Sunday, December 6, 2015

Plus One, Minus One, Change One

Frank writes...

I didn't expect to be able to make a trip out to IRM on Sunday on a rare weekend off from work, but that's how it worked out and I showed up about 2:30pm without any real work plans.  There wasn't anybody working in the car shop but there was much more activity than usual due to the Happy Holiday Railway; more on that later.  I ended up spending most of my day railfanning and came up with some interesting developments for anyone keeping track of the IRM roster.

Plus One: The most positive development, I'd say, was the recent acquisition of our newest piece of equipment, a Seattle trolley bus built in 2002 (yes, you read that right).  It's shown above at the west loop; it's the one on the left while a 1980s articulated trolley bus also from Seattle is in the right background.  This new bus, officially known as King County Metro 4123, was one of the last trolley buses in service anywhere in the U.S. with DC traction motors; all newer trolley buses have AC motors.  It arrived about a week and a half ago and ran itself off of the trailer.  For the HHR event, both Seattle trolley buses were being used to shuttle people from the museum entrance to the diner annex, from which the boarding platform alongside Barn 9 was a quick walk.
Minus One: Then there was the most long-awaited development, the departure of Boston (ex-Dallas) PCC car 3334 (photo above by Nick Kallas).  This car was loaded on a trailer and left town on Thursday, about six years after it arrived from Trolleyville.  IRM never really owned this car; we were storing it for the McKinney Avenue group in Dallas, which plans on restoring it as a Dallas car, of course.  After a series of delays they were finally able to transport it to the Lone Star State.
Change One: The most unexpected development involved our Indianapolis trolley bus recently acquired from the Museum of Transport in St. Louis.  A little history: this bus was sent to MOT by Indianapolis Railways during the 1950s after the city system completely restored it to as-built condition.  It suffered severely from decades of outdoor storage at MOT, but it was always known that the bus was numbered 527.  So today while helping Greg Kepka load some overhead extrusions into the Hoffman garage for use in electrifying the barn for trolley bus use, I noticed that the 527 had an older Indianapolis Railways logo to the right of the 1950s "restoration" one (see above photo).  More intriguingly, underneath that older logo could be made out the first two digits of an older number: 56.  Eh?  Later in the day Richard Schauer helped us with some investigating and discovered two more occurrences of an older number inside the bus, including one place at the rear where was quite obvious that it had been numbered 568 and only wore the number 527 when it was last painted.  It appears that our bus started its life, and probably spent its entire service life, as 568 and was only painted as 527 when it was restored to send to MOT.  Why?  We have no idea.  Possibly the city system had promised 527 to MOT and then that bus got in a wreck or something, so it was easier for them to paint up 568 as 527 than to contact MOT about changing their bus.  But either way, our bus appears to have been 568 up until just before it left town for preservation.
I also did more railfanning along with Greg.  First there was the Happy Holiday Railway train, seen above, on which my father was working as a trainman.  I'm sure he'll have a full report shortly.
And then there was a quick jaunt to the south end, where we viewed the newly-installed roll-up doors on Barns 13 and 14.  Both barns are fully ballasted and the aisles paved, so the next (and final?) step is to wire them up for lights.
We also stopped by the Steam Shop, where there were people working on the 1630 (seen above decked out with Christmas lights) and on the Shay, which recently passed its FRA hydro test.  Tentative plans are for it to be operating sometime next year, which will be the first time this millennium that IRM has two of its own steam engines in operation simultaneously.
And there was this sight in the car shop, sure to warm the heart of any traction fan: a newly rebuilt armature, in this case for a National AA1 air compressor to go under CSL 144.  Two more AA1 armatures are due to be completed soon, to be used as spares if necessary or eventually to go under CSL 2843 or one of our other Chicago streetcars otherwise.
While I spent most of my time bumming around, I did spend a little bit of time doing some honest work.  I helped Greg hauling trolley bus overhead into the Hoffman garage and then he returned the favor by helping me prepare the inner main reservoir tank on the 36, found recently to have a leak around the end piece, for removal.  We separated all of the unions and slightly loosed the bolts holding the straps in place.  The photo above shows both main res tanks (the one on the left is the leaky one), which at this end are piped together and to the safety valve.  Note that both have drain plugs mounted high on the tank (one even has a drain cock there) which is an unusual location.  Of course both tanks also have drain cocks halfway down the length of the tank on the bottom, which is what we use to drain them.

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