Friday, August 30, 2019

In Memoriam Max Tyms

Sadly, we must report that long-time member Max Tyms died Thursday evening due to complications from a stroke.  He was 61.  His wife Tanya said that there are no services planned by the family.

Max will certainly be missed by everyone who has worked at IRM at any time in the last 30 years.  For much of that period, he was almost a one-man line department, and has left an enduring legacy in much of our current electrical system, which is of course at the heart of the Museum's operation.  He was a long-time member of the IBEW, of course, and took great pride in the quality of his work.  It's doubtful that anyone who ever met or worked with Max will forget him.

And actually, I can think of no better tribute than a piece that Max himself wrote several years ago, which we posted here.  He was a man of strong opinions, and never hesitated to advance the causes he believed in.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wednesday Report

Another productive Wednesday featured great weather and lots of activity.  But we'll start with a few roster shots of steam locomotives on the turntable leads.

This is the newly-repainted SP 975.  It's a purely cosmetic restoration, but it certainly looks great.

Next is the 1630, with its new auxiliary tender.  This replaces the old milk car.

Finally, the Shay will be running this weekend along with the 1630.  You won't want to miss it.

And in Main St. news, the floor for the Multi-Purpose Building was poured yesterday.  It needs to be watered on a regular basis for the first week to keep the concrete cool enough to cure properly.  

Dave Diamond had started on watering the floor, but he had other important things to do, so I volunteered.  It's not a difficult job, sort of like watering the lawn.   And I did this three times.

After watering, it looks like this, but it tends to dry quickly.

One high-priority Car Dept. project is to switch out the middle track in Barn 4, so the Baldy can be made operational, and the roof booth can be used for more roof projects.  John Faulhaber, Gerry, and I worked on this in the morning, with help from Chuck Meter.  I should have taken a "before" picture, but those of you who have been around for a while will remember what the front of the 28 looked like.  We managed to clear nearly everything away, and moving the car now appears possible.  That was fun.

We also met a new couple who recently joined, and wanted to volunteer.  Their names are Randy and Bev, and after some discussion they spent most of the day helping Ed with sanding the ceiling of the Electroliner A unit.  This seemed to go well, and they said they'd be back next week.  We certainly hope so!

Tim is installing the siding on the 1754.  Those splotches are lens reflections, not something in the paint.

Reggie continued to work on the 213.

I did some cleaning in the wood cars, and checked the oil levels so they'll be ready to run this weekend.  We still need additional crewmen each day.

Finally, today's service car was the 749, with motorman Ron Seavers and conductor Henry Vincent.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Where Did It Go?

Summer's almost over, but we still have plenty of time left for great activities at IRM.  More about that later.  Today the weather was perfect, and we had a good crowd of visitors.  I was busy on Car Dept. projects, but operations seemed to go well.  The caboose train was running, with the IT Geep on the head end.

And the 1630 was powering the coach train.

The old and the not-so-old.  Depending on how old you are.

And two CTA singles were running the mainline also.  Another one of those implausible pictures you'll only see at IRM.

The operating crews included a number of relatively new people.  That's great, because we can always use more help.  And here's one of our newest members, who joined just a few weeks ago.  Rob has been showing up regularly ever since.  He went to our storage locker and picked out a uniform jacket and pants, and even managed to find a cap that fit.  So he looks quite spiffy.  And best of all, it was free!

   And at the end of the day, he's getting ready to sweep out the cars.  So I guess the moral of the story is:  this could be you.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of activity as usual in the car shop.  Chuck and Ed were working on the PCC truck, and it's going together nicely.  I should have taken more pictures of the various projects.  Buzz was making a seat for the velocipede, John McKelvey and Jane Blackburn were doing upholstery,  Victor and Bill were working on the cabin car, Joel and his crew were doing inspection on the 714,  and so on.

Anyway, Tim Wills was out and worked on handrails for the 451.  He also helped me mount this bracket on the car.  It's heavy and hard to handle, but we managed to get it into place, and I was able to install some but not all of the bolts needed.  At least it won't fall off.  This bracket mounts under the stepwell and supports the pilot.

Nick is working on arranging the move for the 453.  He and I spent some time making measurements needed by Silk Road for moving the car.  We don't have a schedule yet, but when everything's in place we'll let you know.

And again, I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to the 453 Fund.  Your generosity keeps the Museum going and growing, and it's something we can all be proud of.

Now, in case you haven't noticed, next week is Labor Day Weekend, which features night-time operations.  The CA&E wood cars are scheduled to operate all three days, including night runs on Sunday evening, but we need crews!  In particular, I need a complete crew for Saturday, or it will have to be cancelled.  I plan to be there both Sunday and Monday, but we can still use help on those days also.  Have a talk with your conscience, and let us know what the conclusion was.  Thanks!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Larry Konsbruck Memorial Service

Larry Konsbruck, the son of long time and deceased member Bob Konsbruck, passed away on August 3 and his family will have a remembrance of Larry's life at IRM on Sunday August 25 starting at 5PM at the Central Avenue Pavilion. Larry worked alongside his father at IRM for many years on a wide variety of projects over the years including giving IRM its very first proper electric substation to allow the correct operation of IRM's collection of electric railway equipment.
Illinois Terminal streetcar 415 has been made available for the memorial service and will make a trip around the streetcar loop after 5PM and may also take a mainline trip if the family desires this. The car line trip will start at Central Avenue. The memorial service is open to all IRM members, as is the streetcar ride to the extent the car's capacity allows.  Larry's family obviously have first right to the seats in IT 415 for the remembrance trips.
Ray Weart
Illinois Railway Museum

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

SUCCESS on Car 453!

We are overjoyed to announce that the fund-raising drive has been successful in raising the money needed to purchase, transport, and store car 453!   It will be coming soon to a museum near you!

A large number of people contributed to make this possible, and we thank you all.  Two donors in particular gave substantial amounts.  One of them came from a long-time member, who wishes to remain anonymous, in celebration of his 45th year since joining the Museum in 1974.  The other came from Jeffrey L. Wien.  Jeff comments:  "I felt that I was playing the role of a White Knight in making my donation.... I donated to the 453 fund because the 450 class were the last interurbans built in the U.S. and to me were very aesthetically attractive.  Now we will have 75% of the surviving 450 class!  It should also be mentioned that as a former North Shore Line employee, that I have always favored North Shore equipment, but this time I wanted to make sure that a rare piece of CA&E history is preserved.  Julie Johnson would be pleased."

Now -- if you have not yet contributed, don't worry.  We still need to restore the 453.  At a minimum, we will want to hire a professional to sand-blast and repaint the exterior to match the other steel cars.  We are in the process of applying for a matching grant to make this possible, and so we would ask you to hold off on any more donations to the 453 at this time.  Once we have made a more detailed determination of what needs to be done, and applied for the matching grant, further contributions may be worth much more.

Nick is working on the arrangements for moving the car.  Of course, the Electric City guys will need to do some re-arranging of their own to get the 453 to where it can be loaded, but they are eager for both the money and the barn space, so we hope it will not be long.  Now it's the 453 vs the Electroliner -- which will be first to get put on its trucks?  Jan will be taking your bets at the bookie window during regular hours.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Another Kaboom!

I was on weekday service again, and it was briefly exciting.  The morning was mostly light rain, but there were visitors arriving, so I got out the 415 as usual.

I actually had a good-sized crowd for the 11:00 departure.  We went around the carline, and then proceeded to Depot St. and I got ready to stop and throw the electric switch.   Then: Kaboom!   There was a lighting strike not too far ahead!   The DC went off, and we came to a stop.  It never came back on, so I had to unload the passengers where we were.  They were all very accepting of the situation.

The substation would not reset, so there wasn't much I could do.  Luckily Gregg was in Barn 2, working on the doodlebug, and he agreed to run the Army Diesel to put the 415 away.  That took us a while, but we got it done without much trouble.  I believe the B&G guys were trying to find out what was wrong and isolate the problem, but when I left DC was still off on the property.  Luckily we never lost AC.   Thanks again to Gregg for helping out in an emergency.  I was told that Max is in hospital.  We certainly wish him well and hope he recovers soon.

The rest of the day was occupied with sorting parts and cleaning in both the 321 and 451.  I just regret missing the photo opportunity of a lifetime!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Three Steps Forward

Today was another great day out at the Museum.  I don't know if we're actually competing with the Air and Water Show, as somebody said, but at least you aren't going to strain your neck and damage your vision by constantly looking up at the sky at IRM.  That's good enough for me.

It took some effort, but I managed to get the final stepwell on the 451 into position, by jacking it up in the same manner I used for reinstalling the contactors in the 36.  Not all of the bolts are in place, but enough so that it can't possibly fall out.  The easiest way to complete this job will be to put the car over the pit at some point, but that can wait.  In any case, that was a satisfying accomplishment. 

You will notice that the bracket for the trap door is also installed.  I brought the door over, but it doesn't quite fit.  Another of life's many conundrums.  We're sure to get this fixed, as soon as better minds than mine have had a chance to ponder the problem.

But meanwhile, there was lots of interesting activity going on at the Museum.  The steam train was running, and that's always a magnet for photographers of all sorts.

And then, today we had an actual interurban freight train.  This shows off the best work of our Freight Car Department.  Now it seems to me that the Burlington Route was not actually an interurban, but you can't have everything.  In any case, this waycar looks great.

The B&O wagontop boxcar is just perfect.  It doesn't get any better than this, even in HO.

The Indian Refining Company tank car:

The Great Northern Hopper:

I love molasses.  Don't you?

And the train was powered by the Com Ed 4.

You can't fit many people into a single waycar, so we also had the wood L cars running.

There are property improvements going on, as always.  Here are a couple of views of the newly poured foundation for the inspection pit in the Steam Shop.

And work continues on installing utilities in the Multi-Purpose Building.  Either that, or we have some awfully industrious moles.

Reggie was working on the 213.  

And the Michigan Electric 28 got some more hot rivets installed, thanks to the team of Jane, Stu, and Dan helping out Norm on this long-term project.

And of course Tim was working on the 1754.  He never seems to take a break.  It must be an optical illusion.

Now for the bottom line.  The people at Scranton want to move the 453 out soon.  If we don't take it, it will probably wind up in front of some shopping center getting wrecked by vandalism and weather.  Nigel won't be back until Monday, so I don't know where we are on funding, but I'm sure it isn't yet enough.  We need your contributions now!   Thanks!!!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tuesday Report

Yesterday I was running the 415, now that I'm on the weekday extra board.  We had many more visitors than usual for a weekday, I think, so the car was sometimes completely full.   That's always good to see.

Other than that, I was too busy to get many pictures.   Concrete was being poured for the inspection pit in the steam shop.   I didn't want to get too close and be in the way.  Next time I'm out we'll get to see what it looks like.

And then there's also work going on for utilities behind the MP building.

And our old friend Steve Iversen was working on the steps for the Kansas City PCC all day.

And that's all for today.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Weighting For An Answer

We need to know how much each truck on one of the CA&E St. Louis cars weighs.  If you have any leads to reliable information, please let us know. You can either send me an email, or comment, or use the blog contact gadget in the right-hand column.  I can't thank you enough!  

Friday, August 9, 2019

Diesel Days

I never thought it would come to this when I joined IRM back in 1974, but Diesel Days is now one of our biggest attractions.  This year there are three days, starting today.  And I got to be on the crew of the Zephyr, which of course is the pride of the fleet, I think.  There is nothing in existence quite like the E-5.

We had a bigger crowd than I would have expected for a Friday, and everybody seemed to be having a good time.   I'm told both the Take The Throttle and Cab Ride options are sold out, or nearly so.  That's a testimony to the success of our marketing operations.

Shelby the Zephyrette explains the details of luxury train travel back in the good old days to an appreciative audience.  On most of our trips both coaches were pretty full.

A great variety of motive power was used during the day, but I was too busy to get pictures of most of it.  There were lots of photographers around, so I'm sure good photos will turn up.

For instance, these two locomotives must have something in common, but I'm not sure what it is.

This RS-3 was used for exploring the south yards by the Take the Throttle participants.

We could use some more crewmen on both Saturday and Sunday, I believe.  And you still have a chance to take in all the action.