Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pageant Schedule

Here's the planned schedule for Trolley Pageant operations on July 4th.  As always, this is subject to change due to weather, mechanical condition, and factors beyond human control.

And by the way, for July 3rd (CA&E Day) we still need a conductor and/or trainman for the wood cars.  I'll take an open position, but please sign up if you can.  Thanks.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pageant Prep

Frank writes...

I was able to make it out to the museum Sunday but didn't get there until 3pm.  Nevertheless I brought a Shop-Vac over to the 205 and vacuumed out the interior of the car.  I had previously swept out the car but now the floor is as clean as it's going to be.  It doesn't look much different than it did before so I didn't get a photo.  I'd still like to wipe down the seats but other than that, interior work (such as it is) on the 205 is done.

After this Gregg Wolfersheim stopped by and gave me copies of some photos of the Electric Railway Historical Society cars being moved out to IRM in 1973, so keep an eye on the blog for those!  I'll try and get them scanned in and posted soon.  And then I wandered over to Barn 4, where Joel Ahrendt and Richard Schauer were firing up the Army 45-tonner to do some switching.  I went along to help out, though "help out" may be a bit generous.  Most of the time I was getting an education in the intricacies of freight car hand brakes, wreck knuckles (not as bad as it sounds), the hangar doors on Barn 10, and other things that I usually don't deal with when I'm helping in the Electric Car Department.

The goal was to get things staged for the Trolley Pageant next Saturday, which meant digging cabooses and freight cars out from the south yards and also bringing the caboose train in from Schmidt Siding where it had been spotted for the weekend.  Above, I got a shot of the demonstration freight train during a break from the action as Richard goes to check the hand brake on the GN hopper.  While we were traversing South Junction, he opined that the area should be given a more poetic and descriptive name, maybe Mosquito Haven or something.

And that was about it for my day.  The Trolley Pageant next weekend is shaping up to be a great one; as with last year, visitors will be able to ride a different train about every 15 minutes!  The four CA&E woods will all be out, 36 and 319 scheduled for the 10:30am trip and 308-309 for the noon trip.  Don't miss it!
And on another subject, the 144 recently had an air compressor failure (National pump pictured above) and the repair shop has offered a good volume discount if we get three armatures rebuilt at the same time.  So please consider a donation to the cause to help get this work done!  (Just put "Electric Car Department" on the memo line.  This won't just get the 144 running again; the same type of air compressor is used on the 1374 and the 2843 (if and when it is restored), so we'd like to get this work done now while the prices are good.  Any help is appreciated!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Set Up Running

Frank writes...

I headed out to IRM on Sunday planning on doing some needle-chipping on the 36, but as it happened that didn't happen for a couple of different reasons.

This was the first: the inspection pit lead, where I had planned to spot the 36 to work on needle-chipping, was ocupado.  The "Highliners" have arrived!  A four-car set of ex-Metra, ex-Illinois Central double-deck MU cars was delivered to the museum on Thursday.  Cars 1534 and 1630 (I feel like I've seen that number somewhere before but I can't put my finger on it), built by St. Louis Car Company, and cars 1637 and 1645, built by Bombardier, are the four cars chosen for acquisition.
A crew consisting of Richard Schauer, Greg Kepka and others has already started working on the cars, beginning with the 1534, at the west end of the string.  Above, Greg, "Doodlebug Dan" Mulvihill and Joel Ahrendt (in the red hat) are contemplating the motorman's position on the 1534.  Richard and Greg started charging the car's batteries, which were dead, and were able to get the motor-alternator set running - at least until I stopped by, at which point the MA set promptly died for reasons unknown.  I'm going on the theory that my arrival was not a causative factor in this, but who knows?
Early evening found Greg scraping some blue spray paint off of the Metra emblems on the cars which had, for some reason, been covered over.  This seemed to be going pretty well until someone reminded him that he has seven more to go after this if he's going to do all four cars!  I believe that the intention is to keep two of the four cars (one from each builder) in the permanent collection and to eventually dispose of the other two, but the decision as to which cars will be saved has not yet been made.  Richard said that last year a comprehensive survey of the condition of the 70 or so of the 84 "Highliners" then in service was made, along with input from Metra shop personnel, and we picked four of the cars in the best shape.  So we've got a good starting point.
And the second reason that I didn't get around to doing needle-chipping was that when I arrived on the property at about 1pm the wood cars, which were scheduled to operate, were still in the barn.  A misunderstanding had led to the North Shore cars being taken out instead.  I enlisted Joel's help and we brought the 319 and 308 out of Barn 8, down the connector track and around the car line to the west wye.  When we brought the cars into Station Track 1 the plan was to simply hand them over to Jeff Obarek, the revenue motorman, but there was actually a big crowd at the museum Sunday so instead we were enlisted to run a revenue trip.  I fear Joel and I made for a sorry sight in our work clothes, but the trip was packed and the passengers seemed happy.
After our return the train was handed over to Jeff and his crew, who made two more trips.  It was a beautiful day and between the steam coach train and the interurbans all of the trains seemed rather full.
By this time it was late afternoon and I still had a switch move to do, so I pulled the 36 out of Barn 8 and set it out on the connector track - taking a few minutes to snap a portrait.  Unfortunately this side of the car has neither been lettered nor had a second coat of blue applied, but it still looks pretty sharp, especially with the newly-painted roof.

When the revenue train was done for the day, Jeff brought it onto the ladder track where we uncoupled the 319 and 308 and put the latter car over on track 83 (again, after a quick portrait).  Then I ran the 36 into 84 on top of the 319 and coupled them up; the two Brookins cars will form our revenue service train for July 3rd, which is "CA&E Day" (the anniversary of suspension of passenger service).  Right now the plan is also to have two separate two-car trains running for the Trolley Pageant on the 4th, the "black roof train" of the 36 and 319 and the "grey roof train" of the 308 and 309.
So I ended up operating all day instead of needle-chipping.  Oh, the horror!  How will I ever get over my disappointment?

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Frank writes...

As mentioned in the previous post, I spent the majority of my Saturday afternoon painting stripes onto the side of the 205.  The stripes, like the lettering applied last year, look black but they're actually dark green, the same color as the car's roof and the bottom half of the anticlimber.  There's one stripe at the belt rail and one at floor level, only between the doors and not around the end of the car.

As with the lettering, the stripes will be outlined in silver.  Nick gave me the contact information for the man who in 2010 did the lettering on the CA&E cars acquired from Trolleyville so hopefully he will be able to help us out with the 205 as well.
Other than the silver outlines, exterior work on the 205 is virtually complete.  I still need to find canvas-backed rubber, or some similar material, to affix to the door edges, and the northwest corner end window still needs to be stripped of paint.  But the end is in sight.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ready for Summer

Are you ready for summer?  I hope so.  It finally arrived at Union in all its steamy magnificence. So at least we seemed to have a good number of visitors today, including some from far away.

Out on the mainline we had the Diesel coach train and the North Shore cars.   And this is Linda Evans doing line training on the 3142.

I finished inspection and lubrication on the 36, then spent most of the day cleaning windows and various odd jobs to get the car ready for service.  I plan to run the 36 and 319 for "CA&E Day" on July 3rd this year, which will be the first time we've run this particular two-car train, the "Brookins Limited"!  And the Fourth will be the Trolley Pageant with all four cars in service.  Don't miss it, you'll kick yourself.  To the right, the lights are on because the L car kids are cleaning up and getting them ready for service.

Among other things, I needed to reattach a metal hook to the buzzer cord, which is not easy.  Frank and Rod helped speed up the process, and it's now in place.  Frank spent most of the rest of the day painting two long black stripes on the 205. 

It's very boring, but necessary.  The black stripe then needs smaller silver stripes on each side, for which we plan to hire a professional.  And that will pretty much finish off cosmetic work on the 205!

I met Randy Stahl today, visiting from Massachusetts, a blog reader I've been in communication with before.  Actually we'd met before: he visited IRM in 1978 when he was still a boy, he says, and remembers inspecting the 309 when the interior was still a wreck from the fire.  He was involved with TWERHS and talked about the 318; he also knew several of the old-time IRM members such as Bill Nedden, Bill McGregor, Jim Johnson, Ralph Weege, and many others.  He now works for the Providence and Worcester, a freight shortline operating out of Worcester, Mass.   Since I'm going to be in that area soon, visiting my daughter, he gave me some advice on old-time diners in Worcester.  Yum yum!

And then our old friend Walt Stafa was here from Ohio, and we had a good talk.  He was here mostly to help on the Michigan car, as usual.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Last Inspection

The 36 was the last of our four operating cars to be inspected in 2015.  (That's the nice thing about cars like the 205 and the 150 -- they don't require all this onerous work every year.)  It took all day Tuesday but no problems were found.  I was too busy to take any pictures of the inspection, but the weed-spraying truck was here for its annual visit. 

Note the grading that has been done in yards 14 and 15.

Today I finished painting the roof of the 36 early in the morning, but it was too hot and humid to continue with the letterboard as I would have liked.  So I cleaned up the interior for revenue service.  It badly needed vacuuming and so on.

Here is the main compartment.

Looking out the "solarium" end:


And, of course, the repainted smoker.  

Since only one side is lettered, I needed to turn it around, and today was a good opportunity.  It also gave me a chance to take some pictures of the 36 at historic locations....

Here we are making a station stop along the Cook County branch.

And approaching Batavia.

I also got to do some consulting work on the Charles City engine.  The question arose as to how the DB-102 circuit breaker is supposed to function, and what the purpose of the DB-597 relay might be.  Because this is a dual-voltage system, it has several unusual features, but I believe we have it all worked out now.  I'd like to get a good scan of the (nicely framed) diagram, but for now this photo works pretty well.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Solid Plans and Goals

Frank writes...

Sunday I was out at the museum working on some miscellaneous projects for the CA&E cars.  They were supposed to be in service, but there was a 90% chance of rain and threatening skies for the entire day so the operating crew wisely took out the North Shore cars instead.  This allowed me to install the recently-built grid box on the 308, as shown below.

I'm not going to be winning any photography contests, but you get the idea.  The box has been installed; to the left is the air compressor and to the right is the contactor box.  Note that the next grid box in line was already rebuilt by me at some point in the past.  "Doodlebug Dan" helped me lift the box into place and get it installed, while Richard, Greg and Joel helped with testing it out by briefly putting power to the motors and checking for sparks or arcing.  This little project is now done.
And then there were the flags.  My wife Bevin has been sewing new flags for the cars with the goal of giving each car a complete set (two red flags, two white flags and a blue flag), and I spent a little while Sunday afternoon cutting and tapering new flagstaffs and then distributing the new flags among the cars.  We are still short two white flags for the 319 (I just didn't get enough dowel to make the staffs for them) but that will be easy to do.  Each of the other cars now has a complete set of flags.  The 309 even has a couple of green flags made a few years back in case we need them.
And Joel dug this up, though I'm not certain where.  It's one of a handful of TWERHS relics that tend to surface on occasion at the museum, the result of IRM having acquired most of that group's collection of cars and spare parts in the late 1980s.  It reads (with punctuation cleaned up a bit):

To whom it concerns

This is the East Troy Trolley Museum
owned and operated by The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society, Inc.
We are not affiliated with the Village of East Troy, or the East Troy Electric Railroad

For 13 years, until our contract to use the village owned track was cancelled in 1984, we operated along this line and made our museum world famous

On these grounds, we have assembled a collection of over 30 interesting pieces of equipment including electric locomotives, rapid-transit cars, interurbans and work equipment

We are a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to the preservation of Wisconsin electric railway history and, as such, are trying our best to preserve this equipment

We agree that it looks somewhat forlorn and would like very much to repair and paint it

However, without being able to operate, our cash flow is very limited

We have been devoting most of our efforts to finding a way to resume operation, restore our cash flow, and thus overhaul and repair the equipment

Those that know our history, will remember that most of this equipment sat idle in various railyards for many years until we rescued it and moved it here

Rest assured, although it is taking time, we do have solid plans and goals

Despite what our critics say there is no reason to scrap or give it away

In the meantime, we would be happy to arrange [a] guided tour for your group or show you around, and explain the equipment and our plans when we are working here

But, please be advised these are private grounds owned by Ralphs Inc and under the control of TWERHS Inc.  Entry at any other time may subject you to arrest and prosecution

Thank you

For a little background, TWERHS was the first group to operate a trolley museum in East Troy, setting up there in 1970 and contracting with the village to operate their cars over the village-owned line.  In the mid-1980s a second trolley museum group moved to East Troy and was able to get the operation contract transferred to them, leaving TWERHS with a sizable collection but nowhere to run it.  After a few years of inactivity, during which this sign was presumably posted for a time, TWERHS dissolved its collection.  A few cars went to the new trolley museum group in East Troy (the East Troy Electric Railroad, still operating) but most were bought by IRM around 1989.


Randy adds:

Another one of these relics from TWERHS serves as a decoration in my garage, since nobody else seemed to want it.  It's a sobering reminder that "solid plans and goals" are not enough.  (Also, perhaps, that you should sober up before starting to letter a sign....)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

UP Family Day

Today was the annual Union Pacific Family Day for employees and their families.  The UP has long been a good friend and benefactor for the Museum, and it's nice to see so many people show up.  


The company has several tents and activities set up for their families.

The 308 and 319 were running in revenue service again, as well as the 1630, a Diesel caboose train, two 4000's, and two streetcars.

And the open car was in part-time service.

Chris and Dan Buck are running the CA&E train.  They said the trains were full on nearly every trip.

This gave me a good opportunity to swap positions between the 36 and 309, so I could work on the other side of the 36.


By the end of the day I had finished painting about 2/3 of the other side of the roof.  It's nearly complete.  We had a good crowd of visitors passing through all day, more than usual for Barn 8.

I was sorry to hear that Rod Turner is in hospital in Geneseo with back problems.  We're all hoping for a speedy recovery!

I happened to run into an old friend, Rich Neva, visiting from Oregon.  He strong-armed me into promising to keep running this blog for his personal benefit.  But I guess you will be able to read it too, so be sure to thank him!

And our Weirdness of the Week is this section of the 36's clerestory.  All the other sections have an obvious pair of right and left-hand arches, but this one has two of the same.  I really don't know how this happened, or why I never noticed it before.  (It would help if the windows weren't painted over, of course.)  

A close examination of the picture at the top of the car history shows that this was the case at least by 1939, so it's "correct" for the current paint scheme.  Just another oddity.  At least we can't blame it on Cleveland.

Finally, here we see a trolley bus being washed (by Rich Schauer) while another "bus" passes behind.  Let's keep it clean!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Matchbox Body Found in Wisconsin

Breaking news: Al Reinschmidt just posted this link to a news story of the remains of a CSL Matchbox up in Wisconsin, between Oshkosh and Stevens Point.  It's mildly interesting, especially the "expert's" reference to an "interurban street car."  I don't know if there's possibly any parts there we could use, but I'd be available for another body snatchers trip if so.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

CA&E Progress Report

The 308 and 319 are scheduled for passenger service this weekend, and there were several things I noticed from last time that I wanted to fix before then, as well as various things on the 36 and 309.  So this is a report on two days' worth of work.

Several parts on 319 had been removed for painting the interior, and still needed to be put back, such as ticket clips (L) and the brass plates on a bulkhead door (R).

And one light circuit needed a new bulb.  (It doesn't really look like this, but I couldn't fix the exposure.)  I also rang out the light circuits in the 308.  Some repairs will be needed, but that's a relatively low priority, so I made sure the defective circuits were disconnected.

One of the ceiling patch pieces fell out and broke into three parts, so I took it home and epoxied it together.  After careful installation, and first primer, it looked like this:

The handrails on the bottom of the trap doors on the 319 had very bad paint.  It doesn't bother me, but some of our visitors might be annoyed by the rough surface, so they were sanded down to bare metal.  Then they just looked rusty, so I repainted them.

Another thing I wanted to work on was fixing the bent coupler on the 309.  The drawbar at the #1 end has always been bent, since 1962, I believe.  When the scrap dealer was moving cars around in the yard at Wheaton to get them ready for scrapping or preservation, they evidently got banged around pretty hard.  As a result, we generally try to keep the #1 end of the car at the end of the train, but it would be good to fix this.

I could ask the Steam Dept. guys to straighten the shank in their big press, but it could possibly break or at least be weakened in the process, so I started to look for replacements.  We have a good number of spare Van Dorn drawbars, but they're all the wrong size.  After careful measurement, it looks like one from the 321 should work OK, so I may try to swap couplers sometime this summer.  

The 36 has lettering on only one side, and I had never finished outlining it, so that got done this morning.  On Saturday I will turn the car around if possible to start on the other letterboard.

And on the roof, I put in some new leather cable straps to replace ones that had broken.

The side sill on one side hadn't been painted yet, so that got done.

And all of the tools and paint cans were removed from inside the car, so we can start on inspection next week, I hope.  The last one!

Oh, and the patch piece in the 319 needed some finish paint.  I just hope this doesn't fall out again during revenue service.  If it does, I'm blaming the motorman!

A lot of civic improvements are underway at the Museum also, but I guess I didn't take any pictures of them.   You'll have to see for yourself.  And as usual, several other projects were being pursued.  Today we'll choose just one of them.

 Norm and Jeff were busy getting ready to apply the final coat of paint to the roof of the 28.  Here are some detail shots.

Well, that was fun.  It's always nice to have a lot of variety.