November 2008 Presidentís Report

By Ira Pollack


††††††††††† This month I would like to talk about some of the things going on at the Museum.

††††††††††† Our mechanical staff has been busy rebuilding the fan assembly on the SW-8 Pfizer locomotive. To date, the bearing blocks and shaft have been replaced, along with the fan blades and additional framing for the shutters. What remains is the rebuilding of the shutter assemblies which were pretty much rusted and frozen open. My thanks go out to Jim Teer, Jeff Van Wagenen, Justin Chapin and Bob Pitcher for facilitating this work on this important piece of our operating roster. This is one of the many maintenance issues that we have before us, but one by one they are getting resolved and fixed.

††††††††††† Now that we will be ending our season very shortly because of the weather, I will tell you we have done well with our trackwork this year. Most of the work we did was initiated by the FRA inspection we had several months ago. Fortunately our trackage was in much better shape than I had expected, but this still entailed replacing several ties and regauging many feet of rail that was either wide or narrow in varying areas. This must be an ongoing project for us, unfortunately, for our trackage is continually deteriorating and must be maintained on a regular basis. Many of the rail joints were tightened with new bolts, and replaced where needed.

††††††††††† Once again we have maintenance that has to be done. I am hoping that once we have gotten through the winter freeze we can begin a tamping program to level many of the rail joints that have settled or are just too low to begin with. Danbury yard was never known for its good trackage. I also am hoping that next year we can address rebuilding the runaround track. This will mean gutting out about 45 ties that have deteriorated and therefore have compromised operating over them. I plan to rebuild this section from the ground up, which will make things easier in the long run for this restoration.

††††††††††† I am very proud and pleased to tell you that during the month of October our yard crew moved the Segar Street, or I should say Fairgrounds Pumphouse, into the yard. My thanks and gratitude goes out to Jack Venning and his wife Agi, along with their friend Ray de Zara, for moving the building on an early Sunday morning. Mr. Venning, a professional building mover and rigger, graciously donated the many hours of hard work, time and expertise to save this artifact from certain doom. Along with help of the Danbury Police as escort, it made quite a sight going down Park Avenue at the crack of dawn. We have decided to mount the building at the site of the old sandhouse down past the turntable. Funding has been appropriated for the initial stabilization of the structure, which will also serve as an unloading area for our Railyard Local. I also plan to build a platform in this area to make this another destination spot and point of interest in our yard. A special thanks to John Ivansco, Bill Britt, and Dave McKee for moving this project forward.

††††††††††† In last monthís newsletter I had talked quite sternly about the condition of our Museum. I do not mean to alarm you, but I take this very seriously, and always have and will. We have something very unique at the DRM, and I get very frustrated when I see all the hard work that we have put into it just shrugged off or not even acknowledged. I can only hope that there are other people who feel as I do, who have that passion for our success, and who are willing to step up to keep us growing and moving in the right direction. It has been a long, hard struggle right from the beginning, but look at what we have done, as a whole, as an organization. Do not forget that we still have a long way to go, and we cannot be content with what has already been done. There is a lot more waiting in front of us.