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Niagara Railway Museum Blog

February 20, 2021

Website updates

The website has been receiving some new pictures in the image galleries. Some new items have been added to Canadian National, TH&B and Structures galleries. Future updates will include the blueprints gallery as we are currently scanning hundreds of Michigan Central Railroad blueprints, and will be selecting different ones from around the region for inclusion in the galleries section. We are also working on a searchable database for many of these items, which will help get more of the unseen parts of our collection out for viewing.

We are hoping to get back to the regular work at the shop soon. While we are still out there working, it slows way down in the winter time, as there is just no easy way to get some of the projects done with the weather. We will also have news coming about opening weekend, and any other events through the year, as soon as we know what the restrictions will be going into the spring.

January 31, 2021

January 31st update

With the current restrictions in place, we aren’t getting a lot done out at the shop. Allan has taken a few things home to work on them at his home shop, including the cupola windows on the Flanger, and some of our woodworking tools. Elsewhere we’ve been working on planning what projects will be worked on in 2021. Obviously some of the projects have been pushed back a bit until we can return to full work force out there. New gauges are being acquired to be installed in the Trackmobile. The next step in the Flanger restoration, the north side boards, will hopefully finally happen in March. We were hoping to have that part done already, but there have been a lot of smaller items that have needed to be dealt with in preparation for the new boards. Here are some pics taken today, Jan 31st of some of the equipment at the shop. Decided to shoot them in black & white, just because.
There is no doubt that 2020 was a challenging year, and has caused damage to everything, and everyone. The Museum is no different. We were not able to hold our many events in 2020, and as of right now, 2021 is shaping up to have the same issues. Our March model railway show will not happen, and while we do have dates for our other events, we are not sure at this time if any of those will happen. We will have more information as it becomes available to us.

The GE 25tonner and HEPC 46.
1943, 30″ gauge Porter fireless.
1953 Plymouth MDT40t and 1918 electric, HEPC E7 will hopefully continue to be worked on in 2021.
TH&B 2676
North side of CN Flanger 56323 waiting for the new boards to be installed.
South side of CN 56323.

December 30, 2020

2020 in Review

As we look back at 2020, we see a year of extreme difficulties, a year where many have lost their jobs, their businesses, their loved ones. So many areas have been almost decimated by everything that has gone on. The Heritage sector is definitely one of those areas. While the Museum had a good year as far as work goes, we are entering 2021 in a very difficult position. We are looking into government funding to help get us through this very difficult time. However, in all the bad, there has been good. That is what we will be focusing on, all the good we managed to get done this year. It’s a VERY long post, so here we go!!

In January we moved equipment around the shop to allow us to get the GE over the pit for repairs, with the GE and Plymouth switching places so work could be done on the GE. The shop also got a new front door.

February, the new mounting bracket for the Trackmobile transmission was fabricated and installed and repairs continued through the month. The first part of our #7 turnout was delivered after being donated by OWS Rail Contracting. The end of February had us preparing for the 21st Annual Niagara Model Railway Show.

March 1st was the Model Railway Show, Our second best Model Railway Show ever, and would also end up being one of the last model railway shows to be held in 2020. At the shop, work continue on the GE diesel, and for the first time in decades the locomotive sat level after we removed some spacers under the rear axle springs. Work was also started on steam engine 46, cleaning off years of crud, as we prepared for a cosmetic restoration that sadly did not start in 2020. With some unseasonably warm weather, our crew also worked on the construction of the north shop track.

April was the start of everything shutting down, and the Museum started making plans to cancel our events for the year. We were still operating with a skeleton crew, and still making progress on restoration and repairs. The weather was decent at times so we were able to get some good pics of the equipment that doesn’t always get outside.

May started out with our cancelled Opening Weekend, which was good, because it snowed that weekend anyways. Work continued though and we managed to get a fair amount of track work done, The cab side of E7 was needle scaled and the Fairmont gang carrier was stripped down for rebuilding. Work also continued on repairing our Ferguson tractor, and the Trackmobile.

June Saw continued repairs on the tractor and the restoration of the gang carrier. it was a fairly quiet month overall.

July saw the cancellation of our Open Weekend event at the shop, but work continued. It was announced in July that we would be acquiring the one of a kind TH&B Carpenters Boarding car X759 from a private owner in Fenwick. One of our members built a small diorama showing the CN scale at Fort Erie, which is displayed on top of the original scale beam which was donated to us by Attar Metals. Equipment was also put back in it’s proper place in the shop, and this would be the first time all 4 locomotives were outside together, including our 2 locomotives from the Hydro Electric Power Commission Queenston-Chippawa Project.

August would turn out to be moving month. The main parts of the gang carrier were put together, just missing the step boards. Plans were also made to move TH&B X759 from Fenwick to Fort Erie at the end of August. The weekend after the new car arrived, all new stairs were constructed to allow our visitors to access the CN Flanger, Boarding car, and even the GE diesel. It was also decided that we would be able to have a slightly scaled down RailDays event in September.

September RailDays was a huge success and one of our best events at the shop ever, despite everything going on. It was also one of our busiest months of the year. With RailDays at the start, we finished up with a very busy track work weekend which saw the beginning of the construction of our #7 turnout thanks to James and Andrew from Petroczi National Rail Services. Work also continued on the north side of the CN flanger, and also saw all of the windows being rebuilt for the boarding car. Never did I expect to even see the turnout get started, let alone get to where it is now (see further down).

Moving into October and the work continued all over the place. We have gained some new members, and some much needed experience. All 9 windows for the boarding car were built or rebuilt, and all 4 side windows for the Flanger were also rebuilt and have all be put back in place. Grab irons and such have been reinstalled on the south side and the car is almost back together. More track work continued between other projects, including changing some ties outside the middle door, and bolting the rail together. Unfortunately our October Model Railway Show, our last big fundraiser for the year, was cancelled.

November definitely had some highs and lows. We were able to acquire a CP caboose, and started fundraising for it. Unfortunately we had to ultimately give up the car. The funds raised have been placed in a separate account to be put towards a future caboose acquisition. We were very hopeful, and very excited for this, but unfortunately, things ended up not happening as we had planned. It was very upsetting to have to make the decision to give up the car. However, November wasn’t a complete loss. The Flanger work has continued and is really coming along. The Museum took Diamond and Gold in the Readers Choice awards for 2020, our first time being nominated. James and Andrew continued working on the turnout, and a friend, Bill, came over with a backhoe and placed some rail and ties for us.

Which brings us to December, and the end of the year. James and Andrew came down a couple more times and have managed to finish off the turnout in just 5 trips. There is still a little work to go, the switch stand needs to be installed and 8 more tie plates are needed. Once that is complete, we will finish off the connection to the north track, build a small pull back track, and for the first time since the shop was removed from service, all 3 tracks will be connected.

On behalf of the Niagara Railway Museum Inc. I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who supported us in this difficult year, we thank you for helping us continue to preserve this part of our history. Also, a very big thanks to our very dedicated group of members who have come out when they can, to do what they could from a distance. Thank you for following the guidelines and helping make the Museum a safe place to work and visit. As we close out 2020, I can only hope for a better 2021, for everyone. We hope to be able to have some events at the shop in 2021 to allow our guests to see how much was accomplished in 2020.

We are always accepting donations, and they can be made securely online at: https://www.canadahelps.org/…/niagara-railway-museum-inc/

Have a Happy New Year, and here’s to a better 2021!!

Ken Jones – President

Niagara Railway Museum Inc.

September 5, 2020

One week until RailDays 2020!!

We had 8 members out to the shop today to get things ready for RailDays 2020 on September 12th & 13th. Really pleased with the amount that was done. We finished off the stairs to the Flanger and Boarding car, and they will be painted in the off season, after RailDays. Items that weren’t needed or were in the way were moved and put away, or elsewhere out of the way. The floors have been swept, and HEPC 46 was pulled ouside for the day. Allan spent the day in X-759 and reinstalled one of the doors, along with 2 plywood panels to allow us to mount pictures of the move. New LED lights will be added before RailDays, although these will not be permanent. A new display will be going into the display car in time for RailDays. Thanks to our volunteers who came out to help, Mike, Neil, Jim, Nolan, Glen, Allan, Ken & Ken.

With so many events being cancelled in 2020, we are very lucky, and very pleased to be able to move forward with our RailDays event. It is scaled back a bit, but we are doing our best. We are big believers in working with other groups, and we are pleased to say that the Fort Erie LaFrance Association will be taking part in the event by bringing one of their antique fire trucks over for display on Saturday from about 10am-2pm. We are also hoping to a display from members of the Niagara Antique Power Association on Sunday. We thank both of these groups for everything they do to help preserve our history, and we welcome them to our site and hope you will come out and support not only the Railway Museum, but these other groups as well. It has been a difficult year for all of us, your support will help us all move forward.

GE 25tonner & HEPC 46 outside for the day.
Allan and Mike work on a display panel for inside TH&B X-759.
The recently restored Fairmont Gang Carrier couple to the Woodings CBI motorcar for display.

August 30, 2020

2 Weeks to go!!

We have just 2 weeks to go until RailDays 2020, and we’re really working to get everything ready at the shop. This weekend we continued working on the stairs for the Flanger and Boarding car. Saturday the Flanger stairs wre finished off with the railing. We also had some visitors though on Saturday, including our local MP Tony Baldinelli. Neil and Ken spent a few hours at the shop on Sunday finishing off the railing on the Boarding car. Still need a cross piece for safety, but that’s a quick fix next weekend. Labour Day weekend will be a cleaning weekend, getting things moved and put away, and sweeping up the messes made from our recent work. Sunday we also had a desk donated/delivered to the shop that came from CN in Port Robinson. It’s in nice condition and will go in our office to replace the steel one we have in there now.

August 27, 2020

New stairs and other work

August 22nd was a busy day building new stairs for the various pieces of equipment at the shop. 3 crews worked on different tasks. New stairs were built for the Flanger, Boarding car and GE. There is still work to do on the handrails, but they will all be ready for our visitors at RailDays.

We are working on displays for inside the Boarding car, including the builders plates from TH&B X-755, the Jordan Spreader that was scrapped, pictures of the move, past and present, and the TH&B No Trespassing sign.

TH&B X-759 arrives

On August 20, 2020 the NRM successfully moved TH&B Carpenters Boarding car X759 from Fenwick to the Museum site in Fort Erie. It was a perfect day for the move and everything went fairly well. Had a slight hiccup in the morning which put us behind a bit, but things quickly improved after that and we were done earlier than expected. Loading the car was the slow part, as the stem winder handbrake stuck up almost a foot over the roof, so the front had to be lower than the back. There was some tweaking of the timbers to get it just right. All the brake rigging and air system was also still on the car which hung down almost to the deck. Once the car was loaded the wheel sets were placed on another trailer, the crane packed up, and away everything went.

The crane arrived at the Museum site first, wheels next, and the carbody shortly after. Everything was unloaded and put back together fairly easily, although one end of the car wasn’t quite sitting down into the truck bolster as far as it should. The car is still safe for our needs, but that will be addressed at a future date. One wheel set was a bit tight and didn’t roll very well. The car was pushed inside and with some movement started rolling better. It is now in place on the drop table and stairs will be built to allow visitors access to the inside.The Niagara Railway Museum Inc. would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to the Robbins Family for donating the car and other items to us. The car will be restored over time, but for now, it’s at least inside. Our plan is to add pictures of the original move to their farm, and the pics to our site. For the most part the car will be restored as close to it was as possible.

The Museum would like to thank:

Tom and Gerrit from Falcon Crane in St. Catharines for doing such a great job with the lift.

Colton from Pioneer Heavy Haul of Welland for delivering the car safely to the site.

Chris from Stewart’s Deliveries of Welland for getting the wheel sets to the site.

Milton from Attar Metals for bringing over the loader to shove the car inside the building.

And of course our volunteers that spent a very long day making sure this car got moved, Neil, Mike, John, Jim, Nolan, Ken Sr. and Ken Jr. All these people and companies shown above really made everything come together, and we really couldn’t have asked for better move.

Thank you everyone for following along with this move today, we appreciate your support and hope you’ll come out and see our new car.

July 26, 2020

Switching around Equipment

On Saturday, July 25th, we decided to take the opportunity to reposition some equipment, and while doing so, bring all 4 locomotives outside for some pictures. This is the first time that all 4 have been outside together, and the first time both Hydro Electric Power Commission locomotives, 1918 electric E-7, and 1920 steam locomotive 46 have been together outside since the 1920’s. 6 of our members were out to make all of this happen, so thanks to Neil, Mike, Adrian, Rick, Ken and Ken.

Part of this move was also to get ready for the arrival of our wood boarding car, TH&B X-759. We are still working on the logistics of this move, and will have more information on the move soon.  We also hope to be able to still have our annual RailDays event in September, and will be following the current situation in the Region closely.

E7 was first out for the day.
The GE has just pulled the Plymouth and HEPC 46 outside.
HEPC E7 and HEPC 46 together outside.
Head on view of all 4 locomotives from the sand tower.
Overall yard view from the north sand tower.
The final pic of all 4 locomotives outside.

July 16, 2020

TH&B X-759

The Niagara Railway Museum Inc. is pleased to announce that we have acquired one of the rarest, if not the rarest, railcars from the Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo Railway. X-759 has been in private ownership for decades, and was recently donated to the Museum.

X-759 was built by National Steel Car in December 1913 as wood boxcar #3775. It was renumbered to 3105 in 1941. The car was rebuilt and assigned to MOW Service as the Carpenters boarding car, numbered X-759 by 1947, and retired and sold to Equipment Broker S.G. Paikin in June 1979. It was moved to Welland for scrapping, but was saved from the torch by a local businessman who had an interest in the railway. He moved it to his farm, where he intended to rebuild it into a pool house. However, (thankfully) this never happened, and the car has retained the majority of its original interior.

In December the Museum approached the family to see if they would be interested in donating the car for preservation. After 7 months, the family informed us that the car was ours. We are now working on the logistics of the move and have started fundraising to help with the cost of the move to the Museum site. If you can help the Museum with this great project, donations can be made securely online by visiting:

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/niagara-railway-museum-inc/

All donations over $25 are eligible for a Charitable tax receipt. We are pleased to have X-759 added to the collection, and it joins another TH&B car in the shop, the last gondola #2676.

TH&B X-759 out of service.

June 3, 2020

Great Canadian Giving Challenge

The Great Canadian Giving Challenge is a way to support your favourite charity, and we hope you will consider the Museum in this manner. For every dollar donated, we are entered for a chance to win $20000. This prize would get so very far with our restoration projects. It would allow us to finish the cosmetic restoration of our 1920 steam locomotive HEPC 46, and our 1918 electric locomotive, HEPC E7. The Museum operates on donations, and every little helps, but in this case, it could give us a big boost to accomplishing some of our goals.

Donations can be made securely online through Canada Helps, or by clicking the link below to go directly to the secure page.

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