Sunday, July 26, 2015

Take the Throttle

Frank writes...

I was out at IRM on Saturday rather than my usual Sunday trip because of a "Take the Throttle" (sort of) trip with the 319.  I say "sort of" because it wasn't part of the museum's normal "Take the Throttle" program, but rather was a trip run for a man who had donated a significant sum to the Brookins collection acquisition a few years back and who also brought out several historic CA&E items to donate.

With help from Zach Ehlers and Museum President Joe Stupar, I took the 319 out in the morning.  The 36, which was at the door and is still a control trailer pending a new grid box, was shoved out to the tail track and set out there.  Our donor, pictured above, ran a trip with the 319 and did rather well I'd say.  If you're interested in running an electric car (or a diesel locomotive) just call the IRM office to make arrangements!
Upon our arrival there was a big enough crowd at the depot that Zach and I ran a single revenue trip as well.  The car was quite full, which was nice, and people didn't seem to mind that we were dressed in shop clothes rather than proper uniforms.

After that I coupled the 319 back to the 36 on the tail track with help from Joe.  This was more involved than planned because the coupler height between the cars differed enough that we had to shim up the coupler on the 36 to get them to couple, but it only set us back a couple of minutes.  I brought both cars over to the pit lead and set to needle chipping.  I finished most of the areas at the #2 (currently west) end of the car that I hadn't gotten to last week, including the pilot, remaining braces under the end, and the undersides of both traps.  These are pretty obvious when people are boarding so it will be nice to have them cleaned up and painted.

Note that they're different, and I don't just mean the rather artsy C-6 shadow on one.  One has a hand latch set into it while the other, possibly rebuilt at Wheaton, doesn't.  These are the same design traps as used on North Shore cars but, while the North Shore used these hand latches that sit flush with the trap floor surface, the CA&E had a better system.  On the Jewetts and the steel cars there's a foot pedal mounted to the floor next to the trap.  All you have to do is step on the pedal and the trap springs up.  In theory, you don't even have to bend down to open it.  Pretty slick, eh?  On traps that also have a hand latch, the latch is simply fastened shut and not used.

I also cleaned up the end castings for the 36 grid box, so it's ready to repaint.  After a few hours of needle chipping I put the 319 and 36 back in Barn 8 and did some walking around to see what was happening.  Tim was hard at work on the gate car and had just gotten the lights in the rooftop signs and marker lights at the "deep cab" end of the car working.  (The car has a cab at both end but one is two windows deep and originally contained the air compressor.)  Bill was helping him out while Eric was over working on the Cleveland PCC.
And as evening approached the 'L' car guys were switching 'L' cars.  Dave Fullarton and Richard Schauer, along with a new volunteer whose name I failed to get, were setting up a photo shoot with our three pairs of "high performance" cars: the 2000s, 2200s and 2400s, now all fully operational.  First the two newer sets were brought out of 50th Avenue; above Dave works on getting that perfect shot.
And then the 2000s were run over from Barn 8.  Here Richard, the new guy, Dave, and Bill do some final polishing.  Let it not be said that we pay attention to details!

And here they are in all their glory.  I didn't want to steal all of Dave's thunder so to see the impressive final lineup you'll have to stay tuned and keep an eye out for the photos he took of all three sets.
And here's my crew from the morning, Zach and Joe, observing the 'L' car festivities along with me.  When putting the cars away there was an issue with coupling the 2200s and 2400s.  I commented to Joe that problems with coupling seemed to be a theme today!  But as with earlier in the day, the issue was quickly rectified and all is well with the modern 'L' car fleet.  I think it was Richard who made the comment that these six cars can probably make the longest "all cars powered" electric train IRM has ever run; even with our seven-car train of 6000s from a few years ago only four or five of the cars were motoring and we've never run more than a five-car interurban train.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Visit to PTM

Frank writes...

Work recently took me to Pittsburgh, as it does occasionally, and I took the opportunity to stop by the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.  Bruce Wells, a friend who volunteers there and also writes a blog about goings-on at PTM, was kind enough to show me some of the progress they've been making.  I also got a chance to chat with Scott Davis and several other PTM volunteers.

This photo, taken in the PTM shop building, shows three of the biggest recent projects.  The first involved changing the track layout of the building, originally built with three tracks: a shop track down one side of the building and two closely-spaced storage tracks down the other side.  PTM has been extremely good at funding storage barns and within the past several years was able to get their entire collection into indoor storage, allowing them to replace the two storage tracks in this barn with a second shop track.  Part of this project was paving the floor in this section of the building.  The second project was installation of LED shop lighting, which was impressively bright and saves a good deal on power costs.  And the third project, of course, is the car itself: West Penn 832, the only Cincinnati curve-side car preserved intact and the newest product of that company preserved anywhere.
Car 832 had its body and trucks completely rebuilt by outside contractors and PTM volunteers have been working on rebuilding and reassembling its air and electrical systems.  Above is one of the car's K-75 controllers.  When I was there the car was due to be lowered onto its trucks within the week and they are hoping to do some initial test runs in the near future.  Quite a bit remains to be done, of course, including reassembly of the interior and wiring in the lights and heaters among other things, but the work done thus far is extremely impressive and the quick progress is exciting to see.

Other cars being worked on included Pittsburgh 4145, which was acquired from Trolleyville and was in the shop for some motor work, and Pittsburgh 1138, the oldest preserved PCC from PTM's hometown street railway, which was up on jacks to have its wiring examined.
And Bruce showed me this too: a car card made from some original advertising images I had sent  him a couple of years ago.  He is a very accomplished PhotoShopper and has created a number of fascinating vintage ad cards for cars at PTM based off of originals.  This one was made by rearranging a magazine ad.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tail Light

Rule 57.  The following signals will be displayed, one on each side of the rear of every train, as markers, to indicate the rear of the train: By day, two red flags; by night, at least two red lights.

In practice, besides the two red markers, a tail light like this would be hung on the train door of the rear car.  The paint on this one was in very bad shape; I was able to get much of the box down to nearly bare metal with a shop vac.

The "CA&E Ry" label dates to 1946 or later.

 And with a couple hours of work, it looks good as new.  This one is missing its oil lamp mechanism, however; I'm hoping we have a working spare or two.  Otherwise I can use one from a hand lantern.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Headlights On For Safety

Yesterday I finished outlining the lettering on the 36, as seen here.

 And installed the final new third rail beam.

And did we mention that for the first time, on Labor Day weekend we're going to try running evening trains for the public?  You'll want to be there!  Saturday evening will be the North Shore cars, and Sunday evening will be the CA&E wood cars.   So, planning ahead, I tested the headlight circuits on all four cars, and three headlights currently available.  Everything worked fine.  This is something we hadn't gotten around to during regular inspection, since they're generally not needed.   To save time and hassle when changing ends, we plan to have a headlight on each end, and two markers at each end which can be easily changed from green to red.

Do NOT look into this headlight when it's on "bright"! 

This might be a good time to remind everybody that you CANNOT interchange North Shore and CA&E headlights.  They may look similar, but the wiring of the headlights themselves and the car wiring are completely different between the two companies.  (CA&E wood and steel cars use the same headlights, however.)

And Tim was working on the complicated sign/marker light assemblies for the 24.

Also, I ordered the mica tubes and washers for the GE grid boxes.  There's a lead time of 2-3 weeks, so we'll be waiting impatiently for our new parts to arrive.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Overspray begone

Frank writes...

Sunday was the second of the two Diesel Days but there was plenty of electric car work being done too.  I arrived at the museum midway through the diesel parade and was able to run the 319 (and 36, which happened to be in the way) over to the pit for some needle-chipping.  Many thanks to Richard Schauer, who helped with the move, and Greg Kepka who acted as ground man.

I've been meaning for a while to get started on repainting the 319's underbody, not least because it has patches of red overspray on it.  It may not jump out at you immediately but, once you notice it, it's hard not to see the pink hue to the step wells and circle iron (and other underbody parts).  So I went at it and spent most of the afternoon stress testing my teeth by needle-chipping the entire #2R step well, the outboard face of the #2L step well, and the MU sockets and pilot supports at the #2 end of the car.  We put our nice new blue flags to good use too.
Here I've done most of the step well except for the bottom right portion, which is still alligatored paint.  The circle iron was covered in grease but I scraped it down too.  The result was fairly gratifying, but of course this will all look much better when I've wire-wheeled it and it's been painted black.  And I still need to do the pilot.  There's always plenty more needle-chipping!
And here's the "after" photo.  Afterwards Dan Mulvihill helped me take the train back to Barn 8 and that was it for me.  The car shop was pretty active over the weekend, though.  On Sunday, Jeff was hard at work drilling holes in the new side sill for the Michigan car while Richard and Greg were working on the CTA 2400s.  These, the newest 'L' cars (actually the newest electric cars, I believe) in the IRM collection, were made fully operational on Saturday and made their first-ever trip to Kishwaukee Grove.  Richard was also able to get CTA Marmon-Herrington trolley bus 9553 running for the first time in about five years on Saturday so it was certainly a productive weekend.
And how do these guys manage to be so productive?  By letting the machines do the work, of course!  Or in this case, why push something by hand when you can tow it by golf cart?
And at the end of the day a couple of us dropped by the Steam Shop for a visit.  The Shay has had its flues reinstalled and Tom said they are hoping to hydro it later this year, along with piping work and reconstruction of the smoke box.  With luck - and a lot of hard work - it may run next year.  Hard work is the only kind of work the steam shop guys know, methinks, and the fantastic progress they're making shows it.

Diesel Sunday

From our staff photographer, Chuck Amstein, we have a great set of pictures of the Diesel Parade yesterday.   Usual restrictions apply.   Maybe I'll find time later to add captions.