Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Greatest Hits of 2014

It's time to pat ourselves on the back as we look over the past year's accomplishments.  Why not?

  • Return of steam at IRM - the 1630 operated all season
  • New track work - the Schmidt Cutoff was constructed, and yards 13 and 14 completely rebuilt and ready for barn construction 
  • New trolley bus wire installed, and power lines extended to the south property
  • Acquisition of our Dodge Inspection Car from the Milwaukee Road
  • Acquisition of two new Chicago L cars (2400's) and completion of the 2200's
  • Dedication of C&WT 141
  • Two Diesels acquired
  • CA&E 36 is now operational, and has been used in revenue service
  • Great progress on the display cars, including the "Women on the North Shore" display (pointed out by Sam P.) 
And our regularly scheduled activities proceeded smoothly and safely, including various social items:
What are we missing here?  Let us know!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

36 Progress -- and More!

After another two days' of work, the smoker is getting close to completion.   Everything except a couple of arm rests (and the floor) now has at least one finish coat.  I finished a second coat on the ceiling (the "upper" color) and most of the middle color.

  Much of the middle color will probably require a third coat, it appears, and the bottom needs a second coat everywhere.

Of course, in these pictures it's difficult to tell the difference between one or more finish coats.  You have to see it in person.

All you have to do is take a day off, and all sorts of things are liable to happen behind your back.  Sunday must have been busy.   The 972 was switched into Barn 4 over the pit late Saturday, as reported here, and on Sunday the newly-rebuilt EIB trucks were put under it.  Then the Liner was pulled out of 71, everything on 41 was put into Barn 7, including the 972, and the Liner is now on 41 (R), waiting to go over the pit for motor work.   Whew!

(As Joel points out, we need a Sunday reporter.  Qualifications include having a digital camera, good communication skills, and a commitment to digging up dirt.  Excellent benefits, flexible work hours, and training for rapid advancement.  We are an equal-opportunity exploiter.)

And here is the 972 in Barn 7.  The motors and brake rigging remain to be connected, but that can be accomplished during inspection and preparation for service.  This will be a valuable addition to our operating fleet.


Today Tim continued to paint the new windows for the 24...

and Jeff was polishing up the brass latches for windows on the Michigan car.

So that's about it for this year.  We can guarantee that 2015 will be even bigger and better, or your money back. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ski Report

You're probably wondering where the best place to ski might be.  Our friend Joe Becker reports from Colorado that the Rio Grande Southern right of way from Trout Lake to Lizard Head Pass has been turned into a cross-country ski trail, and it looks like this.  What more could you want?  The Prairie Path it ain't.

Warning: "Unfortunately, at close to 10,000 feet, it is literally breathtaking."

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Caution, Wet Paint

 ♫  On the third day of Christmas
              My true love gave to me...  ♫
Permission to go out to the Museum, so don't hold me back!


The day was spent painting the interior of the 36, as usual, so you can probably supply your own captions by now.

(R) This is the first arm rest to get finish color.  It's exactly the same color as the seat frame to the left, but the lighting is different.

It wasn't until 4PM that I was able to leave the barn and see what other people are doing.

Tim Peters is a one-man factory.  He has fabricated, glazed, painted and stained all of these new windows for the 24.

Eric Lorenz is making great progress on the Cleveland PCC.  There are hundreds of holes to be drilled and tapped, but the various ceiling panels are being installed, as we see here.

 As part of a switch move, the 604 is being pushed into Barn 4 on the pit lead.

 And here is the 972; this will probably be the last time you see it sitting on these shop trucks.  It was on its way into Barn 4, over the pit, where it will be put onto its proper trucks and made ready for service.  Rod and the other department regulars are making this a priority, so we should have more to report soon.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Galloping Goose

For a big juicy helping of Christmas goose, we have article from a reader in Colorado with a local background.  He has some questions regarding his local historical society's restoration of one of the famous Galloping Geese, and hopes we can help.  In any case, it's an interesting story:

Hi, I'm Joe Becker, a former resident of the Chicago area who recently "retired" to southwest Colorado.   I grew up in Niles Illinois, in a model railroading family, raised a family in Deerfield Illinois, across from the railroad station, and after retirement, settled in Dolores Colorado, home of Galloping Goose #5.

Galloping Goose #5 is rail car/rail bus constructed by the Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) in the 1930's to haul passengers and the mail through the San Juan mountains of Colorado. The railroad constructed seven "Geese", and ran them until they stopped operations in the early 1950's.  Surprisingly, all are still in existence, and all are in running condition.  Goose #5 was purchased in 1953 from the scrapper by the Dolores Rotary Club.  It sat in the local town park, maintained by RGS retirees.  It eventually deteriorated and the town threatened to scrap it as an eye sore. A local community group was organized in Dolores Colorado in the late 1980's, called the Galloping Goose Historical Society (GGHS), to restore the goose.  The society first built a replica of the original Dolores depot for their base of operation.  They successfully restored Goose #5 to running condition in 1998.  It currently runs 500-800 miles a year on special excursions on the Durango & Silverton Railroad and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.  The railroad station was later reorganized into a RGS railroad museum.  Attached are three photos taken of Galloping Goose #5 taken during the 2014 excursion season.

My wife and I have become an active members of GGHS as museum docents. I soon began filling various other voids within the organization, doing building maintenance, becoming a motorman trainee, and then as treasurer of the organization. My wife Jeanne became the newsletter editor and their grant writer.  GGHS this year has been successful in obtaining some grant money to do some much needed goose repairs.  Goose #5 has 1940's cane seats from the City of Denver street cars in its rear passenger compartment.  These seats were twice restored and have again deteriorated.  The seat restoration work, both times, was done by a local upholsterer, who has since, gone out of business.  GGHS is looking for perhaps, a more durable solution.  Do you have any ideas or suggestions?  Some thought was given that a plastic cane material would be more durable, but its obviously not authentic.  Dolores Colorado has a semi-desert climate which is hard on anything organic.  I remember the South Shore Railroad had cane seating in their old orange commuter cars.  Was maintenance an issue for them as well?  Is cane seating maintenance an issue at IRM?

Goose #5 also has four 24 x 80 inch windows in its rear passenger compartment.  RGS used only oil cloth for window covering during inclement weather. During restoration, unframed heavy plexi-glass inserts were used. The plexi-glass is currently held in place by storm window thumb screws.  When not in use, these inserts are placed between the car seats and the body.  These are badly scratched banging around and need replacement.  A better window needs to be engineered,  but appropriate to the "bailing wire" standard the RGS used when constructing their geese.  Do you have any suggestions for a more durable material?  Would framed tempered glass be an option?  Is acrylic more scratch resistant?  Are there any current "window" railroad standards?  Perhaps a 24 x 80 window could be divided into two 24 x 40 windows to reduce the individual window weight.

 GGHS also has a 1890's Jackson and Sharp narrow gauge passenger car sitting in the weeds waiting restoration. Hopefully, that project is only a couple of years down the road...

I have fond memories of the North Shore Railroad.  My Dad took his three sons on a ride on the Electroliner to North Chicago and back on a self-styled fan trip.  I remember sitting on the front seat watching the motorman's speedometer hit 100 mph on the Skokie Valley Line.  I remember walking through the stored interurban cars at Upton Junction before they were scrapped.  Our Dad also took us to the precursor of the IRM when it was located next to a hardware manufacturer in North Chicago.  Later, we had our annual family picnic at the IRM in Union. 

Any comments concerning our current maintenance projects would be appreciated. 


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Are You Busy Enough?

This is probably the busiest time of the year.  Happy Holidays!!!  In the morning, I had a rehearsal for our Christmas choral concert, and the afternoon was spent in utter solitude, sanding and painting.  But for half a day, a lot got done.

 After sanding down the smoker door and its frame, it got a first coat of primer.  The smoker is nearing completion, and this bulkhead is just about the only part that hasn't gotten first finish, at least.  

The rest of the outer rod of the hat rack on one side was scraped clean and sanded down to bare brass, although it may not look very uniform.  After painting, however, it will look fine.

The rack was later painted with primer, and the bulkhead window in the picture above got a first coat of finish color.  But time was running short, so I didn't get a picture of them.   Next time, I promise.

The pit heater is now connected to the gas line and has been tested.  Once the tarps are in place and the air hose has been connected, it will be operational, he said hopefully.

The first project will be to put the newly rebuilt trucks under the 972.  You can just feel how impatient they must be.

New windows for the 24 are being completed even as we speak.  I'm not sure who that is behind the glare, but he sure looks happy!

And Bill was helping with parts.  Notice all the nice shiny window latches on the ledge in front of him.  This car will surely be one of the crown jewels of the Museum's collection. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

We'll Check the Oil -- for Free!

At IRM, it's the motorman's responsibility to check the compressor oil before each day of revenue operations.  On most of our cars that's no big deal.  On the CA&E wood cars, though, the sump plug
is in under the car (they must have checked the oil over a pit on the CA&E) and motormen, including me, are naturally reluctant to crawl under the car when they're dressed in a nice clean outfit.  So some may have avoided signing up to run the cars.

Have we got a deal for you!  Next year, we'll schedule the wood cars to run only one day on any particular weekend, and we'll be sure to check the oil during the previous week so you don't have to!  What could be nicer than that?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

36 Report

 The last two days were spent painting the interior, as usual, and a lot got done.  As long as it's not too bitterly cold out, the space heaters can bring the temperature inside the smoker up to a level suitable for painting.

First finish color on two of the corner seats. 

And primer on all of the side wainscoting. 

 One of the arm rests was completely stripped before getting first primer.  If I had to get all of the paint out of the grain, this would take ten times as long.

Then there are the window shade tracks.

And on Thursday, all of the wainscoting got first finish color, among other things.

News Flash!!!  The seconds are ticking away on the contest clock, if you want to make a tax-deductible contribution to IRM in 2014.   (And why wouldn't you?)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy Holidays

Today the Museum was running our Happy Holiday Railway again, and in spite of the dreary weather, there seemed to be a fairly good crowd.  Tomorrow is the last day for this event, by the way. 

After the train pulls in, people are welcomed into the diner annex, where hot chocolate is served and kids can visit with Santa.  The diner itself was pretty crowded.  If you need Christmas presents, this is the place to go.  I was dressed in my working clothes, so I didn't want to force my way through the crowd to say hello to Santa.  I've met him before.

 Here's the train, waiting at the crossing.  The interiors are nicely decorated.  


Randy Allegrezza was the conductor, and Jerry Saunders (not shown) was the motorman.

And the new articulated trolley bus was running to take people between the parking lot and the diner.

And in other news, Larry Stone was out again to help on the 36.  We decided this was a good opportunity to finish wire-wheeling the exposed side sill, and then paint it.  Larry did pretty much all of this himself.  (By the way, I hope you don't look at your stunning new 2015 calendar too closely.  We're gonna finish it, I promise!) 

And then we both worked on the interior.   Here Larry is installing the repainted window shade tracks, which is not as easy as it looks. 

 He also did some interior painting. 


Several parts got first finish paint.   And I sanded down and put first primer on the corner seats, as seen below.


And then, I removed the first arm rest for repainting.  These are a different design than the slightly later seats on the 308 and 309.  And I started stripping this arm rest with a heat gun, making sure that there is no inlay or veneer involved; the arm rest is just solid pieces of wood.


 Luckily I have just the right type of furniture scraper for this work.  This would be an excellent project to work on in our nice heated shop for helpers, if I had any.  

And as usual, there were lots of other things going on, too many to list.  At IRM, we never let winter stop us!