Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Automatic Acceleration

Today's most exciting news, I think, is that Tim has gotten the control system working on the 24.  The contactors all come up in sequence.  Bill Wulfert and Frank Kehoe have been helping with this project.There were a few things that had to be fixed, which is not surprising, but as complicated as it is, it all appears to work.  When the motors are not connected, the accelerating relay has to be propped up with a stick.  Sequencing is quite fast, as you will see in our exciting videos, taken today down in the pit.  

First, we have the reverser throwing, followed by the contactors sequencing, which you can hear although not see.  There is just no place I can stand to view more than a few contactors at one time.  Bill is up in the cab, twisting the controller.

And then here's a better video of the actual sequencing, so you can see the contactors going up and down as the sequence progresses.  This is much more complicated than the manual acceleration we have on the interurban cars.

The bigger challenge will be to get two working traction motors in a functioning truck that he can put under the car.  

Apart from that, I spent most of the day prepping and painting inside the 36, as usual.  The interior walls are nearly done.  The bulkhead will need a second coat, at least for the lower color, but otherwise only the floor remains to be done, and the last couple of baggage racks.  It's really going to look nice.

And then I started assembling the last grid box.  It's nearly complete, but I ran out of time before final adjustments could be made.

I'm going to be out of town next weekend, so we're not able to go to the SoirĂ©e this year.  If any of you want to be a society gossip columnist for the day, that would be most appreciated.  Send in any pictures you can take, along with juicy innuendo, embarrassing gaffes, and scurrilous rumors.  Our readers will eat it up!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Speaking of Motor Cars...

Art Peterson recently sent us a picture of a wooden doodlebug constructed by the Hicks Locomotive and Car Works, from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.  Thanks, Art!

George Krambles wrote on the back:

Muscatine North & South RR (Burlington to Muscatine)
"Sarvent" model car of 1911
The Bettendorf Co. design, Bettendorf, Ia.
Built by Hicks Car & Loco Works, Chicago

Like most Hicks company customers, the Muscatine North & South was an obscure short line, although somebody has written a book about it.  The Bettendorf Co. was of course much better known for its freight car trucks, but it evidently tried its hand at designing a "MOTOR CAR".  I would assume that the gas-mechanical power plant was the weak point of the whole design, as it was on all similar efforts at this time, including much better known projects such as the McKeen car.  It would certainly be interesting to see some blueprints of that bizarre power truck.  I'm sure, however, that the wooden car body was entirely satisfactory.   Or your money back.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

More Painting

It was another rewarding day out at the Museum, as a lot of painting got done.  While the 36 was warming up, I started by putting a coat of black on the grid box pieces.  Pete was asking for advice on testing the control circuits on the Charles City engine, and advice is always free, so Tim, Norm, and I did our best to get him thoroughly confused, I think.  But they are making progress on getting the locomotive operational, so that's good news.

Then, inside the car, I put a first finish coat of the lower color on the end bulkhead and other remaining parts of the interior, including the last three arm rests.  Most of these areas will require a second coat, but it's getting close to done.

Finally, there was more primer on the floor.   Gregg Wolfersheim stopped by to talk about what's happening on the UP doodlebug.

And in other news:  here's one of the pocket doors for the 24 that Tim has been working on.  Notice the nice shiny new brass rails to keep the rollers from digging into the wood.  On the 36 these rails get painted.

Norm and Jeff have been making progress on major structural rebuilding of the Michigan 28.  The new metal has been bolted into place to make sure that the rivets will fit.  The new metal will be removed, some welding gets done, then the rest is hot-riveted.  It may well better than new.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

M-35 Report

Back in the seventies, my friend Gregg Wolfersheim was working on the restoration of our UP gas-mechanical car, or "doodlebug", the M-35.  This car is historic as a prime example of the development of internal combusion railroad equipment.  It was built in 1927 by the Electro-Motive Corporation, which later became the Electro-Motive Division of GM, or EMD.   EMC's early designs used a lot of contemporary electric car technology.  The body was built by St. Louis Car, and it has Brill trucks. 

Gregg had to take a few years off when his job with the railroads took him elsewhere, but he has recently returned to the area and is working on the M-35 again, which is stored in Barn 2.  Gregg writes:

Here is the front window rebuilt and in primer. Note the "missing" center window and outer drop/slide window. These are being worked on.  Buzz has been helping with advice on this project.

 Next is a roof shot of the top of the walls and carlines being painted before we attach the wood carlines to the metal ribs.

This is the same, showing the roof over the coach section.

And last is the men's room stripped down to metal with the sill already painted. The floor has had the linoleum removed. It's a small area that I'm learning how to restore before doing the rest of the car's interior.  The plan is to put some of the roof back together before taking anything else further apart. Some gauges and other items including piping have been finished since being removed in 1977! Also, I've done some touchup in the engine compartment.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Last Grid Box

Great progress on the 36 today, as well as other things.  Larry Stone was out again, and we got a lot done.  First of all, we dropped the second tank from the 36 and took it to the car shop.  This was one job I certainly did not want to try to do by myself.  But with two people, it went well.  The tank needs to have its piping removed, which we were unable to do by ourselves, but the "midnight crew" will be able to take care of it.  Thanks!

We were too busy to take pictures, but this was the outer or wet tank.  For some reason, on this car the dry tank failed first.  Most cars (at least most interurban cars) have two main reservoir tanks.  The compression of air naturally causes the moisture in the air to condense out.  The piping from the compressor always leads first to the outer tank (closest to the side), where most of the condensation takes place, so this is known as the "wet tank", and after operation it's necessary to drain the water out of the tank.  The inner tank generally has little or no condensation, so it's known as the "dry tank".   But there are no money-back guarantees in this business, so as I say the dry tank failed on the 36.  Still, we want to have the other tank tested as long as the system is disabled, for obvious reasons.

After that, we worked on rebuilding the last of the grid boxes on the 36, since this could be done in the car shop, where you are assured of nice comfortable heat and jovial fellowship.  

This box was badly rusted, and when we first applied wrenches to it I was afraid we'd never get it apart.  But Kroil quickly did its magic, and soon we were carefully disassembling the parts, making a diagram as we went.

We went to our secret storage location and easily picked out enough relatively new grid elements, as well as mica tubes and washers, to replace all of the questionable parts in the box.  This is just so cool, that we can produce an essentially new piece of antique technology with so little work.

IRM is an educational organization.  Larry learned how to operate the sand blaster, in case he wants to change his career path from being an airline operations manager, and nicely finished off the two end castings.  Here he is putting a coat of primer on the parts.

 After he left, I had some time to start painting the floor inside the car.  It had been heating up all day, for what that's worth.

This is just a first coat of primer, but it's a big improvement over the revolting red paint.

Lots of other projects were being worked on.  I've been promised some pictures, so maybe we can have more updates soon.  Don't touch that dial!

Friday, February 12, 2016

36 Report

Yesterday was another quiet day at the Museum, but not a day goes by that something doesn't get done, I'm pretty sure.  In any case, since I was by myself, it was back to painting the interior of the 36.  While the car warmed up, I installed the rest of the newly-repainted window shade tracks with shiny new screws that Rod ordered for me.  Many of them got lost over the years, but now the interior is mechanically complete.

And after more sanding, I finished putting primer on the rest of the interior walls at the #2 end.  I decided it was too cold for finish paint anywhere.

Meanwhile, down in the man cave, Tim continues to work on the control system for the 24.  Our friend Max stopped by to offer advice and encouragement.   These are the only two people I ran into all day.

Tim has been thoroughly overhauling the interlock mechanisms and they appear to work quite nicely.  He's almost to the point of starting to megger the control circuits, looking for electrical problems.

 Hey, we've got your number.  The original number was too badly damaged to save.  It will be in imitation gold leaf with a very thin (about 1/16") black outline.  The only way to do this is to paint the black first, then the gold over that.  You'll see.

Finally, I connected the cord for the conductor's valve again, since painting on this part of the ceiling is done.  The rope at the top goes through a pulley which is connected to a pair of steel wires.  They come down through a pipe in the corner, and beneath the seat the wires are connected to the trip cock on the floor.  It's kind of a hokey system, but it works.  This cannot be how the system worked when there was a toilet compartment here, because the trip cock is located where the hole in the floor was. 

As cold as it may be, we're already thinking about the operating schedule.  We hope to have all four wood cars in operation, usually with a two-car train on any particular day.   And changing out the operating consist from time to time without warning.  So be ready!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Streetcar to Ybor City

Tampa has a heritage streetcar operation that we wanted to ride while in Florida.  It runs from the center of the city, past museums, stadiums, and docks for cruise ships, to the old Ybor City district.  The line is entirely on a restricted right-of-way in the streets and is single track with several passing sidings.

 The cars were built by Gomaco about 2002, using vintage motors and control systems.  They look good and are a welcome contrast to the modern LRV's one sees elsewhere.

Here we are meeting a car in the opposite direction.   Most of the line has double contact wire to avoid the use of frogs at sidings.  In the distance is the Aquarium.  It's an interesting ride.

Ybor City is a historic district, somewhat like the French Quarter in New Orleans.

It has a long history of Cuban influence.  We watched a man at work inside a cigar store through the window, rolling Cuban cigars by hand.  Not enough to make me take up the habit, however.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Gates in Motion

Larry Stone came out to the Museum to help again, so we worked on underbody equipment on the 36.  Good progress was made, and these were projects I didn't really want to work on by myself, so the help was much appreciated.  The last grid box was dropped out for rebuilding, but we were busy so I didn't get a picture of the box itself; it looks much like all the others.

But first, let's see our new crossing gates in action!  Bob Olson kindly gave us an opportunity to see them working.  Just like downtown!   I'm sure the flashing red lights will be much more effective at night.

And here's the control box.  Mike Alterio did the very professional wiring job.

In the car shop, journal boxes for the 24 are being cleaned up.  I should have gotten a better picture of him, but on the left is Jay Ellis, a new member.  On the right is Dan Fenlaciki.

Out at the pit, you might never suspect work was going on.

But if you know the secret password, underneath the thermal insulation it's nice and warm, and Tim is making good progress on fixing up the control system.  

And as usual, several other Car Dept. projects are being worked on.

After the grid box, Larry and I dropped the air tank on the 36 that had started leaking.  This was a two-man job, but everything went pretty well and after a while the defective tank was lying on the sidewalk.  This sort of work is not easy, but I suppose it's a welcome change of pace from the usual sanding and painting.

We then picked an identical tank from our stock of spares.  Tom Schneider at the Steam Shop kindly agreed to hydro it for us, so we carried the tank over there for eventual testing.  I think we should have the other main reservoir tank on the 36 tested also, so we'll plan on dropping it out next time.  We were unable to get the pipes loose from the old tank, so Joel and Dan helped us take it back to the shop for heat treatment.  Tanks for all the help!