Monday, July 31, 2017

On the straight and narrow

Frank writes...

The theme for Sunday seemed to be "straightening." When I got out to the museum the weather was beautiful and there were no urgent projects to work on, so Greg, Thomas and I headed over to Barn 13 and Shaker Heights 18. There we retrieved the car's trolley pole, trolley base, and trolley hook and brought all three back to Barn 4. The pole needed a little bit of straightening to correct some minor bends, so we did that using the patented pole-straightening machine in the barn. Then I wire wheeled and primed the pole and the base. The hook, intriguingly, appears to have all of its past roof colors still on it underneath the final Trolleyville-applied paint, so I'm holding onto that in case we need it for matching roof colors. Unfortunately I failed to take any photos of this work; oops. But here's a picture of the CA&E steel train in service up at the depot.

While I was working on the pole, Richard, Thomas, and Greg were working on the J governor for CRT 1797. We have a lot of J governors at IRM; virtually all of our CA&E and Illinois Terminal cars use them as well as most of the older "L" cars. They are an incredible pain to repair if they start leaking. But with a lot of effort and some creative language, the crew got this one working much better than when they started.
L-R that's Thomas, Greg, and Richard. Anyway, around this time our friend Tom Schneider stopped by on a visit from the Steam Shop and mentioned that the Steam Team had a gift waiting for us! So of course we excitedly hopped in the golf cart and headed over to Steamland.
Sure enough, the steam guys had managed to repair our bent coupler from the 309 (click here for more information). It's shown above in a press in the steam shop (the tender in the background belongs to Rock Island 4-6-2 938, which is getting a cosmetic restoration). Many thanks to the Steam Team for their work on this! We loaded the coupler onto a cart and made off with our loot. But not before using the brake in the steam shop to un-straighten a new piece of steel for the 18, which needed a 90-degree bend along one side. Once again I forgot to snap a photo but it's this piece.
Recently the coupler from the west end of the 321 was put on the 309, so that means our newly-straightened coupler goes back on the 321. So it was off to Barn 11, with Thomas driving the golf cart and Greg acting as trailer hitch so we could tote along the cart with the coupler on it. It was unloaded next to the car as seen above; a spare 318 coupler shaft with most of the coupler head broken off was also deposited on the end of the car.
And how better to end a beautiful July day than a visit to our newest attraction, Tetanus Railways E33 #4601, now safely stored in the south yards. The view from the roof was better than the view from the ground.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Motion of All Sorts

Today was another nice Saturday, and we seemed to have a good crowd of visitors.  Let's start with operations.  The Buck Brothers were running the 4000's:

And the steam train was running, always a crowd pleaser.  I generally like to take pictures of other people taking pictures of trains:

And then, even better, while the steam engine was pulling in on Station 2, a Diesel comes west pulling our newest electric locomotive.  Only at IRM!

There's a piece of plywood in place to keep people out of the now-empty transformer compartment, which at one time was painted Conrail Blue.  I think.

And as usual, the B&G department are hard at work.  Here we see Dave and Jerry building a rear porch for the Schroder Store, which will soon be our gift shop:

I spent some time cleaning and straightening, and then, because it was too hot to do anything more strenuous, I worked on installing some air hoses for the sleet scrapers on the 319 and 36.  They don't have to be functional, or even hold air, but it would look better to have some connection to the cylinders.  I hope you agree.

I even did some testing, just for fun, but most of the cylinders seem to have bad seals.  Too bad.

While looking under the 36 at the sleet scraper piping, I noticed there's an unusual device.  It's a small metal cylinder with a couple of wires sticking out, no longer connected.  I have no idea what it is.  Another mysterious relic from 1902, I guess.  This is the only one on the car, by the way.

And while we're on the subject of the world's most trivial trivia, the older cars are arranged so that you can only operate all four sleet scrapers at once.  But the 319 has two cutout cocks, so that you can operate either the two in front, or in back, or both.  If I remember correctly, the 431 is the same way.  I really don't know why this would be important.

Among other things, Fred Zimmerman and Jeff Obarek are working on the 451; here they have prepped and primed one of the remaining stairwells.

And are scraping the other one.

And then I helped them for a while on trying to fix the governor for the 1797.  We were unable to fix a couple of leaks, so Jeff went off to look up the Wabco instructions for this device, and we'll get to it next time. 

And Tim continues to make good progress on the 1754, as usual.  Late in the day, the sun makes it hard to see, but the wood parts of the end buffer are now in place and primed.

 Know anybody who likes classic automobiles?  I bet you do!  Remember that next Sunday, August 6, is our annual Transport Extravaganza, with classic autos, trucks, trains, and people!  Don't miss it!

The Electric Fright Locomotive least that's what it was called by an RyPN poster, presumably as a typo.  But it's as good a description as any I could come up with on purpose.

Richard has studied this problem much more than I have, and he has several good points, of course.  First of all, here's the door he referred to in a comment, and I didn't post it because I totally failed to see the earlier number.  But that number agrees with the info I got from Frank's list.  And who am I to question anything?

Next, here we are inside the compartment that used to hold the ignitrons.  The crew had orders to check the ignitrons visually on a regular basis.  Presumably you could tell by looking through the little windows whether the ignitrons were firing correctly.  When the locomotive was rebuilt by Conrail and the ignitrons were replaced by silicon diodes (and what could be more boring than a silicon diode?) the windows were painted over with Conrail blue. 

And if you need high-current silicon diodes, look no farther than Shorewood, of all places.  For me, that's right down the road!

Richard and I were both crushed to learn that the ignitrons are long gone.  Anyway, we will continue to study the evidence for historical purposes.  And you'll read it here first, I hope.

Update: Mercury, the Winged Messenger

A friend sent me a PM about the ignitrons:

Be glad the mercury is long gone.  It is a hazardous waste.  When tearing down an old lab wall at Buckeye Steel we found a quart milk bottle full of mercury (corked).  Seems it was used in pressure gauges on the open hearths which were replaced by the arc furnace in 1965.  The bottle was unbelievably heavy.  We had to pay to dispose of it as the liability to keep it was just too much.  Cost almost $1000 in 1998 and it looked like a Brinks truck that came to pick it up.

He makes a good point.  In an ignitron, the mercury was encased in a chamber that had to withstand a controlled explosion 25 times a second, and it's highly unlikely the mercury could ever leak out.   But regardless of one's opinion as to the actual danger, we have to obey current regulations as they are, and the Museum is no doubt better off not having to deal with a problem like this.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Ignitron Rectifier Locomotive

Courtesy of Richard Schauer, we have a large selection of photos of the newly-arrived electric locomotive.  This is about half of them; if there's any popular demand, we can probably show more.

I don't have many captions to add; in most cases it's obvious what we're looking at.  I cannot identify some of the pictures of the internal electrical equipment.

Inside the cab:

We could use a "Notching Guide" on a lot of our cars:

Some of the wiring was stolen by thieves:

Inside the arc chutes we probably have the contactors for the tap changer:

This is probably the control circuits for the igniters, and it looks like most of the components are missing:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Paint and More Paint

It was hot and humid again today, but there was a good crowd of visitors for a weekday.

Let's start with other Car Dept. projects.  Pete Galayda is repainting windows for the IT Class B locomotive.  Now that the Charles City Western engine is complete, Pete has started fixing up the IT engine.

This big beam is destined for the 1754.  By the end of the day, it had been cut down to its rough shape and test-fit onto the car.

The front end of the 1754 is making good progress.

And here Tim is working on other parts of the car.

The new door for the MD cars has been repainted.

I spent most of the day repainting the vestibule floors in the 36.   The #1 vestibule was still in white primer.  By the way, my camera seems to be having trouble in poor lighting conditions, when it's not quite dark enough for the flash.

The #2 vestibule got a second coat.  

And then the 319's stepwell was painted black, plus silver on the handrail.

I also got a chance to talk to a new volunteer, a young man who wanted to start working with the Car Dept.  We looked at a few of the active projects, found him a waver to sign, and he's planning to come back on Sunday.  New volunteers are just what we need, so I'm hoping things will work out well with him.  And that goes for you too!!!