Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Omaha & Council Bluffs 038

Frank writes...

Our friend Norm Krentel has sent along a series of extremely interest photos. Accompanying them is a mystery of sorts. The photos were taken by him in the late 1970s on a trip to Omaha, and they show Omaha & Council Bluffs 038 - or what remained of it at the time - sitting derelict. The mystery is, what ever happened to this car?

A bit of background: car 038 was a salt car on the O&CB, rebuilt in 1935 from a single-truck streetcar numbered 180 that itself was built in 1904 by J.M. Jones. It was fitted with a Peckham 89A truck and GE 80 motors and, as of the date these photos were taken, it retained at least its truck and maybe also its (much less rare) motors. The photos show the car stored in South Omaha just west of 26th & O Street; the overpass and stockyards at this location are both long gone today. It was evidently located outside the Auto-Liner building and that company was owned by William Kratville (whose direct connection to IRM is that he also owned our sleeping car Glen Springs at one time) so my best guess is that he owned car 038.

The car was obviously in bad shape by the 1970s but even if it weren't saved intact, I'd hope that its Peckham truck survived. They sure don't build those anymore! Does anyone know for certain what ended up happening to car 038?

Photos copyright Norman Krentel - do not copy or reproduce without permission

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Folding Locomotive

On display in Jerome, Arizona:

I'd never heard of this, or of the Goodman Equipment Corporation.

The state park was partially shut down when we were there, so I wasn't able to get any closer.

There's lots of old mine railway equipment on display, or just abandoned, all over Arizona.  And if you want deluxe passenger accommodations, they've got that too:

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

New Roof

One of the few examples of railway preservation in the Phoenix area is Santa Fe 761 in Wickenburg.  It now has a roof over its head and new, improved signage.  It's also closed to the public.  While this makes it harder to photograph, it helps preserve the artifact.

Compare this to views taken three years ago.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Postcard from the 50's

I spent the last two weeks visiting my daughter and her family in Arizona.  Not much real railfanning, I must admit.  However, we happened upon something that might be of interest for IRM: a 1950's street scene in Bisbee.  This one side street used to be part of the town of Lowell, apparently, which was later incorporated into Bisbee.  There are many old buildings, some of which are partly restored, and a number of old vehicles, which are evidently parked there more or less permanently.

Nothing says "1950's" like flying saucers!

There's no street trackage, but otherwise this is a pretty neat place.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Not just any Saturday

Frank writes...

I was able to make it out to IRM on Saturday for a somewhat abbreviated visit. It wasn't just any Saturday; at 5pm the governor's "stay at home" order took effect, so the main goal was to make sure any projects were buttoned up for a couple of weeks. Nobody wants to leave a pile of loose parts and then come back later having forgotten where they all go! For the next couple of weeks, the only people on the property will be security and necessary maintenance staff.

I mainly wanted to check up on the CA&E cars and also on the 18. I also took the opportunity to attach the 600 volt cables to the 18's trolley base, as shown above. There are two cables to the trolley base, one on each side, just for redundancy. Once we are confident that it's safe to put 600 volts to the car, we'll attach the rope to the trolley harp and it will be ready for "pole up."
Here's a peek through the windows of the Multi Purpose Building showing some recent progress on framing out the interior walls.
A few other members of the department were around, finishing up projects and tidying up. Thomas took some time to show me the work he has been doing on CTA 4146, the "Baldy," over the past six months or so. Pretty much the entire interior of the car has been sanded and primed, with finish paint now going onto the ceiling. Here we have the freshly-painted ceiling in one of the vestibules.
Here's a new wall panel, fitted, primed, and ready to be installed. A lot of work has gone into repairing deterioration in the wall framing and window posts.
And here's Thomas showing off some fresh paint on the ceiling at one end of the body of the car. Several spots in the ceiling had to be repaired, too, where there were holes. This isn't just cosmetic: the car's forced-air ventilation system works by drawing air through the space between the ceiling and roof, so to work properly the ceiling needs to be pretty well sealed.
Michigan Electric 28 is starting to look more like its old self now that the window sills and some framing pieces have been reinstalled on the front end. The progress on this project over the last few months has been very impressive.

So that's it from the car shop until the "stay at home" order is lifted, hopefully on the scheduled date of April 7th. Tim Peters wasn't out on Saturday but left a note that sums it up.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Greetings from Union, Illinois

For obvious reasons, the Museum is now closed to working members as well as the public.  This means that there won't be any projects to report on for the near future.  When things change, of course, we'll let you know.

That means there won't be much to blog about, either.  But we can always find something.  For instance, our friend Bill Stewart sent us this marvelous postcard.  Of course, this is one of the other Unions in Illinois.

So please keep those cards and letters coming!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

UP M35 update

Here's the latest from Gregg Wolfersheim and the M35 project:

Work continues on the "self propelled" interurban, M35. Windows # 25 and 26 are back in place.

Below both windows, foam board insulation was applied, and now is covered with a plywood panel. Here we see it in primer with the quarter round that holds it in place.

The brown color that is on the bottom half of the walls has been applied. Several more lower wall areas are now being prepared for restoration.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Pole up!

Frank writes...

I was out at the museum Sunday afternoon, working in the car shop more-or-less normally despite the recent cancellations and other changes. Yes, IRM is closed until May, but the restoration shops are still open. When I arrived, the Matchbox was being moved off of the pit following inspection work while VC 19, shown below, was being moved onto the pit.

For much of the day Joel, Jack, and new volunteer Jesus were working on inspection on the 19. After the 1374 was put in Barn 7, Richard also removed the east end brake valve for some work to repair a small air leak.
Other shop news includes a first coat of Indiana Railroad green on the roof of the 65. This project is coming along very nicely!
While the others were working on inspections, Greg, Nick E, and I grabbed the block-and-tackle and headed over to Barn 7. The goal was to continue the reassembly of Shaker Heights 18 by lifting the trolley base back onto the roof. This entailed hooking the block-and-tackle to the barn rafter and winching the base, which is extremely heavy, up from the ground. I worked on the roof and Greg raised the base while Nick was in charge of making sure we didn't lose any windows. As shown above, it worked like a charm! Nick is shown atop a ladder checking on progress. I then fetched some hardware and bolted the base down. The main trolley lead from the base to the fuse box (shown above between the base and Nick) wasn't attached yet but that will be quick to do later.
The trolley base's "resting" position is normally sticking almost straight up. Some bases can be latched down but this one couldn't, and the trolley poles are long enough that the car needs to be outside to give you enough space to insert the pole and then lower it down to a horizontal position. It was at this point that Nick and Greg pointed out that it probably wouldn't be too big of a problem to pull the 18 outside and get this job finished, so we trooped back over to the shop. Richard was just finishing up on the 1374's brake valve, so with that installed, the Matchbox and 4391 were moved out of the way and Shaker 63 and the 18 were towed outside. Many thanks to the entire crew for their help with this! Joel came over and was instrumental in getting the pole installed; above he's shown lowering it so that we can hook it down. He asked me whether I had done this before, and amazingly the answer was yes! In fact I even have proof.
So here it is: the 18 is a trolley car again for the first time since 2010.
This is just a gratuitous photo of the Matchbox I took while switching everything back into the barn. How can you not like a CSL streetcar in late-afternoon light?
After this the new Toronto CLRV was again fired up, with more success than last week, and was operated a couple of times back and forth for maybe 40'-50' in each direction. It's the least interesting, and yet - given the proximity to the end of track - also the least forgiving ride at Union. But it's also a rare chance to ride a piece of equipment at IRM running on track that isn't standard gauge.
The last project of the day was that Richard and Greg wanted to check on some air system repairs that they'd made to a San Francisco Fageol-Twin Coach trolley bus we got a few years back from Orange Empire. The air system repairs seemed to be substantially successful, though fixing one leak revealed another smaller one, but progress is being made. They also identified an issue with the MG set on the bus that should be fixable. Above is an interior photo; this thing is in rather good shape though years in the Perris, California heat led to most or all of the seats being damaged.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Sunday report

Frank writes...

The weather on Sunday was unusually balmy, with a high of 60 degrees, so it was an ideal day to head out to IRM. When I arrived most of the car shop crew - including Joel, Greg, Good Nick, and Thomas, along with Wes from the diesel shop - were out on the line car inspecting the overhead and making repairs and adjustments where needed. I've been promised some photos documenting this.

Zach and Brian were working on the 757 out in the barn, though. After a sojourn accompanying them to hunt for spare parts, I decided to do a little bit more cleanup on Shaker Heights 18. In this case, "cleanup" isn't so much washing the thing off as simply getting it put back together. The first job was to reattached a length of drip rail on the left side of the car that was hanging loose, as shown above.
After some drilling, dowls, and screws, the section of drip rail was reattached. We will likely want to replace much of this drip rail, as there are some short sections missing and it seems like running off some longer sections would be better than piecing in short lengths, but that's for later. This view is looking west/northwest along track 73; west of the 18 are the 972 and 205.
The car's trolley base was too heavy to hoist up to the roof myself, but the trolley hook wasn't. So after locating appropriate hardware I bolted it to the car's roof boards. This is looking east; next to the 18 on track 73 is our other Shaker Heights car, PCC 63, which is currently out of commission with MG problems, and beyond it the Matchbox. Over on 72 is a rake of 4000s while on track 74 you can see the 144 with the open car and 3142 beyond it.
Stepping back a couple of feet, you can see a couple of interesting items on the roof of the 18. It's obvious where the trolley base will go, and off to the right is the fuse box. That loop on the left would have held a spare trolley pole, which is something I tend to associate more with interurbans than with suburban lines. At the far end of the trolley boards is a hook - barely visible as a shadow in the preceding photo - which I assume is where you'd hang the harp of your spare pole. Another intriguing detail is that the roof canvas of this car is divided into three strips, a strip down each side of the roof and a strip down the middle that's just wider than the trolley boards. Car 18 had a row of Scullin ventilators down its entire roof until it was rebuilt around WWII. I wonder whether the roof canvas may have been patched in when those ventilators were removed, which would make this canvas at least 85-90 years old. It's pure speculation though.
I spent a few minutes hauling some excess wire pieces around in the golf car for the line car crew when they returned to the property, but that was about it for my useful contributions. I did have time (of course) to wander around aimlessly taking photos. Above we see a rebuilt motor for the L4, recently back from the motor shop.
There isn't a lot of progress being made currently on the S105 but I snapped a photo anyway since it's one of the most recent arrivals in Barn 4.
The recent progress on reassembly of the rear end of of Michigan Electric 28 is impressive. Virtually the entire wooden floor is installed, as are the baggage door thresholds.
As I mentioned earlier, Zach and Brian were working on the 757, addressing the few electrical gremlins with the car. Here Zach shows off a rebuilt board that has something to do with the battery-powered emergency lighting circuit (thanks for the correction Zach!); nearly out of sight underneath the car is Brian, getting ready to install the board. They were also working on the 757's smoker door and on fitting the new end windows for the car.
At the end of the day, it was suggested that the Toronto CLRV should be powered up to avoid any unnecessary sit-itis. Above can be seen the interesting setup for this. The usual trolley bus stinger, with forked hooks at the end for the positive and negative wires on the trolley bus line, can be seen hung on the wires to the left of the railroad crossing sign. The negative wire is clamped to the rail on the wide-gauge panel track while the positive is hooked to the car's trolley pole. And voila! Unfortunately, there was no voila this time, as the car's batteries had drained down and it didn't want to start up until they were recharged. But I was told that when the crew returned to the museum after dinner, and after some time on a battery charger, the car was powered up without any trouble.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Doodlebug Update

Gregg Wolfersheim sends us another update on the UP M-35 doodlebug.

A couple of windows are being painted in preparation for installing them.

Here are three panels recently cleaned up and getting primed.  
They will go above the windows to hold the insulation.

A little while later they got painted.

Some of the fabricated wood trim pieces all primed.

The lower wall area all painted.

The insulation panel in place. Also, the board at the bottom that covers the void between the wall and heater pipes. Some rock wool type of insulation was put in below. Next will come the plywood panel which faces the interior.