Monday, October 19, 2015

The Grid That Wasn't

Frank writes...

Sunday I spent a little bit of time reassembling the latest grid box for the 36.  This is an unusual one; of the five grid boxes for each of the cars with GE 66 motors (well, ten for the 309, which has two sets of everything), all of them except for one have three taps so that the circuit can be subdivided within the box.  But one box - this one - just has a tap at each end.  The GE terminology for this box is a 6A18 because it has a total of 18 elements, all of which are #6 size elements.  Or does it?

So here is the box after assembly; in my seldom-humble opinion it compares favorably with its pre-rebuild appearance (see here).  But what's wrong with this picture?  As I was putting elements back into the box and got towards the end, I realized something was wrong.  All of the other boxes have the taps on one side, for the simple reason that they have even numbers of grid elements and the circuit switches from side to side as it proceeds down the box.  So how can a grid box have taps at opposite corners yet have an even number of elements?
The answer, suggested by the "before" photos and confirmed by an exploratory expedition under the 308, is that one of the grid elements actually isn't in the circuit - apparently it's just there for show!  This element is shown above; note that the grid element to the right of the tap doesn't "go" anywhere.  (The white discs are mica insulators.)  Why the railroad did this is beyond me - they could just as easily have used up space in the grid box with some washers - but it appears they were pretty consistent about it.  So this box is actually a 6A17 grid box.  You learn something new every day!
Other highlights around the property included seeing our newest acquisition, Pullman solarium car "Mt Harvard," on the truck trailer near the entrance (see previous post), and the rather unusual view above which was afforded by recent progress on the Electroliner.  Its trucks are going to be sent out for rebuilding and the first step is to separate the train; so far it's been split into two two-car sections.
However much of the afternoon was spent on a railfanning trip to the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin, which I hadn't visited in many years despite it being closer to my house than IRM.  I drove down there with Greg, Richard and Joel and we were gratified to see that they were running North Shore 715 and CA&E 20, the latter of which is shown above at the upper boarding platform at Castlemuir.  One interesting thing we were told is that the oak tree at right is thought to be some 300 years old.
And here are Greg, Richard and Joel watching the North Shore car depart from the lower platform.  We went on a trip on each of the two operating cars.
CTA steeplecab L202, which was rebuilt from an ex-Chicago Surface Lines steeplecab, was recently put back into service after some major motor work.
And CA&E St. Louis-built car 458 was recently repainted in its end-of-service livery.
Joe Hazinski and a new volunteer named Mike were kind enough to let us into the barn.  The highlight was seeing ex-Shaker Heights, ex-Fox River Electric car 304, which was acquired by FRTM in 2009 as part of the Trolleyville sale.  It is operational and sees occasional use.
This is how the interior of our car 306 is supposed to look, more or less.  There were some modifications made to these cars when they were sold to Shaker by the Fox River Electric but I'm not familiar with exactly what was done.  Overall, it was great weather to go railfanning and a good time was had by all!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

306 is a neat car. Changes that I knew of included removing the toilet compartment, removing bulkheads separating the coach from the platform, moving the controller (I think from a centered position), changing the headliner and interior lights, and probably changing the flooring. I thought the intent was to restore all of that.

Hmm there is a car about the size of that Indiana lightweight, and it actually operated at IRM. Maybe a good project for you to tackle? First task is to unload the curse placed on it.