Friday, January 31, 2020

Foley Railroad Museum

While visiting the Gulf Coast, we happened upon the Foley Railroad Museum in Foley, Alabama, which I'd never heard of.  It's a small but active depot-based museum run by volunteers, with a few static displays and a large model railroad.  I thought the Kentuckians among us might be interested in this:

Behind the locomotive are two boxcars and a caboose.

The building has a display of various models...

and a large O gauge (3 rail) layout which is very impressive.  

And that's about it for railroad museums on this trip. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Back to Work

Now that I'm back in town, it's time to get back to work, whatever the weather.  Luckily, I'm not alone and there are many other hardworking members who keep their projects going all year.

Our O'Mahoney diner was missing half of a booth when we got it, and restoration of the interior is still on the agenda, so Buzz has started making a new frame for the booth, as seen here.

Next, let's see what Pete Galayda is doing in the 160.  The smoker compartment is progressing nicely.  Most of the woodwork is stained and varnished, and Pete is doing a very careful job.

It may be the nicest interior this side of the 309!

But since there's nothing to be done on the 309 at this point, I kept working on the 451.  I should have taken a "before" picture but didn't.  For whatever reason, the wooden flooring at both ends of the car rotted out badly, and it's being replaced.  At the #2 end, I had to chisel out some of the rotten wood to make an even surface for the new wood to mate to.  After that was done, it looks like this:

Then the complicated metal plates which we've seen before need to be installed.  

One of the plates still needs some body and fender work, and I hope Gerry will be able to help me with this.  But in any case, they were put into place, and holes were drilled for the screws to hold them down.  After painting, it should look fine.

Incidentally, I cannot find the plates for the #1 end.  If they're lost, that could be a real problem.

Back in the shop, there were other projects going on.  Somebody had the idea of cleaning off the workbench and applying a shiny new surface board.  That's nice, but I took a picture, because $10 says you'll never see this sight again!

Lorne and Chuck are hard at work on the second PCC truck for the Cleveland car.  There's always a learning curve on any of these projects, and I should think this one will go faster than the first one.

Some progress has been made on the MPB.  Several window frames on the north side have been installed, some of which even have glass.

Finally, I thought this was interesting:

So the moral of this story is: if you're not out at IRM, there's no telling what you'll miss!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Doodlebug Update

Gregg Wolfersheim sends us some more photos of his restoration of the UP M-35:

The divider wall between coach and smoker is going back together on M35.

The black line is the 3 inch wide steel bar that holds top to bottom. It also provides stiffening over the doorway.

Part of the wall in primer. Some of the trim was also applied in the women's room.

Some primer was applied on the smoker wall divider. The rest of the wall has the paint removed, but not the old varnish.

Here is the piece of trim that covers the steel reinforcement on the divider wall getting primed. The varnish was removed and a little epoxy work to correct some for was done first.

Some more trim was painted for future reinstallation. The clevis will go over the engine. Three of these were used to help with removing/installing heavy engine components.

On some sections of the inner walls there is water damage to the veneer. Hopefully I can glue these bubbles back into place.

Back from Vacation

I'm now back from vacation along the Gulf Coast, and it was nice to escape the winter weather here in Illinois.  Not much railfanning to report, but on the way south two weeks ago we happened to pass this Norfolk Southern business car on its way to TVRM in Chattanooga.  It was going about 65 and we were doing 70, so photography was somewhat more challenging than usual.

Anyway, we'll soon have updates on what's happening at IRM, so stay tuned!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The latest museum news

First 2020 Event is Bunny Trolley Hop 
Happy Holiday Railway has come to a successful conclusion and that means it's on to our 2020 event schedule! The first event of the new year, and our first open days of 2020, will be Bunny Trolley Hop in April. This event is only three days and has sold out quickly in the past, so make sure you reserve your seat today! The entire 2020 event calendar is now available on the museum website so make your plans now.
Featured in this e-newsletter:
  • Bunny Trolley Hop tickets are now available online
  • The 2020 event schedule has been published on
  • Museum acquires historic Pullman private car Pawnee
  • 2020 memberships and gift cards now available on our website
  • Restored "speeder" returns to plinth behind the depot
  • Roof rebuilding work on IRM's first car, Indiana Railroad 65 
  • Restoration work completed on a very small piece of equipment
  • Historic signs available in IRM's online sign shop
  • We need volunteers and you can help!
  • Planned giving - another way you can support IRM
Visit us online for schedules, blog updates, and more

Bunny Trolley Hop

This spring, on April 4th, 5th, and 11th, join the Easter Bunny at IRM and help him fill his basket! Hop aboard the streetcar for a trip around the bunny trail, go on an egg hunt, and enjoy kids activities including coloring, a bounce house, and photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny himself. Tickets are expected to sell out so reserve your seat today!
Click here for info and tickets

2020 event schedule now online

The 2020 event schedule is now available in the calendar section of All of your favorite special events are back on the calendar including Day Out With Thomas, Vintage Transport Extravaganza, Diesel Days, Showcase Weekend, and more.

Museum acquires Pullman car

The newest addition to IRM's collection is the Pullman private car Pawnee. This heavyweight observation car, built in 1930 for Harry Bingham, was one of the last "traditional" private cars ever built. The museum plans to preserve and restore the car as an example of private car design.
Click for more information

Memberships and gift cards

We are now offering 2020 memberships 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

Speeder restoration completed

One longtime display familiar to many a museum visitor is the bright yellow track car, or "speeder," on display behind the depot. The speeder was removed in early 2019 for restoration and we are pleased to say that this work was completed by the Buildings & Grounds Department late in the year. The speeder is now back on its plinth behind the depot. Make sure to check out the restoration work when you visit this year!

Indiana Railroad 65 roof work

A lot of restoration work gets done during the winter by our volunteers. One current project involves Indiana Railroad 65, the museum's very first car. Electric Car Shop volunteers are rebuilding the car's roof, including all new canvas as shown. The work will also include new "lobster trap" protective slats. When work is complete the car will be back in operation.
Click to help with electric car restoration

Velocipede restored

The smallest piece of equipment in our standard gauge collection has been restored by volunteers in our wood shop. The "velocipede" is a diminutive three-wheel inspection car powered by a hand crank and designed to be easily moved on and off the rails by hand. It's now ready for service so keep an eye out for it on your next visit - but don't expect a ride, as it only seats one!

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

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Bleak Midwinter

Frank writes...

This past weekend was a rare winter weekend at home for me and I was able to head out to IRM on Sunday afternoon. Despite highs in the teens, most of the usual suspects were out there working in the car shop. When I first arrived I headed over to Barn 7 to check on Shaker Heights 18. Now that this car is in Barn 7, where it's under wire and on public display, we hope to begin working on it to repair and repaint the exterior. We also want to examine its mechanical and electrical condition with an eye towards future operation. But we need your help! The car's fund will need donations to make this work possible, so any contributions to Shaker Heights Rapid Transit 18 are greatly appreciated.
Anyway, I started out by helping Richard in figuring out a problem with one of the lighting circuits on North Shore 160. This gave me an opportunity not only to work in the warmth, since the car's heaters work just fine, but also to get a look at the beautiful refinishing work that Pete Galayda has been doing. This car never had its interior painted but it's always been "unrestored" with aged and alligatored varnish. Pete is going through and refinishing the interior piece by piece; this photo shows the newly-refinished and positively gleaming end bulkhead in the smoker.
And here's the other bulkhead in the smoker, looking towards the main compartment with the glass taped off. Pete has been doing this work while the car is still technically in service, so every so often he's been cleaning up what he's doing so that the 160 can go out on the railroad. It sounds like the early 2000s when Jack Biesterfeld was restoring the interior of the 308 in between operating days.
The lighting problem turned out to be pretty simple - a loose bulb in one fixture and balky threads in another that were leading to intermittent contact - so pretty soon the car was back to normal.
After that it was 50' along the track to the pit, where West Towns 141 is having more attention paid to its control system. The car has a PC control system that uses a cam controller, and getting the cam to operate just as intended has proven to be a bit of a headache. Note that a tent has been built around the pit so that warm air can be pumped in to keep the working conditions reasonably comfortable.
Here's the cam itself. The controller box and most of the components are from a Milan (Italy) car, while the cam shaft itself is from Boston. The latest issue is that the bearing keeper at the right end of the cam shaft cracked, so Richard and Good Nick brazed that up and reinstalled it. While they were doing that, I helped Joel out for a while with sorting and rearranging spare electrical parts in one of the storage cars. It's cold work but somebody's got to do it.
As always, there's plenty of other work going on. Zach, Greg, and Thomas were working on installing new end windows in North Shore 757, a car which is operational but has been partly disassembled for several years. Tim was over in the wood shop working on more seats for the 1754. By the end of the afternoon he had installed the rattan on the final seat for the car, but the work isn't quite done yet - all of the seats need a couple of coats of varnish. And further west in the "lean-three" was the second truck for the Cleveland PCC, shown here, which has been brought indoors for disassembly and rebuilding.
Train operation at IRM in the dead of winter is somewhat rare, but it's easier if it's in 1:48. Before everyone headed to dinner Zach broke out an O scale goods train. Right away!