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. 


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