Fox River Trolley Museum
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March Updates, Information provided by Joseph Hazinski

March 23, 2021 5:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Many thanks for all the photos contributed to make this edition of the web site news possible.  There has been a lot going on at the museum and this is just a sampling of what has been happening since the last installment.   Work has been going full bore on CTA 4451 all winter even as the museum grounds are awakening from a snowy winter.  It is heartening to see and hear of new faces joining in our efforts to improve the museum.   Joseph Hazinski - editor

Mike Gilles provided me with a security camera view of the snow at the museum on February 19th, 2021 so you can get an idea of how much snow there was at the site this winter.

 Work was able to continue in the car barn after the snows but operation on the railroad was not possible.  As the snowpack began to melt Fred Lonnes and Patrick Storm were able survey the line and determined that there were several points where the snow was still too deep to operate the CTA all-electric cars.  After some track switches were shoveled out at Castlemuir a crew was formed on Saturday March 6th to take CNS&M 715 down the line to shovel these drifts out.  Here the crew is working on one of those drifts in the shadow of the Stearns Road bridge where highway plowing added additional snow onto the track and the shadow of the bridge “protected” it from the sun.    Tom Albright photo

Here 715 has pulled up to the north crossing in the Jon Duerr Forest Preserve so the crew can work on another drift that built up adjacent to the hill to the east.    Russ Friend photo

Turning 180 degrees we see volunteers shoveling out the rails and the space between so as not to affect the traction motors on the CTA cars.  The crew consisted of Damin Keenan, Doug Rundell, Art Lempke, James Tarbet, Patrick Storm, Russ Friend and Tom Albright.    Russ Friend photo

Now we go back to February 20th in the car barn where work continued on CTA 4451.  When the roof was reconstructed the passageways between the roof vents and the interior were not constructed so Jeff Bennett devised a work around.    Jeff Bennett photo

He was able to make up sheet metal boxes to form a mini duct to keep the passages open once the exterior roof vents are installed.   Jeff Bennett photo

After all the vent ducts were installed the crew installed the interior air regulators.  All these regulators were sandblasted off site so they could be primed and painted.  As each one was installed, they were individually adjusted so that each could be opened and closed as needed just like they could be when they were new in 1924.    Mike Gilles photo

The next day we see Jeff Bennett assembling the rebuilt battery charging resistor, part of another sub system needed to make 4451 operational.    Mike Gilles photo

As part of the Monday crew, Berny Kamenear is cleaning up apart from a controller handle from 4451 inside the car itself.    Doug Rundell photo

The roof of 4451 is ready for its canvas on March 7th.  The wooden roof has been covered with ice and water shield, a 21st century innovation to protect it from rot.   Mike Gilles photo

Jeff was able to find a vacant heated space to wash the sizing out of the new cotton duck and then dry it before taking it to the museum.    Jeff Bennett photo

A piece of burlap is bring cut off for the ends of the roof before the canvas is set in place.  The burlap underlayment helps smooth out the area where there are compound curves.   Mike Gilles photo

Next it was time for the Monday crew to hoist the precut, pre seamed canvas cotton duck to the roof and then roll it out.  Sean Collins, James Tarbet, Doug Rundell and Mike Gilles were instrumental in getting this task completed on March 9th.   Mike Gilles photo

Jeff was pleased to find the canvas laid out when he arrived at the barn on March 10th.   Jeff Bennett photo

One of our standard reoccurring views of 4451 with the loose canvas in place before the next step in process.    Jeff Bennett photo

For the big stretch these clamps were made up ahead of time to be pulled with the straps to bring tension to the canvas.   Jeff Bennett photo

The first step is to stretch the canvas end to end.  You can see how the clamps are attached to the canvas in this view.    Jeff Bennett photo

The start of the stretch from above.    Jeff Bennett photo

This is how the straps were tied off to CTA 4288 on the north end.   Jeff Bennett photo

Once the ends are taught it is time to start stretching from the sides.   Jeff Bennett photo

Jeff is attaching one of the clamps to the canvas on the side of the car.  Battery powered drills make this task a little easier but there still is a lot of up and down the ladder activity.    Mike Gilles photo

Here is a detailed view of one of the clamp-strap arrangements on the east side of the roof.   Jeff Bennett photo

Both sides must be clamped down and the west side is done in this view.  Lots and lots of adjustment of the straps all around get an even pull on every edge.    Jeff Bennett photo

Finally, after hours of work the first stretch is done.   Jeff Bennett photo

Now it is time to go underside to start working on the switch group that makes the car move and accelerate.   Jeff Bennett photo

There are contact actuators that must close and open as the car accelerates with electrically triggered pneumatic cylinders called magnet valves doing this task.  All of them were taken down, disassembled, cleaned up and readjusted.  This photo is after the removal part of the process.   Jeff Bennett photo

On the outside of the switch group the arc chutes have been removed.  The red cylinder on the end is part of the motor cut device which suggests the car can run on one or the other motor (it has two) should a problem arise.    Jeff Bennett photo

Now the east side is tight as all the clamps have been installed.     Jeff Bennett photo

The big stretch is underway, and we wait another day for a general retightening of the straps all around.   Jeff Bennett photo

On March 11th while going round the car to put more tension on the canvas Jeff got this view of the clamps and straps on the south end hooked up to the Soo caboose.   Jeff Bennett photo

It is Saturday March 13th and CTA 43-40 were being exercised for training with a trip to Blackhawk.    George Barreto photo


Also, on tap for the Operating Department was decorating the cars for the Bunny Trolley which was to be run the following Saturday.     George Barreto photo

Not only were the decorations installed but so were recently acquired CTA route maps donated by member Russ Friend were installed in the car card areas of the two cars.  Thank you to Russ Friend for this enhancement!     George Barreto photo

After it was determined that the canvas was as tight as it could be it was time to start tacking down to the roof.  A chalk line was snapped, and the process was started putting down one row of tacks.  Instead of tacks, small nails were used with a nailing gun.  Tacks only come in short lengths and Jeff was concerned that they would not hold due to the added thickness with the ice and water shield underlayment.  After the first row of tack nails is in the canvas must be trimmed and then turned under so the bottom row of fasteners can be nailed in.   Jeff Bennett photo

By the end of Sunday March 14th both sides and both ends where in place.  Mike Gilles spent most of the day gathering up the clamps and straps to store them for the next roofing project.   Jeff Bennett photo

On St. Patrick’s Day March 17th attention returned to the interior and the pneumatic door engines.  Over the winter Fred Biederman has been working on installing them and now Jeff and his crew are working on making them functional, one engine at a time (there are four, one for each side door).    Jeff Bennett photo

The innards of each engine have various degrees of muck in them and some damaged parts.  Fortunately, we have replacement leather packing cups for the pistons and a couple of spare door engines as a source of other spare parts.    Jeff Bennett photo

Once a door engine becomes pneumatically functional it is time to install the interior wall lining.   Jeff Bennett photo

Also, during the week, the motorman’s windshield on the south end was installed complete with new safety glass.   Jeff Bennett photo

Not only that but the opposite window which is an opening two pane affair was also put in finally enclosing the whole car for the first time in two years.   Jeff Bennett photo

Door latches have been installed including those on the interior cab door panels which swing out to make up the enclosed motorman’s area when it is not used as an entrance for passengers.   Jeff Bennett photo

A graphics company has made the windowsill safety message stickers that were a part of every 4000 during their last days of operation on CTA.    Jeff Bennett photo

On Saturday March 20th, the first of the rubber door edges was installed.  We think we have found a solution to this unique problem so let us keep our fingers crossed.   Jeff Bennett photo

The restored and repainted fix extinguisher case was fastened to the bulkhead.   Jeff Bennett photo

New wooden saddles for the trolley boards on the roof have been made up and predrilled ready for priming, painting, and placement one the canvas has been painted.   Jeff Bennett photo

Also installed was this center ceiling sign frame.  I do not recall that we had this in place when the museum previously operated the car but with the new carlines it will be sure to stay in place.   Jeff Bennett photo

The glass with the fleet numbers has arrived for installation in the window frames which will make it clear what car 4451 is!    Jeff Bennett photo

On Sunday March 21st, plastic was put up to protect the cars finish when it comes time to paint the roof.  We are awaiting specially formulated paint and warm enough weather to start treating the canvas.  It is expected that the paint will be watery and require several coats to be sure the canvas is weather tight.   Jeff Bennett photo

Back to Saturday March 20th and the first of three days of Bunny Train operation.  Here, car host Cheici Barreto and Trainmaster Damin Keenan mug for the camera before the first trip.    George Barreto photo

After the train leaves Blackhawk, the loading point, it stops in Coleman Yard so passengers can detrain to search for Easter eggs in the “Bunny Burrow”.     Mike Gilles photo

Two cars are used as we are limited to twenty passengers per car under current Illinois Covid-19 guidelines.  After the train reloads and heads towards Castlemuir, our yard crew restocks the burrow with more plastic eggs, keep on hand in 715 which is on the siding.   George Barreto photo

Passengers are masked up and social distanced as they wait on the train to meet the Easter Bunny at the museum grounds.   Lorrie Nevens photo

Every child in each family gets to meet with the well masked Easter Bunny while the train is at Castlemuir.   Lorrie Nevens photo

This gives the adults a chance to get a picture of their children with the Easter Bunny.  After every family group has visited, the bunny exits the train which then makes an express trip back to the starting point in the Jon Duerr Forest Preserve for sanitizing and the next group of pre-ticketed visitors.  It was a successful and safe day.    George Barreto photo


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