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Niagara Railway Museum Blog

August 15, 2016

Still going…

Despite the lack of posts here, the Museum is still moving along.  With the recent high temperatures and dry weather some of our work days have had to be cancelled, but we have still managed to be open on Saturdays, and will continue that to the end of September. Our Fall Open Weekend is on September 10th & 11th, 10am to 4pm both days, rain or shine. Still working on some new displays for that one.

One of the projects we will be working on over the coming weeks is our yard track realignment. The track was constructed using whatever material we could get, and has served its purpose very well. However, after looking at some of the photos in our collection, we have discovered the track is not currently laid out the way it was when in service. We have a rather sharp curve that could cause issues in the future with wheel wear and moving anything larger from track to track.  So, starting this coming Saturday we will start the first part of that work with some dirt removal. The plan is to scrape down the excess material, cut the track where it needs to be cut, and slide it over towards the middle track.  At that time, we’ll remove rail/track that is not needed, and move the turnout up in one piece to join the 2 tracks at a better location. This will also allow us to finish off the turnout by installing the points and switch stand. The end result will see a much smoother operation between the 2 current tracks, along with a longer tail track for switching moves. The length of track will be fairly close to what it is now.

We have many things on the go right now, and we’re always looking for help, whether it’s labour, or materials, it’s all needed.  With the track realignment project, we are seeking 100lb rail. We have 22 lengths of 85lb rail to trade if the 100lb is good, but going to be scrapped. Can be unloaded/loaded right at our site. Also need the bars to go with the 100lb.

One final item we are still looking for is a caboose. We would like to acquire a CN or CP caboose (preferably not one that’s been destroyed/stripped inside), steel or wood. This is one of the main pieces we are missing at the Museum, and it is an integral item when it comes to the history of the railway.

Any information can be forwarded on to Museum personnel at info@nfrm.ca

July 16, 2016

Wood and windows

What was first imagined as a fairly easy job turned into something far more complex than initially anticipated.  Wayne M has spent a fair amount of time making repairs to the wood on the south track near the door.  The wood “mudrail” more or less had become deteriorated to the point where it became a major tripping hazzard.  Wayne was finally able to get the majority of the work finished and it’s looking great. A protective stain will be applied on the lumber to help protect it from the elements.

waynefloor1 waynefloor2 waynefloor3Other work happening in the shop included some grass cutting around property, patiently waiting for our big tractor/bush hog to be fixed. There are many ongoing projects at the Museum, one of which is the restoration of our Plymouth MDT40t diesel.  In our first 2 months in this facility, some neighbourhood kids broke into the shop and did significant damage to our equipment, including smashing out most of the windows on 2 of our motorcars, and the Plymouth diesel. The Plymouth is being restored to operating condition, but will likely spend the majority of it’s time as display and backup power to the GE. Progress has been a bit slow as we are awaiting the return of our air compressor. The engine does run, but without the compressor we haven’t yet had the locomotive moving under it’s own power. So, until that time, there is other work, including replacing the windows to make the unit once again weather tight.  6 New lexan windows were cut today, and will be installed when the frames are done being prepped. So all in all, another productive day, and some much needed progress made.

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4 new lexan windows have been cut and ready for installation.

July 15, 2016

A look back at…

The Fort Erie CNR Roundhouse.

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CNR Northern 6121 on the FE turntable in August 1956.

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CNR Mikado 3486 is stored inside the FE roundhouse in February 1959.

Back in the 80’s, the area around what we now use as the Museum was a very busy site. The yard and yard office were still very active, the car shops were busy repairing cars from across the system, and the diesel shop was keeping the CN fleet in the area running.  The roundhouse and turntable was also still in use, turning locomotives and doing some repairs. However, as the facility started to work towards closing down in 1987, much of the work started shifting to the much larger shops at MacMillan Yard in Toronto. In 1989, all work in the shops of Fort Erie was finished. The track was removed, the diesel shop eventually sold off and left to the elements. The car shops became a lumber distribution facility. The roundhouse unfortunately did not meet the same fate. In October 1992, the remaining stalls of the roundhouse were set ablaze by local vandals and destroyed. Because of the wood construction of the roundhouse, it burned fast and could not be saved. The roundhouse was demolished shortly after the fire, and was eventually bulldozed into the turntable pit when the turntable bridge was removed for scrapping (which in turn became a sale to the Arcade & Attica RR outside Buffalo).  The turntable itself was built in 1915 by the Canadian Bridge Company and was 85′ in length. The A&A had plans to use the turntable at their operation in Arcade NY, but that never materialized and the the turntable was once again up for scrapping, and once again saved by yet another group.  The turntable was resold in October 2001 to the Railroad Museum of Long Island.  It is currently stored at their Riverhead NY site.

The following 4 images show some fairly major repair work to the ring rail of the turntable in October 1985.  New ties were installed in one half of the pit.  Some of the pit was excavated in 2014 and showed the ties still in place, and still in great condition.

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The Roundhouse in 1977

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Articles from the Niagara Falls Review

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The foundation of the roundhouse is still visible in the weeds, and the inspection pits have been covered over.  The Museum has been able to look into the pits, now filled with dirt, as well as excavate a small part of the turntable pit to inspect it for damage.  It would be great to be able to return the turntable to its rightful place back in Fort Erie, but that’s a whole different project right there.

 

Photos for this article were from the Niagara Railway Museum Inc. archives. the first 2 black & white images are from Ron Wright Railroad images.

July 14, 2016

July open weekend

Our second big event of 2016 has come and gone, and everyone was pretty beat at the end of it all. We didn’t have the same advertising as May ,but we still had a decent turnout for the 2 days. Our night photo shoot had one photographer show up, but he was quite pleased with what we had to offer and wants to come back. So with that, we are now planning to hold another one on Saturday, September 10th.  More information will be made available as we get closer to the event.

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The GE 25tonner and HEPC 46 outside.

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HEPC 46 “under steam” and outside.

We did manage to get a bit of work done during the weekend.  Wayne M continued painting the cinderblock walls, with most of that being about 85% complete now. We also took some time to temporarily install one of the couplers on HEPC 46 to make it easier, and safer to move her in and out of the shop. The wood buffer beams will all be part of the cosmetic restoration, which we call Project 46.  Project 46 is the fundraising initiative to help complete the restoration. 46 and the GE were posed outside for the night photo shoot.

The open house itself went very well. A big thanks to Bill and Garry for once again bringing out the Ontario Northland Historical Society display, which includes HO models of ONR equipment, photos and artifacts. Also thanks to our members who came out on both days to take care of our visitors as they toured around the shop. We received lots of great feedback from our guests and everyone understood that the Niagara Railway Museum is a major work in progress. There were  a few new items for display as well.

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Our display cases, custom built by Dave Torbett, were returned and placed back into the display car.

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Running a few new trains on the G scale layout, including this narrow gauge Whitcomb and cars.

The rain managed to hold off except for a short time during the night photo shoot. 46 got a much needed bath thanks to Mother Nature!! Despite a push from our friends at the Welland Historical Museum,  the weather did keep our night photo shoot to a very small affair.  JW Vraets from Grimsby came down and spent about 3hrs with us, taking pics of many of our pieces.  Once the rain let up we were able to get outside to the GE and 46. It was a good time with some neat pictures, and was definitely a learning experience.

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HEPC 46 and the GE 25tonner outside under the quarter moon.

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NRM President Ken Jones at the controls of HEPC 46.

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Inside the cab of CN 9173.

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The last pic of the night, looking towards the east end of the shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to everyone who came out to support railway heritage in Niagara. We do this to keep one part of our Regions history alive for the current, and future generations. We will continue to expand and interpret our collection. We try to make changes throughout the year to rotate some of our collection through the display. Our next big event is September 10/11, 10am to 4pm both days, rain or shine. However, we are also open every Saturday from 10am -2pm until the end of September.

July 7, 2016

Open Weekend – July 9th and 10th

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HEPC46 has had some work done, and will soon be undergoing a cosmetic restoration.

This coming weekend is our second big event for the year. We have been working hard on new displays, and to fix some other issues in the shop itself. Some of that work is ongoing, but we’re ready for our visitors this weekend. Saturday night from 8-10pm we will be having a mini night photo shoot at the museum.  We do ask for a $5 donation, with all proceeds going towards the cosmetic restoration of HEPC 46, our steam locomotive. Photographers will be required to bring whatever they need for the shoot. Different angles will be available with both our GE diesel and steam locomotive.

As always, admission to our open weekend, which runs from 10am to 4pm rain or shine both days, is by cash donation. There’s lots to see and do for all ages. 2 operating train layouts, Thomas play table, equipment displays, with some equipment open for visitors. And don’t forget our 2 display cars and our Museum store.

For more information visit www.nfrm.ca or call 905 357 6539.

 

June 11, 2016

Not a small project!

It was a simple job, or so I thought. The wood between the concrete and rails is worn/rotten and was causing a major tripping hazard. So, Wayne M decided to do something about it. And Wayne being Wayne, he never does something half way. So out came the pick and out went the bad lumber.

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Wayne M picking and shoveling out the old wood and dirt.

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After being cleaned out, the clips holding the rail can be clearly seen.

It turned into a much larger task, but one that will greatly improve the safety of our members and visitors. While he was removing the old timbers, we were able to see the different layers used to secure the boards. The boards will go back in the same manner they came out, and part of the work should be completed by the July 9/10 open weekend. The job requires various sizes of lumber from 2×4’s, 2×6’s and 4×4’s.

Wayne G and Ken were working in the office, starting to frame one of the walls as we work to make a more permanent office for our operations. With the acquisition of a used riding lawnmower, we were able to cut some of the grass, but with our main tractor being out of service for repairs, cutting the big stuff can’t happen without the bushhog mower. So our site isn’t looking as decent as it usually does, so if anyone has a tractor/bushhog that they’d like to bring down to the shop to help cut some grass, that would be great.

 

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The live steam pacific in its new location in the display car.

We also decided to move the live steam pacific from the display area into the second display car for safety and protection. The locomotive now resides under the HO model train cabinet, and fits right in.

 

The Museum is working to get ready to be open Saturdays, starting on June 18th, 10am to 2pm until the end of September.  A lot of stuff happening at the Museum in 2016. A new announcement will be coming soon as well.

May 25, 2016

PROJECT 46 returns

FB_IMG_1464204076899When the Museum first went after the acquisition of Hydro Electric Power Commission ALCO 0-4-0st steam locomotive #46, we started Project 46 to raise the required funds. Well, that fundraising initiative is getting ready to start back up, as we plan to start the cosmetic restoration of 46 this summer. We will be starting with the cab and going from there. Our goal for this project is $5000, which we hope to use for matching funds to double the amount to complete more work. All donors will be added to the Project 46 donor plaque inside the cab.

To help support this initiative, you can make a secure donation online through Canada Helps at:

https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/10522.

Please select HEPC 46 for the project you wish to support. All donations over $25 are eligible for a Charitable tax reciept.

HEPC 46 was built by the ALCO Cooke works in September 1920 and delivered as stock to the Hydro Electric Power Commission at Queenston Ontario along with sister #47. Both were used on with many other types of small steam and electric locomotives during the construction of the power canal for Sir Adam Beck Generating Station #1. 46 worked along with our HEPC E-7 electric on that project and are together almost 100 yrs later. She is one of the most historic pieces remaining from that project, and last of her kind from the steam railway operations. The NRM thanks you for your support on this great project.

May 21, 2016

Opening Weekend

Sorry for the late posting on Opening Weekend, but here it is.

On May 14/15 the NRM had it’s opening weekend under rather poor weather conditions, experiencing wind, rain, sun, and even snow!  However, the weather didn’t keep the visitors away, with 2 very busy and steady days.

Our guests were treated to a fairly new Niagara Railway Museum.  Inside there were many changes, as we’ve been reporting over the last few months, including the major lighting upgrade inside the office area. Our 3rd boxcar was converted to a second display car, and also had a permanent store added to 1 end.  We are working on increasing our stock, but for now, it’s decent as it is.

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Thanks to Dave Torbett for building us 2 new cabinets for the display car.

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Wayne M got a little painting done on the middle door during the open house.

We had w new display cases made by David Torbett, and they were installed in the new display car in time for the weekend. We have a bit of tweaking to do on them before the next open house, but they were definitely a great addition to the car. They are used to house the Van Alstine and Mills collections.

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The new display on the Van Alstine twins on the CN.

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Tools of the trade for the display about Fred Mills, ex CNR Carman.

The new store is a great addition as well, as it now gives us a semi permanent area to sell Museum goods throughout the season, without having to set it up and take it down every time. We will be adding new items, such as NRM t-shirts and sweatshirts before the July open house. Also inside the display car was a case showing some pieces of railway china from CN & CP, both hotel and railway.

The Cab of CN 9173 was open for visitors, and is undergoing some work as we installed covers over the openings inside the cab  where the windows and such are.  This will receive another coat of paint over the summer, and will hopefully also see the damaged front window replaced.

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The Ontario Northland Historical Society brought their display out once again.

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The HO layout from The Hobby Shop, along with the old trolley coffee bar were a hit as well, as people reminisced about the store. Here a taxi had a bit of an incident.

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Our small G Scale layout was up and running as well.

Bill Woods and Garry Eller brought the Ontario Northland Historical & Technical Society display out to the shop as well. Bill & Garry are both members of the NRM, and have been displaying with us at our train year model railway shows, and our Museum events for 16yrs. The other new displays for this year were the items from the former Niagara Central Hobbies in St. Catharines. People were able to sit at the trolley and see some of the pics that were displayed on the various activities over the last few months, as well as watch the trains run on the layout. Our small G Scale layout was also running with new trains on loan from the Jones family.

 

As far as equipment goes, HEPC 46 was moved forward to allow for some better pictures, as she is usually back beside the work platform.  We will be starting up our Project 46 fundraising campaign again this year as we work to raise funds specifically for the cosmetic restoration of the locomotive, starting with the cab. She will also hopefully receive a new coat of paint. The ex-Atlas Steel Porter Fireless will also receive some new paint this year, once some metal work is done on the body. The plan is to repaint her back to the yellow she wore at the plant and upon initial arrival at Fort Erie.  She currently wears black with white trim, which was only applied to match 6218 when it was at the Town owned museum. The GE 25tonner performed perfectly after having a set of new batteries installed just days before the open weekend. The GE will be getting some front end work at some point, as we believe there is some spring damage.

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HEPC 46 was moved forward for display.

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The GE tucked away for the night.

 

The Niagara Railway Museum would like to extend its thanks to everyone who came out to support us over the weekend.  We had a great time, and hope you all did as well.  We received a lot of very positive comments from new and repeat visitors. We will continue to work hard to improve the visitor experience and hope to be able to announce some good news in the coming weeks.  Thanks also to our dedicated members who came out to help run the event.

Our next big event will be July 9 & 10, 10am to 4pm rain or shine. However, the Museum will also be open Saturdays from Fathers Day weekend to the end of September, 10am to 2pm. Admission for all events is by cash donation with every bit of it going directly towards the Niagara Railway Museum.

May 12, 2016

This weekend!

Just a day away until Opening weekend at the Museum. Our members have been working hard over the last few months to make it a great experience this year. Just a few more minor things to take care of on Friday, and we’ll be all ready for Saturday.

Our batteries in the GE 25tonner finally quite on us last week. We contacted Pro Battery Shops ( http://www.probatteryshops.com/ ) in Fonthill. Scott Forbes provided 4 new 8v batteries at a very reasonable cost. Thanks to our members who donated to help cover the cost of the batteries, the GE now starts better than ever! And thanks to Scott for getting us what we needed, and for delivering them to the shop.

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Shoved outside, waiting for new batteries.

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The GE after firing up on the new batteries with the Pro Battery Shops vehicle.

Don’t forget, Opening weekend is this weekend, May 14th & 15th, 10am to 4pm both days, rain or shine.

 

 

May 7, 2016

We have a store, sort of…

By the end of our work session today, we actually had a partial store set up in the boxcar.  We installed lights in the other end of the new display car in order to work out how the new store set up was going to work.  We don’t have a whole lot of stock, but we’re working on that. So while we weren’t expecting to have the store actually set up in the boxcar before opening weekend, it looks like it will in fact be ready to go!!

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Just a few items that will be for sale on opening weekend.

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New cover panels on the side and door have been installed and will be painted before opening weekend.

Wayne M continued painting and working on patching the holes in the brick near the entrance. He also installed the cover panels inside the cab of the CN F7.

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NYC, TH&B and Wabash make up the first cabinet.

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CN, CP, GO and other local railways are represented in the second cabinet.

 

 

 

 

 

Ken and Aaron were working on the display and store car.  Some of our HO model railway collection is now on display for the first time. We have a very extensive HO scale model railway collection and we are just not able to display even a fraction of it. The majority of the collection is related to the Niagara Region and features a lot of New York Central equipment, including steam and diesel locomotives, and freight and passenger cars that would have run on the NYC across Southern Ontario.  Other equipment is from CN, Wabash, and Lehigh Valley, with freight cars also seen in the Region. We look forward to eventually having a proper layout of the area to be able to run these items on.

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Wayne started repainting some of the yellow safety lines on the floor of the shop.

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Our Canadian Flag is flying back in its proper place for the season.

Everything is starting to come together for opening weekend. Our members have been very busy over the last few months making sure everything is looking great.  The new lighting in the office area is a vast improvement over the previous lighting, and all the new paint has really dressed everything up. Artifact displays will be finalized next week, and will include some all new displays from some local railroad families.  The display upgrades are ongoing and we will be changing some things throughout the year to rotate items from the collection through for viewing. Thanks to our members, Jim, Wayne M, Ken, Ken, and Aaron, who showed up Friday and Saturday to keep the progress going.

A big thanks also goes to Mark Wikobrado from Cogeco Niagara for paying the NRM a visit and shooting this short clip for The Source. Really pleased with the outcome, and Cogeco has always been a big help for promoting our event.

 

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