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Saturday, December 13. 2014
Remembering the Rock Island Part 2 ... Posted by Roger Kramer in Passenger Car Department at 16:33
Here is the second installment of pictures taken by Robert Banke. They were taken in and around the Chicago area in the late seventies. Please notice the condition of the yards, facilities and the equipment.
Pictured is RI 2610. Just two numbered coaches away from our 2612. Please credit all these pictures to Robert Banke. This one taken May of 1978.
I believe the RI 630 has survived the scrappers torch and is in existence today. Years ago, Irm had a chance to buy this engine. Instead, we own the last RI steamer to run in commuter service, the # 938.
Engineer climbing into the cab of the 630. The unit next door is #4804. What RR is that from? July 1977
Wednesday, December 10. 2014
The Railroad China Display is ... Posted by Pauline Trabert in Passenger Car Department at 20:11
Saturday, December 6, 2014:
Michael McCraren reports that he was the 'lone ranger' in the 1st Exhibit Car on Saturday, December 6th. He set the Milwaukee Road portion of the display this day.
Paul Cronin worked on the Galt House Diner buffer. Back in Winter 2008, Phil Stepek reported on the Louisville & Nashville 2726 Diner Galt House: "The diner returned from Horicon but suffered buffer damage in transit. Repairs will require the removal of the diaphragm and buffer plates to reshape the metal. This will probably be deferred until the 2008-2009 off-season. The car will be on display in Barn 3 during the 2008 season." The Coach Department is working to get this car back in service.
Sunday, December 7, 2014:
There was a light crew on Sunday with only Michael McCraren. Mark Gellman and Jim Windmeier working in the 1st Exhibit Car. More china was put up and some details were added. The Burlington Route section features the "Violet and Daisies" pattern. This pattern was on all major CBQ trains and the California Zephyr.
NYC china - the menu in the middle is a dinner menu from the 20th Century Limited - Photo by Michael McCraren
This is the Pennsylvania Railroad china. We have every pattern from the 1900s to the close of operation - Photo by Michael McCraren
Sunday, December 7. 2014
Fall restoration activities Posted by Roger Kramer in Passenger Car Department at 20:53
Its been real cold in the weeks of November but the warmer months of late August, September, and October have produced a number of positives. Where as other coach dept projects have the luxury of a indoor heated area where you can work in your street clothes ours now is strictly in a often unheated environment. We have been busy focusing only on a small number of projects.
First, our heavy weight sleeper, John McLouglin, has had its long interior hallway completely needle chipped, sanded, and prepped for priming. Some of this work has been preformed in the milder weather of September and October. I have also reinstalled the ceiling light fixture in the women's bathroom. It was removed in January of this year and brought home to my workshop where it was primed and painted to the finish ceiling color. Robert Olsen and Rick Serenda, two new members to our team have been scraping and priming areas on the steel roof. When the weather warms we will prime and paint these areas black..
Next, we have been working on the interior of the Lackawanna coach 556. Mark Hoffman, Loraine Bixler and Brian Patterson have been working on removing the old peeling paint from the ceiling, walls and on the baggage racks. We hope to have the interior painted by next year. Many volunteer hours will be needed to accomplish this task. We now have a limited heating supply to keep the car at least 50 degrees. Maybe that will bring out a few more volunteers to help with the project. Interested? Please see me or Paul Cronin on Saturdays or Wednesdays.
Jack Biesterfeld has again been working on his favorite project, B&M 1094. He along with Dan Boguse and myself have removed a protection wall behind the oil fired boiler. This boiler will be removed at a later date. In the meantime we have found the old coach wall behind it. The old wall is in a viable state and can be restored. Missing is the wooden window and it's frame. This will be made in our woodshop when monies become available. If you would like to contribute to this worthy project please send a donation to the B&M 1094 Fund.
Lastly, Gerry Boguse along with his brother,Dan, have been busy winterizing the water system on the L&N 2726 Diner. They drained all the water out of the system and then filled it with an antifreeze solution used in RV motorhomes. Gerry also received from R and B Metal the last of the made to order stainless steel flooring. These six pieces will be installed next spring. As of yet there is not an interior winter heat source for the diner. Anticipation grows about operating the diner in limited service on our railroad next year!
Sunday, December 7. 2014
A lot of people have pointed out that it is an awfully long time since there was a Steam Department blog update. In my defense I plead that work in my role as Museum Treasurer has been nearly full time (sounds better that pleading idleness or incompetence!). So here we are, an update of several months of work in the department.
Doesn’t time fly!. It seems like only yesterday that we were working all night to get ready for the pre-season inspection. Now the operating season is over and the Winter work program is well under way. #1630 is back in the shop and we are busily crawling over and into her to so what must be done before next season.
It was a very successful season overall. We only missed one scheduled day due to mechanical problems. (Unfortunately Father’s Day when we had to fix a leaking valve).
It was rather challenging to begin with. She seemed to use a lot of coal to keep steam up but, once we reached fresh coal, she ran a great deal better. I guess it should not be a great surprise. Coal that has been lying around for years has lost quite a lot of the flammable material so you shovel a lot more for the same effect!.
Late in the season we had a scheduled weekend out of service and this provided the opportunity for a good clean. Aside from the usual coaling and watering, the boiler was drained and refilled with fresh water, the paintwork was washed and the rods cleaned and oiled.
After all the work she looked a lot better. The dust was gone from the top of the boiler but she is developing a “working” look as the condensation from the safety valves and generator slowly discolors the paint on the firebox sheet metal.
I fired the last two Sundays. That is quite an experience to really be part of the working locomotive after so long crawling in, over and around her as a dead object in the shop. #1630 certainly is different from other locomotives I have fired. I was working out that it is about 50 years since I first fired a locomotive (Prince on the Festiniog Railway). The box is a lot longer and wider than anything I have fired before. So a good deal more throwing. However, on the demonstration line, she is only running for a few minutes at a fraction of her real load capability. Very different from a small locomotive working flat out for a long time. You would certainly have extreme difficulty keeping up with #1630 if she had a full freight load behind her unless the stoker was operating. In museum service the trick is to achieve a relatively thin fire without any gaps when you are operating and not to have too much at the end of each run. Having a significant amount of hot fire when you get back to Union can lead to a noisy lay-over!.
So what has been going on in the shop and what is planned?. Obviously #1630 will be first priority for Winter work and a lot must be done this Winter to have her running for Memorial Day next year.
She is due for both the 30 day inspection and annual inspections which amount to quite a lot of work. The annual inspection requires the drawbars to be removed, checked and annealed. While the tender is separated and the drawbar removed, we will do the inspection and testing of the stays under the footplate. In addition we want to thoroughly examine the rear axle bearings and rods. There was a tendency to run warm in the rod bearings and more knocking than we would like. So the plan is strip, measure and carefully examine everything in this area and try to improve the running next year.
Before we could even start the work there were two busy weekends of preparation. First the locomotive had to be run on air to thoroughly remove water from all the steam system in case of any freezing during the Winter, Then there was the cleaning!. I missed the air running but was able to participate fully in the cleaning!. 3 hours with a high pressure hose in the firebox blowing soot out of the tubes is an experience to be missed if possible. The jokes of your “friends” when you emerge black from head to toe are also to be avoided!.
With this done she was moved into the shop and the locomotive and tender were separated. This provided some interesting views of the locomotive cab and the way in which the tender is attached. The center drawbar is spring loaded and is what pulls the tender and train. The two outer bars are a safety mechanism should the drawbar fail in service.
Above the drawbar can be seen the end of the auger of the stoker. This is turned by a steam motor in the tender (of which more anon) to drive coal along the large steel pipe from the tender to the locomotive. Looking again at the locomotive with part of the footplate removed you can see the way that the cast pipe carries the coal up toward the fire door.
In this view the fire-hole door has already been removed. This large casting would connect the end of the delivery chute to the fire-hole. Behind the closed door of the firebox, coal would be driven up the chute to the delivery plate where steam jets would throw it forward into the firebox.
After considerably more work, the delivery system and the central footplate had been removed to reveal the back of the firebox.
After several weekends of work to do this stripping the actual inspection that necessitates it took only a few hours. A group of flexible stays hidden behind the stoker delivery chute do not have telltale holes and, as such, must be inspected every 7 years. They all proved to be sound so that part of the inspection is done. Unfortunately we found quite a bit of rust in the supports of the footplate on the fireman’s side so Dennis will need to do some rebuilding before we put things back together.
Another job being progressed is the rebuilding of the stoker. This is not essential but we would like the stoker to be operational at least for demonstration purposes. It is not clear how useful it would be in museum service where we need only a thin but even fire. If it can be made to work we will find out!.
First stage is to remove the stoker motor. This is located behind a panel in the tender on the fireman’s side. Here it is being carefully eased out of the tender. This gives little idea of the effort that went into this exercise. It was an extremely tight fit and some modification of the hole was required to get it out with the fork lift. We suspect that it may previously have been fitted and removed on a greased plate so that it could be turned first one way then the other as the hole was not big enough for it to come thru directly.
Last weekend we carried out the last major stripping exercise. The locomotive was temporarily reattached to its tender so that it could be moved a few feet back and then forward. The objective is to remove the connecting rods between axles 4 and 5 to allow measurement and checking of the rod bearings and alignment of the two axles. The move is necessary because the pins in #4 axle are removed by driving them back thru the wheel between two spokes …. And you cannot remove the pins on both sides with the wheels in any single position!. Here Jason and Phil are removing the rod from the Fireman’s side. By7 end of day both rods were removed.
A lot of other work is in progress on 1630.
Most of the strays have now been opened up (removing the fireclay that seals them in service) and checked. (We must ensure each year that the telltale holes are open).
Both large air tanks have been removed and subjected to hammer and hydro testing. They are now ready for refitting.
Inspection of the air compressor is under way. The steam feed line has been removed and will be replaced. This line shows significant corrosion so the decision has been made to replace it.
At the end of the summer the tender and cab of #938 were repainted (Thank you Roger!). She now looks a lot better. In addition, Phil, JD and Brian removed the tubes from the boiler. This was largely an investigation exercise. We really had little idea of the condition of the boiler of this locomotive. The conclusion was that the interior of the boiler seems to be in reasonable condition so there would be no obvious barrier to rebuilding it. That does not indicate any likelihood that this will happen any time soon. The fact that the boiler appears reasonable indicates that it she is not a “no hoper”. Given the work that would be required, all we need is a dedicated Rock Island enthusiast with $500,000 or so burning a hole in his pocket and she could run again.
The second big focus has been the Shay and this will be our major project thru the Winter. The major jobs on the Shay are
Replacement of a number of firebox stays;
Rebuilding the front beam; and
Rebuilding the smokebox.
Once these are done, we can get on to the “more routine” jobs of re-tubing and re-assembling.
There is still some uncertainty over whether we will need to replace some stays behind the motor. This would require removing the motor and the bracket on which it sits, making the job rather bigger. While working to determine if the motor removal will be necessary we are progressing other work that is independent of this decision and ensuring that we are as ready as possible to do the motor removal if required.
Over the Summer:
The front truck has been prepared for remounting and placed back under the locomotive. This may not be permanent. Depending upon the need to lift the boiler we might need to pull it out again to fit the new bottom of the smokebox;
Everything under the locomotive was cleaned and painted before refitting the truck;
JD and Cody have been steadily removing stays that are identified as bad and in need of replacement (generally due to blockage of the tell-tale holes);
The parts for the front beam have been located and we are starting work on preparing these. The coupler and its mounting pocket have been moved down to the fabrication area for Jane to needle chip and wire brush. Once they have been examined for any cracks they can be painted and prepared for use;
David and I worked on the grease nipples in the drive shaft and couplings. First conclusion – a Shay has a LOT of these. All will need to be cleaned, checked and replaced if not working correctly;
Work was also starting on lapping all of the key steam valves. This led to the discovery that there were cracks in the face of the main turret valve. Clearly it was over tightened at some point. A new one will need to be made;
Work has also progressed steadily on #428
Dennis has been building up the axle boxes ready for machining. Unfortunately a problem developed with the planer and we are waiting for parts that will hopefully make this operational and ready to machine these axle boxes;
Work was also progressed on repairs to the frame that will allow the rear spacer to be refitted.
A great deal of machine work has been carried out to produce new parts that will allow the springs to be refitted.
Ed has been working steadily at refitting the pipework of the cab. This is an “interesting” exercise. It is a 3-D jigsaw of pipes of various diameters, shapes and end connections. I will post a photograph next time but he has achieved remarkable progress in turning what was a random jumble of pipework into a fitted backhead. It is all the more of a challenge as some of the pipes link to the air pump – which is not there to check if that is what a particular pipe should link to, and one or two seem to have been added to the pile from other locomotives!.
So, overall a lot has been done and there is much to be done in the next few months. If you are prepared to get your hands dirty, there is no shortage of work if we are to have 1630 back in service for the season and move forward with the Shay!.
I am now heading to the UK for Christmas so will be away for a few weeks and look forward to more progress when I get back and a busy Winter ahead in the Steam shop.
Thursday, December 4. 2014
Remembering the Rock Island in ... Posted by Roger Kramer in Passenger Car Department at 13:07
These pictures were sent to me courtesy of Robert Banke. They were taken in the late 70's at the Rock Island station. Today, you can not even get close to many passenger commuter yards to take pictures like this let alone just to view them. How times have changed! Please take note of the surroundings in the following pictures. You can see the lack of maintenance of both equipment and infrastructure. Notice there is more grass growing than ties Sad, how a once great railroad would end up like this! Here, then, is a snapshot of what it was like to ride the "ROCK" in the late 70's; the good old days!
Two coaches ready for the reverse commute. Notice the people in the cars. Does this look familiar? We are portraying this picture at Irm. May 1978
A carman checking the steam line. Yes, we too might be doing the same thing someday inspecting the steam lines during winter operations. Taken Dec 1977
Monday, December 1. 2014
The Last Weekend of November in the ... Posted by Pauline Trabert in Passenger Car Department at 20:33
Saturday, November 29th: Michael McCraren worked in the morning on getting the Pacific Peak set up for winter work. Bedrooms E & F will continue to be restored back to the days when the car belonged to the Union Pacific.
Mark Gellman painted the panels above the windows in the Birmingham dining room on the south side of the car.
Both men spent the afternoon working on the railroad china display in the 1st Exhibit Car. The Santa Fe section is "done". Changes may still be made be Michael feels they are close to final placement.
IRM has gone into holiday mode with lights along the fence by the main parking lot - the Holiday Train starts running next weekend - Photo by Michael McCraren
Sunday, November 30th:Kevin Kriebs and Shelly Vanderschaegen hung curtains in the Ely in the morning. Michael Baksic and Ray Mormann worked in the Birmingham. Shelly cleaned the Birmingham dining area before lunch.
Jim Windmeier and Mark Gellman pondering the dining car china display in the 1st Exhibit Car - Photo by Jon Habegger
A note of thanks to Buzz Morisette who recently stripped the Ely dining room celing light fixtures. They will be primed and painted later.
Friday, November 28. 2014
Railroad China Display Update from ... Posted by Pauline Trabert in Special Exhibits Display at 15:28
On Sunday, November 23, 2014, work continued on the railroad china display in the 1st Exhibit Car. Patrice Connelly again joined the crew to advise and help direct the set-up of the exhibit.
Last week the team made paper plate "china" which could be taped to the glass of the display case. This week they got down to business placing that "china" on the glass. By the end of the day the first glass shelf and china was placed in the cabinet. This is just the start of the work to mount the china.
Elsewhere in the 1st Exhibit Car, Jon Habegger and Mark Gellman were working on a display for LaSalle Street Station.
Lunch was held in the Birmingham even as work has started on it. Mark Gellman has been scrapping the panels above the windows to get the last of the glue off. He has primed the south side of the car. Ray has started to re-wire the car. At lunch were Patrice Connelly, Jon Habegger, Mark Gellman, Kevin Kriebs, Jim Windmeier, Ray Mormann, Nick Kallas, Michael McCraren and Michael Baksic.
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