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Niagara Railway Museum Blog

October 22, 2016

As the month of October moves on, so does progress at the Museum. Saturday was yet another busy day.

Wayne M. spent the day up on the roof, installing the metal siding, closing up the upper heavy repair bay windows. He has done a great job and is 3/4’s of the way along. This has made a very big difference when it comes to keeping the weather out.

Ken Sr. picked up a Ford tractor in Niagara On The Lake and brought that out to the shop to replace our Ferguson tractor which is currently out of service for repairs.

Wayne G. brought out part of our latest donation, a large collection of “old, new stock” of LGB G scale trains. The locomotives were put on track and tested and all ran great.  This was the first time any of them have been run as they are all brand new!  All the cars and locomotives have since been placed back into storage until the Museum re opens in the spring. There were also 2 large plastic models, one of a Northern Pacific 4-6-6-4 Challenger, and the other is a Canadian Pacific 2-10-4 Selkirk. These 2 models have gone on display inside the boxcar.

Ken Jr. visited Genaire in Niagara On The Lake to inspect the ex-CNR flanger and formulate a plan for prepping and moving the car. The car is showing significant signs of deterioration. so this has become a top priority for the Museum to get the car on site and inside as soon as possible. This will be one of the most fragile pieces of equipment the Museum has had to move, and we are seeking donations to help with the cost of moving this rare piece to the Museum. Donations can be sent directly to the Niagara Railway Museum, or can be made online through the secure site at Canada Helps. All donations over $25 are eligible for a Charitable Tax Receipt. Please consider helping the Museum with this project.

We are just one week away from the 13th Annual Fall Niagara Model Railway Show at the Merritton Community Centre, 7 Park Ave in St. Catharines. vendors from across Ontario selling model railway items in all scales, as well as paintings, pictures, and collectibles.  More information can be found at http://www.nfrm.ca/nfmrs.php

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Wayne M. up on the roof installing the metal sheeting over the windows.

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The metal sheeting over the windows of the heavy repair bay from inside.

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Great, the stenciled weight was left on the car.

 

 

 

 

 

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The south side is showing significant siding deterioration.

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The inside of the Flanger.

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One of the new LGB engines and some cars on the Museum layout.

 

 

 

 

 

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The model of Northern Pacific 4-6-6-4 #5141.

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The largest locomotives the CPR owned were the 2-10-4 Selkirks.

 

 

October 18, 2016

New acquisitions!!

The Niagara Railway Museum Inc. is continuing to expand in 2016.  We have already announced the first piece of equipment that we are working on moving, ex-CNR wood body snow flanger #56323, which has been donated by the Warner family in St. Catharines.  This car is currently used as a meeting/conference room, and will be a great useful addition to the Museum.

We now move on to our next piece. We have been working on this item since the spring, and are very pleased to say that the last gondola from the Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo Railway will soon be joining the collection. TH&B 2676 was built in February 1966 by National Steel Car in Hamilton. 2676 was a multi use car, hauling finished steel products, stone, scrap, pipe, and other metals in and out of Hamilton, with it’s final assignment being a load of scrap rail from British Columbia to Hamilton.  The car was removed from service once unloaded and stored, awaiting movement to the Museum. We are working with CP to get the car moved to Fort Erie, and we are now fundraising for the movement of both cars, as well as the restoration back to its original markings.

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TH&B 2676 in Fisher Yard in March 2003. (Lance Brown photo)

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Hamilton Yard in November 2015. (Lance Brown photo)

 

 

The Museum is looking forward to have these 2 items join our growing collection. If you would like to contribute to these 2 projects, you can send payment directly to the Niagara Railway Museum Inc. at 6521 Burdette Dr. Niagara Falls, Ont. L2E 5H4. You can also make a secure online donation by visiting Canada Helps. The Niagara Railway Museum Inc. is a Charitable Organization registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. All donations over $25 are eligible for a Charitable Tax Receipt.

In other news, the 13th Annual Fall Niagara Model Railway Show is completely sold out for October. This is the first time we’ve sold out at this hall, and we are of course very pleased with this. The show is Sunday October 30th, 10am to 330pm at the Merritton Community Centre, 7 Park Ave in St. Catharines.

October 15, 2016

New track for more equipment

Saturday was a very productive day at the shop with 5 members taking care of a number of tasks. Wayne M. was working on the sheeting covering the windows on the top of the heavy repair bay. This will go a long way to help keep some of the weather out. Ken was working in the office area, while John, Aaron and Ken spent the day working on the yard track realignment. This work included leveling and preparing the area where the turnout will be moved to, and by the end of the day, the south track was lined to a gentle curve and is now ready for the turnout. After that work was done the crew set about getting the new track panels for the north track in front of the heavy repair bay.  This is necessary as the current flanger frame (ex-CNR 56452) will be moved outside to allow the coming flanger (56323) to go inside. The other new piece of equipment, which should be arriving soon as well (we hope to have an official press release on that soon), will also be going on the new storage tracks outside.

It was a great day, and a big part of the track project is complete.  The next step will be to move the turnout into position, and some final prep work on the storage track. In the spring the new north track will also be extended west, and eventually into a turnout to connect all 3 tracks. There is still so much going on before the end of the year.  2 more pieces of equipment are coming to the Museum, and our 13th Annual Fall Niagara Model Railway Show in St. Catharines is just 2 weeks away.

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The new north track for storage, in front of the heavy repair bay.

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Looking east towards the shop, the middle and south tracks are ready for the turnout.

October 14, 2016

NRM acquires ex-CNR flanger 56323

The Niagara Railway Museum Inc. Is very pleased to announce that we have acquired ex-CNR snow flanger 56323 from Genaire Ltd in St. Catharines, Ontario.

We are now seeking donations to assist us with the  move from St. Catharines to the Museum site in Fort Erie. We would like to move the car before winter to avoid the car sitting outside any further.

Donations can be mailed to the Museum at 6521 Burdette Dr. Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 5H4 or through our secure server Canadahelps.org on the main page of our be site at www.nfrm.ca. Please help the NRM preserve the railway heritage of Niagara.

ex-CNR snow flanger 56323

ex-CNR snow flanger 56323

October 5, 2016

Upcoming Railway show

Been having some minor issues with posting on here, but will soon have a full update from our Fall Rail Days in September, and other happenings around the shop.

It’s just a few weeks until the 13th Annual Fall Model Railway Show at the Meritton Community Centre at 7 Park St in St. Catharines, Ont. The show runs 10am to 330pm and features model railway vendors, layouts and historical displays from across Ontario.  Something for everyone, get your Christmas shopping done early! Food is available, including our famous railway chili.

The show is run by the Niagara Railway Museum Inc., and all proceeds go directly to the Museum to allow us to continue our progress in 2017.

Info can be found at www.nfrm.ca/nfmrs.php

September 3, 2016

Just one week left…

As we get closer to our final event, our Fall Rail Days, 5 members spent Saturday moving some of our un-restored maintenance equipment and cleaning the shop. 4 pieces were moved, including our 2 ex-TH&B motorcars, into our other building, and are tucked away, stored with 4 of our 5 ex-CN Fairmont A4d gangcars.

170163sm 170277smThe cars were purchased in a group a few years ago by one of our members. There were parts and motors included, but the cars are not currently in the plans for restoration at this time. One car originally had the Fairmont 2 cylinder opposed piston engine. Sadly, that was no longer with the car.

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Both cars tucked inside the other building.

After moving the cars, other equipment in the shop was repositioned and cleaned for display.  The floors needed sweeping, and the equipment will be cleaned off during the week.

 

Landscaping is a never ending job at the Museum, and with the big tractor down, everything is being done with the weedeater, push mower and riding mower.  The site is looking fairly decent, but we’re glad the season is winding down.  Milton and Clayton from Attar Metals came over on Friday and moved some old pvc pipes that have been sitting between the old roundhouse and turntable. This will allow us to cut more of the grass down and improve the look of the site. Some work will be done with the foundation of the old roundhouse in the off season, mostly just clearing some of the dirt, brush and grass so we can better interpret the history of the site.

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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.

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