Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Controller Solutions

It was cold and very windy today, but a few of the regulars were hard at work as always.  The first truck for the Cleveland PCC is finished, so the other one has been put in its place.  

Gerry and Chuck went over to Barn 6 to finish installing the pilot braces on the 460, but I didn't get a picture of this operation.  In any case, it's much appreciated.  And Tim was working all day on seat frames.

Here we see Jack Biesterfeld working on windows for the 109, and in the background Buzz is making good progress on the velocipede.

He had to replace several spokes in the wheel.

And the main lever for propulsion is nearly done.

I haven't noticed much work on the Multi-Purpose Building lately, but several new piles of bricks and blocks showed up recently across the street, so that's a good sign.

And it looks like they're working on the HVAC system inside the building.

As for the 451, there are a couple of electrical issues to be addressed.  It turns out that while the MG set was running, it wasn't actually recharging the batteries.  The problem was traced to a broken mounting for one of the relay contacts, as seen here.  Thanks to the second shift for looking into this for me.  I removed the two pieces of bakelite and took them home to be epoxied together.  That should work, but if it doesn't I can probably fabricate a new one.

The bigger problem was with the controllers in the 451.  These are much more complicated mechanically than the older type, so I was busy trying to figure out why they didn't work.  This is a spare which I started disassembling in the shop.

One thing I hadn't known is that these controllers were equipped for a floor pedal connected to the deadman mechanism.  It's the long rod sticking out of the bottom of the case, above.  I don't know if the 450's ever had these pedals installed, and the deadman feature was removed from service almost immediately.  So that's only a matter of academic interest.  But the normal operation of the controller is still sort of mysterious. 

I went over to the 460 again to observe the operation of a known-to-be-good controller, and finally figured out what was wrong.  I can't explain it in words, but the basic problem is a design flaw.  If you remove the controller handle, as we sometimes do for safekeeping, the shaft is no longer centered and can be moved back and forth.  And this allows a large coil spring to come loose.  Getting it wound up and reset is difficult, but not impossible.  Identifying the problem was the main challenge.

Controller in the 460

And by the end of the day, I had the #1 controller in the 451 operating correctly, at least by observation.  I decided to quit while I was ahead, and wait until next time to start electrical testing.  

#1 end of 451

Monday, November 25, 2019

More Streetcar Magic

That didn't take long!  It seems like our Toronto streetcar arrived only yesterday, and yet it's now operational.  Don't believe me?  Cliff McKay sends us a couple of nighttime photos plus an astounding video of the car in action. Of course, it can't go very far due to the difference in gauge, so we'll have to set up a transfer point.  Tickets will be going on sale soon....

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Happy Holidays Preview

This year there are only four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas, whereas last year there were five, thus cutting down on our opportunities for successful Happy Holiday Railways events.  But we've been selling tickets for this weekend anyway, and while of course attendance is lower than usual, it provides a good occasion for testing out the new arrangement.   More on that later.

Work continued on the 451.  These later-model controllers are much more complicated mechanically than the earlier models, and I'm still figuring out some of the details of how they're supposed to work.  Fortunately we have some spares.  Here's one that we extracted from storage.  I won't bother to explain the various parts, because after some effort it turns out that this one didn't work right either.  We later went back and found one that does work right, but time ran out before the necessary replacements could be made.  Thanks to Joel for doing most of the heavy lifting!

Among other things, I put in new bulbs to get all of the interior lights in the car working.  And it looks like the heat in the main compartment is working, at least, so that's good news.  

And we may be seeing some progress on the 309 bearing project soon.  Our machines and machinists have generally been busy on higher-priority projects, but we're hoping that will change.  I took the bearing over to the Steam Shop for Eric Hoyem to work on when he gets a chance, and there's big news happening there also.  

The 1630 was moved over the new inspection pit on Saturday, and the crew immediately started using the pit to work on it.  I'm sure this makes life easier for everybody!

Down under the locomotive it's pretty dark, as there are no permanent lights installed, but it is certainly interesting to be able to walk under the engine and look at everything.  At least if they aren't shaking out hot grates over your head.

Speaking of the Steam Team, they also came over to Barn 4 and finished removing their machine tools that had been temporarily stored in the Lean-3.  Once those were out of the way, it was possible to pick up the more-or-less finished PCC truck and move it into the barn.  Here Jeff Calendine and Dan Fenlaciki are using two forklifts to move it.  Careful coordination is necessary.

And finally, we have the first day of Happy Holiday Railways in operation.  This year, operations have been moved to the main depot, and the train will load on Station 2.   This is possible because the depot is now heated, and will eventually enable us to load longer trains.   

And as an added bonus, we're adding free trolley rides to the package.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Wednesday Report

Today we'll look at some of the continuing work on Fox River 306.  John Sheldon has been making good progress, with help from some of the other Car Dept. regulars.   Cleaning up the interior is seen here in a not very good picture.

John himself spent some time finishing up a replacement door for the 604.  It needed a groove milled into the bottom edge.

Chuck Meter and Lorne Tweed have been helping with restoring the seats in the car.

And they found a cash fare receipt from the AE&FR stuck inside, a nice souvenir indeed!

This appears to be for a trip from "Stop 34" to Geneva, a very short distance, probably only one or two miles.  Of course, the receipts don't show all possible stops, so the end points are only approximate.  These are always fun to look at, I think.

I continued work on electrical systems in the 451.  I recharged the batteries and put power to the MG set via a stinger.  It appears to work fine.  It wasn't necessary to plug the contactor in order to get the MG set running.  And the control system seems to operate properly; when the lights are turned off, the MG shuts down, and starts again when the lights are turned on.  As seen here:

Nick later helped me with lubing the MG set.  I wanted to test the control system, but both of the controllers have mechanical problems.  A couple of parts are missing from the #1 end controller, so the throttle won't close, and the key that slides inside the shaft is frozen at the #2 end, so neither one is usable right now.   But we have spare parts, so next time I'll start fixing them.  

 Meanwhile, here are some views of the contactor box.  Everything inside appears to be OK.

And many other things were going on, of course.  Preparations for HHR were well underway, but I didn't get any pictures.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Union News

Happy Holiday Railway is Here
This weekend is the start of our Happy Holiday Railway event! The event has been expanded and improved for this year, with a heated waiting room in our East Union Depot and free trolley rides included with your ticket. We've also added a new streetcar to our collection and there are many restoration projects seeing substantial progress.
Featured in this e-newsletter:
    • Happy Holiday Railway starts Saturday, November 23rd
    • Find that unique gift in our online Historic Sign Shop
    • Museum acquires 1979 streetcar from Toronto
    • Memberships and gift cards now available on our website
    • TP&W 800 fundraising reaches major milestone
    • Rotary snow plow painting update 
    • CSX donates historic maps and storage cabinets
    • Support IRM with Amazon Smile
    • We need volunteers and you can help!
    • Planned giving - another way you can support IRM
    Visit us online for schedules, blog updates, and more

    Happy Holiday Railway

    Happy Holiday Railway starts this weekend and Santa is looking forward to seeing you aboard the train! Tickets are available online now but we expect most trips to sell out so make sure to reserve your seats today. This year's event is improved and expanded with a heated waiting area (and restrooms) in the depot as well as streetcar rides around the museum grounds.
    Click here for info and tickets

    IRM's Online Sign Shop

    If you are looking for something to give that train lover you know, take a look at IRM's online sign shop. We have dozens of unique and historic Chicago and CTA signs for sale. All sales benefit our sign restoration efforts.
    Click to check out the Online Sign Shop

    Museum acquires 1979 streetcar

    The newest addition to IRM's collection is Toronto 4034, a CLRV type streetcar built in 1979. This car, which represents post-PCC era surface transit, is more than 30 years newer than our next-newest streetcar, the Green Hornet! The museum plans to make the car operational as time and funding permit.
    Click for more information

    Memberships and gift cards

    We are now offering 2020 memberships, good through the end of calendar year 2020, on our website. We are also offering gift cards that can be used towards memberships and items on the property like food or store merchandise. Either makes a great gift for any railfan!
    Click for membership information
    Click to purchase an IRM gift card

    TP&W 800 milestone reached

    We are very pleased to announce that we have reached our initial fundraising goal for TP&W 800. Thanks to all who donated! This Alco C424 was acquired last year and some $60,000 was required to purchase and move the engine. That has now been raised. This now leads us to our next goal: raising a further $23,000 to put the engine indoors and repaint it in TP&W colors.
    Click for more information and to contribute

    Rotary plow progress

    The cosmetic restoration of our rotary snow plow, Union Pacific 900075, is moving along nicely. Our volunteers completed major repainting work on the rotary unit (the imposing "maw" is shown here!) so work is now turning to the tender and to non-paint items like re-glazing and installing the windows. Once this project is done, 900075 will be a real show piece. But we still need help to fund the rest of the work.
    Click here to learn how you can help

    CSX donates historic maps

    IRM extends its thanks to CSX Transportation for donating a collection of historic maps as well as the large-format size "D" and "E" map cabinets to house them. The extra capacity of the cabinets will be invaluable for the long-term storage of additional drawings and maps in our Pullman Library collection.

    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!

    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

    Monday, November 18, 2019

    Lights and Action

    Saturday was shorter than usual for me due to other activities, but I started testing the electrical systems on the 451.  The MG set looks good and turns easily, and both commutators meggered good.  The control system needs battery power to activate it, and I ran out of time before I could test it.

    I borrowed a battery charger and started charging.  This seems to be going well, but more charging needs to be done next time.  I was able to install new light bulbs and test the lights.

    Meanwhile, things are getting set up for Happy Holidays Railway.

    Interior views of the 1754:

    Chuck Meter was painting the Cleveland PCC truck:

    And as usual, there was lots more going on.

    Thursday, November 14, 2019

    News from Siberia

    Winter arrived early this year, and yikes, was it cold yesterday!  Just like the weather ten years ago when the Trolleyville collection started to arrive.  But this time the Museum's latest acquisition is a CLRV from Toronto, as seen here.  

    This was the last modern streetcar order to be equipped with trolley poles; everything later has had pans of some sort.  Pans will never work on our streetcar line, due to the trolleybus overhead, so this will be our most modern operating streetcar for the foreseeable future.  A spare set of trucks will be regauged to standard, and then the car can be removed from its Toronto-gauge panel track.

    Most of the other activity took place in our heated shop facilities.  But some things can't be moved inside.  Jon Fenlaciki continued tacking down the canvas on the 65, taking warming breaks as needed. 

    The battery-powered lift had to be moved into the shop, because the batteries and hydraulics don't work well in the cold.  And without it, roof work on the 451 would be very difficult.  So mostly I'll be working on the interior and the electrical systems.  The paint is flaking in many places, and I started on trying to strip what's left, without a lot of success so far.  But work will continue.

    Tim has been making new seat frames for the 1754, since many of them had disappeared.

    Lorne takes a break from his usual work on the Cleveland car to fix a seat for the 306.

    The PCC truck is mostly together, and it can even be pushed along by hand.

    Speaking of which, Buzz continues to put the velocipede together.   It looks great!

    And as usual, there were other projects going on that I didn't get a chance to photograph.