Monday, December 30, 2019

Highlights of 2019

It's time once again to celebrate as we review the accomplishments of 2019.  As always, additions and corrections are welcome!
  • Acquisitions: 
  1. CA&E St. Louis car #453
  2. C&NW bilevel #25
  3. The private car Pawnee
  4. Toronto CLRV #4034
  5. U28B locomotive TTI #260 (ex-CB&Q)
  • Construction of our Multi-Purpose Building started and has progressed rapidly.
  • The Marengo Depot is now heated and was used for the Happy Holiday events
  • Construction of the inspection pit in the Steam Shop
  • The Electroliner got put back together
  • Operation of both the Decapod and the Shay several times this year
  • First operation of the velocipede!
  • Special days such as Pumpkin, Thomas, Vintage Transport, and Happy Holiday all went well.
  • And as usual, operations proceeded smoothly and safely during the year, thanks to our operating department.
  • Perhaps most importantly, we have several new active volunteers.  We are certainly grateful for their help, and hope they will stay with us for a long time!

And a public service announcement:
There's plenty  to celebrate, but don't let others talk you into overdoing things.  You might regret it.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Welcome to Main Street

The Fifties are returning rapidly to a location near you -- I hope!  The north facade of our new Multi-Purpose Building has been revealed, and it looks absolutely stupendous to your typical disinterested observer, such as myself.

The windows have not yet been installed, as you will have noticed. The interior of the building also  still needs a lot of work, but that should be feasible during the winter now that it's pretty much enclosed.

I don't know of any place like this in the US that has been accomplished without government support.  All of us at IRM can be very proud of this development, and our thanks to those whose dedication and determination are making it all possible.

But after all that, there's still lots to be done back in the various shops.  John Sheldon is making good progress on the 306.  Here he is working on the floor at the #2 end of the 306.

Jon Fenlaciki continues on the roof of the 65.

I must admit I didn't get all that much done on the 451, since some of the parts I need seem to be unfindable.  But progress is being made on putting the vestibules back together.

Among other things, there's only one of the wooden frames for the roll sign boxes to be found, and it's rather shabby.  So I plan to make two new ones, since at least I have a good pattern to work from.  And I will soon take the rusted-out trap door to a nearby metal-working shop to be repaired. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Greetings

Adoration of the Christ Child
Jacob Cornelisz, c. 1515

And this year, we have greetings to all of you from the grandchildren:

So once again, a Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Pull Up a Seat

Bill Wulfert sends us another project update, this time on L car 1754:

You might be interested in how the Pullman style seat backs get their distinctive contour. It’s a combination of different length coil springs under the spring steel under the padding and rattan.

I should add that completely rebuilding seats like this is very labor-intensive. Tim, Bill, Frank Kehoe and several others have put in a lot of time on rebuilding seats for various cars over the winter.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Sneak Previews

Dave Diamond sends us some more insight into the rapid progress on the Multi-Purpose Building:

Here are a few shots from high atop the scaffolding of interesting historical architectural details that are installed on the facade of the MPB. Our brick masons are really moving along. We anticipate a full unveiling after Christmas, but here's a preview for our readers!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Electrifying News about MPB Progress!

Dave Diamond sends us the inside story on our Multi-Purpose Building:

Progress over the last week on the extension of IRM's Power Grid to the
new Multi Purpose Building has been made! Since the passing of Max Tyms
in late August, the museum has reached out to numerous electrical
contractors for assistance. We discovered that many of the big and small
overhead line contractors in the area are extremely busy with projects
and were unavailable until after the new year or simply not at all. It
was becoming a concern until last week when through a conversation with a
representative from MJ Electric he put me in touch with a volunteer! It
turned out that a retired Com Ed lineman and supervisor who also had
worked in their Operations, Testing and Design/ Engineering Department
lived in Woodstock and had long thought about volunteering at IRM! Mark
Afeld who worked 37 years for the utility contacted me last week and
offered his assistance! We had a meeting last Friday, December 13th and
he immediately agreed to come out the next day and get started. Much to
my surprise he recruited another Com Ed retiree, Bob Hauser of Belvidere
to assist. Great progress was made framing the line poles last Saturday
and today, Thursday December 19th they came back and set 3 of the 4 poles
needed to reach the MPB. Work will resume after Christmas and we hope to
have power to the building early in the new year. Their expertise and
assistance is sincerely appreciated and we look forward to their guidance
and help on this and possibly other projects in the new year.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Velocipede Testing

Buzz Morisette writes:

We had the velocipede out on Wednesday, as cold as it was, for just some quick photos. Took it up and back on the trolley tracks on Central Avenue. The strange character in the bowler hat caught the attention of the masons working on the Multi-Purpose Building.

We need to eventually put it on clean straight railroad track to set the outrigger stop.

I think I have now worked on both the largest and smallest rolling stock in the IRM collection.

 The historic photo is from the Indiana Album and Collection taken around 1905 in Peru, Ind.

Ed.: This is really historic preservation at its finest.  Congratulations to Buzz on a job well done!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Private Car Pawnee

Let's take a brief look at the private car Pawnee, which was recently acquired by IRM.  It was built by Pullman in 1930 as the penultimate private car built in the US.

The exterior is in excellent condition, as the car has mostly been stored inside for most of its life in preservation.  It has four bedrooms, two parlors, and accommodations for two porters.  Much of the interior fittings were removed or disassembled during a previous restoration effort that was never completed, but most of the parts are still there.

Entering the car at the observation end, there's a parlor compartment.

The light fixtures have an unusual ram's head design.

Most of the interior doors were removed for repainting.  Here we can see through the washroom facilities for the various compartments.

In the middle of the car is the dining room, as I take it.  The varnish is alligatored to some extent, but in relatively good shape.  Many parts of the interior are actually steel, expertly painted to resemble varnished wood.

This will be another long-term restoration project for the Coach Department.  And of course, donations are welcome.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Cold Hard Facts

It was cold today, and the wind was blowing hard, but the fact remains that we won't let little things like those stop us.  To start with, let's look at the exciting progress on the Multi-Purpose Building.

Here we see a load of blocks being loaded into the cocoon on the north side of the building, where the facade is being constructed.  The plastic sheeting keeps the wind out and enough heat in to make continued work possible.

You can barely see the reflective vests of the workmen, but they're moving around inside, putting the building together.  It sure beats working out in the open.

Inside, we can see that the front wall, at least the structural part, has been completed.  

And the workmen are busy constructing the various parts of the facade, which will make it look like three different buildings side by side.  This is really going to be impressive.

Meanwhile, back in our cozy car shop, Tim Peters and Frank Kehoe were working on seats for the 1754.  Here Frank is painting the metal springs, as John Sheldon looks on.  John was mostly working inside the 306, which has its own cocoon.

Here Tim is getting ready to cut one long seat frame into two shorter ones.  For ease of installation.

And Buzz is nearly done with the velocipede.  Here it's sitting on sawhorses for final assembly.

A view of the mechanism:

And the new brake shoe, a block of wood.

Buzz can be proud of this accomplishment.  Basically all of the metal parts and about half of the wood parts are original, but all carefully restored.

I spent most of the day working on the trap door again.  After more grinding and cutting, all of the rusted-out parts have been removed, and we plan to take it to a local metalworking shop to have new parts made and installed.  Before:


I also went over the the 453 to check on its condition.  I may want to borrow a couple of seat backs or cushions for the 451.  And I spent some time recharging the batteries.

Finally, I had a chance to visit our latest acquisition, the Pawnee.  And we'll see just what it looks like inside next time.  Don't go away!