Sunday, May 31, 2015

Oil Is Well

 Today Frank and I finished up lubrication on the 309.  Frank does all the hard parts, actually squeezing under the side sills, over the truck, opening the ridiculously difficult doors to the armature bearings, etc., while I stand around and hand him the things he needs.   From my perspective, it works just fine!   We didn't bother to try to take any pictures of this process, but once it was done and the car was back in its slot, it's nice to see the 308 and 309 side-by-side.

Meanwhile, the 409 and 431 were in revenue service.  I wanted to check on a couple of details of the interior.

Both cars have the curved hooks over the toilet door, where the ventilator rod would be kept.  So I guess these cars should each have a new rod also.

And I'd forgotten that the ventilators have these little chutes that open, much like the 36.  We usually just keep them open, of course.

Frank and I went to the parts car and found a couple of the mica tubes we need to assemble a replacement grid box for the 308.  Here he is starting to put the new box together. (And Joel is telling us where to find the good hand cleaner.  When you get as dirty as we did, that's valuable information.)

By the time I was ready to leave, it was mostly assembled.  Maybe he'll have an update to this exciting project soon!

Ed Oslowski continues his painstaking work on the forward compartment in the IT combine.  Here he is carefully stripping the woodwork in preparation for repainting. 

You'll notice that the window shade isn't rolled up, so we had a brief class on how to remove, adjust, and replace the window shade rollers so they'll work right.  IRM is an educational institution, you can be sure of that.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Westward the Path of Destiny

 In general news, a lot of grading has been done and Main Street has now been extended all the way west to the gate on Olsen Rd.  It looks like the bottom layer has been spread and rolled.

And as you can see, our Museum is hopefully extending the parking lot facilities, and now it's up to us to help fill all those spaces.  Tell your friends and acquaintances to come visit!

As for me, today was inspection of the 309.  Things went well, and no unexpected issues were noted. 

While I have the car centered over the pit, let's see what's there and make sure nothing is missing.

(L) One of the traction motors; (R) the grid boxes.   This car has two complete control systems, one for each two-motor truck.  That's why there are two rows of grids.  

Many of the CA&E cars had this feature, and there are four other preserved cars like this, but the 309 is the only one at IRM.

(L) The equalizing tank on this car is slung under the brake cylinder.

(R) The two main reservoir tanks.

The D3-EG compressor in its cradle.

The outside and inside of one of the DB-20 reversers.  I meant to take a picture of the open contactor boxes.  You can see a corner of one on the right.

Well, that was a long, exhausting day, but it only has to be done once a year.  Now just the 36 remains.  And Frank is planning to help me finish the lubrication on the 309 this Sunday.

Tim Peters was working on the 24, and John McKelvey was recovering seats today, as usual. John is making good use of the canvas I removed from the roof of the 319 to repair seats for the Rock Island cars, which are a vital part of our operating fleet.

Oh, Rochester!

Frank writes...

No, it's not a Jack Benny reference - my wife and I were in Rochester visiting family this past weekend so of course I had to stop off at the local trolley museum.  In this case it was the New York Museum of Transportation in Rush.  I only had about half an hour to spare, but NYMT member Charlie Lowe gave me a quick tour and an update of what's been happening there recently.  The big news is the arrival last year of the museum's first PCC, Newark car 7, which is identical to the Newark car IRM got last year.

The museum's ex-Philadelphia "Strafford" car 161 had finished with its runs for the day and the NYMT crew was working on a new barn track for the PCC.  The NYMT barn is actually an agricultural barn adapted for museum use; there's even a grain silo out back.  To the left is Northern Texas Traction 409, a wooden interurban parlor car trailer acquired some years back as a body.
NYMT has a small but rather historic collection of western New York cars in varying condition.  Outside a pair of bodies are stored under tarps, a rare Rochester streetcar trailer converted from an open car and the last surviving interurban car from the Rochester Lockport & Buffalo.  Indoors, besides the NTT car and a Philadelphia snow sweeper, is Rochester car 437, a 1904 Kuhlman semiconvertible.  Although a body, the car is fairly solid.
There's also a single-trucker body from Batavia, NY and a mostly-disassembled single-trucker from the Rochester city lines.  And then there's car 157, the only steel interurban car from the Rochester & Eastern, built in 1914 by Niles.  Its exterior has been largely restored to original appearance (part of the car is still in c1920s-era yellow livery applied in the 1970s) and it's been placed on correct MCB trucks.  It's a beautiful display piece and parts are on hand for eventual full restoration including a DB-131 contactor box just like the ones on our own 308 and 409.
And the car on the right in the below shot, next to the 157, is Elmira Corning & Waverly 107, a wood car built for that Southern Tier interurban line by Jewett in 1911.  Though retired in 1930 and converted for use as a cabin, it retained its original trucks (sans motors) and most underbody equipment right up until it was preserved in 1970.
The car's interior is stripped out and the contactor box, shown below, is pretty rough but a lot of it is still there and overall the car is quite a significant artifact.  Anyone have any idea what type of contactors these are?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spring Grove Park, W. Va.

There's been a recent thread on RyPN about equipment at "Cool Springs Park" in West Virginia.  We happened to drive by this place back in 1999 and stopped in.  (My notes record it as "Spring Grove Park", but whatever.)  It was hard to stop laughing.  It appeared to be abandoned for several years at that point, and I'm surprised that most of this equipment is still there.  Maybe a new generation of ostriches are guarding the place, I'm not sure.  Here are some pictures I took, back before I caught up with digital photography.  I wish now I had taken more.  The captions are just the notes I took at the time and may not be correct.

"Spring Grove Park, W.Va."
C&O Caboose on 3' trucks; EBT Hopper

3' 0-4-0T -->  2-4-2T+T
The Main Line

Guarded by ostriches

Porter + Vulcan

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is the real start of our main operating season, and everything seems to have gone very well, in spite of the (not unusual) imperfect weather.  Saturday was very well attended.  My wife and I showed up for the Zephyr dinner train, and I'll post about that later.  Today (Monday) started out with some heavy rain, but it cleared up quickly and we had a much better crowd than I had feared.  We had a lot of trains operating: CA&E 308 and 319, the Zephyr, the 1630, two CTA 4000's, and the CTA 2200's in shuttle service to Jefferson St.   And the 4391 and 3142 on the car line.  What more could you ask?

The 319 with its new roof was in service for the first time since 2013.  And not even any dewirements!  However, since I was the conductor, I had some time to look around, and came up with a list of minor items to fix, such as missing ticket clips and things like that.  But no major problems.

The 308 is sporting our nice 48-star flags.  Jeff Obarek was the motorman and Joel Ahrendt was the trainman, and we worked together efficiently.   Sorry, no picture of the crew mugging for the camera this time. 

Of course, the steam engine is always a major attraction.  I'm usually too busy to get a picture when there's a bigger crowd around, but it was certainly popular.  And then of course there was the Zephyr too!

 And then my old friend Ray Cook showed up; here he is talking to Nick during a trip on the 319.  He finally retired after 49 years of running trains for the IC, Metra, etc.  mostly on the electric division.  It was great to be able to talk to him.

Friday, May 22, 2015

IT Bridge

 Fairview Park in Decatur, Ill. is a scenic and interesting relic of days gone by.  Coming west out of Decatur, the Illinois Terminal paralleled the Wabash, except at the park, where the electric line detoured around the wide valley of little Stevens Creek.  The bridge spanning the creek is still in place, now in use for a walking path.

It may not be the McKinley Bridge, but it's impressive nonetheless.

The Wabash bridge over the same little creek is even more impressive, I must admit.  

And on an island in a pond nearby, there's a scale model, about four feet high, of the famous streetcar Transfer Station in downtown Decatur, which has been preserved.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

In Memoriam: Cindy Nauer

With great sadness we must report the death of Cindy Nauer, widow of the late Jim Nauer, and Scott's mother.  Jim died two years ago after a long struggle with cancer, and Cindy died suddenly last Saturday, at home.  A visitation will be held today (Thursday, May 21) at the Marengo-Union Funeral Home on 20 in Marengo, from 4 to 7 PM.   Please keep the Nauer family in your prayers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Progress Report

Another two days of work saw minor projects completed on all five wooden interurban cars under our supervision.  Let's see, in no particular order:

308: Frank is making a new grid box, and the frame was primed on Tuesday and painted black on Wednesday.

319: The toilet ventilator was partly rusted out, so I patched it up at home and brought it out for installation.

The inside cover was installed with new screening, although that may not be obvious from this picture.

36: More cleaning and painting, although nothing worth taking a picture of, I guess.  Sorry.

309: A loose interior molding strip needed to be reattached.  Part of one section of molding seems to never have gotten its fair share of nails.  Nobody's perfect.  Anyway, this can be fixed with sufficient care.

We start with a table of measurements taken in 1986, when the ceiling was being installed after the fire.  Notice that the numbers are different for each sector; wooden car builders tried not to make things more consistent than absolutely necessary.

With the molding pulled down out of the way, small brads are driven through the panel (behind where the molding will be) to verify that the carlines are indeed where predicted.

And then pilot holes are drilled and the nails are driven and countersunk to hold the wood securely.  I need to get some new wood putty of the right sort and do a little finishing. 

150: I installed a new latch to hold the sign box in place more securely, and then painted the new wood with the finish color.

Today (Wednesday) was cold and damp, so some of the planned finish painting was put off, but there were plenty of minor things to keep busy with. 

Our grading contractors are certainly keeping busy with new construction in the Schroeder area, a combination of Main St. extension and parking.