Saturday, April 29, 2017

Four of a Kind

 The first priority today was to shuffle the deck to put the 309 on the top of the pile, as it will be in line for inspection this week.  And it seemed like a good opportunity to line up all four restored cars for a photo shoot, something I've been thinking about for a while.  The cars are arranged in order of their arrival at IRM: the 309 in 1962, the 308 in 1996, and the 36 and 319 in 2009.  (The 36 was unloaded onto our rails first, by about an hour.)

These pictures represent a little over forty years of part-time labor.

From the back -- hey, something's missing!

Photo by Marcus Ruef

Photo by Marcus Ruef

(Photo by Frank D.)

(Photo by Frank D.)

Just as I was setting up my tripod to put myself into the picture, Frank de Vries and Marcus Ruef happened along, to save me the trouble.  They're much better than tripods.  And it's rather flattering to have newly-elected bigwigs offer to help.  They also helped with switching the cars back into the barn, which was much appreciated. 

After all the switching was done, let's see what everybody else is doing.  Wow, here's a brilliant idea:

Over the pit is the Cornwall 14.  Dan Fenlaciki gave me a detailed explanation of the major problem with the locomotive: worn or broken truck parts.  

It may not be obvious from this photo, but there is a lot of wear in the journal boxes and slides in the truck.  This allows them to tilt and yaw, so they don't tram properly.  Dan thinks that if the trucks can be pulled, he should be able to weld in new slides and fix the problem.  He has already fixed most of the brake issues that have kept this locomotive out of service for many years.

A more serious problem is that several of the leaf springs are beyond condemnation.  Here you can see that three leaves in a row are broken.  It may be possible to have new leaves made if we can get the detailed specs to a manufacturer.  I used to enjoy running this locomotive, and it would certainly be good to have it available again.

Jon Fenlaciki has been stripping parts off the roof of the 65, and as time allows it will get a new roof.  The roof was replaced at North Chicago, probably IRM's first roof job.  All things considered, it's held up very well.

Eric Lorenz is grinding away at the floor of the Cleveland PCC.   They're getting ready to start welding the new floor in place.

All of the new heating ducts are in place, as you can see here.   As good as new!

And here are the plates for the wiring ducts, which Lorne has been hard at work producing:

Inside the 1754:

Another big project today was sorting, cutting, and moving a huge supply of lumber for the Freight Car Dept. (and others) over in Barn 13.  Some of the wood has become rotten over the years, and Buzz is heading up the effort to sort it all out, discard any parts that are unusable, and sort the rest into a different car.

It's being put into the wooden boxcar that got scalped on its way to IRM.  That's a long story for another day.  

We've got lots of wood, and a lot of cars that could use it.

The cars were spotted across the aisle from each other in 13, so this handy chute makes it easy to slide boards from one car to the next.

Buzz (center) runs the saw to remove rotted ends, and make pieces the right length for our future projects, helped by Henry, Victor, Bill, and others.  I offered to help, but they had enough people for the moment.  Here's a pile of cutoffs, most of which are just firewood:

This is an interesting neighborhood.  Nearby, the sad case of CSL 1467.

The end of the car is hanging by a thread: 

And then there's the McKeen car.  Now if only we had some McKeen fans around, this would be a good project.

 It was a cold, dreary day, raining all afternoon.  There were a couple of things to fix on the 308: a folding step for roof access needed to be reattached, and an outside door handle had come loose, so I took care of those.  I also went around the barn to check for leaking onto the cars.  Luckily, it appears that there are no leaks, certainly not onto my cars:

And I also climbed onto the roof of the 277 for the first time in several years, but it and the other IT cars seem to be fine.  There are still a few drips onto the sidewalks, but the asphalt won't rot out.

For a cold, dreary day, what could be better than going over to do some cleaning in the 321?  First, let's stop in and see what Jack Biesterfeld is doing in the 110.  It's kind of cheery in here, now that all the dead bodies and bloody limbs have been removed:

Jack points out one of the original arched upper sash windows, covered by paint, sheet metal, and other windows, but it appears they're all still there.   This car has had a rough life.

The inner sash originally could be raised in the usual fashion, but later they were fastened shut and hinged windows were installed, which is pretty bizarre:

The two interior ends of the car were originally mirror images of each other, it appears, with a washroom in one corner and a stove in the other.  The east end was stripped; this is where the washroom used to be.

And Jack pointed out that the one remaining washroom has curved glass in its ceiling (later covered by a sloppy paint job.)  

This picture didn't turn out too well, but up along the ceiling there are match strikers so that a trainman could come along with a step ladder and light the Pintsch gas fixtures with which it was originally equipped.  I'd noticed the same thing in the Hicks car at Green Bay.  The gas lights are long gone, but the match strikers are still there.

A false ceiling was installed at one end of the car, which was the crew quarters, but above it the original ceiling is still complete and in good shape.  Jack was sanding down paint and evaluating the condition of the car, so the Coach Dept. guys can decide how they want to proceed.  This should be a very interesting project.

 And then I spent some time in the 321, cleaning up, throwing out things that have become rusty or rotten over the years, and so on.  The workbench is actually much better than when I started:

And I also returned the file on Central Illinois Traction to the Scalzo Library, and took out a file for another fascinating Illinois interurban.  This file is bigger and better, so stay tuned! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday Report

It would have been good to switch the cars around today so that the 309 was at the door, as it is the next (and last) in line for inspection.  But it was raining off and on in the morning, so we can only hope the switching can be done this Saturday.

So as a first project, we had heard rumors that the Car Dept. is conducting a replica WWII scrap drive in Barn 4.  We certainly didn't want the top rod from the 319, which was recently replaced, to take a trip to the blast furnace, so here it is on its way over to Barn 8 where it has gone into hiding.  I can't tell you where.   I know nussink....

Don Bosan-Bruno showed up to help, and we removed a side door from the 308 for adjustment.  It had never worked well since the end was rebuilt, and we needed to take about 3/8" off the bottom.  We noticed that there were several small nails along the bottom of the door, which had held a piece of weather stripping at one time, so these needed to be carefully removed.   Then the door was run through the big table saw without incident.  A metal strip at the bottom needed to be moved up, and here Don is fastening it down in its new location.  Then we took the door back to the car and installed it, and it works much better.

As usual, Norm, Jeff, and the two Belvidere guys are working on the Michigan Electric car.

And Tim has moved the 1754 into Barn 4, where the 24 was, and work has started on the carbody.

Let's get on the elevator and take a ride up to the roof.   You can see where the roof-mounted destination sign was located at one point, long ago.  (Outlined in red)  There are also holes for the conduit, and so on.

The roof is kind of ugly, but I've seen worse.  In the foreground is a little metal white plate, used for patching holes in the wood.  Tim points out that it was attached with staples.

Reminds of the 309 many years ago.

I had more or less run out of things for Don to do productively, so he switched over to helping Tim.

A dark, rainy day is an excellent time to work on window shades.  So a rebuilt window shade was installed at the #1 end of the 308.  It doesn't adjust up and down very well because the brackets aren't located quite right, but I left it as is for today.  It's certainly better than nothing.

While walking back and forth, I notice that Bob Olson and Bill Halsted are working on this signal for the switch to the turntable leads.  The transformer had burned out and needed to be replaced.  Now I remember clearly from my youth that you're supposed to unplug the transformer when you're done playing with trains.   Can't you guys follow instructions?

Let's check up on how the guys are doing on the 1754.  Tim continues to strip the roof.

Don is working on the rather complicated mechanism for opening the clerestory windows.

The repainted controller cover was installed in the 319.  Isn't it pretty?

The 308 is the only car that is missing some of the window shades in the vestibules.  They all have shades for every side window, used by the visitors.  In the vestibule, there's a shade for the motorman, to keep the sun out of his eyes (on the "Sunset Lines"), and then there are shades for the train door window and the side window, so that after dark, when lights are on inside the car,  the glare won't bother the motorman.  

The side window shades are a different style from the rest.   Here's one in the 319, in the down position.  A hole in the shade fits over a small latch.

I walked over the 321, and in a box of parts of old shades, most of which were junk, I found a nice side window shade.  Unfortunately, the roller was not quite long enough for the brackets on the 308, so that will have to wait until I can find the right roller.

Because the 308 has pocket doors, the shades that cover the window are large and mounted vertically.  Fortunately we have both shades for the 308, although one of them doesn't unroll all the way.  

Landmark Demolished

In other news, our friend Ron Smolen sends along a link to newspaper article telling us that what's left of the old Chicago and Joliet Electric carbarn in Bedford Park is being demolished to make way for a gas station.  The article mentions Dellwood Park in Lockport, which is an interesting place to visit, by the way.