Tuesday, June 30, 2020

There's Always More to Do

It was hot on Monday, which limited how much work could get done on the 451's roof, but we keep going.  I was able to do a little painting:  the grab iron needed for climbing onto the roof....

and the rope guard at the #2 end, also the windshield wiper.  The car needs to be moved before I can install these parts at the other end.  And I started on fixing the way the roof cables run from one end to the other.

And then I took out the lightning arrester and started checking it.  This is an oil-filled capacitor, and it meggered OK.  With a light box, I was able to verify that what I thought to be the ground connection on the roof was indeed grounded.  Generally speaking, you don't want anything on the roof to be grounded to the frame of the car for safety's sake.  For instance, there is an insulated pipe joint in the piping to the horns, so they are electrically floating and don't pose a danger to someone working with the trolley poles.  But the lightning arrester is an unavoidable exception.  One end has to be grounded, and you need to be sure to avoid it when on the roof.  You have been warned.

Other regulars were on the job, as usual.  John and Gerry were working on the 306:

But I didn't get any pictures of Tim or Pete working on their projects.   Sorry!

Other than that, the main thing was that we received a donation of a large collection of stereo slides taken by Richard Hartweg, which I mentioned before, and we can't thank the donor enough!  Along with the slides, we got a stereo slide viewer, projector, and a scanner.  These are all greatly appreciated.  And maybe in the future we can start posting some of the scans.  Of course, you'll need a stereo computer monitor or stereo smart phone to get the full effect.

Monday, June 29, 2020

451 Progress

Frank writes...

On Sunday I took a break from the 18 and joined with a few other department volunteers who were working to move the 451 project along. It was a good day and progress was made on several fronts. One major advance, which I didn't get any good photos of, was that the electric cable from the west bus jumper socket up through the vestibule attic to the roof was mostly replaced. Joel and Richard were able to accomplish this, soldering a new quick-disconnect fitting onto the rooftop end and then splicing the new length of cable onto the cable coming out of the socket. This completes the circuit that joins the two bus jumper sockets and then goes into the rooftop fuse box shown in Friday's update.

Another bit of good news is that Joel was able to get the leak plugged in the oil sump of the 451's air compressor. Like the 453 and 460, the car has a DH-25 pump (shown above) but it had a small crack that didn't affect the pump's operation directly but leaked oil. This is now fixed and the pump is almost ready to be put back on the car. The next job is to find the little steel cover that goes just behind the coffee can in the above photo; this was removed at some point in the last year or so and has been misplaced. I tried a couple of examples off of spare DH-25's but the hole spacing is a bit different. One way or another this won't be a tough problem to fix and then we will be able to put air on the 451.
Then the next item on the agenda was trolley poles. After measuring the poles on the 460 and the trolley base locations on both that car and 451, Joel determined that a pair of matching poles that have been leaning against the wall in the southeast corner of Barn 4 for a number of years are, indeed, the poles from the 451. At some point probably 8-9 years ago these were cleaned up, painted silver as befits a CA&E pole, and new harps designed for trolley shoe inserts were fitted. Jack hunted down S-hooks and "crazy eight" split links, Joel found a new shoe assembly to put on the one pole that was missing its, and the poles were hoisted up to the roof. Above, Joel is tightening the adjustment nut on the west pole. We really didn't tighten these much, so tension on the poles is very low, but the nuts holding them into the bases were torqued down so we can adjust tension later.
And here's a view of the pole at the east end of the car. Beyond the 451 on track 41 is North Shore 160.
And here's a shot of the west end of the 451 following installation of its pole. Joel is up on the roof with Richard in the vestibule. You can see that I was also able to install a retriever on this end of the car, pulling one from our "working spares" pile. It's also evident that the poles on this car are a bit shorter than you'd expect, with the very tip of the shoe barely even with the rope guard. The 460 is the same way. But looking at photos, I think that's correct. This picture from the Trolley Dodger site shows the 451 around the target date of its current restoration, with original lettering but after the roof was painted black and after the as-built metal door sash were replaced by wooden windows. It's obvious that even with the pole hooked down, the rope from the retriever "bends" back over the rope guard. The only real difference seems to be that originally the rope tied directly to the harp, instead of slightly back of it on the current poles. (For whatever reason it looks like the car also had a short length of chain below the harp - not sure why the railroad would have done that.)
As always, other projects were being worked on too. The most noticeable when I arrived was that Thomas had extracted the Baldy from the track 42 "roof booth" for the first time in a year or two and had taken it over to the pit lead for a pressure-washing.
Thomas is up on the scaffold to the left of the car cleaning a couple of decades of dust and dirt off of it. Most of the exterior metal work is done, and at some point the car will get a fresh coat of paint to match the new paint going onto its interior. The car did motor itself out of the barn, MU'd of course to a car with poles. Later in the day, Thomas and Jack were working on checking out the car's under-floor equipment to chase down a pesky wiring short that had cropped up. Good Nick and Greg were also out and hard at work overhauling overhead wire hardware.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Nightly Roller Derby

Our friend Ray Piesciuk has been scanning CA&E bulkhead advertising cards (the ones hung in the bulkhead windows between the cars' smoking and main compartments) from the Julie Johnson collection. A few duplicates have been passed along to us so that we can either use them in the cars or easily get them copied. The batch he's working on currently seem to mostly be from 1939-1940. These will all eventually end up on the fascinating www.irm-cta.org archive site Ray and Julie manage.

Friday, June 26, 2020

451 Progress Report

Under the current conditions, there isn't a lot of hob-nobbing going on to liven things up.  Today Tim and I were the only guys working in the car shop, along with John McKelvey restoring seats for the John McGloughlin Pullman car, as he does on a very reliable basis.  So here's what got done on the 451.

To start with, I fastened down the fuse box on the roof.  This particular box could probably use some work, but it will be OK for now.  When was the last time we blew a roof fuse on one of these cars?

Most of the rest of the time I worked on the train door thresholds.  I located the other threshold casting; all I can say is that I'm not the only person around here who stores things away and then can't remember where they went.  Evidently the door frames were rebuilt at some point, as the casting at the #1 end didn't fit at first...

But after some adjustments were made, it fit just fine.  Notice that I had to remove the train door to get the casting into place, but when the door was re-attached it fits snugly over the threshold casting.

And then I attached the safety tread plates.  All it needs now is more paint -- like several other places on this car.

And then I installed the casting at the #2 end.  For whatever reason the two castings are slightly different in length.  I would have thought than when they switched over to steel construction things would be more uniform, but evidently not.

Anyway, it looks fine now:

So it's nice to have that finished.

Tim was working on the 1754, of course, in several places.  Here are three reupholstered backs for the bowling alley seats.  It's simple; they were stored on this rack in the Lean-3, and he just rolled it over to the barn so they could be loaded into the car.

This is the west end of the car.

So we're in a race.  Joel recently pointed out that every car in Barn 4 is an active project; that hasn't been true for a long time.  Of course, some are much closer than others.  The 160, for instance, is completely operable; Pete is refinishing windows and woodwork, but that could be closed up quickly for service.  The 1754 and 757 are also operable.  The 451's interior is shabby, but when some more mechanical issues are addressed it could be ready for service.  And so on.

So in spite of the restrictions, we keep making progress.  And don't touch that dial!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Derrick in action

Our intrepid freelance photographer Greg Kepka sent along the above photo, taken during a recent foray on North Shore line car 604. A small crew of IRM volunteers was out on the railroad swapping hardware from an old line pole that had failed to a new line pole that was set alongside it. You can see that the two poles at right are lashed together, the good new one keeping the bad old one straight until the crossarm and wires can be transferred. Anyway, lifting hundreds of pounds of catenary off of a crossarm is no mean feat, but fortunately the 604 is well equipped for the job. It has a derrick mounted to its side frame and, while the derrick probably hadn't seen use for decades, it still worked like a charm as shown. Hopefully one of the people on the crew can chime in with more details but the derrick uses a combination of rope and wire rope, positioned with the help of an air motor driven off of the car's main reservoir. Sharp-eyed viewers will also notice that the 604 is being slowly but steadily spruced up, with fresh paint on parts of the car courtesy of Gregg Wolfersheim.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Prelude for Four Horns

The weather was just perfect today, with a good breeze, so with doors open at each end of the barn it was not too hot up on the roof of the 451, as it often is.

The main task was to install the horns.  The 451 had dual air horns at each end, and when installed it looks like this, complete with the horn guard to keep a trolley pole from hitting the horn and breaking it.  Installation took longer than expected because I hadn't realized the horn castings need to have wooden shims underneath, so they had to be made.  And there's a lot of painting on installed parts that still needs to be done.

Now if I only had a compressor, the prelude could be followed by an actual fanfare.

Incidentally, the 451 was delivered with these dual horns, but as far as I can tell it was the only one of the ten that had them; the others were all single horns.  But I could be wrong about that.  There are lots of pictures of these cars, but it's often hard to tell about the horn arrangement.

I was also able to install the grab iron for reaching the roof at the #2 end.  The car needs to be wyed, or moved to another track, before the one at the other end can be safely attached.  This is another one of those things that just has to be right.

I was too busy to get any actual action photos, but here are some views of progress that was made today.  On the 306, Gerry did more welding and grinding: 

And John continued installing the floor.  At this end, completion awaits some more welding on side panels.

And Tim finished installing the anticlimbers on the 1754, and painted them black.

And while work was going on, I recharged the batteries, and later retested the MG set on the 451.

So this was another rewarding, productive day.

Meet Me At The Opera

Our friend Ray Piesciuk has been scanning CA&E bulkhead advertising cards (the ones hung in the bulkhead windows between the cars' smoking and main compartments) from the Julie Johnson collection. A few duplicates have been passed along to us so that we can either use them in the cars or easily get them copied. The batch he's working on currently seem to mostly be from 1939-1940. These will all eventually end up on the fascinating www.irm-cta.org archive site Ray and Julie manage.

Randy adds: That's an astounding list of names -- some of the greatest artists of all time.  I wish I could have been there.

Monday, June 22, 2020

In dire bearing straits

Frank writes...

As my father described, we brought the 18 out again on Sunday after putting new waste in the bearing that had been running warm for its initial outing, which was the #4R journal. The goal was to wye the car as it was sitting in Barn 7 back-to-back with the 4391. This meant that the two cars were playing "trolley pole jousting" which is undesirable if you can avoid it! So we took it around the wye, the 18's first voyage under power through Station Track 1, and then over to the pit lead for checking on motor armature bearings. Unfortunately a second journal started singing a little just as we got to the pit lead. Aargh!

One bit of good news is that Zach found the car's headlight, which had been stowed for safe-keeping when the 18 was acquired. We need to check the wiring to make sure the headlight circuit is good but it looks nice on the car as shown here. Anyway, it turned out that the #2L journal was the one now acting up. It had the same marginal-looking waste as the #4R journal had started out with, so I got to work on quickly making up some new journal bundles and soaking them for a few hours in journal oil. Below you can see what was pulled out of the box. We've seen worse, but ideally you want your waste to be in cohesive bundles so that the strand ends aren't trying to grab and ride up in between the axle and the bearing.
We also started looking at motor armature bearings and ended up replacing the waste on the first one of those we found, too. So replacing waste could be an ongoing project for a while on this car! But we will see. I owe a big debt of gratitude to Joel, Richard, Greg, and Thomas, all of whom spent quite a bit of time helping with bearing work and other tasks on the 18. I also brought out a couple of windows that my father replaced and put them in the car, but I didn't have enough time to sand and prime them like I had hoped.
It occurred to me that I wasn't sure I had posted any recent photos of the rear end of the car, so here it is. We haven't been able to open up the marker lights because the cast rings that hold in the lenses are rust-jacked into place. That will be a project at some point.

In other news, a big Thank You to Steve Heister and Walt Stoner of the Northern Ohio Railway Museum for sending us paint mix formulas for the grey and cream. This livery was known on Shaker Heights as the "Bankers scheme" because an earlier version sans red belt rail was instituted in the early 1930s when the line went bankrupt and came under the control of the banks. NORM has matched the colors to good-quality original samples so this ensures that the car will look right when we repaint it. But car 18 needs your help! We are out of money, even for relatively inexpensive things like paint, and we need donations to keep this car's restoration moving along! Donations can be send to Shaker Heights Rapid Transit 18 - and thank you.

Other projects were being worked on too. Besides the 'Liner guys over in Barn 7 and Zach (and others) making good progress on the 757, Thomas was working on the revenue 4000s for most of the day. He got 4410 and 4412 made up into a train and then brought over some leaky air system components from the 4290 to overhaul those. Richard, Greg, and Joel seemed to be spending most of their time running new wiring to the controller at one end of the 1268. This failed a little while back due to a short in the conduit, so new conduit has been run and now the controller is wired back up. And if that isn't enough progress, mid-afternoon Scott Greig showed up and was working out in the barn doing metal work on the CTA steeplecab, S-105. Joel pointed out that every car in Barn 4 right now is in active restoration, a few of them - like the 451, 28, and 306 among others - seeing more work than they have in years.

And finally, this week's quiz: what is this thing? Hint: it's not homemade, it was commercially available.
ANSWER: Olin was correct - the mystery object is a fuse puller. It was made by Brush Electric, not to be confused by the Brush Electric in Britain that made electric motors and control equipment.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father's Day Visit

For Father's Day this year I got to take a road trip, as we often do, and this time my wife and I wound up at IRM.  Surprise!  I got a chance to visit a couple of active projects that I usually don't get a chance to see when I'm working.  So here are some progress reports:

First is North Shore 757, in charge of Zach Ehlers.  The smoking compartment has been completely disassembled and is being restored.  Zach proudly showed us the new linoleum that's being installed.  The company that made the original pattern is still in business and was able to reproduce it for us.  It's an exact match to what's in the main compartment.

When gluing it down, it helps to have this professional-looking roller!  

And Zach took a break from other Car Dept. activities to do some more gluing.

Meanwhile, work continues in the Electroliner.  Ed has all the parts and tools stored in the C section, and explained what they're doing.

And he took us on a tour of the dining car, the B section.  

Meanwhile, in the A-1 section, Kevin Kolar and John Arroyo are continuing the complete rebuilding of the interior.  It's really going to look nice.

Several other of the car experts brought out the 18 again to check bearings and other mechanical parts.  We got to ride it around the wye, making my wife the first actual passenger on the 18 in Illinois, apart from working members.  This car should be very popular with the public.

Frank brought out his cylinder player to show the guys, something that dates back to the Wilson era. (Frank: this one actually dates to the Theodore Roosevelt era but the model debuted during the McKinley administration!)

So it was nice to spend some time on campus without having to do any actual work for a change!

Stereo Slides

Just when you think you've seen it all in this business, something new comes along.  A friend of the blog sent me a handful of stereo slides and writes:

These stereo slides were shot by Richard Hartweg.  He died about ten years ago.  His landlady, in Evanston, had me clean out his apartment.  Instead of disposing of the slides, she let me keep them as my pay.  I have at least 1,000 slides which might be of interest to IRM -- let me know what you think.

Here's what the stereo slides look like.  The holders are about 1 1/2" x 4", and the images themselves are slightly less than 1" square.  They are all carefully labeled front and back with details on time, place, subject, exposure, etc.   All of the ones he sent me are from the CTA.

My slide scanner is not designed for this, but here's an example of one image, although maybe this particular example was overexposed.  It's the S-365 from the upper slide in the above picture.

In order for this to be effective, you need a special stereo slide viewer, of course, and I see that these are a collector's item on eBay, for instance.  The format was evidently a Kodak standard.

As to the question of whether we're interested, that is a definite "yes"!  We are always grateful for donations like this, so thanks!!!

Update:  The man who rescued the slides from the dumpster has replied; he gets out towards Union every so often on business, so he'll arrange to drop off the slides sometime soon.  This is great!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Trolley Bases Installed

Today was another busy day at the Museum, so I didn't get much of a chance to report on what all the other volunteers were doing.  But with some help, I got the trolley bases for the 451 fixed up and installed on the roof.  At various times, I got some temporary help from Jon Fenlaciki, Gregg Wolfersheim, John Sheldon, and Mike Stauber.

Gregg found the right die for chasing the threads on the adjustment rods, so the bases finally got permanently assembled, with the new hardware that we got many years ago.  After some lubrication, they're ready for service.

And here is the base bolted to the running boards at the #2 end, with the eerie green color again.

Meanwhile, of course, other projects were going on.   Here John is continuing on the floor of the 306, and Jon was working on the roof of the 65.  And so on....

Then I drilled the holes for the #1 end base, found some more bolts and other hardware, and put it in place.  Lifting it up onto the roof with the big power lift is actually quite easy.  In this picture, it isn't bolted down yet, but the power connection has been made.

Finally, here it is with the bolts in place.  Now we just have to figure out where the two trolley poles that came with the car are stored.

During a lunch break, I wandered over to the Marengo depot.  The east end has had its windows removed, since this is how it looked when the east end was the baggage room.  And the benches have been set up for eventual use by visitors when we can reopen, and they can wait for the next train at a safe distance from each other.

And the Track Department was at work, and so on.  We're making good use of the available resources during the pandemic, so stay tuned.