Today’s post is by guest contributor Tom Sharratt, who gives an update on the ongoing project to restore the Electroliner at the Illinois Railway Museum. All photos are by Tom, unless otherwise indicated.
Progress continued during the cold and snowy winter months, a lot of it in preparation for removing the trucks from the train. In service, this was accomplished by the North Shore Line at Milwaukee’s Harrison Street Shop which built a transfer table specifically to allow removing the articulate trucks from the Liner. IRM does not have a transfer table, although there is a drop pit in the steam shop. A drop pit is not designed to do the same job as a transfer table. Removal of the trucks will mark the first of the “heavy” work projects that need to be done: repair of all motors, as required; inspection and turning or replacement of wheels, as necessary; and inspection and repairs to the trucks themselves.
As reported earlier, the pit in barn 4 has been modified with the addition of makeshift gas heating. After some fine tuning of the heating components to maximize the heat produced and developing a means of keeping the heat in the area where the work is done, volunteers succeeded in removing all electrical leads to the motors, uncoupling all air leads to the brakes, and all ground straps. The trucks are now ready to be removed from the train.
But how to remove them from the articulated train? That has been a question that has caused a lot of brainstorming over the past six months. Several options have been considered. One proposal is to “de-articulate” the cars by replacing each of the three trucks that are between cars with two individual shop trucks thereby allowing each individual car to move independently. The two end trucks would also be replaced with shop trucks. This option would have several advantages, a big one being to open the pit track for other cars that need to be worked on using the pit. The Liner is so long that if it is on the pit track, there is insufficient room for effective work on other equipment. This option, if selected, would allow one or two Liner cars to remain on the stub end of the pit track while interior work is being done, and the other cars would be moved to another barn.
It would also allow some very unique pictures of the Electroliner! When the train was moved from Pennsylvania, it had to be moved several miles over the highway on flatbeds to the nearest active rail line where the cars were mounted in pairs on two TTX cars and shipped to IRM where the train was “reassembled.” We’re not aware of any other time that the cars were separated – if anyone knows of such a case, please let us know.
Because of the difficulty and expected expense of accomplishing this work, the Museum Board decided to get three bids on how to best proceed and the estimated cost. The process of contacting possible contractors is ongoing, and it is hoped that by the end of July a decision can be made and a contract signed. Of course, we have no way of knowing at this time how soon the work may begin or how long it might take, but the process of selecting a contractor has begun.
We are able to move forward with the “heavy” work only because of our success in raising funds – we have the money to do what has been described above. There will be more expensive, specialized work to be done, in particular restoration or replacement of the air conditioning system. Donations continue to come in to support the restoration, and in the first four months of 2015 alone just over $45,000 has been received. The Electroliner campaign has raised over $550,000 since fund raising began just under two years ago!
Your continued help is needed, and you can get a nice authentic piece of the Liner by “Buying a Seat” for a donation of $300! To donate via credit card, call Jan Nunez (she works daily except Thurs/Fri) and talk to her ONLY. The number is: 815-923-4391 #2. Otherwise, use the address below.
Your donation can be made online by visiting the IRM online store.
You can also send a check to:
Campaign for the Electroliner
Illinois Railway Museum
PO BOX 427
PS- The Electroliner fundraiser also has a Facebook page you can check out.
Editor’s Note: You can contact Tom directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org