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  • March 23, 2021 5:07 PM | Anonymous

    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

  • February 17, 2021 8:51 AM | Anonymous

          It has been a while since the NEWS has been updated but that does not mean that nothing has been happening.  With the help of others, I will try to update what has been going on at the museum even though of late it has been snowy and cold.  Thanks to Doug, Jeff and Mike for their photos.

         It is October 25th, 2020, the last operating day of our pandemic shortened season.  715 rests down on the Track 2 platform waiting for passengers.   Doug Rundell photo

         The outside temperature was enough that the heat had to be turned on in 715.  The museum is fortunate that the Car Department has been able to keep this important feature operable in the North Shore car as that is not the case in cars 20 and 304.   Doug Rundell photo

         A young visitor has discovered the signal cord as masked passengers and conductor Dan Kelly look on.   Doug Rundell photo

        Store manager Laura Taylor took the opportunity on the last operating day to pack up the store with the help of Janet Gonyo.   Doug Rundell photo

       Here is some of the merchandise stacked up on the baggage cart awaiting transport for the museum to off season storage.   Doug Rundell photo

         I caught a view of the “reference” window in 4451 on November 11th as we were blessed with mild fall and early winter weather.   Joseph Hazinski photo

         By November 29th the temperature was getting lower and here we see a “tent” set up at the end of an empty looking 4451.   Joseph Hazinski photo

         Inside the tent we see Jeff Bennett assembling brand new, specially ordered heater strips on new brackets made up for us by our neighbor Leo Metz.  Just assembling the strips and brackets took over three eight-hour days.   Joseph Hazinski photo

       With an electric powered radiator at hand, Jeff is now finally putting the heater strip assemblies into their housings.  This had to be done carefully as each case holds one low heat and one high heat strip which have to be in the right position.    Joseph Hazinski photo

       On December 11th, Mike caught a photo of one of the Chicago Door and Window crew installing new siding on CA&E 316 after a complete new window sill had been installed on the west side.   Mike Gilles photo

       Here is what 316’s side looked like on December 19th.  It was too cold to prime but this is a step necessary for installing all the new side sash windows.  Fortunately, we have a set of arch windows salvaged from Wheaton Shops in 1961 and the plan is to install them on the exterior of the car, back dating it properly to the early 1920’s era of the car’s existence.   Mike Gilles photo

       On December 19th it was still warm enough for exterior body work to continue on 4288 as we see work being done to install a side sheet seam plate.   Mike Gilles photo

      We jump back to December 6th into 4451 as we see the heater units spread out on the floor.  It turned out that wiring in the heaters needed to happen before the seat frames could be installed.  The Monday crew did a good job of cleaning up and painting the metal heat deflectors that go on each seat with a heater, just one of the many tasks needed to complete this aspect.  Joseph Hazinski photo

       I also noticed that parts for the sliding windows in each train door at the ends of the car have been collected.   Joseph Hazinski photo

      Back to December 19th daughter Rylee and her dad Jeff Bennett after careful measurement, are installing seat frames and then hanging the heater casings to the bottom of the frames.   Mike Gilles photo

      The next day we see the progress of the seat frame and heater installation on the weekend before Christmas.  The plastic covering on the window openings helps keep the heat in, which is provided by the propane fired furnace Jeff has procured for just such service.   Mike Gilles photo

      Here we have our contractor Kyle in Delavan in his shop showing off one of the window frames that he has stripped, primed and painted.   Our crews disassembled all of the brass standee and opening sash windows before Jeff took them to Kyle.   Jeff Bennett photo

     Because of water leakage over the years almost all of the window frames were split so Kyle revived the old art of lead repair to restore them using about 17 pounds of lead to do so.  Lead once used as auto body filler before the advent of products like Bondo.  A stack of completed frames are seen in the background.   Jeff Bennett photo

      After the frames were finished in Delavan, off they went to LeWalt glass in Crystal Lake for glazing.  Here we see Cliff assembling a window while Ken finishes up a piece of new glass.  Fortunately, Ken had the right gasket material while Jeff was able to obtain all new screws and barrel bolts to assemble the frames.   Jeff Bennett photo

      On December 27th we see the interior of 4451 with all of its walk over seat frames installed.  Yes, the crew did take Christmas off!   Mike Gilles photo

       Berny Kamenear of the Monday crew developed a way of cleaning up the light fixtures on a drill press, using a brass wire wheel revealing the brass finish.  Mike and Jeff cleaned renewed the actual bulb sockets, installing new wire leads for each fixture.   Doug Rundell photo

      It is January 10th and Jeff is making up a test board to check the values need for a new battery charging resistor.  The original one just fell apart when Jeff opened it up and this key component needs to function so the batteries can be charged as they provide the low voltage DC power for the control system, the emergency interior lights, the sensitive door edges, buzzer system as well as the headlight and marker lights at the #1 or front end of the car.  After determining the proper values with the test board and consulting with Fred Lonnes, he was able to order the correct heating strips that are needed to make the charging system functional.   Mike Gilles photo

        On January 23rd, Thee and John strung the conductor’s valve cord.  The heaters have been tested and work fine after Jeff serviced and tested the relays and thermostat.  In the lower right hand corner seat frame you can see one of the heat deflectors which is mounted above the heater case.  While I have no photos, Fred Biederman has been gradually setting up each door engine, making them functional and connecting them to the sliding side doors.   Mike Gilles photo

     The next day Sunday, January 24th Barb Bennett, Jeff’s mom worked on final cleanup of the light fixtures in the warm confines of 4451.   Mike Gilles photo

      Also, on the 24th a number of standee windows were installed, the first rebuilt units going in.   Mike Gilles photo

      February 6th, one of Jeff’s employees, Sean Cross wires up a light fixture in 4451.   Jeff Bennett photo

        Mike Gilles and James Tarbet are busy at work inside of the heated 4451 in spite of the cold outside February 6th weather.   Jeff Bennett photo

     The fruits of his labor, in place window sashes, after Mike’s work to install them on the 6th.  With the windows in place the plastic comes down from the open spaces.    Jeff Bennett photo

      James Tarbet installs the door latch on one of the train doors as the effort to enclose 4451 goes on.   Jeff Bennett photo

       With the work lights turned off towards the end of the day all the light circuits are tested with 120-volt AC.  And they all worked!  The next step is to cover all the splices with heat shrink tubing and then fasten the fixtures to the ceiling.   Jeff Bennett photo

      Jeff is coming down the aisle reviewing the progress of the day.   Mike Gilles photo

     Jeff takes a selfie with the “reference window” just before it is to be removed from 4451.  It was the only window to stay in place during all that work that has been done to the car to date.   Jeff Bennett photo

      One more look at the “reference window” before it is to be removed and replaced with one of the rebuilt sashes.  It had notes on it to assist in the reinstallation of the heaters and lights.   Jeff noted it was a major milestone as now the air brakes, electric heaters and interior lights are now functional.    Jeff Bennett photo

      The next day February 7th, John and Thee install the second of four ceiling mounted handhold bars.   Jeff Bennett photo

      James Tarbet installs the latch to the second train door as work continues on Sunday the 7th.  Jeff Bennett photo

      Mike and James continue with the window sash installation.  There are several windows that will need some adjustment before they can go back in so 4451 is all but enclosed.   Jeff Bennett photo

      The crew continues to work on many tasks until it is time to quit for the day.   Mike Gilles photo

       A satisfying look at the east side windows with a view to 316 out of them.  Next up will be the special sign box windows at every corner.   Jeff Bennett photo

       Now that all the wire splices have been heat shrink covered, all the light fixtures have been fastened to the ceiling with slotted screws.  The regulators for the ceiling air vents are being cleaned up, repaired as needed and professionally refinished along with their paired exterior roof vents.   Jeff Bennett photo

      It is the end of the day on February 7th 2021 just before the lights are turned out.  Much has been accomplished and work will continue with the goal of 4451 being ready for service in the Spring of 2021.  Challenges remain but so much has been accomplished to date.   Jeff Bennett photo

  • November 16, 2020 10:07 AM | Anonymous

    "It has been a busy time the last several weeks and now I finally have a chance to catch up on the news at the museum." Joseph Hazinski

    This was the sight that greeted members and guests on Saturday October 10th, 2020.  The Stars and Stripes hanging from CTA S-314 was courtesy of Jeff Bennett.   CA&E 20 made its only operating appearance this season while our recently donated Fairmount MT-14 motorcar with its all-weather cab was also on display.

    Fred Lonnes assisted in the attendance of Ken Ward (seated) and his wife Carolyn seen here with President Ed Konecki and James Tarbet for the reveal of AE&FR #5.  Ken was a substitute operator of #5 when Bob DeYoung, the owner of the AE&FR, was away.  In later years Fred Lonnes also served in that capacity.

    After Track 2 was cleared, #5 with Fred Alford at the controls came up from the car barn to reveal its new paint job.  Mr. Alford, who is the grandson-in-law of Bob DeYoung, and son-in-law to Mr. DeYoung's oldest daughter Jane DeYoung/Anderson, donated the funds to paint the engine, has fond memories of seeing #5 coming down LaFox Street with empty hoppers in tow for the IC interchange.

    Jeff Bennett addressing the members and DeYoung family guests, relating the past and most recent history of #5 with great appreciation of Mr. Alford’s kind donation.

    One of the features of the repainting and our current restoration is the installation of the whistle, which was a standard, as delivered, GE feature, and two sets of two bell horns as installed shortly after the locomotive arrived back in 1946.  The locomotive bell has also been restored.

    With the 4000’s out on display and 304 in service on Members Day the car barn looked a bit empty but it certainly is not spacious for the work that has been done inside in close quarters.  There was a lot of effort to clean up this area with the cars outside for the day.

    CTA 4451 is looking good in its new paint.  Current emphasis is on rehabilitation all the brass framed windows.  The plan is to finish the car in 2021.

    CTA 4288 shows off some of the degree of work being done to repair the frame and sides.  It seems that this may be the only saved 4000 that demonstrates the modernization program that the rapid transit division started by replacing the old-style brass sah windows with aluminum framed units.

    A little more than a week later on October 18th #5 rests outside the barn awaiting the restoration of final details and other adjustments.

    New member Austin Harvey is behind the step ladder while sanding down 4288 in preparation for priming.  Just another example of the many unseen tasks that need to be done to bring a car back to operating condition.

    Here is one of 4451’s brass sashes waiting to be taken apart.  All the glass has been saved while the frames await professional blasting, priming and painting so they can be reassembled and installed in the car.

    Also on October 18th, Mike Gilles helps Ralph Taylor install the engine into the Fairmount North Shore Line motorcar in the Maintenance-Of-Way shed. 

    Up on Track 3 Fred Lonnes changes the headlight bulb on the back end of CTA MS-65 while Jeff Bennett was inside changing a bulb on the instrument counsel.

    A week later on October 24th, Thee’s father finishes up welding the bell onto MS-65. 

    At the end of the day three quarters of the museum’s locomotive fleet is lined up on the car barn leads.  CTA L-202, AE&FR #5 and CTA MS-65, which replaced L-202 are at rest.  Warren & Saline River 73 is resting at the north end of Track 3.

    As of November 1st, the air brake components inside CTA 4451 were being installed with the goal of getting the brake system to function.

    Fred Biederman has put all four door engines in place and connected them to the air system, a necessary step in testing the air system.  The arms have to be attached to the doors, sensitive edges installed on each sliding door and then the electrical wiring installed so door testing and adjustment can begin.

    Here Thee is heating up the barrel nuts on a window frame for 4451 so it can be taken apart for repair, blasting, priming and painting.  I think all disassembly has been finished.

    CTA 4288’s frame and bolster repairs at the #2 end were completed by November 1st.

    On November 8th Thee and his father are welding a seam on the siding that covers the area where the frame repairs are made.  The next step is to start opening up the side sheets in the area of the #1 end doors and bolster area to determine what repairs need to be done there.

    Ralph Taylor and Mike Gilles made adjustments to the hub where the starting crank goes on the North Shore Line motorcar and also hooked up the drive belt tensioner.  In this picture you can see the crank in its storage position.  The next task is making up and installing the ignition points so the one lug Fairmount engine can operate with its characteristic hit and miss “putt-putt” sound.

    Art Lempke of the track crew trims back brush along Track 1 West in an effort to beautify the area.  Roadmaster Chris Nelson is considering what types of cover to plant to stabilize the embankment.

    The last motorcar trip of the day is almost ready to leave to disburse the cut brush into natural areas along the right-of-way where it can decompose and return to nature.

    The Way and Structures Department also finished repairs to the 54 cattle pass bridge by sealing the repair to the cracks in the concrete deck and installing a drain tile system for water to run off into the natural creek bed underneath.

  • September 29, 2020 2:34 PM | Anonymous

    It’s Saturday September 19th,2020 and CTA MS-65 is down at Ward’s Bridge to finally have the nose mount of its traction motor secured.  Jeff Bennett, Mike Gilles and Berny Kamenear went down to start the project with James doing the slow, 1/8 of a turn at a time, tightening of the nut on the assembly.  The tubes to lube the drive chain were also installed so the locomotive returned to Castlemuir finally complete.  Mike Gilles photo

    The next day Jeff and Fred Lonnes serviced the OB form 5 couplers on MS-65 so it could do its first task.

    And that task was coupling to CTA S-314 and coupling it up to CRT 5001 and in turn, closing the gap with W&SR 73 to discourage visitors from walking between the cars and into the path of any trains moving on Track 2.  A glitch was noticed in the control system so currently MS-65 is out of service pending the completion of resolving the issue.

    The next move was getting AE&FR 5 out of the Car Barn.  Fred and Mike are riding on the back end as Jeff operates it over the barn lead switches.

    With 5 out of the barn, Fred with the assistance of Mike piloted AE&FR 304 from its Track 5 outdoor storage position to inside the barn on Track 3.  This task was done carefully as 304 tends to ride up on frog, so the edge of the east rail is greased and the wheels are monitored as they pass through the switches.

    Here Lorrie Nevens is conducting one of her Facebook Live Streams with Jeff and Fred concerning the locomotive, its history and the details of the current project of restoring its paint and appearance. Link to facebook live video

    Locomotive 5 residing in its pumpkin orange on Track 3 South in front of the barn.

    But 5 did not stay solid orange for long as Jeff sent me this selfie while he was lettering the east side with vinyl transfers.   Jeff Bennett photo

    Here is what the “fireman’s” side looks like after Jeff was finished.  Even though the lettering was professionally made, Jeff confided that applying them is harder than it looks.  The black stripes need to be completed along with the “engineer’s” side lettering, but all in good time.

    On Saturday September 26th, James Tarbet applied the reflective white stripes to the frame.  In the mid 1950’s such reflective markings were very innovative when Bob DeYoung painted the locomotive orange.

    Our locomotive rests outside on Track 3 South awaiting the return of its radiator shutters which were taken off site to be sand blasted, primed and repainted professionally.

    All the cracked and broken windows on W&SR 73 have been replaced by LeWalt Glass of Crystal Lake as another step in improving the appearance of our rolling stock and the museum.

    On Sunday September 20th Roadmaster Chris Nelson, Art Lempke and Fred Lonnes started raising the east rail of Track 0.  Unfortunately, I never get there in time to capture them working.

    Once gain my luck failed in capturing the track crew at work but on Sunday the 27th Chris with the help of Art and Jim Gonyo raised the west rail of Track 0 and where working around the switches, cleaning them out for better drainage.

    On the CTA 4451 front, volunteer Joe Caliedo installed the walls below the new window sills.  Mike Gilles photo

    Here is Joe with metal worker John as they started working on the pneumatic door engines that move 4451’s massive sliding doors.  Just another step in getting the car restored.

    During the next week after the walls were primed, our contractor Kyle, sprayed the interior brown inside 4451.

    You have seen other pictures of the #2 end cab of 4451 but here it is finally painted in the brown but with the masking still in place.  This brown reminds me of milk chocolate.  Hopefully next season, motormen will be using this cab to take the car to Blackhawk once again.

    Checking in on 4288, more rust and corrosion where found in the frame behind the Northwest door pocket area of the car.  The pneumatic door engine and floor underneath it has been removed to survey the issue and then proceed with repairs.

    We turn to the Operating Department as CTA L-202 and IC caboose 9648 departs on a southbound trip on Sunday September 20th, the last Sunday of Caboose Train operation this season.  Because of the pandemic guidelines only eight people at a time could ride the caboose so our passengers swapped trains down at Blackhawk so more patrons could enjoy the way car experience.

    CNS&M 715 makes a diversionary arrival on Track 2 after a fire extinguisher accidentally discharged in the car while it was leaving Blackhawk.  After the dust settled there were no injuries and CTA 43 covered the final two trips of the day.  Our Monday crew cleaned up 715 and it will be back in service this coming weekend.  Oh! and I finally captured the track crew standing in the clear!

  • September 15, 2020 6:01 PM | Anonymous

    On September 23rd, the needle chipping on AE&FR 5 is all but done.

    Next masking of the windows was started along with wire wheeling all the superstructure surfaces of the locomotive on August 28th.  Jeff Bennett photo

    On August 29th the louvers from both ends had been removed as wire wheeling continued.  Mike Gilles photo

    Another view of the back end of 5 as body clean up continues.  The louver sets are surprisingly heavy and were taken off site to be sand blasted.

    The metal worker crew fabricated the missing wheel splash guard and it has been installed by August 30th.

    September 2nd, and the prepped body is getting its primer sprayed on the roof by Kyle.  Jeff Bennett photo

    Here Kyle is applying primer to the front hood of the locomotive.  Jeff Bennett photo

    Finally 5 is dressed in its coat of white primer but not for long.  Jeff Bennett photo

    The special primer dries quickly and the orange final coat goes on.  Jeff Bennett photo

    The whole superstructure is covered as the paint cures.  Jeff Bennett photo

    This orange paint also contains a sealer like all contemporary automotive paints do, which will give our locomotive a more weather resistant surface once it resides outside.  Jeff Bennett photo

    By September 4th, the orange top coat is cured enough to allow for masking so that the frame can be painted black.

    On Labor Day, Jeff is applying the second coat of black to the frame.  The couplers and air hoses are masked as under current railway standards they should not be painted.

  • September 15, 2020 5:55 PM | Anonymous

    It is Saturday August 29th, Jeff Bennett and James Tarbet are installing new pedestal liners on the journal boxes of CTA locomotive MS65.  Mike Gilles photo

    The next day James was working to install the liners or shims on the east side of the locomotive.

    He got one journal finished but was working on another that was being stubborn.

    By Labor Day all the liners were in place and the locomotive was moved over to Track 3 South.  The OB Form 5 coupler is evident that will allow MS65 to connect with any of our CTA all-electric cars like 43 up on Track 1.

    After public operations on Labor Day where over Trainmaster Damin Keenan took a brief familiarization trip to Ward’s Bridge and back and now MS65 is heading back to Track 3 South at the car barn.

  • September 15, 2020 5:48 PM | Anonymous

    Here is a view taken on September 27th of the work on CTA 4451’s floor.  Mike Gilles photo

    A day later after Cliff Blanck cleaned things up.  You can see the underlayment on the east (right) side of the car awaiting more tongue and groove flooring.  Jeff Bennett photo

    One more course of flooring is needed in the area of the longitudinal seat on September 4th.

    Here is that same area completed on Labor Day.

    Now that all the wood flooring is in place it is time for the interior walls to go up and the windows to be installed so the interior painting can be started.

  • September 15, 2020 5:41 PM | Anonymous

    The cab side panel going on CTA 4299 on August 30th.

    Here is the front corner completed and primed on September 4th.  Previous reports presented photos of this corner being rebuilt.

    This view shows the heavy side sill repair work done to replace critical steel.  The area under the side door pockets was always a location of heavy rust due to rain water flowing off the side doors when they were opened.  We hope the other three door pockets are not as bad but we now know how to deal with them if they are.

    On Labor Day September 7th, Doug Rundell made a return to active car work after surgery.  Here he is removing old horsehair insulation from the area behind the car card portion of the ceiling.

    An overall view of the interior of 4288.  It is hoped that it will not have to be torn down as much as 4451 was but there are areas where the floor will have to be replaced.  We have some seat handles but we might have to have a number of them cast up.

    This is the inside view of the #2 end where the handbrake is and is the opposite side of the first photo in this series.  The refurbished train door is in the process of being rehung with two of the three hinges installed as of September 6th.

  • August 28, 2020 12:56 PM | Anonymous

    In this series we start off with CTA MS-65 as James Ham and James Tarbet working on removing the journal box shims as per Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett’s direction.   Mike Gilles photo

    James Tarbet put in a good two days removing all the shims and degreasing the four journal box areas.  The next step is to install replacement shims to square the two axles so that they are in alignment.  Jeff Bennett photo

    With the receiving of a generous donation, work was started on removing the paint from AE&FR 5 by needle scaling in preparation for priming and painting.  Jeff Bennett photo

    On Saturday August 22nd, AE&FR 304 was moved out of the car barn so 5 could go inside for prep work and eventually spray priming and painting.  Mike Gilles photo

    By Sunday the headlight bezels were removed and more than 90% of the locomotive had been needle scaled.  The radiator louvers will be a harder item to do.

    As is usual 5 was not the only project underway.  CTA 4288 continues to see progress on its restoration.

    Here John is welding up some faux rivets on some new steel on the southeast corner of the car.

    Thee is heating the steel with the torch so it can be bent around the corner.

    Here the metal is being hammered into place while heat is still being applied.  Both Thee and John are very accomplished metal workers who did the work on 4451.

    Work continues on the north end of 4288 so that the final end dash can be installed.

    Here Jeff is sorting though the wiring on the #2 end.  I recall the CTA rapid transit rosters of the 1960’s having a footnote that the #2 end cabs of the married pairs of 4000’s were sometimes disabled.  4451 was not but 4288 was so all the control wiring will have to be recreated.

    After an exterior power wash on Saturday AE&FR 304 , here passing over the Stop 54 cattle run, made a couple of trips on Sunday August 23rd.

    On Sunday August 16th Ralph Taylor, assisted by Mike Gilles, started on-site work restoring the museum’s North Shore motorcar in the Maintenance-of-Way shed.

    A replacement piston and rod were reinstalled in the Fairmount model M-9 engine and the radiator taken home for cleaning and a new gasket.

    On August 8th, Ralph installed two signal bells on CNS&M 715.  They are reproductions, manufactured in the 1980’s which Jeff had acquired to replace the makeshift bells the car came to us with.  Hopefully we will someday be able to obtain the correct Adlake bells that were used on this car, but in the meantime, we now have a reliable system for conductor/motorman  communication.

    Here 715 is climbing up out of Track 2 onto the mainline with Bruce Kuhnhofer at the controls.

    Passengers on 715 were masked and sitting apart on another journey into the past on a Sunday afternoon.

    On Sunday August 23rd Ralph put the first coat of paint on the North Shore motorcar engine after securing the head.

    The cleaned-up radiator was returned as well.  Now the ignition system needs attention before the one lug engine can be mounted back onto the car frame.

    Ralph and Mike lug the engine, which needs a second coat of paint, into the Maintenance-of-Way shed after another Sunday of progress.

    It’s August 16th and the spraying of the cream color on CTA 4451 is underway.

    Professional painter Kyle lays down the cream on the letter boards and window posts of the carefully masked car.

    Under all that masking 4451 is beginning to look like the proud rapid transit car that it is.

    During the week Cliff Blanck was installing the trim pieces for the flooring.  Jeff Bennett photo

    A week later the train doors on 4451 finally received their exterior green paint after careful masking.

    The tongue and groove flooring for 4451 has arrived and awaits installation.

    The new wood flooring is starting to be installed by Cliff from the isle towards the wall.  Mike Gilles photo

    Another view of 4451’s east side with the masking still evident.  The masking is kept in place until all painting is done.

    I never seem to get to the museum when the new flooring is not covered to protect from errant spray painting as this is what it looked like on Sunday August 23rd.

    Finally this portion of 4451 has got a good coat of paint on it.  Jeff was never satisfied with the finish he got so he passed the task onto Kyle.  Here the paint is curing into its protective, weather proof coat.  These are just some of the hundreds of steps necessary to bring the car back to operational status.



  • August 15, 2020 7:34 AM | Anonymous

    Locomotive 5 is pulling CNS&M 756 off of Track 5 for a run around trip to Coleman Yard so it can be pushed on Track 0 for storage along with CA&E 317.  Mike Gilles photo

    This is a view CTA GE 25-ton locomotive MS-65 is sitting unused and surplus at Skokie Shops on the day Jeff Bennett and Fred Lonnes inspected the locomotive.  Jeff Bennett photo

    Jeff’s company has a low boy trailer that could hold the locomotive so he had his employee Gerrick add rails made of large steel angle plates reinforced with wooden 2 x 4’s underneath to hold the shape.  Jeff Bennet photo

    Gerrick welded two special transition pieces on the trailer to meet the rail ramps.  Jeff Bennett photo

    It’s July 15th and the trailer is in the yard of the CTA’s Skokie Shops with a CTA ramp set ready to receive MS-65.  Jeff Bennett photo

    CTA’s Shuttlewagon S-124, using work flat S-602 as an idler car, pulls MS-65 out of the shop into the daylight.  High rail Shuttlewagons now take the place of MS-65 moving cars around the shop when 600 volts is not available and have the added advantage of being rubber tired so they can be driven out of the way.  Jeff Bennett photo

    MS-65 is being pushed up the ramp onto the trailer with chain binders at the ready to secured the locomotive.  Jeff Bennett photo

    And the idler flat is used to position the locomotive in the center of the trailer for best weight distribution.  Jeff Bennett photo

    After some extra parts were loaded it was about an hour’s drive to his facility in Crystal Lake.  Missing windows had been boarded up at Skokie Shops.

    Here we see the backend of the locomotive on the trailer.  It came equipped with snow plows on both ends along with a basket containing its original MCB couplers.

    This was the only window that did not have to be boarded up.  While the operator’s side window was boarded up it was fortunately found to be intact.

    After filling in holes from the old window attachment system, the boards were taken off and the whole rig was taken to a local glass company.   Jeff Bennett photo

    The glass technicians of LeWalt Glass of Crystal Lake, cut and installed the windows with new gasket material.  The owner Ken gave us a good price on this work and materials as well.  Work was completed in just one day!!  Jeff Bennett photo

    In an afternoon all the windows are installed but now we have to wait for the tractor to come back to pick up the finished job.  Jeff Bennett photo

    Ms-65 is back behind Jeff’s facility waiting for the next steps to get it running.  Both snow plows can be seen in this view.

    The backend looks much better with the new windows in.  Jeff and his crew spent a lot of time after this picture was taken going over the Cummins diesel engine, the generator, traction motor, air compressor, handbrake and other items that make the locomotive operational.  The rear snow plow had to be removed to gain access underneath the locomotive in this process.

    It is Saturday August 8th and Jeff is giving member Connor Ladley final instructions as the now operable locomotive is ready to go to its new home in South Elgin.  Fortunately the locomotive is small enough that special permits were not needed to make all the highway moves.   Lorrie Nevens photo

    And away we go South Elgin as seen from Jeff’s tool ambulance.   Jeff Bennett photo

    Shortly after arrival at our unloading area along Highway 31 at the north end of the mainline in South Elgin on a sunny summer morning.  Now the unloading work has to begin.   Lorrie Nevens photo

    Perched on the trailer we can see one of the Ohio Brass form 5 couplers that makes this locomotive unique and useful to the museum as it can move any of our all-electric CTA cars as well as crane flat S-314.

    The museum’s shorter transition ramp is chained in place and the locomotive’s engine has been started up as the headlight is on.

    The final chain binders have been undone and now MS-65 is ready to move off the trailer onto the rail with Jeff at the throttle.

    And onto the ramp, the scariest moment of all. Live Video available on our Facebook Page

    Coming down the ramp onto the rails of its new home.  Lorrie Nevens photo

    Heading across the driveway for the first time.  Connor took the air horn apart, cleaned it up ahead of time, so it could sound the grade crossing signal.  Unfortunately, the bell disappeared years ago at Skokie Shops so now we have to find a replacement.

    This is the engineer’s side of the locomotive.  The window cranks down just like an old automobile on our 1942 locomotive.

    And this is the blind side.  The cab is not very roomy as the engine compartment protrudes into it on this very compact “critter”.

    The lowboy trailer was next moved to the parking lot where CTA S-314’s crane was fired up to remove the rear snow plow from it.

    Next came an extra set of Ohio Brass form 5 couplers, modified to fit MS-65, just like the ones currently on it.

    Finally the basket containing the MCB (Master Car Builder) or railroad couplers that came with the locomotive when it was built for moving standard freight cars.  All these items are stored on S-314’s deck for the time being.

    After all the unloading was done it was time to take a first trip on the locomotive.  We went down to the Stearns Road Bridge and back as Jeff didn’t want to run it too much since the chain lubrication system was not in place.  It has since been installed.  A large chain transfers power from the rear axle to the front axle.

    The brakes seem to be a little abrupt and after an in-yard test run the unit was tied up on Track 5.  Some journal box shims, which appear to be worn, are causing the wheels to be a little out of tram or alignment, which in turn is causing the brakes to pull more on one side then on the other.  One shim was removed for use as a pattern for more to be made up to remedy this problem.

    MS-65 is not the only show at the Museum as work continues on CTA 4288.  The #2 cab controls have been removed by Jeff so that the new metal skin can now be attached.

    The lower side sheet of 4288 has had the green paint removed.  Repairs will go on section by section instead of the whole side after lessons learned on 4451.

    Here Fred Lonnes is explaining about camber to metal technicians John and Thee who have been fabricating and making the repairs to the car body, frame and doors.

    Ralph Taylor has removed the south controller from CA&E 316 as he continues his work to rebuild the end floor.

    This shows you how much rot has taken place and why this project is so important to car 316.

    On CTA 4451 Cliff Blanck has laid down the second layer of plywood sub floor through out the car.  The next step is to start putting in the hardwood flooring the seats sit on.

    In this view you can see the kingpin cover and large bolt heads associated with the bolster which supports the center bearing of the truck.  The final layer of floor will cover the bolts but the kingpin cover will remain visible.

    The sub floors are in on both vestibules and here we see the #2 end cab controls back together waiting for the final flooring and then the interior painting.

    Sunday August 9th saw the first operation of AE&FR 304 this season.  This was made possible in part by moving CA&E 317 from Track 4 in front of the barn to Track 0 so CA&E 458 could be moved from Track 3 to Track 4 and thus finally enabling 304 to make it out of the barn.   Mike Gilles photo



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..

Contact us:

General Information (847) 697-4676

Event and Ticket questions (847) 380-6121

365 S La Fox St, South Elgin, IL 60177           

P.O. Box 315

The Fox River Trolley Museum is an IRS 501(c)(3) Illinois Not for Profit Corporation.
Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. 

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