Saturday, March 26, 2011

Elgin and Belvidere Electric Box Motor

One of the many electric lines represented in the Interurbans of the Fox Valley ideal is the Elgin & Belvidere Electric. The E&B is obviously long gone and at best is a distant memory. The mainline of the Illinois Railway Museum operates over the former E&B right-of-way, and that's about the most tangible memory, other than a few structures.

I purchased a somewhat abused Clouser Illinois Terminal Box Motor on eBay a month or so back. The seller claimed he had purchased it in similar straits, and had attempted to convert it into something similar, but non-prototypic, before he lost interest. I was able to get it for a very reasonable price, and thought to restore it to it's proper IT glory. Unfortunately, I realized this wouldn't be overly practical. Possible, not really practical.

After much wondering/plotting/planning, I realized the ends would be perfect for any number of other cars, just needing replacement sides for a given prototype. This model apparently came in kit form, which I was unaware that Clouser had made available. The kit format with separate sides, ends, roof (unlike the typical Clouser full body shell), made removing the IT sides relatively easy.

I decided to build an Elgin & Belvidere box motor. The prototype, shown below from the classic Carl Gustafson work "The Dairy Route", shows the basic car body. It's a simple box motor design, really a motorized box car for LCL freight movements, and use as a locomotive for 2-3 car freights. A unique feature of these cars is the combination of overhead trolley poles, as well as 3rd rail shoes, as these cars operated on the Aurora Elgin & Chicago/Chicago Aurora & Elgin who not only interchanged traffic with the line, but also performed heavy maintenace work for them at their Wheaton shop facilities.

The basic mocked up body, needs doors and finishing details.

A better look at the third rail shoes

One of the original Clouser IT sides for comparison.

I was able to salvage these sides for future use, best of both worlds !

Head on view.

Projects, Projects

Projects, projects.
Trying to really focus on getting back to serious, full-time modeling. Typical of yours truly, spring is in the air, and most people are thinking about getting outside in the fresh air, and I'm focusing on being inside breathing MEK all day long.

First up, the aborted O Scale Modular Traction Club idea is coming back to life. While the original concept burst on the scene with a lot of excitement and best intentions a year ago, sadly it withered on the vine. Interestingly enough, over the last 12 months, there has literally not been a single week that someone hasn't asked me about it. It's a legitimate statement to say that there's more interest at hand currently than there was a year ago, if anything I suppose it's due to the concept being out there and floated about publicly.

Anyways, we're giving it another whirl. We're going to try a different approach this time. We'll start with a core group of 3 - 4 people (or more if possible) that will commit to building a basic starter layout by a given date. Full details within the couple of weeks. Working on the "If you build it, they will come" philosophy.

To that end, I took the original two modules built for the first club attempt, and had a guy at work knock out some legs for me. Basic 48 inch lumber, the legs fit into pockets in the ends of the modules, and with the raised subroadbed, you have a finished table top that's roughly 52 inches, floor to top of the rail. Puts the trains at roughly mid-chest height. Creates quite a spectacular effect having them that up close and personal, even with just staging roadbed, track and trains on the tabletops.

We'll get some definition on standards over the next couple weeks, build some more modules and be off and running for good this time.

Haven't negelected the large scale side of things. Our peerless LST list owner Jan Giradot sent in a request from Colorado to ask if I would be interested in building him a 1:24 scale model of his favorite car, Indiana Railroad high-speed #65. Mocked up the basic body fairly quickly (see below), I need to make a trip or two out to IRM in the next couple weeks to get some more exacting measurements and take a bunch of pictures to finish this up.

Also just finished the last of the winter/spring season for train shows with the Interurbans of the Fox Valley display a couple weeks ago with the High Wheeler train show. I am the grateful and humbled recipient of this year's Best Display award. Unfortunately that success was tempered a couple weeks later when I had to cancel on the All American Railroad Show at the last minute. Hopefully we can make it next year and make up for the last minute cancellation !

Interurbans of the Fox Valley - High Wheeler 2011 Display

Last of the projects, (at least in this posting),, made some decisions on the new Sunset North Shore cars. First, I was very lucky to have been able to swap out one of the Silverliner cars with a fellow Chicago area modeler so we could each have different car numbers. Thanks Barry !

I'm going to keep the 3-car train of Silverliners pretty much intact. Do a few minor detail mods, like taking care of the clear glass windows in the lavatories, correcting the underbody details on the dining car, adding control details to the ends of the cars and train crews, removing one of the headlights from one of the coaches, adding radial couplers, correcting the Silverliner plates to be silver instead of brass, etc.

The Greenliner cars are getting all the same detail mods as listed above, and then some. The cars will be stripped, and repainted. Not sure just yet if they'll be backdated to the orange/brown scheme, or forward dated to the later simple green/red. I'll spend some time gathering data and photos before we jump to far into this one. Either way, these three cars will be matched with my three Clouser North Shore cars (two coaches and a combine), to make a six car train (all the more reason to need a club layout !). Part of the what era to model will be asking the question about how much effort would be needed to do an open end obs, but again, that's a bit distant to worry about at the moment.