Monday, February 25, 2019

Hot off the presses

Ack! What's that diesel doing here on our nice traction blog?!? Well, it's the latest edition of the IRM e-mail newsletter, of course. Remember, you can receive these in your very own inbox simply by signing up at the bottom of the museum home page at

Schedule for 2019 now online
The museum has announced its schedule for 2019 and you can check it out on our website here. We are expanding some of our most popular events from last year, like the Bunny Trolley Hop in April, and adding other brand new events like the Fire Department Muster in September. Other popular events like Day Out With Thomas are returning too. You can see the entire 2019 calendar here. Even in the dead of winter, there's plenty of other news too!
Featured in this e-newsletter:
  • The Bunny Trolley Hop is April 13th and 20th - tickets are now on sale
  • Alco "Century" diesel locomotive arrives at IRM
  • Get 50% off admission on May 4th, Illinois Day
  • You can help save the last "Buffeteria" dining car
  • Steam Department Benefit Concert is June 23rd
  • You will now be able to take public transportation to IRM
  • Progress update on the North Shore "Electroliner"
  • Museum Entrance Building planning and fundraising
Visit us online for schedules, blog updates, and more

Bunny Trolley Hop tickets on sale

One of our new events last year was the Bunny Trolley Hop and it was so successful that we are expanding it for 2019! There will be more to see, more to do, and a longer ride than last year. We will also be running the event two days instead of one. Tickets for both dates, April 13th and 20th, are now for sale on our website. Make sure to get yours today; last year the event sold out weeks in advance! Bring the family to visit the Easter Bunny at IRM this year.
Click here for tickets and more information

TP&W 800 arrives home

Last year IRM purchased its first Alco-built "Century" diesel locomotive, Toledo Peoria & Western 800 (later Morristown & Erie 18). The engine arrived at IRM on January 22nd and will see service this year but the work isn't done - we still need to pay for its purchase and repainting in TP&W colors.
Click here to see how you can help

Illinois Day 2019

Why not celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike with us? On Saturday, May 4th, Illinois residents are admitted for 50% off with valid state ID. If you're used to the crowds at some of our mid-summer events, try a visit during the spring when the pace is a little easier and the museum is a bit less busy!
Click here for more information

Help save the "Buffeteria"

IRM has the opportunity to save the last Milwaukee Road "Buffeteria," a dining car rebuilt in the 1960s for buffet-style serving. This historic piece of equipment is in very good and original condition but funds are needed to move it to Union where it can be restored and operated.
Click here for more information

Steam Dept. Benefit is June 23

Our annual benefit concert to raise funds for the Steam Department will be held at the Sanfilippo Estate in Barrington on June 23rd. This is a great opportunity to hear the mighty Wurlitzer organ in concert and tour this unique collection of artifacts.
Click here for tickets and information

Take public transit to IRM in 2019

Starting in 2019, the museum will be accessible via public transportation for the first time in many years. MCRide, the county's dial-a-ride service, will be offering trips from the Metra stop in Woodstock. Arrangements must be made by phone in advance.
Click here for more information

Electroliner Progress Update

The major project to get the famous North Shore "Electroliner" running again is progressing. Work on the trucks and motors is done; now the focus is on the articulation joints between the cars. New bearings are being made for these joints, after which the train set can be reassembled and placed on its trucks.
Click to help with Electric Car restoration

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.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Have a Complaint?

You have a complaint about service on the Elgin & Belvidere Electric?   Just fill out this card, and we'll see what happens.   Bill Wulfert found these documents in the files, and supplied them for our use.   Thanks, Bill!

Perhaps you're unhappy about how much you had to pay for this 50-ride school ticket.

Of course, maybe if you'd read the fine print and sign the contract, you'd get better service.

Next, we have number of Work Orders from 1928.  Many of them request repairs to the overhead wire, while others ask for repairs to the many fences along the tracks.  Here are some of the more interesting ones:

The wire needed to be reworked at an industrial siding, but wasn't completed because there was no bracket available.

The "Milwaukee Sub-Way" must be the underpass just west of Elgin.

This is pretty outrageous.  You cut off some trolley wire, and it immediately gets stolen.   You can't trust anybody around here these days!

I suppose the "Shop Line shaft" means the shop tools were running off belts to an overhead shaft.   But there's no babbit available!   And the controller would be for the substation at Garden Prairie.

The boss, Bion J. Arnold, wants to take the East Check Meter to Chicago with him, so it needs to be disconnected.   He's always doing strange things like that.

Another fix to the trolley wire that doesn't get done.

This seems like it would be an interesting science project: "build a reverse current relay from an old amperemeter."  Sounds like BJA again.

Most of the stations appear to have suffered from neglect.   There's either no lights, no heat, no water, no tickets, or they need to be swept out.

The only crossing in Union must have been where the tracks crossed either Main or Jefferson Streets.   The note "bring track to gauge" is worrisome.  And it's nice of the City to furnish gravel or cinders for the job.  I wonder if they'd do that for us?  After all, there's a precedent!

Mending fences is a never-ending job.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Steam Department Benefit

Tickets are now on sale!

9th Annual Steam Department Benefit Event
Sunday, June 23, 2019  1pm

Mark your calendar now for this year's benefit event!
Join us on Sunday, June 23th for an afternoon of touring the magnificent Sanfilippo Estate before settling in for a concert on the
Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

Our event will be one of the first events to see the newest addition to the main house of the Sanfilippo Estate's main house, the Jeffrey Sanfilippo Collection.

After the concert, the doors to the carousel pavilion will open, and rides will be given on the Eden Palais Salon Carousel, as well as listening to the large fairground organs in the pavilion.
The steam engine room will also be open for viewing.
Door prizes will be given away, as well as special raffle drawings.

Special Raffle Drawings

In addition to door prizes, there will be special raffle drawings held only during the event.
  • 50/50 Raffle - Tickets $1 each or 6 for $5
  • CAB RIDE on 1630 or the Shay - Tickets $1 each or 6 for $5
  • THROTTLE TIME on 1630 - Run a real steam locomotive!   Tickets are $5 each, or 5 for $20
Get Your Tickets 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Car Shop News

Another productive Saturday has come and gone.  So let's see a little of what was happening in the car shop.  We'll start with the 1754.

Tim has varnished all of the center ceiling panels, and two of them were still sitting here on the bench.

One of them had been put in place at the east end of the car, but it was then realized it belonged at the west end.  Here Ed Woytula is looking up at the false ceiling.  That's actually about where the actual false ceiling was before restoration started.   It's not easy moving these panels about, so Ed and I spent a while helping get this one into place.  Tim had prepared several boards wrapped with rags to avoid scratching the mirror-like finish.

Notice that both numbers (pre- and post-merger) were painted onto the ends of the car.

Now the panel is in the right place, and needs to be forced up and slightly bent in place.  

And a couple of hours later, Tim was finishing up trimming the panel, which is essentially in place.  The interior is going to look just as nice as the others.

And then work continues on the ex-Shaker truck for the Cleveland PCC.   Chuck Meter has been cleaning up the big, heavy actuators for the brakes.  There's four per truck.

Ed Woytula is back on his main project, and with Chuck and Dan Fenlaciki they're working on disassembling some more parts of the truck.

This kit didn't come with any instructions.   That's what happens when you buy trains on eBay.

And here are the newly repainted planks for the bunk in Victor's cabin car.

Buzz proudly shows off the new window frames he's making for the Green Bay car.

And Bob Sundelin is making trolley shoes on the new milling machine.   This is what he does best.

And speaking of Bob Sundelin, he and I discussed the 309 bearing project some more.  Among other things, our friend Jeff Hakner from Branford has provided us with extremely detailed recommendations that will be very useful.   Right now we're mostly waiting for the big oven to get wired up.

And beyond the 309 bearing project, we need to replace one wheelset in the motor truck of the 36.  The treads on this wheelset are too thin, and in fact the wheels are about 1 1/4" smaller than the other wheelset in the truck.  I did some walking around, and determined that we can probably replace the wheelset with one originally from the 318, which is now under the 321.  We need to match the diameter of the wheels, the size of the axles, the exact type of gear, and check that the flanges are good.  The 318 was equipped with GE66 motors, so it looks like everything matches.  Among other things, I opened up the container to check on the spare GE 66's we have, two of which came from the 318, and I'm quite sure the 318 gear will match  the 36's pinion, if you see what I mean.  It will be very fortunate if we can avoid having to press wheels on and off the axle, or other difficult and expensive operations.  Changing out the complete wheelset will take some work, but the out-of-pocket cost should be essentially zero.  And we always worry about bending the axle when wheels have to be pressed on.  For the immediate future, the 36 will still be cleared for occasional service, but the wheel project will continue.  First we'll need to swap a truck under the 321, which is at the west end of track 113.  That's a lot of switching.  

And I spent some more time sorting and storing parts.   What fun!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Doodlebug Progress

Gregg Wolfersheim reports on the UP doodlebug, currently being restored in Barn 2:

A few bits of progress on M-35 from last month. While rebuilding and installing the left side steps, I noticed the hinge bracket was missing something. Looking at the right side, there is a round piece with holes crosswise in it. This is for adjusting the tension on the spring which helps the trap to open. I made one (on the right) to match. A piece of one inch AAR pipe was used, with a square nut welded to one end.

 In this picture we see the hinge pin at the left supporting the trap door. This is the left side stepwell.

 The interior light circuit was completely rewired over the course of several weeks. The original wires were in rough shape. It was easier to pull new wire in now, rather than after the ceiling is back in. This photo shows a typical junction box with the pigtails hanging out. The light fixtures are attached to these boxes later. We've decided to rewire, then install the ceiling panels. Braces for insulation follow with the boxed frames over each ceiling vent next. After this is all in we will start with putting the roof boards on.

This is the  switch box located on the back wall of the coach section. The wiring ran from the engine room where the electrical cabinet is, to this box. The new wires went here, and then back through the conduit to each light fixture. These switches were cleaned up and checked out. Also, a knife switch with fuses was added in the main electrical cabinet for added protection.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Wednesday Report

The weather recently has varied from bad to worse, but the regulars at IRM don't let that stop them. 

Pete Galayda is working on window frames for the North Shore 160, among other things.

Vincent and Bill continue work on the Pennsy cabin car.  Here they are making new planks for the interior.  You will notice the numbers stamped into the wood -- the wood was taken from some old bleachers.  Now I would have thought that bleachers would be made from junk wood, but these are actually nice straight pieces of white pine in excellent condition.  The numbers will be facing in and will not be visible.

And after painting they look like this:

Chuck continues work on the Shaker Heights truck.  

I took some parts for storage over to the 321.  It hasn't changed much.

And then I spent some time cleaning up parts for window frames from Cleveland streetcar 18 (1218).  I'm thinking that in general it will be easier and better to make new wood, rather than try to strip it all and repair the splits, missing chunks, etc.  The windows are held together by the brass channels on each side, and there are no mortise or tenon joints, so the woodworking will be relatively easy.

And I spent some time talking to Gerry about the bearing project.  We have come up with some ideas for making the process easier, and we'll be investigating further.   So stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Odd Jobs

Yesterday was occupied with a few odd jobs, some odder than others.

First, somebody brought in the lights from a crossing signal and dropped it off at Frank's place of work.  So that wound up getting loaded into my back seat for transport to IRM.   We always appreciate the donation of items like this.  If the signal department can't use it, they can sell it.

In the shop, I noticed these nicely repainted retrievers.  It's always good to have spares of the correct color available, in case something goes wrong.

Pete Galayda is working on interior parts for the 160.  Here he is experimenting with refinishing the wood trim parts.

And one of the baggage racks after sandblasting.  Pete says only the two shorter racks had this combination of brass brackets and steel rods; all the others were entirely steel.   They will be painted.

And here's a view of the vestibule ceiling in the 1754.   It looks great.

I spent most of the time sorting and straightening parts in my storage cars.  While doing this, I remembered that the 319 was missing one its ticket clips, for some reason.  So that got fixed.  Every little detail helps.

Finally, I might point out that the west end of Barn 3 now looks much better.  Eventually the lighted sign will be reinstalled.