Fox River Trolley Museum
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  • February 24, 2019 3:08 PM | Jeff Bennett (Administrator)

    Well here a month has flown by since the last update. Rest assured that work didn't slow down.  The last we posted, you could see the floor had been stripped of all the rotten wood, and the rusted metal was being cut out. Even some new panels had been laid. 

    Many more panels have been plasma cut laid, and welded in.


    Just about done with all the side panels, getting ready to cut and weld down the center ones.


    Every panel has now been cut and laid. Most all are welded, but a few towards the North end still need to be welded in.Quite frankly we would have kept on welding this weekend, but we ran out of wire! We had 5 spools of .030 wire. Doing the math, so far we have welded a little over 21,000 feet of wire and roughly 12 4x8 sheets of 11 gauge steel. One sheet of steel weighs about 160 lbs. 

    So 50 pounds of wire, and almost one ton (2000 lbs) of metal are laid down on 4451... Geeze no wonder we are tired at night.

    Looking at the finished floor, it reminds me of the floor of a bumper car ride at the fair. Remember that?

    Anyway, the last few panels will be welded down this week.

    For the most part, the structural I-beams and frame of the car have been in pretty good shape. The exception to this is in the train door entrance areas. The supporting I-beams that were rotted out, were carefully cut back to good metal and replaced with new I-beams. You can see in the picture above the left one is being welded in, and the right one shows the rot issue.Welding away

    Above and below you can see the finished product. Two new I-beams installed and properly attached.

    Our next step is to finish stripping the train end walls. You can see above the hand brake assembly in place, and below it has been removed.Now to get to work on walls and floors of the vestibules.Stay tuned, as we have a long road ahead...

  • January 25, 2019 7:19 PM | Jeff Bennett (Administrator)

    The L2, SE door has significant rot issues. Before we took the door off the car, it was bound in place pretty severely. Once we got it down, this is what we had to start out with. A good two inches of the door, just simply gone.

    So we cut out all the rot, and got down to good metal. Then rebuilt the inner support structure.

    Once the inner supports were rebuilt, the door was re-skinned on both sides. 

    The sensitive edge was removed to address rust and rot under it. The lower track guide, that can be seen here in yellow, was salvaged from 4000 door we had in stock. The one that was supposed to be on the car was no where to be found. With some scaling and grinding, this guide fit the bill nicely.

    Still some more grinding and filling to do on this door. Just this door alone we probably have 30 hours in. And this sucker is heavy. Three guys to lift and turn as the work was going from one side to the other.


    The first NEW METAL panels are laid !!! 

    While the door above was being massaged, the welder went inside. One person has the plasma cutter set up and was making each panel to custom fit, while another was inside welding them in place. The system was working quite well, and we plan to continue it tomorrow.

    It's -7 outside, and as many of you know, about the same temperature in the barn. When the temps get below zero, propane tanks will not release their full potential, and as the temps drop even lower, you may be lucky to get half a tank out. Soooooo, we upped our game, and had three more  100 lb tanks delivered. (175 lbs when full, hence the crane)

    With the three tanks we had, and three more, we now have 6 tanks manifolded together, to fuel our construction heater. It keeps the car a little warmer, and for the lucky guys doing inside car work, they get warm tootsies.

    View from the plow truck. It has been interesting keeping the snow under control to gain access to the barn.... As you can see the dumpster has not been emptied. The garbage truck is too scared to go done the hill at the entrance.... 

    Jeff was not one with warm tootsies...

    While one crew was working on installing new floor panels, and one guy was working on the L2 door, two others were continuing to cut out the major rotted floor sections.  All the sections that we are removing in the main part of the car are out.

    All the air pipes that come up through the floor are being carefully removed, labeled and remade this weekend. So the problem of pipes rusting through where they meet the floor will not happen in the future. Some of the pipes were one bump away from leaking, so all new piping through the new floor will be nice.

    We are taking the opportunity to clean the undercarriage while we have it exposed. 

    I would just like to note, you can see the whole crew is always wearing respirators, and eye protection. If the job involves other potential hazards like this one did, the worker suits up full body, wears full safety goggles, and hearing protection. Personal Protection Equipment is a must in the car department. 

    Also you may note that four chemical fire extinguishers are at an arms reach inside the car, and one at each end outside the car. A water charged (anti freeze mixed) extinguisher is also on hand. 

    We are running a safe restoration all the way around here folks. 

    The bench seat arm rests are being stripped down to clean metal

    All the electrical access box covers (advertisement holders) were removed, and wall / panels underneath have been sanded down 

    This one still needs a little attention, but it's getting there.

    Snowing like crazy and -3, and we had a full crew of 4+ people everyday this week! No Snow Day for FRTM !!!

    Moving right along to the motorman areas, you can see the flooring is severely rotted. The air piping and other mechanicals coming up through the floor are all in poor condition at what used to be metal.

    So out they come... Just like that... Ya right ! Hours and hours have gone into carefully tagging each and every wire, pipe, connector, clamp, etc so that reassembly will be possible.

    Both motorman compartments are being just about fully stripped so the base structure can be repaired. Then as they are reinstalled, new piping can go to them, as well as bad switches and loose components on the walls being addressed. The Motorman windows have come out as well to repair rot damage.

    All things considered, we had a fantastic week in the barn working on 4451. Some of us are still waiting to regain feeling in our extremities however..... That "Hot Hot Hot Chocolate" ain't lookin so bad right about now.

    The weekend will be seeing more time on the floor install, and next week, back on the horse, so stay tuned!

  • January 18, 2019 4:53 PM | Jeff Bennett (Administrator)

    With the ceiling done, it is time to move to the floors. All the seats were removed and have been sent out to be sand blasted.

    All the heaters are out being blasted and brackets made to house modern designed heat strips.

    Door engines (extremely heavy mechanism the opens and closes sliding doors) have been removed, and in this picture you can see the last of the walls being removed.

    With the walls out, and the first two layers up flooring up, we are tackling the last two layers of flooring.... Yes four layers of flooring, not including the final metal bottom.

    As can be seen in these above and below pictures, the flooring was so rotted that is was the consistency of wet landscaping mulch. Most of it just came out by grabbing hand fulls of wet mulch and getting in bags.

    This past week was a very productive one. Here you can see five guys working on the car at one time! (well the guy holding the camera was working before he thought a selfie with this background couldn't be missed)

    All the wood flooring is out, the walls are striped. The wet all insulation is out. Most all of the rotted metal floor is out. In the picture above everyone is working on cutting out rotted sections, or grinding imperfections flat, in preparation for the new floor.

    Stay tuned,  the goal is to have all the metal walls and current floor treated and ready for new flooring by next Wednesday. Then have two days to work on installing new metal flooring!

  • January 18, 2019 4:19 PM | Jeff Bennett (Administrator)

    During the removal of the original side walls of the car, we came across this

    A 1925 News Paper from the Cincinnati area 

    Here you can see the newspaper carefully folded and tucked between the interior and exterior walls. 

    The work crew on this believes this to have been put here by one of the original builders. The car is said to have been built in 1924, but could it really have been finished in 1925? Did a worker from 1925 put this here as a time capsule for us to find 94 years later?

    Another interesting finding, is the newspaper is completely intact. The entire paper is there, and looks like it had never been opened or folded or even read.

    This was obviously put here, in between the walls when the car was built . How cool !!!

    We plan to have the paper preserved and displayed in the car, with the neat story.



    So here is out other find of the day.... The car was really talking to us! So here we are, working our fingers to the bone to fight all the screws out of this door slider bracket. The door needed to be adjusted to slide correctly. Much time and care was taken to get all the screws out without breaking or damaging anything.


    The last screw is out, and we slide the bracket to the side and this is what we see....

    Too funny.


    The last interesting thing that came out during this week's work, was the obvious pride the last person had in their work.

    This was found on the back/underside of one of the more recent floor repairs.

    Not sure who G.H. is, and also not sure on R.C.A. either.

    3/1998 this car would have long been in the museum's care. I hope someone can shed some light on this. 

  • January 16, 2019 10:53 AM | Jeff Bennett (Administrator)


    Hi folks, 

    While we have been a little lacking in the updates on line, we certainly have made up for that in production!


    In no particular order, here is the process of new custom door doors being made and installed in our work horse, 715!


    715 Is rolling with all new coach doors, correctly installed, painted, and working fantastic.

    We are seeking donations to replace the train doors!

  • November 10, 2018 2:34 PM | Jeff Bennett (Administrator)

    The car department has been working overtime on getting everything finalized on car 40, so it can be coupled to 43 (which was painted last year) and be the Polar Express!

    Fred and Jeff are finishing up the last steps of the paint, the Red White and Blue stripes.

    Every good artist signs their work

    Fred Mike and Jeff are very close to having the final roof work done. Trolley boards, and poles will be a welcome addition to this car.

    Mike G. adding some of the last touches to the roof hardware

    On November 3rd, only one month after 40 was moved inside for it's paint job, Fred L. is boarding to pilot her out for the first time with the fresh new coat of paint. YES, this all happened in just 30 days!

    MG's fired up and out she comes!

    First light of sun, you can see the beautiful job!

    We coupled all three 40's together and with three poles up, she made it up to the main without any issue.

    Fred taking a long hike up a short hill to uncouple the cars and start staging them for the fast approaching Polar Express.

  • October 28, 2018 8:34 PM | Jeff Bennett (Administrator)

    KRB finished installing the last of the ceiling panels this week. The picture doesn't do it justice. Standing in this car and having the beautiful ceiling all back in, really is a testament to how strong we really are. In the face of so much additional work with the vandalism, we persevered and kept this project on track.

    All the molding above the windows had to be custom replicated. It turned out amazing

  • October 28, 2018 7:11 PM | Jeff Bennett (Administrator)

    Once we got the OK from Kasia, the painter, we got on the roof and installed the pre made saddles that Fred L. generously made, painted, and donated.

    Going nicely, yay, five down......

    And a whole bunch left to go

    With a second set of hands from Mike G. all the saddles got installed in one night.

    Mike and Jeff were no strangers to the roof of this car. Prior to the paint, all the metal cleats had to be attached to the roof. Now that was a lot of work!

    Fred L. and Mike G. made the Lap Joints on the boards and have them all ready to be bolted down. You can also see the main power cable has been pulled and is ready to connect both up top and underside.

    All the Midnight oil has been burned, and a very weary crew calls it a night, yet again. 


    Many sleepless nights and 400 gallons of propane later....

    Our new fancy construction heater. OH NO, some assembly required

    Looks like it was figured out, and let me tell ya, this guy makes some heat! 170,000 BTU. To compare, the average home furnace is 40-80k BTU

    After a couple different location changes, we found the best way to inflate the paint tent, and keep her nice and warm

    The heater was started in the morning around 4am and ran though out the day and into the evening for the paint to have a nice warm surface to adhere to.

    Here you can see our "paint tent" that was constructed to contain the heat

    We did also run the heat inside the car, (the trains heaters) to warm it from the inside as well.

    The paint tent took some acrobatics, but once it was complete we were able to keep the area at about 68 degrees. The outside temp was only in the 40's.

    Some body repairs done and surface prep

    Getting all taped up, 40 is ready and waiting for it's new paint!

  • October 15, 2018 9:27 PM | Jeff Bennett (Administrator)

    Mary W. is receiving help from Jim S. to build a clock tower for Polar Express. 

    Barb is Sidewalk supervising here, and has approved of the progress.

    Mary has given up hiding from the camera and finally gives in to it.

  • October 15, 2018 9:18 PM | Jeff Bennett (Administrator)

    Might not look like much, but the fact that there are over three ceiling panels installed is HUGE. 

    Cliff and Bill with KRB aligning ceiling panels and installing. I didn't get to see the next one after this go in, but it's really great to see the ceiling going back in.

    One of our newest additions to the car department crew, here is Fred B. working on the rust issues on the end walls of 4451

    While Fred is new to us this year, he has a lot of restoration experience with the 4000's at other museums. We are super happy to have him on board!


    Some body filler and patches removed, and plans being made to repair the body correctly.

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2017

FOX RIVER TOLLEY MUSEUM'S 6000s "GO HOME!"


Ever since CTA began to assemble its 21st Century Heritage Fleet, rail enthusiasts have expressed hope that 'L' cars of decades past could be returned from museums or private owners to enlarge the fleet.

Thanks to CTA and the Fox River Trolley Museum, those hopes have come true.

The museum has re-sold cars 6101-02 to CTA for Heritage Fleet operation. The Fox River board approved the sale at its July 8 meeting. CTA signed off on the terms in late July and moved the cars from South Elgin to CTA Skokie Shops Aug. 9-10.

"We've done our part for historic preservation, which is our mission," said museum President Edward Konecki. "Now it's time for them to go home."

The married pair, built by the now-defunct St. Louis Car Co. in 1950, features a set of outside conductor's controls and twin headlights, which makes them unique among surviving 6000-series cars.

Fox River has long-term preservation in mind. CTA once had a Heritage Fleet of streetcars and rapid transit equipment that was disbanded in the 1980s.  Today's Heritage Fleet is its second.  The re-sale contract includes a clause that gives the museum a 90-day right of first refusal to regain possession of the cars, should CTA decide to terminate its current Heritage Fleet program. If returned, they must be in fully operable condition. The cars were never used in public operations at Fox River because of restrictions written into the contact between the museum and CTA in the 1990s. Essentially, Fox River could not carry paying passengers on the cars. That clause will not be included should the cars revert to Fox River.

CTA hopes to unveil the cars to the public in time for its 70th birthday party in October.

CTA, created in 1945 by the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act to take control of the city's mass transportation providers, bought the 'L' from the receivers of the bankrupt Chicago Rapid Transit Co. Oct. 1, 1947.  Today it is one of the three operating agencies that compose the Regional Transportation Authority.  

The Fox River Trolley Museum is a not-for-profit, founded in 1961, dedicated to the preservation Chicago's electric railway heritage and interpretation of the lines' colorful history. All workers at the museum are volunteers.  The museum operates its demonstration railway, a remnant of the old Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric Co. interurban (inter-city) rail line, on Sundays from Mother's Day through the end of October, Saturdays in July and August and on three major in-season holidays -- Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day..


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