Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Illinois Railway Museum

Cousin Kurt & his son Brian took Erik and I to the Illinois Railway Museum for a day. We had a good time looking around at all the old trains, trams, buses and such. Kurt remembered the 'good old days' when you could pretty much go up in most of the engines and cars. There weren't sheds then and everything was exposed to the elements. Now there are a good number of sheds housing all kinds of transportation.

There are still a large number of trains exposed to the cold and rain and in various stages of disrepair. Some are in excellent condition and are still running.

Erik at the cable end of this electric trolley. There is an arm above the car with a pulley that sets on a wire running 800 volts. We rode in this trolley to another section of the museum.

This is the Silver Bullet.

Here are Brian & Erik on the upper deck of a double decker passenger car.

We stopped for some ice cream and talked with a man working on the trains. He took us to a shed off the beaten path where they worked on trains...many of the tools they use are from the steam era. He taught us a lot about how things work. This picture shows the insulation covering the boiler which is then covered by a sheet of metal. It must be stripped off and replaced every 5 years or so on running trains. The bolts are special in that they allow for some movement - the boiler expands when heated and without allowing for it, the stress on the metal would cause it buckle and crack. The tubes running inside are also replaced and they have huge tool & die sets that put threads on new tubes and flange the ends just like it was done originally.

Only problem with the maintenance on these big machines is the labor...Back in the day, they had plenty of people to do the work. Now just a few are putting in time - mostly volunteers. Even those are finding less time to be able to spend on this labor of love. That it must be as the work isn't easy and it sure ain't pretty (until it's done).

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