Saturday, July 30, 2016

Nebraska Tractor Testing

When Henry Ford started producing tractors as well as cars, he called them Fordson instead of Ford because a fraudulent businessmen in Minneapolis had already incorporated a "Ford Tractor Co." One of the farmers screwed by the fraudulent company, Wilmot Croitzer, was also a member of the Nebraska House of Representatives. Not only did many "tractor companies" make horsepower claims that were way too high, they did not have support for replacement parts and service when their lemons broke down. "A colleague in the Nebraska State Senate, Charles Warner, had a similar story."
Together, these two men championed legislation that would require all tractors sold in the state of Nebraska to undergo testing and receive approval from a panel of three engineers at the University of Nebraska. Tractor companies who wished to operate in the state would also be required to have a service station and an adequate supply of replacement parts located somewhere in the state as well. The law passed in 1919.
By 1920, the University of Nebraska was ready to begin tests. The first tractor tested was John Deere’s Waterloo Boy tractor, quickly followed by 68 more tractors tested that year.
The Nebraska Tests quickly developed an excellent reputation. They caught on around the world. Today, the University of Nebraska is at the forefront of the global Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, which coordinates tractor testing in 29 countries.

Trail/Wabash Bridge over Kankakee River at Custer Park

(Bridge HunterSatellite)
Bill Molony posted
Looking railroad south through the Wabash Railroad's bridge over the Kankakee River at Custer Park. 
Undated, but circa 1950's.
The Custer Park station can be seen in the background, by looking through the bridge.
It looks like one of the trusses was allowed to deteriorate so much that it was replaced by a steel girder span.
Birds-Eye View
I'm going to have to do another trip on IL-102 from Wilmington, but find Rivals Road and go south to Rivals Lookout Park. One reason Custer Park is now a small town is that it does not have a road bridge to go along with the railroad bridge.

Bob Dodge posted
Richard Fiedler commented on Bob's posting:
'm thinking the building at the end is the pump house for the water tank in Custer Park
Forest Preserve District of Will County posted
Walking or riding the Wauponsee Glacial Trail bridge over the Kankakee River is one thing, but flying over it offers a whole different perspective. The view Monday afternoon ... (Photo by Chad Merda)

Richard Mead shared
Richard FiedlerGroup Admin Derailment occurred in the summer of 1968.

The Blackhawk Railway Historical Society posted
On August 22nd, 1968, 23 cars of a southbound Norfolk & Western Railway freight train plunged into the Kankakee River at Custer Park.
The freight train was enroute from Chicago to Decatur and totaled 97 cars.
A spokesman for the Norfolk & Western said that two wrecking crews were attempting to clear the track and recover the cars.
"There were about 29 cars involved in the derailment and 23 of them are in the river," the spokesman said. He said the N&W may have to detour its trains to tracks of either the Illinois Central or Penn Central railroads in order to cross the Kankakee River.
Police said the southbound freight train consisted in part of flatcars carrying old railroad boxcars. Some of these cars apparently shifted in transit and struck the side of the bridge causing the collapse, they said.

Alan G Lowery posted
[Bob Dodge posted several photos as comments.]

Forgotten Railways, Roads, and Places posted a then+now photo.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Portage Lake Lift Bridge between Houghton and Hancock, MI

(Bridge Hunter, Historic Bridges, SatelliteStreetview, Google Photo)

Wikipedia, put in the Public Domain by Justin Murawski
The double-deck span can support road traffic on both levels. The lower deck also used to have tracks to support the railroads that originally built it --- Copper Range (1906 and 1920 maps) and Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railway. In 1961 it became part of  Soo Line, which became Wisconsin Central in 1987. But railroad traffic stopped in 1982. Looking at a railroad map, there used to be a lot of routes and mining shafts on the peninsula. ALL of the routes are now abandoned. By the time of the abandonments, all the routes were owned by SOO (Minneapolis, St Paul & Sault Ste Marie)

Below shows the span raised high enough to pass a boat.

Wikipedia, Chris857 Photo, CC BY-SA
Below is an older photo when the tracks were still intact showing the span lowered to allow a train to cross.

Marty Bernard posted this and three other photos

Robert T. Anderson posted another photo from roger's series of photos of this train approaching the bridge.
One of the coolest pics I have ever seen from this area. The Milwaukee Road Copper Country Limited on the Portage Canal Bridge Houghton/ Hancock January 8, 1967. {Photographer:Roger Puta} 1967.

Roger Puta's photo above shows the wye built on the river. According to a comment about a bridge in Oil City, PA, only two exist in the world. But the comments identified a few more in the US alone.

Joe Granger commented on a share
There is also one between Houghton and Hancock, Michigan, a double decker bridge at that...I did not take this picture FTR
Joe Granger commented on a share
Another view showing the other side of the Wye.

Copper Country Limited updated
Alex Sansone Lot of power for a small train

Because the railroads ran close to the shore, they were low. When lowered for rail traffic, not even a speedboat could pass underneath. That is why it is important that the bridge is normally at the intermediate level during navigation season. But there is no canal traffic during the winter so the bridge is lowered so that snowmobiles and skiers using the old railroad right-of-ways as trails can also use this bridge.

Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula posted a link
Explore more than 200 miles of pristine trails in Michigan's Copper Country.

The original bridge was a wooden swing bridge completed in 1875. This was replaced by a steel swing bridge in 1901. In 1959 the swing bridge was replaced by this bridge. It has a 100' clearance when fully raised. [Wikipedia] When built, it was the heaviest lift bridge constructed. [Posting]

A video of it being raised for a ferry. "It's hard to catch the bridge in action anymore but I caught it last fall when the twice a week ferry to Isle Royale left." (source)

These screenshots below are from a video of the construction of the lift bridge that replaced a swing bridge that had just 5-feet of clearance and took a long time to open and close. So traffic backups through the two towns were common. The bridge has two decks. Originally the upper deck of the approaches carried vehicles and the lower deck carried railroads. Normally, the lower deck of the lift span is aligned with the vehicle deck of the approach spans to provide a 32-foot clearance that allows most pleasure craft and fishing boats to pass without stopping traffic as depicted by the first screenshot. The second screenshot shows the lift span lowered so that both vehicle and railroad traffic can cross.

The full height provides a clearance of 100 feet. This video of the bridge going up and down is made from three perspectives: from a boat, from the shore, and from a pedestrian crossing.

Looking at a railroad map, there used to be a lot of routes and mining shafts on the peninsula. ALL of the routes are now abandoned. By the time of the abandonments, all the routes were owned by SOO (Minneapolis, St Paul & Sault Ste Marie)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Tractor Square Dancing (Sharp Turns)

Screen shot from Team Farmall video
A demonstration of why they put a "spinner" on the steering wheel and have turning brakes. Specifically, you can turn so sharp that one tire stays in the same place. Take a look at 1:04 and several other places in the video. Being able to turn sharp can get you in trouble in the field when pulling something because the inside tire will hit the implement's tongue and "cause problems." Yet at the end of the field, you sometimes need a rather sharp turn. The trick is to not stay in a sharp turn too long.

Update: I accidentally clicked this page and discovered that Facebook's video link had died the day I happened to see another posting of it. Since it has been posted in a public group, I'll use Christopher Johnson's link to the video.

CSX/PM Abt Trunnion over Saginaw River in Saginaw, MI

(Bridge Hunter, Historic Bridges) Dan Shankel posted five pictures with the comment: "One of my favorite local bridges in Saginaw, Mi"

I include the first one because it is on an angle and best shows the trusses and the second one because it includes the tower.

Bridge Hunter: Photo taken by C Hanchey in June 2012
License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)
Since the only other bridge in town is a swing bridge, it was easy to find on Google. Fortunately, the 3D option worked pretty well on this bridge. Compare this bridge to the PM Bridge in Port Huron to see how the counterweight goes down while the machine room goes back down the diagonal rack.

Google 3D
Birds-Eye View, note the image is older because it still has the tower

Tom Shumaker posted three photos with the comment: "A railroad drawbridge over the Saginaw River, Saginaw, Michigan."
1, cropped

2, cropped

3, cropped

Tom still hasn't learned to turn his phone 90 degrees.

Martin Burk Flickr photo with a Detroit & Mackinac locomotive.

Rock Island Steel Car Shop

Jimmy Fiedler posted
Just east of the Rock Island Blue Island yard by 124th & Wood St there is a collection of shop buildings. One of which still reads CRI&P steel car shop I was wondering if anybody had pictures or information on these shops?
Jim Johnson Rock Island built wood and steel freight cars and cabooses there .
David Daruszka commented on the above posting
Currently occupied by a plumbing company I believe. I drover around and while the guys who worked there were curious about me taking pictures they didn't bother me.
David Daruszka: Sanborn map of the shops.
David Daruszka: Here's the full map from around 1911.
Jimmy Fiedler Something I just noticed? They used trackage rights over the IC branch
David Daruszka There was a lot of interconnecting trackage to service the industries in West Pullman. The IC right of way is quite wide and remnants of the rails adjacent to the Metra tracks are visible.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bellwood Tower: CGW vs. IHB

(no CRJ, 3D Satellite, you can still see the flyover for the connector from IHB to CGW. The Illinois Prarie Path was the C&AE interurban.)

Jerry Hund posted the following three photos with the comment:
Several interesting photos from Jim Rueber of the interlocking tower on the CGW/ IHB main lines in my hometown of Bellwood, Illinois. Here's patt of his description as he recalls it. Today, all that remains is the IHB mainline.
The CGW depot book shows this building was 24 X 36 and was jointly owned by the IHB. This tower was always manned by CGW men when I was working for the CGW. I was only in this building a couple of times. The agent along with the operators and clerks were all located in this building.
Jim L Rueber

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Update: Jerry Hund posted:
Recently, I posted about the interlocking tower located in Bellwood, Illinois which was about 1/4 mile West of 25th Ave-@13 miles West of the CGW yard in Chicago. With permission I want to share Jim Ruber's recollection of this tower and the ones in Iowa he worked in. It gives a better perspective of what when on in these towers and their importance.
Hello Jerry -
I think in the early days all the interlockings were mechanical. They consisted of several levers that were connected to long rods that were inside pipes that were mounted on short pedestals spaced along the track out to a signal or switch. The signals were of the blade type that had a green and a red lens, and a kerosene lamp was located in the top of the signal that was lit at night or stormy weather, and if the blade was in the upright position the green light would show and if the blade was extended then the red lens would show. The levers for the conflicting route had to be set at the stop position before the levers could be moved to line up the route for the other road. If there were some switches and derails involved, then a lever would be attached to a rod that controlled these items. Everything had to be in the right position before the levers used to line up the signals for a route, could be moved. As you can imagine, those rods had to be well oiled all the time and a strong leverman to move some of those levers. There was also a time clock connected to these interlockings, so that the operator could not change a route once he had it lined up, until he ran the clock down, usually 3 or 4 minutes. Once a train passed the clock would go back to zero and you could then line up another route right away.
The only interlockings I worked at were at Tower A in Waterloo and at Talmage, Iowa and these were electrical. At Waterloo the tower man also controlled the signals at 3 street crossings. We also copied train orders and sent and received messages and worked up the interchange report each day.
The June 1st, 1899 employee timetable shows at Bellwood a crossing of the CJ. Does not say that it is interlocked. I would guess CJ was the Chicago Junction RR.
The July 7, 1907 employee timetable shows at Bellwood a crossing of the CJ Interlocked.
The Jan 18, 1925 employee timetable shows at Bellwood a crossing of the IHB Interlocked.
The 1952 timetable does not show any crossings at Bellwood. I don't know when a bridge was built at Bellwood so that the IHB went over the CGW. There was a long ramp on the south side that went from the CGW up to the IHB and that is how cars were interchanged.
James Rueber

Jerry Hund commented on his posting
 Here's the view looking South before the elevated tracks. Note the cables in the ground from the old interlocking switch tower.
Mark Llanuza posted two phots with the comment: "Its 1976 I'm at the old l IHB CGW interchange at Bellwood IL"

Mark Llanuza posted
Its 1976 I'm at the old IHB CGW interchange at Bellwood IL
Berne Ketchum I spent a lot of nights looking down that track for the EB train in the '60s. It had a bunch of reefers of meat to set out for the IHB every night, supposed to be in by 1:15, cut off by 1:30 a.m. Almost never made the time, but it was my job to convince the IHB dispatcher that it had. I got called every kind of liar you can think of, but usually managed to get the time recorded as 1:30 a.m., the contract time for arrival. (The cut-off time was important because if it was before 1:30 a..m., the IHB was responsible for any damage claims for spoilage; after that time, the CGW was responsible.) 
As a relief operator I usually ended up working both day and night jobs at Bellwood and Chicago Transfer, which meant I was there pretty much the whole summer. I slept on an army cot in the basement of Bellwood tower at CGW track level. That saved me a lot of money for university tuition.
Flickr from John W. Barriger III IHB Album
Flickr from John W. Barriger III IHB Album
Bob Lalich 5y 
Bellwood looking north I believe. CGW and CA&E connection curving to the left.
The power lines are consistent with the previous view we saw of Bellwood.

Jerry Hund posted two photos with the comment:
50 years apart. Chicago Great Western Railroad.
Approximately 1935-1985. We are in Bellwood, Illinois looking East at the Indiana Harbor Belt overpass. On the right is a trestle that came down from the mainline and served local industries in Hillside. It’s amazing to see the condition of the roadbed during these two time frames. Today, with the exception of the IHB, this is all gone. Photographers unknown.
Dennis DeBruler The wood trestle is gone, but you can still see the concrete flyover that connected the IHB with the trestle.


Bob Lalich shared
Can anyone identify the precise location of this photo? It must have been somewhere near the IHB in Maywood or Bellwood. The CA&E signal is a good clue if anyone can decode the number.
Mike Heiligstedt Didn't the Harbor go over the CGW somewhere around lake street ?
Bob Lalich The IHB crossed the CGW on a bridge just north of Madison St and west of 25th Ave. There was an interchange track which descended from the IHB and ran between the CA&E and CGW. The bridge over the CA&E for the interchange track is still standing. The subject photo was either west of the junction of the interchange track with the CGW, or east of the IHB. I suspect the former, but I'm not certain yet.
Jon Roma It just dawned on me that I have no idea where CA&E's mile 0 was located. Their downtown terminal was at Wells St. next to the Loop "L", but their ownership actually began at Laramie Ave. (5200W).

If their signal numbering was milepost-based (as is often the case), 5 miles west of Laramie would be around Maywood, but I can't be more precise than that without an employee timetable at my fingertips.

Jerry Hund commented on Bob's post
I believe it was around 17th Ave. It can’t be West of 25th Ave. as there were no homes in that area. Look at the left area of the photo shown here.

Thanks Jon and Jerry. Based on your responses I have concluded that the photo was taken in the vicinity of 15th Ave in Maywood. The building seen above the second and third F-units is still standing at 17th Ave and N Maywood Dr. Here is an IHB map of the area showing the yard tracks seen behind the CGW mains.

Street View

Bob commented on his post
The CA&E signal seen in the subject photo would have served as a WB approach signal to the interlocking in Bellwood for the branch to the cemeteries in Hillside. Photographer and source unknown.
Jon Roma I can't say I've ever seen this good a view of the interlocking.
Bob Lalich Jon Roma - I presume the tower was behind the photographer, correct?
Mitch Markovitz Bob Lalich Yes. And to the left, across the street

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Really Old Tractors

I went to the 2016 Will County Threshermen's Show today. It was worth the $5 admission even though none of the demonstrations were happening because there was no crowd because of an earlier rain. (And we were supposed to have a heat index around 100.) Part of the worth is that they had some really old tractors. No crowd was an asset because it makes it easier to get clear shots of the equipment.

I also got videos of the two Versatile tractors that were driven while I was there: 700 and 895.

3 Steam Engines

20160721 3607
Wood Bro's, Des Moines, IA and Port Huron Engine & Thresher Co.

Added the other Port Huron engine to the line up

The other (gear) side of a Port Huron
There were so many old tractors that even with a wide angle lens I had to take two pictures to get an overall view.

For each tractor, I tried to take 3/4 views of each side from the front and a square view of the back.

Avery 40-80, Peoria, IL

Hart-Parr Co. Charles City Iowa, USA

Pioneer Model 80-60, 1913; Winona, Minn, USA; Calgary, Alta, Canada

The Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. Model 35-70, Hopkins, Minnesotoa U.S.A.

Rumely Oil Pull Model E, 1920

Aultman Taylor 30-60

Fairbanks-Morse 15-25

I noticed when I was in the front that I could not see any cylinders. So I took a closer look at the back. Sure enough, the cylinder is not only facing backwards, its head is right next to the driver's left knee! I always thought of John Deere's two cylinder tractors as strange, but this one cylinder tractor is even more strange.

Case 40-72

It looks like this tractor was used for plowing during a previous year: video. I counted seven bottoms on the plow.

Update: Andrew Motley posted six photos with the comment: "I’ve always wanted to see one of these and finally did!! Sears Roebuck& Co."
Dennis Busick Yes but weren't these tractors a kit and you had to use a modle T engine and transmission??? Or did they come fully assembled and used the Ford engine??