Why not restore something besides another tank car? Isn't about half of the operating freight car fleet tank cars? I think the MILW airslide would be a much more interesting restoration than having a 10th tank car.
Thanks for your COMMENT, Josh. As for our operating fleet the largest represented class of cars ready to go is surely cabooses. There are a lot a tank cars done, but car types also represented include box cars, hoppers, flat cars, a gondola, refrigerator cars, insulated box cars.
The MILW covered hopper and this tank car are both good restoration candidates, similar in condition right now, with much of the original fabric and history weathering away. If we are able to contract the work, the MILW car would cost about double due to many more complex surfaces and the car construction. We nominate any car for restoration depending on resources available, both volunteer labor and money. So anyone out there can direct and influence our efforts by voting with your donation dollars. There are many wood bodied cars in our collection that perhaps are in more urgent need of attention and indoor storage, but the choices might be to do nothing for five more years, or to try to get this one more done.
"So anyone out there can direct and influence our efforts by voting with your donation dollars."
This is great advice! I have been directing my donation dollars to museums that have more focused collections integrated complete interpretive strategy. I hope that IRM will one day bring this perspective to its management of the museum.
One of the blessings (possibly curses) of IRM is that the vast majority of what a visitor sees is driven by volunteers. The is far and away different than what you see in most museums where a professional curatorial staff lovingly protects its collection behind glass cases. The IRM volunteers who restore and operate the equipment have absolute passion for what they do. If you read these blog pages or the Hicks Car Works blog, you can feel that. (This blog is one of the best marketing pieces that IRM can do -- I had no idea how much work goes on behind the scenes!)
The folks who turn the wrenches, chip the paint, and get these pieces of history running are irreplaceable. But they aren't formally trained curators who integrate interpretation into what they do. That means that certain pieces are going to be orphans, some will likely rot away, and other pieces will be restored simply because someone has passion for that piece. And trained docents, interpretive signage, and a cohesive plan, might not be high on the priority list.
In many respects, that is the beauty of IRM. As a historian who has had formal training in museums and archives, I could probably walk the property and identify dozens of opportunities to better interpret the equipment and the industry. And perhaps that will be my niche as a volunteer some day. In the meantime, I marvel at what a small, dedicated bunch of folks can do to bring life back to these magnificent pieces of railroad history. I'm good with that and I support the museum with my donations (and my employer's matching fund!).
Each of the Department Heads carry the title of Collection Curator. Their experience and equipment specific knowledge is irreplaceable and critical to keeping our equipment in operation. Much easier to do curatorial displays if artifacts are to be mounted behind glass doors, rather than operating and needing repairs and maintenance, and in many cases living outdoors. For more expanded interpretation it would require 'someone' to do what you suggest and departments are all more than busy with current tasks. Also I expect a new or innovative idea from old traditional curator approaches would be required. Climb on board!
"(This blog is one of the best marketing pieces that IRM can do -- I had no idea how much work goes on behind the scenes!)"
I do what I can to show work in my department and related areas. Nigel does a good job for the steam department. But we could really use someone to be a full time reporter. You say you had no idea how much work is done, yet I do not show but a small fraction of what goes on and needs to be done on a regular basis.
Hello Hyde. Our collection of rail equipment now numbers 471 pieces - so in some ways our size is our worst enemy. There are five major rail equipment departments or subdivisions to hopefully allow restoration decisions and work to proceed in a fruitful and productive manner.
The KCS tender is neat, and is under the umbrella of the steam department. They are doing wonderful things and of course have their hands full with three locomotives in the shop. Since there is no matching loco for that tender I do not think any work on it could be high on the priority list. For now an interesting display piece - but remember - a coupler on only one end so not easy to switch around or move it!
[ED: This not appropriate to this thread, but I will approve it anyway for purposes of discussion.] Hyde Seybold, since the 1630 runs from end-to-end of the railroad with no problems currently. The only way to get longer trips out of 1630 is to donate a bridge across the river. a 100' span is needed. Due to the 1630s construction as a 5' gauge engine operation off the IRM property becomes problematic.