Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Last Sunday

Frank writes...

Sunday was the last day of the regular operating season for 2017. Fittingly, one of the service cars for the day was the last standard interurban car built in the country, CA&E 460, shown below. It was a chilly day but bright and sunny.

It was also the end of an era: the last day that the baggage cars on the tracks next to the depot were open as the gift shop and bookstore. Next week, work will begin on moving the usable shelving, technology, and the stock from the stores over to the Schroeder Store on Main Street. By the time of the Christmas event the bookstore and gift shop will be located in the Schroeder Store, where they will stay for the foreseeable future. I'm not certain what the plans are for the cars next to the depot, which include a wood baggage car (storage), a steel heavyweight baggage car (bookstore), and a lightweight steel baggage car (gift shop) from the C&NW as well as a Pullman troop sleeper (bookstore annex). I'm actually not certain when the gift shop moved into these cars but I think it was around 40 years ago, give or take a couple of years.
Anyway, for me it was an afternoon of work on Shaker Heights 18. During the week the hardware needed for the steel plate that I'd ordered arrived, so that meant the thing could finally be installed. Amazingly, all of the holes lined up perfectly, and new volunteer Jon helped me get the plate bolted into place, as shown below.
After that it was drilling holes along the top edge and putting in some wood screws. I felt like I spent half the afternoon hunting for the right wood screws but did get the top of the plate fixed in place as shown below. There is a cabinet that sits on top of this plate; it's been pushed back a few inches but is visible in the photos. That got put in place but we didn't have the right screws to attach it so that will have to wait until next time. The same goes for reattaching the two seats forward of the doors, which were detached prior to the car coming to IRM. Thrilling, I know.
Other than that, there were a few other people who were out in the barn working. Norm, Jeff, and our favorite Ohioan Walt Stafa were hard at work installing rivets on the Michigan car. For a while Jon was also helping them out. Below, Jon gets ready to transfer a hot rivet into place for driving; Walt runs the torch to heat the rivet white-hot; and Norm and Jeff (the latter partly inside the car, so to speak) stand ready to drive and buck the rivet respectively. I wasn't about to just wander through this scene to get a photo but note in the background, over Norm's shoulder, that the end of the 1754 has a nice coat of Chicago Elevated Railways green and orange on it. The car really looks sharp in this paint scheme with those tall end windows.
Other than that, Bob was working on some of the metalworking machines while later in the day Gregg stopped into the shop after a day rebuilding the cab interior on Minnesota Transfer 200. Dan also stopped in after helping the steam guys with the brakes on the Shay and the Diesel Department guys were over in Barn 2 finishing up the paint job on the "bankruptcy blue" Rock Island GP7.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

It's Never Too Cold

Today we'll start again with what everybody else was doing.  It was cold and dreary, and most visitors seem to have decided to stay home.  But our volunteers always have things to do, so they're as active as ever.

Progress is obvious on the south extension of the parking lot.  Eventually, the main visitor entrance will be at the south end of the parking lot, rather than the current northeast corner, so this is an important step forward.

Dave is rolling out the gravel.

Next, let's go over to Barn 10 and check out Victor and Bill's progress on the B&O wagontop boxcar.  It's sandwiched inbetween the other cars, so photography is difficult, but the lettering looks great.

And then progress continues on the Pennsy bobber.

New siding is being installed.

At this end, siding is stacked up for replacement.

Inside, paint is being stripped in preparation for repainting.

Sorry, they don't always look so grim.  Must be stage fright or something.

Outside, the track crew are busy fixing a switch leading into Yard 10.  These guys have to keep working in almost any kind of weather.

Max seems to have worked himself into a hole.  At least John Jr. is there to supervise.  Actually, fiber optic cable is being installed to provide better communication between the office and the Schroeder Store and (future) Visitor's Center, for things like card readers and other important business data.  Underground where you can't see it, our 1950's Main Street will be very much up-to-date.

Over in the car shop, work is starting on another MD car door.

The first one has been installed on the 213.   It looks great!

The second one seems to have been made to lower standards.  I can't understand it.... 

This ridiculous thing wound up on track 40.  It's being scrapped for parts, I believe.

In employment agency news, the so-called "new cat" has found a steady job, so he won't be hanging around annoying Mr. Socks and asking for handouts.  One of our volunteers had a friend who keeps horses, and needed a cat to keep mice out of the horse barn.  So Tim managed to lure him into the cat carrier, and the cat now has a full-time position where he will be appreciated.  He's certainly not the only individual to find a job through IRM!

I would have liked to do some painting today, but it was too cold and damp.  So I spent most of the day working on seats in the 309.  These seats, for some reason, have given more trouble over the years than the other three cars combined.  Anyway, after some more disassembly, lubrication, adjustment, and replacement, most of them are working pretty well.

New shims for the seat backs.  For some reason, it generally seems that the seat backs have shrunk relative to the frame, so that the brackets come out of the tracks.  It's complicated, too hard to explain over the internet.  Sorry.  You have to try it for yourself.

And then I spent some time trying to see if we could get the cab heaters working on some of the wood cars.  The cars used portable cab heaters that would be hung on a bracket on the train door, as seen below.  I checked out the electrical circuits on the 308 and 309, and they seem OK.  After more trouble than it was worth, I found a cab heater that looked fine and passed the megger test.  But it turns out the plugs are not the right type; this one must have come from the North Shore or CRT.   I'll  just have to keep looking.


I joined the Museum in 1974.  Recently I made a list of about thirty names of people I met back in the seventies who are still active at the Museum.  Many of these guys have been members longer than I have, and many of them I see almost every week.  A couple of them whom I hadn't seen for a while wandered by while I was in the shop, so here's an impromptu old-timers reunion:

From left to right: John McKelvey, Bill Wulfert, Les Ascher, Wally Osty.  Bill is out every week, and John shows up almost every day.  And of course there were several more that I saw at other times today: Norm, Tim, Al, Joe, Bob, Gregg....  Beyond these, there are some, such as Randy Anderson, Steve Iversen, and Pete Schmidt, who are still very attached to IRM but live too far away to come out very often.  I doubt there are many organizations of this sort in existence that can boast of similar loyalty.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Vacation Report

While on a brief vacation, we found some examples of what passes for railroad preservation at the Wisconsin Dells.   Just a block or two off Broadway, we happened upon this combination motel and hot dog stand.  Hungry?  Stop by the Rail Dog, if you dare.

RZESZOW GLOWNY, as they say.

 The Dells has some of my favorite places to eat, but this isn't one of them.

The current station on the old Milwaukee Road main line is patterned after the original station, which was much larger.   That station was "modernized" and then demolished, and this one was built about twenty years ago now.  It's really a nice design.

Finally, while I was away, Gregg Wolfersheim stepped in and sent us a picture of CTA work car S-333, taken in August 1971 a few months after it arrived at IRM.  It's sitting on what is now the streetcar line alongside yard 2.  To the right is the 354, I believe.  Gregg hopes Tim will appreciate this picture.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A grey day

Frank writes...

Sunday at IRM was rain, rain, rain. The rain was light but incessant and lasted the entire day. There were a few dozen hardy visitors out, and three cars out on the railroad including Zach running the 3142, but it was pretty quiet around the property. Not so much in the shop, though.

Several of the Sunday regulars including Joel, Richard, Thomas, and Nick were working on inspecting CA&E 431, which is back in service now that its motor leads are repaired. Or at least it would be if not for a balky J governor, shown above in partially disassembled state. J type governors are the bane of trolley museums and IRM has a number of cars that use them including all of our CA&E cars (with the possible exception of the 450s, I'm not sure). This one wasn't leaking, as they typically do when they get worn, but was operating erratically and needed a good cleaning.
Out in Barn 4, Tim was sanding the letterboard on the second end of the 1754 to be rebuilt. He mentioned that he had also been running off basswood roof slats for the impending replacement of the roof at this end of the car.
And Norm and Jeff were hard at work on the 28. Riveting is going along slowly; shown above are a few of the flush rivets that were driven this past week. Work is going slowly because working around all of the various interconnected framing members is difficult with the riveting equipment, but guys from the Steam Department - who have a lot more experience with riveting than us Car Shop guys - have been very helpful.
As for me, I actually didn't get much of anything done in the way of car work. I did go for a training trip on the 415 (Nick, shown above, had like me been fired from the police force during the preceding week and was now doing line training) and another training trip on CA&E 409. But other than some marketing-related work, and getting some hardware for the Shaker Heights car ordered, that was pretty much it for me.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Visit to Salt Lake

David writes.....

Randy and Maggie did visit us in their way through Salt Lake City on their return to California.. Here we see Randy being welcomed by the family goodwill ambassador, Reagan McDoodle Wilkins.

Not to be outdone, my daughter Alexandra insisted that Randy help her assemble her Duplo train. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

More Painting

It's sort of frustrating trying to photograph the interior painting of cars under most of the lighting conditions we have available, so all I can say is that you have to see it for yourself.  Let me know when you want a guided tour.  Today I pulled out the cars again to continue on the 319's interior.

You've heard of a round peg in a square hole, I imagine.  The light fixture in the corner (above) is unique; all the other fixtures are square.

Tim has been making his usual astounding progress on the 1754.  The woodwork on this end is nearly complete.

Our exalted Executive Director proudly shows off a check from a model railroad company that contracted with us to make models of the UP turbine.  This check covers about half the cost of putting the turbine inside. You really have to admire Buzz Morrisette; almost as soon as he's finished painting the acres of surface on the three units, it's time to start going around again.  I couldn't stand it.  But once the turbine is inside, that won't be necessary.  As usual, you can help! 

A lot of switching was going on.  Here are the NYC redbirds.

And then, another passenger car.

The 749 was holding down a single-car Mundelein local.

A few hours later, the 1754 was partly painted with a first finish coat.

Some of our revenue crew: Nick Espevik on the 3142, and Zach Ehlers on the 749.

Max was busy pumping water and mud out of the manhole.

By the end of the day, about half of the remaining part of the 319 was repainted.  You'll have to take my word for it, but it looks a lot better.

And finally, a look at just a bit of what the B&G guys are doing.  The entrance ramps for the Schroeder Store are being put together.