Saturday, March 31, 2018

Labor Relations at IRM

I had some serious grievances about the awful working conditions at IRM and the way management was mistreating me, so between tricks, I went to the local rep for my particular museum craft union, the Brotherhood of United Misrepair Specialists, to complain.

He was very friendly and helpful, but after listening to my maudlin tales of woe, he said that this was too serious for him to address, so he referred me to the Vice President of the Brotherhood.   When I went to the VP's office, however, the reception was not quite what I expected:

I went ahead and made my complaints, however.  I was afraid this might make him lose his head.

Which in fact happened, but after some discussion we both came to an agreement and were a lot happier.  That's why you want to have an expert handling your labor relations.  So I have decided to keep working and not go on strike.  Whew!

(Note: This was posted a day early, due to a schedule conflict with an important religious holiday.   After all, we wouldn't want to create Mass confusion.)

Hop To It

Today was our first Annual Bunny Trolley Hop, and a good time was had by all, as far as we can tell.  As my buddy Roger Kramer would say, we had "many numerous people" helping out with the festivities.  Numerous volunteers are the best sort to have!  While the weather was not what we would have wanted, things went very well due to excellent planning.

As usual at IRM, the high-level management people are involved with hands-on activity.
Here we have our CEO:

And our CFO: 

...helping make this an enjoyable experience for the visitors.  In the morning, it was rather dark and dreary.  Here we see people lining up at Central Avenue to board the streetcars.  Harold Krewer is directing the operations from his mobile command center.

Later in the day, the sun came out on a part-time basis.

In addition to the streetcar ride, these 4000's were parked on track 11 for the coloring activities, and a Rock Island car on track 12 for the Easter Bunny portraits.  The heated cars helped take the edge off the cold and damp weather.

Inside the 4000:

As for the Easter Bunny, more on that in a later post.  The Easter egg hunt was supposed to take place out in the turntable yard, I believe, which explains the temporary fence seen here:

But due to the weather it was held in Barn 7 instead.

  Hmm, finding an egg is not going to be easy:

Preliminary indications are that the event went very well, and we will probably do this again next year.  Some changes will be made, of course, but a lot of credit goes to all the people who made this a success.  There's no telling what lengths people will go to in order to help the Museum.  Meanwhile...

There's work to be done, so let's hop to it!   (as my father would say)

I spent most of the day sanding down the other side of the 308.  Since it's against the wall of the barn, photography is difficult, but it would never be very exciting anyway.

By the end of the day, we're ready for paint on the grey and red parts of this side.

And of course there are lots of other Car Dept. projects in progress.

John is working on new windows for the 68.  Here he is using a nail gun to attach the moldings.

Nick continues work on the 4410.  They needed to replace a brake cut-out valve.  That worked fine, except that in the process of disconnecting the piping, the pipe that runs down through the Mastipave floor developed a leak, so it has to be replaced.  He says, however, that the control system works fine and has no air leaks, so good progress is being made.

Tim shows off the new windows sills on the 1754:

Victor and Bill continue to work on the Pennsy bobber.  Victor was on his way back from Barn 10 with a paint brush to be cleaned, and realized he could stop off at Barn 8 and wipe the unwanted black paint onto parts of the CGW snow plow that needed touch-up.  Nothing wasted!

Bill was working on a controller cover for the 1754, among other things.

Jon Fenlaciki continues to work on roof parts for the 65.  Today he finished assembling the fuse box.

I had a collection of controller parts that had been stored in the 321 and rusted badly.  I spent a little time cleaning them up.

And Buzz wanted me to show off the new guard for the big bandsaw.   The previous version allowed you to stick your fingers through the guard.  Safety First!   Buzz also says he believes this guard was an add-on to begin with: when it was used at the TM shops, it probably had no guard at all.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Johnson Photo Collection

Note: The Johnson Historical Photo Collection is back on-line, thanks to our friends at Slide-Chart.  They deserve a lot of credit for keeping this valuable resource available to all of us.

Noblesville in 1979

As part of the historical record, here are the slides from my first visit to Noblesville, in April 1979.

At that time it was the Indiana Museum of Transport and Communications, or IMOTAC, a catchy acronym we still sometimes use in preference to ITM.  The storage barn was the only structure on the museum grounds, which generally looked like our material yard, or worse.  With a few exceptions, the traction collection was an assortment of derelicts.

In its early days IMOTAC collected a wide variety of equipment of various sorts.  On this visit there was no one on the property when I arrived.  The gate was open so I drove in and wandered around for almost an hour.  Finally a couple of guys showed up and started working on some machinery in the yard.   They didn't know anything about the railroad collection; they were sawmill fans!

CA&E 308 was inside the barn; it was quite dark, so this picture is not very good.  This is the #1 end, next to a CTA 4000.  The #2 end is the one that was disassembled, but that was against the rear wall of the barn.  Work on the car had stopped several years before this, I believe, and basically nothing had changed by 1996 when we were able to purchase it.

The CRANDIC locomotive, #55, built by Detroit United Railways:

The body of the Indianapolis streetcar.  I believe it is still sitting in the same exact location.  

The body of Union Traction 429 (maybe), the Noblesville:

The body of Indianapolis & Cincinnati 606, later Union Traction/IRR 447:

And the body of THI&E 81, a 1902 Jewett combine:

North Shore car 172, which is privately owned, was at the door.  It was probably still operational at that time.   You will notice that IMOTAC had already started collecting Amtrak heritage cars.

The Twin Branch battery locomotive was out in the yard.  Behind it is the fence marking the park boundary, and beyond that the Nickel Plate main line.

Finally, one of the steam road cars, a NYC obs car, the Sandy Creek.

Of course, I wish now I had taken a lot more!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Wednesday Report

Wednesday is always a busy, productive day at IRM.  I'm trying to think of a way we could have two Wednesdays per week to get more done.   Help me out here.  Anyway...

First, I brought out the repainted and lettered headlight switch cover and the buzzer, and installed them at the #1 end of the 319.  Having an effective buzzer is another step forward.

Then it was back to painting the 308.  This picture shows what the grey paint looks like before:

I finished the grey on what is now the north side of the car:

  I had ambitions of turning the car around to start on the other side, but decided to do the red stripes instead.  This shows the upper stripe:

And the lower.  Probably another coat will be needed.

And taking a few breaks, I was able to capture several other active projects.
  Jack Biesterfeld continues work on the windows for the 109:

Pete Galayda is assembling the train door for the Class B:

Dave Rogan and Victor are assembling the wood for the bunk in the cabin car:

Paul was washing some cars in Barn 7 with the Museum's portable power washer.  I like the signs.

Tim continues work on the 1754.  Here he is assembling parts for the rebuilt side sill:

Finally, John Arroyo continues work on the Electroliner.   Ed is out of town, I believe.  John is almost done with cleaning up everything in the cramped confines of the oddly-shaped motorman's compartment.  Just getting a reasonable picture is difficult.

This Saturday IRM will be having a new event for this year, the "Bunny Trolley Hop".  Tickets are already sold out and will not be available at the gate.  Sorry.  I'm afraid you'll have to wait until next year to participate, unless you've outgrown your love of hunting Easter eggs by then.  But we will try to get some pictures of the activity and bring them to you here.  

Monday, March 26, 2018

A day of streetcars

Frank writes...

I didn't have a particular project in mind for Sunday, but there was plenty going on when I showed up so I ended up helping out on a few different things. As luck would have it, they all had to do with streetcars in our collection. Not that there's anything wrong with streetcars!

First off, Joel needed the trolley rope at the west end of the 972 replaced, as the one on the car was badly frayed. So relatively new volunteers Cliff, his son Lucas, and I all trooped over to Barn 7 to pull the old rope off the car and install a new one. Fortunately the car's trolley catcher cooperated and we didn't have to wind it back up.
While we were working on this, Richard, Greg, and Zach were switching 'L' cars in preparation for next weekend's Bunny Trolley Hop event. The event will need a pair of 4000s spotted as 50th Avenue to serve as a warming station and the place where kids will meet the Easter Bunny, but the 2000s were located in between the two 4000s on track 72. So they needed to be switched out of the way. Here the 2000s head back towards the barn after the 4000s were coupled up (to each other, not to the 2000s although the photo may make it look that way). Just like Skokie!
The result was that, coincidentally, all of the cars that will be used for the Easter event were lined up in Barn 7. A crew of people was out on Saturday decorating the 3142 and 415 for the event, as they will be the cars that will actually be giving people rides.
After that, Richard, Greg, Zach, and Thomas headed off to take the 251 for a test trip to try and run in its new main journal bearing. I stayed behind to "help" Joel with inspection work on the 141, pictured above. This involved checking the car's motors (this was pretty easy, as they were rebuilt just a few years ago and you could eat off the insides of the motor cases), adjusting the throw levers for the hand-operated folding doors, and fiddling with the governor. The car's governor, which is a GE style MJ, may need to be taken apart and cleaned up as the solenoid seems to be hanging up. The result is that it takes too long to cut in and too long to cut out, so it doesn't prevent the car from running safely, it's just not ideal.
After a few test trips the 251 returned to the pit lead, where the journal box was jacked up and the new bearing removed. It worked okay but was still running a little warm, so here Richard gently scrapes the bearing to remove a small amount of the babbitt from the high spots that were causing the slight overheating. Greg is to the right. After this was done the bearing was put back into the car and that crew departed again to do another test trip, of course taking a long the handy laser thermometer to keep a close eye on the bearing temperature.
And with the 251 off the pit, and the 141's inspection done other than the work on the governor, I helped Joel switch the West Towns car back to its normal spot in Barn 7. Since the 141 isn't scheduled to run until late May, and since we'll want to remove its governor for repair, it was buried behind CTA 3142, CSL 144, and Milwaukee 972. Above is the West Towns car on the tail track as the sun sets.
And here's the trusty old 144. This car is going in for its annual inspection soon. It's a great car, really the quintessential CSL streetcar, but boy is it tired. However Pullman built them to last back in 1908 and it's scheduled to be out carrying the crowds for the Thomas event in July. Switch moves like this can be pretty rewarding; I love seeing all of the red Chicago cars moving through the yard. It always makes me feel like I'm at North Avenue car house, or somewhere like it, 80 years ago.
Besides the work mentioned above there was other progress being made Sunday as well. Cliff and Lucas were working on repainting wheel rims for a trolley bus; Jeff was repairing floor boards for the baggage compartment of Michigan Electric 28; Shelby was sorting materials in the technical library; and Tim was putting primer on more wood parts for the 1754. Above he primes a piece which supports the window sill; behind him to the right are an entire car's worth of new window sills and associated exterior trim, while off camera to the left are a stack of cap strips for the windows. He proudly pointed out that a week ago all of these parts were still rough lumber at Owl Hardwood.