Take a Seat on the CA&E

The museum has embarked on a fundraising campaign to replace the seating material in all three of our Chicago Aurora  & Elgin 1945-vintage "curve-sider" interurban coaches. These include car 460, which is currently in regular operation at IRM, and cars 451 and 453, which are undergoing restoration to service.

UPDATE: As of April 21st, this project is fully funded! All seats that are being reupholstered have been sponsored. We'd like to extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has donated money to this project.

What are the next steps?

  • Delivery of the custom seat material is expected in June or July 2024. At that time, the first batch of seats to be reupholstered will be removed from car 451 or 453 and sent to the upholstery contractor.
  • The first car's worth of seats will be installed in car 460, which is in regular service at IRM.
  • The second and third car's worth of seats will be temporarily and securely stored. We are currently hoping to strip and repaint the interior of car 451 sometime in the next year or so, after which its newly reupholstered seats will be installed. Stripping and repainting car 453's interior will follow that.
  • Additional work that is required:
    • Car 451: air compressor repair; installation of replacement air tank (the tank was delivered in early 2024); wheel truing; reinstall one trap; reinstall end hardware; paint lettering onto car
    • Car 453: exterior stripping and repainting; repair of one coupler; air compressor repair

Contributions to the CA&E Steel Cars fund will help pay for the above work and get cars 451 and 453 into the regular operating fleet.

Donate using the button below or click here. Scroll down to "Electric Car Restoration - CA&E Steel Cars," type the amount you'd like to donate in the "price" box, and toggle the quantity to 1. Then, click "add to cart" and follow the prompts to check out. You can also mail a check made out to the Illinois Railway Museum, with "RCAESTEEL" in the memo line, to IRM at PO Box 427, Union, IL 60180.

Click Here to Donate

Thanks also to the IRM Used Bookstore and Model Railroad Hobby Shop for their support in funding new seat material. When you donate to, or purchase from, the IRM Used Bookstore or Model Railroad Hobby Shop, the proceeds directly benefit restoration projects at the museum - projects like the CA&E "curve-siders."

Click Here to Donate

Current plans are to display a seat map and list of donors in each car for at least 3 to 5 years after it enters service at IRM with its restored seats.

Above: These "thermometers" show the fully subscribed cars. Six of the original seats in the best condition will be retained in car 453, not reupholstered, as historic artifacts.
Below: A sample of the custom-woven red seat material that has been ordered.

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