Tuesday, May 26, 2020

We've come a long way

Frank writes...

The first couple of years of the blog, my father would write "5, 10, 15 years ago" type posts with brief summaries of what had been going on in years past. Today seemed like a good day to do a "42 years ago" post because he reminded me that this is the 42nd anniversary of the first time the 309 ever ran at IRM. It was the spring of 1978, only three years after my father had joined Bob and Barb Rayunec in working on the car (as of 1975 the 309 was still an "illegal project" that was thought so far gone that nobody was supposed to be wasting their time on it). Norm Krentel headed up efforts to check out the car's electrical systems and its first run since leaving Wheaton was on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

Of course it's come a long way since then - at the time the roof was far from done, the interior was still largely a burned-out shell, and it lacked some doors and windows. But it was a huge step forward in the restoration of the car. If you're interested in reading more about the long 33-year road the 309 took to restoration, click here.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Manhattan Elevated Cars in Arkansas

Following up on one of our favorite subjects, railroad cars turned into roadside diners, a long-time reader sent us the link to this site:

Two of these diners were already on our own list, with some of the same pictures, but this site has more.  I was especially struck by the picture of an IT Class B in wartime paint pulling a train of El cars at the ACF plant in St. Charles, Mo.  Read the whole thing, as they say.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Lake Shore Electric Photos

Frank pointed me to the on-line photo collection of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, which Matthew Gustafson discovered and which has a collection of several thousand railroad-related images focusing on Ohio, including electric lines.  There are about 300 dealing with the Lake Shore Electric, including three of the 150 in particular, which I will add to the car's history.

Motorman's cab for the 150.  Note the spittoon, an amenity that IRM refuses to provide its volunteers.

Crossing the Sandusky River in Fremont on State St.

At the Beach Park carbarn.

Freight trailer 810 at Sandusky.  It looks just like this today!

All of these photos are evidently in the public domain, and we thank the Columbus Metropolitan Library for making these available.  It's a tremendous resource.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Remember the Frisco

A generous donor has sent us some interesting memorabilia of the Frisco Railroad. You may remember that the Frisco became part of BN in 1980, and these items date from that period, at the end of its existence as an independent railroad. First, there's a dictionary with a beautiful leather book jacket embossed with the Frisco herald.

And then there's a total of seven packs of playing cards, all still wrapped in plastic and never used, again with the Frisco herald.

We sincerely appreciate the donation of these artifacts, and we encourage anybody out there who has railroad memorabilia to consider donating them to IRM.  You couldn't find a better home for your treasures.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Update on the Doodlebug - and More!

Work at IRM has of course been suspended, but Gregg Wolfersheim had been bringing parts home to work on during the shutdown.  Here are some updates:
Some 6 wall panels and trim were painted for the doodlebug:

Here are some interior trim pieces in primer.

And those pieces painted, along with others. The window tracks are for #21. 

This interior door is from the Pullman car, Mt. Harvard. I've sanded it down, primed and begun painting it. Earlier, I finished painting 2 doors I made back in December for B71. That's the Westinghouse end cab switcher we acquired in 2016. It's currently in the diesel shop getting a cosmetic restoration as time permits around other projects.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Threshold of Despair

Let's return to the CA&E 451 project for a day.  Here's the heavy iron casting that serves as the threshold under the train door at each end of the car.  It was held to the wooden floor with flat head wood screws; they had become entirely rusted into the casting and had to be drilled out.  That was quickly fixed.  However, we should of course have two of these, and we can only find one.  I just don't know how these things happen.

In despair over ever finding the other one, and lacking an iron foundry in my basement, I decided to make a wood replacement.  I had picked up a scrap piece of wood at IRM before the lockdown, and finally got around to machining it.  It didn't take very long.

You will notice, of course, that the casting has a shallow square pattern cast into it.  I suppose I could reproduce this (at least on the top surface) by setting the table saw to a very shallow cut and running the work over the blade, carefully moving the work by exactly 1/4" more than one hundred times.  The chances that I could actually accomplish this without a mistake are despairingly small.   So I'll just paint it and call it a day.  Meanwhile, if you happen to find one of these in your collection, or for sale, we'll buy it.  It's exactly 4" wide and 27" long.  

Friday, May 8, 2020

Things Could Be Worse

I know everybody is getting stressed out by the continued lockdown, but we just have to be patient.  Our Museum is being carefully monitored and protected, so it will still be there when we can all get back to work.  Meanwhile, we just have to hope nothing gets damaged.

Here are some pictures of the East Broad Top bridge over Runk Rd. that I took back in 2017.  Last week a truck came along and smashed into the bridge, in spite of its clearly marked height, damaging the historic bridge and its abutments.  The driver didn't report the incident (hit and run!) but was later brought to justice, as I understand.   

IRM doesn't have anything quite like this for people to run into.  But at least anyone who runs into, or tries to steal our trolley wire will get a shock!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Ones That Got Away - Speedrail

When the remaining interurban operations of the Milwaukee Electric system were about to be abandoned in the late 40's, an investor from Cleveland named Jay Maeder bought them from the Greyhound bus line which had purchased the railway, and tried to keep the trains running under the name "Speedrail".  Maeder was a railfan as well as a businessman, and it would appear that perhaps the company was founded more to give him a full-sized electric railroad to operate than to make a profit.  During its brief existence, Speedrail acquired a large and interesting roster of historic equipment, mostly from TM but from several other railways as well.  Operations started in September 1949.

It did not last long, and the tragic end is well known.  On Labor Day weekend of 1950, Maeder was running a special train over the system for the NMRA, with himself as motorman.  A mixup in orders resulted in a head-on collision between the special and a regular service train.  Ten people were killed and many more badly injured.  This caused a drop in ridership as well as huge damage claims, and the company never recovered.  Operation continued, with more wrecks, until mid-1951, and in early 1952 the entire remaining roster was scrapped.  There was no organized museum movement in this area at that time to save anything, and the list of the ones that got away is another sad example of missed opportunities.

Speedrail in general seems to have been a disaster in terms of safety.  Several pieces of equipment were wrecked at various times.  I've heard people say that Maeder tried to run a rapid transit line like a museum, but that's not fair to most museums.  IRM certainly has a far superior operation in terms of safety to anything like this.

A badly-dented wreck victim in regular operation

Photos courtesy of the Mewhinney and Don Ross sites.

Summarizing the Speedrail roster, from the CERA TM book (B-112):

Passenger Equipment:

1) Ten light-weight articulated trains, built by St. Louis in 1930 for TM.   Two were wrecked during 1950, and one was the NMRA special.

2) Seven single-end lightweights from Shaker Heights, originally Indianapolis and Southeastern  (see above)

3) Two double-end lightweights from Shaker Heights, originally Aurora Elgin and Fox River 300 and 301

4) Two single-end lightweights from Lehigh Valley Transit, originally Dayton and Troy

5) Sixteen of the TM 1100's (Kuhlman 1909, rblt 1924).   Three were wrecked at various times and scrapped; only one remained in service by the end.

6) Ten of the TM 1100's (St. Louis 1907, rblt c. 1924)   One was wrecked.

7) Eight articulated trains built by TM from Indianapolis and Southeastern heavyweight cars.  One was heavily damaged in the NMRA collision and scrapped.

8) One single-truck Birney from KCPS, probably purchased by Maeder privately, never used.  See below.

Work Equipment, all from TM:

1) Two snow plows

2) Two line cars

3) A ditcher

4) Two snow sweepers

5) A box motor, miscellaneous freight cars, etc.

 6) Update: A "tank motor" or sprinkler

And two of the 1100's were used as freight motors at various times.

Only two pieces on this roster escaped scrapping.  The most interesting is the Kansas City Birney 1545.

  It's unlikely that Maeder intended to use it in regular service, of course.  When Speedrail came to an end in 1952, the nearest operating electric railway museum was ORM, and he donated it to them.  It was moved to Worthington in June of 1953. ORM was one of the earliest operating trolley museums and 1545 was soon repainted and operational; for a time, before ORM built its bridge over Route 161, 1545 ran on an isolated stretch of track south of Route 161. After ORM began its long decline in the mid-1970's, 1545 was heavily vandalized and damaged by arsonists.

KCPS 1545 as of May 1980, in sickening condition. :(

 In December 1982 the car was sold to the Fort Smith Trolley Museum, which stripped it of its truck, motors and control equipment to restore Fort Smith Birney 224. The body has been retained intact and is in storage.

The second is line car D22, which was returned to the Lakeside power plant before the end of Speedrail.   Like most of the remaining TM work equipment, it became part of the TWERHS collection at East Troy, and was acquired by IRM in 1988.  It's in storage, in poor condition.

The body of car 1138 was shipped to Maeder's home in Ohio after the end of Speedrail, but without the trucks and motors, which were scrapped by mistake.   Maeder had intended to preserve it, but when it was found that he didn't get the complete car, the body was eventually scrapped.

Scrapping cars at the Waukesha gravel pit

From the standpoint of 70 years later, we can only speculate on what might have been available for preservation if Speedrail had lasted longer with a better safety record.  First of all, we'd want one or more of the 1100's with their original trucks, motors, and electrical equipment.  Only two TM interurbans survived, and they were both heavily modified by the London & Port Stanley.  And the articulated trains, both the heavyweight and lightweight versions, were unique to TM, and nothing like them has been preserved.  (Well, apart from the Key System bridge units.  Insert smiley.)  Then there are the Cincinnati curved-side cars, which are very rare.   And nothing from either the Dayton and Troy or Indianapolis & Cincinnati has survived.  On the other hand, a good selection of TM work equipment was preserved, independent of Speedrail.

Well, we could go into greater detail on everything, but that's enough for now.   Corrections, as always, are welcome.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Next Customer

Our next customer is a window from the 18 that definitely needs some body work.  I believe that if we only replace the bottom rail, it will be sufficient.  The interior paint on the top rail and the two channels is probably OK.

The exterior will certainly need a complete repaint, but that won't be hard.

With a little work, the bottom rail is removed from the rest of the window.  This particular window already was rebuilt in the shops at some point.  The bottom inch or so was replaced with a new piece of wood, as I mentioned before, and then they added some hardware to help keep it together.  I don't know what these things (yellow arrows) are called, but there's a flat head machine screw that fits into a threaded shaft, and it holds the window together even while the wood is decaying.  You can see where new holes were drilled into the channel and the rail (red arrows).  Now I just need some more poplar.

Update: Before and after

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Window Update

Work continues on windows for the Shaker Heights 18.  Frank has a good wire-wheel setup in his garage, so here he is cleaning up metal parts:

Meanwhile, I made wood parts for two more frames, and they are now assembled, as seen here:

And by the end of the day, we now have a total of five windows in primer:

And we trade parts as needed to keep the project going.

If I don't keep busy on IRM tasks, my wife can always find other things for me to do, such as setting bricks in the garden, like this:

It beats watching TV.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Ones That Got Away - CSL Wish List

Dick Lukin continues:  [my notes in brackets]

Not only the cars I mentioned before, but I wanted to buy one of the cars which went to Downers Grove [ERHS], the railroad roof wood 2846.

The 2846 in work service (Mewhinney)
The sweeper was $437.00 [the E223, which Dick did purchase] but the 2800's price was around $850... money which no one else had at the ready.

Dick Lukin at left in 1959, with the E-223 at North Chicago (Mizerocki)
Also gone and forgotten were other great work cars like the line car!  I think the CSL had only the one line car [V-201]:

(Don Ross)
 and there was the  HUGE  Supply car  [S-201] which sort of hung out at Burnside, as I used to see it on occasion.

(Don Ross)

We also missed a  despised car... a 5700 "Muzzleloader"!

A muzzleloader  (Scalzo - Mewhinney)
Why the Chicago City Railways ordered these stupid, slow  cars and used them on one of the busiest cars lines... for ever.. was always a mystery to me.  Since I lived only feet from Cottage Grove Ave, we had a choice of riding them, or waiting for  a 169--Broadway #1  or a 5600 off of Stony Island.  Easy choice.

Another muzzleloader on the Windsor Park line, at 93rd and Baltimore (Scalzo - Mewhinney)

But here again it comes down  to the  basic problem.   NO MONEY!