Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Shrink-wrapped to Preserve Freshness

Monday was another productive day at the old carbarn.  I'll tell you more about the 306 later.  Meanwhile, I started by installing some more screws to hold down the trolley boards, but that's not very photogenic.  I then modified the shims as needed and managed to attach both horns in a permanent fashion.  So that's a good step forward.  

Then I decided to attack the cables in the #1 attic with the chewed-up insulation.  There are two main power cables in this attic; one comes out from top of the electrical cabinet and goes up through the roof to the trolley bases.  This is the path of current when taking power from the poles.  In the picture below you can see where the cable is completely bare.   I used a light box to check that both cables were still insulated from the car.

Fortunately we had some large heat-shrink tubing on hand, and I only needed about 10" for this run.  I put the tubing over the bare spot, cut a hole in the canvas, and ran the cable up through the roof.

With the big casting installed, it looks like this.

Later, with a heat gun the tubing is shrunk onto the cable so it won't move.  And it's rated for 600V.

The other cable starts at the bus jumper, passes through the attic to another hole in the roof, and then along the trolley boards to the other end, where it connects with the other bus jumper.  We use the bus jumpers only in emergencies, but in any case we want it to be right.  This cable is somewhat smaller in diameter, but much longer.  We had some tubing of the right size, but not quite enough.

In the picture below, the cable starts at about the buzzer pull switch and goes up at 11:00.  There's a metal bracket holding it, and below that is rubber tubing, so that part is OK.  Beyond that almost all of the insulation was chewed.  There's a small bracket just out of sight at the top, but that will be easy to deal with.  Somebody tried wrapping the bare cable with electrical tape, but it just comes off when you handle it, so I removed it all later.  Once we have another 3' or so of tubing, the cable can be fixed permanently and passed up through the roof.

This high-voltage heat-shrink tubing is important for public health.  It keeps our power electrons nice and fresh and prevents them from contaminating our bodies and nervous systems with unwanted currents.

Then I attached another drip rail.  You've seen one, you've seen them all.

At the same time, John, Gerry, and Fred were hard at work on the 306.  Among other things, they have now started on a complete roof job, which the car needs.  I was too busy to get many pictures, but by the end of the day they had removed both poles, both trolley bases, and started on removing what's left of the trolley boards and saddles.  I even got to help briefly.  The trolley bases were lifted with block and tackle hooked to the rafters, then each base had to be pulled over with a guy line so it could be lifted down onto the aisle.  Since I was on the roof of the 453, it was the best location from which to pull the base over the aisle.  

They are carefully taking measurements and making sure the new roof will be an exact reproduction.

And Pete was working on the interior of the 160.

So that's it for Monday.  By the way, the new south wye switch sure looks nice!

Monday, April 26, 2021

Light up

Frank writes...

Sunday was a sunny but chilly day; while the forecast for Monday had highs in the 70s, on Sunday the temperature only got up to 50 or so. As such, no Bankers Grey went onto the 18. But progress was made nonetheless.
One little project that's now marked off the to-do list is replacement of the glass in the aft side roll sign box. The metal was cleaned up and painted over the previous few weeks, new glass was cut, and on Sunday plenty of butyl caulk went into making the assembly as watertight as possible. I also did some cleanup of the inside of this sign box. The gear assembly in this box appears to be partly riveted in place, but the gearing looks like it's in good shape and moves relatively freely, so I think I'm going to try and clean up and lubricate the gearing in situ before our nice replacement roll sign gets installed.
Another exciting thing knocked off the to-do list was testing and electrification of the sign light circuit. There are five bulbs in this circuit (natch), three in the front box and one in each of the two side boxes. Thanks to Joel and Richard, who helped procure a couple of replacement bulbs that were needed. And of course a huge thank you to Bill Wulfert, who did all of the work of rebuilding and repainting the inside of the front sign box and also did quite a lot of restoration work on the front roll sign itself, including installing new leaders. Thanks, Bill!!
There are still some electrical issues to work out. I need to test out the marker light circuit, but that needs to wait until I install the marker lights and I don't want to do that until I can put a coat of paint on the back end of the car. And at some point we need to look at the master controller and see if we can chase down the issue with the car occasionally dropping out in the second point.
As always, there was plenty of activity. Jack and new volunteer Mike were working on inspecting the Matchbox and they got this job done by the end of the day. Joel was sorting parts and Nick and Greg were out on the railroad doing DC Line Department stuff. Thomas and Ashton, and I think Richard, were working on 'L' car stuff. Zach was in train service; it seemed like we had another good crowd so a second two-car electric train was brought out. The 251's journal bearing so far seems to be doing okay so that car is now back in revenue service.
Late in the afternoon I did some railfanning around the property. This is the new switch #711 at the south end of the wye, completely replaced by our volunteer Track Department over the course of just eight days. What a job!
It was pointed out that this is the newest rail on the property, dating to 2019. It's still grey from the mill.
And here's something you'll have to check out for yourself on your next visit. I stopped by Barn 3, where the IC side-door caboose and the FGEX reefer have now been opened to the public as part of the freight train exhibit. Both are very impressive, particularly the reefer, whose varnished interior is really pretty striking. The lighting and exhibit boards look extremely professional and the "props" are a great addition. I get the impression that more artifacts are likely to be added over time. What's shown here, at one end of the car, is a selection of ice-cutting tools as part of an explanation of how ice (for use in reefers like this one) was sourced. The other end of the car has a lot more information about reefers and the meat-packing industry in general. It's terrific stuff and really raises the bar for our educational efforts, I think. Kudos to the folks who have been working on this exhibit.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Thursday Report

For Thursday, another exciting day at IRM brings us a few pictures of progress.

First, we'll take a look at the rapid progress by the Track Dept. in replacing the south wye switch.  The old switch was removed in two sections and placed on track carts.  Here's one of them:

By mid-morning, the switch looked like this:

Anyway, back in Barn 4, I was working on the roof again.  The ventilators and drip rail installed last time got a coat of primer.  I also received some new screws for attaching the running boards to the saddles, and these work better than the previous type.  Then I started applying canvas paint to both ends, where there were still some bare spots, as seen here.

But that's now a thing of the past.

After fastening down the running boards at the west end, I was able to install the grab iron that bolts onto one of the boards.  This took a little while because I had to chase threads on one of the bolts, but Tim helped by finding the right die.

John and Gerry were working on the 306; among other things, they spent some time in detective work to determine exactly how the roof was arranged before Shaker Heights.  And then there was more body and fender work.

Frank Kehoe was working most of the day on his truck project.

And another view of the new screws....

Finally, by the end of the day the switch was much more complete.   The straight route is essentially complete.

And as usual, there were other things going on, but I didn't get pictures of them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

New Store in Town

There's a new store in town, and the proprietor asked us for some free publicity.  We don't do this for just anybody, but he's an old friend, and we want to keep it that way, so....

Your model train dollars will go farther at Union Hobby Shop!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tuesday Progress

 Another day, another several steps forward:

On the 453, I did some more work on fastening down the running boards.  And then, we're ready to start attaching drip rails and ventilators, with a good supply of new screws, as well as caulk.  On these cars, they used a lot more screws than I would have thought necessary, so it takes a while to install these parts.  Here's a drip rail:

And one of the ventilators:

Then it was time to see how the track guys are doing on replacing the south wye switch.  It's going quite well:

Workers included Bob Olson, Larry Stone, Marcus, and a couple of others whose names I didn't get.  Behind those masks they're hard to recognize!

Marcus has the IRM logo on his.  Here he is, running the locomotive:

I cleaned up the other ventilator and prepared to install it.

Joel supplied me with the correct die for threading the metal rods we saw last time, so I prepared them for installation.

Meanwhile, John, Gerry, and Fred were hard at work on the 306.  They pulled the tarp off and went up on roof to examine it.

It needs some patching, and some more trolley boards, but for now the current roof is probably usable.

Both handrails have been threaded and installed.  Of course, we still need to find the right material to cover them, but as a practical safety matter, for now they're perfectly functional.

Later in the day, we can see how the switch is going together.  

John examines his work on the sides of the 306.

Gerry has one of the windows clamped up for welding.

And the second ventilator is now installed.

And then, as I think about it, Pete Galayda was working on the 160, and Tim Peters was working on 50th Avenue, and Gregg Wolfersheim was working on the M-35, but I didn't get any pictures of them.  One can't be everywhere at once.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Sunday update

Frank writes...

I got out to IRM later than usual Sunday. When I arrived, Joel, Richard, and Jeron were working on inspecting Veracruz 19 on the pit. They ended up completing this car's annual inspection late in the afternoon, at which point the Matchbox was brought over for its turn.
I spent my afternoon working on Shaker 18. The first priority, having obtained some Bondo, was to fill some small rusted-out spots in the side sheets of the car. This is pretty familiar given all of the Bondon that went into the 205.
After this, while the Bondo was curing I went back to the shop and assembled both of the rear end marker lights. This project took a few months but we're finally done and they're ready to go back on the car. The center panel of the car's rear end is spot-primed and ready for paint.
The the next item on the to-do list was to put a coat of hardware-store cream paint on the area around the side sign box. I also put a coat of paint on the metal frame that will go over this spot and will hold in place the new glass we cut last week. During the week I'll pick up some glazier's putty and hopefully, before long, this sign box will have the new piece of glass installed.
Late in the day, with the Bondo set up, I went at the side sheets forward of the doors with the pad sander. All of the Bondo applications were sanded down and the old paint was given a quick roughing-up. White primer was then applied to any bare metal or Bondo. If it's warm enough next week, the right side of the car forward of the doors will get painted in a fresh coat of Bankers Grey.
One subject that has come up recently is seat upholstery. Zach is working on potentially ordering reproduction seat material for some of our North Shore cars and suggested that I give him a sample of the material needed for the 450s. Greg and I did a quick tour of the 451, 453, and 460, and found that all three cars have the same seat material. It started out as a fairly bright red color, not tremendously different than what the North Shore Silverliners used. A lot of it discolored badly, though, and apparently not from light because the sections hidden by the head rests seem discolored too. You can see the original color down in the cracks between adjoining sections and also in spots where the fabric has ripped. Maybe Wheaton used some kind of cleaning solution that discolored this stuff. Anyway, the material looks striped but that's just how it's woven. At some point we'll send a sample off and get a quote. All three of our 450s could eventually use their seats re-covered; even the 460, which is in revenue service, has several seats with rips in the fabric. Stay tuned for the inevitable fundraiser!
Nick E was in train service during the day while Greg was working with our indefatigable Track Department on a complete replacement of the south wye switch, the one right in front of the Central Avenue platform. I failed to get a photo of this work, but never fear, our intrepid unpaid staff photographer Bill Wulfert has sent in a picture of the progress.
Greg reported that the old switch was pretty badly worn so this will be a greatly appreciated improvement. As always, a huge THANK YOU to our Track & Signal volunteers for making sure the trains have somewhere to keep running!