Tuesday, February 27, 2018

For sale: G12 train set, lightly used

IRM is selling a Miniature Train & Railroad Company G12 train set, pictured above, dating to 1952. It's gas-powered, runs on 12" gauge track, is complete, and ran as recently as 2010. The train is stored indoors (next to the 321, in fact). If you're looking for the perfect compliment to your amusement park or backyard, or know someone who is, please check out and/or forward along these links:

The auction ends this Friday, March 2nd, so act now!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Sunday update

Frank writes...

Sunday was pretty busy in the car shop. Most of the activity centered around two 'L' cars on the pit track, 4410 and wood trailer 1268, the latter of which was over the pit. A group including Richard, Joel, Greg, Jeron, and Chris from the steam shop, who was helping out for the day as part of his application for regular membership, were all working on running some new control wires. Some of the wiring from the controller at one end had shorted out so new wires needed to be pulled from the controller at that end to the junction box. Unlike the CA&E cars, where the wires from the controller go to a junction box under the platform and from there to the contactor box, on the 1268 there's just one junction box in the middle of the car. That means the conduit has some creative bends in it - and if the wiring has been in there for many decades, pulling it out can be interesting.

And so it was. Here Chris, Joel, and Richard take a look at the junction box before wire pulling started. By the end of the day they had to start disassembling the conduit as the old, stiff wire couldn't be pulled intact through the kinks and bends in the conduit. Stay tuned.

In other 'L' car news, Thomas and Nick were continuing to work on sprucing up the interior of CTA 4410. I failed to get any photos of their work but Nick was working inside the car while Thomas was out in the barn wire-wheeling standee grabs. And in other news, Doodlebug Bob was machining something on one of the mills while Norm was bolting more steel together on Michigan 28. The regular 'Liner crew was over in the end car doing interior work there too. And Zach was hard at work on North Shore 757; besides finishing up interior painting in the smoker he also repainted the correct air horns for the car, which were discovered in one of our parts cars.

As for me, I mostly puttered around the 18. A couple of the seat cushions in the car were badly ripped but we also received a couple of spares. I was able to swap one spare in to replace a ripped cushion; the second spare will need a bit of work to get it to fit right. I also attached some additional hardware to secure the seat cushions that had been installed last week.
And then there was this. Years before car 18 came to IRM, its keepers in Cleveland, in their wisdom, decided to take one of the large Masonite ceiling panels near the back of the car down. I'm not sure why this was necessary - all of the other ceiling panels are kind of wavy due to years of moisture but they're intact and fine where they are for the moment. This panel was left in the center aisle sitting upright, where it acquired some impressive waves and bends, plus the seat backs it was leaning against managed to punch through the Masonite. So it's now basically useless. I was hoping to reattach it to the ceiling for the time being, mostly to get it out of the aisle, and a group including Greg, Zach, and Nick went over to the car to try and lift it into place. But it's just too warped to secure in the ceiling. So instead we took it out of the car so it can be measured and a replacement panel made. The holes down the center are for vents plus one for a light fixture; all of these parts are in storage. I also spoke to Joel about the possibility of switching the 18 somewhere it can be under wire, as we are hoping to get the car running depending on the condition of its air and control systems.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Where Wide Gauge is a Good Thing

Our official Canadian Field Reporter Zach Ehlers sends this report from a recent visit to the wintry north...

Normally, at IRM, any time that the track gauge gets much wider than 4'8.5", we're in for a bad time. This past weekend was much the exception when four of us from the Electric Car Shop ventured north to Toronto over the weekend of February 17th and 18th. Toronto still has an extensive streetcar system, as well as a lengthy subway. The gauge for the system is a wider than normal 4'10.875". Attendees taking in the wide gauge included Richard Schauer, Greg Kepka, Thomas Slater, and myself.

The main event on Saturday was Winterfest at the Halton County Radial Railway. All barns were open for inspection, and a number of cars were operating for guest motormen. In all, they had 2 Peter Witts, a PCC Rail Grinder, a Plow, a Snow Sweeper, and an Interurban car. HCRR operates on an interesting staff system, whereby fleets of up to 3 cars operate at a time on the railway, each possessing a piece of the staff relating to their position in the convoy.

First up was a ride on Plow TP-11, built by National Steel Car in 1946 for the TTC.

Peter Witt 2424 was hot on our heels, and followed us into the loop at the east end of the line.

On the way back to the main property, Richard was the first motorman among our group, running TP-11.

Next we come to the Peter Witt cars. Toronto had at least two varieties, these nicknamed "Small Witt" and "Large Witt" for their respective size.

Large Witt 2424 (built in 1921 by Canadian Car and Foundry) is a pretty attractive car in TTC Maroon and Cream.

I ran Small Witt 2894 out on our second lap of the railway...

...And Thomas ran back.

Next up was snow sweeper S-37, which was built by Russell in 1920.

The interior is relatively cramped, with a traction motor for each broom taking up most of the space in the carbody.

And here we see Greg sweeping up the streets of Toronto, or rather the HCRR mainline.

The 5th car running on Saturday was London and Port Stanley Railway car #8, an imposing 1500v interurban car built by Jewett in 1915. This car is one year younger than CA&E 319 and 321 (built by Jewett in 1914), and really represents a shift in carbuilding methodology during those years. Compared to the CA&E cars which were almost entirely wood, this car is almost entirely steel from the roof to the floor.

This car was subject to a thorough restoration years ago, and it still looks pretty fresh and taken care of. The 6th and final car which was running Saturday was TTC W-30, a former Cleveland PCC car which was sold secondhand to Toronto and later became part of a rail grinding train on TTC. Remarkably, none of us managed to get any photos of it! So on to the barns we go.

This is inside Barn 2, one of the two display barns on the property. Much of the operating street railway equipment is also stored here.

This is 4000, the first Air Electric PCC buit for TTC in 1938 by the St. Louis Car Company. Toronto was at one time the largest operator of PCC streetcars, eventually having 745 bought new or secondhand.

Rubber tire transportation is also represented by this 1945 Ford Transit bus.

Connected to Barn 2 is Barn 4, a large barn containing more displayed cars and other goodies. One item reminded us a bit of home, CTA 1-50 #48. HCRR acquired it as representative of the cars TTC originally planned to purchase for their first subway, something very similar to a CTA 6000. They went a quite different direction as we'll see in a moment.

Next to 48 are a pair of Subway cars, 5300 and 5301, built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1962 for TTC's Bloor Danforth Subway line. These cars are significant for being the first subway cars built in Canada.

And then we come to 5098 and 5099, representative of what TTC did end up acquiring for their first subway (the Yonge St Subway). They really did go for a polar opposite to Chicago style PCC cars; these were built by the Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Works in the UK in 1954. These cars are a bit worn. They run, but for many years they lived outside at HCRR.

The UK influence is very evident in the (left-handed) cab.

Montreal & Southern Counties 107 is a combine built in 1912 by the Ottawa Car Manufacturing Company.

This is 1326, the first car acquired by HCRR in 1954. It was homebuilt by TTC predecessor Toronto Railway in 1910.

1326 has an interesting interior arrangement, mostly bench seating with a section of transverse seats.

And here's a glimpse inside HCRR's shop building. Behind the line truck is 416, a suburban car built by Ottawa that's been the subject of an ongoing restoration. The PCC in the center is All-Electric 4611. Our time at HCRR was drawing to a close at this point, but we made one more stop near the front gate to view a few more subjects.

HCRR has a few trolley buses in their collection. These are all Hamilton buses, from left to right:

7801, a 1978 Flyer E-800B dual-mode trolleybus with a Volkswagen engine driving a generator in the back, and recycled motor and controls from 1940s-era trolleybuses.  This type of coach ran until the end of service in 1992.

732, a 1951 CCF-Brill, similar to IRM's Vancouver 2340.

765, a 1973 Flyer E-700A, similar to IRM's Toronto 9339 (which also lived
at HCRR for several years).

7802, a parts bus for 7801.

Also out front was L2, one of 3 electric locomotives built by Canadian General Electric for the London and Port Stanley Railway in 1915. It's placed in a prominent location near the road that certainly commandeers attention from passing motorists.

Here ended our day at HCRR. We moved on to the Royal Canadian Legion that evening for a dinner put on for Winterfest, followed by a slide show thoroughly covering 80 years of PCC cars in Toronto. Stay tuned for our further escapades on Sunday, coming soon.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Progress on car 18

Frank writes...

Sunday was my first day out at IRM in about a month and fortunately I was able to make some reasonable progress on Shaker Heights 18. My twin goals for the day were, first, to complete re-installation of the #5 and #6 seats (the fifth and sixth cross seats from the front on the door side); and second, to do some cleaning and straightening. Here's the before picture.
Car 18 was almost entirely complete when we acquired it but a couple of portions of its interior had been disassembled by Trolleyville. One area was the removal of a large ceiling panel near the back of the car, a panel which will likely need to be replaced as it was left in the aisle standing upright and "settled" by cracking and splitting in several places. Another was removal of seats #5 and #6 and removal of the cabinet just inside the forward door, visible over the farebox. This had been done, I suspect, because the steel riser sheet under the cabinet was badly rusted out. The panel and cabinet having been replaced, it was time to put the seats back in.
I know, I know - you can barely contain your excitement! Fortunately the cushions for these seats were stored in the car. On the left transverse bar there's a hole in the center; on this car the seat cushions are bolted down through this hole and a hole in a metal bracket attached to the bottom of the cushion. That's different from CA&E practice, say, where the cushions just sit on the frame. Anyway, here's the after picture. It almost looks ready for service!
I swept and straightened the front half of the car and the drop center section but not the back half, where access is made difficult by that huge ceiling panel mentioned earlier taking up a good portion of the aisle. We'll need to decide whether we want to temporarily re-mount that panel or just replace it right away, if we can order a Masonite sheet large enough. I mentioned earlier that the car is almost entirely complete; one of the "almost" items is one of the seat panels on the center section bench seat, shown below. These are concave-profile bench seats so, while we actually got a couple of spare cushions for the cross seats, none will fit this location. Hmm.
I also took a couple of close-up shots of the unusual pattern on the car's window frames. While the interior paneling and trim all seems to be stained-and-varnished in pretty normal fashion, all of the windows have this odd mottled look to them.
The above photo was taken of the window behind the conductor's position; the below photo of a window across from the conductor. Both show places where the finish has been worn down to show a beige (or similar) color underneath the visible finish. This is an example of faux-grained wood, where the wooden window was painted with a light color then stained (with stain or thinned paint I suppose?) and grained to give it the desired finish.
A while back I read an interesting article here about using this process to give doors an oak look. Anyone ever seen an article showing how to reproduce the mottled look shown here?
Other than that, there were a few other people working in the car shop. Good Nick was working on cleaning up a magnet valve for CTA 4410's line switch. Above are shown a couple of tools used in this work; on the left is a tool sized for a group switch magnet valve, while on the right is one sized for the larger magnet valve used in the line switch. These are used to disassemble the coil and the one on the right was constructed just this weekend.
Joel continues his massive project to reconfigure the shop itself. Here he looks with satisfaction on the two test racks in the air brake room, complete with newly-built bench in between them. The 3T rack in the back is used to test triple valves while the 3UE rack in the foreground tests universal valves. Other equipment in the air brake room includes the recently-restored air gauge tester, which was used to calibrate the gauges on the 3UE rack, and the glad-hand installer.
And finally, from the Tim Peters Department, some freshly painted doors for the 1754. I assume these are train doors. This is one sharp paint scheme!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Beware of the Blob!

Today was a relatively slow Saturday, probably due to the weather. Nevertheless, there were several active projects being worked on.

I started doing some more work on windows for the Cleveland center-entrance car, 1218.   Or just 18.  Results so far have not been encouraging; there are just too many layers of paint on the wood.  And the construction of the windows with steel channels attached with wood screws leads to problems.  So that's a challenge, but we shall never surrender.

There were several people working on usual projects that I didn't manage to photograph:  Jack Biesterfeld and Bob Olsen were working on windows for Coach Dept. cars, for instance.  Vincent and Bill continue to work on the Pennsy cabin car.

Here Dan Buck is fixing up the cover for the contactor box on the 1754:

I also did some work on installing the recently rebuilt part of one of the controllers on car 36.  It was modified by Rich Schauer and Gerry Dettloff, and needed some minor adjustments, but it now appears to be working correctly.  I need to wind the return spring up more tightly, but ran out of patience assembling and disassembling the whole thing, but that will happen by May.  I promise.

Tim Peters is off the DL and back at work.  Here are the results of stripping wood on the interior of the 1754.  The number over the doorway is obvious.

And over that is the original Jewett builder's herald, or what's left of it.  This reminded me that we have a number of decals of this type made many years ago.  We can't remember who made them, perhaps either Roger Hewett or George Campbell, but in any case I was given several of them, on the theory that they would look nice in the 321 (or 319).  They wouldn't be correct for the most recent paint scheme, but I still had them in storage.  So they are free to a good home.

It looks like the decals are slightly too large, and there are minor differences in the style of lettering, but they're better than nothing.  Tim and Bill will have to decide what they want to do.

Buzz was repainting windows for the North Shore 1003, helped by Lorne.

And I installed one more armrest in the 309, so that job is complete for now.

A friend of ours recently posted, and I quote: "The blob is a private entity owned by Randy and Frank Hicks."  Now I like to think of the blob as something that at least has a sense of humor, something like the Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati.  But still, it's our private entity, and if you don't watch out, we might send it after you!!!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Historic photos from the IRM archives

Thanks to Thomas Slater, who has been going through some of the Electric Car Department archive files, we have a random assortment of photos that have turned up. These were mostly taken on the CTA during the 1950s and 1960s.

Notice: These photographs are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.

The first three photos show a North Shore battery locomotive delivering a pair of CTA 6000s to Skokie Shops. No photographer or date is listed but it's thought these were taken c1954-1956.

Here's Met car 2865, built 1906 by Pullman and identical to 2872 and 2888 preserved at IRM, somewhere in the Loop. No photographer or date; likely late 1940s or early 1950s.

Car 3121 is an ex-Lake Street Elevated car, built by Pullman in 1894 and initially a steam-hauled trailer; like the Met car photo, no photographer or date is listed but it's likely late 1940s/early 1950s.

The next photos show CTA 2003-2004, the second pair of 2000s, at Skokie immediately after delivery in 1964. No photographer is listed.

CTA S-104 is one of two Baldwin-Westinghouse steeplecabs the "L" owned for operating freight trains on the North Side Elevated. Its sister, S-105, is preserved at IRM while S-104 is in private ownership and stored in Michigan City, Indiana. Photographer and date unknown but thought to be Skokie Shops.

Here's a photo of one of our cars: CTA 4321 is pictured on February 7, 1966 in this Ed Mizerocki photo. This car came to IRM in 1978 and is currently stored in Barn 11 if memory serves.

And then we have a series of mishap photos. Ed Mizerocki took the below photo on February 2, 1966 showing cars 4306 and 4381. The latter appears to have had a fire over the truck, possibly due to a third rail short.

Car 1779 is shown in 1951 at Wilson Shops following a fire. This car was built in 1908 by Jewett (a later series than car 1754 at IRM) and was one of the last wood cars built new for the Northwestern Elevated. Photo by Ed Mizerocki.

Well, that's embarrassing. Another Ed Mizerocki photo from 1951 shows quite an "oops" - CTA "Baldy" 4119 derailed in the Wilson yard.

The next two photos, taken on April 21, 1958, show an experimental air-conditioning unit that was fitted to the roof of CTA 6669. Both photos by Ed Mizerocki.

And the final group of photos, with no photographer listed, is a bit more sobering. These photos show the aftermath of the November 5, 1956 Wilson collision (more info here), when a train of CTA 6000s ran into the rear of a stopped train of North Shore standard cars at the Wilson Avenue platform. Eight people were killed and some 200 injured, nearly all on the "L" train, which was badly telescoped due to the much heavier construction of the North Shore train. The first two photos show the catastrophic damage to the lead CTA car, 6288, while the last two show the comparatively modest damage to the rear North Shore car of the train, Pullman 746. Car 6288 actually was put back into service, though, by the device of grafting the front end of fire-damaged car 6271 onto 6288.