The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
DOUBLE THE FUN!
That’s right…our quarter-mile trolley line has just been doubled in length to over a half a mile! The details of this terrific accomplishment are described in this issue’s Shop Reports, but the fanfare deserves to be right here on the front page. Thanks to our overhead crew for a great job: Charlie Lowe, Bob Achilles, Dick Holbert and Tony Mittiga. Take a look at some of the recent action:
On curves, a “backbone” is strung between the poles, and the trolley wire is connected to it with a “pullover” to center the wire over the tracks. Here, Charlie Lowe is in the bucket with the trolley wire at his left hand and the backbone at his right. Bob Achilles eyeballs the plumb line, guiding Charlie as he hand ties the pull-over at the right length.
A better view of one of the two R&GVRRM bucket trucks that are invaluable in our overhead work. The new end-of-wire is just off to the right in this shot—way out in open farm land.
Saturday, October 6, 2007 was the occasion of the first runs under the extended wire. Bob Achilles and Jim Dierks took turns at the controls and here we see Bob reflecting on all the summer’s hard work before making his return run.
Action shot: P&W 168 negotiates the loop switch mid-way on the new line. Scenes like this will be a routine part of our trolley operations next season. We hope you’ll be on board!
WELL, WELL, WELL.
…and a septic system too! Good progress has been made in getting the museum independent of the Industry water and sewer services in time for the scheduled November 3 cut-off.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that the original cut-off date of May 1 was officially changed to August 15 late last winter to give BOCES time to finish the summer program at their Rush campus. Fortunately for us, Industry experienced delays in the bid process of their project, and the date was changed again. This gave us much-needed breathing room to finalize our plans and get the work completed in time. It’s a shame we had to devote so much of our treasury and time to reach a state that is less than what we’ve been used to, but then we haven’t had to pay for “what we’ve been used to” during our 34 years here.
As we reported in the Summer issue of HEADEND, after initial meetings with Monroe County personnel, we signed up with Avery Engineering & Land Surveying Associates, P.C. to design our system and provide the necessary Professional Engineer stamps on all drawings and applications with the County. The next major step was to drill our well, a job we gave to Nothnagle Drilling. August 14 was the big day, and the first part of the job was an interesting thing to watch. Our contractor used a simple wire, “witching” for the best spot to drill. Dowsing, divining, witching…whatever you call it, it really works. A strong reaction gave us a clear choice and the equipment was moved into place.
For the record, according to the Well Completion Report, dense sand and gravel go to a depth of 31 feet where the well is drilled, followed by 3 feet of dense till and 3 feet of weathered rock, below which is limestone bedrock. The bottom of the hole is at 45 feet below the surface, a relatively shallow depth. Prior to grouting the well (a County requirement for the “community water system” that we are), the crew blew out the muddy water from drilling and it looked like an oil well gusher. “You’ve got a lot of water!” one man hollered as he stood in the flood raining down on him.
In fact, we do have a lot of water, and it appears to be good water too. After obtaining responses from several plumbers experienced in the field, Steve Sickels, Inc. was our choice. His thoroughly professional proposal was matched by a first-class job, and on October 10, he had the complete system working, from well head, underground to the pressure tank in our outdoor tool room, and plumbed in to our restroom lines. The next day, Steve confirmed for us that the water flows at almost 20 gallons a minute, is clear (little sign of iron), and has no sulfur smell. We promptly detached the sink faucet handles and installed hand sanitizers, per County dictate, and have been independent of Industry water ever since.
On the same day, Versatile Enterprises, our selected contractor for the septic system, was busy delivering piping and other materials and equipment for the septic tank and leach field. The concrete septic tank was put in place on the afternoon of October 17. By the time you read this, we expect we’ll be “flush with confidence” at NYMT!
YOU CAN HELP
The cost of our well and septic system is over $24,000, and the coming year will bring expensive water quality testing with perhaps purification systems to add to the toll. We’re grateful for donations made to help defray these costs, and would welcome your help. Just add whatever you can to your 2008 membership renewal and indicate it in the “water and septic system” space on your renewal form. Thank you!
There are no changes to report regarding our future rights to the property we occupy under lease with BOCES. Needless to say we are staying close to them as they learn what their options are, and we appreciate their continued assurances that they value our presence and want to do all they can to protect our future. Thanks to many members and visitors who have sent letters and emails to NYS Senator James Alesi and NYS Assemblymember Susan John, raising their awareness of the value our museum has for our community:
Member Susan John (585) 244-5255
Senator James Alesi (585) 223-1800
KODAK PARK RAILROAD
Kodak Park EMD diesel #8 once sported a racy paint scheme inspired by Kodak film packaging graphics. Ron Secondino photo
There isn’t anyone within earshot of Rochester who doesn’t realize that Kodak, at one time the employer of over 60,000 people locally, is shrinking rapidly. Building “implosions” at the mammoth Kodak Park manufacturing facility have become a regular feature of our Saturday mornings. At its peak, “the Park” was the second largest in the U.S. (after Ford’s River Rouge complex) and has long been known for being a “city within a city”, with its own fire department, laundry, dozens of cafeterias, three electric power plants, and even its own railroad. Kodak Park is still a large manufacturing plant, and the railroad still serves a vital function, but in this important transition era, perhaps now is a good time to take a look at this interesting line.
For some history, we turn to a document in the museum archives that itself provides some historical perspective, as it dates from April, 1963, just as Kodak’s growth began to take off due to the company’s recently announced Instamatic cameras and easy loading film cartridges:
History of the Railroad Operation at Kodak Park Works, Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, N.Y.
Kodak Park Works had its beginning in 1890 with the purchase of 16 ½ acres of land in Rochester, N.Y., about three miles from Lake Ontario. This plant was concerned with the manufacture of photographic film, paper, and chemicals. The purchase represented a major expansion of the photographic business founded by George Eastman 10 years earlier. As the business progressed, a railroad spur was installed to a few of the growing number of buildings at Kodak Park.
The New York Central Railroad delivered rail cars to the Kodak Park spur. At this point, Kodak Park employees connected with the company’s railroad operation then took over movement of the cars. In those days, teams of horses were used for this purpose. The horses were replaced March 1, 1919, when the first fireless steam locomotive was put into operation. This first standard gauge, four-wheel-connected locomotive was purchased from the H. K. Porter Company in accordance with their specification No. 2881.
Some of the specifications for this locomotive, which became known as EK 1, were as follows: cylinders, 22” x 18”; tractive force, 14,520 lbs.; factor of adhesion, 4.48; width, 9’ 6”; boiler, 67 1/8” diameter; steam pressure 180 lbs.; total storage capacity, 400 cu. Ft. The locomotive was also equipped with balanced slide valves and Stephenson link valve motion.
A second locomotive was purchased in 1919. Kodak Park’s westward expansion over a number of years necessitated the construction in 1917 and 1918 of a subway under two Rochester streets. Beginning in 1920, railroad tracks were laid in the subway and in a Kodak Park classification yard used by the New York Central Railroad. The second classification yard, used by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, was constructed nearby in 1929. In 1937 the classification yard used by the New York Central was relocated and enlarged.
Kodak Park now consists of more than 140 major buildings located on a 1,000-acre site. The plant covers three miles from east to west. Kodak Park, the company’s largest plant, employs about 20,000 persons.
The men in the railroad section of the Plant Services Division at Kodak Park install and maintain all railroad transportation facilities in the plant. This equipment now includes two diesel-electric locomotives (EK 6 and EK 7), 13 ½ miles of track, 107 switches, 37 box cars, 15 tank cars and other equipment listed below. Each train crew consists of three men with a conductor in charge.
Under the system in use today, the New York Central and the Baltimore and Ohio railroads deliver the loaded cars and pick up the empty cars at the two classification yards. Kodak Park train crews distribute the cars to the desired points for loading or unloading. A shuttle service is maintained between storage stock piles, warehouses, and production departments. For example, the Kodak Park railroad moves approximately 1,400 tons of coal daily from the stock pile at interchange to the Utilities Division where it is used in furnishing power for the plant.
Kodak has a “roundhouse”, actually rectangular in shape, in which the rolling stock is serviced, repaired, or rebuilt. Regular inspections are made of all tracks and other equipment. This includes rails, ties, switches, crossings, and bumpers. The Kodak Park engineering division furnishes the plans and specifications that may be required in connection with the installation of new track as well as any other engineering services that become necessary from time to time.
The company-owned rolling stock is used only on plant premises. This stock consists of:
Wheel car (1) Specially constructed super-structure, mounted on a flat car. This car carries the 18-foot-diameter coating wheel used by the Kodak Park Roll Coating Division.
Salt Spreader car (1) Specially constructed car equipped to spread salt on tracks and switches for ice control.
Flat cars (2) Used to transport machinery, pipe, lumber, or equipment.
Coal cars (9) Used to carry coal from storage stock piles to the Utilities Division.
Tank cars (15) Used to transport chemicals.
Box cars (37) For transporting raw materials or supplies from stockrooms and warehouses to production departments; also finished product from production departments to shipping or warehouse areas.
document goes on to describe in considerable detail the
specifications for the three diesel locomotives that had made their
appearance by this time. EK 5 was built by General Electric Company
in 1923, and purchased by Kodak in 1944 from the New York Central
Railroad (that line’s number 505).
“Our first diesel was a real oddity”, says Allen L. Cobb, former head of the Industrial Safety Department at Kodak park, in an undated memoir. “It was [used] on the west side of Manhattan. Main tracks there were electrified but spurs and side tracks were not. This engine was really a battery-powered electric. It was a steeple cab design with big batteries in the sloping ends. A 150 horsepower diesel was mounted crosswise in the cab, driving a DC generator at constant speed to keep the batteries charged. In Manhattan service, it ran on third-rail power when on a live track. It was controlled by a regular street car controller and sounded like a trolley car.
It served quite a few years, but spent a great deal of time in the shop. The batteries were a real headache”. This relatively light, Caterpillar-powered locomotive was taken out of service and scrapped by Kodak in 1962.
EK 6 was purchased new from General Electric Company in July, 1946. This 80-ton locomotive is powered by two Cummins L1-600 diesel engines, producing a total of 500 horsepower. EK 7 came to the company in November, 1955. A 1950 product of General Electric, and powered by Cooper-Bessemer FWL-6T diesels, EK 7 featured a maximum tractive effort of 57,000 lbs. at 30% adhesion.
More diesels in a minute, but first let’s discover more about those “fireless steam locomotives”. We find some interesting material in a 1920 issue of “The Kodak Magazine”. The horses had been put out to pasture and a real locomotive was chuffing around Kodak Park, so the magazine’s roving reporter figured it was time to take a closer look:
Kodak Park’s Fireless Engine
We all know that Kodak Park is a pretty big place, but it may come as news to you that Kodak Park has its own standard gauge railroad, its own freight cars for the transporting of material from one point to another within its boundaries, and its own engines to do the hauling.
We have recently put in operation a new type of locomotive which possesses some new and decidedly interesting features.
Friend Wife may have a fireless cooker, and you have heard of wireless telephones, but have you ever heard of a fireless locomotive? Not an electric locomotive, but one run with real steam, big enough to haul a train of freight cars, and operating without a bit of fire. This is the type of locomotive used at Kodak Park and illustrated above. It is known as a fireless steam storage locomotive.
Here is how it works: The engine carries a tank which is filled about four-fifths full of water, after which steam is admitted to the tank from the boilers at the power house by means of a pipe, until the pressure has reached 125 pounds. At this pressure the boiling point of water is 353 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 212 degrees, as at normal pressure.
As the steam is used the pressure is lowered, and the boiling point of the water is also lowered, so that more steam is formed. The pressure in the cylinders is 60 pounds, but the locomotive can be operated with the pressure as low as 20 pounds, until with the pressure at 15 pounds, the locomotive is only able to propel itself back to the power house to be recharged. At 60 pounds pressure, the tractive effort, or pulling power, is 14,520 pounds.
This engine in our own yards handles from 30 to 40 carloads of material a day. We recently received a train of 80 freight cars, two thirds of a mile long, which this engine was able to haul in one train.
The use of this type of locomotive does away with any danger from fire caused by sparks. All soot and smoke are also done away with, and the engine can be operated by one man, there naturally being no need of a fireman.
The engineer, Mr. George Spencer, seen looking out the cab window, appears eminently contented with his job, but evidently one thing seemed not quite in keeping with his new horse. Where there isn’t any fire there isn’t any smoke, and so the manufacturer saw no necessity for a smokestack on a smokeless engine. The engineer missed the familiar outline and so he attached a length of stovepipe, which, as you see, adds tone and dignity.
A larger locomotive of the same type is now being specially built for us at the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Its tank will hold a pressure of 200 pounds, with a pressure of 60 pounds in the cylinders. It will have a pulling power of 25,660 pounds.
Kodak had good reason to be slow to mechanize their rail operations. Cellulose nitrate film base was highly flammable, so an errant spark from a steam locomotive smokestack could have brought disaster. Also, Kodak had a well deserved reputation for quality in its film and paper products, and any minute contamination from airborne particles could have at least left blemishes in the images and could even risk altering the chemistry of the photographic emulsions. As a result, the aforementioned horses were the chosen power source for moving freight cars. However, as the business grew, it soon became clear that more power and speed would be needed, and the move to “fireless cookers” was made.
EK 1, the impetus for the Kodak Magazine article quoted here, was a relatively light locomotive, weighing in at 38 tons. It was ordered from H. K. Porter on April 30, 1918 at an approximate cost of $14,000. Its four 36-inch drivers propelled the locomotive and its trains around Kodak Park for twenty years. According to Allen L. Cobb’s memoir, EK 1 “was very low. You could almost step directly into the cab…”. Kodak’s first steam loco was taken out of service on September 23, 1940, and sold to Bridgeport Brass Company.
EK 2, another 0-4-0, was ordered from Baldwin Locomotive Works on November 19, 1919. Mr. Cobb says the engine had its cab on the “wrong” end (sitting over the cylinders, like EK 1, unlike standard steam locomotives). He further points out that “the exhaust pipes came up through the cab, one on each side. The round-ended “boiler”, high above the wheels, had a raw, unfinished look as if something was missing”. This 75-ton loco’s service life ended on June 7, 1944, a few months before Kodak’s first diesel arrived.
EK 3 (above) marked a return to the H. K. Porter Company, but a switch to six-coupled 52” drivers. The locomotive weighed in at 70 tons. Ordered on March 4, 1930, the engine’s retirement coincided with the arrival of EK 6 in mid-summer, 1946. EK 3 was sold to Atkin’s Waste Materials, Inc. on Oak Street in Rochester, and was eventually scrapped in Buffalo at Sommer Junk Company.
Kodak’s last purchase in the fireless steam locomotive arena came with the April 8, 1940 order for EK 4, another 70-ton 0-6-0 from H. K. Porter, with smaller 44” drivers and Walschaert valve gear. Mr. Cobb deemed this loco to be “by far our best engine. The cab was where it ought to be. The exhaust pipes fed into a dummy ‘smokestack’ on the front end”. EK 4 was replaced in November, 1955, by GE diesel EK 7, and suffered the same fate—and at the same hands—as sister EK 3.
The aforementioned introduction of Instamatic photography brought a revolution in consumer picture taking that eventually led to widespread use of everything from single-use
point-and-shoot cameras to fully-automatic 35mm models costing hundreds of dollars. With the advent of digital photography in recent years, however, the need for film and the exacting technologies that Kodak had developed to produce it has rapidly diminished. As the company struggles to cope with this major change in its core businesses, the community feels the pain of thousands of laid-off employees at Kodak and at support companies throughout the area. Some manufacturing still continues at Kodak Park, however, and the railroad still goes to work every day, shunting coal cars, bringing in materials, and hauling product out for distribution around the world.
Today’s Kodak Park Railroad boasts 17 miles of track, and the motive power responsibilities are in the hands of three diesel switchers built by the Electromotive Division of General Motors: EK 8 (a 1,000 horsepower SW1000), EK 10 (a 1,500 horsepower MP15AC), and EK 3 (re-using the old number, another 1,000 horsepower SW1000). These engines still haul plenty of coal to the power plant in Building 321, but the unique wheel cars (there were eventually two of them) are no longer needed. Another car not used anymore is the KPRR caboose. The good news, though, is plans are in place to restore the car and display it on a section of track along Eastman Avenue as a monument to the role the rail line has played in a century of service to the company. Surely if the lights ever go out completely at Kodak Park, the last loads of dismantled equipment and “imploded” building materials will be via the Kodak Park Railroad.
SEE FOR YOURSELF
Kodak diesels and a “fireless cooker” form part of the collection at the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum at the south end of our joint rail line. EK 6, Kodak’s first true diesel is there, as well as EK 9, a 1950 Alco RS-1 that came to Kodak in 1971 after serving most of its former years switching passenger cars at Chicago’s Dearborn Station. Connecticut Light & Power #37, the museum’s fireless 0-4-0 steamer, was built by Heisler.
SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe
Electrification: The overhead crew of Bob Achilles, Dick Holbert, Tony Mittiga and Charlie Lowe celebrated another milestone in the extension of the overhead during a Wednesday evening work session on August 8, at which time all remaining downguys were installed. The overhead crew then began installation of the backbones, long wires which are used on curves, with pullovers to keep the trolley wire nearly centered over the track. To minimize costs and to clear out some existing supplies of wire, old 7-strand guy wire on hand is being used first. These supplies of wire have traces of silt on them, indicating that they came from Magee Transportation Museum in 1973-74. On August 12, three backbones were installed, completing the dressing of the new poles from Giles to just north of the loop switch. A tension isolator is used at points along the trolley line to avoid having a break in the wire bring the entire line down onto the ground. This happened in 2000 when the first section of overhead was being installed. The tension isolator has been built just south of the loop switch. Now, the trolley wire could break on either side of the isolator without releasing the tension on the other side. The support wires for the wire clamp at this point were erected on August 22. Several trees have grown to overhang the future trolley wire near the loop switch, and the overhead crew spent all day on Saturday, August 24 cutting the branches here that might pose a threat to the overhead some day. Bob Achilles’ chain saw and the R&GVRRM bucket truck allowed the crew to get all the cutting done in one day. A tree farther to the south had been trimmed when the tension isolator work was done.
On Labor Day weekend, the overhead crew worked on both Saturday and Sunday, finishing the installation of the backbones and the four diagonals at the tension isolator. This completed the installation of wires need for hanging the copper trolley wire.
Snatch blocks were hung at all bracket arms and span wires on September 8. These are used to temporarily hold the trolley wire near its final position while it is being paid out from the reel. Some minor adjustments in the overhead, in particular at the tension isolator, were also made.
Installation of the trolley wire was accomplished in three consecutive work days. A large group was assembled for the work, with Dick Luchterhand, Bob Moore and Bob Nesbitt augmenting the core crew. On Monday, September 17, the new wire was spliced onto the old wire at pole 11 near Giles. Using TC-3 to draw the reel car, trolley wire was unspooled and then lifted up and set in the snatch blocks all the way to the south end of the overhead extension at pole 26. A second splice had to be made at pole 20, after which never-used wire on this reel was finally reached.
On Tuesday, September 18, another snatch block was placed at pole 27 and the entire length of new wire tensioned with TC-3. Working south from pole 12 and proceeding to pole 18 at the loop switch, the new trolley wire was then clipped in place by means of the HS- (hollow screw) clamps at each bracket arm. On Wednesday, September 19, the trolley wire was clipped in place from pole 19 to pole 26. Pullovers, used to set the wire in an approximation of the curved track, were installed between poles 12 and 15. This effort was necessary to insure that the track would be safe for regular Sunday operations of track cars and trolley.
A fourth and final work session, on Saturday, September 22, saw the installation of the pullovers between poles 15 and 26. At the S-curves, the pullovers had so much tension that a come-along had to be used between the backbone and the trolley wire to hold it in position while the pullover wire was installed. This had the good effect of increasing the trolley wire tension to about the final desired tension, perhaps 1,500 to 2,000 pounds. After working all day on this work, an early evening test run with car 168 was successfully made down to the loop switch amid a shower of sparks from the rusty rails and the oxidized trolley wire.
This was the farthest south an electric car had ever operated at NYMT. On Saturday, October 6, car 168 was test-operated all the way to the end-of-wire at pole 26; Bob Achilles was the motorman on the first run. Further test runs were made that day and a week later. On Sunday, October 14, the trolley ride was extended for visitors from pole 12 at Giles to pole 15 just north of the loop switch. This was the very first extension to NYMT’s trolley ride since it was first used for public runs in 2001.
Philadelphia and Western 161: During regular Sunday trolley operations on August 5, car 161 was moved out of the new barn in the morning, and placed on the loop track for display. At the end of the day, it was run down to Giles in its first trip on the mainline under its own power. Thanks to Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, we now have vestibule doors for 161 and 168. Removed years ago, the doors should help us keep the heat in this holiday season. On August 18, the trolley pole tensions were increased slightly, to about 20 pounds upward force, so that the trolley wheels would not drag. Bob Miner and Dick Holbert examined the balky reverser and got it to operate properly.
Contactors for cars 161 and 168 are located in a cabinet on one platform. These are pneumatically driven switches with operating valves controlled electrically, and are used to make and break the various motor current circuits as resistance is changed to vary car speed. Since the contactors carry motor current, exceptionally loud and bright “pops” can be seen occurring when these switches open and close. To minimize this, and the burning of the contact points, the pneumatic parts need to be properly cleaned and lubricated, and all springs inspected for strength and integrity. On August 24, Mike Dow and Dick Holbert reinstalled several contactors which Mike had rebuilt. Later that day, 161 was successfully run to Giles with no problems.
Some minor issues such as interior lights and the use of the car heaters were investigated on September 9. The car heaters for the main seating compartment draw about 35 amps, and should be well within our substation’s capacity.
On October 14, Westinghouse “trombone” whistles, known for their deep tones and commonly used on interurban cars, were installed on each end of car 161. Whistles of this type are in use on car 168. One of the badly cut seat backs has been re-upholstered professionally. On October 21, Bob Miner re-set the compressor governor to match the settings (90 psi cut-in; 115 psi cut-out) on car 168. Later that day, 161 was brought out and used for the last few public runs of the day. Ten years and two months earlier, 161 had been shoved into the main car house for the beginning of its restoration.
Philadelphia and Western 168: Trolley pole catchers are some of the most useful equipment on electric cars when changing ends. However, when they fail to work correctly, they are irritating to operating crews. To remedy a long-standing problem with the catcher on the rear end of car 168, it was disassembled for inspection. The end of the coiled flat spring was bent to engage the shaft of the catcher and the assembly reinstalled. Now, the excess trolley rope is automatically re-wound on the catcher’s spool. Should the trolley pole become de-wired, the catcher will stop further upward motion by means of a clutch apparatus, making it easier to re-wire the pole. Work on making the car’s two sliding doors operate easily continues. The exterior arms for the door machines were tied in a fully open position so that they would not jam against the doors. An outside plate was replaced on the right rear door to insure proper alignment of the door on the lower track.
MEMBERSHIP DUES RAISED
The museum’s last member dues increase was in 1998, and after nine years of holding the line, it has become necessary to raise the rates. The Family level donation is now $35, and the Individual level is $20. The Student level remains at $10, and there are several levels above the Family level that we invite you to consider too. With over 200 members at this writing, dues are a vital part of the museum’s financial picture. Thank you for your continued generous support!
Scratch the surface of just about any of the museum’s volunteers and you’ll find some interesting connections to transportation history. Long overdue for a scratch is our subject this time…meet Jack Tripp.
A Rochesterian by birth, Jack and his family moved from the west side of the city to Brighton when he was 11 years old, just a few days after Pearl Harbor. His first toy train set came at Christmas when he was five years old, and reflecting his father’s interest in trains, a new set arrived each year after that. Dad worked for New York State as a bank examiner, and traveled often. Of course, back then the trips were by train, and Jack remembers accompanying his mother when taking Dad to the train station or picking him up there. In those days a visit to the train station meant lots of action to witness while waiting.
Jack’s grandfather was a railroad clerk in Buffalo on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, a line that became the Buffalo-to-Chicago part of the New York Central. Jack’s father told him of how as a boy he’d go along with his dad when pay was distributed along the line, to track section gangs and the like. Apparently this was a full train, as Jack’s father told of riding in the steam locomotive cab and being encouraged to try his young hand at shoveling coal into the fire box. “Two or three pieces ended up in the fire box”, says Jack, with the rest scattered around the cab deck, according to the family story.
Going further back in time, Jack’s great grandfather also worked for the L.S.&M.S., as yardmaster in Dunkirk, N.Y. One September evening in 1903 he was called in to sub for the ailing night shift man. Unfamiliar with the train schedules on the night shift, he was struck and killed by a passenger train while making one of his inspection rounds.
Jack continued the family tradition of railroad work, putting in two summers with the New York Central. He was an electrical engineering co-op student at Rochester Institute of Technology, and did his work time with the Central’s Signal Construction Department, installing signaling for the Wayneport icing station and high speed crossovers there. Recall that dieselization was in full swing on the railroads at this time (early 1950s), and the Wayneport coaling station’s days were numbered. Trains would soon be flying right through instead of making the routine stop for fuel required by the steamers, hence the attention to high speed trackwork and the signaling to go with it.
His detailed description of the work he did stringing signal lines suggests Jack ought to be part of our overhead crew! The process of replacing dozens of bare copper wires with a single, insulated multiple-conductor cable involved pole climbing and a willingness to work from a bos’n’s chair suspended from the wire while tying hundreds of hangers by hand to hold the cable to the messenger wire. All the while, Jack points out, it was fun watching all the trains go by!
In the summer of 1952 Jack’s work took him to the American Laundry Machine Company on Buffalo Road in Rochester, where he was a draftsman on designs for commercial washing machines and automatic shirt folding equipment. The Korean War was raging, and Jack decided to enlist in the Army, where he ended up in the Signal School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. There, he was trained in field radio repair (“and I never fixed a radio the whole time I was in the Army”). From July 1953 to September 1954, Jack was stationed in Japan at a radio relay station near Asaka. He is still an active ham radio operator, as his car’s license plate, W2JAT, attests (those are his initials in his call letters).
Back in the U.S., Jack began a dizzying series of career moves, starting as an electrical engineer at Commercial Controls, a maker of mailroom equipment, including the Flexowriter, a typewriter operated from a punched paper tape. Jack says the office was on Leighton Avenue, off Atlantic, and close enough to the New York Central that the building sometimes shook as trains roared by. He moved on in the mid-1950s to General Electric in Utica, N.Y., then returned to Rochester to work first at Taylor Instruments and then back at Commercial Controls. C.C. was now owned by Friden, and Jack took a position in Sales Support.
This contact with sales, plus his outgoing personality, led Jack eventually into a career in sales at several companies: Computers Unlimited, Metropolitan Life Insurance, Standard Hardware Supply, Graingers, and several other companies, until finishing off selling wholesale printing to local print shops. In 1992, when there finally was no company left in Rochester that he hadn’t already worked for, Jack retired.
Like most of us, though, retirement was just another word for keeping busy. He joined NYMT in February, 1996, and the local NRHS chapter the following April. Since then he’s been one of our best track car operators, often serving on those important weekday group tours. As we ramped up our trolley operation and began to seek volunteers to train, Jack said to himself, “I’d love to be able to run a trolley!” The first training classes coincided with the late-April-early-May annual family trip to Myrtle Beach (hey, a guy’s got to have his priorities), but he was included in the second training session and since then has been an active crew member on Sunday trolley runs.
photo by Mary Beth LaDuca
Back in 1960, during all that job hopping, Jack married Marilyn. He tells us her father worked for the railroad, but we suspect there was more to the attraction than that. Their four children and nine grandchildren all live in the Rochester area, a rare situation for families these days. Jack and Marilyn are very proud of all of them, and at least one grandson has joined the museum’s Boy Scout railroad merit badge program. When not enjoying time with his growing family, Jack enjoys volunteer coaching at Senior Net, teaching computer skills to seniors. But we’ve got our hooks into him too, and we’re glad to have a trolley crew member who’s just as good at the controls as he is with the passengers…Jack Tripp.
HOLIDAY TROLLEY RIDES !
In cooperation with our neighbors at Remelt’s Evergreen Acres, we’ll be offering trolley rides this Christmas season on the first three weekends of December. The “Holly Trolley” Rides will operate from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturdays and 11:00 to 4:00 Sundays, and the museum will be open both days as well. We’ll be using former Philadelphia & Western car 161, and stationing it at a point on our line that adjoins the Christmas tree farm. Tree shoppers there will be able to see the trolley and board right there. The ride will then proceed to end-of-wire, return non-stop past the Remelt stop, and arrive at NYMT where passengers will have the option of returning to the starting point or getting off for a museum visit.
This will be the first opportunity to ride in 161, the subject of a pretty extensive restoration effort. We hope to boost our holiday season attendance with these rides, and the welcome mat is out to all our members too. Ho Ho Ho…we’ll see you on board!
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