2017

Remember about our roofs

A roof, especially from the leaking kind, is always a nightmare of the owner of a large historical building. In our case, when we speak about acres of roofs of industrial objects, its structural integrity is a matter of survival for the exhibits underneath.

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We are aware that there are multiple challenges ahead of us: rusting rolling stock, falling apart plumbing and poor condition of the tracks. Still, with rain water leaking through the holes one cannot go far – refurbished cars will soon get damaged by the seepage, so goes with any repaired plumbing or electricity installation. Not to mention losing the willingness to do any track works where all around you can feel the stench of a damp. Therefore, roofs are our main challenge now.

Thankfully, the roof repairs in engine shed are quite advanced. Last year was very successful in this matter – we managed to receive a funding for the repairs of major part of the roundhouse roof and the first part of skylight, thanks to which our most valuable exhibits (especially the battery motor unit Wittfeld and renovated class Ol49-4) are now fully secured against the elements.

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Unfortunately, after one golden year there is one thin. We did not managed to repeat the previous year’s success. We managed to receive a support of 14 500 PLN from City of Skierniewice for the renovation of our tracks. Still to complete the works, a total of 4 000 PLN own assets is required – a meagre percent of the assets we had last year.

Despite the financial shortage, we still want to continue the repairs of the roofs to really say that we finished this stage. We are not far from our goal (it’s only 136 m2 on the main roundhouse). This made us to decide to continue on our own the repairs, even without the external subsidies. Still our main source of money for repairs is the 1% of income tax – that’s why you support is invaluable. As long as we are focused on upkeep of the buildings, we have to postpone our dreams of a running steam engine.

Once again we ask you to support us with your 1% of income tax. Each 1 złoty brings us closer to finishing the building renovation and, in long run, to the moment when live steam engine leaves the gates of our Shed.


Building the railway communication exhibition – part 3

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Completing the works on the main switchboard in the end of May 2016, left us with a room free to set up the main Siemens exchange assembly. As the room’s floor was a subject to dragging a heavy construction of the switchboard and carrier telephony racks, we saved the laying of the new linoleum surface to this moment. After cleaning and levelling of the floor, a new linoleum was laid and glued.

Room was now ready to accept the new exhibit, so we started the painstaking disassembly of the exchange in its temporary location. We needed to start with recovering the original, cast-iron bases and vertical beams.

Designed in the end of 1920’s Siemens exchanges were much heavier but simpler in assembling than the standard acquired by Polish Post in 1931 (based on English Autelco system). The English solution requires moving around with whole racks, which are simultaneously a part of exchange framework. Siemens & Halske took different approach by splitting the construction from functional elements. A basic framework is a frame from angle iron (40×60 mm) of standard length of 3, 4 or 5 metres. Each frame can be filled with racks, each with its individual chassis. Frames are joined together with c-beams (also 40×60 mm). The modularity limits the weight of single parts in cost of the additional parts required to build the framework. Just compare – a single module (depending on the possibility to detach the cables) in Siemens system weights 40 to 150 kg, whereas the Strowger system (in our case the FT-200 exchange) may reach the weight between 190 and 390 kg.

There was a little snag in disassembling the old exhibition – the structural elements had to be recovered first, without compromising the rigidity of the framework. A wooden replacements were used to keep the construction temporarily stable. It was a delicate work – one had to keep in mind to not damage the valuable exhibit, but simultaneously to keep everything from falling apart and injuring the disassembling team. The recovery of the required parts was accompanied by careful removal of existing cable structure.

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We took part in the conference “Conservation of railway heritage in Poland”

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The conference “Conservation of railway heritage in Poland. History, resources, problems and perspectives” took place on 27th March. The conference was organized by the Senate of Poland, PKP CARGO S.A. and the Institute of Science History from Polish Academy of Science. The aim of the conference was to discuss the possibility to improve the state of railway heritage conservation and their adaptation to a new function, based on the examples from our country and abroad.

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We presented the following papers:

Revitalization and adaptation of railway objects for museum purposes on example of Skierniewice Engine Shed – led by Judyta Kurowska-Ciechańska.

Till it is not to late – disappearing resources of historical railway architecture, signalling and communication – referring to the increasing need of conservation of railway heritage other than just rolling stock, led by Michał Jerczyński.

Our colleagues were also representing other organizations and provided following lectures:

dr hab. Zbigniew Tucholski (Institute of Science History from Polish Academy of Science): Problems of railway heritage conservation in Poland. A concept of National Railway Museum.

Dr Ariel Ciechański (Institute of Geography and Spatial Development from Polish Academy of Science) together with Filip Bebenow (WGiG UAM): Crowbar put in engine’s wheels. Obstacles in development of railway tourism in Poland. How to overcome them.

Both colleagues Ariel Ciechański and Filip Bebenow took an active part in the organization of the conference.

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Invitation to the Volunteers Camp

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We would like to invite you on 8th and 9th April (Saturday-Sunday) to the Volunteers Camp organized by our association in Skierniewice Engine Shed. A highlight of this camp will be continuation of renovation track works on track № 56, supported by City of Skierniewice. The works will involve disassembling of rails and replacing old ties. The project is addressed to all above 15 years old who would like to invest their free time in activity helping in conservation of national technical heritage,

We start the works at 100 AM on Saturday and Sunday till 6 PM. Hot meal provided. In case of unfavourable weather, an indoor renovation activities are planned.

We provide for the participants:

  • return of travel costs to and from Skierniewice (2nd class of commuter or long-distance train or the respective bus communication equivalent, based on the original ticket or a printout of electronic ticket);
  • overnight stay in social area of Engine Shed (in case of large number of participants, we will organize overnight stay outside of Engine Shed);
  • drinking water and meals;
  • work clothing and safety equipment;
  • tools;
  • participation certificate if requested.

Due to the limited capacity of our social back-room and the need to adapt the work plan and prepare the right amount of equipment, we would like to ask all interested to declare their preferences in advance by a means of following form.

 


Ls40-4544 is back to life

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In 2010 a small shunting diesel engine class Ls40-4544 has joined our collection of rolling stock. According to the previous owner, the vehicle was in full working order. Unfortunately, due to other, more important tasks and lack of engine oil, we did not had the opportunity to verify these claims. This winter, a group of our volunteers decided to do a check-up and a first in years start. The efforts resulted in a success. The outer refurbishing will be continued in summer. During the works we made a disappointing discovery – an extra ballast was removed in the past making the engine underweight. In future this may influence its traction so a temporary solution has to be devised.

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After the fairs “Where Cultures Meet”

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From Friday 17th March to Sunday 19th March we were present in Łódź at the Tourist Fairs “Where Cultures Meet”. One could find us in Łódź International Fairs Hall at Politechnike Alley, at our own, modest but recognizable stand and have the opportunity to chat about the coming tourist season and plans for the future.

At the moment we would like to invite you to yet another fairs which will take place from 7th to 8th April in Zabrze. Invited by the city council of Zabrze, we will represent our shed among other industrial tourist attractions at the International Fairs of Industrial Tourism.

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Building the railway communication exhibition – part 2

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Another stage after placing carrier telephony racks on their place was the assembly of main switchboard (so called cross). This stage took place between March and May 2016. Switchboards are vital parts of each automatic exchange which allow for grouping of each of the functionality. This, as we would call it nowadays, architecture allowed for rational division of equipment between specialized racks, their replacement, extension or even bypassing a fault.

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One can find two types of switchboards in telephonic exchanges – main and intermediate – different when it comes to function. Main switchboard is mostly a separate piece of equipment, large enough to have a separate room. It is a sort of an interface of the exchange. Here are connected, from one side the customer and inter-exchange lines (so-called line side), from the other side cables of specific equipment in the exchange. Switchboard allows for quick reconfiguration of connections e.g. change of customer’s telephone number. The intermediate switchboards are actually an integral parts of connecting equipment. They connect each stage of step-by-step number selection as well as additional equipment, allowing the exchange to work as a whole.

A common practice at Polish State railways, was to use only intermediate switchboards, providing that exchange was small (less than 300 numbers) and served small traffic. Such solution was present in the temporary exhibition we created back in 2009. In case of large exchanges e.g. for main railway district office, next to a massive main switchboard were placed two or more intermediate switchboards to keep the rest of the exchange smaller and cut on the length of expensive cables.

While assembling our main switchboard, we had to complete some metalworking. The original switchboard was recovered in parts – we had a number of original spans and a couple of to long horizontal bars. Also the baseplate was missing and had to be created anew. Afterwards, all parts had to be cleaned from rust and multiple layers of old paint, and repainted. After placing on new wooden base, the switchboard sufficient for the capacity of future exchange was mounted in target place in May 2016.


We participate in Tesco competition “You decide, we help”

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We are happy to inform that our project Gatekeeper house as a new exhibit and didactic help in Skierniewice Engine Shed has qualified to the Tesco action “You decide, we help”. Our project intends to create a new outdoor exhibition consisting of a replica of gatekeeper hut (based on State Railways blueprints from 1926) together with level crossing equipment set against the track 63 in the Shed. The hut will have the original furnishing and next to it one will find mechanical boom barriers and manual winch for operating the barriers. New exhibition will become an invaluable didactic help to teach the youngest a proper behaviour on level crossing.

You can vote for our project while shopping in following shops:


Telephone exchange in Engine Shed? Why?

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When several years ago an obsolete railway communication network was unquestioningly dismantled in Poland, one could still hope that few of the example exchanges will be saved and will find their second life as a museum exhibits. Plenty of emerging museum facilities devoted to railways made one assume that railway communication equipment will become as attractive souvenir of the past, as old steam engines and cars. Time has verified those assumptions – among all the interested parties only Skierniewice Engine Shed collected nearly complete set of equipment to prepare a fully-fledged historical telephonic exchange in working order. Except us, only Engine Shed in Wolsztyn decided to save for posterity a modest example of KATS railway exchange. A situation worth citing a classic: among his best friends, dogs devoured the hare.

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Siemens automatic exchanges shared the fate of engines class Ty2/42/43 (German BR52). Left after the occupant in large quantity and good working order, they become a common part of railway everyday life. They were still produced after the World War II, mainly from Czechoslovakia (Tesla works in Kolin obtained a license for Siemens & Halske communication solutions in the late 1930’s and 1940’s). Slowly the national telecommunication industry took part in the development of this exchange system, building new parts and equipment which were not involved in the basic imported version. After twenty years of modest involvement of Polish telecommunication factories (focused only on exchanges based on step-by-step switch 32A, incompatible with Siemens system) they started to pay closer attention to the railway needs. In the end of 1960’s a successful Polish construction of cross-switches allowed for design and production of end exchanges type CK-20 and CK-60 – fully compatible with Siemens system but requiring much less maintenance effort. This was actually the end of automation of railway telephone network, making obsolete the manual switchboards which one could still find even in major railway junctions. Even the appearance of licensed French Pentaconta exchanges was quickly followed by adapting them to work with Siemens “granddaddy”.

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Currently, a decade after full introduction of electronic exchanges at the State Railway telephone network, it appeared that no-one attempted to consider the old electro-mechanical exchanges as a national heritage. Not only the railway network suffered this fate. None of the postal town exchanges have been saved for posterity, not to mention the internal exchanges for large facilities. It is nearly impossible to find currently any example of automatic switchboards like PŁA912/923, ET25/50, AT100/200, FT100/200, CAA200/1000, CAGK, AG50, CK20/60 or even the common modules for town exchanges like 32AA, 32AB or K66. No proof has been left to support the fact, that there was a large telecommunication branch in Polish industry in the past. Only one can admire how differently the historical communication equipment was dealt with in neighbouring Czech Republic.

Forecasting the grim future for the old railway exchanges, many years ago we started collecting the communication equipment, we bought and transported to Engine Shed nearly complete Siemens exchange, both types of CK exchanges and less related to railway but still historically important switchboards of type FT (a descendants of type AT, the first automatic exchanges in PKP).

Now, it is time to assemble the collection into one functioning piece. In the adapted two rooms the Siemens exchange is taking shape. In the attached photos, you can compare our exhibit with the factory catalogue from 1939. Similar, aren’t they? Next in the queue for assembling are FT200 switchboard and CK20 and CK60 exchanges.

We invite to cooperation. Railway is not limited to trains and tracks…


Important notice for the donors of 1% of income tax

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Dear supporters,

Similarly to year 2016 we wanted to send a thank-you letter to all donors of 1% of income tax. Unfortunately, due to the changed tax and private data protection rules, we cannot use any address data provided by tax office without the consent of the donor. Therefore, we would like to ask all those who do not mind to receive such a letter, to provide us with your address via our association’s email zarzad@psmk.org.pl. It is also possible to request for a letter which can be received in person e.g. during the events in Engine Shed.