Education Through Demonstration

Log in

  • September 15, 2020 5:41 PM | Anonymous member

    The cab side panel going on CTA 4299 on August 30th.

    Here is the front corner completed and primed on September 4th.  Previous reports presented photos of this corner being rebuilt.

    This view shows the heavy side sill repair work done to replace critical steel.  The area under the side door pockets was always a location of heavy rust due to rain water flowing off the side doors when they were opened.  We hope the other three door pockets are not as bad but we now know how to deal with them if they are.

    On Labor Day September 7th, Doug Rundell made a return to active car work after surgery.  Here he is removing old horsehair insulation from the area behind the car card portion of the ceiling.

    An overall view of the interior of 4288.  It is hoped that it will not have to be torn down as much as 4451 was but there are areas where the floor will have to be replaced.  We have some seat handles but we might have to have a number of them cast up.

    This is the inside view of the #2 end where the handbrake is and is the opposite side of the first photo in this series.  The refurbished train door is in the process of being rehung with two of the three hinges installed as of September 6th.

  • August 28, 2020 12:56 PM | Anonymous member

    In this series we start off with CTA MS-65 as James Ham and James Tarbet working on removing the journal box shims as per Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett’s direction.   Mike Gilles photo

    James Tarbet put in a good two days removing all the shims and degreasing the four journal box areas.  The next step is to install replacement shims to square the two axles so that they are in alignment.  Jeff Bennett photo

    With the receiving of a generous donation, work was started on removing the paint from AE&FR 5 by needle scaling in preparation for priming and painting.  Jeff Bennett photo

    On Saturday August 22nd, AE&FR 304 was moved out of the car barn so 5 could go inside for prep work and eventually spray priming and painting.  Mike Gilles photo

    By Sunday the headlight bezels were removed and more than 90% of the locomotive had been needle scaled.  The radiator louvers will be a harder item to do.

    As is usual 5 was not the only project underway.  CTA 4288 continues to see progress on its restoration.

    Here John is welding up some faux rivets on some new steel on the southeast corner of the car.

    Thee is heating the steel with the torch so it can be bent around the corner.

    Here the metal is being hammered into place while heat is still being applied.  Both Thee and John are very accomplished metal workers who did the work on 4451.

    Work continues on the north end of 4288 so that the final end dash can be installed.

    Here Jeff is sorting though the wiring on the #2 end.  I recall the CTA rapid transit rosters of the 1960’s having a footnote that the #2 end cabs of the married pairs of 4000’s were sometimes disabled.  4451 was not but 4288 was so all the control wiring will have to be recreated.

    After an exterior power wash on Saturday AE&FR 304 , here passing over the Stop 54 cattle run, made a couple of trips on Sunday August 23rd.

    On Sunday August 16th Ralph Taylor, assisted by Mike Gilles, started on-site work restoring the museum’s North Shore motorcar in the Maintenance-of-Way shed.

    A replacement piston and rod were reinstalled in the Fairmount model M-9 engine and the radiator taken home for cleaning and a new gasket.

    On August 8th, Ralph installed two signal bells on CNS&M 715.  They are reproductions, manufactured in the 1980’s which Jeff had acquired to replace the makeshift bells the car came to us with.  Hopefully we will someday be able to obtain the correct Adlake bells that were used on this car, but in the meantime, we now have a reliable system for conductor/motorman  communication.

    Here 715 is climbing up out of Track 2 onto the mainline with Bruce Kuhnhofer at the controls.

    Passengers on 715 were masked and sitting apart on another journey into the past on a Sunday afternoon.

    On Sunday August 23rd Ralph put the first coat of paint on the North Shore motorcar engine after securing the head.

    The cleaned-up radiator was returned as well.  Now the ignition system needs attention before the one lug engine can be mounted back onto the car frame.

    Ralph and Mike lug the engine, which needs a second coat of paint, into the Maintenance-of-Way shed after another Sunday of progress.

    It’s August 16th and the spraying of the cream color on CTA 4451 is underway.

    Professional painter Kyle lays down the cream on the letter boards and window posts of the carefully masked car.

    Under all that masking 4451 is beginning to look like the proud rapid transit car that it is.

    During the week Cliff Blanck was installing the trim pieces for the flooring.  Jeff Bennett photo

    A week later the train doors on 4451 finally received their exterior green paint after careful masking.

    The tongue and groove flooring for 4451 has arrived and awaits installation.

    The new wood flooring is starting to be installed by Cliff from the isle towards the wall.  Mike Gilles photo

    Another view of 4451’s east side with the masking still evident.  The masking is kept in place until all painting is done.

    I never seem to get to the museum when the new flooring is not covered to protect from errant spray painting as this is what it looked like on Sunday August 23rd.

    Finally this portion of 4451 has got a good coat of paint on it.  Jeff was never satisfied with the finish he got so he passed the task onto Kyle.  Here the paint is curing into its protective, weather proof coat.  These are just some of the hundreds of steps necessary to bring the car back to operational status.



  • August 15, 2020 7:34 AM | Anonymous member

    Locomotive 5 is pulling CNS&M 756 off of Track 5 for a run around trip to Coleman Yard so it can be pushed on Track 0 for storage along with CA&E 317.  Mike Gilles photo

    This is a view CTA GE 25-ton locomotive MS-65 is sitting unused and surplus at Skokie Shops on the day Jeff Bennett and Fred Lonnes inspected the locomotive.  Jeff Bennett photo

    Jeff’s company has a low boy trailer that could hold the locomotive so he had his employee Gerrick add rails made of large steel angle plates reinforced with wooden 2 x 4’s underneath to hold the shape.  Jeff Bennet photo

    Gerrick welded two special transition pieces on the trailer to meet the rail ramps.  Jeff Bennett photo

    It’s July 15th and the trailer is in the yard of the CTA’s Skokie Shops with a CTA ramp set ready to receive MS-65.  Jeff Bennett photo

    CTA’s Shuttlewagon S-124, using work flat S-602 as an idler car, pulls MS-65 out of the shop into the daylight.  High rail Shuttlewagons now take the place of MS-65 moving cars around the shop when 600 volts is not available and have the added advantage of being rubber tired so they can be driven out of the way.  Jeff Bennett photo

    MS-65 is being pushed up the ramp onto the trailer with chain binders at the ready to secured the locomotive.  Jeff Bennett photo

    And the idler flat is used to position the locomotive in the center of the trailer for best weight distribution.  Jeff Bennett photo

    After some extra parts were loaded it was about an hour’s drive to his facility in Crystal Lake.  Missing windows had been boarded up at Skokie Shops.

    Here we see the backend of the locomotive on the trailer.  It came equipped with snow plows on both ends along with a basket containing its original MCB couplers.

    This was the only window that did not have to be boarded up.  While the operator’s side window was boarded up it was fortunately found to be intact.

    After filling in holes from the old window attachment system, the boards were taken off and the whole rig was taken to a local glass company.   Jeff Bennett photo

    The glass technicians of LeWalt Glass of Crystal Lake, cut and installed the windows with new gasket material.  The owner Ken gave us a good price on this work and materials as well.  Work was completed in just one day!!  Jeff Bennett photo

    In an afternoon all the windows are installed but now we have to wait for the tractor to come back to pick up the finished job.  Jeff Bennett photo

    Ms-65 is back behind Jeff’s facility waiting for the next steps to get it running.  Both snow plows can be seen in this view.

    The backend looks much better with the new windows in.  Jeff and his crew spent a lot of time after this picture was taken going over the Cummins diesel engine, the generator, traction motor, air compressor, handbrake and other items that make the locomotive operational.  The rear snow plow had to be removed to gain access underneath the locomotive in this process.

    It is Saturday August 8th and Jeff is giving member Connor Ladley final instructions as the now operable locomotive is ready to go to its new home in South Elgin.  Fortunately the locomotive is small enough that special permits were not needed to make all the highway moves.   Lorrie Nevens photo

    And away we go South Elgin as seen from Jeff’s tool ambulance.   Jeff Bennett photo

    Shortly after arrival at our unloading area along Highway 31 at the north end of the mainline in South Elgin on a sunny summer morning.  Now the unloading work has to begin.   Lorrie Nevens photo

    Perched on the trailer we can see one of the Ohio Brass form 5 couplers that makes this locomotive unique and useful to the museum as it can move any of our all-electric CTA cars as well as crane flat S-314.

    The museum’s shorter transition ramp is chained in place and the locomotive’s engine has been started up as the headlight is on.

    The final chain binders have been undone and now MS-65 is ready to move off the trailer onto the rail with Jeff at the throttle.

    And onto the ramp, the scariest moment of all. Live Video available on our Facebook Page

    Coming down the ramp onto the rails of its new home.  Lorrie Nevens photo

    Heading across the driveway for the first time.  Connor took the air horn apart, cleaned it up ahead of time, so it could sound the grade crossing signal.  Unfortunately, the bell disappeared years ago at Skokie Shops so now we have to find a replacement.

    This is the engineer’s side of the locomotive.  The window cranks down just like an old automobile on our 1942 locomotive.

    And this is the blind side.  The cab is not very roomy as the engine compartment protrudes into it on this very compact “critter”.

    The lowboy trailer was next moved to the parking lot where CTA S-314’s crane was fired up to remove the rear snow plow from it.

    Next came an extra set of Ohio Brass form 5 couplers, modified to fit MS-65, just like the ones currently on it.

    Finally the basket containing the MCB (Master Car Builder) or railroad couplers that came with the locomotive when it was built for moving standard freight cars.  All these items are stored on S-314’s deck for the time being.

    After all the unloading was done it was time to take a first trip on the locomotive.  We went down to the Stearns Road Bridge and back as Jeff didn’t want to run it too much since the chain lubrication system was not in place.  It has since been installed.  A large chain transfers power from the rear axle to the front axle.

    The brakes seem to be a little abrupt and after an in-yard test run the unit was tied up on Track 5.  Some journal box shims, which appear to be worn, are causing the wheels to be a little out of tram or alignment, which in turn is causing the brakes to pull more on one side then on the other.  One shim was removed for use as a pattern for more to be made up to remedy this problem.

    MS-65 is not the only show at the Museum as work continues on CTA 4288.  The #2 cab controls have been removed by Jeff so that the new metal skin can now be attached.

    The lower side sheet of 4288 has had the green paint removed.  Repairs will go on section by section instead of the whole side after lessons learned on 4451.

    Here Fred Lonnes is explaining about camber to metal technicians John and Thee who have been fabricating and making the repairs to the car body, frame and doors.

    Ralph Taylor has removed the south controller from CA&E 316 as he continues his work to rebuild the end floor.

    This shows you how much rot has taken place and why this project is so important to car 316.

    On CTA 4451 Cliff Blanck has laid down the second layer of plywood sub floor through out the car.  The next step is to start putting in the hardwood flooring the seats sit on.

    In this view you can see the kingpin cover and large bolt heads associated with the bolster which supports the center bearing of the truck.  The final layer of floor will cover the bolts but the kingpin cover will remain visible.

    The sub floors are in on both vestibules and here we see the #2 end cab controls back together waiting for the final flooring and then the interior painting.

    Sunday August 9th saw the first operation of AE&FR 304 this season.  This was made possible in part by moving CA&E 317 from Track 4 in front of the barn to Track 0 so CA&E 458 could be moved from Track 3 to Track 4 and thus finally enabling 304 to make it out of the barn.   Mike Gilles photo

  • August 07, 2020 8:02 AM | Anonymous member

    1. Jeff Bennett is spraying body filler on a section of the west side of 4451 to make the surface more uniform before sanding it and applying more primer and green paint.

    2. The south end of 4451 is masked in preparation for spraying the cream color.  It takes planning and skill to mask and paint the different colors inside and out.

    3. Sheets of plywood stand at the ready to be installed as sub flooring in 4451.  Two layers of the plywood go down to be followed by tongue and groove lumber to make up the finished floor.

    4. Cliff Blanck has put the first layer of plywood down over the metal subfloor during the week of July 19th.

    5. Throughout the car the first layer is installed except over the two truck bolster areas which get covered by the second layer.  All this has had to be replaced because of rot caused by water leaks into the car before restoration was started.

    6. This is the southeast door in the #2 end vestibule of 4451 in white primer waiting for the brown interior paint.  The amount of priming and painting necessary is impressive.   

    7. Out back behind the barn Jeff is priming wood spacers needed to install the sides windows in 4451 so the next interior and exterior colors can be applied.        

     8.  On 4288 we have been fortunate that the side sliding doors have limited rust damage that only require spot repairs.

    9. Here two patches have been laid out and await careful welding in place on the northwest door of 4288.  Care must be taken so that the heat of the welding process does not warp the door surface.

    10. This is the steel subfloor at the north or #2 end of 4288.  If you look carefully you can see the layers of wood flooring in the bulkhead doorway to the main seating compartment.

    11.  Ralph Taylor has removed the air brake and sleet cutter piping from the south cab of 316 as he makes progress in his task to rebuild the floor and end of the car.

    12. Chris Nelson is using the Case tractor to pick up the remaining ballast in the pile in the parking lot.

    13. Here he is coming up the driveway to unload the stone into the EZDumper.

    14. Once all the stone is loaded it will be taken to finish ballasting Track 0 which then can be used to store cars currently parked on the car barn leads.

    15 A rain barrel has been installed by Jeff Bennett under the downspout of the maintenance of way building rain gutter.  This water is used to keep the freshly planted ornamental grass healthy as it takes root and propagates to cover the area between the mainline and Track 0.

  • July 22, 2020 8:47 PM | Anonymous member

    First we take a look at photos of the progress on CTA 4288.  It is June 28th and work has started on replacing the #2 end body panels.

    All the corner and door posts need replacement and was easier to replace the whole lower end panel than trying to patch the rusted out bottom panel.

    On July 5th the new panel is in place.

    Here we see the inside with the handbrake staff back in place as well as a new sub floor which required replacement of some underlying frame members as well.

    The motorman’s side is off on July 19th as efforts move along.

    The side door was taken down and it only needed a little repair along the bottom edge, a welcomed relief, especially compared with 4451’s side doors.

    Later on the 19th the panel was cut and fitted but now needs permanent fastening to the car’s frame work, a job for another work session.

    A change of pace.  A neighbor’s phone call to the depot on Saturday July 11th reported a tree limb down on the feeder cable just north of the IC bridge.  Damin Keenan photo

    Jeff Bennett and Mike Gillis along with Damin Keenan took the motorcar train down to the site with the necessary tools.  Damin Keenan photo

    First they haul the large step ladder into the downed foliage.  Damin Keenan photo

    Next Mike grabs the chain saw off the push cart.  Damin Keenan photo

    Carefully Jeff cuts the offending limb from the still standing tree.  Damin Keenan photo

    Finally the limb is free of the tree but more work is necessary to clear the track zone.  Damin Keenan photo

    Now the limb and its branches have to be cut in manageable pieces.  Damin Keenan photo

    Then the pieces have to be dragged out of the way.  Damin Keenan photo

    The track and feeder are finally clear but some more clean up needs to be done before the crew can return to Castlemuir and the line reopened for operation.  Damin Keenan photo

    CTA 4451’s #2 end gets it first coat of green paint.  Jeff Bennett photo

    Here Jeff is masking the inside of 4451 so another color can be sprayed.

    The east side is in dark primer waiting the spraying of the green.  Jeff Bennett photo

    Here the #2 end is getting sanded down for another coat of green as Jeff is pretty particular about how the finished surface should look.

    Inside the window trim has been sprayed after the ceiling was covered with plastic.  Jeff Bennett photo

    The lower west-side and #1 end are now in green.  Jeff Bennett photo

    The interior is masked in preparation so the next interior and exterior colors can be sprayed.

    A week later the #2 end and side door are in their final green colors.

    Ralph Taylor is starting to disassemble the south end of CA&E 316 so that the floor timbers can be replaced just as he did the north end many years ago.

    With the help of others Jeff got the engine cover back on CTA S-314.  Here he is installing the air filter for the diesel.  Several controls had to also be reconnected during this process as well.

    Its boom fully extended and fully raised; it is easy to see that S-314 will be handy in setting line poles.

    AE&FR 5’s #2 engine has been troublesome so Jeff with Mike’s help are attending to the problem.

    Jeff is removing the fuel pump/governor for repair.  It loses its prime from the fuel tank and starves the injectors of fuel which in turn shuts down the prime mover.

    And here is the device.  While they were plentiful and common in the 1980’s it now takes someone with special skill and experience to repair and rebuild them and Jeff hopes he has found that person.  5 deserves to be healthy and up to full strength once again.

    CNS&M 715 running as an extra on July 19th as train operation is returning to a more regular pattern.  Face masks for all and cleaning of the cars after every trip continue to be requirements for the foreseeable future.  New rule qualified operators are starting their practical training.

  • July 13, 2020 2:44 PM | Anonymous member

    This is a sign printed and placed on the building:

    This is the WAYNE station of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban and originally was located on the west side of the right-of-way, which is now the Illinois Prairie Path, at its crossing of Army Trail Road in the Village of Wayne.  It went into service on May 26th, 1903 when the Elgin branch of the original Aurora Elgin & Chicago high speed, third rail powered interurban from Wheaton was placed into service.  While the CA&E called all is passenger structures “stations” this building was actually a waiting shelter as there was no agent on duty as one would purchase their ticket at a station with an agent or from the conductor on the train.  This structure is a little more elaborate than most CA&E waiting shelters with its unique roof line and finished interior.  After the CA&E freight operations were shut down in 1961 and the railroad salvaged, the shelter was moved to a residential back yard for use as a shed.  Fortunately, it was only slightly modified in this capacity.  A member tracked down this building and found that it was destined to be destroyed as the new owners of the property no longer wanted it.  Arrangements were made to purchase it and move the building to the museum to beat a removal deadline.  The museum is currently researching how to best interpret this historic gem and raising funds for its stabilization and restoration.  Photos and recollections of the shelter when it was on the CA&E are appreciated.

    1- This photo shows the WAYNE station about 1903 when it first went into service on Aurora, Elgin & Chicago with a car headed to Wheaton and eventually Chicago.  Alfred W. Johnson photo

    2-      Here car 401 heads towards Elgin around World War II.  The passenger semaphore and platform light are visible in this view by an unknown photographer.

    3-      Here is the repurposed shelter early in 2020 in a backyard as member James Slattery found it.

    4-      Our neighbor Leo Metz took this photo the day of its arrival at the museum.

    5-      Unfortunately, the depot was set down facing the wrong direction in relation to our trackage.  Leo Metz photo

    6-      A head on view of the side which faced the CA&E Elgin branch the first time I saw the building.

    7-      It was set on timbers awaiting its final placement.

    8-      An end view when the decorative “shutters”, placed there by the last owner, have been removed along with the flower box, another post CA&E add on.

    9-      Here Cliff and Jeff are working on jacking the shelter up so it can be temporarily placed on a trailer to rotate it 180 degrees.  Mike Gilles photo

    10-   Jeff is carefully turning the shelter around in the parking lot as it is perched on his company trailer.  Mike Gilles photo

    11-   WAYNE sat on the trailer for a week while a deck was constructed to accept it.

    12-   The deck stands ready to accept the shelter as the Case tractor stands by.

    13-   It was pulled off the trailer in steps as cribbing was built up for it to side on.

    14-   The backhoe was used to slowly pull the false frame constructed around the base.  In this photo the shelter is finally on the deck.  The tractor had to be reset several times to get it on all the way.

    15-   Part of the all-day project to get the shelter on the base was cleaning up all the blocking and false work so the trailer could be removed.

    16-   As WAYNE stands in its new home at the museum where it is being studied to determine how to best restore the shelter accurately and use it as an educational tool.

    17-   This is a little taste of the inside which was finished with interior walls and a ceiling, a rarity for CA&E stop shelters.

    18-   The door is original and if it could talk, the stories it could tell, having outlasted the interurban line it was built to serve.  All our CA&E cars passed this shelter countless times and once again they will have that opportunity.

  • June 26, 2020 4:50 PM | Anonymous member

    Trainmaster Damin Keenan motoring CTA 43 southbound in the Coleman Yard on Sunday June 21st.

    43 heading south towards Blackhawk in Coleman Yard which will be the site of tie replacement during the week of June 22nd.

    Northbound under the Stearns Road Bridge, this time with no stop for “whistle testing” due to social distancing requirements under current pandemic conditions.

    On June 16th Barbara Bennett led a crew from Roberto Landscaping in planting dwarf ornamental grass plants between the mainline and Track 0.  Jeff Bennett photo

    This grass hopefully will propagate and act to keep erosion in check on this slopping bank between the tracks and at the same time not needing mowing or whacking.

    In this view there could be a photogenic angle to capture our cars returning to Castlemuir on the mainline.

    Some work has been underway on diesel W&SR 73.  The old batteries have been removed and heavy duty 12 volt units in series have been installed.  The Sterling prime mover has been started and some repairs made but on Friday June 26th it was determined that cooling system will need major repairs before work the locomotive can operate.  Jeff Bennett photo

    CTA crane S-314’s boom has received black stripes and the engine housing has been repainted as this useful unit is made more presentable.

    Work continues in the car barn on the #2 end of CTA 4288 with one panel removed.

    The corner posts and door posts at this end of 4288 have been stabilized with temporary braces so that the rusted out bottoms can be replaced and the end made solid again.

    Jeff has sprayed layers of the ceiling finish coat on CTA 4451 finishing one of the hundreds of tasks that need to be completed to get this car back in service.

    A worker is sanding down body filler being used to mask the seams between new and old metal on the side plates.  Once this is done some more primer goes on before the final color paint can be applied.

    A retaining wall has been installed where the bank along Track 2 collapsed and slid towards the car barn wall.

    On my inspection hike on Sunday June 21st I was amazed at how much repair work was done to the abutments of Ward’s Bridge.  This work was ordered after an annual FRA mandated bridge inspection turned up issues that needed attention.  All of our bridges are now good.

    Volkmann Railroad Builders’ combination self-propelled tie crane/inserter and a tie cart at rest on the recently completed Track 0, awaiting tie replacement project on the mainline.

    Here the tie crane/inserter is at work installing relay switch ties in Switch 21 on Monday June 22nd.  Doug Rundell photo

    The Volkmann front end loader picks up a bundle of ties in the parking lot on Wednesday.  Their supply of 500 standard ties arrived late so museum owned ties were installed to keep on schedule to get 400 ties replaced called for in the contract.  Mike Gilles photo

    At the driveway the bundles were loaded on the tie cart for transport where they are needed to be installed.  Mike Gilles photo

    Spike pulling out of old ties was still done the old fashioned way by the Volkmann crew.  Mike Gilles photo

    This is one of a number of photos Jeff took of our local coyote inspecting the property on June 16th.

    On Sunday June 21st  just as I was leaving the coyote came out from behind the car barn and sauntered across the old ball field on his way to the river bank probably looking for something to eat.  We have to remember that we share our museum with more than human visitors.

  • June 17, 2020 1:06 PM | Anonymous member

    A painter contracted by Jeff Bennett is painting CTA crane car S-314.

    The boom of S-314 was fully extended so it could be painted as the yellow dries on a Sunday afternoon.

    It’s Saturday and Jeff is bringing up another load of ballast in the EZ Dumper for the Track 0 project.  Mike Gilles photo

    Mike and Fred Lonnes bar over Switch 20 so Jeff can deliver the ballast.  Jeff Bennett photo

    Fred watches as the ballast gets closer to it destination.  Mike Gilles photo

    It is Sunday and the switch stand for Switch 20 is in service complete with a switch lock.  For years this switch had been spiked so it could not be moved.

    Chris Nelson brought out a track level, an important tool used to make sure the rails are level when tamping the track up.

    Here Fred and Mike use a track jack to raise the east rail while Chris watches.

    Tamping begins with Fred and Chris manning the electric Jackson tampers while Art Lempke takes a brief restbit, and I mean brief, from shoveling ballast where it is needed.

    A view of the tamping crew and their tools at work.  This will be the first pass as after the track settles over time, tamping will have to be done again to get the level surface back.  A couple old ties did not come up with this lift so Chris, Art and another new member, who’s name I can’t recall, replaced those ties and then ballasted and tamped them as well.

    It’s the end of the day and Track 0 is completed.  It is now ready to receive the contactor’s equipment which will be used during the week of June 21st to replace 400 ties in the mainline and Track 2 to keep our trackage safe for operation.  CTA 43 and her sisters 45 and 40 are laid up on Track 1.

    Here is the plastic shield in place at the ticket window.  Agent Laura Taylor would only let one customer into the museum store at a time to make a purchase.

    A family about to descend the Castlemuir high level platform after completing a round trip on 43.

    Another family, with their masks on, waits to board while the car is turned and sanitized.

    Conductor Doug Rundell tells the story of the Forest Preserve extension to our visitors while motorman Bruce Kuhnhofer turns the car.  This was a capacity trip with ten total riders, the current CDC/Illinois State limit.

    Back at Castlemuir Day Manager Doug wipes down the seats, railings and stanchions for the next trip.  While I have no numbers, ridership was better this last weekend as the museum continues to operate in a restricted mode.

    Jeff gives Doug and Damin Keenan a quick tutorial on operating our new motorcar which we decided to call BSA (Boy Scouts of America) 973 which was recently donated to the museum.

    Here Mike is looking down at the innards of BSA 973, a Fairmont motorcar originally built for the Union Pacific Railroad and later decorated by troop 973 as a project for the last owner.

    Mike was looking down at Jeff who was under the car (that’s his legs sticking out) while he was fixing the electrical system so the lights would work.  Mike passed him tools and parts during this process.

    One of our portable toilets was replaced last week.

    It has a hand-washing station attached to it, one of the items needed in order to reopen during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • June 10, 2020 1:41 PM | Anonymous member

    Our Castlemuir depot is set up for covid-19 safe ticketing.

    Stanchions mark six-foot spacing points before boarding on the high-level platform.

     The first trip of 2020 returns to Castlemuir with CTA 43 doing the honors.

    Our first three paying passengers descend the mainline high-level platform.

     New member George Barreto wipes down the railfan seat in 43 (courtesy of Doug Rundell).

     Doug Rundell and George continue to sanitize the car before the next run.

    Member Bud Wilkening with his mask on, awaits to take a ride on our second trip.  Members are on standby as only ten persons are allowed per trip.  On this trip we had only one paying passenger so three of us rode.

    Member Bernie Kamenar, motorman Dan Kelly and day manager Doug taking layover time at Blackhawk as trains were running on schedule rather then on demand as we usually do.

    Doug explains to potential passengers that they have to board at Castlemuir.

    George posts a notice explaining the temporary operating procedures.

    The covid-19 notice as posted at the Jon Duerr Forest Preserve platform.  The restrooms were still locked at Blackhawk even though there was heavy use of the grounds by the general public.

    The family of three from the Forest Preserve boarding at Castlemuir while the crew checks for tickets.

    The next family keeping a safe distance come up the high-level platform stairs.

    Jim Tarbet, Doug and George, all wearing their face masks waiting for their departure time at Blackhawk.

    “Make way for ducklings” in the area of Timepoint 53 caused a minor delay to northbound car 43.  It took a little time for mother duck to get her four or five ducklings to leave the track zone and head down towards the river.  Our six passengers got a chance to see the duck family from the train door.

    Northbound car 43 passes over the 54 stop cattle run, one of four bridges on the line.  I could see that all three cattle runs have been repaired by Summers Construction and I suspect the Ward’s Bridge abutments have also been repaired but they are pretty hard to see from the train.

    Ed Konecki observes Fred Lonnes and Chris Nelson operate our Racine rail saw making the last cut to fit the rail for the completion of Track 0.

    Here Fred and Mike Gilles set up an electric rail drill to make the holes in the web so bolt up can be done.

    The rails are line up for the last joint on Track 0.

    Finally the joint bars are bolted on.  Now the track has to be gauged and spiked down so that ballasting and surfacing can take place.

    At the end of the day we see all the rails together on Track 0 while the motorcar and track tools are on the mainline heading for the Maintenance Of Way building for storage.

    While all the passenger operations and track work were going on, Jeff Bennett was busy in the car barn laying down layer after layer of epoxy primer inside and out of CTA 4451.

    4451 now in all white primer, protecting all the old and new steel from rust, pending continued work to complete the car and its final painting.  Lots of etching and solvent wiping down takes place before the primer can go on, a process that will have to be repeated when the final colors are applied after windows are reinstalled and new wood flooring installed.

  • June 03, 2020 12:15 PM | Anonymous member


    Loco 5 is coupled to CTA S-314 on Track 3 North and a brake test is being performed by Jeff Bennett and Mike Gilles.

    The train is ready to depart for its first assignment, in decades, at the Fox River Trolley Museum.  Much work has proceeded this move as the Perkins diesel engine that powers the crane had to be rebuilt and the brake system on the car serviced and tested.

    Here the hydraulic diesel-powered crane is rotating out to rail stored along the right-of-way near Timepoint 53.

    Mike goes in to set the rail dog onto the center point of the first rail to be picked up while Art Lemke stands ready with the control line as Roadmaster Chis Nelson watches.  It became obvious that rail has to be picked up at the balance point so it can be safely controlled by the guide line.

    The second rail picked is being set down on the deck.  Jeff is at the controls of the crane.

     A third shorter length of rail is being moved to the deck with Art steadying its swing with the guide line.  A fourth rail was also loaded from this location.

    The crew is now going for a fifth and last rail at one of the rail piles in Coleman Yard for the trip back to Castlemuir.

    The last rail loaded is the first to be unloaded at Track 0 at Castlemuir.  The Perkins diesel engine does have a red metal shroud but it was deemed a good idea not to apply it on this first shake down run just in case adjustments were needed.  Fortunately, everything went well.

    The first rail is down on the ties.  The sub station was turned off so that the overhead would not be alive.  Jeff was always very careful and never got close to the wire during the whole process but safety first!

    All five pieces of rail are now down on the ties and Chris will have start bolting them up and spiking them down.  In this construction process the ends of the rail will have to be cut to size and new holes drilled for the joint bars.  The museum’s rail saw and rail drill have both been serviced and are ready to go.

    Jeff and Mike cover the diesel engine with plastic pending installation of its shroud.  It was a successful first outing of CTA S-314 as the day’s goal was accomplished safely.  Like all museum rolling stock it will need some tweaks but we now have some experience with the unit and we are confident that it will be a very useful tool in the future.



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 (312) 473-0993

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. 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software