Sunday, April 28, 2019

Christmas come early this year

Frank writes...

Saturday was my first day out at IRM since last September. I think the last time I went this long without a visit to Union was when I was 2 and we lived in New Jersey. The good news was, I didn't miss Christmastime at the museum! What in the 27th of April is going on here?!?
The other good news is that it could have been worse; as ridiculous as this was, forecasts were for anywhere from 3" to 8" of snow. What we ended up with was only 2-3" on cars and perhaps an inch on the roads because the ground was warm enough that the snow didn't start sticking to the pavement until the sun went down.
The reason for my visit was the annual operating safety meeting, which was edifying as usual, and the annual meeting of the membership in the evening. During the day I got to chat with some out-of-towners like Tom Hunter, Steve Iversen, and Rich Block. I also caught up on progress on several projects made over the winter. Bill and Tim showed me all of the progress on the 1754; Bill showed me through the Baldy; and I got to see some riveting work (in more ways than one!) that was done just last week on Michigan 28. Above is the Fox River Electric car, which the last time I saw it was in its thirty-year home back in the corner of the barn.
In the 306's old spot now sits the Cleveland PCC, shown here with its biggest fan. Jon Fenlaciki and Mike Stauber were hard at work sanding down the roof boards on the 65, out of view to the right in this shot, while the 'Liner crew was working on the interior of the A car.

In the evening I performed my civic duty and attended the annual meeting, which was led by Marcus Ruef since outgoing president Norm Krentel (now off the board due to term limits) had to be out of town. Our usual congratulations and condolences go out to Paul Cronin, who was reelected to a second term on the board, and to the Car Department's own Thomas Slater, who was elected to his first term. Thomas is currently the youngest member of the IRM board and the fact that we have directors whose ages span nearly 50 years speaks, I think, very positively of the organization. Congratulations also go to Marcus, who was afterwards elected president of the board, succeeding Norm.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Stay Tuned

The Annual Meeting will be starting in a few minutes as I write this, miles away, but Frank is there and will report on the result of the festivities when he gets a chance.  Meanwhile, we have several new car cards from the Streetcar Advertising site for you to enjoy.  They'll be going into the 308 soon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

More Inspection

The inspection process continued today, as I had some time to look at the 36.  I basically finished everything I could do without getting the car over the pit, since there was no one around to authorize movement.  And I have a question or two for the experts, but otherwise it all looks OK.

And as usual, people were busy with other projects.   Tim is fitting new clerestory window sash on the 1754.  He kept complaining that the window openings were not quite square.  Some people are just never satisfied.

Frank K. spent a lot of time cleaning up underbody parts.

Gregg brought over some window frames from the doodlebug for rebuilding:

And inspection of the 36 generally wasn't very photogenic, except for a loose piece on one of the seat cushions.  This was quickly fixed in my little workshop in the 150.

John was working in the Electroliner, and proudly showed off all they've accomplished so far in putting the ceiling back together.

And there were other things going on.   Our old friend Dave Conrad, who was once the head of the Steam Dept., was visiting, so I got to talk to him for a while, along with Gregg Wolfersheim.  Two guys I've known since about 1975....  And then I wound up helping out two vending machine fans, who wanted to go around and write down the serial numbers of all our pop machines.  You just never know what people will be interested in.

Last fall I installed a new sanitary chute on the 319, since the old one was rusting away, and today it was warm enough to get a coat of primer on it.

But that was about it.  I have various trips and other commitments coming up, so these posts may be few and far between.  You'll just have to get used to it.

Friday, April 19, 2019

In Memoriam Jeff Brady

It is with deep sadness that we must report the death of Jeff Brady, who died peacefully yesterday after a long struggle with cancer.  There is no good way to fully express the loss that this means to the Museum as a whole, and to his many friends here and at several other museums as well.

Jeff was one of the longest serving members on record; we think he probably joined about 1960, when IERM was still located at North Chicago.  In this picture, he had recently started work on North Shore 354, and its restoration would continue to occupy him as time permitted until it was complete.

And in another picture from North Chicago, he worked on repainting the 277.

Over the years, he tirelessly served the Museum in several ways.  He was the President of the Board for at least one term, and was also the Car Department head for a while.  He was always ready to contribute his extensive engineering knowledge to projects large and small, and always insisted on completing work to the highest possible standards.
I met him on the day I joined the Museum back in 1974, and he remained a real friend for the next 45 years.  In happier days, here we are at Branford when he and Norm were helping with a project to acquire the correct motor truck for one of the CA&E cars.  I wish I could say more about him, but I'm really at a loss for words.

We are told that funeral arrangements will be private.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Hop, Hop, Hop!

.. to the Bunny Trolley Hop!  This is a relatively new event, and today it seemed to go extremely well.  Everybody I talked to seemed to be having a good time.   The weather was rather cold and windy, but that didn't seem to be a big problem.  As we have mentioned, tomorrow will be worse.  I was too busy to take many pictures, so you'll just have to be there in person to see for yourself.  Bring any small children you have available, they'll love it!

I spent the day running the 3142 on the car line.  It has been nicely decorated for the occasion:

Actually, I'm not sure who deserves all the credit for the work that went into this, but whoever you are, thanks!

We had two cars running in regular service on the car line, the 3142 and IT 415, which you may have seen before.  The special trains running on the mainline were the 431 and 409, seen here:

And the 749:

They have nice magnetic signs attached to the sides.  I can hardly wait to see what happens when somebody decides to run some of MY cars in this service....

You meet the nicest people at IRM:

Among other things, the Galt House was open and used as a venue for coloring pictures and other special activities:

You may not think of Nick Kallas as a wedding planner, but he's one of the most versatile people you'll ever meet.  Today he was showing a small group of people around who were looking for a great wedding location, and we seemed to have what they were looking for.  This is a wedding people won't soon forget.  So if any of you out there are thinking of getting married... we've got the solution!

Then I met some people from Portola, who were visiting for the first time.  And at least one visitor who was impressed with how clean the windows were on all the cars, and remarked on how that made the visit much more enjoyable.   Hey, don't tell me we're out of Windex!

There are, of course, plenty of activities for the children.  This year there are just two Bunny days, but next year there may be more.  Anyway, the main thing is that our Museum is constantly trying new things to bring in more people and improve the experience for everybody.  It's always great to see that things are really hopping.

Tomorrow Has Been Cancelled

Tomorrow has been cancelled until further notice.  But seriously, as last I heard, the Operating Department had decided to cancel operations tomorrow (Sunday, April 14) due to the awful weather predictions.  You may be able to get updates by calling the office.  And, of course, working members will find a way to get into the shops regardless of flood, fire, or famine.  But I thought you should know.

Friday, April 12, 2019

This Week's Doodlebug Report

Gregg Wolfersheim continues to send us regular reports of progress on the UP doodlebug, which is located in Barn 2 out of sight of the public.  So it's good to get news on a project which would otherwise go unnoticed.  He writes:

Just a few pics of progress on M-35.  We're using 1/4 inch insulation sheets above the windows. It's the only thing that will fit. Originally, there were asbestos sheets here, but they have been removed.

Over the window in the heater room there are two sheet metal panels that hold the insulation in place.

In the men's room, we have the panel in place holding the pink insulation. There are 6 pins that come through the metal panels. The ends are bent over to hold the panel. They must clear the window which slides past them when raised. 

There is another double sheet metal panel over the fire board that covers the area over the window. This is in the heater room, and we also see that the window has been put back in place after nearly 20 years! Work is now concentrating in the men's room area with painting of the walls.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Ready to Open

Today was another nice day with lots of productive activity.  Much of it I missed, but that's the way it goes.  You just gotta be there in person.

Anyway, I finished up most of the inspection on the 319, and all of the lubrication, including the armature bearings.   Here it is outside the barn:

Sometimes it's nice to just stand back and admire the roof job.

Lubrication is an unpleasant task, but on this car the armature bearings are much easier to access, mostly because the GE 254 is a far better design, and also because there's a lot more room between the motors and the carbody, as you can see in this view:

After finishing up the 319, I spent some time working on car cards in the 308.  Much more pleasant. The Johnson cards we have are nice, but they're almost all obviously from the 1920's, and the car itself is restored to about 1950.  There are signs at each end telling you, for instance, that the Korean War has just started.  So this ad for Arrow collars, artistic as it may be, was first on the hit list.  2 for 25¢, indeed.  Luckily the new car cards we had made are the same size, so I was able to replace the most out-of-date cards one by one.

For the year 1950, Bromo-Seltzer is much more appropriate:

As are Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.  The new cards fit in nicely and look great.   Now I just want to get some more!

Among other things, I needed to find our supply of extra springs that hold the car cards in place, so I went over to Barn 11 to look in the 321.  There were several Diesel Dept. guys at work there, so they had opened the doors at each end of the barn.   If you don't look very close, it's still not too bad:

One of the activities today was a switching class for new members held by the Operating Department.  This is important because switch moves are inherently dangerous, especially in an operation like ours, and it was good to see so many people attending.  They brought the 415 out to ferry people around the property.

While lubrication is unpleasant, I like needle-chipping even less.   But Chuck Meter was at work all day needle-chipping parts for the PCC truck.  He's really doing a great job on this difficult project.

The Electroliner crew are making good progress; they've installed all of the ceiling panels and are now installing the various trim strips.

And Tim has been doing a lot of stripping on the interior of the 1754:

Finally, here's the updated wiring jig that Lorne has made for the Cleveland PCC.  It's basically a 1:1 model of the interior framing.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is Opening Day, so bring your family and friends! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Inspector's Report

Inspection season is in full swing, and today we can report on the 319.  This is one of the first cars we want to get running for regular service, so today after some switching I was able to pull it over the pit.  And I finished most of the items that require the car to be over the pit, such as the motors and brake adjustment.  What fun!

Here are some views of the control system.  This all seems to work as it should.  This is one case where I need a helper for short periods, so Jon Fenlaciki, John Faulhaber, and Dave Rogan helped with lifting the box covers and so on. 

 No serious issues were found, but while inspecting the motors at the #1 end I noticed that the ground cable was disconnected.  It's probably been like this ever since we got the car, and perhaps happened when it was being moved.  All the electrical systems still work, of course, but it would be nice to have this reconnected.  I could not figure out an easy way to do that, so for the time being I made up a temporary splice with some additional wire.  Maybe someone who's younger and smarter than I can fix it.

But other than that, we are close to being ready for passenger service.

And you will not be surprised to learn that there were several other projects being worked on, most of which I was too busy to photograph.   Here Gerry is welding steel on the 306.

Jon takes time out from roof work on the 65 to fix the Museum's scaffold.  John and Gerry provide the needed supervision.

Lorne is making this wooden frame which will serve as a pattern for wiring up the Cleveland PCC.  This car will be almost completely new when they're done.

Finally, in the realm of property improvement, we should note that this Roto-Gate from the CTA (aka the "Iron Maiden") has been nicely repainted and installed at the location of the old ticket booth.  Visitors will be able to exit through it from the depot area to the parking lot.  It just needs a little more asphalt.

I would think the people at Schroeder's would object.   At most museums the only possible exit is through, or at least near, the gift shop.