Monday, December 24, 2012

Season's Greetings

Thank you to all our Volunteers, Donors, Trustees, Supporters, Members, Benefactors, and Patrons for a wonderful and successful 2012.

A railway museum is about more than just the excitement of a train: it is education, heritage and historic preservation, community identity, the economic sustainability of a small community, and  enjoyment.  Thank you to everyone who played a part in 2012.

2013 will bring many exciting developments to the Museum: completion of the chapel car, improvements to the interpretive railway, and expanded educational programs.  We all look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum next year!

--Staff of the Northwest Railway Museum: Richard, James, Cristy, Jennifer, Jen, and Jessie. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

A 12/12/12 marriage to remember

Messenge of Peace trucks and car body married again!
Chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace has wheels again!  Messenger of Peace was married with a pair of passenger car trucks in a lengthy ceremony held on the much-coveted 12 December 2012, or 12/12/12.  The car lost its original trucks in 1949 when it was adapted for reuse as a roadside diner.  The rehabilitation work it is undergoing inside the Museum’s Conservation and Restoration Center includes elements of restoration, including the trucks.

The car body underside showing the

Railway car trucks are assemblies that include a frame, wheels, bearings, brakes, and a mounting plate for the car body.  For the chapel car, these trucks each have six wheels and are constructed predominantly of wood.  A blog post describing the removal process is here.
Car body centerplate and the truck
centerplate slowly come together.

Marrying trucks to a car body requires very careful alignment.  For the chapel car, 22 months of time on car stands had resulted in the car shifting slightly off center.  So the rehabilitation crew carefully nudged the car body back to the center of the tracks in a process that consumed hours.  They used a set of hydraulic jacks to undertake this work on the 60,000 lb car body.  Certainly a great deal was at stake should the car be knocked off the car stands!
Bob, Kevin and Gary roll the rear truck
under the car body.
The massive 15,000 pound trucks were rolled under the car by just three workers.  Then the car was gently lowered onto the center plate.

So 12/12/12 marks a marriage to last: the trucks and the chapel car car body.  And this is both symbolic and indicative of the final stages of this two year project to rehabilitate this national treasure.  Stay tuned for more reports about this incredible project!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Something old, something new

6 wheel wood, steel reinforced
passenger truck
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something . . . carbon black!

Later this month inside the Conservation and Restoration Center, the chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace will be married to its new trucks, which are special frames with wheels, bearings, and brakes.  The trucks (we think, based on castings and other details) date from circa 1901 and will get some new parts, are in a sense borrowed, and will be carbon black.  So how appropriate to now look at the origins of those trucks and how they compare to the originals.
Messenger of Peace was built by Barney and Smith of Dayton, Ohio in 1898.  The car was one of the longest cars built to that date and incorporated all the latest design advances.  It included 6 wheel trucks reinforced with steel flatbars on either side of the oak frame members.  Sadly, those original trucks were (we believe) scrapped in 1948 when the car was repurposed as a roadside diner.
The Museum has several railroad cars it has been holding to provide parts for others.  While most were originally acquired for the Collection, they were later removed either because they were redundant or because they were in very poor condition. They provide couplers, brakes, hardware, and even wood moldings to make objects in the Collection more complete.
Imhoff Crane lifts the X-127 while the
Museum's Pettibone exchanged the

 A late nineteenth Century car called the X-127 was one such car.  It was outfitted with trucks of the same design that the chapel car was built with and they are in great shape.  They received some structural upgrades circa 1927, but are visually nearly identical to the originals.  Earlier this month, Snoqualmie’s own Imhoff Crane set up at the CRC and made quick work of the truck exchange.  They lifted the car one end at a time and replaced the original trucks with a set of shop trucks the Museum uses to move projects around.
So something old (the chapel car), something new (new center plates), something borrowed and something carbon black (black trucks from another car) will be in the marriage of chapel car 5 and its trucks.  Later, Spike will post some marriage photos along with the circa 1902 photo taken at Novinger, MO that has been used to rehabilitate the car.
Perhaps only to a curator's eye, this is a classic wood-era
passenger car truck

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Adaptive reuse

Front of steam crane
Steam crane is prepared
for shipment.
One of the great challenges facing history museums around the world is the size of their collections.  Many institutions have amassed collections that cannot be cared for with available resources.  Perhaps more troubling,even the most optimistic (but realistic) strategic plans do not project these institutions ever fully acquiring the resources needed to secure or conserve the collection, let alone conduct appropriate rehabilitation or restoration.  So what is a responsible institution to do?

The Northwest Railway Museum has offered objects that are outside its scope of collection or redundant to other museums.  Over the last 20 years, more than a dozen large objects have be sold or transferred to other institutions.  And when other museums are not interested, objects may be offered to a broader audience.
Steam crane loaded on truck
Imhoff's 65 ton conventional crane
makes quick work of lifting the
circa 1903 steam crane.
Recently a vintage steam crane was traded (more on that in a later post) to a business in Ballard, a neighborhood in the City of Seattle.  There, the crane will become the focal point in a new French bistro-themed restaurant.  Historically, the circa 1903 steam crane was used at a lumber mill in Everett, and had some other (unverifiable) contributions to history too.  Unfortunately, it was one crane too many for the Northwest Railway Museum.

Adaptive reuse is the process of retasking a building or object.  It allows something that may have outlived its usefulness and repurposes it for something else.  So an old school could become condominium housing.  An old caboose could become a cottage or office.  And a coal-fired steam crane could become the focal point of a new restaurant development where it supports an outdoor canopy.
Jon poses with steam crane.
Jon Burget poses with
his new acquisition.

Snoqualmie’s own Imhoff Crane was hired to lift the vintage crane – all 45,000 pounds of it – and Seattle’s Ballard Transfer was hired to transport it.  The move took most of a day and no doubt turned some heads on Interstate 90.
Congratulations to Jon Burget of Pavingstone Supply Inc on the acquisition of this interesting historical object for his new restaurant.  When he opens next summer, Spike will broadcast the date, time and place so you can see adaptive reuse in action!