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  • September 19, 2022 8:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our beloved NSL Silverliner finally into the barn for FRTM to do another award winning restoration!

    CTA 4288 stripped to bare metal for epoxy primer to be applied this week!

    The canvas roof got finished the weekend of 09/17 - 09/18/2022 on 4288

    Some much needed trimming done along the line with a hy-rail bucket truck and hy-rail chipper, contracted by the museum with HRH Rail Services 

  • September 16, 2022 7:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thee is reinstalling the overhead access panel with new fasteners in the north end of CA&E 458.  This work is in anticipation of the first coat of epoxy primer being applied any moment.

    Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett and steadfast right hand man Mike Giles took 458 for a test run just a few days ago. Quickly found one retriever was malfunctioning. Below you can see that when Jeff took it apart, the main “retrieve” spring had failed. Jeff was able to make repairs with parts on hand

    Sneak peak,,, look at that shine

    Told ya any moment. Here’s Kyle applying the epoxy primer to the south motorman’s compartment

    Mike is masking and painting the last step well on 458

  • September 15, 2022 7:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The next car restoration is Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 1930 Interurban Trolley 756.   These photos show the first steps of moving 756 into the Allan C Williams car barn to start the project.

    Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett, with the crew of Mike Giles and Connor Ladley, took NSL 756 southbound on our line to do a run-around at Coleman siding, and upon the return northbound trip were lucky to have encountered a CN freight train.

  • September 14, 2022 7:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There is a lot going on at the Allan C. Williams car barn with activity on CA&E 316 and CTA 4288

    Here, Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett has a big smile of joy having Eric at his side to unexpectedly jump start the restoration of CTA 4288

    Two happy guys! Jeff Bennett and Eric Zabelny spent a whole day clearing out 4288’s contents so the restoration could again start moving. Having just finished, smiles all around.

    CA&E 458 has been at the cusp of its first test run for weeks now.

    This will be the first time out and down the line with its new roof, poles, and brakes.

    Our horns were in desperate need of service as they sounded a little sad. Well when it comes to air horns here at Fox River, there is one guy we all think of, Superintendent of Operations Mr. Patrick Storm. The guy never saw an air horn he didn’t like! So one quick message to him and down he came to the barn. Tools in hand he climbed up and gets right to work. Thanks Patrick!

    Mike Giles smiles and is clearly happy at the weekends progress with CA&E 316’s south end air brake control installation.

    Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett, here with Mike Giles, spent the entire weekend cleaning and rebuilding these two brake valves for CA&E 316, then custom fitting all new piping to the valves.

    Here you can see Jeff working into place all the newly cut, threaded, and bent galvanized piping on the freshly rebuilt and cleaned brake valve.

    All this was done IN-HOUSE!

  • September 07, 2022 6:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New Track 2 High Level Platform

    The material for the new Castlemuir Track 2 platform was recently delivered to the Museum Campus.   Construction has started on the platform footings as well.    The new platform will start at the north end of the Track 2 brick platform and will have a ramp up to the level of the car boarding on track 2.

    Photo by Doug Rundell

  • August 22, 2022 12:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Welcome Eric Zalbeny!
    Eric comes to our humble museum with not only the love of everything Chicago L, but with extensive experience in 4000 style car restoration. This works out fantastically, as we have CTA L car 4288 that is dead in the middle of a complete restoration! Eric wastes no time in jumping into the project! Great to have you Eric!

    AE&FRE Locomotive 5 has had ailing issues with its #2 engine for years. Never enough to take the locomotive out of service, but certainly has been on the list of things to do.

    Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett and Connor Ladley have spent the last couple weeks getting to the bottom of the issue, once and for all.

    Turned out to be a few things, but the major one was the fuel injectors. They were really bad! One so bad it was broken into two pieces internally. Parts in the cylinder heads were also in need of replacement. 

    New injectors were ordered and the repair was completed. All the other little things it needed were attended to as well. Engine two now runs great, with no cranky issues! 

    It was decided that proper “four corner column lifts” were in order to continue the Car Departments great work and efficiency. 

    Chief car officer Jeff Bennett, seen above riding the rails with ease, delivering the electric column jacks one by one to the barn.

    Jeff found a seller in Toledo Ohio with a set that fit the bill nicely! Jeff’s daughter Rylee, who is now 16, was quickly taught how to drive the truck with a gooseneck trailer and she was sent to retrieve the jacks. (Rylee did a fantastic job making the run, and is looking forward to the next road trip to pick up stuff for dad).

    Here these beauties are! We can now put one of these at each corner of anything we have in the fleet and lift it as one complete car!

    This is truly a game changer for us! Stay tuned and check back often to see these in use. 

  • August 21, 2022 12:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Work is moving a full throttle on Chicago Aurora and Elgin 458.

    Here you can see the end of car train door threshold rebuilding that is taking place.  Once the old rotten wood was removed from the threshold, it revealed some rot on the car body.  The car body rot needed attention. On the right you can see the badly rotted / rusted out panels of the door way and threshold.  On the left you can see the rebuilt body steel primed and painted.

    Meanwhile, the train door also needed some rebuilding. The water intrusion rotted out the bottom of the door, but no fear, replacement wood and metal has all been installed.

    Here Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett is working with Thee, to rebuild some brake valves for 458. Thee is learning all the details that go into servicing one of these complicated units!

    John labors away at paint removal in one of the motorman compartments.

    Here’s a close up of the extent of the car body rot around the train door.

    And a close up of the final repaired section of the car body around the train door.

  • August 21, 2022 11:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett is installed a newly rebuilt brake valve on CA&E 458

    John and Thee are continuing on repairing the rot damage in the thresholds

    Jeff back under the car to work on the main brake valve assembly. There is a lot of contaminates in the brake system from it sitting open for years, so every line and system has to be opened up and cleaned.

    Kyle giving the smoking compartment one last wipe down, with hopes to get a coat of primer on it today

    And John… poor guy, seems like he’s always chipping away paint. What can we say? He knows his work well!

    Mike looking up a Jeff, wondering what in the world will Jeff ask for next!

    The North end of 458 has had all the lines removed, cleaned and the rebuilt brake valve installed. 

  • August 21, 2022 11:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kyle made his goal. Here he is laying the base primer coat down in the smoker, to the walls and ceiling

    Nick Whitney must have pried that needle chipper away from John, because here he is working on paint removal in the north motorman’s compartment 

    This a nice close up of the mechanicals in the south vestibule. John did a great job getting all the old red paint off, even in these tight small areas

    Thee is cutting out yet another rotted section of the body. This time near one of the side doors.

    Oh look here’s John! He traded off the needle chipper for a welder! He’s welding in the replacement panels as Thee gets them fabricated.

    And Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett is continuing to work on getting the brake system on 458 to work properly, while three other work groups are also actively working on the car. We are really pushing hard to get this one back on the rails and into service!

  • August 21, 2022 11:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Latest on the restoration of Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 316 from the Allan C Williams barn.

    Here we have Joe C and Mike pounding away at the south end rebuild of 316.   Notice the splicing of new wood into the original wood - just like the old Wheaton Shops of the CA&E

    Those air tanks for the air brake system on 316, that were measured back a couple of months ago are expected to be in soon.  So Mr. Fred Biederman can be seen here torching off the old tanks.

    And success! Fred was able to cut them and lower them with Jeff’s help. Now just gotta get Fred out!



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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