Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Look Closely

Inspection Season is in full swing.   That means looking closely at every car to be used in revenue service this year.  Many aspects of inspection need the use of our pit in Barn 4, so scheduling can be a problem.  The weekends get booked up early, but weekdays are still available at bargain rates.  I'm retired, and Frank was able to get a day off from work, so today we started with the 319.

What made this inspection go especially well is that we had two additional helpers: Dan Mulvihill and Gregg Wolfersheim.  It's good to have other people look at the car; they may notice something we've been overlooking.  I really appreciate the additional assistance.  Among other things, we changed out two brake shoes, and identified two more for probable replacement next year.  

Here Frank is checking out one of the traction motors.  Basically everything went well, and we've identified one or two things to keep an eye on, but the car will be ready for service as soon as the controllers are done, which can easily be done back in Barn 8.

And with the additional help, I was able to take a break, walk over to Barn 11, and take the tarps off car 321.  Please don't look too closely.  The exterior paint isn't too bad, but the roof, which you can't see from the sidewalk, has suffered under the tarps for the last six or more years.  With some work, the car will be a presentable display piece, but restoration is pretty much out of the question.

The roof still has pieces of carpet nailed to it, to keep the tarp from ripping.   These carpet pieces did a good job in that respect.

You may notice that the car currently has the park train surrounding it.  Just have to be careful not to drop anything heavy on it.

Talk about moldy oldies: notice the mold on some of the exterior surfaces.  This can be cleaned off.  And I promise that next time I'm out, probably Saturday, the tarp fragments will be picked up and discarded.

This herald still looks pretty good.

And next door, the Freight Dept. guys, Bill and Victor, are working on the Pennsy bobber.  There were a lot of people out today, but this is the only other project I managed to get a picture of.  Mostly I was doing inspection.

A new member, whose name I didn't get, wandered by and Frank spent some time telling him about what we were doing and who to talk to about getting involved in various department activities.  We can always use more help, as I may have mentioned once or twice before!


Anonymous said...

The 321 is a perfect example of why indoor storage is crucial for the preservation of these relics. Even a good tarp can't keep everything out. Kudos to you, Frank and everyone else in the department for keeping these wonderful artifacts restored and either operating or on display.

Cliff McKay

Anonymous said...

Cliff is so right! Car Barns are a necessity; IRM has just built two and my Western Railway Museum is planning a Car Barn Project also. Does anyone know of any other Car Barn project for their collections?

Ted Miles, IRM Member

Randall Hicks said...

Sam Bartlett of the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum just posted a picture on RyPN of their new two-stall carbarn, which looks good. That's not very big, to be sure, but will hold their fleet of two operating cars nicely. Sam let me run the Shelburne car when we stopped there a couple of years ago, and it's an interesting place. Well worth a visit if you're on your way to Boston or beyond.

Anonymous said...

What precludes restoration of the 321? Time, car frame, trucks/motors/controls or what?
C Kronenwetter

Randall Hicks said...

You really need to see it for yourself to appreciate just how bad the body has become. Basically the entire wooden structure of the car is rotted and needs to be replaced. I suppose the steel underframing is still good, but that's about it. And many of the interior parts that might still be OK were damaged when the 321 was converted into a storage car at North Chicago. It's very depressing. And at this time of life, I'm not willing to start on any project that can't possibly be finished in the foreseeable future.

In any case, the 321 is not unique. The 319 and 320 are both nicely restored and operate often, and the 316 is being worked on. And even if we had the time and resources and expertise for a project of this size, I would much rather see them used on something more interesting, such as the TM cars or the Fort Wayne car. So that's my position. Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

It sure would be nice to see a TM interurban car get running. Same with the Fort Wayne car (and Gary Railways car, IT birney, IT line car, 3 car MD train etc etc). Meanwhile, it would be nice to maintain enough serviceability out of the 321 to do photo shoots and occasional sunny day mainline trips with the car sandwiched between the others. I would settle for it as a hollow interurban, and maybe it will be a future restoration for some fellow.

Anonymous said...

Hey "Anonymous": You want to see all those cars running? Come out and work on them! IRM may be a big place, but there are still just a relatively few people doing restoration and shop work. Real people, dealing with these cars' real problems, trying to use the limited amounts of real money that comes in for unglamorous projects as frugally as possible. (Bring a few of your friends, because what you've asked for is several lifetimes' worth of work.)
R. W. Schauer

Anonymous said...

I would also vote for some work on either of the TMER&L Interurbans. They came from an interesting system and as far as I know they are the only survivors.

maybe you need a break from the "Great Third Rail"

Ted Miles

Joe S. said...

In many ways, the 321 is surplus to IRM's collection. It is mechanically operable through a bus jumper, but the inside is a complete shell. It is basically gutted, like a box motor. Right or wrong, it was acquired at North Chicago to provide mechanical components for restoration of the TM cars. This must have been a somewhat divided issue, as the car was purposely gutted to ensure there would not be a desire to preserve it as a CA&E car and deprive the TM cars of their needed parts. As fate would have it over the years, no individual was able to give the TM cars their needed work, or were the funds available, so the 321 sat around mechanically intact. Randy's tremendous work on the wood cars allowed it to operate in train on special occasions, but since it was a shell nobody could really ride in it. With the acquisition of the 319 from Trolleyville, we had an identical car that was 100% complete and operable, making restoration of the 321 even more unnecessary. The 321 continues to be a political issue, but with no pressing work on the TM cars, there really is no pressing need to dispose of the 321. They say if you are going to do something, you should do a good job, and Randy has done that by making sure that the car is preserved, that tarps stay intact, and that the car went back indoors again. It is possible things may change in another 50 years and there will be a desire to preserve the car, but I suspect the best future this car has is as a static display somewhere with its mechanical parts stripped.

Sometimes what you think will happen will change quickly, and people and money are the two biggest factors. Just a couple of years ago I wasn't sure I would ever ride on the Electroliner in my lifetime. It had neither money nor people. Today, it has had a very successful fund raising campaign, and it appears it will be operable in a few years, but it still has a limited number of people working on it. It does not have a caretaker like Randy with the wood cars, Tim with the wood L cars, or Frank with the 141,3142, and other street cars. I have not been working as much lately, but I know that those of us who don't work on specific projects tend to work on service cars first. We are not just a museum, but we are an operating railroad with a public who expects equipment to ride on, that is clean and safe. And we have an operating department who expects properly maintained cars that are easy to operate and not likely to break down. Because of this, when a restoration project is contemplated, it is much more likely to be a passenger car well suited to our operation than a freight motor, or car with some sort of odd or complicated mechanical components that will be hard to use. That doesn't mean that we don't have interested members picking away at other types of equipment, it just means that those projects take much longer to complete since the need is lower.



Randall Hicks said...

Thanks, Joe! I couldn't have said it better.

Anonymous said...

What do the TM cars need to be made operable? I gather that there was some cosmetic work done on them many years ago.
C Kronenwetter

Randall Hicks said...

They need extensive body repairs and rebuilding. This is due not just to age but because they were rebuilt by TM in 1924 from earlier cars of different design. The window spacing was changed, so many body posts were removed, and the new window posts just sit on the window sill instead of extending down through the body as they should. It's amazing they made the trip to Canada and back without the roofs collapsing. And then all the electrical systems were changed when they went to Canada and need to be changed back. Those are two more daunting projects. But wait, we have more: THI&E, Gary, 91, 150, Tri-Cities, etc etc etc. Applications now being accepted.

Anonymous said...

Joe S.'s comment should be required reading for anyone actively involved in a rail museum. It summarizes the problem of redundant, usually duplicate, cars and the priority that must necessarily be given to equipment that will see regular use.