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Monthly Union Station Tours | TRHA Publications Projects | Restoring the Elwell-Parker Mobile Crane | Shooting the "Shoot 'Em Up"

Plans & Projects

Monthly Union Station Tours

After six years, the Toronto Railway Historical Association is discontinuing the monthly tours of Union Station led by TRHA Historian Derek Boles. The ongoing revitalization of the station has made the tours difficult due to construction noise and increasingly inaccessible tour routes. Also, there has been little demand for the tours in recent months and usually only a few people interested.

The tours grew out of the Toronto Railway Historical Association's involvement in the annual Doors Open event at Union Station. The regular monthly tours began in March 2006 and, in that time, Derek has conducted 1835 people around Union Station. The TRHA will continue to be involved with the annual Doors Open event, as we will in May 2012.

We believe that there is a bright future for Union Station tours, especially as the revitalization proceeds towards completion and there will be heightened public interest in the station, not only in the changes being made, but in the restored historical elements. The TRHA will revitalize the tours when the time is right.

  2007 - TRHA Publications Projects

The TRHA will be publishing monographs and books related to railway heritage in the Greater Toronto Area. Our first two publications will cover fascinating railway topics from both the early and late 20th century.

In mid-2007, TRHA board member Jason Shron, President of Rapido Trains, one of Canada's leading model railroad manufacturers, will be publishing "TurboTrain: A Journey." The Turbo was a revolutionary gas turbine powered train that ran between Toronto and Montreal from 1968 to 1982. This is the first book ever to tell the story of the TurboTrain through history, stories and photographs, the majority of which have never been published before.

Later in 2007, the TRHA will be publishing "North Toronto Station" by TRHA Historian Derek Boles. North Toronto Station was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway and only served as a passenger station from 1916 to 1930. Most Torontonians are more familiar with the building as the Summerhill LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) store. This book will be the first comprehensive history of the station, ranging from the opening of the first station in 1884, through its little known role as a reception area for departing and returning troops in World War I, to its recent heroic and award-winning restoration in 2003.

Future publications will cover Toronto Union Station and the Toronto Belt Line.

  May 2007 - Restoring the Elwell-Parker Mobile Crane

When CP Rail passed the roundhouse on to the City of Toronto, a number of pieces of shop equipment were left behind. One of these is this Elwell-Parker mobile crane. Built around 1947 and of 1 ton capacity, the crane is operated entirely on 36 volt DC electric power, driven by a gasoline motor-generator set.

With the rail museum about to come into existence, an obvious requirement was that the crane would have to be moved from its storage location in bay 32. The equally obvious way to do this was to attempt to restore it to operation and drive it away. Accordingly, in the fall of 2006, a TRHA crew began the task of investigating the crane's innards to see what it needed to run.

The generator is a Continental flat-head four cylinder gasoline engine direct coupled to a 36 volt DC generator. Sold as a "Ready-Power" industrial generator set it is a good example of a packaged modular power unit quite modern for its day. An entirely self contained unit, when servicing is required the entire gen-set can be removed from the crane in one lift and immediately replaced by another identical unit requiring the disconnection of only four wires and six bolts. Regrettably we had no means of lifting it and had to work on it in place.

It very quickly became clear that the crane had simply been driven to its resting place and abandoned. The good news was that everything was there, no parts were missing and the engine coolant had not frozen at any time during the twenty years it had sat unused. We replaced the starting battery and key switch (the original key was missing) and cranked the engine over. Naturally it didn't start but did exhibit signs of wanting to go. With this encouragement we went ahead and re-built the Zenith carburetor, cleaned the fuel tank and lines, added a fuel filter and generally cleaned everything up. New spark plugs and wires, distributor cap, condenser and points were all fitted thereby reminding us how far automotive technology has improved in the last fifty years.

By the time we got all this work done winter was nipping at us but success was ours - it ran! All the crane functions of lift, slew and boom up/down worked. Forward and reverse travel was possible too and we backed our new friend "Elwell" down the length of bay 32 on a test run. The engine showed its age by leaving a trail of blue smoke and being noisy but its automatic idle feature and governor worked just fine. Work remaining to be done as of February 2007 includes renovation of the control contactor blocks which are badly eroded and a further exterior clean and paint job.


March, 2006 - Shooting the "Shoot 'Em Up"

In March 2006, the Roundhouse was the shoot location for the opening sequence of the movie "Shoot 'Em Up".

TRHA vice president Michael Guy was on site throughout the shoot period to oversee proper use of the building and artifacts and to ensure no damage took place.

This event was a great boon for the roundhouse as the film people did a major clean-up from bay 15 all the way to 30. As per movie tradition, all the actual shooting took place overnight as that allows ofr complete control of the lighting of every scene. This required lighting to be installed outside along with large electric space heaters, diesel generators and miles of heavy electrical cable. The following photographs show some of the activity.
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