Another trip to Czech Republic

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Trips to the railway museums abroad are slowly starting to become a common part of our activity calendar. Initially, we visited the foreign historical railway facilities in small groups, 3 people at most. Starting from November 2016 we increased the size of travelling party. It is not only a great way to socialize outside of the Engine Shed, but mainly a great opportunity to show our volunteers how museum facilities like our shed are organized abroad, and to make observations which may improve the organization of facility in Skierniewice. For the youngest volunteers this is also a form of gratitude for their efforts. From 22nd to 23rd April we once again visited our southern neighbours – Czech Republic.

Our first point of interest was Železniční Muzeum Zlonice, celebrating this year the 20th anniversary of its existence. A couple of years ago it was placed in small steam engine shed at the siding of Zlonice station. Lately, it has been moved to the old buildings of former grange Lisovice, less than one kilometre from the station.

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Another stage of our trip was a historical signal box in Děčín, preserved with most of its original equipment. It was a paradise for the fans of railway signalling and traffic systems, and a good inspiration on how we can organize an exhibition in our Shed. It’s a shame that there is no such facility in Poland.

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The last stage was a courtesy visit to our colleagues representing four different organizations taking care of Turnov depo.

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To our astonishment it appears that our collections have many common parts.

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Building the railway communication exhibition – part 4

In mid-2016 we started building the main framework for the Siemens exchange. Before that it took as a couple of months to complete the required conceptual planning. The first sketch of the exchange layout was made back in 2013 and had to be revisited to take into account following conditions:

  1. the size of the exhibition room,
  2. the need to use the normalized size of the framework,
  3. to use all recovered racks (21 in total).

The last point was especially vital, as any part not used now, will be doomed for storage for many years or maybe even forever. Elementary school geometry was enough to solve the first two conditions. Available space allowed only for the set of three frames, each 4 metres long. This gave a total of 1176cm of free space (if you count out the vertical beams) to accommodate the racks of various width, starting from 65 cm (initial selectors), 55 cm (line selectors) 47 cm (translations and subsidiary modules) down to 40 cm (group selectors). A 145 cm of space had to be reserved for the intermediary switchboard.

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Racks could not be distributed randomly – the group selectors, for instance, have to be placed right next to corresponding line selectors. The location of intermediary switchboard determined the total length of cables required. It was also important to keep on sight the most important elements so that the visitors can follow the connection process. Additionally, some racks were already complete with connection cables and some will require time-consuming soldering of new connections using the rare and currently unobtainable triple-pair cables. After trail and error simulation of the layout using nothing but pencil, paper and Excel spreadsheet, we managed to find the optimal solution.

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The plan was the basis for purchase of appropriate amount of material. At last we could start some metal working – after a month of a work, the last beam was bolted to the wall resulting in a sturdy construction.

 


Easter greetings

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May you feel the hope of new beginnings, love and happiness during this joyful Easter holiday.

Members, volunteers and Board of Polish Association of Railway Enthusiasts


Continuing track works

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The preparation to continue the work on the track № 59 – a main communication route in the Shed – started in the late winter period. We focused on recovering the ballast from between the ties. The work was organized in such a manner that the periods of the track being out of order were as short as possible. Yet unfavourable weather or flu season caused some delays to the initial plan.

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Between February and March 2017, we signed the agreement with City of Skierniewice to receive the fund of 14 500 PLN to repair the most dilapidated parts of the tracks. After removing the ballast, we could unscrew the rails and move them aside to recover the remains of old wooden ties. This way we made a free room for a backhoe loader to dig the new track trench, spread a fresh layer of ballast and lie down the heavy concrete ties and rails.

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Finally we were able to resupply the ballast between the ties. We intend to continue the works after purchasing more ties for this purpose.

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Track works in Skierniewice Engine Shed are supported by

Urząd Miasta Skierniewice


At the 9th International Tourist Fairs of Industrial Heritage and Underground Tourism in Zabrze

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Similarly to previous years, one could visit our stand at the 9th International Tourist Fairs of Industrial Heritage and Underground Tourism which took place in OSIR hall at Matejki Street 6 in Zabrze. The fairs are devoted especially to the objects of industrial heritage open to the tourists. Among those are mines, breweries, wineries, caves, fortifications and railway facilities like our Shed.


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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