Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thomas and the Beast

 "You have got to start pulling your own weight around here," Thomas said to the hulking B40-8 that he happened to be coupled to one day.  "You can't expect little old me, with my limited weight on drivers, to do all of the work of switching out all these yards filled with heavy cars and locomotives that need to be moved in order to keep the world's largest railway museum in motion.  You are a big, powerful locomotive, and you need to earn your keep!"

"Ha!" replied the Diesel haughtily.  "Who are you to tell me what I should be doing?  I have power far beyond your feeble dreams.  I can pull more tonnage than you can possibly imagine.  My fuel tank can hold enough to float a battleship.  I can push heavy coal trains up steep mountains..."

"Well, you can boast all you want, but I never see you at the other end of the long Thomas train, helping me carry hundreds of happy families on their Day Out With Thomas outings to and fro.  Where are you when this museum has its busiest time of the year?"

"Is that all you ever do, just whine and complain?" sneered the Beast.  "One would think you were a member of the Car Department!"

"Now that's very unfair!" objected Thomas.  "After all, I work extremely hard for this museum when I'm here.  I bring in large crowds of people, and without me, it would be very difficult to keep expanding and make room for modern locomotives like you.  You should really be more grateful."

The B40-8 pondered carefully for a few moments.  "Well, maybe you're right.  I'm new here, and I hadn't thought about it like that.  Thanks, little blue buddy!"

And after that, they were the best of friends.  The End.

New Arrivals

As promised, here are our new arrivals.  If past performance is any guide, you won't have to wait long before these cars too are running down the main line.  

However, it seems rather counter-intuitive to me to have a museum piece with a URL painted on the sides.  Perhaps I could letter "" just below the Sunset Lines heralds on the 309.  That might help.

I worked some more on the 36.  The areas of the bumper and side sill which Frank and Dan had needle-chipped last time were wire-wheeled, and then painted with primer.   Next time, blue!

I also fixed (I hope) a couple of side doors on the car that kept popping open when the car was in motion.  That's mildly embarrassing.  They now latch firmly when the car is stationary, and didn't pop open during the short trip out to Central Avenue, which is a good sign.  I also helped with switching for a while.

For the Vintage Transport Extravaganza this Sunday, I'm planning to run the 36 and 309.  So the three blue cars had to be swapped around again.  You may notice that we have a recalcitrant retriever, but I'm sure our ace Wheaton Shop forces will replace it quickly.

This will be vintage transport at its finest!

And by the way, we could still use another trainman!

I've been away for three weeks, and in the meantime the landscape continues to change at an impressive rate.  The new alignment for Railroad Ave. appears to be nearly complete, angling off to the left in this view SSW, and Archer Ave. (I think) will continue off to the right.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beware of the Train

While on vacation in the Boston area, we visited Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln, near Woodstock, N.H., the Wisconsin Dells of the Northeast.   The Trading Post is an old family-run tourist attraction that has been in operation since the thirties or forties.  You'll have to use your imagination for the Chinese acrobats, the dancing bears, the demented "Wolfman", and various other oddities, but they have an operating steam train, which made it all worthwhile.

The locomotive is a Climax, and an operating Climax is something you don't see every day.  The paint may not be completely authentic, but the engine is very well maintained and fascinating to watch.

It ran on the East Branch and Lincoln, a local shortline, and has been at Clark's since the ealy 50's  They also have a Shay and a Heisler from the same railroad in storage.

I suppose we could debate the relative advantages of Shay vs Climax vs Heisler all day.

Of the train it has to push up the hill, the less said the better.  At least all the cars have functioning air brakes.

This 2-4-2T is also from the EB&L, but was not operating that day.  Both of these locomotives were featured in a Trains article included in Morgan's "Mohawk" book.

And there are lots of other interesting things to see.  This Main Street scene would be just about perfect if it weren't for that recycling bin!

Some of the buildings house various museum-like displays.

Thomas Edison, Frank Sprague, and Nikola Tesla.  Just a selection of famous scientists from a long list (seen above at left).

Well, that was fun.  I especially liked the trained bears.  But we later found a much better tourist railroad, so don't go away.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Visit Union!

You should pay a visit to the town of Union -- if you're ever in the Moose Mountains of New Hampshire.  They have a nice train station, and there's also a beautiful wooden Russell plow on display.   But that's about it, so maybe we'll just keep moving along....

Chip Off the Old Anticlimber

Frank writes...

I followed up my brief needle-chipping adventure from last weekend with a continuation this past Sunday.  The weather was beautiful and I ran the 36 over to the inspection pit lead to finish chipping the old paint off of the car's #2 end anticlimber and continue chipping the north side sill.  Dan Mulvihill helped out quite a bit, grabbing a second needle chipper and making great progress on the side sill while I started out on the anticlimber.  Unfortunately I failed to get a photo either of Dan or of the progress along the side sill, but suffice to say over a third of that side is now done.  The section between the bolster and the end of the car had never been stripped during the life of the car and the bottom layer of primer and Pullman green paint was like chipping tar, so that was slow going.

There wasn't too much activity in the car shop but there was a lot of switching going on, mostly done by Rod and Wes.  The primary goal was to dig out the Dallas PCC (shown below spotted in Yard 5), which is supposed to be leaving IRM for good sometime soon, bound for the great state of Texas.  There may be an arrival or two coming along soon as well, so check back often - we'll let you know if anything interesting comes through the museum's gate.
The Dallas PCC had been buried at the west end of its track in Yard 14 so a lot of other cars had to be switched around too.  The TM container car, steeplecab L3, and the Shaker center-door car and PCC were all retrieved and deposited in Yard 6 or 8, and the three THI&E cars as well as the 321 all got shuffled around a bit though all of them ended up back in Yard 14.  At some point that entire yard will need to be emptied to allow for construction of Barn 14 but that's still on the horizon a bit.  And then there is the 4001, which as shown below was put on the pit track in Barn 4 for its annual operating inspection.
And if you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd love to sell you!  Actually the 4001 was put in Barn 4 to have a new tarp put on, as the old one ripped in half and fell off.  This is one of the cars that will go inside when the next two barns are built.

And lastly, during a break in the needle-chipping action, Dan and I went up to the station to bother Greg Kepka, who forsook trolley poles for coal piles for the day and took a turn firing the 1630.  It's a large engine to hand fire (it has a mechanical stoker but it hasn't worked right for years) and, as Greg said, that big firebox gets longer with every trip!  We're not used to working this hard on these easy electric cars, but Greg certainly put in an honest day's work helping to haul our visitors, as his appearance can attest!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Diesel Days

Whenever anything special is happening at our Museum, Chuck Amstein is there to record it.  Last weekend was Diesel Days, and here are the highlights.  The usual copyright warnings and limitations apply.  Don't make us go looking for you.  (The delay in posting these is my responsibility alone, of course.)