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  • March 07, 2022 5:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sunday Andre and Jeff spent quite some time deciding how to replicate the side wall panels. They are quite detailed pieces, with inset wood, and intricate cut trim.

    We applied boiled linseed oil to some of the better panels to see how much they would come back to life.

    Some panels have extensive de-lamination from past water damage. Some have very little damage. 

    With a plan of attack, Andre removes the last remaining panel.

    It was decided that off site restoration of the panels was going to be the best solution. With the detail each panel has, and the fact that we plan to RESTORE each panel and not just replace it, a bigger working area is needed. Mike is hauling one of the many panels to Andre’s truck.

    And here Jess is finishing out Sunday in the bathroom! 

    With a plan for the wall panels in motion, I decided a demo of the bathroom walls and ceiling was in order.

    Things went pretty much as expected. Mike got the toilet and door off and out, and Jeff came in to remove some walls.

    Three out of the four walls have extensive water damage and will require complete replacement. Jeff started by carefully removing all the ornate trim, both above and around the oval window. Then went town on the walls. Rebuilding this will be pretty standard stuff, however Jeff did discover the floor is cement! Gonna have to decide what to do there….

  • March 06, 2022 5:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It was an amazingly productive weekend as the Car Department team went all out in the Allan C Williams Carbarn.

    FINALLY! What a marathon it was to get all of CA&E Car 458'interior stripped, but finally we all agreed that it was the best it’s gonna get!

    So off to taping and masking, in perpetration for the primer coat of paint. We are still ahead of the game, as it’s too cold to spray yet anyway, but as soon as Mother Nature gives us the green light, we will be some paintin fools!

    With the interior being masked by Kyle, Thee started laying out the burlap in preparation for the canvas that will cover the roof.

    Mike is helping to coil up the old roof harness. We will be putting new wiring on the car, but the terminal connectors on the old harness will be reused.

    Thee is putting in the last couple staples to loosely hold the burlap in place on the roof.

    And just before we shut down on Sunday, I shimmied up the “Tower of Terror” as we have come to call it, (CA&E's Wheaton Ship built rolling, homemade scaffold apparatus that is always an adventure to use), and shot these pictures of Thee’s handy work.

    Roof Canvas next weekend for sure!

  • February 27, 2022 6:37 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 CA&E 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 Andre is doing some light electrical, so we can correctly power our equipment. As some may remember, a few years ago now, the museum took a big leap and supplied the entire campus with 480 volt electrical service. The car barn being the biggest benefactor of this upgrade.  

    And 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

  • February 27, 2022 5:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With the inside of 458 continuing to have its paint stripped off to bare metal, Fred Biederman attacked the roof ventilator holes.

    Having gone over the layout and measurements, Fred went to cutting necessary holes in the roof to accommodate the ventilators. Once that was complete, he removed the roof cable harness, as new main trolley wiring will be installed.

    I TOLD JOHN TO SMILE. Think we’ve keep him in 458 too long!

    Now Thee on the other hand it quite the happy camper! Probably because they are now just about done stripping all the paint. Behind him you can see, everything is just about done.

  • February 26, 2022 6:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    More exciting news from Jeff Bennett and his team as they work on CA&E 316 in the Allan C. William Barn

    Welcome back Joe C.!  Joe was traveling for work and has been away for some time. Glad to have ya back!  Andre and Joe had to take one panel back down in the smoker. It just wasn’t fitting right, and they decided to investigate. 

    While we always try to use as much of the “original fabric” of the car, some times complete replacement of things is the only way. Andre and Mike had “splinted” many of the roof carlines to get the ceiling structure back in line. However, this particular section was just too far gone. One carline was completely replaced with a custom fit replacement. Another was doubled up on both sides with new ones. The final step was to jack the ceiling structure back into place and install fasteners. This final step is being carefully handled by Joe and Andre.

    “One small post for man, one GIANT leap for 316”  

    The custom fabricated corner posts were delivered by Greg from Chicago Window and Door Solutions on Friday, 02/26/2022.

    Joe and Andre are right at home working with wood, as they are both professional carpenters.

    I was amazed at just how much time and attention to detail it took for Andre (shown holding one post) and Joe to plan, then execute the installation of the post. We are very lucky to have these guys on this task!

    Guess Joe is happy to be back! Look at this guy, all smiles. He’s shaping the ceiling panels to the arched window opening, so the trim can be reinstalled. Jeff has about six of these installed so far.

    Manny diligently spent the whole day with the IR paint stripper, removing paint from the north bulkhead wall. We are finding amazing and beautiful woodwork everywhere. Manny likes to do working projects and has been extremely knowledgeable and helpful in this area. We now call him the “refinishing manager”. 

    Almost caught Mike in action.

    A couple sessions ago, James Tarbet removed all the stained glass pieces that were broken. This past weekend Mike made templates for each opening so Jeff can take and have our friends at LeWalt glass cut us new ones. We were able to source 12x8 stained glass plates, and have them on hand. When Mike and I looked at each other, deciding on which one of us was gonna cut them, we decided NEITHER. Let the professionals do it!

    In the back to right you can see Manny working away at that wall.

    Some new, some old, but all right as rain!  This is the compartment above the south vestibule, showing some of the wiring that has been done.

    Here Jeff snaps a selfie with his wiring work underway. If you look to the left you can see the wiring diagram I’m working of off.

    Days and days of diagramming, ringing out wires and then ultimately installing all new wiring for the lighting, as well as other systems, lead up to this day. This has been a group effort. Ralph Taylor and Fred Lonnes spent countless hours determining the wiring as it was and diagramming it. 

    Ralph acquired the special 1000 Volt rated wiring and donated it to the project (not cheap stuff either).

    Then Fred comes up with ORIGINAL wiring diagrams for the car! He was able to not only print me out the systems we were working on, but also provide digital copies!   

    Here was the happy crew on Sunday. Jeff, Andre, Joe, Mike, and in the way back, Manny, with tools in hand. 

    Mike and Jeff are loading the new ceiling panel trim pieces they just cut.

    Here it can be seen the trim pieces installed to cover the ceiling panel joints. Mike and Jeff worked for some time developing a system of installation.

    Mike, the water boy! Keeping the crew well hydrated!

  • February 20, 2022 6:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thee and John are cranking away at the paint removal on the interior of CA&E 458. Kyle and Fred Biederman were also in there with them a good portion of the day.

    The “original” plan was to sand down the existing paint and prime over top of it. However, many places throughout, the existing paint and primer were “popping”, basically losing their ability to adhere properly to the metal. No way are we going to lay down our epoxy primer and Imron paint onto a questionable surface! So the decision was made to take the entire interior down to bare metal.

    Kyle has a very aggressive barrel type sander, and we have needle scalers. So off to the races. Everyone either had a needle scaler or barrel sander and was going to town. Hindsight, we should have just gone down to bare metal right from the start. We wasted a ton on time sanding down paint, that we are now ultimately removing all the way. Live and learn I guess. Rather make the call now and just do it right!

    Kyle has been shuffling the walk-around seat frames 3 at a time to his shop for service, repair, refinishing, and lubricating. Here is one done. There are several more done. He’s probably halfway through. 

  • February 20, 2022 6:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Here we see Manny Dunn and Jeff working on trimming the ceiling panels so that the face trim can be reinstalled just below. It is the piece that covers the wire groves.

    The arched window openings have now all been cut out of the new ceiling panels.  

    Next, a belt sander was used to smooth the panels to the arch. All the paint has been removed from all the arched areas.  The trim pieces that mate the connection of the arch and the ceiling were painstakingly removed earlier.

    The crew then went through the process of repairing all the trim. The final step was to give them several coats of boiled linseed oil, and it’s a darn good thing we did! When we removed these pieces they were as brittle as could be, but now during reinstalling them, they bent and flexed, “kinda”.

    Here is installing a trim piece. It’s a slow process of installing one screw, forcing and bending the piece to the right angle, holding it there and installing the next screw. Each piece has 20 screws! We did not get all the arch trim in, as it’s about an hour per arch. We did get four done, and all the trim reattached just below the arches. 

    We also took the time to remove each vent diffuser for cleaning and service.

    Next, any piece of stained glass that needed attention was removed for later restoration.

    The ceiling is really flying along, thanks to all the great volunteers.

  • February 20, 2022 6:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A lot of activity took place this weekend in the Alan C. William car barn and foremost was get the rest of CA&E car 20's seats reinstalled.

    All CA&E car 20 seats are back in-house from our fantastic vendor, Riverside Upholstery in West Dundee. Great thanks to Joe Hazinski for seeking them out! They recovered the rattan cushions in just under a month!

    Here Fred Lonnes and James Tarbet are working the system of installing the seat backs in the smoker. The back cushions have metal channels inset on the sides and the seat frame arms have a mating track that when everything is lined up, the back is pounded down until it hits the stops in the track. This turned out to be very time consuming and required multiple people to allow for proper alignment.

    Mike Giles has been shuffling in seat backs and keeping each work team well stocked with whatever they yelled out for.  

    Jeff and Fred are working in the background on another back.

    In the background you can see the many successful installations.  

    A couple seat backs required the inset metal track piece to be removed and the wood holes have shims installed to allow the screws to be completely tight.

    Fred and James are seeing to the repair of one track.

    And now for the important part… THE TEST DRIVE.

    Everyone took a seat to thoroughly test the correct functionality of the seats!

    Jeff took the picture, and crew relaxed for a moment. Towards the back Fred Biederman came over from his work on 458 to lend a “test butt”. He also concurred everything was great!

  • February 14, 2022 11:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    After all the trim pieces were painstakingly removed that joined the arched upper stained glass openings to the ceiling panels, many hours were spent stripping the old paint off and giving the a rejuvenating coat of boiled linseed oil. The lowest piece shows what we started with, the middle one has had its paint stripped, and the top darker one has a good coating of boiled linseed oil.

    Last week all the ceiling panels were installed and this week the arched window openings were cut into the panels. Many tricks were used to mark where to cut, so Andre knew where to dig in with his hand held router. 

    Back to the trim pieces, a couple of them were so brittle they did not hold together during removal. James is here using the heater to aid in drying glue that was liberally applied to several pieces. 

    Another arched window opening being trimmed out. 

    We have been using the infrared paint stripping heaters extensively. Here it can be seen the progress being made on the north bulkhead wall. Very careful removal of paint over the doorway revealed the gold leaf lettering originally applied by the Jewett Car Co. 

    Here Jeff is working on one of the many arched window openings. The infrared paint stripper is being used. Each archway took about an hour to get all the paint off.

    A good picture of the ceiling panel as it looks after it’s final trim, but before any paint stripping.

    A close up of unstripped archway on the left vs stripped on the right.

    Once Andre finished trimming this panel, and Jeff finished stripping the paint, Mike and James went to work removing the ventilation diffusers.

    Most were filled with nests, mud wasps, and rodent homes, from the days the car sat outside. While up there, Mike and James also removed the stained glass pieces that were damaged, and prepped the opening for new glass. 

  • February 07, 2022 11:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    After a great Polar Express season, it was time to take down the Christmas decorations.   On Saturday, 02/05/2022, Event Coordinator Damin Keenan along with Fred Lonnes and Art Lemke disassembled the Elves North Pole apartments to put them away for the season.

    Here, the bracing has been removed and the flats are waiting to be loaded into Fred's truck to be hauled back to the events trailer.

    Art Lemke stacks bracing materials against the clock tower as the building flats are disassembled.

    Fred Lonnes uses a stake-puller to remove the stacks that anchored the building flats to the hillside.  His truck (parked on the sideway along Route 31) was used to carry the building flats down to the events trailer where they will be stored until the next Polar Express.

    Damin Keenan, takes a break from the work to document the the day's progress.

    Working in single-digit temperatures on a slipperly, snow-covered hillside was difficult, but the work needed to be done.

    While working on the building flats, we noticed that the stop sign at the end of our driveway had been knocked down.



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. 

Copyright 2022 - Fox River Trolley Association, Inc., All Rights Reserved

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