Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rehabilitating a coach

Coach 218 is an average coach. (We gave you a very brief introduction to it in our Coach made of wood piece published on 15 Dec 2008.) Built in 1912, it has much in common with coaches used by nearly all major railroads in the Northwest. It is built from wood but has several steel components that would have been made of wood had it been built just a few years prior. There is nothing terribly out of the ordinary or remarkable about coach 218 except that it has survived into the 21st Century. This makes it a great interpretive piece for the public because it can be used to represent what was once common.

Rehabilitation work began on the 218 in 2007. The first step in any major collection care project is research to develop a body of information that will guide the actual work and aid in its interpretation. Some information is derived from historic records, books and recollections; most is derived from the object itself. Obviously, some of the information gleaned from the object is obtained only as the project proceeds.

This month (Dec 2008) rehabilitation work on coach 218 continues to focus on the carbody and just this week a milestone was reached: volunteers installed a new right side plate, the top rail along the length of the car and that forms not only the top of the car side but the bottom support for the carlins (roof ribs) that make up the horizontal structure for the clerestory roof. (The nature of this work is rather technical – and uses terminology many are unfamiliar with - but the attached photo tells most of the story.)

The original plate was cut from two lengths of 3”x6” southern yellow pine, with a scarf joint connecting the two pieces. The scarfed joint was offset one window set from the center of the car and together made a plate nearly 80 feet long. This plate also had mortises on the under side for each of the window posts, and partial dadoes for the carlins.

Over half the plate on the right side of the car was deteriorated and we determined replacement was the preferred option. The remaining elements of the clerestory were undamaged so we decided to replace the plate in two halves - a top and a bottom - to avoid having to lift the clerestory and allow for installation over the tenons of the window posts. The new plate is also southern yellow pine, made from 2x6-16’ planks glued with marine grade epoxy.

With the new plate installation substantially complete, installation of carlins in this area has begun. As the rest of the car side comes back together, steel tie rods that run through the window center posts and between the windows will be installed to “tie” everything together.

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