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Niagara Railway Museum Blog

August 4, 2017

HEPC 46 restoration begins.

The cosmetic restoration of Hydro-Electric Power Commission 1920 ALCo 0-4-0ST #46 has begun. Thanks to the generous assistance of Derek Costello, new wood pilot beams are being fabricated. However, there are a fair amount of pieces missing, so some will need to be fabricated. Some we have 1 of, others we have none. New coupler cut levers also need to be made. Derek came to the Museum a week or so ago to take measurements of where the pilot beam needs to mount. He took what parts we had as well, and has already cleaned and painted them. We are very grateful to Derek for taking on this part of the project, and we really look forward to having this part of it done.  I’m sure it’ll look great when complete. We will add more pictures as the work progresses.

There is still a long way to go with the restoration of 46. We are seeking help from someone that can do all the steelwork on the cab. Another large piece of this project, but once complete, it would allow us to have visitors safely access the cab.

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New hardwood pilot beams.

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Push pole pockets cleaned and ready.

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Front footboard brackets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 of the grab iron end posts.

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Newly fabricated cut lever brackets.

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The assembled cut lever brackets test fit.

 

 

 

December 11, 2016

The Flanger arrives!!

The Niagara Railway Museum Inc. would like to thank all the companies involved with the move of the Flanger. We obviously could not have done it without your help.

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There has been an incredible amount of things happening since the last update.  Our Fall Model Railway Show has come and gone and was a great success for the Museum. There has been constant work happening out at the site, with Wayne M finishing up covering over the upper by windows, which has made big difference in keeping some of the weather out. There has been track work, equipment maintenance and grounds work happening as well.  But the biggest news, and our early Christmas present, was the safe arrival of our 1935 ex-CNR snow flanger, #56323.

Countless hours of work went into the planning and execution of the move. The move involved a crane, specialized float trailer, fence removal, Airport cooperation, permits, and of course, general help. The move was all set up and planned for Friday, December 9th. So by 8am everyone was assembled at the Genaire Ltd. hangar at the Niagara District Airport in Niagara On The Lake and plans were worked through to make sure everyone was on the same page. First in was the crane, provided by Amherst Crane out of Port Colborne.

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An early morning start, 0745 on December 9th.

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Amherst has arrived and is starting to set up.

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Hovering over the ground, waiting for the trailer to be ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equipment Express from Ayr was the mover chosen for this job, and they had the perfect trailer for the job. Their crew knew the right route to take and we only encountered one low wire on the entire trip, which easily rolled over the car with the help of the wood skis we put over the car.  One of the stumbling points to the move was how to get the trailer into the property. We knew some fence had to be removed, and Greg from Peninsula Construction made sure that was looked after by sending a 2 man crew out to remove and reinstall the fence and barbed wire. Milton of Attar Metals in Fort Erie brought out the flat deck to move the trucks to the shop.  Milton managed to fit this into a very busy day, and was running later and later, but arrived at an almost perfect time and we had him loaded and gone quickly.

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After 40yrs, the track sits empty.

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Genaire loaded the trucks onto the flat deck provided by our neighbours Attar Metals.

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Milton and Dan picked the wheels up, and delivered them to the shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was definitely a bittersweet day for Lorraine and her staff at Genaire.  For almost 40yrs the car has sat out back of the Hangar, brought there by her father Gerry. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t much productivity at the plant that day, at least not until after lunch. Most of the staff took time to check out the move every once in a while.  Some stood outside watching, others watched through the windows. Lorraine’s son Chris, and Maintenance guy Al were right into it, assisting with the crane set up, blocking, and whatever else was needed. We were able to get Genaire to bring out the big forklift to assist with moving blocking and plates, and of course loading the wheelsets. Everything worked out very well for timing.  Because the crane had to go up 100ft, we were given a 2hr window from the Airport to get the job done. Once the car was loaded, the crane was packed up and sent ahead to get set up at the Museum.  Milton showed up for the trucks, and the permit adjustment allowed the crane and wheels to arrive before the car itself. The day would not be complete without a big thanks to Lisa and everyone that helped from the Niagara District Airport. Having a crane this close to the runways, and having to bring the truck through the airport property need special permission, and escorts on and off the property. The cooperation that happened with everyone involved was fantastic.  There was one small issue with the permit fo the car, as after loading on the trailer, it was higher than what was on the original permit.  Equipment Express made those changes, and after a short wait, we were on the road for Fort Erie at about 105pm. It was a longer route, taking us all the way to Hwy 3 at Gasline, then over to Stevensville Rd, and east onto Bowen. At the end of Bowen it was up into the yard and down the access road to the shop.

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Leaving Genaire for the final time.

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Turning off Townline Rd.

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Arriving at the west end of the CN Fort Erie yard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The actual trip to Fort Erie was about 70minute trip, which was great time. With the crane already set up at the shop by the time the car arrived, the unload went very quick. The trucks were on the track in the right order, and only needed to be moved in to position. The slings and spreader bars were put into position and the lift began. Not much more than 15 minutes later, at 320pm, the car was reunited with its trucks at its new home. Once everything was in place, the crane and float packed up and left.  The flanger, weighing in at about 22tons, needed to go inside. However, the wheels were not all that free rolling.  Ken and Ken were left to move this car inside, and the only thing we had was our Ford 8n tractor. Somehow, the tractor managed to pull the car into the shop (with Ken using a manual car mover at the back), where it would spend the night inside for the first time in decades.

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Everything is in position at the shop.

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Up in the air, heading for the trucks.

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At 1520, the body was resting back on its trucks at its new home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our 2 flangers, CN 56452 & 56323 together outside the shop.

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As we were finishing up, CN came through enroute to Buffalo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the crews from:

Equipment Express – Rich & Darren, and Tim & Roger with the float and escort truck.

Amherst Crane – Gerald and Derek (operator)

Peninsula Construction – Greg and Morgan & Justin

Attar Metals – Milton & Dan

In addition to the many companies involved, I also thank our members who came out to help, Ken, Ken, Wayne, Garry and Jim.

 

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.

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

April 23, 2016

Checking some projects off the list

With just 3 weekends left until opening weekend, our members have been busy again this week trying to get things done.  Wednesday 4 members were out working on electrical, installing more fixtures for the new LED floods, and finishing painting walls and railings. The office area is really looking great, very bright with a fresh coat of paint.

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Our 3.5″ gauge live steam pacific poses for a pic on the GHLS track in Hamilton.

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The Trolley is now complete with its new LED headlight.

On Friday, Ken and Ken took the NRM’s live steam pacific up to the Golden Horseshoe Live Steamers track in Hamilton to have the boiler tested. Unfortunately the test couldn’t be performed due to an improper fitting (a new one is being made for the next test). However, we did put the engine on the track and rolled it back and forth a bit to see how it looked, and of course take a few pictures. Looking forward to being able to fire it up (after passing the boiler test) and running it on the GHLS track. Information on their operation can be found at http://www.ghls.ca/ghls-home.

Saturday was another busy day with 7 members (Wayne G, Wayne M, Ken, Ken, Aaron, Jim, Peter) out working on different projects. The trolley from Niagara Central Hobbies finally got its new headlight, and it looks great.  It started out as a ditch light from an ex-Ontario Northland F unit. It was cleaned and repainted, and has had a frosted lense and low watt LED bulb installed. It’s a nice bright light and now makes the trolley look more complete. The switch stand, which used to sit out at the back stairs with the store address on the target is now up with the rest of the Hobby Shop items.  It’s coming together well, and we hope to have that display completed in time for opening weekend.

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Wayne adding a second coat of primer to the stair railing.

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The railings on the ramp glow with fresh yellow paint.

Wayne M. continued painting the railings, first applying 2 coats of primer, and a top coat of yellow.  Every bit of paint Wayne has done has really improved the look of the shop, and has amounted to hundreds of hours of cleaning the old paint and rough spots off to get a nice smooth finish. All the fresh yellow (and much of the grey & silver) that is seen around the shop has been done by Wayne.

The second display car is coming along very well.  Some major changes were made to the first car as all of the Great Gorge Route items were moved into the new display car to keep everything in one spot. The GGR display will also be expanded a bit with a few more artifacts, pictures, and some history.  Taking the place of the GGR items in the first display car  will be an expanded Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto electric railway display. This new display will feature more photos of the NS&T from across the system, as well as a few more of our artifacts.

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Jim and Aaron working on a stand for part of the Great Gorge Route display.

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The GGR display at the end of the day. Still some work to do, but really pleased with it right now.

We are always trying to improve our displays for our visitors and we feel what we have planned for 2016 will really show how hard we’ve been working to get things done. Our work days are generally Wednesday and Saturday, and we’re always looking for new members to get involved.

Be sure to stop by the Museum on opening weekend, May 14th & 15th, 10am to 4pm rain or shine.

 

 

March 5, 2016

The train show is here!!

It’s yet another very busy weekend for the Museum.  We picked our newest addition today, a 3 1/2″ gauge, 7/8″ scale 4-6-2 live steam pacific locomotive. Fred Mill, a local former CN Carman had need to downsize, and passed this great looking engine over to the NRM.  It will have its first display at the Niagara Model Railway Show on Sunday. The locomotive and tender weigh in at about 230lbs (empty). It also comes with a custom built display stand and lift, and a custom built flat car. The locomotive will undergo a complete inspection before being test fired over the coming months.

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NRM’s newly acquired live steam pacific locomotive.

 

 

 

Sunday March 6th is the 16th Annual Niagara Model Railway Show. This is going to be one of our biggest shows yet with new vendors and displays. Come out and support Railway Heritage in Niagara. Hope to see you there.

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December 2, 2015

Our Locomotives Pose Together

I decided today to pull the Plymouth MDT40t outside to pose for a photo with our new GE 25 tonner.  There was a bit of work to do on the GE today, including getting the bell working again.  The bell wasn’t used at the plant and the line was broken.  After a simple 5 minute repair, the bell is back in operation. It is interesting to see the size difference in the 2 locomotives as well.  The Plymouth is wider, longer, lower and heavier at 40tons.  The GE, of course, is 25 tons and shorter than the MDT.  Either way, it’s great to have an operating locomotive, and we’re looking forward to the day when the Plymouth will be up and running as well.

 

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The GE 25ton and Plymouth MDT40t outside.

November 30, 2015

2015 Continues to be a Great Year

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Loaded up and ready to head to the shop.

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At the Museum, lining up the trailer for unloading.

It is with great pleasure that the Niagara Railway Museum presents our newest acquisition, a 1948 built GE 25ton diesel locomotive.  We are very happy to have had this item donated to the Museum from the owners of the former BF Goodrich plant near Thorold.  The locomotive was moved to the site on November 30th by PGM Rail Services of Niagara Falls.

Because the locomotive is in operating condition, it made it an easy move for loading and unloading.  We were able to drive it onto the trailer (with some help from a winch) and very easily drive it off at the shop.

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Lining up the trailer, getting ready to unchain and unload the locomotive.

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Our first official “train” as the GE is used to move the boxcar down a couple of car lengths.

This was an historic occasion. While we have had the Plymouth diesel fired up inside the shop, it is not in operating condition and didn’t move under its own power. The GE is the first locomotive since the late 80’s to operate in and out of the shop. We express our thanks to the owners of the former BF Goodrich plant, Chris G for getting the ball rolling, Edward L for making this all happen, and to PGM Rail Services in Niagara Falls for sending a great crew to move the locomotive.

A video of the move can be viewed here: Moving the GE Diesel

The official photograph of the new locomotive outside the Niagara Railway Museum Inc. in Fort Erie.

The official photograph of the new locomotive outside the Niagara Railway Museum Inc. in Fort Erie.

 

November 22, 2015

Recent news – Part 1 – Train Shows, Donations and Around the Shop

Its been extremely busy around the Museum the last month, and I’m a bit behind in posting updates. The October Model Railway Show is now behind us, and I’m pleased with the results. We are now looking forward to our next show on March 6th. Other shows we’ve been taking part in were the Woodstock Show in October, and the Ancaster TH&B Flea Market, which was one of our best Ancaster shows ever.

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The Weekenders N scale layout.

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Show floor nearing the end of the day.

We’ve also had some great donations, including a rare set of items from the Royal Train in June 1973 from the family of Murray and Morley VanAlstine. Murray & Morley were twin brothers.  They both worked for CN out of Niagara Falls.  They hired on, on the same day, got their engineman papers the same day, and retired the same day. They were in Ripleys Believe It Or Not, and were also both part of the crew on the Royal train. The donation included 2 photo albums covering the brothers careers, a menu, complete set of train orders and other paperwork from the Royal Train.  We also have a set of book ends cut from a piece of rail showing the brothers on their last trip. This is a great addition to the Museum and the items will be on display in 2016.

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The last run banner.

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The VanAlstine Brothers on their last trip.

After many years of work, we have finally finished the largest part of our track construction, and now have 2 tracks to the shop which we will be able to move between. Our track crew was often only 4 people, but thanks to Wayne Ettinger of Trillium Railway Co. Ltd, we were able tocomplete the job easier as he loaned us the companies hydraulic track tools.  We pre set the spikes then drove them in with the spiker. There is still some work to do, just some fine tuning, but we expect to be able to get our final boxcar inside for the winter.  We also thank Bill Snow and Doug Campbell of Rankin Construction for donating 2 truck loads of ballast, and Milton and Clayton from Attar Metals for moving some ballast and adjusting our track. Clayton brought theskidsteer over to assist us with some basic work. Without the generous assistance they frequently provide,  we would not be as far along as we are.

As a surprise to our members, our November meeting was held in a special location at the Niagara District Airport. Genaire Ltd has former CN flanger 56323, which was converted to an open conference room many years ago.  It is identical to the car we have, except where we have from the frame down, this car has the body we are missing. A big thanks goes to Lorraine Warner of Genaire for allowing us to have our meeting in their former CNR wood body Flanger. It was a big hit with our members, and it’s still being talked about as the best meeting spot yet!!

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