Electroliner Restoration Update

This shows the Liner (car 801A) at IRM in 2013 when the campaign began. We held an open house, arranged for special air conditioning, and gave tours/explanations of the planned restoration project. It was towed to and from the barn and displayed at the 50th Ave Platform.

This shows the Liner (car 801A) at IRM in 2013 when the campaign began. We held an open house, arranged for special air conditioning, and gave tours/explanations of the planned restoration project. It was towed to and from the barn and displayed at the 50th Ave Platform.

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.

ELECTROLINER UPDATE

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
Union, IL
60180

Thanks!

-Tom Sharratt

PS- The Electroliner fundraiser also has a Facebook page you can check out.

Editor’s Note: You can contact Tom directly at: tssharratt@mwt.net

Here is a very early picture. Not sure who took the original - not me. The color of the fabric is redder than what we are finding under the seats as we reupholster. Of course, what we are finding is AT LEAST 52 years old, more like at least 60.

Here is a very early picture. Not sure who took the original – not me. The color of the fabric is redder than what we are finding under the seats as we reupholster. Of course, what we are finding is AT LEAST 52 years old, more like at least 60.

This shows some of the work we are doing on the windows. Each is being opened and cleaned, metal repaired as necessary, and the “seal” or gasket replaced. This is probably the first time this work has ever been done - my guess only. The gaskets are all in need of replacement. PROBLEM: It is a non standard seal, therefore we will have to have a die made specially which will be the biggest cost. We’ll then order enough to do all our windows with a 50% overrun to cover mistakes in installation, etc. We have talked with Rockhill Trolley Museum about sharing some of this cost as they will want to do the same thing at some point - but they are a lot further from this stage than we are. Estimated cost: $12 - 15K. We have asked for grants to pay for this work, but none have been approved yet.

This shows some of the work we are doing on the windows. Each is being opened and cleaned, metal repaired as necessary, and the “seal” or gasket replaced. This is probably the first time this work has ever been done – my guess only. The gaskets are all in need of replacement. PROBLEM: It is a non standard seal, therefore we will have to have a die made specially which will be the biggest cost. We’ll then order enough to do all our windows with a 50% overrun to cover mistakes in installation, etc. We have talked with Rockhill Trolley Museum about sharing some of this cost as they will want to do the same thing at some point – but they are a lot further from this stage than we are. Estimated cost: $12 – 15K. We have asked for grants to pay for this work, but none have been approved yet.

This shows the motorman’s seat. Only a few swatches can be made from these - two have been sold already. If anyone is interested, get your order in soon.

This shows the motorman’s seat. Only a few swatches can be made from these – two have been sold already. If anyone is interested, get your order in soon.

This shows the motorman’s cabin gauge.

This shows the motorman’s cabin gauge.

Another shot of the liner on display in 2013.

Another shot of the liner on display in 2013.

This shows the animal illustrations in the lounge car. The Red Arrow lines left these, but replaced the ones in the coaches with Liberty Bells.

This shows the animal illustrations in the lounge car. The Red Arrow lines left these, but replaced the ones in the coaches with Liberty Bells.

This one shows a seat that will be reupholstered. You can see the material (cut) that Red Arrow installed; beneath it is the NSL fabric (I believe it was reupholstered once by the NSL.) A swatch of the red material is what will be given to those who “Buy a Seat” for $300. (Rod Turner Photo)

This one shows a seat that will be reupholstered. You can see the material (cut) that Red Arrow installed; beneath it is the NSL fabric (I believe it was reupholstered once by the NSL.) A swatch of the red material is what will be given to those who “Buy a Seat” for $300. (Rod Turner Photo)

This is one of a number of slides that I bought from Chuck Westerman. I have no idea who took the picture. It shows combine 253 outside the Harrison Street shops. Of special interest are the planks shown in the foreground between the nearest two tracks. These are the southern most of four tracks that went into the shop, and just outside the doors. They cover the transfer table that was built especially for removing the Liners' trucks.

This is one of a number of slides that I bought from Chuck Westerman. I have no idea who took the picture.
It shows combine 253 outside the Harrison Street shops. Of special interest are the planks shown in the foreground between the nearest two tracks. These are the southern most of four tracks that went into the shop, and just outside the doors. They cover the transfer table that was built especially for removing the Liners’ trucks.

(Rod Turner Photo)

(Rod Turner Photo)

An Electroliner at the Milwaukee terminal in 1949. (Trolley Dodger Collection - Photographer Unknown)

An Electroliner at the Milwaukee terminal in 1949. (Trolley Dodger Collection – Photographer Unknown)

2 thoughts on “Electroliner Restoration Update

  1. I am in love with the north shore line. Literately I am obsessed with this railroad! Next time you here my name is when I’ve brought back this beautiful interurban back!! I AM DETERMINED.

    Like

  2. Good for you, Joey! I feel the same way! I’m lucky to have actually ridden on the NSL when it was still going between Chicago and Milwaukee. It was a major mistake that it ever was allowed to be abandoned and scrapped. Real stupidity! Stay in touch!
    Christopher Brown

    Like

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