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  • February 06, 2022 11:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thee and John just about have the smoker interior stripped. Another two full days… gotta be getting close to primer huh?

  • February 06, 2022 10:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Here’s one update that’s been a long time coming! 

    CA&E 316’s ceiling panels are all installed!

    Jeff, Andre, James T., and Mike rebuilt the entire roof structure over the last couple weekends. Every single piece that the new panels would touch and attach to was reinforced and built up to the correct angles to receive the new custom made panels.

    Andre is fitting the last panel in above the bathroom in the main compartment.

    Smoker section with both panels in.

    Every panel up!

    And the money shot! Still plenty to do, but what a wonderful step completed.

  • February 06, 2022 10:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sunday Jeff and Mike dedicated the day to installing several of the recovered rattan seat cushions into CA&E 20. 

    Jeff unloading the seat bottoms from our faithful “trolley ambulance”. 

    Every cushion was marked prior to removal by Joe Hazinski. As Mike shuffled the cushions back into the car Jeff placed them into their respective location.  

    Each seat mechanism was in need of something!

    Here pointed to on the left, new bump stops are being installed. The old stops were leather, and mostly rotted and missing. New heavy rubber stops were installed.

    Being pointed to on the right, it can be seen were some welding was required.

    Many of the complete seat frames needed to be removed for service on a bench. Kyle and Mike removed them. Kyle took them to his shop, where he was able to make many repairs. Being that many parts are cast iron, the process is extremely difficult. 

    Kyle was able to fix all the issues, reinstall the frames, and test their functionality. This is a massive success, as many of the walkover seats have been inoperative for decades. 

    So now the tricky part.
    MANY of the lower cushions had been altered or worn over the years due to the failed or failing seat mechanisms. Now that everything is fixed with the frames, it turned out that several cushion bottoms needed to have reinforcement bracing removed or relocated. Getting them all to fit correctly as they were originally designed to was quite the task!

    Here the outer edges on the sides were replaced and altered somewhere in the past to accommodate a failing seat frame. The particular cushion required both outer pieces to be removed and remade “on the fly”. 

  • January 31, 2022 11:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Damin helping organize parts as they are removed from 316’s ceiling  

    Jeff at about 8pm on Sunday.  A long weekend of re-wiring all the lighting circuits in 316 comes to an end with all wires pulled into the main cabinet, attached at all points in the wood runners, and leads all hanging where the fixtures will go.  James Tarbet and Mike Gilles were instrumental in helping to get this massive undertaking done in one weekend. It was certainly a three person job.

    Andre and Mike are jacking the ceiling back up in this picture and splinting the cracked carlines. It seemed that where the three aisle dome lights were mounted, the weight cracked the very dry wood, which lead to the roof slats cracking, and then the sag. A series of jacking and splinting brought the ceiling structure completely in line once again.

    This image gives you a small idea of how the wiring for all the light circuits works it’s way through the car.  It’s all in the ceiling in channels, and must be installed prior to the ceiling panels.

    Look carefully down the sides of the ceiling run.  All new shims have been installed by Mike and Andre to accommodate a perfect mounting surface for the new panels. Many hours were also spent by Andre reinforcing the carlines, both in the ceiling and the car card area. 109 years have left many of the wood pieces so dry they have cracked away from their original nails. Hundreds of new fasteners were installed and some new wood, until every piece of this inner structure was rock solid  

    Thee and John worked all day Saturday and Sunday on 458. Continuing the interior prep work for paint. The bathroom was worked on extensively, and had the sink, mirror, light fixture, and soap dispenser removed. This was done because all those items are extremely fragile and needed to be away from the work zone. Also with them out a much better prep and paint job will be able to be achieved. 

    Fred Lonnes worked with Jeff consulting on several things, then went to his track duties. 

    Kyle brought back one of the seat frames for 20 that needed extensive repairs. He spent the day inside 20, installing the one seat frame that he had repaired and removing several others that need repair. They are quite intricate, and have many moving parts that have worn over the last 120 years!  

    Fred Biederman just about has all the screw holes in 458 drilled and tapped. Another whole day was dedicated to that by him.

  • January 26, 2022 11:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Here we have the seat work being performed on CA&E car 20's rattan seats. Riverside Upholstery in West Dundee has been contracted to do the rehab of the seat frames, and then recovering them. The internal springs are supposed to be held partially compressed by what used to be canvas. The decades have taken it's toll, and the canvas has mostly fallen apart. In the pictures you can see the new polyester binding being used to hold the springs compressed at just the right depth. Upon our visit with them this week, they have successfully completed all the regular seat bottoms, as can be seen leaning up against the wall. The backs are being worked on in the pictures. Every seat needed some sort of internal attention. The crew at Riverside has done an amazing job of thoroughly rehabilitating the frame work, prior to the excellent recover job!

  • January 26, 2022 11:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It may have only been 5 degrees outside, but the crew in 316 is on fire! Damin is helping to organize parts removed, pack and store them. James and Andre are continuing the disassembly of the south end to get the car to a point that is solid to affix the new wood to. Jeff was working on removing the lighting wires. All new overhead wiring is being installed, and the old must come out first.

  • January 24, 2022 11:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    2022 the year of massive ambition in the car department… here’s a sneak peak at CA&E car 20’s seat restoration project. Rafael from Riverside Upholstery has been contracted to do the rattan recovering. Here Jeff, the Chief Car Officer is inspecting and approving a sample. Stay tuned, this is gonna be huge!

  • January 21, 2022 6:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Floor in, bolted in, and raw edges sealed up, the three that spend most of the day on this felt a celebratory selfie was in order.

    And here's where the dirty work was. Respirator required! John, Thee and Kyle worked both days or the weekend, all day long with orbital sanders, working on knocking down the existing paint, rust, corrosion, etc, for the application of first coat of primer.

    I promise John and Kyle are down there at the other end, sanding away, just too much dust to see!

    Fred Biederman was again methodically working this way down the walls of the car, drilling and tapping holes from screws that broke upon removal.

    Jeff and Manny also removed both brake stand valves, as well as the two removable ones from the triple valve, to be sent out for professional overhaul. Didn't get any pics of this.

  • January 15, 2022 6:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The most exciting thing to be seen in the car barn in a long time, TWO heater ducts. Why is this exciting you say? 

    Well this weekend with temps as low as 10, we had 11 volunteers onsite working over the course of the weekend! This is an amazing and exciting milestone for us. 11 dedicated people that braved the cold to come out and work on three different cars this weekend. Massive progress was made on all three, so here we go...

    Mike G. handing out seat cushions from CA&E 20

    Fred Lonnes and Jeff Bennett very proud of themselves for devising the 2x4 technique to remove the seat backs

    Jeff being called away to another project, Mike stepped right in and continued

    red Lonnes surveys the car, as he has just heaved out the last cushions to Thee, Jeff and Mike, who were hauling them to the transport vehicle. Fred has many memories of different tasks on this car, as he first started coming to the museum in 1963!

    So now the real fun. The seat mechanisms required massive cleaning, and you can see here our newest volunteer Manny Dunn has quite the set up going to get the decades of gunk out.

    Seeing a dirty job, Jeff couldn't wait to jump in and helped with the cleaning. There will be many repairs required so that all the seats flip back and forth correctly. These will be done by our metal magician Kyle, while the cushions are out being overhauled and recovered.

    nd as always... Mike is cleaning up after the mess that Jeff made... What in the world would we do with him?

    Thee is staging the cars worth of cushions so we could get them all in one load in the "Trolley Ambulance"

    Having biscuit joined and cut this massive piece of oak for the floor repair at his shop, Andre is now seen here doing some final adjustments before dropping it in place

    Jeff is holding the piece so Andre can make an area that needs a bit more belt sanding.

    Andre continues to make the fit perfect.... Jeff continues to get cold... lol

    Success, it's in. Now James Tarbet is handling the chisel work. The heads of all these bolts are square, and must be recessed below the surface of the floor. This was accomplished the good ol fashioned way, chisel and hammer.

  • January 12, 2022 11:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Some additional update pictures of the interior restoration of car 458

    Cushions removed and car being cleaned out to remove the seat frames.

    Fred working on removing a seat frame.

    Main compartment empty of seat frames as work starts to remove the seat frames from the smoking compartment.



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. 

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