Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Letters, We've Got Letters

Such as L and R, B and D, and letters like that.  We also get letters from you, our readers, which are much appreciated.   Anyway, I did a few different things today, of which the most photogenic was lettering the #2 vestibule in the 36.  It's warm and cozy in there.

Here are some pictures of our "new" Burlington baggage car.   This will go nicely with the Zephyr.

As usual, several different projects were going on in the car shop, but I only got pictures of a couple of them.  Rich Witt was refurbishing a door for one of the cabooses.

And Tim Peters was making new window frames for L car doors.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

LSE Shop Report

Last week while doing some cosmetic work on our Lake Shore Electric coach #150, I removed what appeared to be one of the better clerestory windows, but the sash came apart in the process.   Here's what it looks like after a post-mortem dissection.

From the outside:  The sash is hinged at the right.   Notice that there are four wood pieces: two stiles, a bottom rail, and the upper rail includes the arch.  It's tongued into a groove in the right hand stile.

From the inside:   There are several layers of paint from the car's days as a house in two different cities, and then as a flower shop in Pittsburgh.

There is a hole through the bottom rail for attaching the opener mechanism.

The mechanism looks like this.  The outside was so encrusted with paint I wasn't sure how it was attached, but it's just two large nuts on the outside of the rail, and one on the inside.

The last picture in this post shows how it looks when mounted on the car.

The car's interior finish is cherry, and I'm sure that's what the sash is made of.   In service, it had a nice bright stain, covered with varnish of course, and in several places it's still in good condition under all the paint.  See the interior pictures in the car's history.

It's hard to get a good picture of the etched glass at home.  Instead, I have a couple of pictures taken on the car.   The strange thing is that all of the clerestory windows on the right side of the car have a different pattern than the windows on the left.  On the right side, there is sort of a floral pattern, with a clear border around the edges:

And on the other side, it's just this wavy pattern with no border.   I have no idea how this came about. 

 Anyway, as time permits, I'll make a couple of new clerestory sashes, and the hinged one should have a working mechanism.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Happy Holidays to You

I can't think of a better way to make the holidays happy than to take a train ride with Santa, and the elves, and presents, and so on.   So that's what I did.   First, here's what our train looks like:

Inside the diner, everything is set up for snacks and story telling:

Before visitors board the train, they can have their pictures taken on the front platform of this locomotive set up next to the loading area.

And our jolly crew looks like this:  (L to R)  An anonymous trainman, conductor Sam Polonetzky, trainmaster Paul Cronin, engineer Jamie Kolanowski.

And another, with Roger Kramer, Sam, Paul, Jamie, and assistant engineer Frank Nero.  Operations went smoothly and efficiently.

Santa comes through the car to talk to all the good little boys and girls. 

Mr. and Mrs. Santa and all the elves pose for a group portrait.

In the front car, we have a toy train constantly going around in a circle.   It's a tribute to our Track Dept. and operators that it never falls off the track.

The lighted wreath on the front of the cab car.

This tree is at least 20' tall.   Putting all those lights in place must have been a challenge.

Anyway, a good time was had by all.  Everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves.   We still need trainmen.  And if you don't sign up, find some small children of your acquaintance to bring out to the Museum.   You'll be glad you did.

Friday, November 25, 2016


If you ever make purchases through Amazon, you can direct that 0.5% of whatever you spend is donated to the Illinois Railway Museum.  It costs you nothing, and even half a percent can add up if everybody does it.  Just go to and follow the simple directions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tuesday Report

On a cold day, it's nice to have a heated area in which to work.  In my case, this was mostly the #2 vestibule of the 36, which is easily warmed up by a space heater.   So there was a lot of sanding, cleaning, and repainting done.   About half of the vestibule got a second coat of blue.   It still looks a little splotchy in some of these flash pictures, though not to the naked eye, so I may have to pull the car out of the barn on the next sunny day to see what it actually looks like. 

In any case, this is an improvement.

One of the dummy couplings on the 319 was missing when we got it, so I found another one in stock, which needed a new chain.   Rod said he'd weld it for me tomorrow or sometime.   There are always little details like this to work on for variety's sake.

And I looked at the control system on the Charles City Western 300 again with Pete Galayda.  I should have taken a picture, but as it stands now, the forward and reverse positions on the controllers seem to be opposite to what one would expect.  Generally, you push the reverse lever away from you to go forward, and toward you to back up.  On the 300 it's the other way, and as far as we can tell, that must have been how it was on the CCW, the Counter-Clockwise Route.  But as a safety matter, all the experts seem to agree that it should be consistent with our other electric cars, so sometime soon I will swap the wires at the main junction box, and keep everything more obvious for the operator.

The only other active project I saw was Tim Peters and Frank Kehoe working on finishing up the wooden slats for the outside platforms on the 24.  The wood has been repaired or replaced as needed.

So they took them outside, and here Frank is spray-painting the wood black while Tim supervises.

After spraying, they were brought back into the shop to dry.  There are only a few minor details to finish up on the 24.

Happy Holidays Railway will be here in a few days, so get your tickets now!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Cosmetic Work

On Wednesday our Lake Shore Electric box trailer was brought out of the barn for the first time since painting and lettering were completed, I think, and it looks beautiful.  So that motivated me to do some more cosmetic work on our other LSE car, the 150.  It has no chance of ever being restored to operation, but it would be nice if it looked better.  And I have all winter to finish painting and lettering the vestibules in the CA&E cars.  It isn't hard to heat them up, no matter how cold it gets.  So today I continued work on the 150's "letterboard" that actually doesn't have any lettering.   Whatever.

The letterboard is in bad shape because when the body was being used as a house, it had some goofy wooden rain gutters nailed to it.   I removed the one on this side two years ago; the one on the other side is still in place.  So I need to fill in the holes and gaps in the wood with putty, sand it down, and paint it.

This work progresses slowly but surely.

For variety's sake, I decided to work on one of the clerestory windows.  This poor car is missing a lot of parts of various sorts, but for some reason all of the handles for opening the clerestory windows are still in place.  

Because this was a single-ended car that traveled in only one direction, the arrangements for ventilation through the clerestory are completely different than on the CA&E, for instance.

In each pair of windows, the rear or downwind window is permanently closed, as seen above.

The forward window is hinged at the front, and can open slightly using the handle inside the car to draw air out through clerestory.   This avoids having rain or other things blow into the car onto the passengers.  But over the years the whole structure has deteriorated.   I had thought this was one of the better clerestory frames, but it came apart as I was trying to remove it.   At least the nice etched glass didn't break.  The pieces are laid out on top of the roof, below:

 So I took it home to make a new frame.  It would be nice to have at least one frame that actually opens the way the builders intended.

By the end of the day, about two-thirds of the letterboard had been sanded down, at least partially filled, and painted with primer.  There's plenty more to do as time and weather permit.

Tim is continuing to work on windows for the 1754.

This work paused when it became necessary to change the knives on the planer.   (L to R):  Buzz, Rich, Tim, and Dan.

Bill was working on various L car parts, and here he holds up what's left of a 1754 clerestory window.   By LSE standards, that's pretty good!

Jack was in the shop also, doing upholstery work on his B&M diner.   The nice warm shop is much appreciated.

And after painting the letterboard, I spent some more time inside the 150, cleaning and straightening parts and tools.   Like most work areas at IRM, it tends to get cluttered in a hurry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

CCW 300 Runs!

Today's most exciting news is that we have another operating electric locomotive, Charles City Western #300.   Project Manager Pete Galayda is seen here standing next to it.  He has been working on it for the past 15 years, and this is the rewarding culmination of a great deal of effort.

Pete had never actually operated anything at IRM before, so he needed some quick operator training.   He did quite well, of course.  This was almost as much fun as teaching physics.

Some of these photos are by Rich Schauer.

 The Veracruz open car had to be run out of the barn first.

And after the 300, the Cleveland PCC had to be pulled out (by the Army Diesel, run by Rod) so we could get to the next attraction, the LSE freight trailer. 

If you look closely, it appears this truck was stolen from CSL 4001.

And here is the newly repainted and lettered LSE 810.  Gerry and John wanted to check that the brakes were not hanging up on curves, that the side bearings (when complete) would have the proper clearance, and so on.  This car really looks great.  I don't know of any other interurban freight trailer like this one that has been completely restored.  

It's unbelievable to compare this with pictures of it when it was a farm shed.   It has been competely rebuilt.  We should mention that George Clark was in charge of this work for many years.

And while it was being pushed, we got to ride in the car around the carline.

And here it is coupled up to the steeplecab.  What a neat train!

And then we took the 300 on another ride around the carline.   Here we are parked at Electric Park.

People helping with the switch move and testing included Rod, Pete, Rich, Gerry Dettloff, John Faulhaber, and me.  

I also managed to do some work on the 36.   The remaining flaps were cleaned off on both sides using the big wire wheel.

And then I finished putting a first coat of blue on the rest of the #2 vestibule.

And in other news, Dave Diamond and the B&G guys spent most of the day replacing rotten wood and generally fixing up the platform canopy at 50th Avenue.  Maintaining the various buildings on campus is a huge task.  It's a good thing we have somebody who's up to the challenge.

Oh, and I was going to take some pictures of the new step boxes and other items being prepared for the Santa trains, but didn't get around to it.   Anyway, it looks like we'll be ready, so don't miss it!