Monday, May 16, 2011

Chapel car windows

video

Chapel car 5 rehabilitation continues in the Conservation and Restoration Center and with a recent delay in the arrival of heavy timbers work shifted to another important element: windows.

Windows are among the most distinctive features of a 19th Century railroad car. There was an almost unimaginably wide array of different window designs from the simple and functional to the elaborate. For a Baptist car, simple and functional were the expectations of the day yet by 21st Century standards, they are exceptional.

There were three main types of windows in the car: clerestory (operating) sash, upper sash and lower (operating) sash. The upper and lower sashes had one light (glass piece) each.

The clerestory sashes had three lights and were probably originally built with double glue chip glazing but over time several lights received single glue chip glazing. The clerestory windows adorned the car from end to end and provided light – and ventilation – throughout the car.

The car had nearly all the clerestory windows, although many of the bottom rails were damaged or missing. Six windows were missing altogether. Six new windows and a supply of replacement bottom rails were produced in the Conservation and Restoration Center.

The upper and lower sashes were located along the sides of the car and also provided light and ventilation (remember, air conditioning was an invention of the twentieth century.) There were 41 pairs in all but just one survived until 2011 when rehabilitation began. Fortunately, the one remaining sash combination was nearly complete allowing a very accurate restoration of the missing windows.

With just one window, dozens of questions were answered: type of wood – white oak; joinery – mortise and tenon; interior finish – shellac; window latch location – right side; thickness – one inch; and glass type – double strength. Additional details were inferred from old hardware mounting holes, paint shadows on the carbody, and a few remaining window stops.

While it would be more cost effective to use modern window joinery, the chapel car is a national treasure and the Secretary of the Interior Standards prescribe a greater attention to detail and authenticity. Traditional mortise and tenon joinery was used to make all replacement windows, along with the same cut and species of wood - 1/4 sawn white oak. In fact, there were only a few modern materials used: glue and brads. A modern paint will also be used on the exterior. Windows were produced over a two week period by Kevin P., Meg G., and Clark M. They will receive their shellac and color coats this summer.

Major funding for the chapel car window project has been provided by 4Culture - Landmark Rehabilitation Program, Partners In Preservation Seattle (National Trust For Historic Preservation and American Express Foundation), Save America's Treasures and the Washington State Historical Society - Capital Projects for Washington's Heritage.

Photos:

(Top) Chapel car window assembly as seen through the eye of a camera with Meg G. and Kevin P. performing.

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