Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Switching milestone

Frank writes...

As previously alluded to, I was out on Sunday but never even saw my father - I was helping with switching all afternoon as a ground man, mostly in the south yards.  Greg Kepka was engineer on the Army 45-tonner while Joel Ahrendt was the utility man and managed the switch lists.

It was mostly more of the same.  We pulled almost all of the equipment out of Barn 13 on the northernmost track, which is numbered 131.  Here's a pair of spam cans that came out and, later in the day, went right back in.  This pair, in the 6100-series, are in decent shape but need some control work.
There was also the Milwaukee Electric snow sweeper, the B48, which for a while was stored next to us in Barn 8.
And this is the reason that track 131 was emptied: to put this "mystery car" into the track near the west end.  It's Chicago Surface Lines 4001 (read about it here) which is going back indoors for the first time since 2010.  After this we "re-loaded" the equipment on 131 and that track was done.  Then it was on to track 132, which didn't need to be totally emptied before its next new additions were moved into the barn.
This is Terre Haute Indianapolis & Eastern 58, though I suppose you'll have to take my word for it.  It's one of three wooden interurban combine bodies we acquired around 1996 or so and it's been under one tarp or another for something like 19 years.  Before it was tarped it looked like this but there's no telling what it looks like now.  Several gallons of water drained out of the tarp when we moved it, proving again that there really is no substitute for good indoor storage.  In addition to the 58, THI&E 50 and C&LE 640 were also moved into Barn 13 and out of the weather.

And with that, filling the new barns with electric cars is just about done!  I believe that virtually all of the electric equipment that is supposed to go indoors is indoors and that most of it is in the allotted location.  There will be plenty of switching to come, as cars inevitably get moved here and there, but this is a real milestone in providing indoor storage for our historic collection.
After we were done in the south yards we towed the 144 over to the pit lead and then moved the IC Highliners about 20' further north on the connector track to facilitate movement of OTM and other large steel items in the material yard, as described in Saturday's post.  When I left at about 9:30 a crew of people including Rod, Richard, Gregg, Joel and Dan was working on putting the rebuilt compressor under the 144 as shown above.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Operations

Today was a busy day for public operations, and the CA&E wood cars ran for the first time this year.  Here the 308 and 319 are pulling into the station.

This was the first trip of the day.  I was a trainman on the steam train, but since it wasn't ready yet, I was able to ride along on the first trip.  Everything went well.

And here's our crew: Dan Buck, Keith Letsche, and Chris Buck.  They do a great job.

And the CSL Matchbox was operating today, something you don't see very often.

When I got on, there was only one lonely passenger.

Paul Sprenger was the motorman, and I had a chance to talk to Frank S. (seen above) a little before they started taking on passengers for regular service.  It's great to see this car running again.

Then it was time for the 1630 to go into service.  Everybody likes to watch the locomotive in action.

I should have gotten a crew picture for the coach train: conductor Sam Polonetzky, Dan Bixler, and me.  We had a good crowd during the day.

And then there were several other trains I didn't get a picture of: the Zephyr, the caboose train with the IT Geep and four waycars, the CTA 2200's running in shuttle service again, and the 4391.  The CA&E train had to be pulled from service when a trolley pole came loose on the 319, but I was able to get it fixed with help from the operating crew, Joel, and Gregg.   Nobody got hurt and there was minimal damage, but we held up the railroad for a while, and it's more embarrassment than anything else.  So for the most part it was a good day, and lots of people had a great time.

My son was out there today, I'm told, but he was helping with switching in the south yards, and I never saw him.  The place is so big they could be making a bonfire of the 321 and I wouldn't know it.  But he promises to post something later about what they were doing.

Conductor Killed in Colorado

From CNN, via RyPN:  A conductor on the Royal Gorge tourist railroad was killed on Saturday when she fell from the rear platform during a backup move.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/29/us/colora ... bottomlist

Because this is in Colorado, there are steep grades and sharp curves, but the method of operation is basically the same as our coach train: the train pulls out four or five miles, then backs up all the way with the conductor on the rear platform with the backup hose.  Now I never see our conductors doing anything careless or dangerous, but just one mistake could produce a tragedy like this.  All of us need to remain focused on safety.  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nice and Clean

Memorial Day weekend started off well at IRM, with lots of activity and a good crowd of visitors.

First of all, the big turntable was successfully unloaded on Thursday, and here it is set on concrete.  How long it sits here depends, to some extent, on you.

A lot of cleaning up got done.  The Track Department were out in force, helping B&G by cleaning up OTM from the material yard, sorting out what can be used, and dumping a lot of scrap iron into a gondola.  I meant to get a picture of the gondola but didn't -- sorry!

That helped inspire me to do a couple of hours' cleaning inside the barn.  When I had all four cars pulled out last Wednesday, the area looked like the aftermath of a tornado -- rather embarrassing.  I cleaned up a lot of stuff, but more needs to be done.  It's the thought that counts.

Nothing I did today was worth taking a picture of, but I cleaned up the two service cars, 308 and 319, and made sure they had everything needed for operation, such as flags, and checked the oil, and sorted parts, and retrieved some things from the 321, and so on.

But perhaps the most dramatic event is the return of steam this year.  The 1630 was fired up and used on the coach train, to everyone's delight.

Down by the station, it was a lot like Wheaton back in the 40's.  The CA&E cars are loading for a trip east, while just to the north the steam train is waiting for its departure.  And then two CSL cars were providing streetcar service, within walking distance this time.

And two of the newer CTA cars were running a shuttle service from 50th Avenue to Union.  As a result, the new crossing gates were operating on a regular basis, keeping our visitors safe.  Just like downtown!

Among other things, I spent some time talking to a couple of visiting railfans from Ireland.  They were quite impressed with the size and scope of the collection, as who wouldn't be?  So all in all, quite a good day

The 308 and 319 will be operating on Monday, weather permitting.  Don't miss it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Activity Report

It's time for a report on another busy day.  Frank and I worked on finishing lubrication on the 308, and did most of the 309.  And we needed to switch the order of the cars, so all four were out and moving under their own power.  Frank gets to do most of the hard work because he's not old and fat.  Yet.

The 308 and 319 should be operating next Monday (Memorial Day), weather permitting.

And lots of other big projects were getting attention.   Mark Secco and Dan Fenlaciki were working on setting up the cranes for lifting the new 130' turntable off its flatcar tomorrow.  It weighs 60 tons.  More on this later.

And the motor truck for CRT 24 was assembled.  Bob Olson sent me these pictures of the assembly process, since we were otherwise occupied at the time.  Here Gerry is running the big forklift.

Later, Tim worked on getting the bearings properly seated.  This is not easy, since we are assembling parts from several different trucks.

And the Wednesday crew is repainting the TM container car.  It's really looking nice.

Jeff and Norm are welding in new pieces on the Michigan car.

Later in the day, I briefly helped Mark and Dan a little on the turntable.  It will be supported by this large sling, a loop of extra-strong composite material.   

In this video, you can see the spreader bar being raised to put tension on the sling, and finally one end of the table is lifted into the air as a test.  The big lift, Mark says, will be tomorrow (Thursday).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Doodlebug Followup

Gregg Wolfersheim sends in another report:

The last pictures we had of the Men's room was a before shot. Last week I finally got most of the walls stripped. This is the front wall:

This is the filter bracket all painted and mounted in a back corner of the engine room:

And today, I found the oil filter case and opened it up! Full of rust and "dry" oil residue. You can see some of it on the screen insert that I pulled part way out. Next will be to clean and paint the case and mount it in the bracket. It won't be actually used, as the RoiLine engine has its own filter mounted next to the engine block.

This is one of the windows being refurbished.  There is a little deterioration along the bottom that we are repairing with epoxy.  This was a recommendation from Tim Peters and others.

 The lower right corner was rotted, so Buzz Morisette helped make a piece to fill it out with. He then showed me how to use the epoxy to glue it all together and fill in the low spots.

Sunday, Bob Sundelin was out, and he took a few of the new carlines that were produced a few years back, and prepared to prime them.

This was the result. There are about 25 in the car, plus two hip pieces that attach to these. Should take Bob a few weeks to get them done. Then, we get to paint them too!