Monday, October 25, 2010

Feedback on Rails to the Darkside

Today, we received an email from someone who visited the museum's Rails to the Darkside this weekend:

We just got home from experiencing "Rails to the Darkside" and I have to tell you it was, by far, the best scary trolley ride/haunted house we have ever seen! The trolley ride was really amazing but when it was over it seemed to have been so short. But then we waited for the haunted warehouse and THAT was incredible! The volunteers were perfectly terrifying. On the trolley ride there was someone crawling up the aisle.I'm a 48-year-old woman and I was holding onto my 12-year-old daughter for protection.for me! And inside the warehouse all the scary people were sooooo scary. They just showed up over our shoulders and followed us around and lingered and it was SO CREEPY. At one point, there was a guy behind a paper wall (or something) and he SPOKE RIGHT INTO MY EAR. Oh my. I screamed and lurched and almost took out both my daughter and my husband (who had positioned himself behind us as cover). By the end we were laughing and screaming and running out of the building holding our sides. IT WAS GREAT!! We drove 45 minutes to get there, waited in line for the trolley for 1.5 hours, waited in line for the haunted warehouse for half an hour and another 45 minutes for the ride home.and we can't wait to do it all again next year! From now on no Halloween attraction is going to be able to hold a candle to yours. Thank you for scaring the stuffing out of all of us!

Rails to the Darkside Breaks Another Record

This year is turning out to be a record year for Rails to the Darkside. Saturday night we had 874 visitors come to Rails to the Darkside. This is the most visitors in a single night since Rails to the Darkside was brought back in 2007. Everyone did an excellent job. The line for the gift shop at one point extended out the front door, down the VC walkway and then along the tracks to Kelly Barn. The line to board the trolleys extended at one point from North Road Station to just beyond Kelly Barn.

In the parking lot, the parking crew packed as many cars in the main parking lot as possible. Once the main parking lot was full, they moved to the volunteer lot. Unfortunately, somebody parked their car in the volunteer lot blocking the Fire Museum lot so we lost around 20 parking spaces. By 8:30, we were turning people away due to lack of parking. Around 60 cars were turned away. However, some of them ended up parking next door at Olender's and across the street at WB Mason. The parking crew got innovative by turning the VC walkway into a road and creating an additional 20 parking spaces on the front lawn.

Pumpkin Patch was very busy all weekend too! From what I hear, there were points where the parking lot was nearing capacity during Pumpkin Patch as well. On Sunday, Pucky the Whale made an appearance during Pumpkin Patch.

Unfortunately, we had quite a problem on Sunday with pulling cars out of Kelly Barn. One of the joint bars in Kelly Yard snapped which caused great difficulty getting ready for Pumpkin Patch. Thanks to the quick thinking of Mike Caputo and Bill Babbitt, they were able to spike the joint in place and move the cars out of Kelly Yard. Xian Clere and I made it to the museum to make repairs. We were plagued with nothing but problems. The ties in the yard are so close together that it was difficult to get so much as a shovel in between them to remove the ballast. We also ran into issues with the Tie Inserter. Currently, the tie is nearly ready to be replaced.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Winkler Road Rebuilding

Yesterday and today, crews have been working to replace the Winkler Road Crossing. When the crossing was first built, ties were used along the inside of the rail in order to create the flange way. Over time, those ties have rotten and the pavement has sagged creating a very bumpy crossing. Half of the crossing was replaced yesterday with new rubber guards and pavement. The other half will be finished by the end of the day today. Thank you to Andy Cotton, Amber Hurrle, and the rest of their crew for helping out with traffic.

John Pelletier was able to find the cause of the air compressor issue on car 355 today. Apparently, the set screw that holds one of the bearings in place had worked itself loose and caused the bearing to spin and jam. Unfortunately, he found this out AFTER removing the air compressor from the car. This problem could have been solved without removing it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Over 700 Visitors for Rails to the Darkside

Rails to the Darkside was packed Saturday night! We had over 700 visitors. The first run is scheduled to go out at 7:00pm, but by 6:45pm the parking lot was full. Thankfully we had Andy Cotton and his crew in the parking lot. I don't know how they were able to go it by they found parking spaces for just about everyone. They utilized all of the main lot, the volunteer lot, and in the area behind the Fire Museum.

The first car was sent out 15 minutes early. That still left us working until well after 11:30 at night. All of the volunteers at both ends were amazing. George Barreto and Xian Clere both received a crash course in Conducting in the Main Hall. Even most of the kids that are volunteering made it through to the end. Luckily, when the volunteers at the end of the line were done, they helped at in the Main Hall.

The closer we get to Halloween, the better it gets so it should be a very good year.

During the day, John Pelletier took a look at the Type 5. Unfortunately, it appears that a nut came loose on one of the field coil bolts. This allowed the bolt to drop down onto the armature and dig into the armature. This will require the motor to be pulled from the car and an armature will have to be found to replace the damaged one.

Pat McCann spent the day working on car 355's air compressor. A couple of months ago, 355 was pulled from service because the air compressor armature was unraveling. Once the compressor is taken apart, we will able to figure out what the extent of the damage was and repair it.

With the problems that we have begun to have with some of the operating equipment, we really need to get car 836 back in service. In order to do this, we still need to raise the funds to repair or replace the wheels that have thin flanges on them. Please consider making a donation to the New Orleans Public Service Car 836 Fund!

In the Fire Museum, members spent the day rearranging their Main Hall. This was done to get one of the trucks in the rear out and put in the shop. While this was happening, I was able to get a quick look at the Connecticut bus that was just repainted.

Pumpkin Patch did well this weekend too! All day Saturday, the parking lot was filled with cars. This year should be a good year for our Halloween events.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Plans for 2011

Just a peak at whats to come...

I don't even need to be at the museum to work on Museum projects. Right now, I am working on a plan for locations of trolley cars for 2011 which will put 8 more trolleys under cover. It requires a bit of track construction under the train shed, but it will put almost all of our wooden equipment under cover.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Car Relocations

Yesterday, with the help of Ernie Darrow, Brian Semprebon, and David Coppola, we got ConnCo Open 840 switched out of the car shop and into Woods Barn. We first had to push the Elevated car 4436 all the way to the back. At this point Woods Barn is bursting at the seams. Both tracks of the barn have two cars on them that just allow the doors to close. Car 840 was moved out of the shop for two reasons. First, Fair Haven & Westville open 355 had to be moved into the shop to rebuild the Air Compressor. It is not a good idea to have both Connecticut Open Cars in one building. Second, in the coming weeks, work is going to be done over the dead track of the shop so the car could not sit there.

Out in the parking lot, Todd and Paul Chicoine were hard at work starting and early regrading the upper lot. There was a pile of old telephone poles stacked in the lot that they used to delineate the edges of the parking lot with. Hopefully by next weekend we will have the parking lot opened up all the way to the Northern Barn tracks. Ted Coppola and Pat McCann kept busy cutting down trees that were along the edge of the newly reclaimed parking lot.

Pumpkin Patch was a huge success on both Friday and Saturday. There was little space in the parking lot both days for additional parking. New this year to Pumpkin Patch is a scavenger hunt for the children to do..."Help Ponemah Learn to Run". "Ponemah" is our Ponemah Mills Locomotive built by General Electric. The children need to find the ghosts in the main hall that tell them what the next step is to start a trolley car. When they are done, they can turn it in for a prize. Of course, the favorite part of the event for the children is when they get to go out to the Pumpkin Patch at Airport Station and pick out their pumpkin. We can still use help for Pumpkin Patch for both motormen and people in the Visitor Center. If you would like to help, contact Carol at the museum.

Rails to the Darkside was also a huge success both nights. The West End has once again expanded to include an additional trolley car, and we have many new features. On Friday night, we had 150 riders, and on Saturday night we had over 300 riders. This is much better than last year's first weekend. We have an excellent cast in both the Visitor Center West End and the Newberry Siding East End. We can still use help from cast members, motormen, and people in the parking lot, so if you would like to help out, come by the museum Friday or Saturday nights at around 6pm.