Friday, December 31, 2010

Car 451's Christmas Present

Car 451 (Illinois Terminal PCC) received a wonderful Christmas Gift this year, a winter inside. On Thursday evening, Dave Coppola, David Lesniak and I moved car 451 from its home on the North Road Lay-Up to the rear of Track 1 of Kelly Car Barn.

It has been the plan to move car 451 into a barn for a while, however, there was always the question of where to put it. At 50'5", the 1949-built PCC is a very long car. This can create some problems when trying to fit it into the barn with other cars. Over the summer, I cleared the back wall of Kelly Car Barn track 1. By doing this and pairing the car with car 1850 (Rio de Janeiro open), the car will fit in the barn with about 4 feet to spare. This, however, required something else to move. At that point, Xian Clere and Galen Semprebon helped me move car 2600 (Montreal Tramways) up to the shop. Due to the recent snowfall, this proved to be a much more difficult task than originally envisioned. Car 2600 got stuck going up the hill twice: first, climbing the hill paralleling Kelly Car Yard; and second, on Lusa Car Yard track 2 just outside the shop. After digging the car out multiple times and using sand, we were able to finally get 2600 into the shop.

Inside the Visitor Center, John Pelletier was busy working on two projects. On Montreal Tramways Car 2056 (Springfield Street Railway Car 575), John finished scraping one panel of the exterior of the car and primed the panel. It is expected that by the time we open in the Spring, the car will be repainted. On Car 65 (Connecticut Company), John finished fitting a piece of molding along the roof line.

Although work usually slows down in the off season, we will still be working hard as we have a lot of projects that can be done in the Visitor Center.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The Snowstorm that hammered the midwest and much of the eastern seaboard hit the museum Sunday afternoon to Monday midday. That forced us to close for Sunday night and Monday night Winterfest Operations. The snowfall totals were not so bad, it was the blizzard winds that caused massive snowdrifts. By Monday afternoon, we had areas of the property that were bare and other areas where the snow came almost to your knees.

After the snowfall had ended, a group of members came to the museum in various shifts to clear the snow. Todd & Paul Chicoine arrived in the early afternoon to clear the parking lot, main walkway, and access roads to the barns.

Monday afternoon, Larry Lunden did an inspection of the signals and overhead for issues and found that the wind did some damage to the crossing gate at Winkler Road.

After I got out of work on Monday, Xian Clere and I cleared the mainline and the switches at North Road Station, Kelly Car Yard, and Hancock Siding. Because of the way the cars were stored the week before, the only 4 motor car that was accessible was car 4, the open observation car. This turned out to be a cold snow-clearing operation.

On Tuesday afternoon before we opened, Matt Januska shoveled the walkways around North Road Station for loading and unloading of passengers.

While the blizzard crippled operations, a steady group of volunteers got together and pushed through to open Tuesday evening.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Car 154 Emptied

In the early days of the museum, the only interior space was inside the trolleys. So, the cars that were not used for service (because they were unfit to operate, missing components, etc) became storehouses for other smaller materials that we acquired. Unfortunately, some of those materials have considerable weight to them which will stress the cars body. Connecticut Company 0309 (Fair Haven & Westville 154) is one of them that was loaded with overhead parts (insulators, bolts, etc). On Saturday, David Coppola helped me unload the materials stored inside the car onto shelf space inside the Visitor Center Relay Room. The only items left in the car now are parts to the car.

Inside the Visitor Center, Galen Semprebon, Brian Semprebon, and Matty Doane were working on scraping the exterior paint on Montreal Tramways 2056 (Springfield Street Railway 575). The car needs a new coat of paint and the plan is to return the car to Springfield, MA colors. While this will not be a complete restoration at the current time, it is a start in the direction to returning the car to its local history. In order to complete the restoration of the car, it will need an end reduction, because when the car was sold to Montreal Tramways, they extended the ends of the car and reconfigured the operators compartment.

Outside, John Pelletier, with the help of Matty, Galen, and I, was working on the repairs to the operating fleet. The bent pole on Connecticut Company 1326 was straightened and the car was returned to service. The broken retriever on Illinois Terminal 451 was replaced by a rebuilt one found in the Parts Storage Room. The repairs to Montreal Tramways 2600 took a bit longer. There was a squealing noise coming from the number 3 axle. We checked the packing and oiled the Journal Boxes. The temperature of the number 3 axle journals were slightly elevated. When we took it out for a test, the noise was still there. We finally figured out that it was the cause of the armature bearing. The waste in the bearing was failing and not properly wicking the oil. Once we repacked the bearing, the noise subsided. The armature support bearing for the fourth motor has been freed and should be repaired in the next few weeks. Once that is done, the car will be jacked and the motor will be reinstalled in the trucks.

We had another busy night of Winterfest Operation Saturday night with 5 cars out on the main line at one point. With that many cars, there is a slight bottleneck at Hancock Passing Siding. The track with three cars needs to pass through the siding before the track with two cars on it can proceed because the siding is only two cars long.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Tomorrow night begins what is traditionally the busiest weekend of Winterfest and the Tunnel of Lights. It seems as though there will be a good weekend ahead of us. Not to worry if you plan to come. We have plenty of parking and will have the whole fleet out running. Come join us for Winterfest and the Tunnel of Lights this weekend, 5 to 9 pm each night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Yes, we now have heat in the library that can be regulated! Thanks to Jim Miller, a thermostat has been installed in the library so we can control the heat at a steady temperature. Prior to this, we had two settings on the heat. On full blast or off.

More work has taken place by John Pelletier on car 65. A replacement piece for the upper part of the corner post is being fitted. Once that is in place the edge of the roof on the vestibule can be repaired. Slowly but surely, Connecticut Company Car 65 is coming together and will run on the rails again.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


This weekend was a busy weekend for some of us at the museum. On Saturday, Xian Clere, Art Mitchell, Camilo Santiago, Matt Januska, and I went down to Saybrook Yard off of the Valley Line where a New Haven Club Car was located that was offered to the museum by the Railroad Museum of New England. The Club Car is 86 feet 9 inches long, and 13 feet tall and was built in the 1950s. The exterior is in great shape, however, the interior of the car is missing all of its fixtures (seats, tables, etc).

Later in the day back at the museum, I found John Pelletier organizing Connecticut Company Car 65. Car 65 was built in 1906 by the Wason Manufacturing Company. Car 65 was the museum's first car acquired in 1941. The has been sitting in storage for many years after restoration was begun on the car and then abruptly stopped. John has begun restart the work on the car to piece it back together.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Monday night, Tim Baisley was able to repair the roof lights on S-193. For the past 6 months, it was very difficult to work in the evening with S-193 because the lights on the roof have not worked. Work took place with the aid of flashlights. It turns out that there was a broken wire on one of the series sockets that was causing the lights to ground out and blow. The socket has been repaired which will make it much easier to work in the future.