Central Electric 
Railfans' Association

CERA News for 9-26-2014

Friday, September 26, 2014 3:44 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

Tonight @CERA:
The Chicago Streetcar Pictorial Round Table

Friday evening, September 26, 2014 – Doors open at 6:30, and the program begins promptly at 7:00 pm
University Center, 525 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605

Chicago PCC 7213 on State Street in the early 1950s. This car would end up being the last Chicago streetcar in 1958. (CERA Archives)

Chicago PCC 7213 on State Street in the early 1950s. This car would end up being the last Chicago streetcar in 1958. (CERA Archives)

Come join us for the first of three events in our “Chicago PCC Weekend.” Our program will begin with rare films of Chicago streetcars, unseen in 60 years. We will then watch excerpts from the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD, which will be included with each copy of our forthcoming book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958 (for more information, see the “CERA News” for September).

We have assembled a stellar panel for a “round table” discussion of Chicago’s PCCs, including B-146’s authors, Jeff WienDavid Sadowski, and John Nicholson; transportation historians Roy Benedict andGeorge Kanary; and legendary photographers Ray DeGrooteTruman HefnerBob HeinleinBernie Rossbach, and Ken Spengler, whose work is featured in the book. This program will be videotaped for future DVD release.

There are still plenty of seats available for tonight’s program, so don’t hesitate to come.  We distributed tickets in order to make sure that our out-of-town visitors would be assured of getting in.  However, unfortunately air traffic in and out of Chicago has been halted today due to a fire that damaged equipment that controls all flights in the Midwest.  This means that Truman Hefner will not be able to join us as he had planned.

As a special bonus, each attendee will receive a commemorative poster, suitable for framing and autographing. These will be distributed at the end of the evening. We look forward to seeing you there!

The last Chicago streetcar at 81st and Halsted in the early morning hours of June 21, 1958. (Bill Hoffman Photo - CERA Archives)

The last Chicago streetcar at 81st and Halsted in the early morning hours of June 21, 1958. (Bill Hoffman Photo – CERA Archives)

This event is part of our Chicago PCC Weekend. We hope you will be able to join us for two special fantrips on the Kenosha Streetcar (Saturday, 9/27) and to the Illinois Railway Museum on Sunday the 28th.

To give you some of the background information on Chicago’s PCCs, here is an interesting article from the December 1936 issue of Armour Engineer and Alumnus. The Armour Institute is now the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Author Robert H. Rice was Principal Assistant Engineer in charge of the work of the Board of Supervising Engineers, a partnership between the City of Chicago and the Chicago Surface Lines.

Your CERA Directors

FYI, we have received an update on the Eelctroliner restoration project at IRM from Tom Sharratt:


During the recent Museum Showcase Weekend, several of the key members working on the Electroliner project met to review our progress and re-evaluate what needs to be done. Our original goal was to have the train operational by 2016 at a cost of $500,000. Based on closer inspection of the train, we have determined that major wheel work, perhaps truck work and air brake work needs to be done. We are investigating several options of how the wheel and truck work might be done (it could involve lifting the cars off the trucks and putting them on flat cars or on the ground, which would be very expensive.) Hoses and electrical cables between the cars need to be replaced. The air conditioning system needs to be repaired or replaced. Seals in all the windows need to be replaced (window work has begun), all seats need to be reupholstered (that will start in 2015) and the interior needs to be painted. This review has led to a more realistic – and more expensive – estimate of what the renovation will cost. Optimistically, we now feel it will cost at least $750,000 and it is likely to be more. Our goal is to have the car operational sometime in 2017, and all work completed by 2020. That depends on how much money we are able to raise and such things as scheduling pit time and availability of dedicated workers. Our barn is not heated, and the pit is shared with other departments – it is in high demand. If you are interested in working, leave a message for Ed Oslowski or Rod Turner in the museum office (815) 923 4391 extension 2.

There is good news. A $25,000 Matching Grant has been approved by the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation for the restoration of IRM’s Electroliner. In order to receive this grant, we must raise $25,000 in donations – hopefully in the next three months. If we are successful, this money, along with what has already been donated, will allow us to start work on repairing the train’s eight motors (and a spare) and hopefully have them installed late in 2016 or early 2017. Please consider making a generous donation to allow us to double your money! We are nearing the end of the year and urge you to consider a donation that can be used as a tax deduction in 2014. We have raised over $100,000 since our campaign began in July 2013. Now in just three months we can raise half that much with the use of this very generous matching grant! Send your check (memo: Electroliner Fund) to IRM, PO Box 427, Union IL 60160, or visit the IRM website (www.irm.org) and donate through the Museum Store where you can donate in $25 increments (one = $25; two = $50; etc.) Let’s get the Liner back on the mainline!

The Electroliner was open for inspection during Museum Showcase Weekend, and well over 100 visitors came through. There were a number of items for sale, and almost $900 was collected in the two days. A decision was made that the Electroliner will be open every Memorial Day Weekend and every Museum Showcase Weekend until the renovation is completed, with other special viewing dates possibly added each year. Watch the IRM website. The train will not be moved from its spot in barn 7 for these events due to the time and cost of moving the car and adding air conditioning.

A new incentive has been added. Donors who give at least $30,000 (cumulative) will receive a special 26”x34” high end giclee print of the 75th Anniversary of the Electroliner on canvas, numbered and signed. We hope that there will be a “meet and greet” event with the artist, Mitch Markovitz. These are hand run, one at a time, from a refined master file and run in eight colors as opposed to four which will be used for the print awarded to donors of at least $1000, which will also be available for purchase by the public. A very limited number of these giclee prints will be prepared, and a certificate of authenticity will be provided with each. They will be numbered and signed by the artist. Mitch was present at the Museum Showcase Weekend meeting and showed the members a draft of his work. It is a unique view of the train on the Skokie Valley Line, and all the members were impressed with the approach and are anxious to see the finished work. Mitch is well known for his unique use of colors and this is no exception. Since this is such a major project that will run for years, requiring significant amounts of money, consideration is being given to adding an incentive to the individual who is the highest donor. No final decision has been made – watch for details at some point in the future.

Tickets (meaning donations), please . . .

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