Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by c604.
A few years ago there was some discussion on this forum about what it would take to operate IRM’s three CNW bilevels off museum property and what their general condition was. Much has happened with the set since then. Last year all three cars were taken into IRM’s diesel shop for some much needed work: The old fogged up windows on cars 1 and 6 have all been replaced with new windows. Many items within the interior lighting system were replaced or cleaned. Doors were freed up of accumulated gunk and grime in hard to reach areas. The air conditioning system was repaired and cleaned to be more reliable and efficient. The cars received a detailed cleaning from top to bottom, and many other items were worked on as well. This took many volunteer hours to accomplish and the bilevels now regularly carry passengers as a three car train again. And more work is planned for the future. All this work doesn’t do much good if the effects of sitting outside in the elements continue to make the cars deteriorate….

These cars were last rebuilt in the 1980’s. Consider that Metra does a complete teardown and rebuild of each of their cars every 15 years to keep them in good condition, these cars would have been due for a rebuild just about the time they were retired from service. Since IRM can’t keep the cars in constant motion and perform daily maintenance and 15 year rebuilds like Metra does, the best long term solution to extend the life of the cars is indoor storage – it just about stops all major deterioration and makes things like the work mentioned above, last much much longer. Rain water can do some rather nasty things to the carbon steel and wood components of a railcar when it gets into places where it shouldn’t be, and these cars are no exception. The cars are now at the point where they must get put inside when not in use.

Right now there is a big push to get funding for the next railcar storage barn built at IRM ASAP. Each equipment department has a list of which items it would like to put inside. The IRM Diesel Department has marked the bilevels to be put inside the new barn. However, the bilevels will only go inside if the funding needed to cover their portion of indoor track space charges is met. If they get stuck outside again, it will be years before their next chance at going inside again, and who knows what the weather will have done to them by that time.

All three cars together total 255 feet in length, now multiply that by $215 per foot, that is the total needed. Some funds have already been raised, but much more is needed. So if any of you would like to donate and help preserve them (any amount large or small helps), the links below will give you a bit more information about the new barn and a link to donate via the IRM online store. Any contribution to Diesel Department indoor storage space will go towards the bilevels. And who knows, once their deterioration has been stopped and restoration work continued, maybe trips over their former commuter territory could be possible someday. So spread the word to any fellow railfans, railroaders, friends, etc. and let’s give the cars a home inside.

IRM page for new barn

IRM online store for indoor storage donations - diesel department donations go towards the bilevels
http://www3.irm.org/store/index.php?mai ... ts_id=1536

Some general information for those who aren’t as familiar: these three cars were the pioneers of what we know Metra to be today. Car 151 (Metra 8700) was built in 1959 and was THE first gallery cab car built for any railroad in the Chicago area. This car alone started the push-pull concept as we know it today. Cars 1 and 6 (Metra 7600 and 7605) were built in 1955 and were the first gallery cars built for the CNW and were some of the first in the Chicago area (only behind the Burlington’s cars). These two cars were pulled by everything from steam locomotives to F40’s! All three cars spent their entire working lives on what are now the UP-North, UP-Northwest, and UP-West lines. All were retired from Metra service in 1997 (replaced by the 7400’s and 8400’s) and came to IRM in 1999.
  by GWoodle
I think the best thing IRM can do is make a deal with the Tennessee Central Rwy museum in Nashville. At startup, they bought about a dozen cars to be rebuilt & rewired. Last time I was by there, they had a couple of VRE cars in the yard. Not sure how many were in another yard in the Nashville Flood. They may be too poor to be used for anything other than parts cars. I'm not sure what the relationship may be between the N&E railroad & the TCrwy.

If nothing else, the IRM crew would always be welcome to come down to Nashville & ride our trains! Anytime the MCS runs an "extra" train for fireworks or a titans game, there are extra TC folks on hand to be car hosts & etc.