Tuesday, May 31, 2016

J. I. Case Steam Tractor Under Load

Screenshot from video
It is one thing to see a steam tractor running around a farm show with no load, it is another to hear it pulling a heavy load. They added a little engine and hydraulic pump to a 6-bottom moldboard plow to provide a load worthy of the horsepower and traction of this tractor. In addition to someone riding the plow to raise and lower it, note the tractor has a second rider. I presume he is the fireman. Also note how many times the driver has to turn the steering wheel to pivot the front axle with the chains. Part of the problem is that there is a lot of slack in the steering chains.

Rock Island over Rock River in Milan, IL

Jeff McDowell posted
CRI&P Vandruff Island Railroad Bridge
I can't tell if this is the north or south bridge. An interesting "light at the end of the tunnel" affect.

MWRD's O'Brian WRP Adds Disinfection

MWRD posted
I wonder if this was the construction at the O'Brian Water Reclamation Plant that caused the "L" embankment to cave in and stop service on the CTA Yellow Line for almost a half-year.
Upon completion, the UV disinfection system is now the largest water treatment UV installation in the world, having the potential to treat 450 million gallons of water per day, using 896 lamps that provide a low pressure, high output performance....Between last year’s disinfection upgrades implemented at Calumet WRP, the MWRD now has a system in place that will dramatically improve the quality of water throughout the Chicago Area Waterway System, while protecting the region’s drinking water supply in Lake Michigan. (MWRD posting)
Tribune article. If it dramatically improves the quality of water, then why did they keep telling the EPA for so long that it is not needed? And does their largest plant, Stickney, have this treatment yet? I noticed it was conspicuously missing when they mentioned the Calumet plant. The answer is no.

Update: when I toured the Stickney plant, I learned the bacteria die within three miles anyhow. Since they dump their effluent into an industrial canal that has very little recreational (canoe and kayak) traffic, there are no plans to disinfect its output.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

PRR & NYC Lift Bridges over Calumet River

20160521 3284rc, view from the North
(Satellite; Historic Bridges; Bridge Hunter: NYC, PRR)

I'm doing both railroads in the same post because you can't take a picture of one without taking a picture of the other. Also they were all built in 1912 and designed by Waddell and Harrington. (Historic Bridges)

The two bridges in the up position were NYC/Lake Shore & Michigan Southern. The bridge in the down position is one of the two PRR/Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago bridges that used to be here and is now Norfolk Southern. The "metal sculpture" on the right is the remnants of a B&O bridge. The cantilever truss in the background is the I-90 Skyway Bridge. (We will see better views of the Skyway later.)

View from the Northeast
Fortunately, the gate of  the South Chicago & Indiana Harbor (see sign below) was open so that I could get a shot without a chain-link fence in the photo.

Unfortunately, it forced me to use an angle that placed a power-line tower right in front of the NS/PRR bridge. By the way, when I first arrived, by the time I parked my van and had walked to the sidewalk, a security guard was on his way to meet me. I told him I was interested in pictures of the bridges. I verified he would not let me go on the property. And he did not offer to escort me. That is why all of my pictures are from the public sidewalk.

The grain elevator was used by Falstaff. I remember seeing it right outside the window when I used to ride the Pennsy home to Fort Wayne during the holidays.

You can clearly see the gap between the PRR bridge and the two NYC bridges that was created when the second PRR bridge was removed in 1965 (Historic Bridges). I still can't find why they chose to remove one of three unused bridges. And why not leave a second bridge connected to the rail system so that they can do repairs on the first bridge without shutting down a major rail corridor? Even though all of the steel mills are gone and the river is no longer used for iron ore, it still sees at least big Laker Boats for grain.

I went back to the van to get the telephoto lens, but I'm still stuck with the tower and some trees blocking the view.
I did take a through-the-chain-link picture to get another angle. Another reason for this picture is to catch two of the classic industrial buildings of the SC&IH. The building on the right is the one that has the above MITTAL sign.

I took another picture from the 95th Street Bridge because it had an oil train that adds scale. I missed the locomotives because when they arrived I did not have a clear shot. I think it was BNSF power on this NS track. Fortunately, the train was slow and long enough that I was able to get to the 95th Street  Bridge while the tankers were still rolling across it.

Because of this fried fish food takeout, it is easy to find a legal parking space just west of the 95th Street Bridge.

Obviously, they smoke their fish themselves. They did a very brisk business the entire time I was there. Of course, it was the first weekend in May with decent weather, which is why I was out also.

I got gutsy and did a little trespassing up an access road. Now that I see the bridges are obscured by power poles and a little tree, the next time I visit this area, I'm going to get gutsier and go up to where the road curves. That would be the old B&O RoW. But this is a good view of the Skyway and the gap caused by the removed PRR bridge.

J Robert Burger posted a view from the Skyway and from the East.

Patrick McDonnel commented on the Skyway posting
Should say it's not mine. Photographer is @MonkOne on Instagram. He's a Chicago Urbexer
[This is the inside of the building on top of the lift span.]
Gabe Argenta's comment on the Skyway posting still shows the Falstaff brewery
Scott Griffith posted
[Looking East. You can also see the B&OCT Bridge on the left and the Skyway on the right.]
Steven J. Brown posted
The Amtrak Broadway Limited rolls through South Chicago with AB, AB sets of "E's"! 427 was built in 1955 as UP 953.
[I commented that I was surprised the second Penn bridge had already been taken down by 1977.]
Terry Falduto Taken down in the mid-1960s I think
[When Steven posted it again, I noticed that the B&O Bridge has yet to be hit by the boat.]

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rock Island's Blue Island Tower

William Shapotkin posted four photos with the comment:
W/B ROCK Psgr train #7 passing the (old) Blue Island (IL) tower. Photo taken by the late Don Davis on May 6, 1962 just before the tower was closed. View looks north (timetable E/B).
Also included are views of the model board (viewed left-to-right). Again taken by the late Don Davis on May 6, 1962.

Jon Roma Believe it or not, I had never seen pictures of the old Blue Island Tower. The model board looks like a home-made affair, which was pretty common on the Rock Island.



Mark Llanuza posted three photos with the comment:
Ken Connolly one of the last Rock Island tower man employees still works at Blue Island tower .He started in 1972 was laid off when the Rock shut down but was hired back by the RTA in 1980 still works at Blue Island for Metra.



I'm still researching where the tower stood in 1938.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Field Tillage: Disks

Disks had a set of curved steel wheels mounted on a shaft called a gang. Each gang was mounted at about 22-degrees. I checked all three vintages that I post here and the front gangs pushed the soil out while the back gangs pushed it back in.

Rylan L. Carr posted
This unit is representative of the technology in the middle of the 20th century. Each wheel had a "paddle" on the back side to scrape of any soil sticking to the wheel.
20141013 0017
John Jasiulevicius posted
A an obviously older unit that hasn't been used for a while.
The reason for the trays on top was to hold rocks so that the weight would help push the disks into the ground. Note that the edge of the field provides plenty of rocks to use. That poor farmer was like my Grandfather --- after he started working another farm, plowing was slow because he spent a lot of his time carrying away rocks that the plow had hit. And evidently freeze-thaw cycles would push more rocks towards the surface because it took a few years before he got the fields clean of rocks.

John Deere 2625 taken from a brochure
Tractors and fields grew bigger, so disks grew bigger. The frames grew bigger to keep the shafts on an angle. But the roads did not grow bigger. So a significant aspect of disk design became the use of hydraulic rams to fold the frame for transport.

Taken from a John Deere brochure
Video of a 10' IHC double-action disk. Modern JD video teaches that ground temperature needs to be above 50 degrees before 9am before corn can be planted. A better one because it shows unfolding. This disking is before fertilizing to smooth out the chiseled bean field and the previous one was to disk the fertilizer in and make it really smooth for the corn planter.

Here is a series of pictures I took of a disk at the John Deere dealer where I got the brochures. I introduced myself to a dealer, and he spent time with me even though I was up front about I would not be buying anything. In fact, he suggested that I help myself to as many of their brochures as I wanted. He also taught me that primary tillage was done in the Fall and secondary tillage was done in the Spring.

20141013 0020, Side
Close up of front

Several hydraulic
circuits to fold and
control depth
The A-F adjustment is "hydraulic fore-aft leveling."
The more I looked, the more rams I found. The two on the sides fold the outer wings onto the middle wings. The one by the staggered wheels helps raise it out of the ground when making the turns at the ends of the field.
John Deere has you pull the reels behind your disk or cultivator. You can tell this is newer technology because the terminology is still in flux. John Deere talks about "rolling baskets" instead of  "reels." The reels put the larger soil particles on top and finer soil particles in the seed zone. If you look at the second picture of the Kuhn Krause posting, you will see clods being flung above the soil so that they will land on top. I suspect this device works well only at the higher field speeds of modern, high-horsepower tillage of around 10mph.
Screenshot from video
Video of a Versatile 260 pulling a disk. This is the first Versatile I've seen that is not articulated. I wonder if they are rebranding someone else's "smaller" tractor. The drone is handling a very windy day. It looks like he is overlapping at least three feet. That seems excessive.

Kool Aid Factory

Chicago's Extinct Businesses updated their cover photo
Kool-Aid factory once located at 7400 S Rockwell St on the SW Side of Chicago.
When I was a kid, you would add their little packet of coloring to 2-quarts of water and then stir in one (or was it two?) cups of sugar. Given the sugar content of what you were drinking, I think this qualifies as a confection made in Chicago.

When I looked at the location on a satellite image, that location is now housing. But I was surprised how much land west of it is now vacant. It was already vacant in the birds-eye view. (No link to the birds-eye view because "There was a problem creating the link.") It was vacant in 1938 because Chicago growth had not yet reached that area. Looking at Historic Aerials, that area was cleared out between 2005 and 2007.

Sandi Zehner Growing up by Midway, we had Cracker Jack, Tootsie Roll, Nabisco and Kool Aid; depending on the way the wind blew. Is the Tootsie Roll factory still the only one in the US?

David Michalski Jr. Tootsie Roll is still there

Cermak Road Bridge was stuck in the upright position

20160416 2177 10:04am
I was heading East on Cermak Road to get pictures of the track still in Grove Street when I noticed the bridge was up. It was Saturday and the boats were scheduled to run to the lake that day. But that would have been hours ago. Was it stuck from that raising or has it been stuck for days? It was easy to park in the block that had the barricades. But I should have stepped out of the car to take the following picture because I got a lot of glare from the windshield.

They had moved quite a bit of equipment in place so that they could work on it. Chicago had replaced all of the other Scherzer Rolling Bridges in town because the foundations were a maintenance problem. This bridge was totally rehabilitated in 1997. One wonders what went wrong.

It was still stuck when I took a video of the Canal Street RR Bridge going up an hour later. Look under the left side of the span.

Screenshot from a video

Field Tillage: Modern Primary and Secondary

Rylan L. Carr posted, John Deere No. 51
A topic I have been thinking about since I started this blog is the history of field tillage starting with the moldboard plow. At first, I could not find any. Now I've found and taken a lot of pictures, and I have to figure out how to organize a discussion. Also, there are now multiple thoughts on how much tillage should be done. Although using a moldboard plow each year has been obsolete for decades.

I'm going to take advantage of the nature of a blog and write small postings on various aspects of tillage. Specifically, I'm going to dig into what I learned one farmer does from a video.

The video shows a Versatile 575 tractor using a 40' Kuhn Krause Excelerator (discussed below) for secondary, or Spring, tillage near Wyatt Indiana. The comment indicates they used a Kuhn Krause Dominator in the Fall for the primary, or Fall, tillage.

I start the video at a turn because big equipment turning at the end of the runs is more interesting then the runs themselves. (You can always restart it from the beginning if you want.) At the end of the turn you can see the soil conditioning reels before they are lowered back down on the ground. But one thing we do learn from watching the runs is the high speed used by modern farming. I'd estimate 10mph. These higher speeds allow taking advantage of higher horsepower without making the implement bigger. But when I drove tractors in the 1960s, we would not dream of going that fast in the field. Most tractors could do a maximum of 15 mph, and that was on a road. In a field, a brisk walking speed was considered fast. Tractors don't have springs except for under the seat. Even at just a walking speed, you could get bounced pretty bad in a field of harvested corn. Evidently the weight of the tractor and the soft footprint of all the tires reduce the amount of bouncing the frame (and driver) experience and allow faster field speeds. (An Excelerator unfolding and then runningVersatile DT550 pulling an Excelerator.)

Many times fertilizer will be sprayed, or manure spread, on the field before the secondary tillage. The secondary tillage helps "incorporate" the additives into the soil. (The word "incorporate" came from a John Deere brochure. I believe it mans it mixes whatever has been applied on top of the ground into the soil.)

Dominator 4855-13
Fortunately, I found this video about the Dominator before I wrote some text. At 0:51 note the big springs on each of the primary deep tillage shanks. The springs allow the shanks to momentarily come up out of the ground if they hit a rock. Skipping a spot is better than breaking the unit. A video with a side view and a turnA video of a Versatile 550DT pulling the widest Dominator of 19.5'. The reason why primary tillage implements are about half the width of secondary tillage implements and run slower is because it takes a lot of horsepower (and traction) to pull those deep tillage shanks through the ground.

Excelerator 8000-50
Curt also does a video that explains the Excelerator. Then I found a Kuhn Krause video that explains the Excelerator and shows how their largest, 50', folds for transport.

The Excelerator mounts the discs on short shafts called gangs. Each gang hangs from a bracket and the bracket can be adjusted from 1 to 5 degrees. It has working widths of 14-50'.
Click "Adjustable Gang Angles" in description
Screenshot from video
A video of three rows of vertical cutters, some harrow teeth, and then reels throwing the dirt and clods pretty high (Maschio). Later they unfold a planter and do both secondary tillage and planting in the field. Then they fold the tillage implement for road transport.
Screenshot from video
What does he do when he meets oncoming traffic? Go into the ditch? I counted at least 36 rows on the corn planter. There is more than one planter being shown because it switched from green to blue and GPS to marker. At 16:40, a quad-track is pulling a disk. A disk is not modern tillage.

A report lists what different manufactures have to offer as a vertical tillage solution.

Screenshot from video
Screenshot from Combines Harvesters Threshers video
Carrier tillage cruising
I am dumfounded by how fast they are pulling that thing. But I gather that the baskets/reels at the end require highs speed to fling the clods on top as intended.]