Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tornado hits Museum's Trailers

Actually, it wasn't exactly a tornado, but it sure looks like one has hit. On Saturday, Todd and Paul Chicoine spent the day getting another trailer ready to be removed from the property. One of the main goals this year has been to clean up the property. We have accomplished quite a lot by getting rid of the trailers in the parking lot, the scrap metal pile inside the loop, the junk stored underneath the train shed, and moving the three Connecticut Company cars out of the Hartman's Siding Lay Up track. In addition, we cleaned up the gardens in front of the Visitor Center and installed a fence between the parking lot and front lawn. Paul and Todd emptied out the trailer of the materials stored in it. Everything inside the trailer was moved to the storage room off of the gift shop. Then, with the help of the front end loader, the trailer was crushed. The trailer should be removed from the property by next weekend.

Xian Clere used the afternoon to continue to clean out the Bangor & Aroostook Caboose. He brought a vacuum out to the caboose to clean the floor and cushions. We are still looking for donations to help offset the cost of moving the caboose and the work that the caboose needs.

Rails to the Darkside has progressed much over the weekend. The set up of the main hall is almost completed with all of the curtains in place and the lighting set up. The Graveyard posts have been set up with the gravestones, lighting, and fencing. We gained a couple of new cast members at the Rails to the Darkside Casting Call, however, we are still looking for more cast. A rehearsal is scheduled for Thursday night. If you are interested in helping out for Rails to the Darkside, contact

Up in the shop, John Pelletier and Pat McCann began setting up the storage pod. The storage pod will be used to store paints, oils, and other flammable materials so they are not stored in the car shop. Boston Elevated 5645 has been released from the shop. While in the shop, whistles were installed on the car, door motors were repaired, and missing windows were replaced. Springfield Terminal 16 was moved up to the shop to have windows repaired and the motor support bearings repacked.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rubber Tired Transportation

Just behind the Visitor Center in the Fire Museum, Bert Johanson, Alan Walker, and Tom Holcombe were finishing up work on one of the Connecticut Buses. Over the past few months, they have been working on the interior and body of the bus. Once the body work was done, they masked the bus and this morning, they gave it a fresh coat of paint. Next year it will be displayed in the main hall of the Fire and Bus Museum.

Yesterday, the Fire Museum participated in the Four Town Fair Parade and won a trophy for "Best Appearing Antique".

Friday, September 17, 2010

Caboose Arrives at the CTM

After months of phone calls, planning, and fundraising, the Bangor and Aroostook Caboose from Mansfield Depot is finally at the museum. The move began early Tuesday morning. Xian Clere and I arrived in Mansfield Depot at 9 am. As soon as the rigging crew and trucker showed up, we began the process of putting the caboose on the trailer.

Once we got the caboose over the trailer we realized that we would have to take more off than we initially expected. The air tank, air cylinder, and brake rigging would have to be removed to get the caboose below 14 feet 8 inches, which is the height that the permit was for. Unfortunately, while doing this, the torch caught one of the trailer's air lines. This would have to be repaired before we could move. After the caboose was loaded, the truck driver noticed that the tractor had a flat tire. At that point, we decided that we would wait until Wednesday to make the move. We loaded the trucks on a second trailer and called it a day.

Wednesday morning, Xian and I arrived at Mansfield Depot at 8am. As I was arriving, I found out that the trucker decided to get an early start to the day and move the trucks to the museum. Unfortunately, when he got to the museum, the gate was locked, so he parked the trailer in the Wal-Mart parking lot and returned to Mansfield Depot. Before we left, I got on the roof and laid two 2x4s from the roof of the caboose to the cupola. This was done so that low wires would not snag on the cupola.

Finally, we were on the road by 10am. The state sent us east on US-44 to CT-32 north. At CT-195, we were sent north to I-84. We followed I-84 one exit to CT-31 north. When we got to Rockville, we turned left on to CT-74 west. Going through Rockville, we had to deal with construction. Cones had to be moved and a town cop had to move his car so that the caboose could get through. We followed CT-74 to the end where we went south on CT-194 then west on CT-30. When we reached US-5, we followed it north. We jogged over to I-91 at exit 44 then off at CT-140. This was so we did not have to make the right turn off of 5 onto 140. We arrived at the museum at about noon.

Once we got to the museum, we had to figure out what the best way to unload the caboose. We backed the body of the caboose across the front lawn to the Visitor Center access tracks where it was unloaded. The caboose was unloaded by 2pm. This is nowhere near the end of the project. Now, we need to raise the funds to pay for the transportation and restoration of the caboose. Next year, we hope to begin using the caboose for Birthday Parties and other events.

On Wednesday, clean up work was ongoing at the museum. Todd Chicoine was dis-assembling a trailer with an excavator that was no longer of use. The trailer was no longer safe to use due to rot. This will not only make the property look cleaner, but it will open up more spaces in the parking lot.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mansfield Depot Caboose Project

I have received word that we will be loading the caboose on to the trailer tomorrow morning. This has been a long time coming with a lot of phone calls and preparation. The steps were removed from the caboose last week. We are still far from our goal of donations to move the caboose. If you can, please donate to the BAR Mansfield Depot Caboose Fund. Donations can be made by credit card over the phone, 860.627.6540, or mailed to Connecticut Trolley Museum, PO Box 360, East Windsor, CT 06088.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rails to the Darkside Preparation

By the time I arrived at the museum on Saturday, the trolleys in the main hall were already moved into position for the Rails to the Darkside Setup. Many people were hard at work throughout the day. I began the day running electrical to the trolleys for power. Brian Semprebon, Erica Babbitt, and another younger volunteer were hard at work hanging the blackout "curtains" inside 1201, 2056, and 65.

Bill Babbitt and I spent some time cleaning up the interior of car 65. Because restoration of the car started but was never completed, many components of the car were simply being stored on the floor of the car. There were also piles of seats in the car that don't even belong to the car. Everything in the car was stacked along the walls of the car so that there is a clear walkway through the car.

Other volunteers, including Larry Bryan, Galen Semprebon, Matty Doane, George Contrada, and Larry Lunden, were all hard at work on other Rails to the Darkside projects. Unfortunately, I cannot give away too much because it will ruin the show.

By the end of the day, the Main Hall was cleaned up and the exhibit boards were put in place. They will be used to create a wall to separate the Rails to the Darkside area from the Pumpkin Patch area.

Matty is already getting into the Rails to the Darkside spirit as seen here by his companion in his van. Anyone who is interested in coming down to help out with the setup for Rails to the Darkside is encouraged. We can use all the help that we can get. Also, September 25th is the Rails to the Darkside Casting Call from 3 to 5 pm. Anyone who is interested in scaring for Rails to the Darkside who has not done it in the past is encouraged to come to the casting call.

Elsewhere on the property, work was being done as well. Xian Clere was able to get the Tie Handler running under its own power. He moved it closer to the Sweeper and swung the boom sideways to make room for the Bangor & Aroostook Caboose when it arrives this week. Larry Lunden also spent some time outside cleaning up the west end gardens of the Visitor Center. They have been overgrown with pricker bushes for the longest time and he was able to remove the bushes.

Up in the shop, John Pelletier found the issue plaguing the Type 5's motors. One of the motor support bearings was worn and it was causing the motor to jump when power was initially applied. This resulted in the bull gear and pinion not making contact. John will be looking for a spare set of motor support bearings next weekend to replace the worn ones. For the time being, the car will be out of service.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Day

For Chris Perry, Labor Day meant a lot of work. Throughout the Labor Day Weekend, Chris was hard at work on the Boston Elevated 3100. The entire upper half of the body has been patched up. The entire body has been sanded down. The roof is now painted silver, and the area above the windows has been painted cream. Some of the body is painted as well. Now that the summer is over, Chris will not be able to come around as much, so work will take a hiatus until next summer.

When completed, the car will be cosmetically restored to the orange and cream paint scheme of the Boston Elevated. Once that is completed, the car will be in condition to be displayed and hopefully put in the main hall of the Visitor Center to complete the exhibit of the History and Evolution of the Electric Trolley and its Impact on Society. The exhibit currently discusses the PCC Car, but there is no example of it in the hall.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day of Caring

This year's Day of Caring was a huge success. Unfortunately, I could not be there because I could not get the day off from work, but I did stop down on my lunch to see the progress. The Day of Caring took place on Friday, September 3rd. When I arrived, I could not believe all the work that was accomplished. United Health Care sent 22 employees to help us out for the day. It seems that this year we got the most done in a long time during the Day of Caring.

Galen Semprebon led a crew of people cleaning up the front area of the property. A new patio was installed at the front doors. The area was also graded so that the water will run away from the doors and not towards them. The front gardens were also tended to. The mulch was dug out and fabric was laid down to prevent weeds. Then a layer of stone was spread. The stone requires much less work to maintain than the mulch.

Jim Miller led a crew of volunteers trimming back the brush along the mainline. I haven't seen it yet, but I am told that the trees between Newberry Road and Skylark Airport Station are cleared back.

Tammy Babbitt was leading a crew cleaning the car fleet and Visitor Center Offices, while her husband, Bill Babbitt, was busy with crews preparing brochures for the Big E and priming cars 154 and 771.

At the end of the day, everyone got together to unload the Rails to the Darkside trailer, so that setup can begin for that event.

Overall, the Day of Caring was a huge success! This could not be accomplished without the cooperation of the United Way and United Health Care, as well as our volunteers who stepped up to lead projects: Galen Semprebon, Dale Sherman, Jim Miller, Carol Zenczak, Bill Babbitt, Tammy Babbitt, and Larry Lunden.