Friday, August 31, 2018

CA&E Scrapbook

As mentioned earlier, Chuck Lind donated a scrapbook of CA&E paperwork and photos that he collected back in 1962.  Here's a small sample of what we have.  This book will be placed in the Strahorn Library.

There's a large collection of blank forms used by the railroad, many of which I am unable to remove from the book for scanning.   But even a small railroad like the CA&E had a lot of paperwork involved in running the business.

And then there are many pictures of the Wheaton yards in 1962.  The north yard tracks:

Cars 456 and 453 in front of the shop:

Car 36:

Cars 320 and 36 on the mainline, waiting to be moved out for preservation:

Those that weren't so lucky:

This structure doesn't look familiar to me.  I'm not sure where it was:

September Newsletter

Nighttime train rides this weekend only
This Saturday and Sunday, September 1st & 2nd, IRM is offering a special treat: trains will operate until 9:30pm both nights, offering a unique and immersive "time travel" experience. Frisco 1630 will be running into the evening both nights. If you've never seen a steam engine at night, don't miss this chance!
Featured in this e-newsletter:
    • Happy Holiday Railway tickets are now on sale - reserve your seat today!
    • Nighttime operations scheduled for Labor Day Weekend
    • Museum Showcase Weekend is September 15-16
    • New project is launched to restore Fox River Electric 306
    • The rubber meets the road - Bus Day is September 29th
    • Steady progress made towards getting Shay 5 operational
    • Your photo could be featured on the museum's 2019 calendar
    • IRM's new Pumpkin Train is coming in October
    • Museum Entrance Building planning and fundraising
    Visit us online for schedules, blog updates, and more

    Happy Holiday Railway

    Tickets for Happy Holiday Railway are on sale for weekends November 24 through December 23. Reserve your seat today - seating is limited and many trips sell out. Create a new family tradition this year and join us for an unforgettable holiday train ride with Santa.
    Click here for information and tickets

    Labor Day Weekend Night Trains

    One of the best times of the year to visit IRM is Labor Day Weekend. On Saturday and Sunday only (September 1st & 2nd), hours are extended until 9:30pm and trains run past dusk and into the night. The diner will be open until 8pm too. If you haven't tried this truly immersive "time machine" experience, make sure to join us this weekend!
    Click here for event information

    Museum Showcase Weekend

    One of the highlights of the operating season is always Showcase Weekend, September 15th-16th this year, when we operate many rarely-seen pieces of equipment and honor the volunteers and members who keep the museum running. The steam engine, Nebraska Zephyr, and many other trains will operate.
    Click for full list of trains scheduled to run

    Restore Fox River Electric 306

    A new project has been launched with the goal of restoring Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 306. This 1923 lightweight interurban car ran closer to IRM in regular service than any other electric we own. Work has begun to complete a stalled restoration effort and get this car running again.
    Click to see how you can help

    Go Off the Rails at Bus Day

    IRM doesn't only preserve trains - we also have one of the largest collections of buses and trolley buses in the country and we're the only museum with a regularly operating trolley bus route. Join us September 29th when the buses come out to provide rides to visitors. The Bus Stop Shop will also be open, selling excess items from the museum's collection.
    Click for more information

    Shay 5 Progress

    The Steam Team continues to make rapid progress in getting the Shay ready for service.
    Adjustments and minor changes have been made following a test steam-up in July and the engine is getting close to being ready for its final inspection. Help is still needed to add this engine to our operating fleet though!
    Click here to help get the Shay running

    Calendar Photos Requested

    We're inviting YOU to submit a photo for our 2019 calendar! We are looking for 11x4 aspect ratio photos (much wider than they are tall) showing railway equipment at IRM. Photos must be in focus and available in high resolution, but we encourage you to submit a medium-res version for initial consideration. You will be credited on the 2019 calendar. By submitting an image you agree to grant IRM the right in perpetuity to use the image in any capacity.
    Click here to e-mail a photo for consideration

    Pumpkin Train in October

    Mark your calendar now - the museum's Pumpkin Train event is coming up on October 20th and 21st. This is a brand new event for 2018. Bring the entire family for a day of Halloween fun at the railway museum while you take the train to pick up your pumpkin!
    Click here for event information

    Museum Entrance Building

    Fundraising has kicked off to build the new Museum Entrance Building. This exciting project will provide not only a permanent public entrance, but indoor exhibit areas, a theater, event space, and an entire block of historic building fronts on our Main Street Scene. Sponsorship opportunities are now available.
    Click here for more information.
    Visit us online for schedules, blog updates, and more
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    Thursday, August 30, 2018

    Labor Day Preparation

    Labor Day weekend is almost here, and that means another of our Museum's annual celebrations.  CA&E cars will be running all three days; we'll use two wood cars unless rain threatens, in which case two steel cars will be used instead.  Either way, you'll get plenty of opportunity to ride and take pictures.  And if you're a blog reader, be sure to stop by and say hello.

    First of all, let's meet some visitors.   Chuck Lind (in the blue shirt) and his friends visited IRM on their way to a Narrow Gauge Convention coming up soon.  Chuck used to live near Elgin, and he wanted to donate a scrapbook filled with CA&E paperwork and pictures he took near the end, in 1962.  He said he was sure his children wouldn't want it, and so he wanted to find a good home for this material.  We certainly appreciate donations of this sort, and when I've had a chance to look through it and scan in some of it, I'll post it here.  Thanks, Chuck!  And of course we encourage anybody else with a collection of historical railroad material to consider donating it to IRM.

    On Sunday evening the CA&E cars will be operating in the dark until 9:30, so I wanted to make sure we're ready.   Here are two marker lights and a tail light, with the burners lit.  

    And even on a Thursday, Car Dept. work continues.   Tim is sanding down various parts of the 1754; you can see where much of the end is newly painted.

    In the Electroliner, John is applying white primer to most of the surfaces inside the motorman's cab.

    And here is the door to the cab in white primer.

    Nick continues to install wiring for the DC lights on the 50th Avenue platform.

    And I checked that the headlight circuits work, as well as the oil in the compressors, flags, and so on.

     I also coupled up the 36 and 309, since we may want to use these two cars for publicity purposes sometime soon. 

    This bracket, holding a window shade for the pocket door, got bent somehow and had to be straightened out.  

    When the door is closed, this shade would have been pulled horizontally across the window at night.  

    As for Labor Day Weekend, you'll want to read the IRM website for details.  The approximate operating schedule for the CA&E cars will be as follows:
    Saturday:   10AM - 3PM
    Sunday:      3PM - 9:30PM
    Monday:   10AM - 5PM

    Wednesday, August 29, 2018

    The Great British Railfanning Trip: Volk's Electric Railway

    Frank writes...

    This entry is the eleventh and last part of our trip to Britain in June. If you're truly bored you can check out the other parts at our Trip Report page, or if you're an outright masochist you can read through it from the beginning.

    On the morning of Tuesday, we roused ourselves, checked out of the hotel, had one last "full English" at the little cafe across the street, and hopped on the District Line at Hammersmith to make our way to Victoria. However we didn't make it very far; due to signal problems further along the line, which I believe were attributed to the high temperatures (the high that day was around 90 F, I believe), the entire Circle/District line came to a complete stop. We ended up at Earl's Court, which was somewhat fortunate because we were able to walk across the platform and board a Piccadilly train to Green Park, where we were able to board I think the fourth train to Victoria Line train to Victoria Station because the first three were so packed we couldn't get aboard with our luggage. So we missed our train to Brighton, but fortunately there was another one about 45 minutes later and in the meantime we were able to stop at a hobby shop just up the street. Then it was southbound on the Southern main line to Brighton.

    When we think of beaches we usually think of Florida or Mexico, but Britain has some nice beaches too if you know where to go. Brighton is among the best known and it's long been a favorite holiday destination for Britons. When we arrived at the station we walked down the hill on the main drag, Queens Road, until we got to the beach. It was a glorious day and was slightly cooler in Brighton than it had been in London.
    We were in Brighton not for the beach but for the Volk's Electric Railway, the third electric railway ever built for commercial passengers and the oldest one still operating. It was constructed in 1883 by Magnus Volk, who designed the entire system using the nascent technology of electric motors. It was initially a 2' gauge railway running at a whole 50 volts DC, but in 1884 the entire line was rebuilt to 2'8-1/2" gauge and the voltage was raised to 160 volts DC (today it's 110 volts). When new power was supplied by one of the rails, just like an HO or S gauge model train; they added a separate third rail for power in 1886. At the western terminus, near Palace Pier, there is a nice little museum including some exhibits about the line's history.
    When the VER was new it was only a quarter mile long and ran from Swimming Arch, just slightly west of its current terminus, to Chain Pier but was extended in 1884 to Paston Place (now Halfway), about a half-mile run. Starting in November 1896, passengers could transfer at Paston Place to the Brighton & Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway, one of the nuttiest electric lines ever built. Volk designed the B&R to run three miles to Rottingdean on a pair of 2'8-1/2" gauge tracks spaced about 16' apart located between the low and high tide lines. At high tide, the single car - which was built on stilts - would actually be traveling through the water. It even carried a lifeboat and a sea captain. Within its first week a storm had knocked the car - of which a model, shown above, is on display in the VER museum - on its side but Volk raised it and rebuilt it. The insanity lasted for four years or so until the B&R was abandoned in 1901.
    Following abandonment of the B&R, the VER was extended another half-mile east to Black Rock, giving it a total length of almost exactly a mile. This is its current extent. There are three stations, Aquarium in the west, Halfway, and Black Rock in the east. We boarded at Aquarium. We had looked up the schedule and noted that there was a car every 15 minutes, but when we arrived it turned out that one of their cars had developed a controller problem and was back in the depot (which is located at Halfway). So service was only half-hourly. We had missed the car by just a few minutes but fortunately didn't have any trouble getting tickets for the next departure.
    And here's the train! The car running that day was VER 9, a 40-seat open car built in the company works in 1910. It's not uncommon for VER to run two-car trains on busy days, but it turns out they're not MU; apparently the front car just tows the back car.
    Here's the driver's position on the rear platform. The driver keeps the controller handle with them and there's also a key. On the left is the hand brake, while out of sight on the right side of the controller is the horn. There's no air on these cars so the horn is what you'd hear on a Model T
    The car we were on was quite full; we were fortunate that there was some space under the seats for our luggage (there aren't any luggage lockers at railway stations in Britain for security reasons). The car is divided into thirds by bulkheads with windows bearing the letters VER, so like with most open cars you can't walk the length of the car.
    The ride was fun. The car probably had a top speed somewhere between 5 and 10mph and the ride went along the edge of the beach, with various pedestrian crossings at points along the route and the driver dutifully blowing the horn for each. Immediately after our stop at Halfway, where we let off some employees who were going to the depot, we passed right through the depot itself - the main line goes through the building, as shown above. The VER rosters half a dozen or so cars, with one or two others in museums elsewhere. For a while there were a couple of cars in service that the VER bought secondhand from the Southend Pier Railway but those have left the property.
    And here's our car at Black Rock, the end of the line. The entire length of the line it is sandwiched in between the beach and a road, Madeira Drive, with the bluffs just on the other side of the road. In fact the original power plant for the VER was built into the face of the cliff at Halfway.
    On the outbound trip we'd been on the back platform but on the return trip we were on the front platform - funny how that works. Here's one of the pedestrian crossings along the VER. Note the cattle guards to keep people from walking down the right-of-way. You can also see the third rail, which is between the running rails and offset to the side London Underground-style. It's like the CA&E in its proximity to the crosswalks!
    I got some video heading back; this is at one of the intermediate passing loops, in this case at Bedford Street. Besides Halfway, where there is a loop, there are also passing loops between Halfway and each of the termini. You can see the driver braking for the switch and also hear the nifty horn at the crosswalk.
    After our trip on the VER we didn't have time to dawdle; we needed to get to Gatwick. So rather than drag our luggage back up the hill to the railway station at the top, we wised up and hailed a cab. Here we are at the Brighton Railway Station, about ten minutes after I lost my wallet in the cab and about two minutes after I luckily retrieved it from the very helpful cabbie! Regardless, the station in Brighton is beautiful. Trains depart here going north to London, east towards Seaford and Eastbourne, and west towards Portsmouth and Southampton.
    While we were waiting to board our train, we saw a train of Class 313 EMUs - the same type we rode from Stevenage to Moorgate on our first evening in Britain. These are the oldest EMUs in service in mainland Britain and besides the route we rode to Moorgate, their primary haunt these days are the lines emanating out of Bristol.

    And so that was our trip. A quick ride up the Southern main line to Gatwick and an eight-hour flight home, and it was all over. On behalf of Zach and Greg, I want to thank all of the folks who showed us around the museums and heritage railways we visited. We had a terrific trip, met some wonderful people, and saw a lot of great stuff. It's time to start planning the next trip!