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  • 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!

  • July 21, 2022 7:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our beloved Caboose needed a replacement coupler installed on the south end.

    Over the years and years of going back and forth as the crowd favorite "Caboose Train" it simply had worn to the point is was no longer usable.

    LUCKILY, we have some spares from the our Swift Refrigerated cars and one was dug out by Jeff and Connor. Following a good clean up and inspection, the assembly was found to be in great shape. So for a good portion of the weekend, Jeff, Connor, and James Tarbet worked to remove the old draw bar / coupler assembly and install the replacement.

    Turned out great, and test run proved perfect operation! Watch the calendar for Caboose Days coming up, and come ride with us

  • July 17, 2022 7:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    And here is on happy and pooped guy! 458 roof is DONE! Poles and all! (Pole went in shortly after this selfie)  

    Mike Gilles and Jeff Bennett worked through some crazy hot temps to get this job done!

    eff and Connor are attending to some brake adjustments and repairs on CTA 4451

    Thee and John finished stripping the old floor out of 458 this past weekend 

  • June 20, 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There’s Thee smiling pretty for the camera!  He is doing a great job fabricating all the custom wood parts needed to rebuild the roof of CA&E 316.

    Mike and Jeff pull the trolley bases for CA&E 458 outside to assess their condition.

    Well upon inspection it was found that one base, made by Ohio Brass, had badly worn pivot pins and brass bushings. A complete tear down and rebuild was required. Below Jeff is using the drill press to drill out seized retainer pins.

    And we have a two-for-one shot here. The freshly rebuilt trolley base and Thee on the band saw making more custom wood pieces for 316.

    This picture shows a great detail of what we have been doing to rebuild 316’s roof. We are working new wood in with the old.  Reusing every bit of original “fabric” of the car that we can.

  • June 20, 2022 11:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CA&E 458

    458 had the final coating of black wood penetrating wood epoxy during the week. Here you can see Mike and Thee working them up ladders to to Jeff and Fred B. on the roof.

    Thee has made it up with yet another trolley plank board, while you can see Fred B. preparing the ventilation holes.

    Jeff shooting a selfie while catching his breath from placing the boards in various positions on the top of the car.

    Finished for the day! All three roof ventilators have been mounted and sealed by Fred B. The trolley plank boards have all been placed, cut and secured to the roof saddles, and the flanges for the trolley cable harness and roof mounted air horn are now all installed.

    Basically the roof is ready for trolley bases, and to run the main power cables! Great day of progress. 

    In the background off to the far left you can see John finishing up the roof rebuild on the east side of 316.

  • June 07, 2022 11:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CA&E 316

    Mike and Jeff crawl under 316 to get all the specs and measurements on 316’s main reservoirs that need replacement. 

    Roof Color

    Another large section of original canvas is found on 316 that has the maroon color. 

    Gathering up this weeks parts to go out for sand blasting and painting by our professional painter and metal worker Kyle. 

    The corners of the roof / tack molding area on 316 are made of custom cut pieces. Thee has used a large piece of wood, cut it down, and traced the pattern we need, using a combo of the old pieces and measurements from the car. Here he is cutting out his piece on the band saw. Very time intensive for one small piece. 

    CA&E 458
    Earlier in the day Mike and Jeff cut the upper trolley boards to size for 458. Then they were laid out to have the ends squared up which Mike is doing here.
    Before leaving for the day, Jeff applied the first coat of another FRTM special recipe paint. 

  • June 06, 2022 10:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CA&E 316

    Here’s a good shot of the under structure of the upper roof as Thee is replacing and reinforcing carlines on 316. 

    The soffit over hang of the upper roof of CA&E car 316 most all of it had to be replaced. The over hang was 90 percent rotted top and bottom. We were able to save the tack edge.

    Several pieces of what we believe to be the original canvas has been pulled from under the flashing.

    There have been questions on what color roof the CA&E would have painted this car while it’s body wore the “coffee and cream” color scheme. From all the pictures of the car from that time period, not that there are a ton of pictures, all are in black and white.  So, it is not easy to tell the roof color from the photographs.

    During the Museums' research, many knowledgeable folks have stated the roof would have been maroon. Others simply weren’t sure. I think the proof is in the pudding here. Multiple areas of original canvas has maroon paint on them, so as of right now that’s the plan!  The roof will be painted maroon.

    Jeff helping John and Thee to pound out some roof work on 316. With the nicer weather as of late, we are light on volunteers.

    CA&E 458

    The drip edges are mostly installed on 458 as of June 4th. One drip edge was missing from the car, so we called our good friend and metal worker Leo Metz. He promptly came over to pick up a sample and said he will have a replacement fabricated and ready for us next weekend!

  • May 31, 2022 10:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Another long shot taken from the top of 458, shows the progress of the new wood installed on the top section of 316. 

    And the reason we were on 458 was to paint the entire roof with the rubberized paint. 

    Here Jeff is just finishing up the touch up work around the roof saddles of 458. 

    And then the perimeter of the car where the canvas racks on, just under that is slight overhang. Normally we wouldn’t go to the trouble of getting that area a good coating of rubber paint, BUT this car when finished will be stored outside. So every outside stored car we do, we take extra steps to make sure it’s water tight. 

    These are the horns going out for a quick sand blasting and paint job. Then back to the roof of 458 next weekend. 

  • May 31, 2022 10:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our ever faithful helping hand Mike G. is watching roof garbage come down the garage shoot into the can that he shuffled out to the dumpster about 40 times! He got his steps in that day!

    And here’s where all that garbage was coming from. More than half of the entire upper roof of CA&E 316 was either rotted, or needed support structural repairs, so off it came.

    The entire length of the car required tear off and replacement. 

    Repair and Maintenance on CTA 4451
    Jeff Bennett here is hanging out with Fred Lonnes and Ralph Taylor on Track 2.
    All three are working on 4451. It got cranky and decided it wasn’t gonna run.
    Fred and Ralph skillfully and quickly isolated the the problem to loss of battery voltage from the Edison cells. Once they opened the battery box, loose and corroded connections were found. New terminals and some washers took care of the problem.

    While the box was open we topped off the water in the batteries. 

    Mike and Jeff got all the roof saddles installed on CA&E 458.

    Next we will be ripping down the oak boards for the runners and painting the whole roof with our custom rubber paint. 



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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