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C&NW Gallery Cars
From Rail & Wire Issue 179, September 1999

by Dave Phillips

Looking much like they did in the early 1960's, before a lifetime of service on the Chicago & North Western and Metra, the three huge gallery cars make an impressive sight in their "new" paint scheme after arrival at Union this spring. Photo by Peter Schmidt

The acquisition of three former Chicago & North Western Gallery Cars was first reported in the January/February 1998 issue of Rail & Wire. These cars are now on the property at Union, and have been repainted in their C&NW paint scheme and renumbered accordingly. Gallery coaches 1 and 6, until recently painted and numbered as Metra 7600 and 7605, were built in 1955 as part of the original 16-car order by the St. Louis Car Company. They were the first Gallery cars constructed for the C&NW. Their histories and detailed descriptions were presented in the article mentioned above. The third car, C&NW 151 (Metra 8700) was built in 1960 as part of an order for 116 push-pull commuter cars constructed by Pullman Standard. This order was for 74 conventional Gallery Car coaches and 42 control cab coaches. The 151 is the first of the cab cars in that order. These control cab cars were the first of their kind for the C&NW, and the first of their type in North America. This article will cover the acquisition of the cars, a brief history of both the cab car design and cab car 151 specifically, and the restoration work completed to date on the cars.

The Acquisition Saga
The Museum's Board of Directors had originally agreed to request donation of the first St. Louis bi-level car (C&NW 1; then Metra 7600) and the first Pullman-Standard cab car (C&NW 151; then Metra 8700) in 1994. General Manager Nick Kallas had been advised of their pending disposition in a July, 1994, letter from Robert S. Ash, CPM, Metra's Director, Professional Services/Contracts. Working through the McHenry County Board of Supervisors, then-Board Member Mike Brown secured passage of a resolution in November 1996 requesting a "dollar sale" donation of the two cars to IRM. In a December, 1996, letter from Metra Chairman Jeffrey R. Ladd, the Museum learned that Metra was agreeable to making 7600 and 8700 available to the Museum, but only through a "right of first refusal." That is, the Museum could acquire the car after it was retired from service and put up for sale, but only by matching the high bids from other interested parties.

When bi-level commuter cars (such as our C&NW 1 and C&NW 6) first went into service in 1955, they were intermixed with standard commuter cars. Here, Fairbanks-Morse "Junior Trainmaster" 1692 hauls a commuter train near Barrington, Illinois, in 1958.
In March, 1997, Metra auctioned off the first group of St. Louis cars, 7600-7613, in four different groups. Car 7600 was part of Group 2, along with 7601, 7602, 7604 and 7605. No cab cars were offered in the initial group, since delays in receiving new equipment had forced Metra to keep the cab cars in service well beyond their planned retirement date. In view of the letter from Chairman Ladd, we were advised not to bid on 7600, but to wait for Metra to contact us about the bid for 7600 we would need to match. In late March we learned that United Scrap, a Cicero, Illinois, metals buyer and recycler, was the successful bidder for this group of cars, and that the bid we needed to match was $2,080. Through the generosity of a number of Museum members, commitments for the needed funds began to be received. On June 3, 1997, Metra sent us a package of legal paperwork and a request that our check for $2,080 be forwarded within five days, which it was.

Metra 7605/C&NW 6
Meanwhile, several members of the Museum's Internal Combustion Department were brainstorming the possibility of getting a second St. Louis-built car for the collection so that we would be able to run a train of these cars. Several of the retired cars were stored at Antioch, Illinois, with the remainder of the cars being stored at Metra's California Avenue Maintenance Facility. On June 14, 1997, the Museum Board agreed with a proposal to acquire a second St. Louis car. Ray Weart inspected the cars at Antioch while Nick Kallas inspected the cars at California Avenue. After some discussion, we asked Metra to make car 7605 available to us on the same terms as 7600. We offered, in our fax of June 16, 1997, to negotiate with United Scrap if that approach was deemed the most appropriate. We chose the 7605 because it had the original red seats and green floor, tight windows with no water leaks, only three floor patches (best overall interior of the cars at Antioch), good wheels on both trucks and little or no evident corrosion on the exterior of the car. Metra advised we needed to contact United Scrap, as car 7605 had been sold to them.

The 1960-vintage Pullman Standard cars, represented by cab car 151 (ABOVE) are the same dimensions as the earlier 1955 St. Louis Car version (BELOW), but there were several differences. Note the fewer, larger passenger side windows on the first level of the later cars. Photo by Peter Schmidt
Conversations between John Howell and Brad Serlin, Vice President of Sales for United Scrap, indicated that finalization of legal documents, including issues of environmental liability and insurance, had delayed the process and their formal receipt of the cars from Metra. Very much to our delight and surprise, Mr. Serlin in a letter dated July 23, 1997, indicated that United Scrap would be pleased to donate 7605 to the Museum. Planning began for a dedication ceremony at the Museum for September of that year. But as the year unfolded, United Scrap advised they could not release the car (which was still at Antioch) to IRM until they had "ironed out a few details" regarding the certificate of insurance required by Metra. In fact, it was not until mid-September until we received the sales order for 7600 from Metra. Before 7600 could be moved, we too, were required to provide a certificate of insurance indemnifying both Metra and the Union Pacific.

Continuing conversations with United Scrap revealed their increasing frustration with the apparent inability to resolve the outstanding insurance and liability issues with Metra and, in late October, we were told that United Scrap would no longer be acquiring the cars from Metra. The next day, John Howell faxed Metra to request that car 7605 be made available to the Museum on the same basis as the 7600, mentioning that United Scrap had intended to donate the car to us. And, as we had not heard anything about cab car 8700, we inquired as to when that car might be made available on the same basis as 7600 ("right of first refusal"/match the highest bid). Events moved quickly between late October and November, 1997. Metra's Bob Ash advised that they were considering making cars 7600 and 7605 available on a "dollar sale" basis and would return the $2,080 we had sent them. In addition, he asked we request again that Metra make car 7605 available to the Museum. He further advised that a number of cab cars, including the 8700, would shortly be removed from service and, if we were interested in acquiring it also, we would need to so advise Metra. We did make such a request to Metra in early November.

The Dream Comes True
In late November, 1997, Bob Ash called again advising that Metra would likely donate all three cars (7600, 7605 and 8700) to the Museum. He asked, though, had we ever received any equipment from Metra in the past and what were our intentions regarding use and restoration of the equipment? The curator of the Internal Combustion Department at the time, David Dote, advised him that ex-Milwaukee E-9 locomotives 37A and 33C had been received from Metra and was able to provide a copy of the paperwork for 33C dating from 1989. We also advised him that it was our intention to operate the cars on our five-mile demonstration railroad for the benefit of our visitors. This would involve cosmetically restoring the cars to the colors of the C&NW, as time and financing would allow, and to make such mechanical repairs as would be required to keep the cars in "as received" condition.

The original bi-level cars were built to operate with conventional equipment, and used axle-generators and steam heat. When the push-pull trains were introduced, the cars were converted to all-electric heat and light, provided by generators in the locomotives. Photo by Peter Schmidt

Progress in finalizing the legal paperwork slowed in early 1998, as Metra considered what conditions might have to be attached to the cars because of so-called "environmental conditions" found in the cars. At one point, we were advised that we could only have the cars if they were to be a static display, disabled to prevent them from being operated. Fortunately, Mike Brown was able to intervene on our behalf, and a fully executed agreement was forwarded to the Museum on July 27, 1998. This letter, conveying for the sum of $1, Metra's interest in the cars in an "as is, where is" condition. This finally ended an almost four year effort to preserve several of the original C&NW bi-level commuter cars.

The engineer has the sliding cab window open as he eases the train into the West Wye trackage. Note that the Museumís trolley wire safely clears these tall cars, which are almost 16 feet high. Photo by Greg Heier
The Development of the Cab Car
The idea leading the development of the control cab car is to allow a train to be operated from a cab at the opposite end of the train from the locomotive. The basic concept is identical to the concept of Multiple Unit (MU) control, developed first for Chicago's South Side Elevated in 1897 and rapidly adopted by transit agencies and electric railroads around the world. MU Control allows several electric cars to be operated by a single motorman or engineer. Electrical and/or pneumatic lines connect all the cars or locomotives with a control stand in any one of the cars, so all of the motors on all of the cars work together, providing power to propel the train. Beside reducing the number of engineers required to run the train, the design also provides a great deal of flexibility in the daily operations of these systems by allowing trains to reverse direction easily at the end of the line and to add or remove cars from the train based on service requirements. Almost all of today's light rail systems throughout the world use this control car system in their operations.

Railroads were quick to adopt the MU concept for electric locomotives, so that they could reduce the number of engine crews involved. But the mechanical nature of steam locomotive control made MU control impractical and each steam locomotive continued to require its own engineer. So while electric commuter operations enjoyed the benefits of the control cab design, the steam railroads continued to be saddled with the inflexibility of their conventional equipment. One of the most time-consuming aspects of the commuter operation was the need to turn the trains at the end of their runs in order to get the locomotive in front for the return trip. In most cases, the locomotive had to be turned on a wye or turntable and then run around the train to proceed back. In stub end stations, such as C&NW's Chicago Passenger Terminal, the entire train had to be backed out of the depot to have it proceed to the turnaround facility just to return to the station for its departure. On some railroads, such as the C&NW, many of the steam locomotives assigned to suburban service were equipped with headlights and pilots mounted on the tender so that they could be operated facing in either direction, but they still had to be placed at the head end of the train. These, along with other operational problems, made their suburban operations very labor intensive and raised related expenses considerably.

Very quickly in the development of diesel locomotives, MU control was introduced between locomotives or "units" as they are referred to. The ability of diesel units to MU was a major advantage over the steam locomotives they replaced, but the railroads were slow to take full advantage of the ability to operate diesels remotely. With the arrival of the St. Louis bi-level cars in 1955, the C&NW began to reap the benefits of the gallery car design, but continued to experience the operational problems brought about by conventional locomotive-hauled suburban equipment and operations. But soon, recognizing the inherent ability to operate diesel locomotives remotely via train lines, the C&NW and Pullman Standard arrived at the idea to equip the last car of every train with a control compartment that was basically identical to a locomotive cab. An engineer in the cab car could run the train just as if he were in the locomotive, controlling the locomotive at the rear remotely. This eliminated the need to turn trains at the end of their run, greatly increasing the flexibility of the suburban operation.

Bill Francisco assists passengers getting off C&NW Car 6 on July 18, 1999. The bi-level train was an unannounced attraction for the Museumís annual Diesel Weekend. The train operated push-pull style with the locomotive on the west end and the cab-coach used as the engineer station for eastbound trips. Photo by Greg Heier
Through the use of train-lined MU cables between each car on the train and between the train and locomotive, the train crew would be able to operate the train from the leading end of the train in either direction, regardless of the location of the locomotive. When the locomotive is leading, the train is operated normally with the locomotive pulling. When the control cab is leading, the engineer controls all of the operation of the train from the cab, with the control stand and brake stand operating the train just as if it was being operated from the locomotive cab itself. In this case the locomotive is pushing. Thus the term "push-pull" for this operating concept. C&NW control cabs are also equipped with the Automatic Train Control and Automatic Train Stop equipment required for locomotives operating over their main lines. Of course, when the cab cars were not being used as control cars at the end of the train, they could also be used as straight coaches anywhere in the train. Another advantage for the North Western was that their suburban trains could be oriented with the locomotive at the outer end of the stub end tracks away from the passenger head house. This reduced the smoke and noise filtering into the station itself, and allowed for easy locomotive replacement while trains were standing in the terminal.

The push-pull operating concept, made possible by the cab car design pioneered by our C&NW 151, proved so successful that all locomotive-hauled commuter rail lines in North America now use push-pull operation.

C&NW 151
This control-cab bi-level car is very similar to the earlier gallery cars represented at IRM by Cars 1 and 6, but with several evolutionary changes. The car is 85 feet in length, 15 feet, 10 inches high, weighs 127,900 pounds and rides on GSC single-drop equalizer trucks. It is equipped for head-end power (HEP). 480-volt three-phase AC generators located in the locomotive provide electricity to power the lighting, heat, and air-conditioning systems on each car. This eliminated the need for much of the under-floor equipment found on the earlier cars which had self-contained power equipment. This also resulted in these cars being about 10 tons lighter than the previous orders of bi-levels. The interior color of the car was the same as was found in the St. Louis cars, but with featured interior surfaces of vinyl-coated steel, stainless steel or aluminum. These surfaces required no painting. The seats featured an improved design, but retained the terra cotta-colored Naugahyde covering. These cars were the first C&NW commuter equipment delivered with four larger passenger windows in each section of the car, instead of the six windows found on previous orders.

The most noticeable difference between the 151 and the earlier bi-levels is the control cab itself. It is located on the upper, gallery level of the car and incorporates all of the features found on a locomotive cab, including a Pyle-National headlight and an electric bell installed above the end door. When originally delivered, a downward facing Westinghouse AA 2 chime air horn was located just outside the engineer's front window. Subsequently, the horn was moved to its current location on the roof above the engineer's side window. Because this car contains a control cab, the seating capacity of this car was reduced to 155.

When delivered to the C&NW, the car was painted in their traditional passenger scheme, with green and yellow sides with CHICAGO AND NORTH WESTERN spelled out in yellow above the door. This car featured the simplified paint scheme that removed the black separator stripes that had been found on the original order of the St. Louis Cars. The cab end of the car was painted yellow and green, with a green diagonal stripe added to improve the visibility of the rear of the train. The pilot plow was painted green. The non-cab end was painted solid green.

The engineer's cab in cabcoach 151 is very compact. It is separated from the fireman's position by a hump covering the car's train (end) door. The cab seats are reached by going through the upper level passenger compartment. The cab has sliding windows and the horns are mounted directly above the engineer's seat. The bell is located above the train door. Here, engineer Jerry Saunders operates the train in push mode on July 18, 1999. On the return trip Jerry operated the train from the cab of Metra 305. Photo by Greg Heier
The 151 was the first of 64 cab cars in the C&NW suburban fleet, which ultimately totaled 275 bi-level cars. Along with most of the suburban equipment, the car was sold to the public Regional Transportation Authority in 1978. At that time, the familiar C&NW paint scheme was replaced with Metra's silver mist with an orange stripe through the top windows and brown stripe through the bottom windows. The cab end of the car had reflective Scotchlite applied as an additional safety measure. At that time, Car 151 was renumbered to 8700. In 1983, ownership of the car (along with the rest of the suburban equipment) was transferred to Metra, RTA's operating commuter railroad. No changes were made to the exterior paint scheme or car number at that time. The car remained in service until early 1998, when the early C&NW cab cars as well as almost all of the early Pullman Standard and St. Louis non-cab bi-levels were finally retired from service. The remaining C&NW cab cars not retired were withdrawn from cab car service, with all of the ATC/ATS equipment being removed and placed in the new Amerail cab cars then being placed into service on the former C&NW lines. These remaining cab cars were then placed in service as regular coaches.

Gallery Car Restoration Begins
Restoration of our newly acquired "fleet" of bi-levels began even before they were delivered to Union. For the fist time in the history of the Museum we received a grant from the State of Illinois specifically for equipment restoration. It was arranged through the continuing efforts of Mike Brown, then State Representative for the 63rd District of Illinois. An IRM member as well as a member of the Chicago & North Western Historical Society, Mike felt that this equipment was a significant historical resource for the state. In May 1998 he had asked us what it might cost to repaint the bi-levels back into C&NW colors and to restore C&NW diesel locomotive 1518 back to operating condition. David Dote reviewed the work to be done on 1518 and estimated the costs of materials to repaint the cars. John Howell communicated those estimates to Representative Brown and Mike was able to secure a Department of Commerce and Community Affairs grant in the he amount of $70,000. This grant is to be used specifically for the restoration of the gallery cars, the continuing restoration of C&NW 1518, and payment of the balance of the track space assessment not already covered by the generous donations of both IRM and C&NWHS members.

With a source of funding secured, John Howell began planning the restoration of the cars. Since neither the C&NW nor Metra had made any significant exterior changes to the cars over their service life, the decision was made to restore the exteriors back to their late 1960's appearance. This allowed for the removal of the rear blinker light as well as the use of paint instead of reflectorized rear markings. Because of the success of the paint system applied to the C&NW's last locomotives, the decision was made to use a gloss two-part polyurethane product produced by Glyptal. This was the paint used by General Electric on the later C40-8 locomotives, as well the entire production run of the C44-9W and C44-9WAC's that they built for the C&NW. Once this type of paint is applied and dries, then a clear polyurethane coat is applied over the entire car. This helps protect the paint from fading. Using the paint technology of the 1990's on a 1950's car will greatly extend the life of painted surfaces and will enhance the appearance of these cars for many years to come.

Because of the scope of the project, and the shear size of the cars, we decided to have the entire project handled by a professional freight car repair and paint shop facility. John arranged to produce a videotape inspection of the cars (which had by now all been moved to Metra's Western Avenue Yard) and put together a bid package consisting of car diagrams, photographs, paint specifications from Glyptal, and the video. This package was sent to four potential contractors. After all of the bids were received, the project was awarded to the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad at Horicon, Wisconsin. Through the generous donation of rail transportation by the Wisconsin Central, the cars were moved from Metra's Western Avenue yard in Chicago to the Wisconsin Central at Schiller Park, Illinois, and then to the Wisconsin & Southern interchange at Slinger, Wisconsin at no cost to the Museum. The WSOR then handled the cars on to Horicon in October.

Ira Kulbersh (retired Chief Mechanical Engineer for the C&NW) and I were able to inspect the cars shortly after their arrival at Horicon. Accompanying us on the tour was John Smet, Plant Manager for the WSOR, and Dave Munro, Shop Superintendent. It was determined that the cars were in generally good shape and would only require minor bodywork to be performed prior to painting. The interiors of the cars were complete, with only a few items that would require replacement upon arrival of the cars at Union. Since Metra had repainted the interior of the St. Louis cars to a lighter color than had used on the C&NW, it will be necessary to repaint the interior of both of these cars as time permits.

The shop began the project with car 8700 in late October, 1998. The work began with the shop personnel taping cardboard cutouts over all of car windows and the removal of the diaphragms and as many of the hand holds and ladders as could be removed to make it easier to paint. The car was then completely sandblasted, and the minor body damage was repaired. Using both information supplied by the C&NWHS and several photos from my collection as reference material, the shop was able to repaint the car to its traditional C&NW paint scheme. The car was first painted with the base coat of yellow. After this coat had dried, masking was applied to the car side and the lettering tape was placed in its appropriate position. The green paint was then applied to the sides and ends. When the masking and lettering tape was subsequently removed, the car side was complete and the yellow lettering was in place. After applying the clear-coat finish to the car, the removed parts were reattached and the car was complete. The same process was used on both of the remaining cars, with the completion of the final car shortly before Thanksgiving. Most fortunately, the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs grant check arrived in November as well!

Here is the view from the fireman's seat as the bi-level train holds at the East Switch for Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee 160 and 757. The North Shore Line was a strong competitor with the C&NW for the Chicago to Milwaukee intercity business as well as for commuter service in Chicago's northern suburbs. The one-time rivals shared the honors on June 18, 1999, during Diesel Weekend. Photo by Greg Heier
The Trip to Union
On December 4, 1998, the cars began their trip to the Museum. The Wisconsin Central, through IRM member Jon Fenlaciki, had made arrangements to handle the cars in a special train from Slinger, Wisconsin, to the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern interchange at Leithton, Illinois. Museum General Manager Nick Kallas had made arrangements with both the EJ&E and the Union Pacific to move the cars from Leithton to the Museum. We thought all arrangements had been finalized, but-even as the cars were being pulled from Horicon to Slinger-Nick received a call from the "J" saying not to move the cars, as final paperwork had not been received from their offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The cars were returned to Horicon early the next morning. By Friday, December 11, 1998, all of the necessary paperwork had been received. Museum members and Wisconsin Central train crew employees Jon Fenlaciki and Laddie Vitek volunteered their services to move the cars from Slinger to Leithton. That evening, John Howell drove Jon and Laddie to Waukesha, where they borrowed a unit, Wisconsin Central SD-45 7585, from an eastbound freight bound for Schiller Park. On their way from Waukesha to Slinger, Jon and Laddie learned that, contrary to their earlier understanding, they were to move not just the three bi-levels, but also 50 loaded cars of grain to Schiller Park!

Upon arrival at Slinger, Jon and Laddie coupled on to their train, and, after the necessary brake tests were completed, started the journey to Leithton, where they set out the bi-levels. The "J" provided a special move on Saturday night, December 12, from Leithton to the UP interchange near Hawthorne Road in West Chicago. The bi-level cars were ultimately transferred to one of the UP's West Chicago Yard tracks for temporary storage. On December 16th, the UP's Belvedere local finally moved them from West Chicago to Union. The journey had ended and the cars were at their new home, four and a half years after the first efforts to acquire the C&NW's first gallery car.

The entire project would not have been possible without the efforts of many people. The Museum wishes to thank Jeff Ladd; Rick Tidwell; Bob Ash; Chris Gall; John Lockhart; Stan Rickertson and Ellen Emory of Metra; Ed Burkhardt of the Wisconsin Central; Randy Martin and Donna Perino of General Electric; Maynard Winsted and Bill Hoag of Glyptal Coatings; Joe Piersen of the Chicago & North Western Historical Society; and John Smet, Dave Munro and the craftsmen from the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad paint shop at Horicon, Wisconsin for all of their contributions to this project. I would like to personally thank John Howell for relating all of the behind the scenes activities that were used in this article. A special round of thanks goes to Mike Brown whose efforts with local government personnel, the State of Illinois, and Metra, were invaluable. Without the help of all of these people, along with many other individuals behind the scenes, this important part of Chicago's railroad history could never have been saved for future generations.

From the Rail & Wire Issue 179, September 1999


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