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Wednesday, June 10. 2015
Thursday, May 28, I again, made the long drive up to Mid Continent RR Museum to work on my new favorite project! BTY, if any of you are interested in a unique and beautiful experience of a recreation of an early 20th century railroad you must visit this museum. Lots of wooden passenger cars, and some in service for Father's Day! Maybe by that time the No 2 team loco might be fired up and running for the first time in many, many years!! Southwest Wisconsin is very scenic with rolling hills and the "Dells" are close by. Anyway, enough of that sales pitch! Here are more pictures of the interior.CB&Q steam loco drawings! This enhances their collection which includes a very substantial collection of Rock Island steam loco drawings. After the tour we sat down and along with Ray Burmaster explained and showed me just some of the documents and archival material he collected over the years on the Mt. Harvard.
The solarium end with lights. Missing is the old sofa. I also disposed of it this trip. Now, anyone have any Pullman furniture to fill this area?
Tuesday, June 2. 2015
Middle of May progress report Posted by Roger Kramer in Passenger Car Department at 22:25
May has been a rather on again, off again month in the coach dept. One week its been like June and the next it been like March. So... some of our projects have been slowed by the weather changes. As goofy as it has been we still manage to get things accomplished. Our main focus, again, has been the upgrading of our Rock Island fleet of passenger cars.
Robert Olsen is installing four of twelve ceiling vents that were stripped of old paint and then repainted
Monday, June 1. 2015
Diesel Shop update from May 29 - 31 Posted by James Kolanowski in Diesel Department at 01:23
The weekend started on Friday early evening with Evelina Zielinski and myself heading out to the shop to work on the CB&Q 504. We started by rolling it out of the shop just outside on track 21 in the warm breezy weather while there was still sunlight. We worked through inspecting all of the electrical gear, including the main generator, auxiliary generator, alternator slip rings, fuel pump and soak back pump, and eventually much of the switch gear in both the front and rear electrical cabinets. The cooling system was filled and a small leak in the supply pipe to the engine protector was fixed. After an inspection of some of the mechanicals and a prelube, it was started and fired right up.
After some warm up time, we went to run some sequence tests and other tests on the electrical system, to find that none of it would work. No pick up of some contactors, and in the end no power. While we started to troubleshoot a little deeper, Evelina noticed the tail of a raccoon sticking out of the right door at the very top of the electrical cabinet. It REALLY surprised us both...digging around in there and not seeing it initially. I looked up in there with a light and the coon was barely hanging on to a very small ledge at the top of the cabinet. I tried a few things to get it out, but between me poking at it and the noise of the engine and that turbo, it crawled up into the furthest crevice it could at the top of the cabinet and wasn't moving. We called it a night, put the engine away back in the barn, set a live trap with some bait in the engine room and went to a late dinner.
Saturday was spent with Mark Sanborn inspecting four cars for a caboose train. Jim West joined us midway to help do some switching to get air to the cars and run through the air tests. The day was mostly wet and the temperature really dropped throughout the day. Three of the cars are now in service with the forth caboose needing some minor work with some shims on the side bearings on the A end. We called it an early day to get cleaned up and watch the Chicago Blackhawks win the Western Conference Championship. Yes, I had to get that plug in there!
On Sunday, Joe LeMay and I switched the 760 out of yard 5 and brought it over to the shop. We started with the usual electrical gear inspections, let the engine prelube while we were doing everything else. We had to clean up the usual dirty and fuzzy interlocks from sitting over the winter. After watering and a few other things, Joe hit the start switch while I goosed the governor, it barely started itself up with the batteries being on the charger for only about an hour. We let it idle for a while to warm up and inspected a few more items afterwards. We still have some work to do on the bottom end, including securing some loose motor cables. That will happen when we get it over on track 22 inside where there is no stone up to the railhead like on track 21.
Since there was still a lot of daylight left, we pulled the 504 back outside with the 760. I went through everything to see if our friend from Friday was still in there, and luckily no signs of the raccoon. The trap was still empty so it must have bailed to another loco or somewhere. We grabbed the air hose from the shop and started blowing out all the raccoon hair, dust and other debris from all the front electrical cabinet. I started it up to dry out more and started running through the sequence tests again, seeing the same result as Friday. After some troubleshooting, the raccoon somehow pulled a wire pulled off an interlock on one of the series contactors while climbing around in the cabinet. After reattaching that, everything functioned normally. We then put the 504 away and shut it off, and then the same with 760.
While we were closing up the shop, Mark Reimers came over for a favor. We went over to start the 6847, to find that one of the interlocks on the starter solenoids were sticking and one wouldn't engage. A little tapping fixed that. After starting, it ran for a several seconds before it died, like it was starving for air. After checking several other items, we hear no turbo or gear noise at all while cranking and firing for a few seconds. My guess is our turbo clutch issue from a year and a half ago has resurfaced. Something else to look into later. We called it a day on this one, used the CE 15 for the last move and then finished up the day.
We're planning on more loco inspections over the weekends in June as we prep for this years Diesel Days.
Sunday, May 31. 2015
What a difference a month can make in the Steam shop.
The South end of the shop now presents a remarkable sight, wide open in a way that has not been seen in many years.
This is driven by a Buildings & Grounds project to install sprayed insulation on the roof. The shop is one of the few heated buildings in the museum and cutting wastage of heat is a high priority. The existing panel insulation has been prone to detach and this project is to some extent an evaluation of a new method to insulate the type of structure used widely in the museum. Anyway, the contractors start the first week of June and need clear access to the South shop. This has driven and been enabled by some substantial activity on our projects.
First and foremost was #1630. By the end of May, she was routinely located outside in the preparation area, coaled, watered, greased and ready for another weekend of operation.
The shine on the paintwork in this picture is no good things as far as I was concerned!. It indicates frequent heavy rain while I was doing the preparation. Clearing the firebox and laying a half ton base of coal for lighting up can be less than fun with 100% humidity and periods of heavy rain!. For anyone wondering what is the strange curved object attached to the walkway and standing well above the top of the boiler, this is the hoist that we use to lift the fan onto the chimney. So this is a clear indication that she is ready to fire and awaiting installation of the fan early the next morning.
Still she ran well again on Saturday despite frequent rain, rapidly falling temperatures and winds developing to near gale force as the day progressed. Sadly not too many visitors to see it!. Those who braved the weather were rewarded with some spectacular sights of steam trailing across the corn fields.
With #1630 gone from the shop, other big changes were possible. Shay #5 was linked to its tender again, albeit temporarily and this allowed her and #428 to be moved North into the main and North buildings. So, aside from a big house cleaning, what was achieved in May?.
Obviously the work early in the month focused on #1630. In recent years May has become a month of frenetic activity as we prepare for operation and so it was this year. Many people took days off work and there was activity in the shop several days each week as we worked thru the list of tasks to get 1630 into operation.
As was strongly suspected last month, it proved impossible to be ready for operation May 16th/17th. However steam testing was completed May 21st and a full weekend of operation was achieved for the 3 day Memorial Day weekend and we are running the weekend of May 30/31st as a substitute for the 16/17th. Given the weather this may not been seen by many visitors!!. Oh well, some you win!.
It is startling how much faster things can move when we can have teams working several days each week. In the first two weeks of May:
Dennis finished a great deal of welding including:
building up the mounting for the tender draft gear;
welding new plate into the bottom of the tender to provide a solid surface for shoveling;
straightened the tender footplate on the engineer’s side. This had a strange “hump” dating back decades to some unknown accident damage and now provides a level surface for the first time in memory;
attached the tear drops to the grate shakers.
Phil spent a lot of hours in the cramped space under the ash pan, assisted by a number of others working outside, to reinstall and adjust the wedges on #5 axle.
On the first weekend of May, the major task of refitting the draft gear into the packet under the tender was achieved. This took a lot of brainstorming. The challenge was how to lift this unwieldy assembly (several hundred pounds and nearly 3 feet long) into a narrow space under the tender and above the axle. It is being above the axle that really provided the challenge. The draft gear must be raised into the pocket. It cannot slide in from the rear. However the depth of the draft gear draft gear is such that it barely fits above the axle and below the pocket. So the whole tender must be jacked up by the thickness of anything put under the draft gear to support it on the fork lift.
The eventual solution was to balance the assembly with as much projection beyond the forks as possible. It was then secured with a bar below the forks and steel banding around the assembly. Here JD and Trevor work on this mounting.
It looked precarious but the acid test (large volunteer jumps up and down on the projecting end!) proved that it was solid. This way only the thin tips of the forks had to fit above the axle. With this set up the fitting went relatively smoothly and the tender was again complete with a coupler and ready to push forward onto the locomotive. Once it is back in place, it is difficult to visualize all the effort that has gone into making it look so normal!. JD then completed the operation over the next few days with a couple of heavy contacts when coupling to break the wood blocks in the draft gear and release the spring mechanism to its normal operation.
In the second week the footplate welding as completed, the tender pushed forward to the locomotive and the drawbars fitted to make her a single unit again. With this done, she was moved to allow the fitting of the coupling rod on the fireman’s side and she was again mechanically complete.
Around these major activities, a lot of other people were working to:
Rebuild the reverser air cylinder;
Make and fit the new steam feed line to the air compressor;
Load and fit the brick arch;
Clean and refit the injector starter valves;
Refit all the connections between locomotive and tender;
… and numerous other little tasks.
However, by Wednesday she was ready to switch out to the steam service lead and load with coal and water. During this came the “ceremonial last task”. With the assistance of Dave Diamond operating the boom truck, the dome cover was lifted into place.
On Thursday came the acid test. The fire was lit and steam raised. All the essential tests of critical equipment such as safety valves, injectors and air compressor proved very successful. Once the steam test was completed a number of test runs, first light engine and then with train were completed and we were satisfied that she was again operational.
Having now fired a couple of days it is clear that she is significantly better than last year (after all the Winter work we would be pretty disappointed if this were not the case!!). A number of nagging steam leaks are gone. The work on the rear axle has significantly reduced knocking that was apparent last year and the rod bearing that tended to run warm is now cool despite having much less play than last year. So a very successful outcome to the Winter work program.
It is on Shay #5 that we have the biggest news. We can now clearly see our way to a second operating steam locomotive in the near future.
She is currently a single unit again and at the North end of the shop.
However the real achievements are not obvious.
Phil’s efforts over the last couple of months have overcome the problem that has sidelined this locomotive for many years. He successfully cleared the tell-tale holes on all but 20 firebox stays. So all stays in the boiler are now fully compliant with current FRA requirements and the 20 had all been removed for replacement.
Additional thickness testing was carried out on some parts of the boiler to ensure that we have all the data to complete the form #4 and this indicates that all parts of the boiler and firebox shell are suitable for normal operating pressure.
In the last week, with Brian Davies (who leads this project) up from Florida, all 20 of the stays previously removed were replaced. (This involves re-tapping the firebox sheets and machining stays to fit each location). Good progress was also made on peening the ends of a number of the new stays.
Work has also been progressing on exact measurement of the tube sheet and tubes to identify exactly what ferrules are required to fit around the tubes in both front and rear tube sheets.
The remaining work on this locomotive is clearly defined and not as big as it might appear. So when will we see her in steam?. A lot of thought is going into this question at present.
The steam department at IRM has traditionally worked almost entirely on a volunteer basis. Near miracles have been achieved this way but it is slow. In practical terms a job that would take 2 men 10 days to complete in a traditional back shop would take us 2 months, probably more once you consider that both guys may not be available every weekend and there are inefficiencies in putting a job down and picking it up again a week later.
In the last few months we have, to a limited extent, used donated money to employ people on a part time basis to concentrate several days a week on major jobs and this has allowed us to complete some tasks that had previously been stalled.
So this is the big question being considered now. The work required to get #5 into steam is now clearly defined:
Re-tube the boiler and hydro test;
Fit (weld and rivet) the new smokebox bottom sheets (inner and outer) and then fit the exhaust assembly into the new steelwork;
Lag the boiler and fit the sheet steel cladding;
Produce and fit a new front beam and walkways;
…………. Plus the various minor tasks to fit accessories and reconnect the drive mechanism.
Several aspects of this work are of the type that would take months to do entirely with volunteer effort but a matter of weeks if we “bite the bullet” and pay people to work full time on them.
On a purely volunteer basis, we should probably be able to get her into service sometime next year. If we have the funds to accelerate the key tasks, it could be a lot quicker.
So a lot rests on the level of interest. If you are in favor of accelerating the steaming of Shay#5 by paying to get key work done quickly, consider a donation to the Shay #5 fund. My own view is clear!. I will offer to match donations received during June up to a total of $2,000.
Now we go into a few months of very different activity. There is a lot of work required each week to address any minor maintenance on #1630 then fuel her and prepare for the next operating session. In parallel with this we hope to progress work on #5, the painting of #938 and various shop improvement projects. But there is always the contending attraction of taking time out to see #1630 running ……. and you can hardly deny us that pleasure!.
Sunday, May 24. 2015
The first day in service for #1630 was very successful. Six trips at hourly intervals with no significant issues. Even the trainee fireman (me) survived the day without major problem (which was probably a bigger surprise!).
The Winter work appears to have substantially improved the operation of the rod bearings on #5 axle as was the objective.
So we are now operating normally as scheduled. (Obviously the essential caveat!. This is a 100 year old machine. Last minute problems can arise. We will try to give advance notice whenever possible but, in the worst case, a problem found during start up can result in a last minute cancellation).
Thursday, May 21. 2015
Two very hard days but the results look good.
The steam test went well. #1630 is available for service Saturday.
Wednesday, May 20. 2015
The museum is sponsoring two important fundraisers next month. First is the "Straight Out of the 70's" charter trip on the CTA 'L'. Due to unscheduled CTA track work, this trip is in the process of being rescheduled. It will most likely be on Saturday, June 27, leaving at 9:00am from the conveniently located Dempster Station on the Skokie Swift/Yellow Line (plenty of parking available adjacent to the station). This is a rare opportunity to spend the day riding the CTA's special retro/historic 2400-series cars throughout the city, seeing lines that you might not ordinarily ride on your daily commute. Proceeds will help fund acquisition, restoration, operation and storage of newly acquired/soon to be acquired high-performance CTA cars. UPDATE: Due to the collapse of the embankment on the CTA Yellow Line the Straight out of the 70s charter has been cancelled. The 2400 series historical cars that were chartered are stored at CTA's Skokie Shops which is located beyond the location of the collapse. Once the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the CTA finish repairs to the line, the charter will be rescheduled. The Illinois Railway Museum apologizes for the inconvenience and looks forward to seeing you on the next charter.
The other event will be the following day, on Sunday, June 28. The 5th Annual Steam Department Concert will be held at the magnificent Sanfilippo Estate beginning at 1:00pm. If you have not had the opportunity to attend one of these previously, it is a MUST SEE event!! You have a chance to tour the Sanfilippo estate which features an incredible collection of music machines, coin operated machines, antique phonographs, art glass, steam engines, clocks, and many other functional antiques. The highlight of the event is a concert by Dave Calendine, resident organist at the famed Fox Theater in Detroit, playing the world's largest restored theater pipe organ. After the concert the carousel building will be open for you to enjoy. It features full size train cars, huge music machines, collections of antique machinery, and a fully operational antique carousel. This is an event that has to be experienced to be believed. There will also be a raffle for a cab ride in steam locomotive 1630 and NEW THIS YEAR to be raffled off - a "take the throttle" opportunity on 1630. All proceeds from this event goes directly to the Steam Department, helping to keep steam running at IRM.
Tickets to both events are now available on the IRM website (www.irm.org). Please consider purchasing your tickets to one or BOTH today and spend a fun weekend supporting your museum - THANK YOU!!!
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Bob Stekl about July 4th Trolley Parade Schedule
Sat, 07-04-2015 16:06
What is the schedule for Sunday, July 5? Thanks!
jack pfleeger about July 4th Trolley Parade Schedule
Sat, 07-04-2015 08:01
looks like great lineup have fun
Roger Kramer about A Great Financial Opportunity in support of the Mt. Harvard
Thu, 07-02-2015 21:43
Hello Steve I would suggest you call the office 815-923-4391 ask for Jan and she can help you w/ the link. And thank you kindly for [...]
Steve G. about A Great Financial Opportunity in support of the Mt. Harvard
Thu, 07-02-2015 10:03
Would like to email a donation to Mt. Harvard, but how do I do that? Is there a link?
Robert McComb about A Major Announcement
Wed, 07-01-2015 21:16
There needs to be a small correction to what you have said here. In 1961, "Mt. Harvard" was donated by the Pullman Co. to the Wabash Frisco & [...]
Ted Miles, IRM Member about A Great Financial Opportunity in support of the Mt. Harvard
Wed, 07-01-2015 16:48
Folks, i was looking at the roster pages and see that the Dover Strait is still listed as the Elgin,Joliet & Eastern 38766. She has had much [...]
Brian L. about New Acquisation: What is CN 15444?
Wed, 06-24-2015 22:21
Roger, you are correct.
Roger Kramer about New Acquisation: What is CN 15444?
Tue, 06-23-2015 21:47
Hello Raphael E9's were probably all yellow but I will defer to someone else for the correct answer. Roger
Raphael about New Acquisation: What is CN 15444?
Tue, 06-23-2015 20:22
did the MILW E9's ever have the Orange & Maroon, or were they always in the UP yellow?
Roger Kramer about New Acquisation: What is CN 15444?
Sun, 06-21-2015 11:10
Thanks Brian I could not remember the entire history of the 33C. What ever the case it will be a lot of effort to get one operational. Roger
Raphael about More on the Mt. Harvard
Sat, 06-20-2015 18:13
first off, most ran parallel in the same general area or are road names that now belong to the CPR/CNR. and that misspell was on my cell phone.
Brian L. about New Acquisation: What is CN 15444?
Sat, 06-20-2015 12:02
Milwaukee 33C was built with a steam generator, but it was removed when it received HEP modifications while still in service. Though the HEP [...]
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