Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Roof Work on 451

I was on vacation in Arizona since my last report, but there isn't much of railroad interest to see from the trip, although we had a great time visiting with family.  I just missed seeing the 4014 at Casa Grande.  And while doing some off-roading, we crossed what appears to be a railroad to nowhere:

But now that we're back in Illinois, there's plenty to report.

First of all, while I was gone, Gerry Dettloff and Chuck Meter installed the second pilot on the 451, at the #1 end, along with the diagonal braces.  That's a big help and is much appreciated.

Then I went over to the 453 to check out its roof.  It certainly appears that nothing has been done to it since leaving Wheaton, other than removing the bases and fuse box.  But it makes clear how everything should be arranged on the 451.  Bob Albertson helped by coming along to hold the ladder, and I wouldn't want to be climbing onto the car in an empty barn all by myself.  I took these pictures of the 453 mostly for my own reference.  

This is the #2 end.  I noticed immediately that the horn appeared to be slightly offset to one side.  I later figured out why.

  I spent the rest of the day working on the roof of the 451.  I installed six more saddles before running out of caulk, since I was trying a different brand.  It worked well.  Only six more to go.

Then, it was time to work on other parts.  There's no reason not to install the rest of the roof apparatus.  Here we're looking up into the attic at the #2 end of the 451.  You can see where the roof cable will go up through the canvas at one side, and also the piping for the horn.  There is a longitudinal bar supporting the roof right in the middle, which is why the pipe has to be slightly offset to one side.

And here's another part of the attic at the #1 end.

So I started installing the pipes for the horns.  This is the #1 end, and I had just enough caulk to install the casting.  Victor wandered by and helped by pushing the pipe up through the canvas until I could thread the casting onto it.

And also we need to install the roof vents.  There's one at each end, over the motorman's position.  The #1 vent has already been painted black and will be installed next time.  The #2 vent needs primer and finish black, so I left it on the table in the barn with our other parts.

You will wonder what else was going on.  The 1754 was temporarily over the pit.

And the 757 is now at the west end of 43.

Bill is busily painting the siding for the Pennsy bobber.

And roof work is progressing nicely on the 65.  By the end of the day, Jon had started tacking.

And the Cleveland PCC truck now has all four wheels.  Chuck has really been working hard on this project. 

Pete Galayda has been working on the interior of the 160.  A lot of the nice woodwork is ready for varnish, and in the second picture below we see what it will look like.  Almost like the 309!

Anyway, in spite of the weather, there's always more to be done, and we can certainly use more help.
See you soon!

Monday, October 28, 2019

End of the season

Frank writes...

I was able to make it out to IRM on Sunday for a rather unorthodox day. It was the last day of the regular operating season and the Pumpkin Train event was in full swing (and seemingly well patronized) but I didn't go up to the depot to get a photo of the service trains. It appeared that CA&E 409-431 and NSL 160-749 were the service trains. Anyway, I started off by checking in on the 453. I hadn't seen this car since it was in North Olmsted.

Not terribly exciting, I know, but I was glad to see the car safe and sound in Barn 6. Then I spent a while leading a few friends on a guided tour of the south barns. They're mostly freight car fans so they were happy to see the restored (and unrestored) freight cars in those buildings. One of the things we stumbled upon was the Santa Fe stock car, which has nice newly-printed exhibit boards. I believe the plan is for this car, and maybe one or two other freight cars, to be put on public display in Barn 3 starting next year. There is also track lighting in the ceiling which should make for a very attractive and professional-looking display.
And the products of some recent switch moves were also in evidence. It appears someone was checking the oil on TE 1 and left the hood up. Either that, or this is the railroad version of "hungry hungry hippos."
But after the tour it was on to something completely different: a field trip to the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin. The car shop crew has made a practice the last few years of going on a fall field trip to another museum within driving distance, so this year it was just up the road to FRTM where we were met by Jeff, one of the higher-ups there. The tour started with a walk through their three-track barn. Below is CA&E 458, which is nearing the end of a re-roofing job. They've replaced the tack molding and roof boards already. The next step will be applying a rubber roof, which has been very effective on NSL 715 in keeping the rain out, even for cars stored outside. This is now the only 450-series CA&E car not at IRM.
The 458 was on the center track at the door, while on the west track at the door was their Fox River Electric car. Behind it was a personal favorite of mine, the Chicago mail car.
And across from it, behind the 458, was CTA 4451. Up until a few years ago this car was in the regular operating fleet but its roof failed and it was retired until repairs could be made. That's now in progress, with a new roof being put on and a lot of steel work being done as well.
This is the back corner of the barn, with the CA&E line car to the left (it's behind the mail car) and a Soo Line caboose to the right (behind the 4451). Most of the damage from the bad vandalism case FRTM suffered a year ago has been repaired or at least cleaned up, but as you can tell from the 11 there is still some evidence of it here and there.
The east track is CA&E cars, with the 20 at the door and the 316 behind it (the 317 is temporarily outside and tarped until the roof job on 458 is completed). I took a couple of photos on the platform of the 316. Although it's the same series as 319 and 321, there are some unusual differences. First, it's got a brake valve to actuate the sleet scrapers. Our steel cars have a similar setup but all of our wood cars have a simpler three-position valve. Note too that the 316 retained its C-21 controller until the end and that it has a cover over the trap button at this position as well as on the off-side position.
And while all of our cars have a solid - and very hefty - bracket on the train door for hanging the cab heater, the 316 has this collapsible bracket that folds down to lie somewhat flat against the door when not in use. Interesting. The 316 was painted by FRTM in "coffee and cream" 1930s colors, same as we did with the 321, but apparently they found evidence that the vestibule interior was painted the same tan color as the doors so that's what they repainted it. On our cars, evidence suggested that the vestibule interiors remained painted Pullman green up until they were painted blue in the 1940s. Wheaton never did anything the same way twice!
Then it was time to go for a ride. We went for a trip on North Shore 715, sister car (of course) to our own 714. The museum just finished a complete repainting of this car within the last few weeks, including some steel repair work on the ends, and it really looks very nice. It probably hasn't looked this good since it was at East Troy, and maybe not since it was on the North Shore! It was pointed out that this end is still missing the lower half of its anti-climber, which was broken when the car was being moved to North Freedom, WI back in the mid-1960s. It's also - like the 714 - missing its rooftop "lobster traps," which FRTM hopes to replace if and when the car can be stored indoors.
And here's a group shot at Coleman Siding courtesy of one of the FRTM guys: Dan Fenlaciki, Nick Espevik, yours truly, Gregg Wolfersheim, Jeron Glander, Zach Ehlers, Joel Ahrendt, Greg Kepka, and Richard Schauer.
The other service train was a pair of spam cans, but why ride 'L' cars when you can ride this instead? The Fox River guys were kind enough to fire up CTA L202, which was built as Chicago Surface Lines L202 (though completely rebuilt by the CTA - probably little more than the frame and maybe the controller is left over from CSL days). A trip with the steeplecab pulling their IC caboose ensued.
And hey, I even got to run a bit! The cab of the L202 is very small - the locomotive is elevated width but there's a narrow walkway down each side of the cab, so the cab is even narrower - and it has a single ancient K-14 controller in the middle of the cab facing sideways. Neat stuff! Thanks to Zach for snapping the photo.
Many thanks to Jeff and the other FRTM guys for showing us around! It's always a good thing to "network" with other museums to share knowledge and help each other when possible. You never know when IRM and FRTM maybe able to help each other out. Before leaving, another interesting CA&E-ism was pointed out to me near the Fox River entrance. Below is a "wiper" actuator for a crossing signal bell on their lower loading track. The thick wires pointing towards the rail are sprung, and when hit by the wheel of a car they activate (or deactivate) the crossing signal. Pretty neat!

EDIT: Many thanks to Tim Fennell who sent along the following photographs:

First, a photo of the stock car interior with the track lighting lit:
And a photo of the Pullman car John McLoughlin, which has been the subject of recent interior restoration work as well as an exterior paint job, during a recent switch move:
And our heavyweight solarium car Mt Harvard during switching. This car too has been the focus of recent work to rehab its interior and at some point will hopefully enter revenue service at the museum.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Union News

Extra, extra, read all about it: the latest IRM publicity e-missive is out! Our newest CA&E car is featured prominently, of course.

Pumpkin Train and Happy Holiday Railway
This weekend is the end of our regular operating season and it's also our annual Pumpkin Train event. After Sunday, the museum will be closed until Happy Holiday Railway starts running in November. The event has been expanded and improved for this year, with trains departing from our historic 1851 depot and streetcar rides included with your ticket. There's also major progress on several restoration projects and IRM has a new (to us) interurban car in its collection.
Featured in this e-newsletter:
    • Pumpkin Train returns on October 26-27
    • Happy Holiday Railway tickets are now available
    • Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban car returns home to Illinois
    • Historic Union Pacific sign rededicated
    • North Shore Electroliner is reassembled
    • Milwaukee Road Buffeteria fundraising progress
    • Steam Shop inspection pit installed
    • Rotary snow plow repainting commences
    • We need volunteers and you can help!
    • Planned giving - another way you can support IRM
    Visit us online for schedules, blog updates, and more

    Pumpkin Train

    The Pumpkin Train returns for 2019! Join us this weekend, October 26th & 27th for a day of fun for the whole family. Pick up your pumpkin on our specially-decorated train, explore the pumpkin patch - and kids, don't forget to wear your Halloween costume for a special treat!
    Click for more event information

    Happy Holiday Railway

    Tickets for our popular Happy Holiday Railway event in November and December are on sale now! Additional dates have been added for 2019, with trains running starting November 23rd. Departures will be made from the East Union Depot, with a heated waiting area and restrooms. Last year ALL of our trains for this event sold out so don't delay! Reserve your ticket for a ride with Santa Claus today.
    Click here for info and tickets

    CA&E interurban returns home

    Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban car 453, built in 1945 and stored at museums in Ohio and Pennsylvania since 1962, returned home to Illinois in September. The car was unloaded and moved into Barn 6, where it is currently on display. Its condition is being evaluated with an eye towards beginning restoration work soon.
    Click for more information

    Historic sign rededicated

    On the Saturday of Showcase Weekend, the museum was pleased to rededicate the historic Union Pacific sign from that railroad's headquarters in Omaha. The sign was restored by the museum's Buildings & Grounds Department using proceeds from the sale of historic signage.
    Click here to buy a piece of history for yourself

    Electroliner reassembled

    For several years the iconic North Shore Electroliner has been disassembled while its trucks and motors were off-site being rebuilt. The train was put back together in September following completion of that work. Over the winter IRM volunteers will be working on examining and repairing the train's electrical control systems.
    Click for more information

    Milwaukee Road "Buffeteria"

    The museum is still raising money to save the historic Milwaukee Road "Buffeteria" dining car and bring it to Union. A generous grant recently obtained has put us much closer to achieving our goal, but we still have a ways to go before we can acquire this unique piece of history.
    You can help - click here to donate

    Steam Shop inspection pit

    The new inspection pit in the Steam Shop has been poured! The concrete work for the pit itself is done and IRM volunteers have been working on installing and re-connecting the rails. Before long this pit will be ready for use, helping to keep our steam engines maintained and serviced.
    Click to donate to steam engine restoration

    Your purchases help IRM

    If you shop on Amazon, your purchases can help support IRM's restoration activities. IRM participates in the Amazon Smile program, through which a portion of all your purchases is donated to the museum. There's no cost to you; just select IRM from or for a direct link click here. And thank you!

    Rotary snow plow repainting

    One of the most distinctive pieces of equipment at IRM is our rotary snow plow from the Union Pacific. In September the snow plow was sand-blasted, with repainting done over the ensuing few weeks. When complete the plow will be fully cosmetically restored but more funds are needed to repaint the tender and complete window work.
    Click to donate to the rotary

    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

    Planned Giving and IRM

    IRM has been around for more than 60 years due to the consistent support of people like you. You can help keep IRM a museum in motion for the next generation through planned giving, either by including the museum in a bequest or as a retirement account beneficiary.
    Click here for more information
    Visit us online for schedules, blog updates, and more

    Thursday, October 17, 2019

    Progress on 451

    Yesterday was a typically busy Wednesday, but as a result I didn't get any pictures of what other people were doing.  But at a minimum Pete Galayda,  Buzz Morisette, Tim Peters, John Sheldon, and the freight car guys were hard at work on their projects, and probably others.  And I got some essential help from Gerry Dettloff and Chuck Meter on the 451.

    I had noticed that the last remaining pilot bracket for the car had gotten bent somehow, so it would no longer fit around the stepwell.  Gerry was able to heat it up and bend it with Chuck's help so that it was the correct shape.  This bracket is large and heavy, and that was no easy task.  Chuck then helped me get it into position, with the use of a floor jack as seen here, and then with some effort we were able to bolt it into position.  Thanks!

    The next step will be to move the pilot itself into position, then lift it up and bolt it to the two brackets on either side of the #1 end.

    And then I started installing saddles on the roof, as seen here.  Four have been done, twelve to go, but now that I have all of the necessary tools in position it should go faster next time.   All of the positions have been marked.  The rolling lift certainly makes this job easier.