Tuesday, March 31, 2015

More Boards

It was a beautiful day today, so part of the time I got to work outside.

The two roof boards that will be in the middle of the car were cut to length, and I started priming them outside.  The Kilz primer that we're using works well, but the fumes are very annoying, and my wife told me not to do any more painting with this stuff indoors.  But outside it was fine.

Luckily it dries fast, and by the end of the day both sides were primed and the bottom sides were painted black.

Rod ordered the leather we'll need for attaching the roof cables to the running boards, and it arrived today.  Things are falling into place.

Meanwhile, I was able to install the two roof boards at the east end of the car, including the trolley hook, and then paint the tops and sides black at the end of the day.  So this is proceeding rapidly.

Frank Kehoe has been making a jig for producing new window tracks for the 24, and here he demonstrates how it works.   Once it's fully adjusted, we'll see what the replacement parts look like.

And Tim continues to fabricate new seats for the car.  Here he is riveting the metal plates onto the coil springs.   Rats, I meant to get a picture of the seats that have already been completed.   They're very impressive.

And the 2400's we saw last time are nearly ready for service under trolley wire.  Rich Schauer is finishing up a few details.  Also, I talked to Joel about poles, and we looked at what's in stock.  I'm hoping to have the 319 back in revenue service soon.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Railroad Photography and Art Conference

Our friend Bill Stewart will be giving a presentation at the upcoming conference on railroad art and photography in Lake Forest.  He writes:

I thought I should check to see if you are all aware of the upcoming 2015 "Conversations" program of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, to be held April 10-12 at Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, IL.  Please see the attached PDF for program details.  I'll be presenting a program on the John Barriger-Howard Fogg artistic alliance during the postwar modernization of the Monon, and there are many other compelling presentations on the agenda -- including one by noted photographer J. Parker Lamb, who roamed Illinois and Indiana railroads with camera in hand during his student days at the University of Illinois in the 1950s. 

For conference details, visit the link below.  Director Scott Lothes tells me he needs to give a final head count to the caterer by Friday, so . . . tempus fugit!  


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Howard and the 309

This is quite interesting: the Trib has been putting many of its old photos on eBay, and here's one of Howard Odinius, the founder of IRM, inspecting the interior of the 309 in 1962.  Frank bought the original, and when we have it in our hands we'll update this a little.  For now, we have this scan. It's fun to compare this to a recent picture of the interior, at roughly the same place.

The car was backdated somewhat during restoration to the late 40's.  So the end walls and the ceiling trim pieces are now stained and varnished; these parts were painted in 1951.   Also the arm rests were painted black.  Otherwise the car is little changed.  The same scenery picture appears at the end of the car, although it is now a reproduction of the original.  And a lot of the car cards are the same, although they've been moved around.  I hadn't seen such a good picture of the cards at the end of service before.  Most of them look very familiar!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Electric Car Report

 Sorry, I accidentally deleted the content for this post.  I'll just have to rewrite it, meanwhile here are the pictures.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Talk to Your Guidance Counsellor

I had to look at this car card closely to see what the student nurse is doing: at first glance it appeared she was praying, but she's actually squinting at a thermometer.  "Mmm, 160, this Electroburger should be just about right...."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Knotty But Nice

Today we picked up the running boards for the roof of the 319.  Pete Galayda happened to be there in the morning and agreed to come along and help, which made a big difference.  These are 16' Douglas Fir 2x6s.  They are a good 6' longer than the truck, as you can see, but all went well.  On the way back we took side roads so there was no hurry.  Thanks, Pete!

I'm used to working with hardwoods, and if there's one noticeable knot in an 8' board, I put it back and look for another.  But with softwoods it's just a matter of degree.  Apart from the knots, the boards look quite good and straight.


  After unloading the wood into the shop, and putting the truck back where I found it, it was time to start painting.  It'll be a lot easier to paint the boards in the shop than up on the roof.

During breaks from painting, among other things I finished attaching the rope guard at the east end.

Tim continues to make new seat cushions for the 24.   The challenge is that these are five times as long as anybody else's.

And Frank Kehoe is making a jig for producing new window shade tracks for the car.

And Max continues to make good progress on improving the wire over Yard 8.  Gerry was working on the dump motor, but I never got around to getting a picture of it.  So even on a Tuesday, which is fairly quiet, we're getting a lot done.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dick Lukin and the CTA

Our good friend Dick Lukin recently read my post looking for information on CSL 2843 and sent me a letter with a great story about the car which he gave me permission to post.  -Frank

The E223 being unloaded at North Chicago; photo courtesy Charles S. King

Dick writes:

I noted your request for pix or information on the two 2800s languishing in our barns.  I DO have color pix and perhaps some B&W pix of the 2843.  In 1956 when I got out of the army, I wanted to buy that car for the museum.  The TA quoted me a price of over eight hundred bucks for the car... reason, it had four motors (keep this in mind).  Well I did NOT have eight hundred bucks to spend, but since I was always interested in sweepers, we saw that the E223 was in excellent condition having been kept inside a carbarn all these years.  It was a complete operational car... ready to run!  Cost on this car was only $407.  Why so cheap... the TA listed it as having only two motors.  What the hell did the "Mart" know about cars... not a damn thing.  These sweepers do have four motors... two traction motors and two for the brooms... ha ha, plus the entire frame is of iron or steel, while the 2843 is WOOD.  So easy decision... I cut a check from my savings account at the First National Bank of Chicago for the $407 and sent it to the CTA at the Mart.  For freight to the IERM site in North Chicago, Carl Gustafson paid Helder's trucking invoice.

Later on... the boys from Downers Grove bought the 2800s, the F305 plow and the X4 crane, the Matchbox, etc.  What was a surprise to me was that in the lineup of cars going to the fire pit at 77th Street hops later in 1958 were cars which we thought had been destroyed long before... there was a 5650 car... one of the St. Louis built cars from the Southern Railway, the long bodied car.  I had NEVER ever saw that car in service (during WWII) or later in prowling around various barns.  Why all of us had never spotted the car in the burn line is still a mystery to me.  That car would have been a special attraction.

Dick Lukin

For a photo of a 5650-series "Crete suburban car" click here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Very Sharp

Another CTA card from the 1754.  It's really too bad this one is in such bad shape.  And I didn't know Burma Shave made blades, so you learn something new every day.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Inexorable Progress

 It was a beautiful day at the Museum and just right for working on all sorts of things.  We'll start with the roof of the 319.

Most of the rope guard on the west end of the car was completed.  I don't have a convenient way to access the left side just now, but the rest has all of its screws installed, and it was caulked.  It will eventually be painted black.

Then I attached the guard at the east end.  Here it is suspended with twine over the trolley wire supports.  Most of this end was completed also before I ran out of the right size screws, but I forgot to take a picture.  

Rope guards are one of those details you probably would never think about until you actually have to maintain one of these cars.  Somewhere I have a picture I took of a car that had evidently been operating for a while without rope guards, and as a result the rope had worn through the canvas so that the ends were not attached to anything.  That's obviously not good!  Some lines, such as the IT, had more elaborate guards that would hold the rope out a few inches from the end, but the CA&E and North Shore had simple metal bars like these.  Because of the way the end of a CA&E car arches up, the guards have a compound curve and would not be easy to reproduce.

I also spent some time wrapping up the roof cables with tape.  The insulation is generally in good condition; what might appear as crumbling insulation is actually chunks of tar from the last roof job.  It took a while to chop most of this tar away, so a layer of rubber tape could be applied.  After a coat of canvas paint, it will look good.

While we're up on the platform, here are some pictures of the roof fuse box.  We were contacted by an Italian company that makes arc chutes and similar products for electric railroads.  We have several roof fuse boxes that are badly deteriorated and need replacing.  So I agreed to send them some pictures and dimensions and see what they say.

Luckily we can communicate in English.  Thanks to my vast knowledge of operatic Italian, I am easily able to say things like "I love you" and "Die, traitor!" but those have little use in the business world. 

After I got home I got a message that the wood we ordered for the running boards has arrived in Woodstock, so I will able to pick it up on Tuesday, cut it as needed, and paint it.  Progress!

Speaking of progress, lots of other things were going on at the Museum today, of course.  Here's just a sample.

Max started working on the trolley wires over the leads to Barn 8, which badly needed fixing.  Here he is in the bucket, being helped by Charlie Strong.

By the end of the day track 84 (on the right) was pretty much done; it should be evident how much needs to be done on 82 and 83, but they're making good progress.  We don't need to go through these curves at high speed, of course, but if we can get through the yard without dewiring at every frog and every hanger, it will be a big improvement.  Thanks, guys!

Tim is grinding down some metal parts on a seat frame for the 24.

Eric was working on the Cleveland PCC, as usual.  Here Lorne is installing new sheet metal in the ceiling.

And finally, some more work on the 36.  I cleaned up the car to some extent, and painted the ventilators in the smoker. 


Progress on the vestibule is slow, but inexorable.  That's because there's no such word as "exorable" in my dictionary.  How about yours?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Enjoy the Finest!

While looking in the 1754 the other day, Tim showed me a pile of old CRT car cards left there by Ray Neuhaus.  They're mostly in pretty bad shape, but are still interesting, I think.  Tim hopes to get them scanned in and reprinted at some point.  It's been a while since we've had any new car card posts, so here's one from Pigley and Ulcers, another Chicago restaurant chain that's long gone. Mmmm!