Wednesday, July 31, 2019

451 Progress

For various reasons it's been a few weeks since I was able to work on the 451, so it was good to get back to this project.  New member Tim Wills has helped by repainting various parts, including the rope guards seen here.

Then we continued to sort out parts in the car.  Two trap doors have not yet been installed.  The linoleum covering has come loose in places, so I need to get some adhesive to reattach them.   For the time being, they're stored in the shop.

Then we want to install the brackets that hold up the trap doors at the #1 end.  They look like this.

But first, we need to install the one remaining stepwell.  We carried it over to the car, and came to the conclusion we couldn't lift it into place ourselves.   We'll need some help.  But all the necessary parts are on hand, and we hope to have this done soon.

Then I spent some time to check the lubrication on the wood car train.  The 309, 36, and 319 will be running on Sunday for the Extravaganza.  Don't miss it!

Other projects in the shop:   the PCC truck is starting to go back together.

Tim Peters continues to produce new windows for the 1754.

Pete Galayda continues work on the 160, and will also be helping us with matching paint for the 451.  And John Sheldon was working on the 306.   So for a Tuesday, there was lots of activity.

Finally, we have pictures of work on the Multi-Purpose building.   The insulation has been installed in the roof, and is going into place along the walls.

Plumbing sticking up through the floor:

And I see we even have enough folding chairs to start holding board meetings here.   Now that's real progress!

Monday, July 29, 2019

News on the 453 Fund

We don't want to keep beating the same drum every day, but we have an important opportunity to acquire another CA&E car that we don't want to miss.  Read all about it here.

At last report, the fund had about $5,000 donated so far.  That's a good start, but we need a lot more, and we need it soon.  We need to move the car before winter sets in for several reasons.  Please give generously!

IRM and the Big Boy

As you probably know, the Union Pacific's newly restored Big Boy 4014 has been making its way around the Midwest recently, and for the past three days it's been on display in West Chicago.  We're a UP customer, of a sort, and they graciously invited us to set up a booth near the locomotive and hand out brochures and old magazines.  Here's our booth with the Executive Director firmly in control of the situation.

Right across from us is the largest operating steam locomotive in the US, with a constant stream of visitors.  Of course Monday's crowd was not as big as the two previous days, since many poor souls have to work for a living.  I can vaguely remember the stress and strain myself, but that's another story.

Today Nick, Sam, and I were the representatives of the Museum.  Old train magazines are a favorite with kids, especially when they're free and your parents let you take as much as you want.

There were long lines to get into some of the cars in the executive train.   And all day there were lines of people on the overpass looking down on the scene.   You just had to be there.

At the end of the day, after everybody had gone home, I was finally able to get a clear shot of the locomotive, laid up warm for its next trip tomorrow.

We really appreciate the UP's generosity in inviting us to publicize the Museum to the visitors.  We can't thank them enough for letting us do this.  IRM was really the only outside organization represented at the event.

All the news that's fit to e-mail

The latest museum e-newsletter is below. Remember, you can get these sent to your very own inbox if you sign up at the bottom of the museum's home page. That way you don't need to come to our blog to get your IRM news! ...wait a second... on second thought, you don't really need to get your news direct from the museum, now, do you?

New Offerings and Limited-Time Deals
There's a lot happening right now at IRM! First off, discount tickets to Happy Holiday Railway are available for the next few days only. Reserve your seat now and save money! We are also offering a never-before-seen opportunity to ride in the cab of your favorite diesel during Diesel Days. Or you can become the engineer yourself during this popular event and operate a full-size diesel locomotive! Space for both of these is very limited so make sure you sign up early. Much more is happening, including new equipment acquisitions and upcoming special events.
Featured in this e-newsletter:
  • Happy Holiday Railway tickets available at discounted prices - limited time only
  • Cab Rides and Take the Throttle opportunities during Diesel Days
  • Vintage Transport Extravaganza is August 4th - tickets available online now
  • New diesel locomotive acquired by IRM
  • Steam-powered caboose train scheduled for dates in August and September
  • IRM offered historic Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban car
  • Electroliner restoration progress report
  • Nighttime operations coming up Labor Day Weekend
  • Cosmetic restoration work proceeding on Southern Pacific 975
  • We need volunteers and you can help!
  • You can now take public transportation to IRM
Visit us online for schedules, blog updates, and more

Happy Holiday Railway sale

Tickets for our popular Happy Holiday Railway event in November and December are on sale now for a limited time! Get $2-off your ticket if you purchase during the next few days. Additional dates have been added for 2019, with trains running starting November 23rd. Last year ALL of our trains for this event sold out so don't delay!
Click here for info and tickets

Unique Diesel Days Opportunities

This year we are offering something new for Diesel Days on August 9th-11th: cab rides and "Take the Throttle" opportunities where you can be the engineer! There's no better place to truly experience your favorite historic diesel than from the cab of the engine. Spaces are extremely limited so sign up today. For a complete list of what locomotives will be operating and when, along with online tickets for cab rides, click here:
Diesel Days tickets and information

Vintage Transport Extravaganza

One of the biggest antique vehicle shows in the Midwest is coming up this weekend, on Sunday, August 4th! See hundreds of antique cars, trucks, buses, and military vehicles alongside the museum's trains. Ride the steam coach train, the Nebraska Zephyr, and more. Plan to stay the day - there is a LOT to see at this event!
Tickets and antique vehicle registration here

New U28B Diesel Acquired

On July 25th a new locomotive arrived at IRM: a General Electric U28B diesel built in 1967. This engine, TTI 260, was originally built as Chicago Burlington & Quincy 114 and the museum plans to eventually restore it to that appearance. CSX Transportation generously donated this historic engine, which is the only preserved example of its type in the world.
Click for more info on this acquisition

Steam Caboose Trains in 2019

Our Steam Team has officially put Shay 5, our geared steam engine, into service for the first time since 1999 and its debut pulling the caboose train Memorial Day Weekend was a great success. The Shay will pull the caboose train on August 24th, 25th, and 31st; and September 1st, 2nd, 14th, and 15th this year. Make sure you join us and see this unique engine - nicknamed the "Sewing Machine" - in action!
Calendar and schedule information

IRM offered CA&E interurban car

We have been offered the opportunity to purchase a complete Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban car from another museum. Car 453 was built in 1946 and its acquisition would allow the museum to field a five-car train of CA&E cars, a sight not seen since 1957! The acquisition of this car is dependent on raising $25,000 to purchase and move it, so your help is needed.
Click for info and to donate

Electroliner Update

Progress is continuing to be made, albeit mostly behind the scenes, on the famous North Shore "Electroliner." In June the train set's five rebuilt trucks (pictured) were delivered and materials needed to reassemble the train are now being sourced. The interior work on the end car is also proceeding, with the ceiling now back in place on the car. Stay tuned for more news!
Click here to donate

Night Trains Labor Day Weekend

The most immersive event IRM runs is our Labor Day Weekend event, when on that Saturday and Sunday trains run until 9:30pm. If you've never seen a steam train at twilight, or ridden an electric train with kerosene lanterns on it at night, you're in for a real treat. Join us for this unforgettable step back into the past. And don't forget your camera!
Click for event information

Repainting of SP 975

One of the rarer steam engines preserved at IRM is Southern Pacific (Texas & New Orleans) 975, a 2-10-2 "Santa Fe" type built in 1918 during World War I. One of only six U.S. 2-10-2s preserved, 975 is currently undergoing cosmetic restoration which will see it in a fresh coat of paint and with some missing components reinstalled. Make sure to take a look during your next visit!

Volunteers Needed!

Do you love trains? Do you have some free time, whether it's weekly or just a few times a year? Are you an IRM member? If you answered "yes" then you are an ideal candidate to be an IRM volunteer! We need people to help restore and maintain the trains. It's a fun, interesting, and rewarding way to spend your time. No experience is necessary - we will "train" you!
Contact us to ask about volunteering

Take public transit to IRM in 2019

Starting in 2019, the museum is 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

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Visit to Arden

Frank writes...

Business had me in Pittsburgh again last weekend, so as I typically do I proceeded down to Washington PA to darken the door of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. Bruce Wells and his family were gracious hosts as always and were kind enough to show me around so that I could see all of the progress being made.

One piece of equipment that wasn't in the PTM shop the last time I visited was Shaker Heights 94, a PCC built new for that line by Pullman-Standard. These cars were 9' wide, the same width as Chicago PCC cars, so this thing bears something of a resemblance to the now-extinct cars built by Pullman for the CSL.
The back end of the car looks less like its CSL counterparts, though: no back doors! These Shaker cars were actually the same length as Chicago's cars as well as being the same width but they lacked the Chicago door arrangement (though they did have never-used left-side doors). This particular car, though not operational, is being cosmetically restored by PTM volunteers from Cleveland. As late as Shaker Heights ran their Pullmans, they were in pretty rusty condition towards the end so only a couple are preserved in decent condition and none currently operate anywhere.
Philadelphia Peter Witt 8042 is one of the current long-term projects at PTM. The front end of this car has been completely rebuilt.
The PTM "trophy wall" consists of a number of dash panels from various pieces of equipment. Here we see dash panels from a Pittsburgh weed sprayer, what I think is a Red Arrow Brilliner, and a Pittsburgh low-floor car which is currently in the PTM operating fleet.
The highlight of the visit was definitely West Penn 832, the only Cincinnati curve-side car that was preserved intact. This car was the subject of a years-long frame-up restoration effort. Major work concluded in 2018 but motor work took until this summer to finish up, so the car is only now being put through its paces before being put into regular use. The restoration job on this car is really gorgeous and it is a true showpiece. It's also a very historic car, as one of the last - and most modern - curve-side cars built by Cincinnati.
As for my father, he's away from the museum this week. This past weekend he was, unlike me, contributing to the common cause by helping out at the second Day Out With Thomas weekend. The photographic proof is above, courtesy of Matt Gustafson.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

American Gothic

I was unable to be out at IRM last weekend, due to a death in my wife's family.  But on the way back from the funeral in Denver, I managed to find this picture at an antique store in Des Moines:

The only identification is "Streetcar photograph".  Streetcar, bah!  It's obviously one of the Fort Dodge Des Moines and Southern's big Niles combines, rebuilt with arched roof and squared-off upper sash.  I just wish I knew the photographer, and what the occasion was -- honeymoon?  Anniversary?  First visit to the big city?  Your guess is as good as mine!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Thomas, le premier dimanche

Frank writes...

The first weekend of Day Out With Thomas has now come and gone. Overall things ran fairly smoothly and, for the most part, largely as they have in recent years. One of the changes was that the Percy train was powered by diesel rather than steam. Crowd sizes were down a bit from the previous year but that seems to be the case at most Thomas events nationwide.

My post for the day was the 3142, shown above at the "Thomas stop" alongside Barn 9 before the fun commenced. The car ran flawlessly all day, making 26 trips in all if memory serves. Thanks to Dennis Matl and Jack Rzepecki who gave me breaks and, in Jack's case, helped put the car away at the end of the day.
As usual, there were four cars on the streetcar line, and due to some revisions to standard operating practices there was much less "bunching" than in the past. Besides the 3142, Bob Opal was running the 415, Jeff Obarek and Frank Sirinek were on the 4391, and Dennis Matl and Randy Allegrezza were on the 144.
I was too busy going in circles during the day to take any photos, but after everything wound down I did a bit of wandering to get some news updates. The multi-purpose building is coming along nicely, as shown, with almost all of the roof in place now.
B&G seems to have set up a "pick-a-brick" display in front of the partially completed building. Judging from the artist's renderings, I believe that all of these will be used on the building because it will be designed to appear as two or three adjoining structures of slightly differing designs.
And the Schroeder Store was very nicely decked out for July.
This is something new, a nice touch I noticed while on the streetcar line. B&G has installed a locomotive bell on a pole next to the Springfield Avenue stop at the south end of the property. There's a rope so that kids of all ages can ring the bell to their heart's content. This strikes me as a good idea, as does its remote location at the south end of the property!
And of course there's progress in the car shop as usual. The 1754 continues to come along. This may have already been mentioned here, but what's that little drain cock right underneath the retriever bracket?
And Thomas Slater showed me all of the work that is being done on CTA 4146, the "Baldy," a project that he has taken on with help from Nick Espevik, Jack, Bill Wulfert, and others. The car's interior is shown above. A lot of this has been stripped and primed, ready for paint. There's also been structural steel replacement in the wall section to the left and the seat frames have been fixed up and are ready to go back in. Additional details, like backdating the exterior door lights, repairing heaters so that the car can be used in cold weather, checking the doors and brakes, and getting the forced-air ventilation system working, are being attended to as well. Only four "Baldy" type cars from the CTA were preserved and this is the only one that is in anything like good condition, so it's a very historic car.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


Today's bad news is that the 308 is definitely out of service for the foreseeable future.  With some work, I was able to rotate the motor to where the flashover occurred, and it's quite a hole.  You have to see it in person to appreciate just what a 600V DC arc can do.  I suppose that's why they only let you play with 120V AC at home, kids.  But we have spare motors, and at some point they can be rebuilt for continued service, though with significant trouble and expense.

Apart from this explosive news, things went pretty well.  Work continues on the Multi-Purpose Building.  One of its purposes is to keep the rain off, so the workmen are now installing the roof.

And let's not forget that Thomas™ will be here this weekend, so IRM is getting ready.   Here's a big tent near the entrance already set up.   And there's more to come.  We can always use more help, by the way.

In the picture above, you'll notice a tour bus.   We had a large group from Milwaukee visiting today.  The two-car 4000 train was brought out to carry the crowd, and they had guided tours.   Fred, Derek, and Shelby were providing the necessary services.

Meanwhile, in the car shop, Tim had an assembly line set up for the clerestory windows.

And I continued working on the 451.  Among other things, I attached the handrails.  Most of them have not yet been painted, were not labeled, and they'll all need touchup, but at least I was able to bolt them in place, so they can be identified when we take them off for repainting.  Actually, I could only find seven of the the eight, but I haven't yet got down to the floor everywhere, so I imagine the last one will eventually appear.   And of course there's lots more to do.

And as if that isn't enough, wait, there's more!!!