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Northern Ohio Railway Museum News - 2013 to 2008

The Museum continues to grow. With two barns in place, much of the collection is now protected from the elements, and volunteers are busy working on restoring the Museum's vast array of equipment. The Museum is still acquiring more equipment to build its collection. Articles on these pages are based on information gleaned from the Bimonthly NORM Publication, The Northern Light and other authoritative sources. Articles will be added on a continuing basis.

News Index

Museum News Briefs - Summer 2013

Summer was hot and rainy, but nothing rains on NORM's parade. Read our electrifying accomplishments- .

Current Events- Here's what's happened at NORM this season:

We have a generator!- Electrification took a big step forward when a 150 kW generator arrived at NORM. For years the power plant stood watch at WJW-TV's Parma OH transmitter, providing standby power for broadcasts. Over time, conversion to digital equipment overwhelmed its capacity, rendering the unit obsolete. The station donated the unit to our cause, and the time homered ritual of flatbed trucks, forklifts and riggers began anew. The 3-phase generator is powered by a General Motors 6-110 diesel engine- big brother to the engine in our Plymouth. For now the unit resides in the Plunkert garage.
Archives Organizing- At present, the NORM Archive boasts over 150,000 visual images and over 2,000 publication titles. Thanks to several large donations in recent years, volunteers have spent much of the year sorting and cataloging this bounty. Some of the more interesting and exotic items include-

  • A 1911 McKeen Motor Car catalog (McKeen built one of the earliest and most successful doodlebugs)
  • A near-complete set of Brill Magazines (J.G. Brill's employee magazine)
  • Ohio Brass catalogs (a major trolley hardware supplier)
  • A Census Bureau special report on electric street railways in 1907.
Not only are these materials valuable in their own right, many offer precious technical data for our operator training and restoration efforts.

Public Outreach- Train shows, Museum tours and educational activities:
Book Talk- Much of our education effort takes place far from the museum. Four groups that heard presentations from NORM members were:

  • the Association of Women's Organizations of Trumbull County
  • the West Park Historical Society
  • and Grafted Hearts of Fairview Hospital (a cardiac patient's group)
Some of these talks are based on Museum publications like History Of The Ravenna Arsenal, and book sales are brisk.
Visit Us- Saturday Tours are in full swing. 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM every Saturday through Oct. 26 th. Be sure to visit the Museum Store- the artifacts on display alone are worth it!

Rail Operations- Train movements, operating rules and motorman qualification::

NOT&L 1515 moved- This venerable steel interurban has spent way too many years on the “wrong” side of Buffham road. That was corrected over several work days. First, shop trucks were brought over by the Plymouth switcher. Next, steel rails were laid at 90 degrees to the main track. Then the car body was lifted, lowered onto the rails and slid across to the main track. Finally the body was jacked up, the shop trucks were rolled underneath and the Plymouth hauled 1515 across the street. Then CRC 0711 took over to spot the car on track 5.

Weed Control- The Plymouth switcher again proved its worth by subbing for the ailing Trackmobile in weed spraying operations. The sprayer was mounted on a speeder trailer, which the switcher pulled.

Our Property- Grounds upkeep, car barn maintenance, track and overhead construction:
Road Improved- Our access road makes a good visual aid to show why interurbans came about, as it often resembles a muddy, rutted 19th century farm trail. Recently a contractor was called in to resurface the road with stone. Now the road is much smoother- a boon for members and visitors alike.

Day Of The Triffids- Brush and grass cutting is one of those “unromantic” (eg. non-railroad) tasks that's absolutely vital to maintaining a sucessful museum. With record setting rains, the grass cutters have been busy. Fallen trees joined the usual saplings and weeds as unwanted biomass. And before NOT&L 1515 could be moved, leafy and thorny things had to be cleared out to access the car. Some flooding occurred in the McCarthy barn, and members cleaned that up. Thank you to all the volunteers who work to make our property attractive for the public.

Car Work- Restoration, preservation and repair of cars on our roster:
Controller fixed- CRC 0711 was reported with dead spots in acceleration. So 0711's controller contacts and speed roll (the camshaft-like part that opens and closes the contacts) received a through polishing. The air-actuated line switches in the HL cabinet were inspected and repaired at the same time.

(Photos - S. Heister)

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Museum News Briefs - Summer 2012

Summer was hot at NORM! We got a new used locomotive and gave our first streetcar rides. Cool off with this cool n ews.

Current Events - Here's what's happened at NORM this season:

NORM Catches Critter - Our Museum grounds are home to a variety of furry little critters, but the newest specimen weighs 10 tons. "Critter" is a traditional railfan term for a small industrial switcher, and our new Plymouth 10 Tonner fits the bill. The yellow locomotive spent many years handling covered hoppers at Holcim Dundee Cement in Independence, Ohio before Holcim recently purchased a new trackmobile. Realizing the switcher's days were numbered, an alert Museum member arranged for the locomotive's donation to the museum. The loco, a diesel-hydraulic with GM 4-71 prime mover, fired up on arrival and made two short trips down the main. While minor repairs are needed, the engine is fully functional- just in time, as the Whiting trackmobile is down with a bad clutch.

First Trolley Rides At NORM! - Our Annual Member's Meeting is always a big event, but the Aug. 11th meet was historic. For the first time, members were able to ride one of our streetcars. CIRR 1225 was coupled to CRC 0711 and pulled as a trailer for its first passenger service on NORM rails. Soon enough, 1225 will be able to make the run on its own, under wire. As a fitting conclusion, the meeting ended with a beautiful Jim Smith collection slide show featuring theater marquees on trolley routes.

Rail Operations - Train movements, operating rules and motorman qualification:

Track Cleared - The loading track was our station for the historic Member's Meeting runs with 1225. That meant SHRT 101, the flat car loaded with overhead poles, and the spiker had to be spotted on the main some days before. Unfortunately the Trackmobile was out of service and the critter hadn't arrived. So the erstwhile Gehl front loader was brought out to pull the cars to their new location.

Our Property - Grounds upkeep, car barn maintenance, track and overhead construction:

Trees Felled For Overhead - In July the Museum officers contracted with a tree service to clear the line on the West side of the grounds. The trees- most of which were doomed by Emerald Ash Borer infestation- blocked overhead construction along the main track. While the professionals did the dangerous work, NORM volunteers cleared away the cuttings. Now the path is open for pole setting.

Ballast Spreader Under Construction - Ballast is necessary to hold track in place and to provide drainage for rain water. At present NORM ballasts its track using the Hi-Railer dump truck. Unfortunatly, the ballast is not spread evenly or wide enough using this method. Recognizing the limitations of this technique, volunteers are building a ballast spreader for the dump truck which will more envenly and widely distribute the stone on track. This labor-saving device should speed up track construction and bring the day of operation that much closer.

Car Work - Restoration, preservation and repair of cars on our roster:

SHRT 303 - Reconstruction work on the A end is complete, and the B end is back together. Door and treadle step restoration is about half complete. Four passenger seats are fully painted, as are all the underseat heater shells. Seat support pedestals are being needlescaled, and will soon be primed. Replacement glass has arrived, and work has begun on the Florentine pattern windows above the sashes.

(Photos - 1 - D. Schultz, 2 - C. Legree)

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Museum News Briefs - January - April 2012

As Spring returns, swallows come back to Capistrano, buzzards to Hinkley and trolleys to NORM. Thanks to our dedicated members another rara avis in terra has come back to Northeast Ohio.

Current Events - Here's what's happened at NORM this season:

101 Arrives! - After years in the suburbs of Columbus, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line car 101 is back with its running mates. Preparation began on April 19th as members widened and smoothed the driveway apron to welcome big, heavy trucks. Simultaniously a nearby culvert was extended to facilitate backing moves. Two days later members travelled to the Ohio Railway Museum at Worthington to prep 101 for movement. Shortly after 3:00 PM on Apr. 24th the car arrived on a beautiful green Silk Road rig.

    Now trolleys have arrived at NORM in many ways, including towed by a heavy-duty wrecker. But 101 came in style, on a specialized transit car hauler with built-in rails. All we had to do was assemble a steel ramp and hook up the Gehl (propulsion) and the hi-rail dump truck (brakes) to roll the car right off. Sometimes the Gehl had to detach, and nudge (actually, ram) a wheel whose flange came down on the railhead instead of in gauge. All in all, this was the most trouble-free unloading we've seen in a long time. 101 itself is mechanically intact, but needs the usual scraping and painting associated with wood cars.

New Photo Collection - In January NORM recieved a call from David Boyd of Rockfield KY. It seems his late father Donald had grown up in Northeast Ohio and left a sizable collection of electric traction photos covering the period 1938-41. Railroads documented include the Akron Transportation Co. (Akron city lines), Intercity Rapid Transit (last remnant of the NOT&L), Stark Electric (a branch of NOT&L), Cleveland Interurban R.R. (Shaker Rapid under Van Sweringen ownership) and many more. Artifacts include cap badges, transfers and time tables. By February, collection items were in our caring hands. Remember, NORM is always interested in collections related to electric transit.

Public Outreach - Train shows, Museum tours and educational activities:

Presentation Given - On May 8th two NORM board members addressed the Hinkley (OH) Historical Society on trolley history.

Tours Are A Big Deal With Us - Last year NORM members spent 252.2 hours in public outreach activities. Of these, 226 hours were for Saturday Car Barn tours. By the time you read this, our store and tour docents will have completed their 2012 orientation, and Saturday tours will be back.

Northern Ohio Railway Museum - 2012 Walking Tours
5515 Buffhan Road, Seville, Ohio
Saturdays, May 19th Through Oct. 27th
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Our Property - Grounds upkeep, car barn maintenance, track and overhead construction:

Track Work Continues - A warm winter allowed NORM to get a jump on track work. The main track is ballasted up to the front siding switch.

Bennett Barn Improvements - Disorder and clutter have been an ongoing problem in our ready/restoration barn. Over the warm Spring volunteers sorted, straighten up and cleaned up. We now have a long-needed fireproof paint locker, wall bins for small fasteners and more cabinets for big items. Car parts have been tagged and transfered to the Mc Carthy barn.The days of scrounging through huge boxes looking for just the right screw are coming to an end!

1510 Unloaded - Northern Ohio Traction & Light 1510 has been declared a basket case by the Museum board. The tragic steel is just too badly deteriorated to save. Its chief role over the years has been parts storage. To prepare the car for scrapping- and save its contents from vandalism or worse- members went across Buffham Road to unload the treasures contained within. The work was downright hazardous, as 1510 had no floor except spare trolley poles laid down over gaping holes. After several hours, two truck loads of parts- including the trolley poles- were safely enshrined in the Mc Carthy barn.

Car Work - Restoration, preservation and repair of cars on our roster:

SHRT 303 Gets Top Hours - According to the Bennett Barn Volunteer's Log, 303's restoration was our most labor intensive project in 2011. Restoration activities consumed 309 volunteer hours, 256½ of which were spent on the Shaker "smoker". Door and step rehabilitation continued through the winter, and wood framing repair has begun on the smoker-end dasher.

(Photos - S. Heister)

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Museum News Briefs - September - December 2011

As trolley bells yield to sleigh bells, NORM rests for the winter. Here's our end of the year activities report:

Current Events - Here's what happened at NORM this season:

Another SHRT Work Car! - Line car OX isn't Michigan's only gift to the Shaker Rapid. In 1932 the Cleveland Interurban Railroad (Shaker Rapid) bought an Eastern Michigan Railway line car. Re-numbered 101, the car was used to maintain the Shaker Rapid's overhead under the Van Sweringen (CIRR) and municipal (SHRT) owners until 1966. At that point the Ohio Railway Museum in Worthington narrowly out-bid NORM for the car, and it went south. This December NORM bought the car from ORM, and the familar car moving ritual will begin again. 101 is in good overall and fair cosmetic shape, marred only by a possible burnt-out traction motor. We might even be able to use it for next summer's overhead work.

Chevy Visit - Since Ford fans have visited twice in a year's time, it was only fair we host a meeting of Chevy fans. On Sept. 24th the Vintage Chevrolet Car Club of Ohio saw our cars and let us see theirs. And just to round out the picture, the Toledo British Automobile Club came this season, too. It's ironic that autos- once a rival to streetcars- are now parners in saving our history.

Public Outreach - Train shows, Museum tours and educational activities:

Busy Season - NORM finished out the year with a visitor count of over five hundred people. Special visitors included Cub Scout packs and a group of home schoolers. With so much interest in static display, our museum is bound to soar when we begin operating.

Model Trolley Layout - Preparation of RTA 161 for Jim Smith's model traction layout continued through the Fall.

Our Property - Grounds upkeep, car barn maintenance, track and overhead construction:

Progress On Track! - Ironically, cold weather has been a boon for the track gang. Spared withering heat, track forces have made significant progress on the tangent track running along our (compass) west side. Ballast has been laid from the front switch north, while tie replacement and track leveling continue between the front and loading track switches. With luck, this stretch will be done before Christmas.

Car Work - Restoration, preservation and repair of cars on our roster:

SHRT 303 - Painting occupied the waning Fall months. Doors, steps, heaters and seat hardware were primed, and recieved a final finish as time and temperature allowed. The interior got a much needed cleaning, which will make next year's work far more pleasant.

Compressor Work - After months on the back burner, repair activity on CRC 0711's compressor has resumed. The plan is to get the unit back on 0711 so TTC 2778's compressor can go back to its car. Though adequate as a stop gap, 2778's compressor doesn't really supply the air volume a heavy work car needs. Besides, the Witt car will soon need it for its own systems.

(Photos - Top - J. Spangler, Bottom - B. C. Gage)

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Museum News Briefs - July - August 2011

Summer heat waves met their match as NORM volunters readied the museum for train operation. Here's what was hot in July and August.

Current Events - Here's what happened at NORM this season:

Archive Expanded - N.O.R.M. is blessed to have many valuable collections donated by members and others. After conferring early in the summer, museum officers decided the Archives needed expansion. Therefore, a new climate-controlled storage unit was secured at the Berea facility. Throughout August, members installed shelving, sorted items and consolidated material from two smaller units into the large one. The new space will honor the donations by storing them with respect, so that researchers may use them.

Public Outreach - Train shows, Museum tours and educational activities:

Hours Well Spent - NORM docents contributed a whopping 86 1/2 hours as Museum tour guides in July and August.

Our Property - Grounds upkeep, car barn maintenance, track and overhead construction:

Track Work Begins! - In the midst of the July heat wave, members started replacing bad ties on the main track. This was done Old School using mechanical jacks to lift the rail, spike bars to pull spikes and tie tongs to move the heavy timbers. Only the faithful Gehl front loader provided power assist, bringing ties from the south end of the property and taking old ones to the scrap pile to await re-use in other projects around the grounds.

Rail Operations - Train movements, operating rules, and motorman qualification:

Trackmobile Rides Again! - Or to be more precise, the Trackmobile gave seat trailer rides at our the annual dinner. The dinner was a steak fry in the Plunkert building, so members passed the time with train rides before food was served. Rides continued the next day at our annual picnic. In the process, a member was trained in Trackmobile operation.

Car Work - Restoration, preservation and repair of cars on our roster:

SHRT 303 - The open A end is no longer open! A sheet steel dasher panel is finally in place on a milled woodwork framing. The seat cushions are back, awaiting installation while seats, electric heaters and mounting pedestals are inspected and paint-prepped. Boarding steps have been removed for rehab, and the treadles that allow automatic door operation have been primed. Much needed interior cleaning goes on.

RTA 161 - - Installation of Jim Smith's model trolley layout continues.

(Photos - B. C. Gage)

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Museum News Briefs - May - June 2011

April showers came in May this year, but nothing dampens NORM's spirits. We're open for business as always.

Current Events - Here's what we did in May and June:

CIRR 1225 Hosts Orientation - This year our annual tour docents' orientation was held in the Kuhlman rapid car. This marks the first official Museum event in 1225, as donuts were served to the eager guides. A transformer is now hooked up to the car's interior lights. With lighting, the car is suitable for good weather board meetings and special events.

Model Trolleys Will Run Again! - Models are a useful tool for explaining the complexities of prototype operation. To that end,volunteers are preparing recently deceased member Jim Smith's trolley layout for public operation. Informed by Jim's lifetime of experience documenting traction and urban scenes, the layout is an exceptional slice of life in the trolley era.

Wedding Bells And Trolley Gongs - Even when standing still, CIRR 1225 is a popular attraction. So when a wedding party asked to be photographed with the Rapid car, NORM obliged. On June 26th 1225 was set out much as it had been on Model T Day, making the perfect backdrop for a June wedding.

Operation 2011 - Work is underway on the electrification of the demonstration track. The exceptionally wet spring delayed, but did not stop, work. Overhead parts have been sorted, cleaned up, and painted. Pole arms are also being prepped and painted. Soon NORM volunteers will be undertaking the heavy lifting of erecting poles, rehabilitating and upgrading the track, and stringing overhead wire. See also "Rail Operations, Switching Moves" below.

Public Outreach - Train shows, Museum tours and educational activities:

Open For Tours - Saturday barn tours resumed on May 14. As always, tours are from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with expert members as guides. Come see SHRT line car OX and CIRR (ex-Cleveland Railway) 1225, and watch the progress we're making on SHRT 303.

Rail Operations - Train movements, operating rules, and motorman qualification:

Switching Moves - On June 14th, CRC 0711 made its season debut as a yard switcher. First, yard track 1 ahead of the Airporters was cleared by setting off the N&W caboose and moving the crane flat with “armstrong” methods. Next the crew took 0711 back by the Prunkard building to grab CTA 4023 on the main. The L car was then coupled to the Illinois Central flatcar and the Cities Service tank car, and the whole string pulled ahead of the loading track switch. Then 0711 showed its mettle by shoving the two freight cars - one laden with overhead poles - into the loading track. These last two moves were made despite the rail made slick by tree fall - not bad for an 87 year old car without even a wheel slip light. Then the L car was dropped on 1 and the caboose set back in front of it. Now the main is clear for overhead construction and the overhead poles are accessable to hungry lift machines.

Car Work - Restoration, preservation and repair of cars on our roster:

CIRR 1225 - As mentioned above, a step-up transformer has been constructed to power 1225's interior lights. Using standard house current, the power pack feeds 600v DC to the aisle lights and exterior entry/exit roll signs. This "action feature" enhances the car's value as a static display.

SHRT 303 - Restoration is going at a fast pace. Outside, the pilots (cowcatchers) and anti-climbers are a beautiful gloss black. Inside, the A end controller is now upright instead of leaning at a crazy angle and the motorman's brake valve has been installed. All seat cushions are now at the upholsterer's being covered with black industrial Naugahyde. This is the nearest match to the original fabric, which seems to have been a kind of oilcloth. As seat removal continues, seat trim hardware is being cleaned and polished or painted.

CTS 161 & 172 - While CIRR 1225 has its transformer, the Airporters have a battery charger. Like most modern transit cars, they use 32v DC batteries to maintain power for interior lights and auxiliary systems. This avoids the flashing and brown outs traditional cars display when overhead power is disturbed going through breakers, de-wiring et al. In service, the batteries were charged by the car's motor/generator set. In static display they need a slow charger powered from the wall plug. With battery power, docents can use the cars' own lights and PA system to orient guests. Built by a member for only $5.00, the charger comes complete with instructions illustrated with beautiful photos.

(Photos - B. C. Gage)

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Museum News Briefs - Winter - Spring 2011

As always, Car Barn activity slowed as the nights grew cold. But there was still time to accomplish much indoors and out.

Current Events - Here's what's happened at NORM this winter and spring:

Collection Donated - One of our oldest members, Jim Smith, died on Sept. 23, 2010, at age 92. Deaf from birth, Jim's remarkable life included a childhood meeting with Helen Keller, a key role in founding the American Deaf Railfan's Association, and a passion for documenting traction in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and the Great Lakes states. His extensive collection of films, slides and stills, and an equally impressive photo record of Cleveland theater marquees has been donated to NORM along with his model railroad.

Documents Donated - Recently a NORM member received a file of items he'd written years ago for another museum. Included in the file was an envelope with reports and one photo. The reports turned out to be original Interstate Commerce Commission investigations of three accidents that occurred on the Lake Shore Electric and Youngstown & Suburban interurbans between 1929 and 1933. The photo is a very good commercial archive picture of one accident. The reports and photo are now safely in the NORM archives.

Public Outreach - Train shows, Museum tours and educational activities:

Learning Stops - While the Museum was snowbound, several members were already preparing for this year’s visitors. For the 2011 season, barn tours will include "Learning Stops" - special wall displays highlighting a specific topic in trolley history. The signs - composed at home and via internet - cover topics from trolley track gauges to the role of minorities in transit. Each Learning Stop features a special winged symbol resembling the old CTS logo, to convey the spirit of a trolley stop.

Our Property - Grounds upkeep, car barn maintenance, track and overhead construction:

The poles are here! - No, not Chopin and Paderewski, but overhead utility poles. The week of Halloween 2010 saw 20 pine poles arrive by truck. Using our sturdy Gehl loader, members transferred the load to our Illinois Central flat car. When installed, the poles will support our Trolleyville bracket arms and then the trolley wire will be attached using our St. Charles Line hardware.

Drainage - During the spring thaw, water levels can rise precipitously. Brush often clogs the drainage culvert at the North end of the property. This happened in the first week of March. Fortunately the culvert was only partly blocked, and easily cleared. Water wetted the comcrete walk in the McCarthy barn and a few treasures sitting on the floor were relocated, but no serious flooding happened.

Car Work - Restoration, preservation and repairs of our collection:

CIRR 1225 - During the March thaw, missing lock washers were installed on seat retaining bolts. The seats in question were the first group disassembled. They had no lock-washers, and it was erroneously assumed none were used. The mistake was caught as other seats were dismantled. But with so much else to do inside 1225, this minor task had been deferred.

SHRT 303 - One seat has been removed so its cushions can be sent to an upholsterer for estimates. The seat coverings are cracked and "alligatored" from age, and seat frames are rusted. While the cushions are being recovered, the frames will be needle scaled and painted and the floor will also be repainted. On the mechanical front, air lines are being repaired. The "A" end is still open to the air, but the structure has been aligned square and much of the new metal work is in place.

(Photos - S. Heister)

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Museum News Briefs - Fall 2010

Fall began with an invasion of classic cars and just got better. NORM's onward march is no Halloween prank, as the following shows

Current Events - Here's what's happened at NORM this season:

Cleveland Railway Trolley Car Trailer 2318 Arrives! - Trailers are unpowered trolley cars pulled by powered trolley cars to augment capacity. Cleveland was famous for its motor/trailer trains, but only two trailers survive today. When the Seashore Trolley Museum obtained Trolleyville's trailer last year, they agreed to send us one they had had for many years. On Oct. 21 the familar sight of a Silk Road low-boy trailer bringing a car to NORM for unloading was repeated, and Cleveland Railway 2318 arrived in the land of its birth. The ulitmate plan is to restore 2318 and return 1225 to its as-built streetcar state for operation together. For now the main job is another car shuffle to get 2318 under cover.

Public Outreach - Train shows, Museum tours and educational activities:

Charge Of The Model Ts! - Part of NORM's mission is historical outreach to other preservationists. This goal was achieved on the first Sunday of September when a Model T club visited our sprawling complex. Almost 90 restored Model T Fords arrived in groups throughout the day. Variations included a fire chief's roadster with axe and siren, trucks and depot wagons, and a racer conversion. Of course member volunteers were there to show the car enthusiasts how we “trolley jollies” handle restoration for our collectables. Shaker 25 and CRC 0711 were spotted for photo ops, giving the two modes of historic transportation a chance to appear side by side.

NORM members visit the Pensylvannia Trolley Museum - Saturday, Sept. 18th, over 40 NORM members visited the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington PA. The trip began on a beautiful sunny day as the bus (shrink wrapped in a great view of downtown Cleveland) headed east from Richfield on the Turnpike. After a whirlwind tour of downtown Pittsburgh, members rode the Blue Line to Library, passing Castle Shannon and other landmarks seen in reference books and Blaine Hays presentations. Our faithful bus took us from Library to the museum, where Red Arrow car 66 conveyed us to the display barn for box lunches. The food was served on PRC crane M-283, brother car to our CRC 0711.

After touring the display barn (highlights included a P&W Brill Bullet, 1870s vintage Stephenson mule car, Baldwin-Westinghouse steeple cab and a refrigerated box motor), we rode three beautiful restorations - the Red Arrow, PRC 3756 and Rio de Janero 1758- from loop to loop. The Rio "breezer" is from the same set as ours. New Orleans Public Service 832 - the famous "streetcar named Desire"- and birthday PCC Philadelphia Suburban 14 were running, but time intervened before we could ride. On the ride home the group ate supper at a fine Amish-themed restaurant, then watched a PBS documentary on steam photographer O. Winston Linke via the bus's TV. All in all, it was a stellar fantrip.

Car Work - Restoration, preservation and repairs of our collection:

CIRR 1225 interior overhaul continues - At last the ex-Shaker 1200 is fit to sit in! The bus type leather seats in front now have rattan cushions. Most ripped or bald wicker cushions have been replaced with good ones. Due to a lack of spare parts, some bad seat backs were replaced with parts whose damage is less obnoxious. For the same reason some seats must remain rehabilitated. But even these are being utilized as fund raising tools with "Save Our Seats" posters. All cross seats now have nice wooden grab bars firmly screwed in place. Final washing and varnishing must wait for warm weather, but the interior is dust free. Now visitors can tour the car to get an insider's view of trolley commuting.

Work begins on SHRT 303 - In 1928, while operating on the Aurora, Fox River & Elgin, this car collided with a circus elephant. But that damage was repaired long ago. The caved-in end with which it arrived at NORM was damaged at Trolleyville USA and never repaired. This October, Museum volunteers began work on the crushed dasher. After clearing out the dented metal and broken wood, metal structural plates were fabricated at NORM and an outside shop. The controller and brake stand are bent back, and will need to be re-plumbed before the end can be closed. The smoker end is okay, you can see it in the photos in the Car 303 page of our Collection pages.

(Photo 1 - B. Hays, Photo 2 & 5 - S. Heister, Photos 3, 4 & 6 - B. C. Gage)

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Museum News Briefs - Summer 2010

Summer was hot, but that didn't stop NORM volunteers. Despite temperatures in the 90s, work inside and outside the barn continued apace.

CIRR 1225 - Cleveland Interurban 1225 (SHRT 25) easily passes the “ 50/50 ” test (looks perfect from 50 feet or 50 MPH). But its inside is battered from years of service. Interior rehab began when leather-covered cushions on the front seats were replaced with rattan wicker cushions. Missing grab bars and their brass mounts were replaced with parts recycled from the leather seats. Damaged rear seats remain to be fixed. Weather permitting, stained upholstery and seat supports will be washed, and the wicker will get protective coats of varnish. Finally, brass and wood seat back fittings will be polished to complete the overhaul. The interior is being vacuumed as work progresses, removing ages of dirt.

Operations - With public operation only a few years away, the need for a set of operating rules becomes more urgent. So volunteers are creating a rule book to govern car movements on track, and a motorman's manual to explain car operating procedures.

Overhead & Power - Rehab of our St. Charles line hardware is complete. Diagrams of the ex-Trolleyville substation have been drawn up to aid future installation. The overhead plan for pole location and trolley wire specs continues to develop.

Track Work - The south track once used to store wheel sets has been removed, and the ground prepared for mowing. In early June a longer switch rod for the 1 to 2 yard switch was laboriously disassembled using the “ flame wrench ” and long bars. When it cooled, the rod and its hardware received a through wire brush cleaning. The new rod will allow the switch stand to be relocated farther from the track. In its current location, the switch stand collides with Airporter 172's underframe equipment. Meanwhile, a section of track just north of the Buffham Rd. crossing was taken up so Township work crews could install a drainage culvert.

Grounds - A retaining wall is being installed to keep the little creek just south of the Bennett barn in its place. In the past this stream has been a notorious wash-out zone. Safety rails where the access road goes over the creek will be part of the improvement. Meanwhile two PCC cars stored on the front siding for other museums have been scrapped, and desirable parts saved. The cars were part of the Lake Shore Electric “haul”, but the new owners lacked storage space. So NORM graciously offered the front siding for interim storage.

Anson Bennett Barn - News of NORM is getting around! On July 10th we had 32 visitors. That was more in one day than an entire month just a year or so ago. The pedestrian crossing over Track 2 at the north car doors is finally complete. Access to the crossing was hampered by TTC 2778's dormant truck. With the truck relocated as part of the ongoing car shuffles, finish work could be done. The CTS 172 access steps are finished, and installed on a graded “pad”. Outside, the crossing over Track 1 near the front man door has been improved with more steps and a hand rail.

Fr. McCarthy Barn - Interior and exterior lighting work is complete. The PRR boxcar has more informational signs and exhibits. A credit card system was installed at the computer for the Museum store, and the computer itself has an Access system to keep track of volunteer work for the Northern Lights.

CRC 0711 - 0711's water pump was replaced in February. The car did signal service during the March “car shuffle” when TE 2 was pushed out in the snow to make room for SHRT OX. More recently (June) cars in the barn were shuffled to put SHRT 303 and 25 on Track 2, a more accessable place for work. But alas, 0711's mechanical troubles were not over. In early July, a brake rigging pin broke, disconnecting the rear truck from the brake linkage. With half its braking capacity gone, the car was again blue flagged so repairs could be made. 0711 returned to service in the last week of August.

(Photos - 1 - B. C. Gage Collection, 2, 3 & 4 - S. Heister)

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Museum News Briefs - Winter/Spring 2010

Spring has sprung and the NORM team is back in business! Though snow kept us from working on-site, some winter work was done at various members homes and as weather permitted.

Here's a run down:

Trolleyville Aquisitions! In the month of November, 2009 a group of 14 trolley museums distributed the assests of the Lake Shore Electric museum, successor to Gerald E. Brookin's Trolleyville USA. NORM's share included SHRT 25 (ex Cleveland Ry. 1225), SHRT 303 (ex-Aurora Elgin & Fox River 303), Airporter CTS 172 and SHRT OX (ex-NOT&L 1078), plus N&W caboose 518021. That's the glamour part of the haul. But equally important is the “nuts n' bolts” stuff that will bring us closer to public operation;

  • Substations - Both the main substation (2 transformers, rectifier and switch panels) and the two back-up motor-generator sets reside in the McCarthy barn on the Ohio Edison flatcar.
  • Peckham Trucks - Lorain Street Ry. 83's trucks were left behind at Trolleyville while its body went to Grand Rapids before coming to us. Now the trucks and car are re-united, sort of. Though not under the body, 83's trucks are here at NORM- a major step toward restoration.
  • Spare Parts - A bonanza of repair parts was discovered in the Lake Shore inventory, and NORM received its share. Highlights include a motorman's brake valve and other parts for SHRT 303, and rattan seats for 1225's battered interior.
  • Overhead Hardware - Shaker/RTA OX was a line car, and Trolleyville continued to use it in that capacity. So of course it was loaded with overhead repair parts. All these parts had to be removed before transporting the car. One volunteer managed the job, and brought the parts to NORM- at some risk to his van's supension.
  • Tools - The radial arm saw and other items from the Trolleyville shop are now ours.
  • Railroadiana - The baggage carts that gave color to the B&O depot are here.
  • Trailers -Two semi-trailers now sit beside the McCarthy barn. They will be storage centers for spare parts and overhead.


New Plans - Now that we have operational trolleys, the Museum's development timetable has accelerated. Plans for location of overhead poles are being drawn up, and track laying will be a major priority. Restoration of TTC 2778 will continue, but the main efforts will be directed toward fixing SHRT 303's smashed end and restoring SHRT 25's interior. Both cars, with OX, will be evaluated for those little bugs that crop up when a car has been idle for some time.

Overhead Reclaimation - The DT&SL boxcar holds our overhead supplies from New Orleans' St. Charles line. Shortly after New Year's the weather warmed enough for volunteers to go inside and cut valuable hardware from its entangling wire. Wire frogs, insulators and brackets were removed for cleaning at a worker's home, and the scrap wire was sorted into steel and copper salvage bins. A bonus- it's much easier (and safer) to get around in the boxcar now.

Anson Bennett Barn - Walking tours continued apace through September and October. Wear and tear on the main doors was fixed, and a stair is under construction for Airporter 172. The Airporter lives on Track 1, and access stairs will let visitors see a modern transit car from the inside.


Track Work - In September the main track switch near the access road crossing was rebuilt. Bad ties were replaced and the switch stand was thoroughly rehabilitated. A chronic washout problem at the nearby drainage culvert was fixed with a retaining wall. And the notorious derailment problem at the 1-to-2 yard switch was fixed by leveling and re-ballasting track at the switch points. The result? For the first time in NORM history CRC 0711 can run all the way to the Prunkard barn. This work paid off in November when the Trolleyville cars were switched to the barn from the unloading track by the mighty Hemi-powered crane.

TTC 2778 - The rear truck frame is finish painted and partly re-assembled. The front door opener and step treadle linkages were scaled and painted. Side panel work is 80% complete.

CRC 0711 - The big Trolleyville car move took its toll on 0711. While inspecting journal boxes prior to the move, an alert volunteer noticed a bearing keeper out of place. On inspection, it was discovered the bearing and keeper were mis-aligned; probably a mistake made during restoration. With some difficulty a brass was removed from CL&E 105's shop truck and swapped with 0711's bad one. So 0711's troubles were over- right? While switching the T-ville arrivals, 0711's hemi blew a water pump bearing. The water pump was sent to North Carolina for re-building, leaving the crane blue flagged in the Bennett barn.

Visitor's Center - The old wooden roof is gone, and the frame's right side is completely primed. A workbench has been set up inside the car to facilitate interior construction. Wood runners are being installed on the uprights to serve as mounting points for side panels.

(Photos - 1 & 3 (left) - S. Heister, 2 & 4 (right) - B. C. Gage)

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Museum News Briefs - Fall 2009.

Fall is here and the Museum remains busy. Over the Summer we accomplished the following:

Bids for Brookins Cars - Sadly, the Lake Shore Electric Museum (sucessor to Trolleyvile USA) folded over the summer. This museum housed some 30+ cars acquired by Gerald E. Brookins, starting with four CLeveland Interurban Railroad (ex-Aurora Elgin & Fox River) lightweight interurbans purchased from the Shaker Rapid in late 1954. The collection is being auctioned, and NORM is bidding for cars of significance to Northeast Ohio. We hope to keep these cars here where they were built and/or operated. Keep watching for news.

New Tool Aids Restoration - As of July the Anson Bennett barn has a glass bead blasting cabinet. Like a sand blaster, this pneumatic device uses near-microscopic glass beads to remove rust, scale and corrosion from metal parts. Jobs as delicate as polishing electrical contacts and as rough as scaling rusty spring hangers have been done with great success. Its main job now is painting prep for TTC 2778's rear truck parts. The tool was acquired when it was realized the device cost only slightly more than sending parts out for commercial blasting.

TTC 2778 - Side sheet replacement nears completion, and electrical conduit installation is done. The rear truck has been totally dismantled. Most parts have been cleaned, primed and finish painted in light grey. The motors are being test run on low-power current, and show every sign of being servicable.

SHRT 92 - Painting this PCC has been an on-going process for several seasons. It's an "outside cat" that needs body stabilization to arrest further decay pending restoration. On one heroic July day a single volunteer primed and patched a myriad of holes and bare spots that had developed since the car was primed two years ago. Eventually vistors will see it in its original 1947 scheme - yellow with three green belt stripes.

Visitor's Center - Needlescaling and priming continues apace. Most of the frame has been primed and a sub-floor is in place.

(Photos - B. C. Gage)

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Museum News Updates - Spring/Summer 2009.

Car House dedicated in memory of the late Father John McCarthy.

On May 16, 2007 the museum lost a good friend with the death of Fr. John McCarthy. He was a retired priest of the Diocese of Steubenville in residence, St. Philomena Parish in East Cleveland. He celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest just a few years ago.

Fr. McCarthy was a long time member and supporter of the museum. He was a strong advocate of rail rapid transit and light rail transit who both expressed his views and took proponents of buses to task through the editorial pages of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Steve Heister recalls that about ten years ago Fr. McCarthy made an around the world cruise on the QE2. He received a reduced fare for being the resident priest on board and saying daily mass in the ship chapel. He made a presentation on his trip at a NORM media night. He talked about and showed pictures from various trolley museums and trolley systems he visited during this trip. He had information on Australia and New Zealand trams in the presentation. He had a printed handout about his world wide trolley cruise.

Dale Rothenberger recalls: “I met Fr. McCarthy on the NORM fantrip to Pittsburgh in 1993. Much to my surprise, I discovered he was a priest in East Cleveland while we were talking at the Library Loop while waiting on our trolley. From then on we had much to talk about: East Cleveland (where he practiced and I was a cop), Cleveland Heights (where I used to live) and of course traction and public transportation in Cleveland”

Mark Adamcik recalls attending and participating in the choir at Fr. McCarthy’s 50th anniversary Mass. Mark also represented the museum at the funeral.

We all have fond memories of Fr. John and we will all miss him very much.

On August 16, 2009, in honor of Father McCarthy’s generosity and friendship, a carbarn at Northern Ohio Railway Museum was dedicated to his memory as the John R. McCarthy Car House.

Now that our two car barns are finished, serious restoration is underway. Here are some of our most important projects, completed and on-going, for 2009:

TTC 2778 - Restoration work on the Toronto Witt's frame is now finished and a fresh coat of paint has been applied to it. New end panels have been fabricated and installed on the car body and side panel replacement work is underway. The brake cylinder and associated rigging have been reinstalled after rust removal, inspection and repainting. The air plumbing is largely finished. Re-wiring the car and re-building the power trucks are the current big jobs in progress.

Car Barns - Museum Volunteers have put in many hours over the past year to make our barns safe and accessable for our summer walking tour guests and work crews alike. One of our most important projects has been installing ADA compliant pedestrian crossings & ramps in the barns. As of July 2009 we have full decks across the front of both the Bennett and McCarthy barns complete with ramps between the tracks for full access to the cars on display.

Materials have been removed from the aisles in the McCarthy Car House to allow tour access to the collection housed there. The hard work throughout the summer of '08 moving machines and tools to more efficient locations is in evidence in the Bennett Car House as the shop aisles are now clearer, providing the much needed space to continue our current restoration and construction projects. In addition, a heavy-duty work bench has been constructed to facilitate work on large items such as traction motors. Numerous hours have also been logged sorting and organizing the various nuts, bolts and other fasteners used in restoration.

CUT 018 - Thanks to the hard work of several volunteers the Buda speeder is back in service. The rear bumper has been completed and installed and work progresses on restoring its Shaker Rapid paint job. The car's charging problems were traced to a bad brush connection in the generator last Summer and the repairs allowed the speeder to reappear for rides at the 2008 member's weekend. The car is now on display in the Bennett Car House.

Visitor's Center - Needle-scaling, priming and floor work continue on Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Combine 1088, which is well on its way to becoming our interim Visitor's Center. The PRR X-23 boxcar that is now housing the Museum Store also currently serves as our "temporary interim" Visitor's Center. An RTA Red Line dispatcher's control board, various electrical components that show how trolleys run and a collection of Lake Shore Electric artifacts are all on display. The car is located in the McCarthy Car House and is a part of our regular Saturday walking tours.

Appreciation goes to our many volunteers who continue to donate their time and efforts to help the Museum, as well as to those whose generous financial support helps to make these efforts possible.

(Photos 1 & 2 - Museum Collection, Photos 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 - B. C. Gage)

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NORM Annual Members Weekend 2008.

The hard work of our many dedicated volunteers was evident to all who attended this year’s annual Members Weekend, held on August 9th & 10th. The event was well attended on both days, with Sunday seeing the most visitors.

The weather was nice on Sunday afternoon and Museum members and their guests were treated to a delicious picnic lunch, a walking tour of the facilities and inspection car rides from the Prunkard Maintenance Building siding all the way out to the south end of the line and back.

The highlight of the day was a 'corn field meet' out near the car Car House lead switch between C.U.T. Buda Rail Car # 016, C.R.C. Crane Car # 0711 and the Trackmobile with our shop built inspection car in tow.

The event marked the first time that the Museum has had all three pieces of maintenance equipment in operation together.

A walking tour of the property showed some of the many improvements that have been made in the past year including the construction of several walkways that allow visitors to safely cross the tracks to access the cars on display.

A brief tour of the Anson W. Bennett Car house revealed the progress that continues to be made on two current projects; the restoration of TTC Peter Witt Car # 2778 and the conversion of Philadelphia & Reading Combine # 1088 into our new temporary visitors’ center.

On a walk through the rear Car House we also found that several display stands have been constructed to provide car information for walking tours. The Car House currently houses several of the Museum's interurban cars, as well as three of our PCC cars. All are on temporary display pending restoration.

The Car House also houses Pennsylvania Railroad Box Car # 499369, which has been outfitted as our temporary Museum Store. The store is now open during our Saturday public walking tours as well as other special events like Members Weekend.

(Photos - B. C. Gage)

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Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Combine # 1088 begins its transformation into our interim Visitor's Center

For years, NORM has owned a combine car of dubious origin - possibly an Akron, Canton & Youngstown or Wheeling & Lake Erie item. The museum acquired the car from a private collector that had rescued it from the scrapper's torches in the mid 1960s. Intending to use the car for a shop, the owners had it moved to a siding at Navarre, Ohio, where it remained until 1980 when the museum assumed ownership.

Our interest in the car was for a Visitor's Center. Since the car was last in company service on the railroad, its interior spaces had already been modified for this service. As a result, we did not feel we were going to be compromising a historical piece of equipment by configuring its interior to serve the needs of a museum visitors center.

After being acquired by the museum, the car was moved in a train to a siding at Medina for storage where it remained until 1984. It was then moved by rail a few miles south to a B & O siding at Chippewa Lake, where it was stored with several other pieces of museum equipment. By 1991, the siding had been isolated from the main line, now operated by the CSX. The car was moved the final few miles to museum property by truck later that year.

Upon arrival it was placed on an outdoor storage track with several other pieces of equipment. Over the next few years Car Houses were raised and track work gradually snaked its way to the storage lines. Much of the equipment was moved either to the Car Houses for preservation or to the dead line, but the combine remained on the storage track. Exposed to the elements, its condition slowly declined.

A recent assessment was made of the car's condition and the decision was made to put aside the plans for its use as a Visitor’s Center. The combine was to be put up for sale. A renewed effort was made to properly identify the car so that it could be sold. Through the collective efforts of several groups and individuals, much of the car's long and varied history has finally been traced.

When found in the scrap yard, the car was lettered with a Norfolk & Western M-of-W number. Close examination also revealed P & R stenciled on the car. As it turns out, the car was built in 1911 by Harlan and Hollingworth, a subsidiary of the Bethlehem Car Company, for the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad as a day coach.

It is of composite construction, having steel under frame, truss rods and substructure supporting the wood framing and exterior sheathing. Like many passenger cars of that era, it featured a clerestory roof constructed of wood and canvas. It was equipped with trucks of four wheels outside bolster design, which it still rests on today. Originally built as a coach, additional sheathing and baggage doors were added to one end sometime after it left the Reading, resulting in its current configuration as a combine.

In the mid 1920’s, when the Reading began replacing these composite cars with all steel cars, the older cars went to several lines. Car # 58 was sold to the Mississippian Railway. During World War II, it returned north to the Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway. After passenger service ended on the line, the car was reassigned to company service and the original interior was removed.

When the Norfolk & Western took over control of the line the car was renumbered for their maintenance division, where it remained in service until 1964. As the Norfolk & Western went on to absorb several other smaller lines it became necessary to trim its growing maintenance fleet, At that time the car was sold to the Luntz Scrap Yard in Canton, Ohio.

Although it seemed like disposing of it was the best option, a suitable home for the car could not be found. The Board decided once again to go ahead with the plans to make the orphan our interim Visitor’s Center.

In spring of 2007, a group of volunteers began stripping off its decayed wooden siding. In October of 2007 the car was put inside the Bennett Car House to complete needle scaling and priming rusted metal. At the same time 2x4s were cut for flooring. Follow the saga of our emerging Visitor’s Center!

(Photos 1 & 2 - Museum Collection, Photos 3, 4 & 5 - S. Heister)

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Last updated 04/02/2015