Friday, September 23, 2016


One of the nice things about this hobby is that there are often things that can be done at home.

Kevin McCabe was an enthusiastic member of the Museum for many years, and was President of the Board until his untimely death in 2004.  One (among several) of his lasting legacies is the development of a uniform display sign, and these signs are now on nearly every piece of rolling stock and many of our structures, and so forth.  These are all 2' x 3' sheets of aluminum, and Kevin acquired a machine for cutting out the vinyl lettering.  The uniform appearance of these signs gives the place a much more professional look.  And in his honor, we usually refer to them as "Kevin signs".  The lettering process takes quite a bit of skill, and fortunately after Kevin died this task was mastered by Ray Piesciuk.  Many of these signs are mounted outside, and they are remarkably resistant to weathering.

For stationary objects, mounting a Kevin sign is usually no problem, but for rolling stock used in revenue service we need to find some way that they can easily be mounted and removed without damaging the equipment.  For the CA&E cars, the handrails are the obvious place to mount a sign, but then the paint gets scraped off.  I pondered a way to clamp the sign onto the rails, but anything with moving parts is a maintenance problem, and finally decided to stick with wooden frames, with scraps of upholstery material added to reduce scraping.  The signs had also become dirty over the years, as you may be able to see, and needed to be cleaned.  I fixed up two of them, and when the others are done, we should be in good shape for many more years.

And then there was lettering on the little tin box for the 36.


Anonymous said...

The C,A & E #20 and #36 were built in 1902 by different builders. I would love
to know which one is older and thus the oldest operating Interurban in the country.

Ted Miles

Randall Hicks said...

Much as it may pain me to admit this, there can be no doubt that #20 is the oldest of the CA&E cars. It is one of the first six cars put into service on the first day of operation, August 25, 1902. The Stephenson cars were probably built during 1902, but the earliest of them were delivered late in 1902 and didn't enter service until early in 1903, according to Plachno. That must include our #36.

Now as for the oldest operating interurban, that depends upon one's definition of "interurban". I would vote for combine #10 at Shelburne Falls, built in 1898, but my son somehow thinks it's a streetcar. ???? It's disagreements like this that lead to shouting, insults, and fisticuffs at family gatherings. And it's all your fault, Ted!!!

Anonymous said...

The sign for 749 needs to be updated. It says the car is currently being restored. (If that can be done easily.)

David Streeter

Randall Hicks said...

David: Thanks for pointing that out. I really don't know how easy it is to modify a finished sign. Statements about a piece's current status are always liable to change, and there are probably several out there that are obsolete. For instance, the sign for the 308 says it's the only half-motor at IRM, which is no longer true. I should look into this.