Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Metalworking for a Change

As usual, there were lots of things going on today, most of which I probably missed.  I'm still working on the #1 vestibule of the 36, and progress is still slow.  Let's start by recording the black lettering on red for posterity.  The control switch doesn't seem to have any blue paint or yellow lettering; evidently during the blue period it was painted black without lettering. ???

By the end of the day I was able to put primer on several areas, although it may not look like much.   I also put all of the seat cushions back in place in the main compartment.  So that gives the appearance of progress.  Even in the dim ambient light, the interior looks so much better than it did a year ago.

Let's go over to the car shop and spy on other people.  Aha, Paul Cronin has agreed to sand-blast the motor truck for the 24 if we'll move it over to the Coach Dept. area, so here Tim and he are guiding Gerry, who's driving the big forklift.  

The forklift clears the trolley wire by a matter of inches.

If Paul is having second thoughts about this project, he doesn't let on.

And in a couple of hours or so, the job is done.  I hope they got it back into the barn before the rain started! 

Pete shows us a new interlock mechanism for the Charles City Western locomotive.  This interlock was missing, and Pete has fabricated the new frame and other insulating parts (the parts painted black).   It looks great -- a very impressive job.

But most of my time was occupied with making new support brackets for the window signs, as mentioned last time.  Tim helped a lot with this project, since I had helped with moving the truck.  He's qualified on the big metal bandsaw and I'm not, so he did the hard part of cutting the blanks out of a scrap piece of steel we dug up. 

Then I have to trim the edges, cut the slots with the hand-held grinding wheel, and drill the holes.

Then the steel can be bent cold, if you have a big enough hammer and lots of latent hostility.

And when we get the brackets home, the signs fit in perfectly.  So that's quite rewarding.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The GLBT Project

Don't worry, it's not what you think!  Evidently there is a serious proposal in the works to build a completely new railroad line around Chicago, which would pass close to IRM.  The company behind this proposal is called "Great Lakes Basin Transportation", hence the acronym, which I had thought was already taken.  You can see a summary of this proposal here, with links to further information.  The line would extend from near Milton, Wisc. down through Boone County and around Chicago to LaPorte.  It would cross Route 20 and the UP Belvidere branch near Garden Prairie, about ten miles from IRM, and there would be an interchange at that point.  What impact this would have on the Museum is hard to say.  Gerry Dettloff mentioned this to me the other day, and at first I thought he was joking.  But I guess not.  Now I may quickly regret this, but serious comments about the railroad and its impact will be allowed.  

Classification Signs

Almost four years ago, I started making two sets of the later classification signs that would be mounted in front of the motorman, as explained in an earlier post.  Lettering was completed on one set, and they have been used on the 319 for revenue service.   There's no doubt that in the final configuration the 319 used these signs.

However, we never have found photographic evidence for the 36 in the later blue paint scheme.  I would be happy to install the dash lights and folding signs, if that were the correct configuration on the car.  But while stripping paint on various parts of the 36's vestibule, it struck me that we have the physical evidence right here.

 The little brackets on the 36 that hold the signs have traces of blue paint beneath the final red, and therefore the window signs must have been used during the final blue paint scheme.  Problem solved!  I need to have more brackets made to supply the 319, but that won't take much time or money.

And I have finished lettering both sets of the signs, one for the 36 and one for the 319.  That's a fun thing to do at home.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Doodlebug Update

Want to see some more M-35 doodlebug news?   I know you do!  Gregg writes:

On the left side engine room door of M-35 is a sliding track. This was removed years ago when we replaced the engine. The base of the engine can be seen in the upper part of the picture.

The guide is now in place. This involved drilling and tapping new holes to mount it. By the way, the whole side of the engine room "wall" is also a door. It swings open so that access to the engine is easier.   But built into the "wall" is a sliding door for persons to enter the car.

Along the top of the walls of the car are blocks of wood, which are bolted to the steel. These blocks are needed for the tack molding to be attached to. The canvas roofing material is then tacked to the molding. Each of these blocks are different lengths and must be notched out where they sit on the wall due to rivets. About half of the blocks had to be replaced due to rot. 

This is a closeup of one of the blocks. Each one was primed and painted prior to placement.   Hopefully they will last another 89 years!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Switching In All Directions

Today was an extremely busy day at the Museum.  I'm sure there were several things going on that I missed, but here's what I've got:

Mostly I was working on the #1 vestibule of car 36 again.  For future reference, I took several pictures of the lettering, in various stages.  Because the car is being painted blue, the lettering in general is somewhat different.   So you just have to gently sand the area by hand until the earlier paint and lettering appear.  The letter "L" over the side door should be obvious.

For the vestibule light switch, it turns out the earlier yellow on blue lettering was much lower down.  This may not be obvious from the picture, but when viewed in person it's clear enough.

And then there was lots more sanding and scraping.  By the end of the day I had primer on the controller and much of the ceiling over the motorman's position.

But enough of that, let's get to the interesting stuff: switching the world -- again!  For part of the day, at least, we had three switch crews at work at different parts of the property.  The first cars are now in Barn 13.  And in order for that to happen, everything in front of the barn had to be moved away while my back was turned.   Here the 966 is going in, the first car on track 134.  

Viewed from the front, the barn actually looks like this.  There's a lot of room left to fill!

The skeleton of CSL 1467, one of our oldest streetcars, was moved to the west end of 133.  Somehow it made the trip without either derailing or collapsing.

These moves usually provide the opportunity to photograph pieces that seldom see the light of day.   Like our interurban sleeping car Peoria.

Work on other projects doesn't stop.   Tim and several helpers got the pocket doors on the 24 mounted.  Some adjustments may be needed, but this is a real improvement.

The Peoria winds up at the west end of track 82.

 Max is working on the overhead at the west end of Barn 4.  The signal crew were working on the crossing gates, the track crew were working on the main line, but I never got that far.

Here's a nice selection of equipment: the CTA PCC, the North Shore Electroliner, and IT 101.  You wouldn't know it from this picture, but...

... the Liner is shorter than usual.  

This is what the observation end looks like up close.  Running the Liner as a single unit this year will save on energy costs and also give our passengers a unique and scenic experience.

Luckily for me, there are no changes on track 84.  

And as part of the giant move, the trucks were pulled out of the way and then the 321 was moved from 111 to 112.  Eventually it will go into Barn 11 on track 113, they say.  

And by the end of the day, the CSL crane X4 was on 82 next to the IT sleeper.  And switching was still in progress as I left.  Whew!

I helped out a little, but a lot of guys are putting in major hours on all the switching that has to be done, and it's going well, faster than I would have expected.  Thanks to all those who are making this possible!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

To Mattapan By PCC

Frank writes...

Last weekend my job took me to Boston, as it sometimes does.  This time I was able to fit in a little time to railfan the Mattapan-Ashmont High Speed Line, which is the only place in the country where you can ride an air-electric PCC in regular service.  The MBTA kept ten 1940s prewar-style PCC cars around to operate this line, which is kind of a shuttle between Ashmont, at the south end of the Red Line subway, and Mattapan a few miles away.  The route is all private right-of-way and there are several stations en route.

As I was on a Red Line train meeting the streetcar at Ashmont, the platform was pretty crowded and the car was standing room only.  But soon the railfan seat emptied and I snapped the meet above.  Service is quite frequent, with 5- to 8-minute headways most of the day, and I think 3-5 cars running at any given time.
Car 3268 was my ride for the outbound trip, shown here at the Mattapan terminal.  This car was built in Worcester, MA by Pullman-Standard in 1945.  It was rebuilt c2000 by the MBTA which is when it acquired that A/C hump on the roof.  But it also got repainted in old Boston Elevated Railway orange and cream at the same time, so I guess you take the good with the bad.
Car 3262 was sitting at Mattapan when I arrived.  This car was part of the same order as 3268.
There's a small yard and repair shop at Mattapan and the former held a couple of PCC cars that were obviously out-of-service and possibly being cannibalized for parts.  Car 3234, shown here, had apparently donated its front doors; 3265 had lost some windows and its track brakes.
For my inbound trip I was on 3262.  The interiors on these cars are mostly original, I suppose, except for the seats which were replaced some decades back with fiberglass versions (the two Boston PCC cars that IRM scrapped some 15 years ago had the same type of seats).  They're pretty minimal but I'm sure they keep maintenance costs down!
My motorman on the return trip was rather friendly and we carried on a conversation about the upcoming Saint Patrick's Day Parade in Boston.  Riding the Mattapan line was certainly a different sort of experience; I'm hoping to do it again when I go back but there is talk of scrapping the entire operation.
And I suppose I may as well include photos of some of the other Boston equipment I rode.  I didn't get a photo of the Red Line cars, but if you don't know what they look like, picture a shoebox painted white and red and you've pretty much got it.  The Blue Line uses very new equipment (above).  These recently supplanted the Hawker cars that were just arriving to replace the old 1920s "Doctor Zhivago cars" when my father was in Boston in the 1970s.  Note the pantographs, which are used in the outdoor section along the old Boston Revere Beach & Lynn.  This photo was taken in the old East Boston Tunnel section at Aquarium.
And the Orange Line still uses Hawker cars, similar to the old Blue Line cars (but significantly bigger), built around 1980.  The bodies of these cars are pretty wretched; the salt air has not been kind to them and they're noticeably rusting out.  I feel bad for Seashore, as I'm sure they'll have to get a set.  The Orange Line is what used to be the old Main Line Elevated, though not much of the original routing - and none of the original elevated structure - is still in use.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Shuffling the Deck

You might think that there isn't much happening at IRM during the week, such as a Tuesday in the middle of March.   You would be wrong.

Now that the electrical work is complete in Barns 13 and 14, the contractor has returned to Barn 8 and is making good progress installing the outlets along the walls.  But let's not get in his way.

 I'm mostly working on the #1 vestibule of the 36.  Scraping and sanding the various pipes and inaccessible surfaces is time-consuming.  The paint on the vestibule cover was especially bad for some reason, so I took it to the shop for stripping.  

Be careful, there's wet paint over on some of the parts being restored by the Coach Dept.   Now that's what I call a mirror-like finish!   Why don't my paint jobs ever turn out like that?  Actually, of course, these are newly-ordered mirrors for the Pullman parlor cars.

Let's take a break and check on Barn 14.   There are three cars stored there, as Jamie had reported.

Buzz is working on parts for our oldest private car, the Ely.  The name definitely rhymes with "really" and not "rely", he informs me.  That's the way they say it in Nevada.

After a coat of primer, the cover looks much better, but another round of sanding and painting will be called for.

Rod shows us the work he's doing to make new brush holders for the two traction motors that will go into the 24.  A commercial shop quoted a cost of $8,000 for this job, so it's being done in house.  Rod has made a bracket for holding the hammers up while the springs are installed and adjusted.  New springs have been ordered and should arrive shortly.  On the left, you can see the sample spring in place.  New axles, springs, nuts and bolts, and so on will go into this construction.  

Here's what one of the brush holders looks like as removed from a motor.  They all have various problems.

But luckily we have enough good castings to complete the job.  These three, as well as the one above, have been cleaned up for rebuilding.

Although this work is being done in house, it's still expensive, and costs exceeded our budget.   Your contributions to the CRT 24 fund would be greatly appreciated.  As you've seen before, Tim has been doing a fantastic job on the car itself, and now the biggest challenge is to produce a working motor truck.  We could use your help!

Gerry is finishing up the air piping for the brakes on LSE 810.

In the afternoon, Jeron and Dan started switching.  Barns 10 and 11 will need to be switched out as part of this gigantic shuffling of the deck.  Here a string of cabooses is being pulled out of track 112.

Here we're looking down 112.  On the left is the dome car, on the right is the Train of Terror.

And here three of the cabooses are being pushed in on track 141.

And then a tank car goes in on 144.  They continued to switch, but I needed to get back to work.

(If you haven't figured out our numbering system, the four tracks in Barn 6, for instance, are numbered 61 to 64, the four tracks in Barn 14 are 141 to 144, and so on.   We don't actually have 144 yard tracks, though it would be nice.)

After a lot of sanding and scraping around the control position, much of it got a first coat of primer.  Eventually all of this will be painted blue.

Also, I installed the new brass latch on the window in the main compartment, as mentioned last time.  This will need white primer and then finish paint.   It's nice not to have any missing parts.

But even as the first cars are going into Barn 14, we're planning ahead for yard 15 and then Barn 15.  We can use volunteer time and labor in all sorts of ways, as well as financial support, as the Museum continues to expand.