Tuesday, August 30, 2016

MoW: Snow Removal

On the mainline out in the country, snow can be removed with plows, both rotary and wedge. There are so many videos of them in action that I'm not even going to bother to include some here.

But in towns, the rotary would be too dangerous. When our town bought a snow blower to remove the record snowfall we had in 1978 from our streets, it blew the limbs off the north side of a tree in our yard. Imagine what the more powerful stream from a rotary plow would do. Especially to the windows of trackside buildings. And in yards there is not enough room on the side of a track into which to shove the snow with a wedge plow or Jordan spreader.

New York Central System Historical Society posted
So instead of shoving the snow off the tracks, devices were developed to remove the snow. The comment for this photo was:
Snow loader X631 (Lot 751) and snow melter X1435 (Lot 752) were built by the Barber-Greene Company ofAurora, Illinois in 1945. In operation, a steam locomotive heated the tank of X1435, into which loader X631 dumpedthe snow to be melted. (NYCSHS Photo Collection)
John Wood They have street cleaning machines in Montreal that do this, scoop up snow, melt it and let the hot water out the back. Down the street drains it goes before freezing.

Note the large pipe in the bottom of the tank to the right of the ladder. When the tank was full, they would go to the nearest creek and dump the water. But with the advent of diesels, they lost their source of steam to melt the snow.

Now a method to remove snow from turnouts is a jet engine on a railcar. A video of a CN blower in action. I've looked at some other videos. It is not clear how much of the snow is blown away vs. melted. I wonder how easily the creosote in ties is to ignite. The video points out that some of the ballast rocks also get blown off the track.

Levi Hirt posted, cropped
Putting the snowjet to work tonight. [Feb 9, 2018, Michigan]
Joe Leichtman Jr. We're firing ours up tomorrow morning in Elkhart, IN.
20170421 8728
Parked at the BNSF commuter service yard, a jet to help clear the many switches in their Chicago commuter yard.

A video of a Snow Jet working Frontier Yard, Buffalo, NY.
Robert Seemueller Most of CSX three dozen snow jets used B-52 surplus jet engines.
Bill Baker When the CP bought the D&H, they took our 2 jets and shipped them up to Canada. They replaced them with a couple of well-used old Kershaw regulators that had an auger attached to the broom box. They actually worked surprisingly well. About 3 or 4 passes at a switch with the broom box lowered a little bit more with each pass and it was clean. Had an air compressor with us, (behind the truck), along with a wand for blowing out the switch rods and between the stock rail and switch points.
Bill Baker Couldn't begin to count how many I cleaned with a shovel and broom and sometimes a burning can.
Bill Baker commented on Robert's video
Cleaning switches at Collinwood!
A video of that jet engine working the west end of CSX Frontier Yard.

Kevin Piper posted
For nearly two years I loved going to a small and wide open satellite diesel facility located on the north side of IHB's Blue Island Yard, near Chicago. Camera in hand, this 17-year railfan was shocked to find the area devastated by a midnight fire on 2-12-78. The fire was started by a MOW snow melter machine. CR GP35 2300 was rebuilt, but the ex-PC SD45 was scrapped. Unfortunately the party was over, and the facility was never reopened.
[A jet engine creates an open flame. Thus one must be careful were it is used/pointed.]

Another method to clear turnouts is a cold air blower.
Fred Bain posted
A video of a more modern one in action (source)
Rob Bennett Have 2 of the nose jets. They are ok. Here is a link to the AF1 blower. Have 2 of these also. This is the cats meow of all blowers on the railroad hands down.. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=76pe67QDVxA . we have the jet blowers you reference still in use in Green Bay and Stevens Point. They work well when wet snow or freezing snow. [With an air speed up to 430 mph and an airflow of 19,000 cfm, it can blow away ice and hard packed snow, etc. It looks like it has an engine on the bed for the blower that is bigger than the truck's engine. The next video offered showed it clearing airport runways of various objects as well as ice and snow.]Tim Bentley Had three jet sno blowers in Toledo when I retired two years ago.Ottis Hundley Had a jet snow blower in North Kansas City yard one year. Let off of the forward throttle and that baby would blow you backwards down the track as fast as you were brave enough to go..Tim Bentley Made record time moving one from Toledo to Willard one time we just happened to be facing the right direction so we fired that baby up and flew down the track
Speaking of a jet removing snow.
Rob Bennett posted
Green Bay JET. Still in use but lonely this year... and that’s OK!
(new window) It took longer than I expected. That snow must have turned to dirty ice.

For turnouts on heavily trafficked mainlines in cities, they used to set out several oil-filled pots with a wick to create a flame along the tracks. Before a storm, those pots would have to be set out and lit. After a storm, they would have to be collected and refilled. Now they put gas jets inside a hood along the rails and let the gas burn during a storm. (Please click, or touch, that link to Marshall Beecher's photo. It is well worth the effort.)
David Daruszka shared Xavier Quintana posting
Cold Chicago:
Arthur LaCaille uses a gasoline torch to light gas jets that thaw out switches in the rail yard outside LaSalle Street Station in Chicago on Dec. 26, 1944. (Chicago Tribune historical photo)
Rick Knowles I would think that they would use kersosene insread of gasoline in the torch because of safety. I know that's what smokejumpers use for starting backfires.

Richard Mead Drip torches run a mixture of 50% gasoline and 50% diesel. That is what I was taught at fire school.
Patrick McNamara commented on another posting about fires burning at switch points
 I remember these smudgepot warmers at Proviso Yard, until some bean counters thought they were employing too many M of W guys to fill them with kero...so they just got rid of the workers and the heaters and handed us worthless brooms with dandelion picker ends on them to laboriously chip out the ice.

20150510 1174
When I was taking pictures at Dolton Junction, the gas meter on the left side of this photo (closeup below) appeared in many of my photos. In the closeup, you can also see the hood of a heater for one of the turnouts.
Zoomed in
I think that one gas meter supplied all of the gas jets in the junciton. Since one always has plenty of time to kill when railfanning, even at a junction as busy as Dolton, I took a closeup of a turnout with its remotely controlled machine and heaters that was just a few feet from the Park Avenue crossing.You can see there is an underground pipe that comes above the ground an feed gas jets on both sides of the turnout.

The gas meter and the turnout we saw above is in the background of this picture. Below is the meter in the lower-left corner of this excerpt from the background at camera resolution.

But in less traveled areas, the conductor still has to clean out the turnout points with a broom. Note he uses the handle more than the bristles. That snow was not very "fluffy."

Arturo's photo of CP 502 shows the points being kept snow free with a hot air blower in the foreground of the left track.

Monday, August 29, 2016

IC's 14th Street Yard

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
I researched this yard because of a 1972 photo from David Wilson's Photoset. Soldier Field without the space saucer in the background of the photo gave me the clue I needed to find the IC building. I believe it is the building in the following closeup. David has another 1972 photo labeled "14th St." Unlike most of IC's downtown yards, this yard is still being used because of the commuter service.

Zoomed in

Sunday, August 28, 2016

NKP (Clover Leaf) Bridge over Wabash River

Mitch Mitchell posted two photos with the comment: "Clover Leaf Wabash River Bridgetake a few years ago."
Thanks to the tree lines, it is easy to determine that the bridge was just south of the IN-234 bridge. They not only removed the trusses, they removed the piers and abutments.


Alton & Southern Railway

Satellite, Gateway Yard
To summarize their history, the railroad was started in 1910 by an aluminum plant in Alorton, IL to break the service monopoly of the Southern Pacific. It kept growing along the east side of the St. Louis metro area to connect with more and more railroads and transloading on the Mississippi. As it became important as a belt route, it embraced that role in the 1960s by building Gateway Yard as a terminal railroad hump yard. Alco acquired the aluminum company, but then closed it in 1966. The ICC forced the A&S to be sold to multiple owners so in 1968 MoPac and C&NW jointly purchased the line. That is why the engine livery has MoPac blue and C&NW yellow. And the C&NW logo design lived on as the A&S logo. UP ended up buying both railroads that jointly owned it, but has maintained it as an autonomous company.

I looked for a map of the railroad, but could not find one. From the northeast end of the yard, it ran westish to River Yard and Fox Terminal along the Mississippi River. But the section immediately to the west was abandoned. Evidently they now use the TTRA route between their yard and their western branch. From the southeast end of Gateway Yard, they have a route that heads northwest, then turns more northturns east rather than cross I-64, then turns north and goes under I-64, crosses and interconnects with the B&O and PRR (now both CSX), turns east and crosses Horseshoe Lake twice, used to cross NKP(Clover Leaf) and Linchfield & Madisonturns north and terminates at Lenox Tower where it used to connect to Wabash, Chicago & Eastern Illiniois, and Chicago & Alton + CB&Q.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Metra/Rock Island over Cal Sag in Blue Island, IL

(Bridge Hunter, Historic Bridges)
Streetview from Western Avenue Bridge

3D Satellite
Portal views of the bridges were caught by a photo by Kim Piersol of Rock Island #655, an E9A. (Found in a Rock Island posting.)

Arturo Gross Flickr 1995 Photo with IAIS Paduch GP10 402 entering the Blue Island Yard. (source) It catches some of the north side of these bridges.

Note photos 5-8 in David Daruska's Blue Island album.

History of Internal Combustion Engine

This 1952 education video, "History of Diesel Engines," also shows the engines that proceeded the Diesel engine starting with steam.

The Diesel design continues to be an engine of choice for high horsepower applications.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Chicago Brick

Old Chicago brick is wanted all over the world. There are companies that are basically brick brokers. They salvage the bricks from a Chicago building that is being torn down and then sell them.

There were so many brick buildings in Chicago because, after the 1871 fire, a new city ordinance required that new buildings in the downtown area use fire resistant materials. Fortunately, Chicago was the lake bottom of the glacial lake that was 60 feet higher than our current Lake Michigan during the last ice age. So there are significant deposits of clay that were suitable for making bricks. Several brick companies formed along what is now the North Branch Canal and dug clay pits along what became that canal. (Ogden finished digging the canal so that he would have more lake front properties that he could sell to industries that wanted ship access such as lumber yards.) The land between the North Branch of the Chicago River and Clybourne and between Diversey and Fullerton was also pocked with clay pits. William Deering filled in those pits creating an 85-acre plot in the city on which he built his Deering Harvester Company Plant(The Chicago River An illustrated History and Guide to the River and Its Waterways, 2nd Edition, 2006, David M. Solzman, p.81)

As the little clay pits in the downtown area played out and the land was reused for other applications, bigger deposits of clay further from downtown were used. Two that I have found so far are the Cary and Blue Island brick works.

Note that other river towns in Northeast Illinois also had brick works, for example Streator, IL. It had four shale and clay working factories making brick, tile, and sewer pipe. When I researched the railroads of Streator, I read that the Streator brick industry flourished after the 1871 fire. One of the companies must have survived until recently because it was still on the Brick Collection history page, but the link is now broke. The invention of steel-framed buildings that allowed a lot of glass to be used in the walls for sunlight was probably a significant blow to the brick making industry.

Cary Brick Works

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Chicago History explains that Cary Brick Works had created a big pit digging out clay for bricks. It had also built a big tailings hill next to that pit. (In this case the tailings would be dirt, gravel, etc.) The combination of the hill and the pit provided a 285-foot vertical drop --- the highest within hundreds of miles. This steep incline was turned into a ski resort called Thunder Mountain. (I could not find the drop of Four Lakes which was made from the tailings and pit of a surface coal mine.)

I'll let you read Chicago History about Thunder Mountain, I'm more interested in the brick works. This 1938 aerial photo shows the works was between Diversey and Fullerton and between Normandy and Narragansett.

It is now big-box and strip mall retail stores including The Brickyard and plenty of suburban style parking. What amazes me is that the track for the Milwaukee branch that went through the yard to Diversey still exists including the crossing at Grand Ave. I don't see an exempt sign on the crossing so that means school buses and trucks carrying flammable liquids still must stop traffic to look for a train that will never exist. Certainly Target and Home Depot will never have rail service. And judging from the size of the trees growing in the tracks, this building will never see rail service again.

From ChicagoTonight
The Carey brickyard actually continued in operation during the ski resort era and beyond. They made Chicago common bricks. Carey was the last place that made these bricks. The kilns needed to produce these didn’t meet modern environmental standards and Carey closed in 1980.   Today whenever a brick building is torn down, companies are brought in to salvage the bricks and re-use them. [ChicagoTonight]

Blue Island Illinois Brick company's Yard 22

Steve OConnor shared
The clay pit of the Illinois Brick Company in Blue Island which eventually the city would turn into a park. Note the small industrial steam locomotive working the pit.
Fullton Grace I believe this is the area immediately south of 123rd street between Kedzie and California. Between the Grand Trunk and B&O tracks. This clay pit at one time also connected, via train tunnel to another quarry that ran between 123rd and 119th street. It was filled in with garbage and later made into a golf course.
Steve OConnor commented on above posting

Steve OConnor commented on above posting
Steve OConnor commented on above posting
The fears of the residents concerning garbage being put in the old pit were well founded because pipes were added to catch the methane before a golf course was built on top of the landfill. So either the rules were changed, the commissioner of streets and electricity was bribed, or the commissioner was incompetent and the contractor got away with illegal dumping.

The original part was the bottom part of the satellite image. The tunnel accessed clay in the upper-right part. The CN/GTW and CSX/B&OCT tracks makes it easy to locate the facility on a 1938 photo.

1938 Aerial photo from ILHAP


David Daruszka commented on a posting:
Purington was located just south of 119th Street between the two Rock Island lines in Blue Island. The clay pit was eventually filled in.
From a history of Blue Island:
BrickyardsAfter it was discovered in the early 1850s that rich deposits of clay surrounded the ridge, Blue Island became the center of a significant brick-making industry that lasted for over a century. In the early years, these efforts were small, with the bricks being made by hand and the turnout created mostly for local use, but by 1886 the Illinois Pressed Brick Company (organized in 1884) was employing about 80 men and using “steam power and the most approved machinery”, which allowed them to produce 50,000 bricks per day.] By 1900, the Clifton Brickyard alone—which had opened in 1883 under the name of Purington at the far northeast corner of the village was producing 150,000,000 bricks a year. In 1886, the Chicago architectural firm of Adler and Sullivan designed a large complex for the Wahl Brothers brickyard (the main building of which was 250 by 350 feet on the west side of the Grand Trunk tracks between 119th and 123rd streets. These buildings had been demolished by 1935, and all of Blue Island’s brickyards were re-purposed by the latter part of the mid-20th century. The larger ones for a while become landfills, and the Wahl Brothers location is now the site of the Meadows Golf Club
The Nov. 24, 2016, issue of the Chicago Tribune had big article on brick collecting in its A&E Section. Part of an introductory paragraph is of particular interest:
Chicago --- rich in clay deposits used for brick-making, having burned down in 1871 --- was a ripe canvas, rebuilt as a brick metropolis. By the 1890s the area boasted more than 60 brickyards, clustered near Blue Island; manufacturers pumped out 600 million bricks a year. Before the industry peaked in the 1920s, before steel and concrete competed for attention, Chicago had become an international hub for brick production.
In addition to the brick collecting link near the top of this posting, the International Brick Collectors Association has an official and a member's sites.

Some farming firsts

This list of five firsts is from the perspective of CNH (Case, International Harvester, Ford and New Holland) so you won't see items like the first self-scouring steel plow (John Deere) or the first live (independent) PTO in 1946. (Cockshutt hired two engineers from Oliver so that they could scoop Oliver by 6 months.) I normally provide a link for my source, but it looks like the URL is not permanent. (Update, the link is working again.)

Sperry New Holland launches the first self-propelled forage harvester in 1961
International Harvester introduces the revolutionary Axial-Flow combine in 1977. ​This greatly improves harvesting efficiency through its revolutionary rotor design
​​​​New Holland invents the first self-tying pick-up baler in 1940.
​A part of New H​olland Agriculture history​: the first mass produced tractor, the Fordson Model F, is built in 1917.
​​Case produces the first steam-powered tractor in 1869. ​​
Because the pictures might be temporary, I'm saving the other three they posted.



Horsepower posted
Some of the video links they posted about the announcement: 8:00 min, 2:26 min, 2:27 min, 2:24 min. A web page about driverless technology. They do expect farmers to build private paths on their farm so that it can get from the barn to the fields.
CaseIH "high-efficiency farming" topics other than autonomous tractors.

And a Massey-Ferguson "rebuttle," 3:15 min.

Massey-Ferguson's review of their history: 4:07 min

Another CNH video: 8:00. Starting at 6:10, it presents some history. At 6:12 is "grampa's" baler.

A Facebook posting where the comments discuss which year the other manufactures introduced their axial rotor design, including:
Justin Hiner Jared, Case never built a rotary, International did. Sam, international wasn't behind everyone else as tractor house will show you. New Holland had rotaries on the market in 1975, Gleaner in 1976, International in 1977, White in 1978, John Deere in 1998.
Linda Chamberlain White was in 1979, but marketed in 1980.

10 Significant John Deere Milestones, note that John Lane is the inventor of the self-scouring steel plow.

175 Anniversary CaseIH video of its history

John Deere video with tractor timeline and PR (I wonder if JD saw the CaseIH video and decided they had better get something on Facebook also.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad

Slambo put the image in the Public Domain
IC is not the only railroad that sold a route and then later bought it back (Chicago, Central and Pacific), the Canadian Pacific sold some of the routes it got when it bought the Milwaukee Road in 1986 and then later bought those routes back. Specifically, CP sold it to I&M Rail Link (IMRL) in 1997. But IMRL could not make a profit with the line so they sold it to Iowa, Chicago and Eastern (ICE) in 2002. IC&E not only made a profit, it grew the business. It was part of a purchase made by Canadian Pacific in 2008. (Wikipedia1, Wikipedia2)

I learned of this railroad from a Flickr photo. More locomotive pictures and info is available on American-Rails.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

IH: Headquarters

Fred Bowman posted
600 South Michigan as viewed from Wabash. Originally Headquarters to International Harvester, its now home to Columbia College, who I might add, helped restore much of the detailing. 
By Christian Eckstorm in 1906 in a neoclassical style
According to Columbia College, this 15-story skyscrapper was "a modern skyscraper of its era, built with a steel skeleton, high-speed elevators, electric light, the most advanced mechanical systems available and a floor plan designed to maximize natural light for all of its interior office spaces." It was purchased by Fairbanks-Morse Company in 1937 and by Columbia College in 1975.

1909 Annual Report, last page
While standing in line in Springfield, IL in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, we started talking to the man ahead of us. He mentioned that the headquarters of IH used to be at 180, then 401, N. Michigan. (McCormick's first plants in the Chicago area was north of the Main Branch of the Chicago River on the east side of Michigan Avenue.)

This land was IH's proving grounds. I have passed Navistar's Proving Grounds more than once, but all you can see from the road is a sign, a fence and a bunch of trees.

Wilson Farms posted
Martin Rickatson I’m heading to Burr Ridge tomorrow - hope to be able to post a current photo of this tractor.Dennis DeBruler Are you a dealer? The receptionist told me they had a museum, but only groups of special people can see it. I'm certainly not special. They would not even let me take pictures of the displays in the entry lobby! I guess I'm going to have to visit John Deere's three visitor centers instead.Martin Rickatson I’m a farming writer/journalist from the UK coming over with a group of dealers and customers. I’ll be there in the morning so look out for some photos.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ewing Avenue Bridge over Calumet River

20160504,21 3270
(Bridge HunterHistoric Bridges, 3D Satellite)
It is easy to find a place to park because Ewing is a four lane road that has to use a two lane bridge. But I didn't get my act together in time to take a video of it going down.

By the time I got out on the bridge, the three sailboats for which it was raised were north of CN/EJ&E Bridge.

View from 95th Street Bridge
A video of the bridge going down.

I didn't take many pictures of the bridge because I'm sure the two links at the top of this page have plenty of pictures. I took a picture north of Ewing Avenue on the east side of the river because it was obvious that Chicago has lost another industry. A Google satellite shot shows that it was in business rather recently as a Sims Metal Management site. Judging from the satellite image, it crushed and ground up cars.

Also note that the image has Von Zirngible Gravesite 1855.
Actually, the Battle of Waterloo took place in 1815. [ChicagoTribune] ByGoneChicago has some pictures not only of the grave, but of the scrapyard when it was more prosperous.

Tom Shepherd posted
Here is an excellent aerial shot of the Calumet River as it enters from Lake Michigan at roughly 92nd Street.
On the right side of the river (south side) is what is now the Illinois International Port District's Iroquois Landing facility.
On the left are the remains of where US Steel (USX) once was.
Notice the breakwater out in the lake. See the barges being towed by a tugboat, which just came through the opened-up 92nd & Ewing Ave. bridge?
This photo (date unknown, maybe around 2000?) was before the extension of South Shore Drive through the USX / Lakeside Development property.
Christy Matczak Boyle posted eight photos with the comment:
January 1981. My mom was allowed under the 92nd Street bridge to photograph some work being done. She was soooo happy!
 Christy Matczak Boyle They warned her about climbing under and she said “don’t worry, I can swim”

[Note the CN/EJ&E Lift Bridge in the background.]