Sunday, July 10, 2016

High wire act

Frank writes...

I showed up early Sunday afternoon without a particular project in mind, but a crew was going out on the line car shortly so I came along to help.

The train, shown above, consisted of ComEd 4 and North Shore line car 604, which is no longer self-propelled due to bad motors. We went out ahead of a revenue steam coach train trip. Initially Greg Kepka and I jumped off east of Karstens to do some brush cutting, but the chainsaw wouldn't cooperate so we hoofed it to Johnson Siding where the rest of the crew was making some wire repairs. Fortunately the weather was spectacular so it was a nice walk. Once the next revenue train, the wood "L" cars, passed eastbound the line car headed west to a spot near signal 251 where the CA&E cars have been de-wiring on an irritatingly consistent basis. Sure enough, there was a badly bent catenary hanger that had put a noticeable groink in the wire. It's now fixed so we're hoping that the de-wiring issue - at least, this one - is solved.
Here's the view looking east as we head back to Johnson to meet the "L" cars, which you can see in the siding, to let them past. All of the repair work that was done was between signal 201 and Johnson Siding so that we could duck into the siding to let the revenue trains past.
I didn't spend much time up on the roof. Mostly I acted as gofer running tools and parts up the ladder and swapping poles to change direction, spending the time in between salvaging usable components from discarded wire hangers and straightening up the interior of the 604. Above is the rooftop crew: Richard, Greg, Thomas, Nick and Shelby.
And here's our intrepid motorman, Joel, who ably ran the 4 all day. It's always good to have a motorman with a light touch when you're sitting 15' up in the air!
Here the crew makes some repairs between the east Johnson switch and the Seeman Road crossing. Quite a few broken or bent hangers in the catenary section were fixed, including the one that we think was causing the CA&E cars grief, and some other fixes were made at various places as well. Maintenance like this, while not flashy, is necessary to keep our demonstration railroad running smoothly. Another vital component is track, and Frank Devries was hard at work on Station Track 2, working with a contingent from the Army replacing the rail on the eastern half of the track. This will be a big improvement and a big "thank you" goes out to both the soldiers and to our own volunteer Track Department!


Anonymous said...

groink? Is this a wireman's term of art on a par with Johnny Ball or is this the sound ones knees make after too many trips up and down the ladder?

C Kronenwetter
IRM Member

Anonymous said...

That much damage can happen when an operator forgets to pull the front pull and backwires at speed. I used to call that "operating on 1200v." Years ago I have seen the 415 running westbound in front of the depot demonstrating this trick. It is a testament to good overhead wire construction that a person could actually do this. But not so good for the wire in general.

Anonymous said...

Or that damage could have come from before we even got the very tired wire that was put up on that section. I understand the dangers of 1200ing, but that section of wire was tired when we acquired it. We have been wanting to replace the mile of wire with new wire for a while now, but all it takes is donations to get the wire while it's cheap.

Charles Brown said...

Thanks for the great photos! As with the turntable unloading, it's nice to see museum equipment being used for the job. Seems like most museums wimp out by using hi-rail equipped bucket trucks. I'm glad that the IRM does it the "correct" way just like it was done a century ago. Are there any plans to repair the 604's motors in the near future?

Joel Ahrendt said...

There's always plans to get the 604 motoring on it's own.. It just takes donations to the NSL 604 fund. Two of them will be a bit as we believe they'll need re-winding based on the stories that we have heard about how they went bad.