Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ventilator Rods

Because the ventilators are out of reach of any person of average height, every CA&E car needed a ventilator adjustment rod for use by the conductor.  Unfortunately, we seem to have only one original.  It's a special brass casting attached to a stick about 28" long and 7/8" in diameter.   And I would not want it to get stolen or damaged.

In practice, we usually keep the ventilators open, but it would still be nice to have one available in each car.  I would have to disassemble the thing to get a new casting made, and the whole project would be a lot of work, so I have made a set of new ones using brass hooks from the hardware store.  It's close enough, and does the job when necessary.

In cars with a toilet compartment, the rod is stored over the door and held by two brackets, as shown.  But I haven't figured out where it would be stored in the 36, which has no compartment.   Does anybody remember?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Zephyr Dinner Train

The Zephyr is the train on the right.

I just went online to buy tickets for the Zephyr Dinner Train on Memorial Day Weekend, and the 5PM trips are already sold out on both Saturday and Sunday.  (Maybe we should do this more often.)  So if you were thinking about it, you'd better hurry.  It was very good last time, and we're looking forward to it again!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

319 Report

Today was a beautiful day out in the country, and a good opportunity to work in pleasant conditions.  The 319 needed to be turned around, so here it is out on the tail track.  And notice that it now has its whistles!  Gerry helped me by watching the new grid box to make sure it wasn't arcing or sparking, and all was well.  Later, on the way back into the barn, the pole dewired, and I found myself unable to pull it out of retrieve by myself.  That's rather annoying.  Luckily, Frank Kehoe was willing to help yank on the rope, and the car finally got back into the barn.  Thanks!

New screws arrived, so I was able to attach all of the lift tabs.  When we got the 319, these were missing for some reason, and we had no spares on hand.  In order to get the car into service in 2010, I removed all of the lifts from the 36 and installed them in the 319.  They were put back on the 36 at the end of 2013, when the 319's roof job started and the 36 was ready for service.  These are new brass castings which I spent the last few months filing, sanding, and buffing at home.  They look pretty nice.  So the 319 should be ready for inspection.

The next thing on the 319 will be new upholstery for many of the seats.  They're not all this bad, but while I can do the cushions at home, the backs will require professional work.  When we did the backs for the 308 about ten years ago, it cost $150 apiece, and I can only think the price will be higher now.  So I may have to start blegging for money.

And I worked on preparing the 150 for mounting the sign box, and started cleaning up the 36.  Over the summer, I'd like to repaint the exterior, starting with the roof, and it needs to have the interior cleaned up first.

Let's see what's happening on the 24.  Frank K. has made these nice window tracks.

Tim is working on the interior, and here the new ceiling for the smaller motorman's compartment is being glued in place.

And the main compartment is being prepped.  Don't spend too much time thinking about the wiring system, it's the same one used in lots of other wood cars, such as the CA&E Jewetts.   What could possibly go wrong?

Lots of other people were out working today also, such as the signal crew.   And I had a chance to talk to our old friend Dennis Daugherty, who stopped by on his way to the auction at North Freedom.  So that was interesting.   On Saturday, I'll finish painting the tack molding on the 319, and go from there.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Grid Box Replacement

As reported last week, we found one of the grid boxes on the 319 was defective.  So this week, Frank and I went out to the 321 with a golf cart and the necessary tools and removed the corresponding box from that car.  We also mounted one that had been swapped out a couple of years ago so it doesn't get lost -- hanging it under the car in the correct position is the best way to store it.  Then, back in the barn, we removed the defective box and installed the replacement.   When done, it looks like this.  We installed new nuts and bolts in the clamps that hold the electrical connections.   That took most of the day.  We didn't get a chance to make an electrical test, though.
Man, these boxes are so much heavier than they used to be.  The first time I did this job was back about 1981, when the 309 had a box burn out during service, and I replaced it with one from the 318.  I remember thinking at the time that the process turned out to be easier than expected, and I did it myself in a matter of about two hours.  Something must have gone wrong, but I haven't figured out what.

I also painted the rope guard and tack molding on one end of the car black, picked up tools, moved the scaffold, and miscellaneous tasks.  And I started planning how to mount the roll sign box on the front of the 150.  It will look great!

Speaking of looking great, the car cleaners came by yesterday and cleaned the 319 and 308 for revenue service.  They included Jeff Fryman, Steve Jirsa, John Myhre, Mike M., and Fred Ash, and maybe others I've missed.  In any case, thanks for doing this, it helps a lot!

Frank adds...

I spent the day helping out my father, so I didn't really work on anything other than the grid box project as outlined above.  But I did manage to snap a couple of photos, including the picture below of our newly-upgraded electric golf cart.  Yes, the resistance grids may seem to be overkill, but what if we need to do a lot of low-speed towing with this thing?
And on a more serious note, I stopped by to observe recent progress in Barn 4.  Norm and Jeff are working on Michigan Electric 28, taking apart the front end in preparation for replacing some badly deteriorated framing members.  The side sill under the left side baggage door is shown below; this sill will need evidently to be replaced or heavily rebuilt from the bolster forward and work is already being done to stabilize and support this corner of the car prior to removal of the current channel.  I neglected to get a photo of the new steel end beam being test fitted to 'L' car 1024 (or is it 24 now?) just a few feet forward of the 28, but the work Tim is putting in on this car is impressive as always.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Comments Policy

We have suddenly started getting hundreds of spam comments a day, where it used to be maybe a dozen, and it's driving me nuts.  So I have to do something.  The available choices seem to be 1) word verification 2) Users with Google account only 3) Registered users only (actually, I'm not quite sure what that means) or 4) only members of the blog, which would be self-defeating.  We welcome all legitimate comments, but we have to stop this *&^%$# spam.  I'm trying word verification first.  Sorry, I know it's annoying.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.  Email will still work.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How To Make a Roll Sign

Since we have one of the impressive sign boxes from the Lake Shore Electric for our #150, it would be nice to have a repro roll sign to put in it.  Not all of the mechanism is in place, so a single destination will be sufficient.  Buzz Morrisette did the hard parts of fixing up my art work and actually producing the lettering.  Tim gave me some useful advice on applying the letters and so on, since he's done this before.  And complete roll signs for the 24 are being made even as we speak.

 This is what we want it to look like, as seen on identical car 143 at Sandusky, although this is the sign for the eastbound run.

Buzz actually made two sets of letters for me, but the first one worked fine, so I still have a set in reserve.  The letters are stuck to a sheet of brown backing paper, then the clear transfer paper is laid over that.  The first trick is to peel the backing paper away, leaving the letters stuck to the transfer paper, and then press them onto the roll sign material.   Tim says it's used for making book covers.

To get the letters to line up, it's good to draw some pencil lines on the canvas, where they will be covered with paint.

After all three lines are applied, it looks like this. 

Then we take it out to the garage and spray paint it with flat black.  After it dries, we can start the process of peeling the letters away.

If we work slowly and carefully, the unpainted parts of the canvas will reveal the secret message.

And finally, it looks like this.

 And here it is installed in the sign box in my basement.   Just like downtown!   Now I need to repaint the box itself, but that's pretty straightforward.  Thanks, Buzz!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Prohibition Is Over!

By the way, in other news from the annual meeting, the Eighteenth Amendment has been repealed and Prohibition is no longer in effect at IRM -- to a very limited extent.

"Here's Jeff, boys!"
For as long as anyone can remember, it has been illegal for anyone to possess alcoholic beverages on IRM property in any form at any time.  While the reasons for this policy in terms of safety and discipline should be obvious, it's also somewhat limiting for social functions that we might want to hold on campus.  So the membership has approved a change to the bylaws.  The Board must approve in advance any function at which alcohol will be provided to visitors.  Individuals may not bring alcohol onto the property, of course, and off-duty members may participate only when visiting as part of the general public, and so on.  It may be a while before the Board actually approves of an event of this sort, so we would caution against dancing in the streets at this time.  Here at Hicks Car Works, it is still our official policy not to submit posts or comments while under the influence -- and that goes for you too!

319 Report

There are just a few more things that need to be finished up on the roof of the 319.  

First of all, I went along the side of the car (next to the sidewalk) and put a finish coat of gloss black on the lower tack molding.  Extra pieces of masking tape, plastic, and chalk marks left over from attaching the canvas were removed.   I hope you can see the difference between before (L) and after (R).

At the end of the car, I sanded down and put a coat of primer on the rope guard.  Next time, black.

And the grab iron on this side was attached and carefully tested for strength and rigidity.  I'm betting my life this won't come loose!

And I wandered out to yard 11 to check on the 321 and verify that the correct grid box is still there.  And it looks better than the box on the 319.

Which is more than you can say for the interior.

And I took inventory of the flags on the cars, since now that we will have four cars available for service we'll need more flags.  The HCW Women's Auxillary will be more than happy to produce what we need.   We hope.

Meanwhile, other interesting things are going on.   Pete Galayda was working on the second arc headlight for the Charles City engine.  This is really a fascinating device.  The lower electrode is held up against the upper by a weighted balance.  Then a solenoid in series with the light itself pulls the electrode down, forming the arc and regulating the separation. 

This one needed some rebuilding, but the other one is already working.  One of these days I need to get a video of it in operation.

And a couple of brush holders for the traction motors have been rebuilt, but the rest are OK and the motors should be good to go.

 Frank Kehoe is using the magnetic drill to make the new end sill for the 24.

And Buzz has finished the lettering for the Lake Shore Electric roll sign I plan to mount on the 150.  I'll have some pictures of that project as it progresses at home.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Safety First

Today was a big day at the Museum: the rules review, the safety meeting, the rules test, and the annual membership meeting, all on the very same day!  And a lot of work got done in between.  I was too busy to take more than one lonely picture, but I can tell you about it.

In the morning I lifted the second pole onto the roof of the 319, basically completed tacking down the leather straps for the roof cables, and removed the rest of the plastic sheeting over the car.  When Frank arrived we worked on getting the poles inserted into the bases, but decided it was not possible inside the barn; we'd have to pull the car over to the pit lead where we could turn off the overhead power.  But by that point, it was time for the annual safety meeting.

And as usual, due to the annual meeting, there were several old friends on the property whom I don't get to see very often, such as Randy Anderson, Tom Hunter, and Charlie King.

The meeting was well attended and went well, as usual.  Harold Krewer and Jeff Fryman presented the changes to the rules, new features of the Museum's safety program, and encouraged everybody to continue our excellent safety record.  Our local FRA representative gave a brief explanation of last year's fatal accident at North Freedom, which was a sobering reminder of the dangers inherent in even routine switching operations.  Frank and I take the rules test in even years, so it was back to work!

We used the 309 to pull the 319 over to the pit lead, and it was then quick work to put the poles into the bases.  Luckily Kirk Warner was around to take some pictures of the process. 

The pole needs to be rotated so that the harp is exactly vertical, but that's not quite as easy as it sounds.  Frank is on the ground, giving me advice.

And I guess he wasn't busy enough, so he had time to take a picture.   I always like pictures of railfans taking pictures of other railfans...

Dad, do you really know what you're doing?


Eventually the pole gets aligned and fastened down.  Then the rope is attached.  Luckily, we had help.  Joel worked with the retrievers.  One of them wasn't operating right, so he replaced it for us.   And we had known that there was a grid problem, so we spent some time trying to diagnose that.  Greg Kepka spent some time helping localize the problem.  By the end of the day, we had made a temporary repair which allowed us to run the 319 back to the barn under its own power, which was very satisfying.  The grid box will be replaced with one from the 321.  Luckily it's not the same one we replaced with a box from the 321 a couple of years ago.

And Frank will be reporting on the results of tonight's annual meeting, so stay tuned!

Frank adds...

As mentioned, after "helping" with getting the poles put back on the 319 (mainly scrambling up and down the side of the car fetching tools), I stuck around for the annual meeting.  Congratulations and condolences to Dave Diamond and Bob Olson, who were both reelected to another term as board members.
But before the meeting there was more railfanning.  Shown above is a gratuitous shot of the 319 coming back into Barn 8 under power for the first time in a year and a half.  My, doesn't that roof look nice?
And Victor Humphreys showed me the progress made recently on the Russell snow plow from the Chicago Great Western.  He and the Freight Car Department crew are inching closer to completion, and it is really impressive how much work has gone into making this piece of equipment as good a new both inside and out.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Open House -- IRR 65

Jon Fenlaciki has been heading up the project to redo the interior of IRM's first car, Indiana Railroad 65, with newly-made seats of the correct type.  It took a lot of time and money.  But as you can see here, the result is stunning!  The car will be open for a static fantrip tomorrow from 1 to 4 PM.   If you're going to be out at IRM for the safety meeting/rules test/annual meeting festivities, you won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Solid Base

With the trolley bases located up on the roof, it was possible to get them correctly positioned and bolted in place, and the electrical connections made also.  And most of the rest of the leather straps were tacked into place to hold the cables to the running boards.  That took all day, but we're just about done on the roof!  You can see one of the poles set between the running boards in the picture.  The other pole was more than a foot too long, because when we got the car from Cleveland one of the bases was in the wrong place.  So it was cut to length in the shop.

The only major task remaining is to actually insert the poles into the clamps on the bases, which is not easy to do in the barn.  But Frank should be out on Saturday for the safety meeting, rules test, and annual meeting, so working together it should go pretty quickly.  And thanks again to Joel and his helpers for getting the heavy and awkward bases onto the roof!

As usual, Tim and Frank K. were working on the 24.  The west end of the car has been done for a while, but the east end still needs some major structural repairs, as seen here.  That's almost worse than the end of the 308, although luckily this car never had a bogus 1/4" steel plate welded onto the end.  

 Tim unbolted the end sill and took it outside for heating and straightening.

And Gerry was installing the headlight circuits on the dump motor.

Bob Olson told me that someone named Tony had called last week, wanting to ask me for help with CA&E paint schemes for modeling purposes.  Bob couldn't find his contact info, however.  In any case, I'm not a modeler and would be of little help.  Jeff Obarek is probably a much better person to talk to when it comes to CA&E modeling, and I know there are several other experts out there.  So if Tony wants to email me, I can put you in contact with the right people.

Monday, April 13, 2015

On the Oregon Trail

 There's no IRM report this weekend because I was out of town.  My wife and I celebrated our anniversary by traveling west to Oregon -- Oregon, Illinois, that is.  White Pines State Park is a great place to get away, and most of our time was spent hiking and sight-seeing.  
Right across the road from our cabin in the woods is this lovely old stone bridge on the Q's main line out to the Mississippi, with a nice overlook so you could sit and watch trains go by at frequent intervals.  What's not to like? 

We also drove out to the big river to hike the palisades.

On the way, I was able to do a little railfanning, but everything we visited was closed.  In Savanna (not to be confused with Savannah) there is a small railroad museum with displays in a Milwaukee Road car alongside the Burlington main line.

Later, we stopped at the Silver Creek and Stephenson, an operating museum on the south side of Freeport.  They have an operating Heisler which runs on about a mile of isolated track, but there was no one there on a Saturday afternoon.  It's been a long time since I was there.

The passenger equipment is mostly these flat cars fitted out for excursion use.  The depot looks nice.

 The railroad is part of the local history museum across the road, the Silver Creek Museum.

 And in Oregon itself, the old Q depot has been nicely restored, with work still underway.  Inside, there's a depot museum with railroad-related displays, but as usual it wasn't open when I was there.  Curses, foiled again!

But meanwhile, while my back was turned, Joel Ahrendt reports that the trolley bases have been hoisted onto the roof of the 319 and are waiting for positioning and attachment.  That's fantastic news.  I really appreciate it.  Perhaps I should stay away more often?