Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Tilting Boxcar

 On Saturday my wife and I drove down to Clinton for the annual Apple and Pork Festival, which mostly revolves around food and flea markets.  But we also visited the DeWitt County historical museum, which includes among other things a small railroad section.  The one item of real interest, at least to me, was an actual patent model.

This is the model for a car-unloading device patented in 1876 by Eugene Davis, a local inventor.  It's basically in good condition and could probably be made to operate.  As far as I could tell just from looking at it, the box car would have removable ends, probably hinged.  It's rolled onto a section of track with this device under it, and by turning a crank the track is raised and tilted, and the load, such as lumber, slides out the end.  Whether this is really an improvement over unloading a carload of lumber by hand is anybody's guess.  (A sign attached to it says the inventor was "forty years ahead of his time", but whatever.)  The model gathered dust in a lumber yard attic for eighty years until someone recognized its significance and donated it to the museum.
The rest of the railroad collection is mostly artifacts of the usual sort.

Although they also have an abutment from the IT main line.

Another item of interest was an operating relay-driven telephone exchange.  You could dial up a number on a rotary phone (I hadn't done that for at least twenty years!) and listen to the stepping motors finding the connection.  Just like the good old days.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Charter This Car

 Today the Central Electric Railfans' Association paid a visit to IRM, with chartered trips on several unique pieces of equipment, and a good time was had by all.  This "CERA" has now been in existence three times longer than the real CERA, so that's quite an accomplishment. 

Anyway, one car they requested was CA&E 36, so that was brought out for a trip.  We parked the car over at 50th Avenue until the fans were ready to load, and after a couple of photo ops went out on the main line for a trip, including a photo runby out at Seeman.  I was too busy to take any pictures after leaving 50th, but I'm hoping we'll get photo submissions and/or links to videos on YouTube from the participants.

  Things went well.  David Streeter was the conductor, and Frank came along as a technical consultant, since some minor grid problems had appeared.  But those can be fixed over the winter.

After the revenue service was over, we had some time to put the car on the pit lead so Frank could continue needle-chipping the side sill, and I helped with wire-wheeling.  Bit by bit, it's getting done.

Anyway, thanks to David Sadowski and all the other members for making this trip possible.  It was a blast!  And IRM's charter department has operators standing by to take your call.

Frank adds...
After the above photo was taken I got in another hour or two of needle chipping and made it down to the #1 end bolster.  Then I ran the 36 back to the barn.  The car might come out of the barn for switch moves in the next few weeks but I'd expect that Sunday closed out another successful year of operations for the wood fleet.
One other interesting sight was the above six-car train of high-performance CTA cars.  The near two cars are the most recently acquired electric cars at the museum, the 2400-series Boeing-built cars.  But take a good look at the furthest two cars, our 2000-series 1964-vintage Pullman 'L' cars.  Right after this photo was taken the 2000s were put into Barn 2 for the winter, from whence - if all goes according to plan - they will emerge in early 2015 in a shiny new coat of 1960s CTA Mint Green and Alpine White.  It will be quite a sight!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wrapping Up

This Sunday the CERA is coming to visit, and the 36 will be in charter service.  So it had to be switched out to the door.  

The main activity was getting the 319 ready for painting the roof.  I finished tacking all the canvas down, and then it was time to wrap it up in cellophane.
 I had enough to go around the car twice for good measure, and when the process was done it looked like this.  The plastic is taped to the tack molding, not the letterboard, so I don't have to worry about possibly defacing the beautiful paint job.  That took most of the day, mainly due to moving the rolling scaffold around.

Next week I will start actually painting the canvas!

It also seems like a good day to check on the 321 again.  Track 141 has been pulled, so the 321 is easily visible from the road.  Here we have THI&E 58 (I think) in black, then the 321 in silver, then a CTA work motor which was originally 4411.  

 The interior doesn't appear to have any noticeable leaks.  The stained glass window attached to the plywood bulkhead is from an IT sleeping car, but of a different type than the Peoria, so it's in storage.  This seemed like a safe way to store it.

And here's a random view of some of the underbody equipment.

Well, I'm looking forward to the CERA visit.  The 36 needs repainting inside, and a second coat outside, but it should still provide an interesting ride for the railfans. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

IRM Visit-Showcase Weekend

David writes........

I do not have any photos that were good enough for the blog, so this is a tex-only update.  Plus, I can't compete with the blog's staff photographer.

After a three hour flight, stuffed into coach on a regional jet, I arrived at O'Hare on Friday afternoon. After collecting my bags, Frank picked me up.  Our first stop was Harold Krewer's house, so that I may take my rules test, which I passed. Afterwards, we went to dinner and toured a very nice model railroad layout near Elgin.

I spent most of my Saturday morning out at IRM catching up with everyone and visiting. I toured the Electroliner and chatted with Joe and Gwyn Stupar. The efforts to return the 'liner to operation are very impressive. 

After lunch, I met up with Zach Ehlers and we proceeded to get the open streetcar, Vera Cruz 19 ready for service. We only made two trips around the streetcar line before rain sidelined us. I got pretty wet just putting the car up. 

After drying out and dinner, I met with Randy and Frank and we proceeded to get the wood cars ready for service.  While the kerosene markers were neat, I can see why the railroads went to electric illumination as soon as they could. It was a lot of work to tend to the lanterns, make sure they were burning properly, etc.  The effect, though, was impressive. 

After we put the wood cars away, Frank and I went for a ride on the Illinois Terminal train, where I finally met the blog's staff photographer, Chuck Amstein, in person, for the first time. Frank and I also rode the North Shore train, with Zach Ehlers and Scott Greig on the crew. Zach has really taken a lot of effort to recreate an accurate North Shore conductor's uniform, down to the cash fare receipt cutter and Oshkosh suitcase doubling as his Conductor's case, with various paperwork and essentials inside.  

Our last trip of the night was on the CTA 2200s, with Dave Fullerton and Greg Kepka on the crew. By the time we helped put the 2200s away, it was after midnight and Frank and I retired to the former Union Pacific 10-6 Pullman Pacific Peak. Frank and I set up Bedrooms C and D as a suite, by folding back the wall in between the rooms.  The next day, I was up and on my way back to the airport for the flight back to Utah, another 3 hours stuffed in coach on a regional jet.

It was a fun trip, great to see everyone!
I don't know when I will be next back at IRM, but probably next year for the ATTRM convention/Museum Showcase Weekend. My wife and I are expecting our first child in April, so I think my spring and summer will be busy. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Snowflake Special

  (Stephen Scalzo photo, via Dave Mewhinney)
This year's "Snowflake Special" will give you one last chance to ride the IC Highliners on the electric division.  It's Sunday, November 9th, and all the details are available here.  This is a fundraiser to help IRM acquire a pair of these famous cars, some of the last electric equipment produced by the legendary St. Louis Car Company.  I'd say actual snowflakes are unlikely, but you're sure to have a great time, so order your ticket today!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Showcase Sunday from Chuck Amstein

Here are Chuck's photos from Sunday.  Same restrictions.

(L) Larry Stone was running the 3142.

(R) Dennis Matl on the 714/749.

Chuck says that this is an accurate consist from the immediate post-steam era, when the gallery cars were being delivered.

The Crew

Frank writes...

I didn't get very many photos but I did manage to have someone take a couple of photos of our crew for Saturday.  Below left, most of the Hicks Car Works blog crew: David Wilkins, Randy Hicks and yours truly, Frank Hicks.  David is in his CTA uniform for service on the streetcar line.  And at right is the crew of the wood train for daytime operations, with Larry Stone on the left.  As a newer volunteer this was Larry's first experience with the annual members dinner and night operations but he stuck around and was a tremendous help for our nighttime trip.  A good time was had by all!

Showcase Saturday from Chuck Amstein

Here, as promised, are the pictures of Saturday operations by our staff photographer Chuck Amstein.  Usual restrictions apply: these images are copyrighted by the owner and may not be reproduced or sold without his express written consent. 

In the morning, the really long coach train was pulled by one of our newest locomotives, 1848.

The dynamometer shows the engine pulling 30,000 drawbar lbs, plus the throttle status.

Max makes some quick repairs to the trolley bus/car line overhead at Electric Park.

The steam team pulled the Decapod over onto the wye during supper, so they could watch it while they were eating.  Otherwise it might walk away.


We're loading passengers at Depot St.  The rear of the train has two kerosene markers and the tail lamp; the front has markers, a headlight, and the dash light.  Joe helped us get them all ready.

Three-car North Shore train: 251, 714, 749.

The IT train: 277, 518, and 234.

And the CTA 2200's.

Rain, rain, rain.