Saturday, October 31, 2015

Trick or Treat?

When my father was growing up in Batavia, he and his friends would go around knocking over the neighbors' outhouses as a trick for Halloween.  Nowadays you'd go to jail for doing something like that, but back then, boys will be boys.  For Halloween this year somebody dumped a big pile of coal in my favorite parking spot, ha ha ha!   Is this a trick or a treat?  I think it's a treat.  At least now I'll never have to be cold all winter!

Anyway, back in the 36 progress continued with the somewhat more convenient heat provided by electricity.  The first aid box, pamphlet holder, and fire extinguisher bracket have been installed and painted as needed, so the bulkhead is pretty much done.

Working westward, the first double-window section is pretty much done, with new paint on the baggage racks and the wall panel behind them.

And then in the next section, first finish on the window sills and wainscoting below them.  And a few other details I didn't bother to snap.  Since I got out late, I didn't have a chance to visit with the other projects.   Next time!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

36 Report

 A satisfying amount of painting was done in the car over the past few days.  I won't dwell on the details, all the sanding and surface prep and so on, but you can see the results.

A first coat of the middle color in the first section, and a second coat of the lower color on the smoker bulkhead.

First primer on various parts of the second section, and several window shade tracks.  All the window shade tracks later got first finish color.

And then first finish color on the lower parts of the first section, including the corner seats with their fancy turned legs.

And first finish on the lower parts of the ceiling in the first section, and parts of the second.

 OK, now let's see something really exciting: hot riveting!  Tim and Gerry riveted together the new metal parts of the east platform for the 24 on Tuesday. 

 We're not doing enough rivets to justify the use of a furnace, so Gerry heats each one up with a torch.

Once it's red hot, his assistant (the project manager) deftly moves it into place with blinding speed.

And at the same time Gerry picks up the riveter and peens over the end of the red-hot rivet:

Tim has to drill a few more holes, and the assembly now looks like this.

 Meanwhile, the contractor was working on finishing the new floor sections on the baldy.

A recent acquisition, NJ Transit #4 has been temporarily moved outside, making better pictures possible.   This car will be restored to its original identity as a Twin Cities car.

Henry Vincent is hard at work tallying up the hours worked by all the operating crews.  He also does this on a regular basis for all the time sheets filled out by volunteers.  Whew!

Lettering the 810.

 This week's mystery.  What is it?

Monday, October 26, 2015

More New Old Stuff

Frank writes...

My first order of business on Sunday afternoon was to install the recently completed rebuilt grid box on the 36.  I was able to do this in short order; if I didn't know better, I'd swear I was getting better at this as I go along.  As seen below, four out of the car's five grid boxes have now been rebuilt.  The one nearest the camera was the first done and reused original mica insulators, so it looks a little different.  The #1 box, furthest from the camera, is the only one remaining to be done.

After that I helped a little bit with some work being done on the Electroliner by a crew of Car Department workers; Rod has promised to send an official description of recent progress.  And I wandered around a bit to see the progress.  The photo below shows a surprising find discovered on the Michigan Electric car by Norm Krentel and Walt Stafa, who were hard at work on it today.  They removed the front left dash panel to better access the corner post only to find... another dash panel!  The panel seen in the photo had been damaged in a wreck late in the car's service life and the railroad had simply screwed another panel right over the old one.  This paint and lettering hasn't seen life in some 85 years.  Pretty neat!
As Walt observed, if it had said "29" instead of "28" Norm really would have been scratching his head!  After that it was over to the Hoffman bus garage.  The "Mt. Harvard" isn't the museum's only new acquisition.
This is one of two buses that arrived within the past week; one more motor bus and a trolley bus are due in the coming days.  All were acquired from the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, which recently deaccessed a number of buses and trucks that had been in an off-site storage building.  This thing is in better shape than it looks, though that doesn't say much, and is actually quite historic.  It is St. Louis Public Service 3529 (our first piece from the St. Louis city system), a 1932 Twin Coach Model 40.  This was one of the earliest successful city buses and the design was used by many cities, including Chicago.  SLPS 3529 is one of only four examples of the type in existence and one of only two intact examples.  It appears to be entirely complete, if in need of some reassembly.  And glass.  Lots and lots of new glass.  And paint.  Plenty of paint, too.
And this creature is a true exemplar of Art Deco.  It's a Yellow Coach Model 743 built in 1939, an intercity bus that ran for Indian Trail Bus Lines in Michigan if memory serves.  It's basically an "interurban killer."
It too is complete, though in need of a lot of fixing up.  It even has all of the original antimacassars on the seats.  I was told that mechanically it appears to be fairly sound.

The other two acquisitions that are due to arrive are a smaller 1930s Yellow Coach city bus from Connecticut Company and the only surviving Indianapolis trolley bus, a 1934 Brill which will give us our first representative of that city's street railway system.  Both buses are said to be complete but rough, similar to these first two.  Overall this is a group of very old, very complete buses and - even though I'm far from a bus fan - it's good that IRM was able to save them.  Thanks to Richard Schauer for the tour through the two new arrivals!
And finally, a quiz question for our readers.  What is this thing?  It seems like kind of a Rorschach test for the mechanically-minded but does have a correct answer - stay tuned to find out!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Unloading the Mt. Harvard

Bob Olson sent us these pictures of unloading the Mt. Harvard here at the Museum last Monday.  Thanks!

 This is probably the heaviest car that we have transported by truck.   It required a 175 ton crane to unload.

A Museum crew of Paul Cronin, Rod Turner, Mark Secco, Nick Kallas, Jeff Caladine, and Bob Olson did the work.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Progress All Around

As usual, we'll start with progress on the 36.  Although I must admit boredom is already a problem with this project, it's the only path forward.  I would really like to have this car in regular service next year. 

For a car about 113 years old, it's really in pretty good shape. 

But the day goes by more quickly if we take a break to look at what other people are doing.

Nobody's home, but the lights are on inside the 810, so let's look inside.  You can see the 306 at one end and the Cleveland PCC at the other.  And we've already got several pieces of LCL express shipments waiting to go somewhere.

Meanwhile, out by the public entrance, the gates are being installed by the Signal Department.  One was already in place, and the other was installed today.

Here we see Terry Elliott doing the electrical work, closely supervised by John Naglich and Bob Olson.

The inside of the case looks like this.  The upper part holds the motor and gears, with electrical relays and connections both below and above. 

Tim has been doing electrical wiring in the motorman's compartment on the 24.

Jeff was working on the steel parts for rebuilding the front part of the Michigan car.  The steel is being bolted together as he goes along so that the riveting can be done all at once.

And Joel was doing inspection on the 409, which is very important, and it's great to get some of the inspections done in the fall.   But there wasn't anything much to take a picture of.   It would help if he had a huge magnifying glass to look through, sort of like Inspector Clouseau.... 

Building Preservation in St. Paul

Usually this blog concentrates on the preservation of railroad equipment, because that's what we do best.  Preservation of railroad buildings is perhaps equally important.  But since most historic buildings are immovable, adaptive reuse is often the only feasible option.  On a recent visit to friends in the Twin Cities, we had an opportunity to visit two good examples of preserved railroad structures, close to each other in St. Paul. 

"Bandanna Square" is an adaptive reuse of many parts of Northern Pacific's huge Como Shop complex.  Walking around the property is the only way to really appreciate the size of this operation.   While the buildings have been rebuilt to house offices for a medical facility, doctors, lawyers, PR people, and so on, they still provide a dramatic lesson in the scale of the facilities for a major railroad.

There must have been at least a thousand men working at this facility, and it's an interesting exercise to imagine the constant noise, smoke, and movement everywhere when this place was in full operation.  If only I had a time machine.

Out in front is a GTW 0-8-0, which IRM acquired from Sterling and then sold to Bandanna Square in 1982. 

The transfer table between two parallel shop buildings is still mostly there, with the remains of an old car sitting on it.

One part of one building houses the Twin City model railroad club, which has an impressive O scale layout, including TCRT traction.   This is the only remaining non-office use in the complex, but just last week they announced that they're looking for a new home.

And not far away, near Lake Como, is this trolley station built by TCRT in 1905.  In those days, they could afford the best money could buy.

 It is available to rent for birthday parties and so on.

The footbridge over the tracks at left is the one that appears in the photo from about 1910 at lower right.