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Niagara Railway Museum Blog

March 26, 2016

Another great Saturday

It was almost an 8hr day out at the shop today, as 6 members spent the time switching equipment around, getting it in place for the coming season, and to get some work done as well.  The movements started just after 10am and wrapped up around 3pm, but by the end of the day, everything was repositioned where it needed to be. At the end of 2015 we were able to move equipment between 2 of the 3 shop tracks. It was functional, but does need some work. This was an even bigger test of the track as the electric weighs in at about 50tons, and there were multiple back and forth movements involved.

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First move, shove the boxcar to the end of the tail track.

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Jim, Wayne, Garry and Aaron remove the bars to switch the track.

The number 8 turnout is a bit odd in construction. In order to get done what needed to be done, it was constructed with 100lb rail and interlaced 8ft ties. There are no points, as it’s a different form of a stub switch.  The tail track is barred/bolted to the route to be used. When the other track is needed, the bars are removed, the track moved over and the bars reapplied.  Yes, it is a very time consuming job, but it is functional.  In 2016 it will have 16’6″ points added to make things easier.

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CN working the main line.

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CN 2246 a 2006 built GE, passes our 1948 GE.

It was a pretty busy day for train traffic as well.  First up was a CN which came into Fort Erie, set out in the yard, then took it’s 3 6axle units and 6 boxcars of shingles over to the lumber transload off Gilmore Rd. It was an interesting comparison of a modern, 2006 built GE, with our 1948 built GE. After that came a CP heading to the US with another GE, followed by a westbound CP ethanol train lead by yet another GE. Final train was the NS transfer.

 

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Westbound CP with 2002 built GE 9717.

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Westbound CP with CP 2001 built GE 8605 and CEFX 2004 built GE 1055.

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The NS transfer lead by GM 3311 (with a CP GE in the consist).

It was neat to see all the trains that went through this day had GE power in the consist. This was also the first time that Hydro Electric Power Commission E-7 (Ex-Inco 102) was outside since it was moved into the shop some 5yrs ago. E-7 posed for some pics with the GE and Plymouth.

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HEPC E-7 in the sun.

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The GE, Electric and Plymouth outside together for the first time.

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The train before shoving back into the shop.

 

 

 

 

 

The weather was fantastic for doing all this work, and it sets us up right where we need to be for this display season. The GE performed very well and handled the job with ease.  There is still some minor work to do on the GE, and that will continue over the summer.

This week we also received a few more items from Fred Mills, the donor of the live steam Pacific. We were able to get copies of a few of his personal pictures, such as the Niagara Falls Car Department from 1942 to 1986 (when Fred retired), along with the picture of the retirees in 1986.  Fred also very generously donated a clock he received when he retired.  We look forward to having all these items on display at the shop this year. Fred is a 3rd generation railroader,  his Grandfather Frederick Mills worked on the GTR as a Baggageman in Niagara Falls, his father, Wilfred Mills worked for the New York Central as a Yard Clerk, and Fred himself spent 40yrs with the CN as a Carman at Niagara Falls.

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Niagara Falls CN Car Department group shot from 1942 to 1986.

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The early retirees in 1986. Fred is 3rd from the right.

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One of Fred’s retirement gifts.

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Fred with CN 6060 at Niagara Falls.

A big thanks to our members who came out to help get this very important work done, Jim, Wayne G., Garry, Aaron, Ken and Ken. The Museum is a very complex plan, and every bit of help we are able to get is of great benefit to us.  We are always looking for new members who want to get involved with the many projects we have on the go. And remember, the Niagara Railway Museum Inc. is a Charitable Organization registered with the Canada Revenue Agency.  We are able to offer Charitable tax receipts for donations received. Come out and see us in 2016, lots going on and lots more to come.

 

January 30, 2016

Wrapping up January

With just a 3 man crew today, we still managed to get quite a bit done. The main goal of the day was to get the 4 ex-CN Fairmont A4d Gangcars unloaded from the 3rd boxcar, where they’ve been stored for more than 10yrs. The boxcar had to be moved into position for unloading, so the GE was fired up for the job.  Having a working locomotive is an incredible asset to the Museum.

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The GE smokes under the exhaust hood, charging its air, ready to move the boxcar forward.

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Unloading the first car from the boxcar.

The cars can’t just be taken out the door due to their size, so they have to be moved into a position to come out the door on an angle, which can still be a bit tight. Of the 4 cars, one of them will be cosmetically restored and be sent to the Northern Ontario Railway Museum in Capreol for display, one will remain with us and be returned to operation, while the other 2 are more or less parts cars.  One may be converted to a rider car of sorts to allow short rides on the Museum track.

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CN 187-49 sits outside for the first time in over 10yrs. This car will be restored by the Museum.

 

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CN 186-70 is the last car out of the boxcar.

The work took about 3hrs to complete, and all 4 cars saw daylight before being put back into the shop. CN 186-70 will be the car for Capreol. The NRM has had these cars for about 13yrs, so it’s good to finally have them out of the boxcar.

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CN 186-70 sits outside for a picture

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All 4 cars are together inside the shop awaiting movement to secure storage and eventual restoration.

Before and after the cars were unloaded, Wayne was working on stripping paint off the walkway railing. The shop was fairly mild, above zero, and he also got a coat of primer on the railing. Wayne has done a lot of painting around the shop, and it’s really helped to bring the place back to life.  The new refurbished headlight (a locomotive ditch light) was test fit to the front of the Hobby Shop trolley, and looks pretty good.  It should work out quite well for display.

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The empty boxcar, ready for cleaning and conversion to a display/store car

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Wayne cleaning the railing for painting

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The trolley has a new light. (used the flashlight on a cell phone to light it up for the pic)

The Niagara Railway Museum would like to extend its thanks to Ted Lucas and his staff at Lucas Lift Truck in Thorold South.  Ted has helped us many times, and even provided the forklift when we loaded these cars into the boxcar over 10yrs ago. The job couldn’t have been done without this forklift, and we appreciate all the help Ted has given us over the years.

 

With one month down now in 2016, progress continues at the shop.  Some new displays are being worked on, and there will be even more to see this year.

 

 

October 12, 2014

Thanksgiving weekend track work and Model Railway Show

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The display and storage cars are inside the shop, awaiting work on the doors and interiors.

October 11th was the annual Thanksgiving track work weekend at the shop.  The goal was to continue working through the turnout to connect the south and middle track. Ken, John, Wayne G and Aaron managed to get half of the turnout laid out and partially spiked.  One more full day and the turnout should be usable. Half of the middle track has also been gauged, as has the straight side of the turnout. Elsewhere Ken and Wayne M were cleaning up some brush  previously cut down.

As a reminder, the Annual Niagara Model Railway Show will be held at its new location on October 26th, from 10am to 3:30pm at the Merriton Community Centre, 7 Park St. in St. Catharines.  Information on the show including the show flyer and vendor form are available on the website at www.nfrm.ca/nfmrs.php

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Work progressed into the #8 turnout, with half of the rail being installed, and ready for spiking.

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CP 57974 sits outside the shop.

 

 

October 1, 2014

The Boxcars arrive home

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401639 is the first to be lifted off it’s trucks and loaded for the move.

After almost a year in Stevensville, and even longer in storage in Niagara Falls, the Museums 3 ex-CP Rail boxcars have finally arrived at the shop. The move took place on Monday September 29th and took just over 12hrs to complete.

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401258 is next, with the trucks shown rolled out of the way.

With very good summer weather (which we didn’t get this summer!), Ken, John, Rick and Gary from the Museum met with the mover, Pioneer Heavy Haul,and the cranes from Vic Powell Welding of Dunnville, at the former DMI Industries plant (now owned by Trinity Industries of Texas) in Stevensville, ON.  Ken Sr. and Wayne G were at the shop getting things ready for the arrival on that end. #401639 was the first car loaded, with #401258 second and #57974 last. The load was sitting high on the trailers as the air tanks on the bottom of the cars could not be removed. Blocking was utilized to keep the cars off the trailer deck. The first car took the longest for loading, having to have smaller blocks placed to lower it further to clear the wires. The lifts went well, however movement to the site was slow.

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401639 & 401258 are loaded and ready to head for the shop.

It was a lengthy process getting the cars loaded and tied down. Attar Metals, our fantastic neighbours to the west of our location (Who operate out of the former CN Car shops), brought a flat deck over to move the wheelsets from DMI to the shop.  They also came over to the shop with the loader to pull the Plymouth and steam engine outside as 2 of the boxcars were going inside behind HEPC #46. Once it was all done, they also moved the locomotives back inside the shop.

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57974 is the last car to be loaded, and was also the last car to be unloaded.

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Milton from Attar Metals unloads the wheelsets while waiting for the first car to arrive.

CP 401258 arrived at the shop around 4pm and was quickly unloaded onto its wheels and moved easily inside the shop.  The Trackmobile was used for this, but it wasn’t really needed, as it rolled so well we actually just pushed it the final 20ft to the stop blocks. The final 2 cars arrived at dusk and were unloaded and placed onto their trucks in the dark. 401639 shares the track behind HEPC #46 with 401258, while 57974 is currently outside awaiting movement into the middle track behind HEPC E-7.

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401258 is being readied to be unloaded.

 

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401258 is the first car to be moved into the shop.

The Niagara Railway Museum extends its thanks to:

– Pioneer Heavy Haul and Vic Powell Welding for the floats and cranes for this move.

– Milton Braun and Attar Metals Fort Erie for their continued support and assistance. So much couldn’t be accomplished without their help.

– Preston Bass and Trinity Industries of Dallas, Texas, owners of the former DMI plant for allowing us to move the cars to their site, and for their patience as we worked through the lengthy process of making this move happen.

– The dedicated members from the Museum who spent the day making this move happen. (John Weylie, Wayne Gibson, Ken F Jones, Karen Jones, Rick Howard, Gary Eller, Ken S Jones)

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HEPC #46 spends some time outside for the first time since she arrived 4yrs ago.

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The Plymouth was also outside, and made it further down the track than ever before in order to allow space for the unloading of the boxcars.

August 21, 2011

Sunday shop report

In addition to work that was done at the shop on Saturday (see previous post), I spent another 4 hours out there today. My goal for today was to set up and get operating, a set of crossing signals.  This set does have to be semi portable, so I went with a PVC pipe  instead of the standard railway grade pole (that will be for the permanent set inside the shop!).

The display crossing lights, about 60% complete.

The bracket the lights are mounted to has a hole to allow for wires to be run down the inside the pole and into the ground to relays and such.  So, one must first cut a small oval in the pole, which a hole saw works nicely for. After that, I filed it down, made sure it was smooth, and mounted the lights.  They fit quite well, so that part is done.  I managed to stand the whole thing up, which is a pain, as it is quite heavy.  The pole was secured to the railing so I could work on it upright.  With a 12v battery ready, I managed to scrounge some wire from around the shop.  The lights I was using have been sitting outside for

almost 15yrs, so I didn’t know if they’d even work.  Well, I figured out what wires and terminals were for what lights, and to my amazement, all 4 lights lit up.  Before starting all of this, the shields and hoods were cleaned and painted.  So, 2 of the lights got thier shields and hoods back, the other 2 will be next weekend.  The post, which was white, was painted silver to look like an actual post.  Right now all 4 lights are wired on, as I hope to have the actual flasher relay this week.  When complete, this post will be displayed at certain events throughout the year.  The first one will be the Steam Era show in Milton on the Labour Day Weekend, September 2-5.

Despite a very heavy downpour of rain, which created a waterfall in the heavy repair bay, it was a good working day inside the shop.  Once the sun came out and started to dry things off, I managed to get a bit of  primer on the bare metal that was cleaned off on Saturday.  Not likely to get a coat of paint on it by the September 10/11 open house, but at least something has been done.

HEPC E-7 gets a bit of primer

Still lots of work to be done out there.  If you’re interested in helping out the NRM, please email us or give us a call.

April 22, 2011

A very good Friday

The back of the Plymouth before painting

It was a very good Friday out at the shop.  Despite a small 4 man work party, a significant amount of work was done.  William and Eric worked on cleaning more debris out from some of the corners and from under racks, and by the end of the day, it was looking pretty good.  Ken Sr. was working on sealing up the office window panels, and did a bit more painting on the shop walls.  Ken Jr. spent the day working on the Plymouth and E-7.

Half of the back of the Plymouth cab was worked on,with the rust bubbles being removed and rough paint smoothed out. By the end of the day, a coat of grey primer was applied.

Primer applied

A set of ditch lights off an Ontario Northland F unit have been acquired and will become the new headlights for the Plymouth.  The Plymouth will also have a bell from a VIA F40PH added in the spring.  If all goes well the

rest of the back wall of the cab will be done by the May open house, showing good progress on the locomotive.  E-7 got a bit of attention, just testing out the paint remover.

A small section of the cab was taken down to bare metal and a coat of primer applied.

E-7 with the new dock plate and paint test.

We also cut a dock plate to allow safe passage between the work platform and the locomotive. This needs to be a bit wider for safety, but will be good for the volunteers to get over the 10″ gap between platform and locomotive.  The final thing was the donation of a large set of steel steps from Paletta International.  They are tearing down the old Chef Boy R Dee plant in Niagara Falls, and these steps were once used to cross over a conveyor system. They’ve been outside the plant for a while, and were donated this week.  While not suitable for public use, they will be good for members to use to work on equipment.

Our new work stairs.

CN SD70M 8927 at Fort Erie, April 22, 2011

January 30, 2011

Well, despite the winter weather, we are still working out at the shop.  With the lack of windows in the building, it cuts down on the length of time, and number of volunteers that come out, but we are still moving forwards.  The Plymouth diesel has had many of its air lines removed, inspected, and re-installed.  Some lines are being replaced due to rot.  There are some water issues in a couple of the air lines, and they are being thawed out, inspected, and replaced where needed.  If it’s a heavy snow outside, chances are it’ll be snowing inside, as the 2 photos below show.  These were taken at 12 & 2pm on January 22nd.  Oh well, it’s still better than working outside.

Cold, but very little snow.

And now theres snow

The next display for the Niagara Railway Museum will be at the annual Heritage week event held at Niagara Square mall on February 18th to 20th.  This event gathers groups from across Niagara to display thier historic artifacts.  Then, just 2 weeks later, the 11th Annual Niagara Falls Model Railway Show.  See the website events section for more details on both of these events.  The development of the CNR diesel shop into the Niagara Railway Museum relies on fundraising and donations, so please come out and support the NRM as we move forward to create a great railway attraction in the Niagara Region.  All donations over $25 are eligible for a charitable tax reciept. Donations can be made directly on our website through the secure server. www.nfrm.ca 

October 17, 2010

Weekend Work Report

It was a very productive weekend at the Museum site.  Scott and I (Ken Jr.) spent some of Saturday working on the brake rigging on the Plymouth, and also spiked up some more of track 2.  We also looked around inside and out of the shop and made up a list of jobs to be done before winter.  Sunday saw 7 members out to work.  Bill worked on the Plymouth motor, replacing some of the missing parts as the test fire draws near.

NRM Member Bill McCraw has his head stuck in the hood of the Plymouth as he works on a gasket.

Steve, William, Scott, and myself worked on HEPC 46.  For the past 30+ years, it has been stuck in forward. With the help of a hydraulic jack, we were able to move the linkage back to its neutral position. It is still very tight, but a careful eye was kept on all moving parts to ensure that everything moved as it was intended. The reversing gear on HEPC 46 is now in neutral, instead of forward.

The reversing gear on HEPC 46 is now in neutral, instead of forward.

Ken Sr. and Ryan worked in the inspection pit on track 2, clearing out garbage and debris.  Next time there are more hands, all the debris from the pit, and the old washrooms will be removed from the shop as we continue to clean the facility to make it better for our members, and visitors.  As I was leaving, Norfolk Southern train 369 from Buffalo came into the yard.  The lead unit was a former SOO Line, followed by 2 NS, and a brand new CN GE ES44DC #2325.

NS train 369 enters the Fort Erie yard with brand new CN 2325, a GE ES44DC.

My thanks to everyone who came out today.  Still lots to do before the winter sets in.  And a reminder to everyone else, the Fall Niagara Falls Model Railway Show is just 2 weeks away, on October 31st, 2010.  The show is once again held at Optimist Park Hall, and is open from 10am-3:30pm.  Model railway vendors, layouts, and displays.  There will be something for everyone, so come on out and support the Niagara Railway Museum.

September 6, 2010

Weekend work report

Not a whole lot was done at the shop this weekend, because of the long weekend, however, some things were accomplished.  The pile of debris inside near the north door was removed which has really cleaned up the shop.  A bit more track work was done, along with more grass cutting.  Less than 1 week to go before our big open house, and things are shaping up quite well.  Come out and support the NRM, and celebrate the 90th birthday of HEPC steam engine #46 this month.

September 3, 2010

Work Session Report – September 2nd, 2010

Had a decent work session on Thursday Sept 2nd.  4 members came out, and got a fair amount done.  Eric & William spent the time sweeping and clearing debris out of the heavy repair bay.  With the upcoming open house, we wanted to get it cleared out to make is safe for our visitors, which allows us to open up another part of the shop.  Plus, we are expecting another piece of equipment to arrive on site shortly, and it will be going on that track.

Looking west down the heavy repair bay track.

Ken Sr. worked on cleaning the floors under the inspection platforms, and managed to get 90% of the debris from down there cleared out.  I spent my time doing some touch up painting, starting with HEPC E-7. 3 weeks ago I chipped away at some of the years of black and orange paint on the ends of the locomotive. I managed to get it down to bare metal, and on Thursday, applied a coat of flat black to the bare metal.  Even a little bit of paint makes a big difference, and shows that something is being done to preserve the equipment.

I also did some painting on our steam locomotive.  For the past 4 years she has had Niagara Railway Museum painted on the side of the water tank.  Well, now that she is inside the actual Museum, I felt it was time for that to go.  She didn’t wear that in service, and no longer needs to wear it now.  Also touched up a bit of the black on the cab.  The cab will be rebuilt, but just for photos, having a bit of paint on it makes for better pictures.

While we had people out, we moved the drive rods for the steam engine to a spot where people won’t fall over them, and the same was done to the footboards for E-7.  We cleaned the floor where the display cases and tables will be for the open house next week, and marked out the spaces for said cases and such.  All in all, it was a decent day, and we are looking forward to having a great open house, rain or shine, on September 11/12.  As the NRM crew was leaving, members of the Southern Niagara Model Railway Club turned up to work on one of the other tracks near the shop.  It will likely serve as a storage area for our boxcars and some other equipment until such time as we can get them

A little paint...

in the shop.  They cleared the heavily overgrown siding all the way to the wheelstops, which, including what was already cleared, is just under 1000ft.  They had previously cleared the  mudrails on 2 of the crossings on that siding.  They have been doing this on thier own time, and have been a great help to us.

The final note is a photo taken the other day by Ken Jones Sr.  We are working to get the grass cut down for better photos, but this shot shows the NS transfer returning to Buffalo.  The CN mainline is just feet from our doorstep, and one can see trains from CN, CP & NS.

The view from our doorstep!

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