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  • 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. 

  • May 31, 2022 9:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Here we have John working on the EAST side of 316. John and Thee made a genius plank system between the car and the barn wall. The area is too narrow to get traditional scaffolding in there so they improvised!

    John is holding one of our inferred stripping guns that makes the tar removal so much easier. Also it can be seen the canvas has all been stripped on the lower roof as well. 

    While working on top of CA&E 458, Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett snapped a picture of the roof work being performed on CA&E 316.

    Thee has finished rebuilding the NW corner and has moved over to the east side to work on wood replacement.  John worked on tar removal and window sash repairs.

    Great shot here by Jeff from the roof of CA&E 458. Here is Mike Giles shuttling tools and materials up to Jeff who is working on saddle installation for roof boards on 458.  Thee, in the background on CA&E 316's roof, is replacing massive amounts of rotted roof panels. 

    Jeff, obviously happy with the recent installation and completion of the canvas on CA&E 458, snaps a chalk line down the center of the roof to start installing the saddles.  Jeff snapped this selfie to document his excitement!

    Another great view of just how much is involved in CA&E Car 316’s restoration work.

    We are saving as much of the original “fabric” of the car as possible, so the whole restoration is spot repairs and reinforcements. 

  • May 31, 2022 9:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Continued work on Chicago Aurora and Elgin car 316

    Here, Thee makes his way down the west side of the car, removing tar.  He  found a lot more rot.   As shown here, many spot repairs were needed on the roof.

    In this picture, the oval window hole has been re-framed into the car. The other (east) side has the existing one, but the west side was removed and sided over sometime during its life with CA&E. We are putting it back to “as built” condition.

    Somewhere along the line Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett made time to visit our vendor in Chicago to approve the seat cushion frames that are being made completely from scratch for CTA 4288.

    They looked great and are being made for the whole car. 

    This is the upper stained glass “tilt in” hinge with hardware that will be used to again allow all of the upper windows to work as built.

    HUGE thanks to Connecticut Trolley Museum for donating enough of these to outfit every upper sash window on car 316. 

    While John and Thee continue to strip, what seems like endless amounts of tar from the lower roof, Fred B. is removing the upper roof hardware. 

  • May 31, 2022 6:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    News from the Jeff Bennett and the Wizards working on the three restoration projects at the Museum's AC Williams barn

    CA&E Car 316

    He we see the roof of CA&E 316. Covered in inches of tar, that was applied over the years of service by CA&E. We started in April to address the roof. Our goal is to strip the entire thing, and rebuild with whatever we can save. 

    Thee is methodical with his work. You can see the upper stained glass area in this one section has been stripped to bare and prepped wood. Each section like this takes between 4-8 hours. 

    Andre is fitting the replacement posts into the south end of 316. 

    Seeing as there are three doors within this vestibule and we are splicing new wood into old, it took a great deal of time to make sure everything went back together correctly. But here it is!

    Kind of a long view short here of Thee making progress on the roof restoration one the west side. 

    Another quick view of massive fitting efforts that went into post replacement. 

  • April 20, 2022 10:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Mable is back!
    Our annual visit from her is once again upon us. Maybe she came with the Easter Bunny! We also watch carefully for her arrival and cordon off the area she chooses to make her nest. Look close, she is next to the guard rail on the switch.  She really blends in, and her eggs are speckled like the gravel too!

    Mabel's eggs

    Andre finished installing all the south end custom made corner posts on CA&E car 316. Quite a massive undertaking getting them property fit for strength and fitment.

    Joe C. Installed the custom sash for the west side oval window that we are reinstalling, to be as the car was originally.

    Thee has been banished to the roof of 316 for days and days. He has finally made it to the north end, cleaning and repairing the upper roof stained glass and performing any needed roof repairs as he goes.

    And good ol’ John, painstakingly cleaning each piece of stained glass, one tiny section at a time! The man has the patience of a saint!

  • April 13, 2022 8:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As part of a major investment in our demonstration railroad, The Aurora Elgin and Fox River Electric Company Railroad, the Museum contracted with Volkmann Railroad Builders to replace 500 regular ties, replace 46 switch ties, and smooth out or surface 2000 feet of track north and south of Wards Bridge.

    Acting Roadmaster Fred Lonnes reports that Today's task of raising/surfacing the track approaching Wards Bridge started. 

    Shown in these picture is the initial part of the work, the south side approach to Wards bridge.  New rock was dropped and the tamping machine put it under the ties.  The amount of rock needed was significant as the distance that needed to be raised to meat the bridge level was more that meets the eye.  Each approach is around 750 to 1000 feet.  Some spots needed to be lifted 8 to 10 inches.

    The original estimate for ballast needed was woefully inadequate.  Thanks to Jeff Bennett, additional ballast was picked up from the quarry and delivered to the Museum site. 

    Tomorrow the Contractor will be addressing the north side of the bridge.

     After this is done we will need to clean up/dress the area to top off the cribs and shoulders.

  • April 12, 2022 6:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thee is applying the first coat of canvas paint to CA&E Car 458's roof canvas.

    Fred Lonnes is installing a derail device on to the most used barn lead to provide and extra layer of safety for volunteers inside.

    Connor Ladley is working on sanding one of dozens of window ratchet boards. He ended up getting them all done after several hours

    Yes I think that I see Fred L smiling! He is obviously pleased with the paint work transpiring in 458. Being Fred is the main project consultant/manager on this restoration, we lean quite heavily on him for knowledge and assistance…. Mike is standing by waiting for Jeff to make a mess… lol

    Joe C is restoring the ceiling mounted mahogany bases for the ceiling dome lights in 316

    Joe, Tom, and John and all working different stations to keep cranking out panels for 316. Stripping, sanding, repairing, and cleaning each on is a massive undertaking. Good thing we have so many helping hands!

  • April 11, 2022 6:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett was assisting James Tarbet in some group switch repairs on 715 when he was called away for some very important business.

    Jeff’s daughter Rylee arrived and wanted some high school pics with dad at the trolley museum. Rylee Bennett has volunteered for years at the museum.

    Here was have Rylee and company, Alex on the left and Triston on the right, with proud papa in the back. 



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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