Sunday, March 31, 2019

Car Shop Report

This week I went out to the Museum on Sunday afternoon, mainly so I could meet up with Bob Sundelin to work on the 309 bearing project.  I bought the hose clamps he had recommended and clamped the two halves of the bearing together as a test.  So far so good.

Bob had been able to look inside the big oven when it arrived, and as he remembered it there was no actual floor in the oven compartment that you could support something on.  So we agreed we really needed to look at it in more detail.  Typical IRM problem: in order to open the door to the oven, we need to move the welder.   And in order to move the welder, we need to move the forklift.  Luckily Gregg W. was there, and helpfully ran the forklift out of the way for us.  Thanks!

Bob was right: the bottom of the heating chamber is where the hot air is blown in, so it's not designed to support anything.  Instead, there are channels on each side for supporting shelves or brackets.

I guess you could also hang slabs of beef from the ceiling, but maybe some other time....

This is an all-purpose oven.   I have to agree:

But I have a question: the builder's plate says "Oven designed for .8 QT solvent".   What solvent?  If you think you know the answer, and are not just making a wild guess, I'd like to hear about it.

Next, I spent some time finding the metal we'd need out underneath a boxcar, then making two brackets of the right length to support the pipe frame seen above.  The brackets can be clamped to the supports inside the oven so that the pipe frame can't move, and all should be well.  

Bob spent most of the rest of the day turning down trolley wheels.  He's very good at meticulous work like this.

And I continued on the inspection process by testing out the brake system on the 319.  It works well, but there seem to be some very slow stem leaks on both brake valves (M23), so those should be looked at when possible.  The valves themselves are easy to remove without breaking any joints.

But perhaps the most interesting project was putting ceiling panels back into the Electroliner.   As Ed Oslowski says, they're really turned a corner when you start putting it all back together.  Here Kevin and John Arroyo are hard at work drilling the needed holes:

And they seem to be having a good time, or at least until John noticed me:

Meanwhile, Donna and Ed are taking a break to admire the progress:

And getting the panels into the right curve to fit the carlines is not easy.  I can vaguely remember doing something similar about forty years ago, but I failed to take pictures of myself in the process.  Be that as it may, it's much more relaxing to watch other people trying to meet the challenge.

And when they're done, it looks great:

And by the end of the day, one side was complete, and they're ready to start on the other side.

Meanwhile, the inspection process continues with the younger guys -- Thomas, Greg, Nick, and Brian -- working on the singles, 22 and 41.

That's all I had time to take pictures of today.  But when the news breaks out, Hicks Car Works will break in, unless we're doing something else.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Jumpy Nerves

Do you have jumpy nerves?  Who doesn't?  But we have the cure for all your problems, here at Hicks Car Works --  upset stomach, boredom, hunger -- just look at these new car cards.  These three have been printed out, and they'll look better once they're installed.

These all came from the Streetcar Advertising History website, which has a large number of images from different eras.   And you can easily order prints, so check it out.  It's really a great resource.

Visit to Strahorn Library

One of IRM's better kept secrets, at least from the casual visitor, is our array of library holdings of railroad-related printed material of all sorts.  The flagship of the library system is the Strahorn Library, located about five miles away in downtown Marengo.

The building itself is historic, and an architectural landmark.  It was built about 1930 and was the city's public library until Marengo outgrew it and needed a more modern facility.  It was then purchased by the Museum and holds a large collection of railroad books, photographs, and other historical artifacts.

Mr. Strahorn built the building as a memorial to his wife and her father:

Inside, the building is packed full of bookcases with railroad books of all sorts, as well as corporate records and photograph collections from various sources.  The library has its own small core of dedicated volunteers who are organizing and cataloging the collection, which continues to grow as more materials are donated.  Barb Lanphier is the curator of the library, and she would welcome additional volunteer help.

For lack of a better location, the library also has a number of scale models of various types.

Many of them are of equipment in the museum's collection.  The one on the left was donated by Frank!

And you might recognize this:

And among other things, there's this Pullman-Standard Safety Trophy:

The Strahorn even has public visiting hours:  Wednesdays from 10 to 2.  Other times can be scheduled by appointment, especially if you have materials to donate.

But that's not all.  The Museum also has the Pullman Library, which holds a large collection of blueprints, mostly from the Pullman-Standard company.  It is not open to the public, but the library provides a copying service so that owners of Pullman cars across the country can obtain copies of blueprints needed for restoration purposes at a reasonable cost.  The library is currently located in the old bank building ("One North Main") in Union, but it will be moving into the new building on Central Avenue in the Main Street district when that's completed.  And as we mentioned last week, construction of that building will be starting soon!

There are also several smaller technical library collections on the property, but they're not open to the public either.  If you need technical information for a Museum project, you can probably find what you're looking for by asking your department curator.

Incidentally, I used to know a General Manager who wanted to move the Strahorn Library intact down the road to IRM.  Yeah, it would be nice, but the cost was estimated at a quarter million about twenty years ago, and that was certainly optimistic then.  So don't hold your breath.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Doodlebug Report

Gregg Wolfersheim sends us another UP doodlebug update.

The first ceiling panel was stripped and primed for the M-35 project. Here it is standing on edge in the Diesel Shop ready to go.

With the help of several volunteers, we were able to get it into the car.

From above the car, we see it right under the carlines. The large holes are for vents (square) and the expansion tank dome (round hole) that protrudes above the roof with a safety valve.

Here the expansion tank for the heater is almost all the way up. It is quite heavy. About 250 pounds, and was lifted with a hoist from above.

As it went up, several times a wood block had to be inserted as a guide to get the tank to line up. With several pipes sticking out of it, it wanted to snag on anything it could!

From above, we see the hoist that was used to lift the tank into place.

As you can see, two of the large unions have been started near the back wall. Now, another wood prop is guiding it to alignment with the last union connection. 

The last  fitting is now started after using several props and wedges!

The expansion tank is in place with the straps underneath for support. The water glass and vent valve are attached also. At the right is a conduit with a light switch for the light in the compartment. Next will be the fresh water tank that goes over the aisle part of this compartment. It is also very heavy!  

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wednesday Report

Another productive Wednesday has come and gone.  Pit time is valuable, so I pulled the 308 over to Barn 4 to finish up the inspection process, as far as I could.  Everything went well and no unexpected issues were found.

A new member named Dave, a recently retired mechanic, was looking for things to do, so he helped me for a while with inspecting the traction motors and so forth.   He had to leave early for an appointment of some sort, but I'm hoping he'll show up again soon.

The car was then pulled outside for lubrication.  I did the axle caps, gears, main bearings, and compressor, everything except the armature bearings which will require some help.  I also need help to do the roof inspection, but otherwise it's done for this year.   Whew!

So let's see what other people are doing.   Bill continues to fix up and paint parts for the Pennsy bobber.

Behind him, Rich is working on another large engineering diagram.  I forgot to note which project this is for.

Buzz is nearing completion on all the new parts for the velocipede.  I just can't wait to try it out.  

Pete has been making some new windows for the 160.

And Jack continues to rebuild all of the windows in the Green Bay car.

Ed Oslowski brought out his granddaughter Kirra to help with finishing the new ceiling panels for the Electroliner.

And Chuck was elsewhere, but work continues on the Cleveland PCC truck.  I certainly hope they know how to put this kit together, because I sure don't!

Finally, I got around at last to taking the Schmidt Photo Collection over to the Strahorn Library.  As long as this blog has been in existence, we've never really paid a visit.  So stay tuned, and in a day or two we'll see what we've all been missing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


We've mentioned before the value of directing the Amazon Smile program towards IRM for any purchases you make.  We just received an email from Amazon telling us they've donated more than $2,000 to IRM.  So that's something to smile about!  And remember, it costs you nothing.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Spring Has Sprung

Now that spring is here and the weather is much improved, there were all sorts of fun activities going on yesterday at the Museum, which we're happy to report.

Let's start with inspections.  Inspection now takes place most of the year, but the main push is in the spring.  The 4391 was still over the pit, so I started by switching out some of the wood cars to put the 308 at the door.  On Wednesday, if it isn't raining, I should be able to complete the inspection.  And here are all three blue cars, out in the sun for the first time this year.

Much of the inspection work can be done in the barn.  The 308's air system, for instance, was completely checked out.

And here's a picture of the compressor running, with essentially no sparking at the brushes.

Some of the contactors:

And the reverser:

Meanwhile, over on the pit lead, Zach and some of the others are trying to repair the one bad main bearing on the 251.  Here he's sort of holding a class on wedges and bearings with the McKays as students.  It's important to pass on our expertise to new members, otherwise known as institutional memory.

What a beautiful car!  I can remember helping a little when Dennis Storzek painted it forty years ago.

Chuck Meter and Ed Woytula were hard at work on the PCC truck.

And down in the pit, Nick is checking out the heat system on the 4391.

Joel verifies that all the contactors are making good contact when the drum rotates.

And here's the motor that drives the accelerator.

Buzz continues making parts for the velocipede.

Meanwhile, the B&G guys were busy in the great outdoors.  Here Dave Diamond and the others are taking down the fence which blocked off the area where the model railroad building will be.  All the permits are in hand, and once the roads are unposted the concrete will start rolling in.   Very exciting!

And our first stoplight was installed at the corner of Depot and Central!

Sorry, that was just a picture of Al taking a picture of me.   Let's try again:

The team consisted of Dave, Max, Gerry, and Al.  Dave wants me to point out that all these exciting improvements to the property will happen a lot faster with the aid of your tax-deductible contributions!

Gerry asked me to take a look at the control for the new oven, since we didn't get any instructions with it.  It seems pretty straightforward, and once the new three-phase wiring is in place, we should be able to test it.

This is the temperature control.   The little knob adjusts the red pointer at the top, which in this picture is set to 450.  The maximum reading is 650.  The black pointer below presumably indicates the oven temperature, and it's just an on/off thermostat.

The junction box is very simple.   It's obvious where the three-phase wires are connected; they were just cut off when the oven was moved.  There's an on-off switch for the control on the side of the box.

This, as I take it, is an overload relay.

On top of the oven is this convection fan; there's also a similar exhaust fan.

The fans are controlled by these two pushbutton switches below the junction box.

And that's it!  How would you like your axle bearings done: medium rare?

And in American Flyer news, the late Joe Reuter had a varied collection of model trains; the only AF piece seems to be this nice Pennsy K-5.  It's missing a few parts, but I'm sure I can get it to run.

Also, Henry told me about an interesting donation to the Museum of an American Flyer display layout.  But I think I'll wait until I've had a chance to examine and photograph it before I say anything more.  So don't touch that dial!