Monday, August 24, 2015

Another year finished

Frank writes...

I got out to IRM late on Sunday afternoon again, just in time to witness the close of another successful Day Out With Thomas event.  The weather was gorgeous, sunny and in the 70s, and it seemed like there was a great crowd.  From what I could tell, everything was going like clockwork under the soothing tones of our good friend Al Reinschmidt (subbing in for the indefatigable Harold Krewer) on the horn over at the Voice of Sodor.  I spent a little white putzing around, touching up some paint on the CA&E cars and generally watching others in the Car Department do actual work.

Such as here.  Richard Schauer (left) and Greg Kepka, assisted by Joel Ahrendt (not pictured), were troubleshooting CA&E 460 which has exhibited some strange motor-generator set behavior.  What's a motor-generator set, you ask?  I have no idea; as far as I know technology hit a dead end around 1915 so anything more complicated than that era's products is pure magic as far as I'm concerned

One thing I helped with was going through the barns looking at the collection to try and determine how things *might* get shuffled around once Barns 13 and 14 are open for business, hopefully sometime next year.  There are a number of cars currently stored outdoors that we will want to go inside.  Most will go into either 13 or 14 but a few are being eyed as potential candidates for operation and we'll want them to go into the barns currently under wire, so a few cars now on public display will probably be moved to 13 or 14.  No final decisions have been made, and it will all depend on how much time and how many people are available for switching.
So as part of this I took at trip down to the South Yards and gawked at the progress on Barn 13, shown above.  It's coming together!


Anonymous said...

I think you are kidding; but a motor-generator is one of the ways to change voltage within an Interurban. If the traction comes in at 1200 volts and you wanted say 600 volts to run something else like lights, this is one way to get it. 5 lights at 120 volts uses 600 volts for example.

Have you finished painting the Indiana Railroad #205?

That Car Barn #13 is looking real good!

Ted Miles
IRM Member

Tony Gura said...


Motor-generators date back to 1915 and they were commonly used by electric interurbans to convert AC power to DC to run their trains prior to the invention of solid state rectifiers. In other words, the CA&E would not have been able to run the cars you are restoring without using motor-generators.

Tony Gura

Frank Hicks said...

And this is why I'm not a professional comedian! :-)

Anonymous said...

I guess that the MG is for battery charging and control, probably at 32 VDC.

I got your joke Frank, I agree that when they switched from wood to steel interurbans they made a huge technological blunder.

I think the batteries on the wood cars ( if there are any) are charged via resistors instead of an MG and that there are also control resistors for the control system. Too simple I guess ?

Randy Stahl

Frank Hicks said...

The wood cars never had batteries, but you're exactly correct that there are control resistors for the control system. The DB-15 system on the 36 and 309 has the control resistors mounted in boxes near the motor resistors while the newer control systems on the 308 and 321 have the control resistors mounted in the contactor boxes.

The CA&E had an unusual relationship with batteries. The Cincinnati cars were the first cars on the railroad built with batteries and MG sets, but since the railroad always used Type M high-voltage control the batteries were just used for auxiliaries like lights and fans. Then in 1945 the St. Louis cars were delivered with batteries and MG sets, but within only a couple of years the railroad was overhauling the Cincinnati cars and removing the batteries and MG sets, rewiring the lights to run off straight 600v like the older cars. I wish I knew why this decision was made; it seems unusual given that the railroad had just recently ordered new cars with batteries.

Then again on lines like the North Shore, South Shore and CTA, which used Westinghouse low-voltage control, batteries were just a fact of life.

Anonymous said...

So obviously the wood cars didn't have emergency lighting. I assume the CA&E didn't think it was necessary. That would be the primary purpose (or secondary purpose) for the batteries.

Randy Stahl

Randall Hicks said...

That's correct, there was no emergency lighting. The lights went out every time a car crossed a third rail gap at crossings, unless the train was long enough to bridge the gap. And these lights going out is one of the things most remarked upon when the road started in 1902. The specs for the 1906 Niles cars call for two candle holders, one at each end of the passenger compartment, but they must not have lasted long. Anyone for candles in a wooden car?

Anonymous said...

Actually, the North Shore did NOT have batteries in most of their standard cars. They used a dropping resistor for control purposes. Later on the modernized cars had batteries for emergency lighting, fans and forced ventilation. The same for the CRT. The North Side and Lake St cars used a dropping resistor for control. The Met Division used batteries with no emergency lighting. There were two sets of batteries, and every day they threw a switch to charge the alternate set of batteries. The last set of South Side gate cars did have batteries, but used an odd arrangement in order to MU with the earlier cars which used line control. Baldies too used line control. Only the Plushies had batteries, but used line control except when operating with Met cars. Batteries were used for door control, emergency lighting and oscillating fans. The CTA changed all 4000's to battery control as they no longer MU'd with wooden cars. Bill Wulfert