Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Track Work

There will be a Track Work Session on Monday September 26th in the evening. Times will be posted for those who are interested in the coming days.

Also, we will be prepping Railroad Ties on Saturday September 24th.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Saturday, the parts that we had received as part of the Trolleyville sale finally arrived. The truck pulled into the museum at around 8pm. Luckily, the Fire Museum was able to provide lights to allow us to see what we were doing during the unloading process. Galen Semprebon, George Contrada, Marilyn Rodriguez, Xian Clere, Aaron Mangan, John Pelletier, and I stuck around the museum until after 11pm in order to get the trailer unloaded. This was a sigh of relief because we have been waiting nearly two years for this trailer and were getting ready to travel to Cleveland to pick the parts up.

The rest of the day was quite eventful as well. Marilyn and I were able to shuffle some cars around in front of the shop. Boston Elevated PCC 3100 is now back on the Northern Barn Lead and the Centerville Albia & Southern Box Motor 101 is now in front of Lusa Shop track 2 allowing Fair Haven & Westville car 355 out of the shop. A few members of operations helped out as well, happy to see 355 able to come out of the shop again.

Pat McCann was once again turning down the wheels for New Orleans car 836. He is nearly complete with that task. John was further back in the shop continuing to work on Brooklyn Rapid Transit car 169.

On the front side of the property, Galen was busy doing more Rails to the Darkside setup. We were able to take care of some housekeeping things around the Snack Bar building and Dining Car. Since the Snack Bar is closed, the sign has been taken down. The broken railings and such on the staircase to the dining car have been removed as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rails to the Darkside Setup

Work has progressed during the Wednesday night work session for Rails to the Darkside setup. The cars are all in place and tarps are being put up in between the cars. Car 36 has been wrapped and the electrical drops are being located on the cars. I cannot discuss too much into what is actually happening, because this event is based on surprises, but one thing that I will say is that there will be quite a few new things this year!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tarping Cars

Over the weekend, Marilyn Rodriguez helped me tarp some of our fleet that sits outside. Normally it is like pulling teeth to get help doing such a mundane task. However, Saturday afternoon, we were able to get tarps over Connecticut Company express motor 2023, Chicago Elevated Railway car 4284, and the end of the Bangor & Aroostook Caboose. The previous weekend, I was able to tarp Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee car 162, and Chris Perry tarped Boston Elevated Railway car 3100.

Speaking of car 3100, Chris Perry has made quite a bit of progress on the car. Most of the car is sitting in a coat of bright orange paint, its original color. This is just a base coat to get some paint on the car to slow down the rusting and by no means the final coat. Nonetheless, the car is progressing along.

And, the caboose is progressing as well. George Contrada took the final measurements and is ordering the wood for the roof and the sides of the car. We were able to find the right style and width wood at just over a dollar a linear foot.

Galen Semprebon has been leading the setup for Rails to the Darkside. The cars within the Visitor Center have been moved into place and decorating has begun. We have also come up with a new layout for Winterfest. I will keep that under wraps so you will have to come to that event in December to find out.

The shop is still busy as ever with John Pelletier working on both New Orleans Public Service car 836 repairing the seats and doing general maintenance on the car and working on cleaning up and putting final touches on Fair Haven & Westville car 355. Pat McCann continues to turn the wheels for car 836.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Back up and Running

Friday was a very busy day at the museum. No not with visitors; unfortunately we were still closed due to the damage as a result of Hurricane Irene. Al Goff, Ben Wallace, John Cummins, and George Contrada spent the day hanging then 2200 volt signal line back in then air. The line fell and snapped when a tree fell on it. The trees also caused damage to numerous poles and cross arms. After working at our real jobs, Xian Clere, Aaron Mangan, and I showed up to help finish the job.

Galen Semprebon installed the new windows for the Visitor Center to replace the ones that were broken when the museum was vandalized a month ago.

Up in the car shop, Chris Chestnut spent the day turning down a wheel for New Orleans car 836 on the wheel lathe.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

From our Friends on the Coastline

A letter sent out by the Branford Electric Railway Association (Shore Line Trolley Museum) regarding the damage done during Hurricane Irene. Reprinted for your information.

We know that you care about the museum and are concerned about the impact of Hurricane Irene, which struck our area of Connecticut with great force. That is why we are writing to you now. We have assessed the damage and here is what we have found.

First the good news: There is only minimal damage to the car barns. Sprague station and its contents are fine. Most of the railway line is undamaged, however track wash-outs will prevent us from being able to operate all the way to Short Beach for possibly quite some time.

Although Irene made landfall more than 70 miles to our west, and was downgraded to a tropical storm as it did so, it had already whipped the waters of Long Island Sound to a frenzy. The timing was unfortunate: this storm occurred at new moon, when tides run higher than average. The placement of the storm to our west meant strong winds out of the east, piling up the tide in the Sound, and the passage of the storm almost exactly
at the time of high tide (11 AM in New Haven) brought strong southerly winds driving water on-shore and inland at the worst possible moment.

The result was the worst tidal flood in the museum's history. Water levels peaked at 8.3 feet above mean sea level, exceeding the December 1992 nor'easter by about half a foot. The depth of water on the shop floor was 19-20 inches, in barn 1 12-15", and in barn 3, where tracks had been raised after the 1992 incident to be above that level, 5-6". Parts of barns 4 and 6 received almost two feet of water. Water levels in barns 2 and 7 were 12 inches or greater, and in barn 5 varied from 6 to 14 inches. Flood waters receded by 2PM, but significant damage had already been done.

Thanks to the efforts of a number of volunteers who worked long hours in the days before the storm, cars were moved to higher tracks where possible. Because of the high winds forecast and the number of trees surrounding our line, options were limited. Cars 948, 850 and 357 are the only ones known to have completely escaped flooding and will be operational once electrical power has been restored to East Haven. All other cars in the collection were flooded to some degree by the salt water. Their operational status will depend on how the water affected the traction motors, which are
only a few inches above the rail. All of these cars (over 90) are considered out of service until they can be inspected and their motor insulation tested.

This process will take several weeks. Some of these cars may be operational, or may be brought back to operational status with a few days of effort, but we can expect that the majority of the cars will require complete traction motor disassembly and cleaning.

We value each and every vehicle in the collection for the important history it holds, and hope to see each one repaired in time. Please be aware that every car that we have inspected is repairable, but it will take a significant amount of work. As you may know, repairing one single car with a flooded motor can readily take 500 hours of skilled labor. Our efforts to combat the effects of this flood will last for years to come.

Yet as much as we value each car individually, we must think of the entire collection and the museum as whole. As we develop the plan to repair our cars as quickly and efficiently as possible, our first efforts are focused on re-opening the museum to the public. We anticipate re-opening before Labor Day, using the three trolleys that were not flooded, and operating over a shortened line. Thus our efforts right now are focused on clearing and inspecting the line.

The damage that we have sustained at the Museum is devastating and yet manageable, shocking but also expected. It was devastating to see so many cars flooded, living history potentially destroyed, and many thousands of hours of restoration work wiped out over a weekend. But the damage is manageable with your help. We are coming together to repair was has been hurt and rescue the history that would be otherwise lost.

It was shocking to see 100-year-old antiques sitting in pools of water, knowing that every minute was further damaging their valuable and irreplaceable motors. While looking at serious damage is always hard, it was expected, even predictable - it's happened before and we always knew it would happen again. And what is even more sobering is that when it does happen again, it may be worse, much worse. The infamous September 1938 hurricane brought water levels to 12 feet above sea level in our area. That is 4 feet higher than what we experienced this weekend.

For over 65 years the museum has been in this cycle of damage and repair. We must break out. And we have a plan to do so.

This year we began efforts to put a stop to this cycle by taking action to move our collection to higher ground. We began a Capital Campaign, "Elevating the Collection", which is raising $2M to build two new car buildings at an elevation of 13 feet above mean sea level.

If the new buildings had been in place this weekend the cars inside would have suffered no damage from Hurricane Irene and would have been protected.

We have already secured $156K toward this goal and are in conversation with a significant group of prospective donors who are considering support.

When our Campaign is successful and the new buildings are completed, we will never again have to repair our cars knowing that we will have to do it all over again after the next flood and the one after that. We will never again follow news of severe storms with the same sense of dread as we did this weekend. And we will rest assured that our collection will be enjoyed by generations to come. Now is the time to recognize our pressing need for higher ground and make every effort to ensure the
safety of our collection. As we begin to clean up the mess, we must redouble our work to ensure we are protected in the future.

At this critical moment, we need the support of every member, every person who has visited our museum, and trolley lovers around the world.

Would you consider please meeting with us privately about giving to Elevating the Collection? By giving to the campaign, you will be doing the best thing possible to ensure that the cars you love the most will ultimately be taken care of and preserved in perpetuity.

Please contact us at or (203) 467-6927 to find out how you can help. And be sure to visit to learn more about the campaign.

Jeff Hakner,
Board Chairperson

Wayne Sandford,
General Manager