Saturday, August 28, 2010

Member's Picnic

Today was the day of our yearly Member's Picnic. So, needless to say, I spent a lot of time preparing for that today. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so if anyone has any pictures of today, feel free to forward them to me. I did spend some time working with Galen Semprebon, George Contrada, John Arel, and Xian Clere on the 0309 (154). We removed the clerestory boards that covered the windows. The windows are glue-glass windows in the clerestory, unfortunately, they have been painted over. One of the big problems is that the car is stored with seats that retain moisture and will continue to rot the car. Not anymore. We spread the seats out underneath the train shed to dry. Then they will be stored in a boxcar. I am not absolutely certain what the seats belong to. They definitely do not belong to the car. Some of them were possibly extras that we obtained in the early years of the museum when ConnCo went out of service. The others look like they came from a passenger coach. Now, we just need to remove all of the overhead and high-line hardware from the car and it will only have parts belonging to the car left in it.

Up in the shop, John Pelletier finished re-plumbing the Type 5's whistles. We just need to install the whistles, and that car will be finished.

Next weekend, we will begin work on setting up for Rails to the Darkside.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Car 771 Moves to Covered Storage

When I arrived at the museum Saturday, I went to the Train Shed and noticed the tarp was back on car 154 (0309). I was about to question why the tarp was put back on 154, when I realized that it was actually car 771. Car 154 had been moved into the Visitor Center and car 771 was moved under the Train Shed. Although car 154 is not the greatest looking car, it was moved into the Visitor Center to prepare for Rails to the Darkside. The car will probably get a coat of primer in the coming weeks and be cleaned out. Unfortunately, there is a lot of weight in the car from overhead components to seats.

Car 771 was moved under covered storage just in time. The car will need some work to stabilize it. It has a nasty twist in the car partially because the track it was sitting on was not straight, and partially because the northeast corner post is just about non-existent. Ben Wallace and myself spent some time pulling the tarps and pulling the clapboard siding off of the car. While tarps are great at keeping the rain and snow out of the car, in New England summers they trap the humidity inside the car. The clapboard siding on the cars did the same thing. Unfortunately, its a decision that we have to make when a car is sitting outside. Do we want the humidity to rot the car or the rain and snow? When we were taking the clapboard siding off, some of it came off way to easily, and actually took the covering of the corner post with it. Looking inside and outside the car, it was noticed that the corner post and post between the first and second set of windows on the north side of the car were both gone. Currently, the wall between the car and the vestibule seems to be bearing all of the weight. We will need to clean some space inside the car and put a 4x4 in place to brace the car until work can be done to permanently replace the corner post.

Galen Semprebon, Matty Doane, and George Contrada worked on removing the former Hartman Siding Lay-Up at Powerhouse Crossing. This had to be removed immediately in order for us to recreate the walkway from Powerhouse Crossing to the Visitor Center for Rails to the Darkside. Once the rails were removed, Matty began working on regrading it with the bulldozer.

When Larry Bryan showed up, we had an impromptu Rails to the Darkside meeting in the parking lot discussing plans for skits and animated props. Larry is working on a few things for Rails to the Darkside at home including designing a new poster. I will keep those all under wraps, so you will need to come to the event.

By the end of the day, George was working on cleaning up car 154. Galen, myself, Mike Savoie, Xian Clere, Amber Hurrle, and Andy Cotton worked to push the cars back in on Hartman's Siding and move the Long Island car back on to Hartman's. Car 451 is once again on the North Road Lay-Up.

John Pelletier was busy in the shop all day working on the type 5. The doors are opening and closing better and the gong on the west end of the car is working. Next weekend, he plans to install the whistles on the car.

Friday, August 20, 2010

303 Makes Maiden Voyage

Last night, the museum hosted the Tobacco Valley Chamber Alliance's Business After Hours. The event took a lot of planning, but was highly successful. Many businesses throughout the area came for the event, and the parking lot was full almost to capacity.

The museum was represented by Galen Semprebon, Jim Miller, Brian O'Leary, John Carter, Hugh Brower, Fred Stroiney, and myself. The operations department ran trolley service and we were lucky to have a large turnout of volunteers there too: Mike Caputo, Xian Clere, Ernie Anderson, Paul Gallo and Steve Mitchell. Both Galen and the town's first selectwoman gave short speeches and the Broad Brook Opera House Players sang in the theatre.

At the end of the night, I switched over to operations, something I do not normally do, and ran Aurora Elgin & Chicago interurban 303. The car was filled with passengers as we made our maiden passenger voyage with the car. 303 should be out again next weekend for the Members Picnic. Next year, we hope to have Train/Interurban Day on the first Saturday of the summer months. This would be when 303 would run as well as Centerville Albia & Southern box motor 101 with the train.

Photos by Frank Rossano

Saturday, August 14, 2010

After 61 Years Outside...

In 1949, ConnCo 0309 (Fair Haven and Westville curve side 154) was moved by the Connecticut Electric Railway out of the James Street Car House in New Haven, CT to the museum. This was the last time the car was stored inside. For the next sixty-one years, the car sat at the museum outside. It was unloaded at the Winkler Road crossing on a 50 foot section of track in the middle of the woods. It stayed there until the track was extended to Winkler Road. Then it was moved to the main property where it sat at the end of Hartman Siding. Today, the car was moved under cover again by Galen Semprebon, Matty Doane, George Contrada, and Ted Coppola. And it looks pretty good for sitting outside for the past sixty-one years.

Once the car was moved under the train shed, the tarps were removed. Under the tarps were wood sheathing and tar paper that covered the car. That was removed, and we looked around inside the car. Inside the car, we found many overhead parts including insulators, and parts such as seats to other cars.

I did not see it happen, but I am told that the broken gate at Winkler Road was replaced.

Because of so much going on at the front of the property, I did not get a chance to get to the shop to see what was going on up there. Tomorrow will be another busy day starting in the morning when we go out to Mansfield to pick up some of the tables and chairs from the BAR Caboose.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Time Capsule Back to 2003

Tonight, we actually entered the Mansfield Depot Caboose for the first time. The end doors of the caboose were covered with plywood so we had to take the plywood off. When I tried to open the door, it appeared to be locked from the inside. I had to climb through the side window to unlock the door from the inside. After I got inside, I realized how eerie it was to be in the caboose. The last people to be inside the caboose were people eating at the restaurant in July 2003. The tables were set for the next day. It was like we took a step back in time to 2003. For the most part, the interior is in excellent condition. The only problems noted was that the floor near the end with the fire damage is warped up, probably a result of the fire. The closet doors on that end will not open.

Outside the caboose, Xian Clere worked with Bernie Thompson, who owns the General Store across the street. Bernie brought his tractor over to generate power to run the sawzall. They were able to cut off the battery box and air handling unit.

Meanwhile on the back side of the caboose, I was able to remove the lean-too around the electrical boxes. We were able to use the length of triplex to pull down the weatherhead.

On Sunday, we need to disassemble the air handling duct work under the caboose, finish removing the electrical boxes, and start moving some of the stuff to the museum. We owe a great deal of thanks to Bernie Thompson, his wife, and two boys for their help and support with this project.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Preparing the Caboose for Moving

A few years ago, the Collection's Committee of the Connecticut Trolley Museum voted to look into acquiring the ex-Bangor & Aroostook Caboose out of Mansfield Depot, CT. The caboose was moved down to Mansfield Depot to be used as part of the Depot Restaurant. The entire interior of the caboose was gutted and refurbished as a restaurant room. Unfortunately, the restaurant suffered a devastating fire in July of 2003. The depot burned to the ground, but the caboose was saved. It has sat vacant since then. The idea behind acquiring this caboose was to use it for birthday parties and other functions.

Xian Clere took on the project of finding the owners of the caboose and leading the acquisition. Early this year, he found out that the caboose and property was owned by Canadian National Railroad. In February, we went to visit the caboose and took measurements and checked it out.

At the end of July, we received word from CN that the caboose was ours for a small sum and that we had to have the caboose removed by the end of August. This put the caboose project on the fast track.

Xian and I were able to get over there to begin cleaning up the area around the caboose to get it moved. We have removed a few small trees that were in the way, weed-whacked, and cleaned up a lot of broken glass and other trash. This week we will be getting a truck to move some of the materials inside the caboose and underneath it. We need to empty the caboose of the tables & chairs, and remove the air conditioning unit, battery box, & step wells. We will also need to disassemble the electrical shack that is attached to the side of the caboose. Luckily, the power has been disconnected so everything is dead.

Once the caboose arrives on the property, it will need the wooden siding replaced and windows replaced. The end that was attached to the depot will need a little more work because it suffered some minor fire damage. It is also missing the end platform, step wells, and ladders.

We still need money to accomplish this. Please consider making a donation to the BAR Mansfield Depot Fund. Donations may be mailed to Connecticut Trolley Museum, PO Box 360, East Windsor, CT, 06088.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hartman Siding Lay-Up Almost Clear

Saturday began with the goal of moving ConnCo 771 (Consolidated Railway 189) off of the Hartman Siding Lay-Up and on to the main siding track. Galen Semprebon and I started off the day by positioning the excavator and bulldozer to move ConnCo 1739 further down the track. After taking a break for a meeting, we were joined by Pat McCann, Matty Doane, and George Contrada and got 1739 into place.

We had decided to hook up the trucks of 771 with the trucks of ConnCo 0309 with a chain and pull them up together. Then we hooked a chain, actually a length of 4 chains, from the excavator to the front truck of 771. We pulled the consist about a half of a car length until we found out that the hooks on the new chains had exceeded their capacity and were bending. At that point, we disconnected 0309 and pulled 771 up the hill. We had to be very careful moving the car because the trucks were not totally complete. They were missing a few parts, such as a Journal Box.

Once we got to the special work, we had to hook the bulldozer up to one side to act as a brake, and the excavator to the other to keep the left wheels against the rail. This is the area where the Lay-Up was joined into the Visitor Center Lead. In order to accomplish this without cutting rail, we connected one rail at a joint. The other rail just ends and the wheels ride over a series of greased tie plates until it falls onto the stock rail of the siding. Its not built for high speed operation, but it will work to get the cars out. The whole Lay-Up track will be removed after this is done anyways. Car 771 made it through the special work much easier than 1739 had. 1739 took a couple of weekends to do, whereas 771 took only a few hours.

By 2pm, 771 was parked and we went after 0309. This was a little more difficult. We ran into a problem where the rails at a joint did not exactly line up. The rail that 0309 was sitting on was about an inch lower and an inch outside the rail it had to run onto. After greasing the end of the rail to allow the rails to slide along each other, I took a large rock and dropped it on the rail that was sitting too high. The good news is, the rail dropped into place like I was hoping for. The bad news is, the rail also cracked. To make matters worse, the wheels on the rear truck would not turn, and with the growth, it was very difficult to get to them. After taking a spike maul to the brake shoes, the wheels seemed to loosen up a little, however they were still dragging some. We then greased the entire tread of the wheels which greased the brake shoes and allowed the car to roll. The first wheel to go over the misaligned joint rode up on the head of the rail. We had to get the jacks out and jack the wheel sideways. However, the other three made it through fine and by the end of the day, 0309 was sitting just before going through the special work.

John Pelletier was busy in the shop replacing broken windows in the Type 5. With the help of a Community Service Volunteer, he made considerable progress in cleaning the shop as well.

After finishing the car moves, I found Ben Wallace building a new gate in the Main Hall of the Visitor Center. This gate will be replacing the broken one at Winkler Road. Xian Clere and I decided to stay and help finish the gate. We had hoped to install it, but by the time we finished building it at 10:30 at night it was a little too late.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Car 771 Ready to Move

Unfortunately I was away from the museum this weekend, so I did not get any pictures of work being done. But, after meeting with Galen Semprebon today, I found out that ConnCo 771 (Consolidated Railway 189) is ready to move! The car had been balanced on a set of trucks with blocking between the slider plates. A compromise center bearing was fabricated for each truck and they were installed. The car then had to be jacked and shifted to sit on the center bearing properly and journal brasses were added where they were missing. Next Saturday, I will be getting to the museum bright and early to help Galen move the car off of the Hartman Storage Track. The storage track needs to be cleared and 0309 and 771 need to be moved to the Visitor Center before we start Rails to the Darkside in October.

Up in the Shop, John Pelletier installed a window frame that he rebuilt for ConnCo 1326, replaced the glass in two broken windows, and did some work to the roof so that should be watertight. Next weekend, the Type 5 will be moved to the shop. Missing windows will be replaced on that car and some minor work will take place.