On March 28, 2009, noted wood rail car expert Glenn Guerra from Guerra Museum Services of Wisconsin visited the Museum to conduct a 4Culture-funded condition assessment and treatment plan for Chapel Car 5 Messenger of Peace. Messenger of Peace is already better documented than most objects in the collection, but it still has many secrets to reveal. Built in 1898, it is a true wood car and is a rare surviving example from the golden age of railcar construction.
Take this apparently plain yet very heavy door from Messenger of Peace shown laying on a set of saw horses inside the CRC. A preliminary examination suggests it was constructed from white oak and has multiple coats of paint. A closer examination of the top edge finds a series of stampings, a common feature on railway car doors and windows because they were often removed at regular intervals for servicing.
The experience of Glenn Guerra suggested sanding the paint off in the center of the door. Then more sanding, this time by hand with 320 grit wet/dry sand paper and mineral spirits. Still more sanding, still by hand but with 600 grit wet/dry sand paper and mineral spirits. Carefully, the surface was wiped with alcohol. (Earlier testing confirmed that the “original” finish was shellac and it will dissolve in alcohol but not mineral spirits.) About two hours were invested in this "scholarship" and the results are real and lasting: the now 111-year-old builder's original guilded and hand lettered "name plate" has been identified, recorded and preserved. Check it out for yourself - click on the image to view a larger version.