Sunday, September 30, 2018

Bus Day Photos by Chuck Amstein

Many thanks to Chuck Amstein, our official blog photographer, who was out at IRM on Saturday for the somethingth annual Bus Day. As usual, all photos are copyright Charles Amstein, no reproduction without permission, etc.

First, some good old steel wheel action. The Steam Team was firing up the Shay to continue working on it, with the current focus I believe being the air conditioner.
Jeff Obarek and Randy Allegrezza were manning the Matchbox on the streetcar line.
Our nice Chinese Red SD24 was pulling the coach train.
And the CRT wood elevated cars were in mainline service as well. And now, make sure that clothespin is affixed firmly to your nose and get ready to enjoy the rubber-tired magic that is Bus Day!
Ray and Julie had set up the Bus Stop Shop in the Andersen garage, selling an impressive variety of books, magazines, original railway/transit paper and documents, and excess artifacts from the museum collection. The backdrop was buses and trolley buses including this Ford transit bus. It is actually from Montebello, California but is painted up as a Chicago & West Towns bus.
There were a lot of buses and trolley buses in operation. Here we see a Marmon-Herrington from Milwaukee with a modern MAN articulated from Seattle beyond.
Bob Bourne is one of the volunteers in our bus departments; here we see him nattily attired doing a car talk (bus talk?) in the Chicago Marmon.
Behind the Hoffman garage there are several out-of-service motor buses parked. On the left we have a bus, and on the right we have another bus.
Three more buses!
Along with the trolley buses, there was one motor bus in operation, Chicago Motor Coach 605. Here we see a CTA Marmon from the CMC motor bus, which is admittedly kind of neat... only at IRM!
IRM has trolley buses from more decades since the invention of the technology than not, if I'm not mistaken. The 1970s are represented by this Flyer trolley bus from Dayton.
Here's that CMC bus I mentioned earlier. I remember seeing this thing sitting at RELIC for years slowly sinking into the earth, but some 15 years ago or so it came to IRM and the rest is history.
A motor bus, a trolley bus, and a streetcar walk into a bar...
This is a prewar Twin Coach trolley bus from Seattle which was acquired just a few years ago from Orange Empire.
The CMC motor bus is stopped at the diner with the CTA Marmon trolley bus approaching.
The Seattle trolley bus heads east while the CMC motor bus heads west along the trolley bus line. The "double-track" section of trolley bus overhead ends midway along Barn 6, but of course that's not a problem in this case. Plans are in place to eventually make the entire trolley bus route "double-tracked" so that multiple trolley buses can run without worrying about meet locations.
And here's one of the museum's two CTA Marmons. The sign on the front notes that this was the last trolley bus to run in Chicago, back in 1973. As of last year, more time has now passed since Chicago ended trolley bus service than comprised the city's trolley bus era.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

24 hours

Frank writes...

I made it out to IRM just for a few hours late on Sunday afternoon. I didn't contribute much but I did get a chance to gawk at the car shop guys working to repair Northwestern Elevated 24. Our oldest operating piece of equipment was in service on Members Day when a journal bearing on the trailing truck suddenly began running hot. Things like this happen sometimes with 120-year-old equipment.

When I got there the crew, including Good Nick, Richard, Greg, and Jeron, had brought the car over, jacked up the journal box, and removed the bearing and wedge. Below is a shot of the journal box as Nick worked to pull slugs of molten babbitt out of it with a journal hook. If you look closely, that thing to the right of the axle that looks like tin foil is a piece of melted babbitt. Fortunately, although the bearing got hot enough to melt the babbitt a little, it didn't do any damage to the axle nor did it do permanent damage to the brass bearing itself.
By the end of the afternoon a bearing from stock had been installed; it's not smooth enough for full-speed service (the original bearing will be re-babbitted and reinstalled) but a test trip around the car line proved that it is fine for shop moves and low-speed use. Following the test trip the car was brought back over to the pit and positioned to have its air compressor swapped out. The D3-EG pump under the car (the same type used by the 36, 308, and 309) has been blowing a lot of oil so Rich Block rebuilt a D3-EG we had in stock for installation on the 24. By the time everyone left for dinner the old pump had been disconnected and was ready to be swapped out.
While we're standing around watching other people work, as I am wont to do, let's take a look at the trucks under the 24. The motor truck, shown here, is a Hedley design. Hedley trucks were very popular with the Chicago elevated and as built the 24 had two of these. In fact it may have been built with four motors, since it started life as a "locomotive car" built to haul trailers, but maybe Bill Wulfert can chime in on that point.
Regardless, at some point it lost one of its Hedleys and saw it replaced by this trailer truck. Our roster calls this a McGuire but research done by Bill has suggested it's actually a Sterns design MCB truck, something I'd never heard of. Very interesting. It bears some resemblance to Gilbert and Taylor trucks of roughly the same era.

It was the last operating day of the year for the 1630, so it was nice to see it out, and the CA&E steel train was in service following repairs made to the governor wiring on the 431. Arnfest has concluded and it sounds like that was a success. And the 'Liner crew continues work on the "A" car interior.

Friday, September 21, 2018

More 308 History

A friend recently located this photo, probably taken from a postcard, of the early days at IMOTAC in Noblesville.  On the left is North Shore car 172, and on the right is CA&E 308.  We don't have a date for this image, but it's probably about the time electric operation started.  The cars are not under wire on these storage tracks, however.  These are the tracks on the east side of the storage barn, and the photographer is facing southeast.  He's probably standing on another piece of equipment which was located about where the north end of the barn is now.  And you can see the park road in the distance.

So this is a welcome addition to our photographic history of the 308.

Bill Stewart says: This is a photograph of an O scale traction layout in the early stages of construction.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Progress on Many Fronts

As usual, we have progress of many different sorts to report today.  First of all, perhaps you can see that the Lean-3 is a lot cleaner than usual, and most of the usual activities have had to move elsewhere to make room for Arnfest, which starts tomorrow.  That's good, not only because it makes money for the Museum, but because a yearly cleaning never hurt anybody.   Or so they say.

I spent most of the day repainting the other side of the roof of the 309.   Here you can see some before and after pictures.  This process requires dragging the scaffold back and forth, climbing up and down and up and down and so forth, but it's all good, healthy exercise.

Next, I'm sure you want to hear about progress on the Electroliner.  There are three articulated joints between the four units, and they all seem to have problems.  The design includes a cast "bowl" as well as two complex side bearings.  One of the bowls was broken into pieces, another had serious cracks, and the third we couldn't even be sure about because they're covered with lead paint, grease, and other unpleasant substances.  This needs to be cleaned up before we can proceed.  IRM has always been committed to protecting our environment.

Avalon Rail, the contractor for rebuilding the trucks on the Electroliner, arranged to have all the hazardous substances removed by a subcontractor, Integrity Environmental Services.  Here we see Gregorio, an IES employee, in the process of cleaning things up safely.   He has all the necessary equipment and protective gear to do the job correctly.  It may look like he's on fire, but that's just his reflective safety vest caught by the camera flash.

The job should be finished by Monday, and then all of the various parts can be analyzed to see what needs to be done.  So the Electroliner is making serious progress.

And then, Gregg Wolfersheim is busy doing a cosmetic restoration of our SP/T&NO #975, a 2-10-2.  This is a daunting task, but he has already done much of the running gear and is working on the smokebox and front of the engine, as you can see.  He's spraying a grey primer, followed by gloss black.

Some of the wheels on this side are still in primer, others have finish black.

All the wheels on the other side are black.

This is an impressive locomotive, and this cosmetic restoration will be a tremendous improvement.

But wait, there's more!

Thanks to another generous donation, we now have all the money we need to start the 309 bearing project.  I still need to make some adjustments to the patterns, and check a few things with Bob Sunderlin, our machinist, but we are ready to have the castings made soon.   So our gratitude goes to everybody who helped out, and of course we'll keep you informed on how things are going.  It should be exciting!

By the way, somebody asked me why the Old Woodworking Machines convention is called "Arnfest".  Well, that's easy.  It's because of the material all these old machines are made of: arn!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Even more Showcase Weekend photos

Frank writes...

Most of the photos I took on Saturday of Showcase Weekend were poorer duplicates of pictures Chuck or my father took, but there were a few interesting subjects I managed to capture.

First, our august Executive Director Nick Kallas showed me this fare register which was recently donated. The brass badge appears to show "Meaker Mfg Co" - perhaps it predates the better-known Sterling-Meaker company? CUT was around from 1899 to 1908, when it was folded into Chicago Railways, and there are several ex-CUT cars in IRM's collection including our 1895 single-trucker, the "bowling alley," and the "Matchbox."
I managed to get a shot of the crowd waiting to board the train for the third trip, while the passengers from the second trip get off. In the background can be seen the 3142 passing through Car Line Junction while the 1630 waits on its train.
Here's Andy in the cab before the third trip. Anyone who has used O scale people on an S scale layout can commiserate.
And here's a nice video of the 36 and 319 coming into the station with Andy at the throttle.
And finally, a shot of the 50th Avenue platform with a North Shore train on the west track and 4000s on the east track. Pretty neat!

And Chuck Amstein adds:
Here are my videos from Saturday's festivities.
2018-09-15 IRM Members Day
IRM Frisco 1630 - Happy 100th Birthday

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Thank You!

We've talked several times before about the new bearing project for the 309.  Not too often, because I don't want to turn this into a blegging marathon.  But I am very pleased to report that we now have about $3,000 in the 309 fund out of the $4,000 needed to have the castings made.  Thanks, thanks, thanks to all those who have contributed!  We're getting very close, and you can still help.   Don't miss this window of opportunity!

Also, I'm told that we'll be able to use, with proper training and supervision, some machinery in the Steam Shop that will make the machining process easier.  That's just as valuable a contribution as cash, and I also want to thank our friends in the Steam Department.

And as for a time line, we need to finalize some details on the patterns, then I would think the casting should not take too long, and the machining can be done over the winter.  And we should be able to have the new bearings in place by next operating season, so the 309 can operate on a regular basis.

More Showcase Photos

Saturday of Showcase Weekend was a great success, and a good time was had by all.  We posted some pictures earlier taken by Chuck Amstein, and here are mine.

Cars 36 and 309 were running, and we were nearly full on most trips.  That's always good to see.  The blue cars performed flawlessly; not even any dewirements that I can recall.

Here's our crew: myself as trainman, Frank was the regular motorman, and Jack Rzepecki the conductor.  We had a couple of guest motormen.  So here are some pictures of the nearly-full 36 on several trips.

With Frank as motorman.

On the next trip, Bob Opal was piloting a guest of his, an official with the STB.

With Andy Sunderland as motorman.

CCW 300 was pulling the caboose train for much of the day.

One of those odd situations you see only at IRM.   The Rock Island Geep is waiting for the CA&E train to leave on a trip so it can return to Yard 2.

It's nice and peaceful, but not for long.  We kept running on the hour.

Four North Shore cars on display at 50th.  This train did not actually operate.

Then we had a visit from Joe and Gwen Stupar, with their daughter.

Then the usual barbeque supper, which is always great, and the 1630 blew out the 100 candles on its birthday cake, as seen in Chuck's album.  And as it got dark, Frank and I took the Matchbox for several trips around the car line.  It was a lot of fun.

There were lots of photographers around all day and into the night.  Many of them were equipped with tripods so their night-time photos are undoubtedly better than mine.  Sorry, I can do only so many things at once.  Often a maximum of one.