Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Illinois Terminal 234 builders photos

Frank writes...


IRM is home to the only two pieces of equipment in existence that were built by the Danville Car Company: IT 1702, a line car which was a frame-up rebuild of a cab-on-flat Danville built in 1906; and IT 234, an interurban observation car which was built by Danville for the Illinois Traction System in 1910 as the parlor car "Champaign." My recent trip to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum revealed that PTM has the surviving collection of builders photos from the Danville Car Company and, lo and behold, they have a number of photos of the "Champaign" itself.

All photos are the property of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. Please note that these are poor reproductions acquired by photographing the original prints with a mobile phone!

Here's the "Champaign" in all its glory. These photos were taken on St. Patrick's Day 1910. We're looking at the left side of the car here, which is why there's no door (though there are steps off the rear platform on this side). Many changes were made to the car's exterior during its life including steel sheathing, plated-over upper sash windows, and addition of "hips" to the roof to give it an arched roof (current photos of the car are here). The interior saw somewhat less modification. The exhaust pipe at the front corner of the car is for the Peter Smith water heater.
Here's the left side of the car. What a beauty! I believe the exhaust pipes on this side are for the kitchen. This car was built as a trailer, briefly motorized, then returned to a trailer. I'm not entirely certain what the box underneath the car was used for.
Welcome aboard! This is looking onto the front platform with the Peter Smith heater, at the front left corner of the car, evident. The door to the heater compartment is open and appears to be sheathed in some insulating material, likely Transite. The hand brake is to the right.
Here's the car's observation compartment looking towards the rear. At some point during its life the rear wall was replaced. The new wall moved the door to the middle, rather than offset to the left side of the car as it was originally, but just as importantly - though less obviously in this shot - the wall was moved back one window. There are a lot of opulent features the car lost later on including intricate stenciling on the ceiling, the ITS emblem (mostly hidden by a light globe) on the end wall, and some awfully Victorian curtains. The car still has those nice coat hooks and most, if not all, of the original ceiling light fixtures. I'm not sure why they left the pillows on the floor though.
And here's the observation compartment looking towards the rear, with a nice removable table of some sort set up. Compare this photo with the recent photo here - a lot of the details are the same including the glass-front cabinets on the bulkhead and the intricate "fenced" shelves atop the bulkhead seats. It's hard to tell but it looks like the ITS emblem was painted over the doorway at this end of the observation compartment too. The steel rods in the ceiling, that in later years were used for hanging curtains around the fold-out beds in this compartment, were not part of the car's original equipment.
Back on the outside of the car, here's the observation platform. The car still has the same railing but there have been other changes including, notably, moving the rear wall backwards one window. As built the back platform was a good 3' deeper than it is now. Also note that the car was built without the anticlimber or lamps that it has now. It does, however, seem to have kept its original drip rail!
Here's another shot in the observation compartment looking forward, but here one of the two fold-out beds has been set up. In later years they used steel rods for hanging these heavy curtains but it looks like originally they instead used leather straps, or some kind of strap, to hang the curtains. Of course there's a spittoon thoughtfully placed on the floor next to the bed, and again there's a pillow on the floor in front of each of the seats. Was this a common thing in 1910?
I'm not sure how the "Champaign" was set up as built, and I'm actually not all that familiar with its current layout either, but this appears to be a men's lounge of some sort. The match striker on the wall and the leather upholstery suggests this area was intended for smoking This may be on the left side of the car across from the kitchen, I'm not sure.
Here's one of the sections with the beds made up. The car still has these sections though I'm not sure whether we have any of the original bedding supplies for the car.
Here's the kitchen, on the right side of the car near the front, with the two stovepipes at the top going to the exhaust pipes visible in the second photo.
And finally, we have a view of one of the sections with the beds removed. You'll note from the visible ceiling stenciling that this car did not use Pullman-style berths that fold down from the ceiling. Rather, the seat backs folded up from the wall to create the upper bunk while the lower bunk was in its normal spot at seat cushion height. There are fittings visible in the wall under the windows which presumably could be used for attaching removal tables.

Many thanks to Chris Walker and Bruce Wells of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum for locating these images and allowing them to be photographed and published.

1 comment:

Brian said...

I believe I have an original photograph of the "Champaign" car in my collection. I bought it off eBay a few years ago. It was from (most likely) a builders book like the one you are describing that was at the museum. Someone was selling individual photo pages out of the book on the site. I live right by where this car was built at the Danville Car Company; by Danville, Illinois.