05 September 2009

Rails repeat

Last weekend, my brother and I took some time away from our various projects and did a trip to the Illinois Railway Museum, the biggest collection of railroad equipment in North America (outside of the railroad companies, of course). Last year I made a post on the old journalspace blog, so most of this is likely a repeat. But, since that site went the way of the dodo, I'll make another post. If you find it boring, change the channel.

I've been there several times in my life, and the place is constantly growing-getting equipment restored, trading equipment with other operations, and adding inventory. They have need for volunteers of nearly every profession that ever worked the rails. I'm sure they could find jobs for about anyone.

This parlor car was used on an electric railroad in Indiana. Most of the shell of the car has been restored. Looks like the original manufacturer used a fair amount of mahogany or teak in the interior. The car is a beauty right now-once they get the period seats and furniture (early 1900s or thereabouts) installed, it'll be quite a magnificent bit of rolling stock.

This little car was built in 1859 for the North Chicago Street Railroad. It could carry perhaps a dozen passengers along with its 1 or 2 horsepower prime mover-that, of course, being 1 or 2 draft horses. It beat walking, though, and the street railroads eventually became streetcar lines which became mass transit systems.

A General Motors Electromotive Division SD45. The -45 was built in the late 1960s-early 1970s and were a powerful engine (3600 hp). Their 20 cylinder diesels had a tendency to break crankshafts, which is obviously a major repair-several days of downtime. Most of the units still around were rebuilt with a much more reliable 16 cylinder powerplant.

A GG1 heavy electric locomotive, built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the late 1930s. These were used on both freight and passenger service and became something of an icon of the Pennsy, with their brick red or dark green exteriors pulling trains along the Northeast Corridor at speed, 11000 volts humming through the catenaries. The Keystone emblem on the nose is the symbol of the state of Pennsylvania, 'keystone' state of the 'arch' of the original 13 colonies. The keystone was also used in the Heinz Foods logo and the 28th Infantry Division, both Pennsylvania based.

Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 265, built in 1944 and part of the last series of steam locomtives built for the CMStP&P before dieselization. These spent most of their service pulling freights, although sister engine 261 is operated by a nonprofit organization for excursions. I've had the pleasure riding on 261 excursions, and you regulars here have seen those pictures and accounts.

The Electroliner was something of a luxury train that ran between Chicago and Milwaukee (taking between 60 and 90 minutes to do so). It was an articulated set that always operated as a single unit. The five-car train included a bar/parlor allowing for some luxury for the commuting public. The Train of Tomorrow-which lasted in the Chicago area from 1940 until 1963. They were then used in the Philadelphia area until 1976.

A nose-on view of a GM EMD E-unit from 1936, the motive power for the Burlington Route Nebraska Zephyr, another articulated trainset. This was operated at various routes around the Burlington.
Oh, yes-an articulated train has one set of trucks (wheels) permanently connecting between two cars. They look cool-but this system is a maintenance problem, since a car that has a mechanical problem can't be disconnected. This means that any issue with a single car sidelines the whole train. Not all that economical for the company.

A couple of F-units-more General Motors power that was so prevalent from the late 1930s into the 1970s in mainline service, and fairly common on short lines and tourist railroads to this day.
Again, the 'covered wagons' had issues. The early models didn't have easy maintenance access to the diesel engines-the side body panels were difficult if not impossible to remove, making it tough to perform major repairs. The later marks had improved structures and removable side panels, which made the machinists' and electricians' jobs much easier.
A fine day all in all. Some folks try to drown their problems, only to find that the problems are quite capable of treading liquid. I try to get away from them, if even for a day, but I find they occasionally ride on the running board. But not so much on this day trip.
yankeedog out.


  1. Liked the GG1 & GM EMD, The 1930's version of space age, which is what all trains should look like.

  2. Some nice rides there YDog, are there many places till using trams in the States?

  3. Nice new front end YD - not ever going to mistake this place for Therbs' bar again!

  4. U-The engines you've mentioned are my faves as well, because someone actually did some styling on the bodies!

    Bangar-Well, San Francisco has the cable cars. New Orleans still has streetcars. A few cities are starting to invest in light rail systems for point-to-point within an area-say, from an airport to downtown.

    Doc-I got tired of looking at the old layout. Wish we had some more layouts here, but this'll do for now.