Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Kankakee and Urbana Traction

A couple of years ago I was working on presenting some of the material from the Scalzo Collection.  Work stopped when I got to the Kankakee and Urbana Traction Company, and I now recall why.

There's already an excellent online history of the company at this link, written by H. George Friedman Jr. on his site "Street Railways of Urbana and Champaign".   This website has a number of very interesting and well-researched articles on various subjects, and is highly recommended.

Basically all of the material that Stephen Scalzo had collected was already presented by Mr. Friedman.  The only things I can add are some more detailed track maps.  These are too big to scan, so I've taken pictures of them, which seemed to work out pretty well.  The K&UT was really a side-of-the-road interurban, and I can remember looking for remnants back in the late seventies without success.

But things were different in 1958.  This map of the carbarn in Urbana is based on observations made then by Howard Morris.  The Fehl map shown on the Friedman site here gives the overall location of all electric railway tracks in the area.

The other maps were drawn up by the IC roadmaster's office.

Here in Rantoul, the mainline of the IC is on the far left of the map.  The K&UT comes in from the north, about a block east of the IC, and crosses the branch to Gifford just east of the roundhouse.  From there it heads south down the middle of Chandler St., which is now called Century Blvd.  

And then there are two maps of Paxton, the northern end of the K&UT.  Unfortunately, the cut-down copies in the Scalzo collection are missing some information, such as the names of the cross streets and the long-gone east-west railroad.

On these maps north is to the left.  Coming in from the south (upper right), the interurban was in the middle of Railroad Ave., then turned off just before reaching what I think must be Holmes St.  There were no switches, the track just comes to an end.

Farther south, the track moves off to the side of the street, then crosses it to head straight south for a short distance.

And as usual, it would be nice to have more, but that's all there is.  I'll try to keep going on the Scalzo collection, so stay tuned!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Back to Work

In spite of the cold and snow, it was nice to get back to the Museum and be part of the various projects that are moving forward.  

First, we have a PCC truck for the Cleveland car.   New member Chuck Meter is hard at work taking it apart to be checked and repaired as necessary.  

You have to get out and get under:

The traction motor is not much bigger than an early compressor motor:

The main thing I wanted to do was take some measurements for the 309 bearing project.  Bob Sundelin had asked for diameters measured to 0.001 inch.  For this we need a special micrometer.  Seen below, we have the micrometer set, a standard ruler, and the big calipers.  I went over to the steam shop, where one of the guys showed me how to use the micrometer.  It's not hard once you see it in use, and it's always good to acquire a new skill.   Gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche....

Here's a closeup of the set, with its calibrated rods.

Of course, taking measurements under the car was cold and gloomy, but it went quickly. 

 And now I have the magic numbers available.  It wasn't possible to take every axle measurement, since the motors are usually hard against one wheel or the other, and I wasn't going to try to move them by myself in the barn.  

I might point out that most of our electric cars (basically everything pre-PCC) have axle-hung motors, and sooner or later most of them will need new axle bearings.  So I hope our trial-and-error learning process will have some lasting benefits for future projects.

Meanwhile, back in the shop, Tim is making new molding pieces for the 1754.

Pete is working on parts for the interior of the 160.   It will be in regular service this year, but over the next few months the interior will be greatly improved.

And then, Frank found a new source for car cards.  This particular card looked like one we could use, and he got two copies printed for about $10.  Mostly, we would like to replace many of the ones currently in the 308.  They are the old Johnson reprints, and while they're nice, the problem is that they are almost all obviously from the twenties, whereas the car is restored to about 1950.  Men were no longer wearing Arrow collars, for instance.

Hey, you can't argue with more than 20,000 physicians!  I can only imagine what would happen nowadays if you asked your doctor to recommend a particular cigarette brand....  In the picture below, it's next to one of the few remaining original car cards:

The 319, 36, and all of the CA&E steel cars still have a pretty complete set of the final 1957 car cards.  That's fine for the red cars, but for the 36 and 308 it would be nice to backdate them to about 1948.  So we may start installing more like this:

Back in Barn 4, here's the interior of the 160, by the way.

And next door, work is also progressing on the Baldy.   Nick explains that the seats and heaters have been removed and are being worked on in the shop.

The center doors were never used, and have seat frames attached to them.

Keith proudly shows off the polished light fixture for the 1754.

And there were several other people at work.

Finally, in the New Arrivals category, this locomotive was originally TP&W #800. and will be repainted at some point.  This is as close as I could get.

You know, I used to live near Morristown for a couple of years, so this brings back memories.

Friday, January 25, 2019

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

On our recent trip to Arizona we revisited the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, which we've reported on before.   But this time we also went through some of the historical displays and the large model railroad building.

The park is operated by the city of Scottsdale, and as such, it's much different from almost any railroad museum.  Entrance to the park is free, but tickets are sold for the various rides: a steam-powered 15" gauge train, some smaller 7" gauge trains operated by the live-steamers club, a carousel, and entrance to the railroad museum displays, shown below.  Tickets are $2 or 6 for $10, which seems quite reasonable.  The park also has a couple of playgrounds, food vendors, and so forth.  It's an excellent place for families.

  At the entrance is the Magma-Arizona engine:

And we went for a ride on the live-steam train.

And then we went through the separate museum displays.  The park includes several historic depots of various sizes, which were moved here.

The pride of the small historic fleet is the ex-Presidential car Roald Amundsen.  

And then there's this relic from an amusement park:

There is a large model railroad building.  Most of the building is taken up by three large layouts in O, HO, and N scales.   These are evidently maintained and operated by club members, and when we were there on a Saturday afternoon, there were several people working on each layout.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Report from Arizona

We just arrived back from another exciting trip to Arizona, right in time for the latest snowstorm.  We'll have pictures from McCormick Park later, but for now, about the only real railfanning was a quick trip past the CB&Q dome obs car Silver Horizon on display in nearby Maricopa.  It was just moved last week to a new location at huge expense, and placed on nice new panel track with concrete ties.  The original interior is long gone, as I understand, and the car will be used by the local historical society.

By the way, here's my grandson getting ready for his first attempt at eating cereal.  One needs to be well equipped!