Monday, May 31, 2021

The 308 Needs Your Help

Update: The fund has reached almost $2,500, an excellent start.  This will be matched, plus more.  Our warmest thanks to all who have contributed!  Of course, we still have a long way to go....

 This is Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 308, one of the jewels of our fleet, in my opinion....

It's been nicely restored and maintained over the years, but right now it's out of service due to a shorted traction motor.  These motors are big and heavy, and we estimate that one motor will cost about $30,000 to rebuild -- money the Museum doesn't have available at this time.  So it's time for another donation campaign.  YOU can help!

For a limited time we are able to offer a matching grant, so your money will do double duty.  Send us an email if you have any questions.

To donate safely online, go to this link.

Or you can always mail a check to the office.  Our address:

Illinois Railway Museum
P.O. Box 427
Union, IL    60180

  Be sure to designate your donation for the CA&E Wood Cars restricted fund with the magic word:


That should be easy enough to remember - the R stands for Restricted Fund.  Thanks!!!

Memorial Day (Sunday)

 Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend was a beautiful day at IRM, with excellent weather, two steam locomotives, electric trains, and a good crowd of visitors.  What more could anyone ask?

In the morning, both locomotives are steaming up on the turntable leads.

First train out was the 309 and 319.  We ran all day with no problems.

Seating capacity is still limited, but we had the maximum on nearly every trip.

I was too busy to take many pictures, and these aren't the best, but there were lots of photographers around and I'm sure there will be plenty more online soon.  In the distance you can just make out the coach train with the 1630, and the caboose train with the Shay.

For a trip or two, the 409 and 431 were in service, so we had two CA&E trains meeting.  Just like Wheaton!

Later, the 749 and 251.

Finally, the required crew shot.  From left to right, trainman Jay Ellis, motorman Larry Stone, and me.  I hadn't met Jay before, but he lives in the Quad Cities so it's quite a drive.  But we hope to see more of him.

The VC 19 and the 4391 were also running, but as I say I was busy.  Thanks to all the operating crews and support people who make a day like this possible!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Doodlebug Update

Sorry for the delay, that's entirely my fault!  Two weeks ago, while I was out of town, Gregg Wolfersheim sent us another set of pictures of progress on the M-35.

A few pics showing some progress on the doodlebug. Near the end of April, the left side wall got the insulation installed. This is under windows 15, 16 and 17. The heater pipes got painted, too.

The bottom ledge pieces were installed along with the upper pieces under the sill. Window 17 is now out for repairs.

The window tracks and wall panels getting primed.

Today (May 11) the panels got a coat of brown paint.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Annual Meeting 2021

Frank writes...

I was out at IRM on Saturday, for a change, because it was the date set for the 2021 IRM Annual Membership Meeting. As with last year's meeting (which was in September), it was held outdoors at the Central Avenue Pavilion. Fortunately, as with last year's meeting, the weather was nice.
The usual congratulations and condolences to Jason Maxwell, who was reelected, and to Zach Ehlers, who was elected to the board for the first time.

I then spent most of the afternoon working on inspecting the 309, doing brake adjustment and checking the motors. I needed to clean some gunk out of the comm on the #4 motor, which has had the least amount of attention of the motors on the car (#1 and #2 were totally rebuilt in 2003 and #3 was extensively cleaned up by IRM volunteers in 2006), but other than that things seemed pretty normal.
I did put the four newly-painted windows for the 18 in the car and brought four other windows back to the wood shop, though I didn't get a chance to paint them. In the above photo, the middle window is one of the rebuilt and repainted ones. Many thanks to Richard and Joel for their help with getting these painted!
Tim Peters was in the 2872 so I got to take a look inside the car. He's already started removing some of the more deteriorated wood from the outside of the car that will be replaced.
Tim found this fascinating relic in the attic at the west end of the car, over the platform ceiling in the end of the monitor roof section. It's the Chicago Daily Tribune from April 4, 1921. Tim's supposition is that this was probably the date that the car's roof was rebuilt and its roof-mounted headlights were removed.
We haven't been posting a lot of updates on Michigan Electric 28, but the crew working on that car have been making steady progress on the front end. The dash panels and various metal trim pieces have mostly been riveted back together at this point. It's really starting to look like itself from the front again.
And in case you were wondering, when comparing Type M systems, most of them seem to have the control resistors mounted to the contactor box - on the DB-131 they're on the back of the box, on the DB-260 they're on the end of the box - but on the pioneering DB-15 system the control resistors are mounted in their own box frame next to the motor resistor grid boxes. Here it is. So now you know.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Friday Report

I started by painting the vents, drip rails, and so on with a first finish coat of black.  The paint was still wet when I took these pictures, so eventually the metal parts will not be so noticeable.

And the remaining baffle was caulked and screwed in place.

I worked on one of the trolley bases a little.  It needs some lubrication, but I wasn't sure what type of oil the department is using these days.  So it was left here just to be in the way.

I also did some inspection work on the 36, which will probably be used in the train on the 30th.

And then, I had some visitors.  Our old friend Dave Conrad is in town to work on the Ingersoll-Rand engine some more, and he also has a helper, a new member named Ed.  They brought over a window from the 3001 for advice on fixing it up, since the frame had loose joints.

This window frame is different from anything car builders would make.  The mortise-and-tenon joints were never glued, just held together with a couple of small wood screws.  And there are no rabbets to hold the glass, just nailed-in moldings on both sides.  But it is what it is.

Since there was nobody else in the shop, I allowed Ed to use one of the work benches.

He carefully disassembled the frame.

One of the mullions is damaged and needs to be replaced, but that's pretty simple.  Ed took the pieces back to the Diesel shop for stripping the paint on the outside.

So there was some inter-departmental cooperation to provide variety.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Mountain Miscellany

On our recent road trip to Kentucky, besides the visit to KRM there were some miscellaneous railfan opportunities.

Paducah, of course, is famous as the home of the principal shops of the Illinois Central.  I tried taking some pictures of the remaining buildings, but the whole shop complex is so huge you can't really get a good idea of it.

Then we went to Mammoth Cave.  We've seen the locomotive and car on display before.

They have Van Dorn couplers, another one of our favorite subjects.

Parts of the ROW of the Mammoth Cave Railroad are now a bicycle and foot path, much straighter and flatter.... 

 than most of the paths we found on this trip:

And they had this not-very-good picture of people using the tracks for walking.  I suppose those steam dummies could hardly sneak up on you.

And we went to Cumberland Falls, which is near Corbin.  Corbin was a division point on the L&N with a large yard and shops, and it has a locomotive and caboose on display.  The 2132 must be of the same series as the 2152 that we saw at KRM.

The main depot:

They are not kidding:

And then they have a Southern car on a short section of track.

After that, in a restaurant across the street we had the "L&N Club Sandwich" which was quite good.  So what's not to like about Kentucky?  (As long as you don't sit on an antique rail cart!)

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Wednesday Report

As usual, there are lots of different things going on at the Museum.  Work continues on the MPB, but I didn't get over there to check it out.  In front of the office, though, we now have this decorative item.  Wouldn't you like to have something like this at your front door?

On a more serious note, the CA&E wood cars are scheduled to operate on Sunday, May 30th, so it's time to do the inspection.  I did everything I could without having the cars over the pit.

You can, for instance, easily inspect the contactors.  Other items include the operation of the brake systems, controllers,  whistles, and the interiors.  One feed valve needs to be cleaned and adjusted, which is not uncommon, but everything else seems to be OK.

After that, it was time to do more work on the 453.  We had three roofs being worked on simultaneously.  Here Fred is removing tacks from the tack moldings on the 306.

And Tim is removing unwanted layers of material from the roof of the 2872.

Joel ordered some more shrink tubing for me, so I was able to finish re-insulating the roof cable inside the 453, then cut the hole and send it outside.

And it looks like this.  The next step will be to solder the connectors onto the ends of the cable.  I'll need a helper for that project.

And I put primer on the rest of the drip rails and rope guards.

We're scheduled to be operating on Sunday, May 30th, along with the 1630, the Shay, a North Shore train, and two streetcars.  You won't want to miss it!  I believe we will still be operating with limited seating, so come early.  We always enjoy talking to blog readers.