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  • 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. 

  • April 04, 2022 6:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thee has set up a comfy work platform for the many many hours of tar removal ahead

    A panoramic pic was snapped by Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett to give you the understanding of just how many windows there are to address.

    Joe C and Mike and shuffling some panels that were able to be removed out to John where he is working at the bench

    The lightening arrestor for 316 had completely disintegrated from age and rot. Joe C is making an new box for the replacement component.

  • April 03, 2022 6:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CA&E 316 was built in 1913 with two oval windows about mid car. One side was removed and boarded over during it’s service life. Joe C. has taken on the task of recreating the window opening on the west side where it was removed. An oval stained glass window is being replicated by an outside vendor currently.

    Manny has been knocking out many different wood stripping and prepping jobs. The last couple weekends have kept him busy with arm rests.

    Look carefully here… April and it’s snowing like crazy. Joe and Jeff had to snap a selfie with the huge snowflakes in the background.

    So on to the roof of 316. A project that we were not going to even start until many other things on this restoration fell into place…. Well things are moving along well with all the other projects, so upstairs we go.

    During the final years of the 43 years CA&E 316 was in service for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban electric railroad, layers and layers of roofing tar was slathered on any leak that arose. This was to avoid the expense of reroofing the car.

    Many of the leaks emanated from the upper stained glass panels and ventilators. Knowing that in some places there would be 2-3 inches of tar that had to be hand removed from the mahogany and stained glass panels, this task has been a daunting one. 

    Thee and Jeff worked together to devise a plan to remove some of the panels so they could be serviced on the bench. The rest of the upper window structure that can not be removed will be hand stripped….. ugh

  • April 03, 2022 6:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kyle was able to use the propane fired furnace to safely heat the interior of CA&E 458 to finish painting the main cabin ceiling.

    So pretty!

    And speaking of painting, Fred B. and Thee are mixing up 12 gallons of canvas paint for the first coat on 458.

    Fred-The Mad Scientist at work!

    458’s body has been completely masked and plastic covered so the coming roof paint work doesn’t spill over onto the car

  • March 28, 2022 6:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With all the different projects and groups working together, we are doing our best to continue cleaning and organizing things. Below Mike and Thee are putting away a CA&E control stand that was left along the wall by 316. 

    Continuing efforts are underway to maximize the efficiency of the space we have. The back two corners of the barn are where we have our tools, machines, and supplies. We are organizing things back here to allow for some much better working arrangements.

    Here’s just a few of the shining faces that make things happen around here.

    Left to right, top then bottom;
    Mike G. Big Ben, Jeff
    Andre, Joe C. Thee

  • March 27, 2022 6:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hey look! It’s Big Ben!

    We all love to see Ben, cuz he just shows up outta the blue and says, “what needs doin”. Just like all of us in the car department, Ben will do anything needed, and today that was unscrewing the clamps from the discarded canvas pieces of 458, so they can be stored for the next roof.

    Joe C. has been working hard on getting the west exterior side of CA&E 316 cleared of car siding that will not be needed once the stained glass arches are in, and Mike G. has been his faithful sidekick. Here Mike is making one of about a hundred trips to the dumpster. 

    Here it can be seen that all the filler panels and letter boards are off of 316 to make room for the arched stained glass windows.

    View from the other end of the car with all un-needed stuff removed.



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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