQ birds around.  They continue to place their nests near or between the rails, and are then astonished when a gigantic train fails to respond to their puny threatening displays.  When will they ever learn?

From now until Labor Day IRM will be running daily electric car service, and many sorts of special events will be taking place on weekends.  See the IRM website for details.  Bring your friends and family, you'll be glad you did!

David adds......

I don't think they are related, they just have good taste in fashion, much like the below photograph of me, taken on Derby Day this year at our Kentucky Derby Party, the only one in Salt Lake City:


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Smoke Over the Prairie

It's finally a reality: after many years of effort, our Frisco Decapod is once again steaming in revenue service.  It's hard to put into words just how important this accomplishment is.  We all owe a great debt of gratitude to the Steam Team who have made this possible.

Before steam passenger service started, they made a test trip with the engine running light, then with the train but no passengers. 

 The Steam Coach department are seen taking their lunch break, waiting for the steam locomotive to go by (among other things).

And here we are starting out on the first revenue passenger trip.  We seemed to have an excellent crowd of visitors today, and everyone was of course excited about the return of steam to IRM.  I don't claim to be a great photographer, so I'm glad to include a few pictures of other railfans taking pictures.

Meanwhile, I had work to do.  The three blue cars were switched around; the 308 and 309 are now ready for revenue service on Monday.  Don't just sit there, make plans now to be on them!  I had to finish up some lubrication work on controllers and armature bearings and so on, but that went quickly.

 Lots of other projects have been going on over the past week or two.  Our office has been remodeled, and now looks like this.  Much more professional.  (Except for the "Nick Bucks" sign, but some things never die.) 

And Tim Peters just never quits, so here most of one side of the 24 now has its new tongue and groove siding.

And with much of the afternoon free, I was able to finish tacking down the lower canvas on one side of the 319.  It needs some more woodwork on the upper deck, but that will happen soon.

Finally, I mentioned that we had a good crowd of visitors.  Here is Kazu, a friend of Randy Allegrezza, who flew here from Japan just to visit IRM.  (Randy says he had frequent flier miles to burn, but still....)  So I guess he wins the prize for today.  And he certainly seemed to be having a great time.  Now I would guess that you are a heckuva lot closer to IRM than Japan is, so what's holding you back from visiting this weekend?