By Joe Hazinski, Fox River Trolley Museum
Reproduced with permission from the Fox River Lines newsletter.
CNS&M 715 has been one of our most popular and often used cars but it has looked pretty worn out in recent years with faded paint, malfunctioning doors and rusted out end dash panels. In 2018 Doug Rundell took on repairing a failing tack molding near the southeast corner of the car which ended in a canvas patch over the work. This was just the start.
In January 2019 three new side doors were constructed by John of Kraftwerks and because of a mild winter up to that point, he installed them on the car.
We had one mangled sample of the door sweeps, which were at the bottom of these doors to keep weather out, from which our neighbor Leo Metz make replacements. Once winter subsided the sweeps were attached to the doors and helped keep the spring rains out of the vestibules.
After the Rails To Victory event and the opening of regular museum service the car was taken out of service in July and parked on Track 3 South adjacent to the car barn. Doug Rundell with the help of Mike Gilles and James Tarbet recoated the roof canvas.
The lower corner of the #1 or south train door disintegrated last season and had plywood patches applied to keep the door together. This door had been patched by Ralph Taylor when we got the car in 1989 and had received some epoxy patch over the years but now that was not holding. Mile Gilles and Joe Hazinski took on repairing the door using some maple stock that is on hand. Ralph’s donated planner was used to get it down to the correct thickness and after two tries we finally got a fair fit with the use of epoxy filler to fill in the gaps.
With the car on Track 3 South work started on preparing the surface for paint. The first thought was to rough up the surface, prime it and paint over it. Kathleen Jamieson started work on repainting the east side herald but as work continued defects in the car sides and ends dictated that wire wheeling and grinding down to bare metal would be required. Jeff Bennett even experimented with a water blast system on one corner. In the meantime Jeff hooked up with Buzz Morisette of IRM who had done decals for their green North Shore cars and obtained computer files for both the herald and numerals except the “5” for which we provided information to have a file created. A supplier that has done graphics for Jeff’s company then made decals for the car. A combination of museum volunteers and KRB employees worked through the summer to prepare the exterior of the car. Rusted out areas in the side sheets were filled with POR-15 epoxy and then ground and sanded smooth. Finally white epoxy primer was applied to the lower sides of the car. We had planned to use Rustoleum Hunter Green but after investigation Jeff decided to go with an Imron 3.5 HG auto paint which includes a clear coat. This was matched with the Rustoleum colors. Imron is a very expensive paint but should protect the car for years in an outdoor environment. When it came time to pick up the paint we received a deep discount from the supplier as the manager had fond memories of visiting the museum when he was a child. You never know when good visitor relations will help out in the future.
Three of the four end dash panels were badly rusted through along the bottom edge. A four inch strip of the bottom of each dash was cut out.
Then a piece of sheet metal was riveted to each dash and primed.
More POR-15 body filler was applied to blend in the seam and cover the new pop rivets. Grinding and sanding them smoothed the seam which was now ready for primer.
After the car was wiped down with acetone Jeff used an airless sprayer to apply a white epoxy primer to the side sheets.
Then masking all the windows started after all the window posts had been wire wheeled followed by applying a gray epoxy primer. At this point CA&E 458 was moved from its place on Track 4 inside the car barn so 715 could come in for final painting. More masking was done including the edge of the roof and all six doors which were set ajar so the complete door areas could be sprayed.
This time a conventional air gun was used to spray the green with air supplied by our old trusty car barn compressor. Jeff laid down two coats of the Imron 3.5 green but was not satisfied so he sanded his work down and did it over. AE&FR 304 and CA&E 20 were covered with plastic to protect them from overspray. The green was sprayed again and then after the color cured it was time to change the masking to apply the red. Once the red was cured it was time remove all the masking. A lot of the final spray painting was done by Jeff in the early evening. He then proceeded to paint the north anticlimber black but there wasn’t enough room to do the south end so one evening after the peak power demand he moved the car a few feet north out of the barn.
After he finished painting the south anticlimber he could not motor it back up against CTA 4451. After some trouble shooting and consulting with Fred Lonnes he determined that an element of the control resistance had failed and resorted to a manual car mover to get it back inside. He called Joe Hazinski who advised him where he might find some replacement resistor fins which he located the next day and installed one to resolve the problem. While the car was still inside Bill of KRB started cleaning up the interior which had a lot of dust and debris from the exterior surface preparation.
Finally 715 was moved outside and 458 returned to its place in the barn for continued roof work. By this time it was getting fairly cool outside and our first instinct was to wait until next spring to apply the decals. After talking to the graphics concern that made them they felt confident that they could apply them for a very reasonable fee.
So that is how the car got to its current condition, just in time for use during the Pumpkin Trolley operations. There is additional painting needed on the interior platforms, traps and steps as well as the underbody but with the first snow and the need to get the CTA cars ready for our Christmas train services these tasks will be done in the spring of 2020.
Special thanks to Jeff for pushing so hard to get this primary operating car done and to all those who helped in big and small ways.