Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Wilkins Update, Part 3-Colorado: The Highest State

David writes.....

Evidently, sales of this book have picked up ever since Colorado made certain public policy changes recently:

What is one to do in Downtown Denver without a rental car? I found myself standing outside of a shop in downtown. The word "Pharmacy" was in quotation marks on the sign, and a Jamaican flag was hanging out front. Instead of exploring it, I decided to go find some railroad-related activity to explore. It was snowing pretty heavily the day I was there, so I opted out of a cab trip to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, which is mostly outdoors. I opted, instead for a trip to the Forney Museum in Denver. Randall has visited the museum before. Instead of rehashing Randall's visit, here are some observations:
They repainted the CB&Q business car in the paint scheme it wore in private ownership. The owners painted it up to celebrate the Illinois sesquicentennial.

I get a feeling that they chose to repaint the business car in this scheme as the car had an interior modified from its days on the Burlington.

The C&NW 4-6-0 is looking rather good, freshly repainted, right down to the tender herald:

I think this was a 1955 Chevrolet. My basis is the shape of the grille.  Any other guesses?

This former Colorado & Southern wooden coach hid some ghastly secrets:

The Denver cable car has an "interesting" journal box lid. 

Model T Fords do not have a lot of leg room.

The backhead of the Union Pacific Big Boy 4005 is well labeled. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Wilkins Update, Part 2-Trip to Denver

David writes......

It has been a fairly busy start to 2015 for me. The business began back in December, when I was rushing to complete projects in time to leave for two weeks for the Christmas holiday. Katy and I returned to Salt Lake City on January 2, after an epic 4,000 mile drive across America, all the way to Kentucky and back.

I returned to the office on Saturday the 3rd to find a giant pile of stuff on my desk. To top it off, I had a trial in the United States District Court for Utah scheduled on the 12th, so I spent the first week back getting ready. The trial took all week, and then I had to turn around and travel to Denver to appear before the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit on the 21st. I decided that the best way to isolate myself the day before the appearance in Denver, giving me time to prepare without interruption was to take the train, so I booked my outbound passage on Amtrak train #6, the California Zephyr.

Randall has taken the CZ to Denver a few times. Lucky for him, since he boards in Naperville, near the train's eastern terminus, he can board at a decent time.  Here in Salt Lake City, the eastbound CZ is due in at 3:05 am. The night before, I went to bed early and got about 4 hours of sleep before the alarm awoke me at 2:00 am. After a quick drive downtown, I found myself waiting on the platform to board.

Due to a winter fare sale, I was able to book a roomette, which had the bed already made for me when I boarded. I changed back into my pajamas and was sound asleep by the time the train hit Provo. I woke up after the train crested Soldier Summit, as my ears hadn't popped yet. I took some decongestant and was back to sleep, only to wake up in Southern Utah.

I woke again as the train traveled through Ruby Canyon on the Utah-Colorado boarder. After a lake breakfast, I had my bed made up and went to work.  In addition to rereading my appellate brief, I kept out the Amtrak timetable, the Altamont Press timetable for the line and my trusty Elgin B.W. Raymond pocket watch to keep track of progress. 

The CZ makes several stops long enough to get out and stretch your legs. Here are photos from the stops at Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs and Winter Park. Just outside Glenwood Springs at Dotsero, we met the westbound CZ, train #5. We are parked on the leg of the wye that would take us down the now out-of-service D&RGW Tennessee Pass line. After backing up the wye, we headed up to Osterod (Dotsero spelled backwards) where we joined the former Denver & Salt Lake for the trip into Denver. The Moffat Tunnel cut about 170 miles off of the trip from Salt Lake City to Denver.

After Winter Park, we traveled through the Moffat Tunnel, exiting in a flurry of snow.  Traveling down the series of 10 degree curves, called the Big 10, we arrived at the newly-renovated Denver Union Station on time. It was a short walk to my hotel for a good night's sleep. The next morning, it was an even shorter walk to the Byron White U.S. Courthouse. I finished up my court appearance early, and had time to visit the Forney Museum, which will be covered in another post.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wire You Complaining?

We're very fortunate we haven't been hit with a huge snowstorm as they have in Boston, for instance, where my daughter lives.  We can easily get out and drive over to the Museum, for instance.  So let's accentuate the positive.

For starters, I made two replacement beams for the grid boxes from white oak.   They have been drilled, except for the holes at the support beams, which I want to mark in place.

You can see the original wood had some problems.

The bolt heads were mortised into the wood, and then held in place with four nails and a thin strip of wood over that.  That weakens the structure a little, and contributed to the crack seen above.  So we will probably avoid the mortises.

Here are the new beams with primer.  Rod will order new nuts and bolts for this project.

After that, it was time for more painting in the smoker.  I finished prepping the other three arm rests and painted them with white primer.

 And then, the floor got its second coat of brown primer.  As I mentioned before, the wet primer looks quite a bit like the finish brown color. 

 So the end is in sight!   I also went over to check on the 321.  The tarp is leaking slightly in places, which is somewhat discouraging, but the car should probably not get much worse before we can put it inside one of the new barns.

 As promised, Tim has started working on the seats for the 24 (1024).  The nearer frame is about 15' long, making it hard to handle.  These may be a real challenge to restore.  The only seating in the car is the two long bench seats against both side walls.  This arrangement caused these cars to be generally known as "Bowling Alleys".

And in fact, I believe that's exactly what they were used for when unexpected service delays occurred, and passengers would otherwise get bored.  I'm not sure whether it was the conductor's or the motorman's job to reset the pins.

Finally, Max has been hard at work resetting the trolley wires over the leads to Barn 7.   The barn leads have been a weak link in the overhead system for quite a while.  It may not be obvious from this picture, but it represents a big improvement over the previous condition of the wire.   Thanks, Max!

The Wilkins Update, Part 1-Traveling Home for Christmas

David writes....

My Christmas card from Randall included a note that he expected more content from me for the blog, even though I live out in Utah, so here it goes.

Katy and I drove home for Christmas. In all, we were gone for thirteen days, visited ten states and drove through seven state capitals. We put about 4,000 miles on Katy's car. We drove first to Kentucky to see my parents and family, then to Rolla, Missouri to spend time with her family.  On the 27th, I spend the day in St. Louis and visited old friends at the Museum of Transportation. Things are going well there. It was rainy that day, so I only managed to get this one photo of Norfolk & Western 2156. It's a Y-6a class 2-8-8-2 that is being prepped for a long term loan to the Virginia Museum of Transportation. I understand the work is complete, just waiting to be moved.

We took different routings on the outbound and inbound trips. Leaving Salt Lake City, we took I-80 to Omaha where we overnighted with some friends. We then drove to Kentucky via Kansas City, St. Louis and Louisville. On the return trip, we took I-70, overnighting in Denver. Here, on January 2, the last day of the trip we spot Amtrak train # 6, the eastbound California Zephyr in Glenwood Canyon.  Coming back, we encountered quite a bit of snow in Colorado. I don't know what they put on the roads there, but by the time we arrived in Green River, Utah, the car looked like it had been used in a Mad Max movie. I had to wash the headlights off at the last gas stop. Seeing the CZ inspired me to seek alternate transportation for my upcoming trip to Denver, which will be covered in another forthcoming post.

In other news, this past Saturday I attended a makeup annual rules review/exam at the Heber Valley Railroad. Back in December, I received the sign-off on my paperwork that I could be a conductor after the trainmaster shadowed me for a trip, run around and all.  I am now fully certified as a Conductor at the Heber Valley Railroad. Here's my certification card. Honestly, they also took a picture of me smiling as well, but for some reason chose to use this one.

Don't despair, I have some more posts lined up with other railroad related activities that are occurring with me out here in Utah. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Steam Generator Car

Roger Kramer asked me to mention the pending acquisition of a steam generator car for IRM.

This is a CN steam generator, car 15444.  More details are available at Roger's post on the IRM blog here.  Briefly, this can provide steam for heating most of our passenger car fleet, and would enable us to expand operations during the colder months.   But acquiring, testing, fixing, storing, and repainting the unit will be expensive (no surprise there!) so your donations are being requested.

For even more details, there was a thread on RyPN here, with pictures of similar units at Monticello and North Freedom providing heat.  Gotta keep up with the Joneses!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Beam Me Up

Progress on replacing the grid box beams has gone better than it might have.  The boxes were all unbolted, and are now safely sitting on the platform.


 One of the beams was removed and will be used as a pattern.  The other one has a control circuit conduit sitting on top of it, so the bolts will have to be driven up and out to remove it.  In the meantime, I'll leave it where it is as a safety measure, more or less.  This (L) shows the burned part near the middle.

The beams have a thin strip of wood nailed to the top.  This holds the square-head bolts into the mortises, and also acts as an insulator, I suppose.  (R) The sistered 2x4 is on the left, the original beam to the right with some of the mortises and bolt heads visible.  The old parts are badly rusted and we should probably order new hardware.  I need to get new hardwood to start making the replacement beams toot sweet.

Meanwhile, the interior of the car was warming up, so the rest of the day was spent prepping and painting.  I painted the rest of the baggage racks, as seen here.

And did some more finish painting on the other wall, so we're nearly complete except for the floor.

I'm sure several other projects were in progress, but didn't have a chance to find out.  You know, even if you're not able or willing to help with restoration projects, we could use a reporter to document everything that goes on here at IRM, at least on Saturdays, Sundays, and/or Wednesdays.   Think about it!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Visit to Worthington

Frank writes...

Last weekend I had a business trip to Columbus, Ohio.  When traveling I often look for railfanning opportunities and in Columbus you don't have to go far to find one: the Ohio Railway Museum is in the suburb of Worthington on the north side of town.  Of course, there is a significant drawback to visiting ORM, namely that you're guaranteed to leave more depressed than when you arrived.
"Closed for winter" is a bit of an understatement; in a way ORM has been going through a winter of its own making for nigh on 40 years now.  Founded in 1948, five years before IRM, ORM was among the earliest traction museums to begin regular operations on its own railroad and I believe was the first museum to operate both steam and electric trains.  Though it never had a large collection it did have a rather historically significant one.  It was among the earlier museums to complete "chicken coop" restorations; both a Columbus city car and a Columbus Delaware & Marion interurban parlor car were restored to operation from car body condition.
But then in 1975 the museum imploded.  From what I understand, ORM's volunteers had recognized the serious problems the museum's site posed.  They were shoehorned into a small slice of land along the old CD&M right-of-way, surrounded by houses (they actually had to abandon part of their line due to NIMBY complaints), with no way to expand.  The museum was offered an old AEP branch outside of Columbus for free, complete with an existing repair shop, which would have given the museum a good permanent home.  But the museum membership split over moving and eventually declined the AEP branch, electing to keep the museum where it was.  The membership split, with most of the working volunteers quitting, and ORM never recovered.
Today the museum is as shown, a yard full of rusting equipment.  The museum once had a small homebuilt car barn but that was dismantled a decade ago before it collapsed; now everything is either tarped or exposed to the weather.  A few pieces of have been deaccessed and transferred to other museums but most are being held onto stubbornly by ORM or - as in the case of the unique Stillwell-roofed Erie doodlebug shown above - have been offered for sale but are already so deteriorated that no taker can been found.
The electric fleet, the core of the museum's collection, hasn't fared well.  Among the examples in better shape is Ohio Public Service 64, shown above, a lightweight interurban car that ran on the old Toledo Port Clinton & Lakeside.  ORM's very first car was an old Niles wood car from the TPC&L and that too is tarped and deteriorating in the yard but I was unable to get a good shot of it.  Other historic cars hidden away include a C&LE high-speed, the CD&M parlor car, the Columbus city car, and an ancient Brownell single-trucker from Kansas City.
On the right is N&W 578, an attractive Pacific that once operated at the museum along with a train of nice Pennsy heavyweight passenger cars (some have since been sold, others are still sitting in the yard at ORM).  A few years back a plan to sell this locomotive was floated which ended with an ORM volunteer, apparently of dubious stability, threatening to chain herself to the thing to keep it from leaving.  On the left is a Pittsburgh PCC which ran only briefly, while in the middle is the better of the museum's two CTA 4000s.  The worse one was scrapped about five years ago.
And here's one of ORM's most recent acquisitions, a Cleveland "Airporter" rapid transit car from the Trolleyville collection.  Until a few years ago the museum's only operating car was its Illinois Terminal double-end PCC (a car which is coveted by several museums, IRM among them) but from what I understand it is no longer in use; passenger service is held down by a steeplecab towing a recently-acquired modernized coach of some sort that is lettered Ohio Railway Museum.  A video of this operation can be found here.  Sic transit gloria mundi.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

MBTA Engine Has Arrived

... at an interchange track near you.  I'm told this was acquired as a parts source.   Details to follow.  Remember, you saw it here first!

Photos by Bob Olson

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Grid and Bear It

On the 36, the grid boxes (which hold the cast iron resistors for the motor circuits, and weigh 30 to 40 pounds apiece) are supported by two wooden beams. (Later cars use steel beams and ceramic insulators for support.)  However, at some point one of them was partly burned by an electrical fire, as it appears (L), and is also cracked, and the other one has a big crack (R) in it. 

This was fixed by sistering in ordinary 2x4s with a bolt every foot or so.  Whether this was done at Wheaton or Cleveland is immaterial, though I have an shrewd guess, of course.

But this is something that should be fixed.  To avoid disconnecting the wiring, moving the boxes around, and risking further damage, we plan to let the boxes down a couple of inches onto a platform, remove the beams, make new ones, and put them back into place.  It says here in the script that this should be a straightforward process.

Luckily I had a couple of defective boxes on hand that had been removed and replaced, one from the 36, one from the 319.  These are nice sturdy bases for the platform, a piece of plywood on two thick beams.   

Here's a picture after one box has been partly unbolted, and is supported by wedges to keep the weight off as the bolts are loosened.  The bolts are rusty, of course, but otherwise this seems to work according to plan.

The rest of the day was spent painting in the smoker, as before.  All of the walls now have two coats of the middle color, and two coats of the lower color on both bulkheads and one side wall.  The only other things to be finished are the arm rests and parts of the baggage racks.  And then the floor can be painted.

That just leaves the seats.  Anybody know an easy way to rejuvenate rattan?

The Volkman guys seemed to be in the process of picking up their toys and going home. But I could be wrong about that.

Over in Barn 2, various Car Dept. guys have been hard at work repainting the 2153/2154.  They look great.  Maybe better than new.



Somebody please let me know who all helped so they can get credit.

As for our oldest L car, Tim is nearly done with all the windows.  Each required several coats of paint and varnish.  Seats are next on the agenda.


And Rod was finishing up the last of the brass marker light castings for the roof.  These things are heavy.  They can be rotated from the platform by a handle extending down through the roof.  This will really be something to see.