Monday, December 31, 2018

Highlights of 2018

It's time once again to celebrate as we review the accomplishments of the past year.   As always, additions and corrections are welcome!    ♪ Should auld acquaintance....   

  • Removing the old gift shop cars from depot area
  • Acquisition: North Shore car 172
  • Rock Island Geep, FP45 repainted (as shown on calendar)
  • As usual, operations proceeded smoothly and safely during the year, thanks to our operating department.
  • Pumpkin Day, Milwaukee Day
  • WGN morning news visited IRM, and their coverage included the 308 and 309
  • Heavy rains over Labor Day weekend washed out what would have been one of our most popular events, but there was no permanent damage and operations resumed quickly.
  • The Steam Team have kept the 1630 operational, completed work on the Shay 
  • Several cars were repainted
  • And last but by no means least, Museum attendance was up again this year, if only slightly.  General admissions increased and Happy Holiday Railway admissions nearly doubled, up by about 93%.  That's good news!

Doodlebug Report

Another update from Gregg Wolfersheim on his continuing work on the Union Pacific doodlebug:

Here we have the opening for the left side stepwell being prepped.

These are two new sides that were made years ago by another volunteer at the museum. The originals were rusted and damaged from some sort of accident before IRM got the car.

Step number 2 and 4 have been fitted. All four steps and their backs had to be straightened out and primed, first.

All four steps and the backs are in. Some spot priming has been applied to the hardware, too.

Another view of the stepwell, and the hinge bracket for the trap. That also required fabricating a plate to attach it to the carbody.  Next is rewiring the interior lighting circuits while we can get to them easily. Also, some more work is in progress  with the windows and their tracks.

Snowflake Special at Night

Here's a brief pictorial revue of the night-time run of this year's SnowFlake Special.  A good time was had by all.  The holiday train is certainly different.  Here it is at the Harlem and Lake terminal.

All the CTA employees involved were very friendly and helpful.  Here, for example, is the supervisor for the trip, John Zupko.

We even had a photo runby, which is not easy to do when there's lots of regular service going on.  This is on the reverse curve at Sheridan on the North-South line.

There was a slight delay at Howard when an unauthorized person got on the tracks, but this was handled very quickly and efficiently by the CTA and the local police and firemen. 

A photo stop at the Conservatory station on the Lake St. line:

So we even had a nice nighttime view of the Garfield Park Conservatory.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Worlds' Greatest Hobby Show

The Worlds' Greatest Hobby train show will be held in Schaumburg once again on Jan. 5th and 6th, 2019.  The management of the show has generously given IRM a free booth at the show, and we need to have some members on hand both days to hand out flyers and calendars, answer questions about IRM, and encourage people to visit and/or become volunteers.  We've done this before, in 2008 and 2012.  See, for example, this report.

If you can help out, please contact Nick Kallas.  A uniform of some sort would be good.  The hours are 10-6 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday.  If you can be there for only part of the day, that's fine.  If there are enough people on hand, you can take turns wandering around the show and viewing all the exhibits.  And we have a good location near the entrance, next to Walthers.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Greetings

Piero di Cosimo, c. 1485
Madonna and Child Enthroned with Sts. Peter, John the Baptist, Dominic, and Nicholas of Bari 

And this year, we have a brand new feature to go along with our occasional ventures into the world of fine art -- pictures of the grandchildren!  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Laughing All the Way

Yesterday was the penultimate running of Happy Holiday Railway this year, and it could hardly be more successful.  Nine trains, all sold out.  And then some, I suspect.  But just about everybody seemed to be having a great time.  It's a long day, but the general festive mood helps keep people going.

This is a great accomplishment for the Museum, and all those who have been working tirelessly to make it a success deserve a lot of thanks from all of us.  Many people have spent nearly every day for the last five weekends working on all the various parts of HHR, and it's made a tremendous difference.  Attendance has been growing rapidly, and by the end of today we should have reached another milestone, although I'm not sure the brass hats want me saying exactly what it is.

With the 411 on the head end (above), the train looks especially nice.  The operating crew was too busy and too spread out for me to get a crew picture.  And our Santas and elves all seemed to be doing a great job.  Speaking of which, see if you can tell which is the real Santa:

We'll reveal the answer next week.  Now here's something you seldom see in the middle of winter:

The 4391 was running several trips around the car line when the bilevels were out on the main, mostly for training and qualification purposes.  But they also carried passengers as a bonus.

Speaking of bonus, the Museum is really a special place when it's all lit up after dark.  Here's the Schroeder Store, for instance.  It looks great, but I'm not very good at night photography -- where's O. Winston Link when you need him???

The store is loaded with bargains -- I stopped in and found just what I needed for only $0.79.  And guess who was behind the register?  Dave Diamond, who said (with a laugh) he was being trained as a retail clerk.  The labor shortage must be worse than I thought.

The challenge for next year will be to find a way to increase our capacity for carrying crowds.  And however that happens, it will certainly require even more effort from more volunteers.  Between now and then, however, the best minds in the business will be pondering the possibilities.  So we'll see what they come up with.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Happy Holidays!

Today was another productive and enjoyable day out at the Museum.  Everybody seemed to be in a festive holiday mood, and why not?  Among other good news, Happy Holiday Railway continues to be a big success for the Museum, and we could still use another trainman or two this weekend.   But let's turn to activities in the Car Department.

First of all, I got a chance to see the new bearings for the 309, which Bob Sundelin has milled so that the two halves fit together perfectly.  I measured the inside diameters both in the plane of the split and transverse, and it looks like we will not need shims.  It should be possible to start machining the inside surface as soon as the two halves are soldered together.

So naturally I'm very happy about that.  What a nice present!
Photo by Jon Fenlaciki
And today was the Wednesday group's annual holiday luncheon, always a high point of the year.  Thanks to everyone who contributed time and talent to make this a success!

Who could ask for a more elegant ambiance?

 Several projects were active, so here's just a sample.   John Sheldon is making new windows for the 306.  And here he is, trying not to get too much sawdust on the food.

And some of the wood stacked up.  Part of this is for the 1754.

Chuck Meter is doing heavy rebuilding work on a truck for the Cleveland PCC.

The 141 was over the pit.  It needs a few adjustments, and we plan to have it in regular operation on the car line this year.  And in other exciting news, the L car contingent are working to get the Baldy operational.   Here we see Thomas Slater and Nick Day testing out the control system.   There are some air leaks which need to be fixed, but the electrical system on the whole is in good condition.  Now that the floor has been fixed, the car is close to completion. 

But don't just take my word for it.  Here, you can watch the control system in operation:

Finally, I spent some time helping Gerry on the 972.   He authorized me to say the following:

The 972 has serious structural problems, and will not be operational again for a long time.  For the time being, we want to stabilize the car and make it possible to move it if necessary.  One bolster has partly collapsed, and the other is on the point of collapse.  But it doesn't make sense to replace either bolster if the entire substructure is weak, due to serious rust over the years.  The only solution would be to remove the floor, replace basically all the structural parts underneath, and put it back together.   That is not going to happen anytime soon.   I hope that's clear enough.  So please don't start pestering us about when it's going to run again.

Anyway, here are some pictures of what we did today.   Gerry came up with a plan to force the broken bolster more or less back together with a couple of steel plates held together with large threaded rods.  Before we start, you can see that the top chord of the bolster is sticking up way above the floor.   Essentially the car body on this side has sunk down, and is barely above the wheels.

Now we need to bring the two plates together, using a car jack and chain.  

Meanwhile, we also jack up on the lower plate from below.  In this picture, you may be able to see how far apart the two halves of the bolster are.  The two of us working together were able to jack up the body and get it more or less level again, tighten up the bolts, and so on.  Several steps are omitted here because I can't do everything at once.

And I hope this final picture shows that the bolster is much close to the plane of the floor.  We'll let the car relax for a few days, then keep working.  The root cause of this problem is that the car was designed with the smallest possible structural support, which then was exposed to heavy salt on the streets of Milwaukee, causing much of it to rust to the point of failure.  So for the foreseeable future the car will be displayed inoperable.  It still looks nice, though.

Finally, our old friend Thomas Cornillie sends along a scan you'll want to read:

Oops, did you miss this trip?   So did I, although I don't remember exactly why.  But in any case, we have another Snowflake Special scheduled this year, and tickets are still available.  Don't let another fantastic opportunity like this get away!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Monthly News Report

Happy Holiday Railway Now Running
Start a new family tradition this year and take a magical train ride with Santa at the Illinois Railway Museum! Tickets are now on sale and trips are selling out quickly, so make sure to reserve your seat today. There's a lot more news in East Union as well:
  • Tickets for Happy Holiday Railway are now on sale on our website
  • Tickets for the Snowflake Special are now available on our website
  • J. Neils Lumber 5 approved for revenue service
  • Pumpkin Train Successful
  • North Shore Electroliner Update
  • Do you buy on Amazon? If so, you can support IRM with just the click of a button 
  • Memberships for 2019 are now on sale
Visit us online for schedules, blog updates, and more

Happy Holiday Railway tickets

Bring the whole family for an unforgettable holiday experience! This event features a magical train ride with Santa, cookies and hot chocolate, gifts, carols, plus train displays and holiday lights. Trains run weekends through December 23rd and advance purchase is strongly recommended. Walk-up sales are extremely limited.
Click here for tickets and information

Snowflake Special

Do you and your family enjoy riding CTA’s Holiday Train, but not the crowds or the standing-room-only experience? The members of the Illinois Railway Museum invite you to join them as they tour CTA’s rapid transit system on December 30th. Each ticketed rider will have a seat for the entire trip. Each trip is planned to travel to the City’s North, South, and West Sides, as well as downtown, with different lines to be covered on the two trips. Click here for tickets and information.

J. Neils Lumber 5 approved for revenue service

The Steam Team reached a huge milestone on October 28th when J. Neils Lumber 5, our Shay steam locomotive, was tested and approved for revenue service. It was the same day as the end of our regular season, but the Shay will be in regular operation in 2019 along with Frisco 1630. It will be the first time this millennium that IRM has had two of its steam engines in service.

Pumpkin Train Successful

Our first Pumpkin Train event, held on October 20-21, went very well and saw better than expected attendance despite some unusually wintry weather. Nearly a thousand people took the opportunity to pick up their pumpkins by train! If you weren't able to make it to the museum for the event, don't worry - the Pumpkin Train will be back again in 2019.

North Shore Electroliner Update

Restoration work has accelerated on the North Shore "Electroliner," our 1941 streamlined interurban train set. The train's trucks and motors are now completely rebuilt and ready for use. Meanwhile contractors are repairing and replacing components in the car's articulation joints in preparation for placing the train back onto its trucks and IRM volunteers are working to reassemble the train's interior and repair its windows. Watch our website and Facebook page for news on this exciting project.

Your Purchases Help IRM

If you shop on Amazon, your purchases can help support IRM's restoration activities. IRM participates in the Amazon Smile program, through which a portion of all your purchases is donated to the museum. There's no cost to you; just select IRM from or for a direct link click here. And thank you!

2019 Memberships Now On Sale

One of the best ways you can support IRM and its preservation activities is by becoming a member. You'll get free admission all year, gift shop discounts, access to special events for members, and our quarterly news magazine "Rail & Wire." An IRM membership also makes a great gift! Sign up online to be a part of IRM
Visit us online for schedules, blog updates, and more