Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Grounds Progress

Bob Olson sent us some photos of progress being made this week by the intrepid Buildings & Grounds department - Dave Diamond, Carl Illwitzer, Gerry Dettloff and Jerry Lynn.  First, on Tuesday the train door sills at the east end of Barn 13 were poured.

And concrete was also poured on Tuesday was for an intriguing new project: crossing gates at the museum entrance!  These will protect the pedestrian walkway from the main gate onto the depot platform against train traffic on the west leg of the wye.  Though this trackage is not in constant use most days, it does see use on days the 50th Avenue "L" station is in service and is also the route the 1630 and Zephyr take from their normal storage locations into service.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Convention Showcase

 The combination of the ATRRM Convention and IRM's annual Showcase Weekend (Member's Day) can only be described as a huge success, we think.  There were lots of people doing various things, and everybody seemed to be having a great time.  I was too busy to take many pictures, but I'm sure other people will take up the slack.  All four of us (Al, David, Frank, and I) were there for the festivities.

On Thursday and Friday we ran a couple of two-car trains for the convention throttle-twisters. 

And there were many seminars on a large range of subjects in various places.

For instance, our experts can show you the best way to replace ties.  

On Saturday, we ran the four-car CA&E wood train for capacity crowds in the morning.

Of course, there were many other trains operating.  Both the 1630 and the 9911A were pulling nine-car trains.  It was extremely impressive.

And on Saturday night, we had our annual night-time extravaganza.  The 309 ran as a single car, along with the Zephyr, the steam train, the bilevels, the North Shore cars, and there were photographers everywhere.   I'm sure Chuck Amstein will have some great photos for us shortly, and other submissions are welcome, as always.  It was a real blast!

Update 1:  See this nice photo collection by Tim Fennell.   Thanks!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Half a Cannonball

 What would happen if you sawed a cannonball in half?  I really don't know, but a tremendous explosion seems like a good guess.  In this case, I'm expecting (or at least hoping for) an explosion of enthusiasm when we pull out four operating cars, half of an eight-car Cannonball,  for Member's Day/ATRRM Convention on Saturday.  It'll look like this.

The morning was spent doing some more work to make the 36 ready for operations, and in the afternoon I switched the cars around, and then did lubrication.  Bill Pollman from Seashore helped with the switch moves, much appreciated.  Thursday and Friday we'll have a two-car train available for ATRRM throttle twisters, and we're planning to run all four cars for a couple of trips on Saturday, and one or two cars that night.   You cannot possibly find a better way to spend your weekend.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ready... Set...

Frank writes...

Sunday at IRM was all (well, almost all) about getting ready for the big ATRRM Convention that starts this week.  The property was abuzz with activity, including plenty of "recreational switching" to get equipment needed for seminars into position as well as other prep work.  Joel, Richard, Greg, Doodlebug Dan and Rod were all working on switching at various times and all of them were also making repairs to equipment as needed.  Bill Wulfert was there, washing windows in the barns for the third day in a row - a thankless task if ever there was one, but something that was badly needed and is very much appreciated!

As for me, my job was to get the 36 running so that all four cars in our CA&E wood train will be fully operational.  When I arrived, the other department workers had kindly painted the grid box frame black as shown above.  I spent a bit of time cleaning up the grid element suspension rods and locating brass washers, then assembly began (using our new mica tubes and washers, natch).
Tah-dah!  And here's the final product.  This box is a 4A10-7A8 if memory serves but I neglected to paint that on the box... at some point I should probably crawl under the 36 and do that.  I'll add it to my list of things to do.  In the meantime, I managed to cart the thing over to Barn 8 and install it.  Some of the shunts between boxes on the 36 are made of trolley wire, which made tightening down the taps a bit of a chore, but I finally managed to get it all in place.
So here we are.  Three of the 36's five grid boxes have been rebuilt and we'll get the remaining two done over the winter.  Dan helped out by visually examining the boxes during a brief test with the car's brakes set and nothing seemed amiss so the 36 is now cleared for service.

After this I cleaned up our grid rebuilding area in the shop and put the spare parts left over from the rebuild job (mostly old, but usable, mica washers) back into our grid storage area.  And with help from Joel and Dan I dug out four CA&E marker lanterns and a "bulls-eye" rear end marker and fiddled with the burners to make sure they were usable.  We should have enough working (?) ones to fully equip a train for night operations on Museum Showcase Weekend this Saturday and not have to carry the markers through the train at each end of the line (though we will need to carry the "bulls-eye" marker through the train).  This should make things easier in general.  Right now our plan, weather permitting, is to run a four-car wood train during the day on Saturday and run one or two cars at night.  One or two cars may come out on Thursday or Friday for a few demonstration runs as well.  It should be a fun weekend!

North Shore at Night

Two photos from Tim Fennell, who writes:

My work schedule didn't allow me to see the CA&E cars at night. I did get to see the North Shore Line cars and Spaulding at night was rather nice too. Worth the bug bites.  Photos attached, keep up the good work!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Cousin in California

Frank writes...

I recently received some photos from Dave Buechler of the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista, CA showing the practically-complete restoration of Portland Traction car 4001.  How does this involve IRM, you ask?  Well take a look.

All photos are copyright David Buechler and may not be copied
or reproduced without permission.

That's right - the family resemblance is obvious.  Portland Traction 4001 is ex-Indiana Railroad 202, originally Interstate Public Service 262 - the only other survivor from the same series as our own Indiana Railroad 205.  Thanks to Dave for giving us permission to post these!
Dave is just now wrapping up a multi-year restoration of car 4001 that saw the car stripped down to a shell and completely rebuilt.  The trucks and motors were sent all the way to Pennsylvania to be professionally rebuilt; major steel work was done (car 4001 wasn't as badly rusted out as the 205 is, as it didn't spend 30 years in the Washington state rain forests like our car did, but it still had its share of body rot); and the roof and interior were completely re-done.  The car's mechanical and electrical systems were also fully restored by Dave and the WRM crew.
It has been faithfully restored to its 1940s appearance, not long after acquisition from the Indiana Railroad.  WRM has restored some features that these cars (or, at least, the 205 - I'm not as familiar with the 4001's idiosyncrasies) had lost by the end of service, like MU sockets and multiple flag brackets at all four corners.  Other features installed by Portland when the cars were acquired from Indiana have been retained, such as the hang-on headlights, mixture of brass and wood end windows, and horns (soon to be installed).  During the 1940s IRM's car, which was numbered 4003 on Portland Traction, would have looked almost exactly like this.
And the interior of car 4001 is virtually unchanged from what it would have looked like in Terre Haute city service on the Indiana Railroad.  What a beauty!  I'm going to have to schedule a trip out to Rio Vista to ride it myself soon.  I believe their plan is to make this one of their regular service cars.  Cars of this size, like our own IT 415, are pretty ideal for museum operations with longer railroads (WRM is among the only trolley museums, if not the only trolley museum, in the country with a longer line than IRM's).

I sometime get asked why we're not doing a major rebuild like this on the 205, and I can only agree that it would be wonderful to do so.  But unfortunately the 205 would need even more work than WRM's car and we just don't have the manpower or money to do the work.  But if you have a friend with a spare $750,000 or so that they don't know what to do with, let me know!

More Nighttime Photos

Brian LaKemper  sent us these photos taken last weekend for night operations, along with some captions.   (The delay is mostly my fault, trying to figure out the transfer from his camera to my computer.)  Thanks!
Ready to depart for Chicago and the loop

Ready to head west for Wheaton (Do not try this at home; the train was stationary when this was taken)

The conductor coming through the train to collect tickets

Meeting the Zephyr at Johnson Siding

The diner and observation cars of the Nebraska Zephyr slip by the 319

Through the trees racing west for Wheaton

Clear Board!
Motorman Frank Hicks focuses on the task at hand

CA&E Cars arriving the station on Monday

What is that conductor pointing at?
Answer: I had a passenger who was deathly afraid of missing the Zephyr, over on the next track.

The Zephyr was busy all weekend with dinner trains and regular operations

1630 was also busy drawing crowds of people

The turbine was lit up for night photography

Shay #5's smokebox has a bottom again

The steam team is moving along on the shay, with tubes in the boiler, and now the missing section of the smokebox is being welded together.
Another view of the freshly tack-welded bottom.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Progress Reports

We have lots of different types of progress to report after the last two days.

Underbody Painting on 319

Gregg W. was out again on Wednesday, so we pulled the 319 (and 309) over to the pit lead for needle chipping and painting.  Both pilots, two stepwells, and miscellaneous parts were done.

This is a big project, and it really helps to have another person working on it. 

On Thursday I started painting some of it finish black.

Grid Box Repair on 36

I removed the defective grid box and took it to the shop for disassembly.

Gee, I wonder what could possibly be wrong?

This box has ten thicker grids, #4, and eight thinner ones, #7, so the magic formula for this assembly is 4A10-7B8.  

It had obviously failed in the past and been patched up.  That doesn't work forever.

 Luckily we have plenty of spare parts.  I selected replacement grid elements from storage and wire-wheeled the connection surfaces, as seen here.   The box itself was cleaned up and painted.

Frank should be able to start assembling the parts this weekend.

In other car news, I fixed a door on the 319 that wouldn't stay shut when the car was running on the main line.  At least it might be fixed; it's hard to say when the car is sitting in the barn, and it was raining.  And I installed and painted the new castings for the 36, shown earlier.  And I replaced a badly torn window shade in the 36.

New Barns

 The contractors are installing doors and other details.  I can't wait to move in!

L Car 24

Tim is installing the ribs on the floor (L), and all of the standee straps are in place (R).  It's going to be beautiful.  Prediction: the straps will not survive for very long in IRM service.

Russell Plow

The exterior looks great, the interior is even nicer.

ATRRM Convention

 As many of you know, this year's ATRRM Convention will be held at IRM, Sept. 17-20.  ATRRM is a combination of the old ARM (Association of Railway Museums) and TRAIN (Tourist Railroad Association).  Plans are still being finalized, but that weekend will also be IRM's annual Member's Day, and a lot will be happening.  Plan on attending if you can.

And we're working hard to make this a resounding success.  Don't miss the Hicks Car Works booth at the convention hall -- we'll have amazing demonstrations, magic tricks, raffles and door prizes, celebrities signing autographs, free food and liquor (if we can get Board approval), and lots of giveaways and souvenirs with our name on them.  It should be a real blast.