Friday, October 31, 2014

Shrink Wrap While You Wait

 On Thursday three electric cars were shrink-wrapped for preservation until the next two barns are ready and they can go inside.  We hadn't had this done at IRM before, although the 1218 was received from Cleveland in shrink wrap, and it seems like a good thing to do.

CSL 4001 and two Shafer cars, THI&E 50 and 58, were moved into Barn 6 for the process.  The work was done by local contractors who have experience shrink-wrapping boats and RV's and things like that, so they know what they're doing.  

The 4001 is an aluminum-bodied streetcar, sort of an upside-down boat.  The plastic sheet is spread over the car and fastened down at the bottom.

Then a blow torch is used to shrink the cover onto the body.  If any holes open up, they're patched with plastic tape, sort of like duct tape, that matches the white plastic.

Work went quickly; they were done before 1:30 when I checked in again.   The cars will now go back to the south yards.


I spent the day stripping and painting in the 36's smoker.  Here we see some of the inlay on the interior walls.  It's unfortunate this has to be covered up again, but if I had to strip every last bit of paint from this wood, I'd quit.  Sorry.

I sanded down the back of the electrical cabinet and later painted it with white primer.  The "after" picture mysteriously vanished.  

Three more ventilators from the 102 were stripped and installed, so the smoker has all new ones.  The three new ones will need another coat of primer, as you may observe.

I also started stripping the pocket door.  The color looks weird due to the lighting conditions, but in person, at least, you can see the nice grain patterns in the panels.  Repainting the interior will not be a quick process.

On a walk out to look at the 321, a ballast regulator was sweeping up yard 13, and raising a lot of dust in the process.


It's been quite a while since we talked about Illinois Terminal antimacassars!  A friend who wishes to remain anonymous, I'm sure, recently donated two nice originals to add to the Museum's collection.  He says he "stole them fair and square from the IT back in 1953".   We're always glad to act as receivers of stolen goods if they have historic value, so if your conscience is bothering you, we'll be glad to help you out.  And I can promise you I won't remember where they came from.  As you've probably noticed, with advancing age my memory is fading rapidly....   Now where was I???

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sweeping and Switching

Frank writes...

Fall cleaning was the order of the day on Sunday.  One of the smaller steps towards making the 205 presentable was to clean out the car's interior.  I had already put most of the loose parts for the car under the seats but I spent a while tidying up, throwing out or relocating any supplies left over from prior sanding and painting efforts and sweeping up the dirt and debris under the seats.  The results were gratifying.

Then I spent the rest of the afternoon helping out with the latest round of recreational switching.  One of the switch moves was to bring a Car Department storage boxcar over to the inspection pit lead, where Richard Schauer (on the forklift) and Greg Kepka (in the boxcar) unloaded some GE 265 motors for use under Milwaukee 972 under the careful supervision of Charlie Strong.  These motors were rebuilt several years back and now, with completion of truck rebuild work, are ready to go into the trucks.

Then I worked for a little while as ground man on some switch moves in the strange and distant land known as the South Yards.  The plan is that this week three cars will get shrink-wrapped, which may be the first time IRM has had this done.  The two Laconia-built THI&E cars, 50 and 58, along with CSL 4001 will be thus covered and some switching had to be done to prepare for this.

The museum was pretty active.  The Trick Or Treat Trolley was making the rounds, complete with crowds of kids in costume; the Track Department was hard at work in Yard 13; and Norm and Jeff were hard at work on a rope guard for the Michigan car.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hicksco Miscellany

I recently received an email from John Neville, who in his younger days worked for a man named Harry Weiss, a manufacturer of model railroad equipment.  Mr. Weiss's father and grandfather had worked for the Hicks Locomotive and Car Co. and its successor, Central Locomotive and Car, and Mr. Neville sent me a couple of miscellaneous items.

   One is a newspaper clipping from the Chicago Heights Star describing a huge patriotic parade in 1917 organized by Central employees, and ending at the East Plant.  He says the paper is too brittle to allow seeing the rest of the story. The other is a project estimating form from the Hicks company, used as scratch paper.  The parade sounds like fun: floats depicting battleships and submarines, and a 150-foot flagpole with a huge flag carried by 48 girls.  Down with the Kaiser!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

36 Report

More painting was done in the 36 today.  Nothing happened on tarping cars before I left.

I'm afraid progress shots of the 36's smoker are going to get pretty boring, but it may be most of what I can offer for the next few months.  At least today I wasn't alone in Barn 8.

Bill Wulfert and Fred Zimmerman started installing roof ventilators on the 4412.  It's been only a few years that our first "plushie" has been running as sort of a "baldy", as L car fans would say.   Better late than never!

I'm working on the smoker, and there are plenty of surfaces to sand down and repaint.  I went out to the 102 and brought back enough ventilators to re-equip the 36.  I'm afraid the car might collapse when they try to move it next, although the ventilators would probably survive the catastrophe pretty well. 

Here's what the first one looks like with all the old paint removed.   They're actually in better shape than the ones on the 36, since they don't appear to have been opened since the 102 was taken out of service.

Mostly I'm applying white primer, but for variety I tried out the finish ceiling paint ("36 Upper") I recently had mixed.  It matches the original extremely well.

 And here are "36 Middle"  (upper left) and "36 Lower" (lower right) on the end bulkhead.  You have to make allowances for the lighting: the car lights are off, there's sunlight being filtered through the barn's wall skylights, and the camera's flash, but I think this will turn out well.  The original paint shop records from 1946 don't offer much practical advice:

Interior Top cream
Center deep cream
Bottom deeper cream

I'm mostly working on the ceiling, and all of it will get two coats of white primer before finish painting starts.

Lots of other things were going on, of course.  We seemed to have a pretty good number of visitors for the daytime holiday trains.  The B&G guys were putting asphalt on what will be the new coal bin, alongside the steam leads.  We have all the equipment in-house to do this sort of work ourselves.  Workers on this project included Dave, Al Choutka, Jerry Linn, Carl, and one or two new guys I don't know.  Al, Jerry, and Carl I've known since the 70's.  (Ugh)

 When finished, it looked like this.  Just like downtown! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Unexpected Spare Parts

Once in a while, the tides of fortune are flowing in rather than ebbing out.  But more of that later.

Painting the inside of the 36 continues as our main project right now.  Here's one of the next sections to be painted.  Surface prep takes a while.  In this picture, notice the wire attached with insulated staples at the bottom edge of the window.  This is how they would change the wiring circuits when necessary.

 The numbers at each end are actually decals.  We'll need to get new decals made, but there are several companies that do this sort of thing. 

One of the things that had me most worried was the problem of the ventilators.  They must have had a latch of some sort so they could be opened and closed, but those are all missing on the 36.  Several things like this got stolen at Cleveland, and the remaining fixtures are generally bent up because people had to use screwdrivers or pry bars to open or close the doors.  After wire-wheeling to remove the badly damaged old paint, the ventilator looks like this.   But there was no way to know exactly what the missing parts might have looked like.

 After a few hours of work, however, the ceiling has a first coat of primer and is starting to look better. 

It's time for a brief walk.  The new cutoff track looks beautiful!   I'd be afraid to step on it.  Might knock a few stones out of place.

I'm not sure what's planned for this location near the sand tower.

A little fall color, with evidence of maintenance work on the Springfield Ave. shelter.

And here's Tim applying paint stripper to the interior of the 24.  He's making rapid progress.  I showed him one of the ventilators I was working on.  He mentioned that it looked just like one Andy Sunderland had removed from the IC&W 102.  This was an old car body from Lake Shafer that we acquired several years ago.  It has badly deteriorated and is being scrapped, and Andy is taking the lead on recovering any useful parts.  You never know when they might be needed.

So I walked out there, and indeed the ventilators on the 102 were exactly the same type and size as those on the 36.  They have loop castings, which you can see, and there are more than enough to re-equip the 36.   I later ran into Andy himself, and helped him for a while with removing parts from the car.  This is a very fortunate turn of events, so we'll have the correct parts for an operating car.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Visit to Mid-Continent

On Saturday we visited the Mid-Continent Railway Museum at North Freedom, mostly because I wanted to see Munising #64 for myself, now that it's inside the car shop and undergoing restoration.  This car was built by Hicksco in 1910, and is the only surviving steam-road coach that wasn't rebuilt into a combine or baggage car.    This will certainly be a long-term, difficult restoration, but the MCRM team have completed several restorations already on this scale with excellent results, so I'm very optimistic!

Munising #64 

All of the car siding has been removed.  At this corner the side sill is badly rotted and will have to be replaced.  It won't be easy.

More of the bad side sill.  By the way, the road saved $150 per car by buying them with used (rebuilt) 6-wheel Pullman trucks compared to the cost of new 4-wheel trucks built by Hicks.  That's why the car may appear to have larger trucks than needed.

 Here Pete Becker is removing parts of the side framing as needed for replacing the side sill.  A replacement piece about 20' long will have to be inserted.

With the siding removed, you can see the truss pattern needed to keep a long wooden car straight.  The 309 has essentially the same truss pattern, but with steel side sills. 

(R) Watch your step!  The end platforms are always a weak point on these cars, but the steel underframe is still sound.

New pieces for the side are being made even as we speak.  

Only a few of the original seats survived the car's years of neglect and abuse.  (This picture has been rotated for your convenience.)  These are standard Hicksco double-lever flipover seats, and you can see that the frames have "F. M. Hicks Company" cast into them.  Replacements will be made by MCRM.

New window frames and arm rests are already done.

Replacement molding strips for the interior, along with Bill Buhrmaster's hand.

 On the other side, you can see where the transverse tie rods have been pulled out for replacing the side sill we looked at earlier.

The car's original number was 54.  The ceiling panels are sheet metal, and this appears to be its original form.  There are no previous nail holes or evidence of a wooden ceiling.

East Jordan and Southern #2

Another long-term project is this ancient (1868) coach.  This involves a lot of fascinating archeological research, since it was rebuilt and modified so many times over the last century and a half.   In 1902, it was acquired by Hicks, refurbished and resold.

The original monitor-type roof is still apparent from inside. The clerestory windows are of different types.

The molding piece on each window post is actually made of cast iron.  None of us has seen this sort of thing anywhere else.

The car had several numbers during its long and varied service life.

The car's basic construction antedates the development of side trusses such as we saw on the Hicks car.

And features such as the queen posts are characteristic of the immediate post-war period.   What an historic artifact!

And here's the interior of the Copper Range coach, with its completely new rattan seats.  IRM purchased the North Shore seats that had been in this car.

KGB&W #77

 This is the interior of a mail-baggage car built by Hicks in 1909.  The clerestory is the same construction as for coaches.  Notice those latch fixtures!


They also recently acquired wood beam passenger trucks from two derelict cars in Minnesota.  These will be used on other restorations, and meanwhile will be protected by little houses.

Ray's LS&I #22 is being nicely repainted.  The light green color is striking.

And in the steam shop, the Saginaw #2 was recently tested and fired up, and is now being prepped to put it all back together over the winter.

(R) That's Bill on top of the engine helping torque one of the pops off the dome.

I can remember when this engine was at IRM for a couple of years.  It was never part of the permanent collection, and was sold at auction in 1982.

The frame for another engine, Western Coal & Coke #1, is up on blocks, providing an interesting view of its construction.    (R) The cranks for the Stephenson valve gear.


The revenue train that day included this nice GN wooden coach.


Under the display shed are this two-truck standard gauge Shay, and the narrow-gauge NW boxcar.
I wonder if visitors ever ask what happened to the Dodge inspection car?